Pain, parenting and politics

Last night, one of the neighborhood kids fell and broke his wrist during a vigorous after dark game, played without adult supervision.  That kind of injury would never have happened to me when I was a kid, because I wasn’t allowed to play rough or vigorous.  My parents, who had experienced the 1930s and 1940s with excessive force, were bound and determined to protect my sister and me from pain.

The only problem is that it doesn’t work.  I’m not advocating torturing kids or anything to get them to face life’s realities, but you can’t hide them from it either.  Yesterday, this youngster learned about pain, but he also learned about bravery.  He cried — but then he sucked it up.  Today, he’s basking in sympathy and interest.  His wrist will heal, and life will go on.

Swathed in cotton wool as I was, when I ran into pain in my 20s, I had absolutely no idea how to respond.  An ordinary lesson when one is 10 or 12 or 14, became a very difficult lesson for me.  I’m still embarrassed when I look back and see how badly I behaved.

One of life’s realities is that pain, both physical and emotional, is out there.  Short of living locked in a room, which itself is a measure of psychic pain I can’t even imagine, one cannot hide from the physical and mental hits life has in store for us.

Interestingly, my parenting and political philosophies mesh well, just as my (liberal) husband’s parenting and political philosophies do.  Both politically and as a parent, I believe in maximum individual freedom within a small, but stable and reliable, framework of rules.  Kids and citizens should have the opportunity to soar, even if there is a risk of falling.  My husband is a micro manager, who is so certain that he knows what is right for all people, and that he can control all known risks, that he is loath to allow anyone, whether citizen or child, off the leash.

Please don’t read my blog today, because it’s not fair to the other blogs

Ignore my post title.  In fact, I want you to read my blog today — and send your friends over too.  I want the big(ger) numbers to show me that my hard work is paying off, and that I’m creating something worthy.

Given my aggressive, competitive blogging attitude, thank goodness I’m not playing middle school basketball in Kentucky.  There, one team, despite its best efforts not to do so, trounced its opponent so soundly that it came under scrutiny for daring to achieve victory:

Pikeville (Ky.) is 17-1 on the season and beat an opponent 100-2 in a preseason tournament three weeks ago (highlights above). They were facing Kimper, a K-8 school in Kentucky, and ran them out of the gym. According to Scouts Focus, the head coach only left his starters in for 1:48 which was enough to build a 25-0 lead. The coach called off the press and had his backups play a zone, but they still led 70-0 at the half.

Pikeville then re-inserted the starters and tried to get Kimper to score, but the opponents were unable to make open threes and layups. Kimper didn’t score until the last second on a layup. Pikeville won the tournament, beating another middle school team 75-32 in the championship game.

One gets the feeling that those Pikeville 13-year-olds are damned good, and that they’re also good sportsmen who were willing to go along with their coach’s efforts to give the other team a fighting chance.  One also senses that the Kimper students were playing above their pay grade.  It happens.  I’ve been to lots of youth games where one team was manifestly better than the other.  At game’s end, the parents of the winners instruct their kids not too gloat, while the parents of the losers explain that life isn’t always fair — or that maybe it was fair that the better team won — and that the kids need to get used to it, move on, improve their game, etc.

One would think everyone at Pikeville would be pleased with the victory, but that wasn’t the case.  Rumors swirled about firings and season cancellations:

Johnson informed Scouts Focus that the superintendent and the school board have been rumored to be on the verge of canceling their season and disqualifying the team from playing in the much anticipated county championships. Pikeville will play Kimper again mid-December, where Johnson says he will not bring his 8th graders along. Johnson informed Scouts Focus that he will just use his 6th and 7th graders in the much anticipated and heavily one-sided rematch.

The school district denied the rumors, but acknowledged being concerned about and investigating the victory.

Very strange.  Even more strange to me is the reaction from Larry Brown Sports, which is my primary source for this story:

We’re happy to hear of the outcome given that blowouts in youth athletics can sometimes lead to firings. It also sounds like the coach handled the situation well, and that by not playing the eighth graders for their next game, he’s doing the right thing.

The link in the above quotation (“sometimes leads to firings”) indicates that the firing wasn’t because of coaching too well, but because there might have been cheating involved, so I’ll let that pass.  However, I do wonder whether it’s the “right thing” to sideline students because they were too good.  Is that really the lesson we want to send to America’s youth.  “Hey, Samuel!  Get down from there right now.  You’re too competent!”  “Marcia, you stop winning immediately!”

Once kids are no longer five or under, they can and should play sports to win.  Kids learn life rules on the playing field.  The gymnasium or field gives the kids a PhD in hard work, chance or ill fortune, team spirit, good winning and good losing, the rewards of victory, and the incentive of failure.  The one lesson they shouldn’t be learning out there is “You won, therefore you’re out!”

Hat tip:  America’s First Sergeant

Earning the Mom medal

Every time I return from a Navy League or Navy event, I lament the fact that we in the civilian world do not get to wear our honors and accomplishments on our hats, shoulders, chests or sleeves.  The fact that there is no official boasting mechanism in my suburban Mom life, though, doesn’t mean I can’t simply be like the cock, and crow on my own little dunghill.  Without further ado, I hereby give myself a good Mom award.

Honestly, I’ve really earned it.  Yesterday, my teenage daughter told her friends, “You can say anything in front of my Mom.  She’s never embarrassing and she gives really good advice.”  If I could have that engraved on a medal, I would.

Lest you think I earned that accolade because I’m the type of Mom who coos, “Of course you can have sex, do drugs and spend all my money, darling,” you’d be far off the mark.  In fact, I’m extremely opinionated, in a very socially conservative way.  Perhaps it’s my willingness to be a straight shooter, to shy away from innuendo, metaphor and deep agendas, that makes the children feel comfortable with me.

I find amusing the fact that my kids and their friends so obviously enjoy my company.  Thirty-five years after the fact, I’m finally popular in Middle School and High School.  I’m slow, but I get there!

It’s not always politics. Sometimes we talk family here too.

It would be so nice if my children had inherited only my best qualities, plus their father’s best qualities too.  Then, they would have been brilliant, talented and gorgeous.  But that’s not how it worked out.  For one thing, they’ve got qualities, such as athleticism and self-discipline, that neither my husband nor I have.  (We’re both driven, not self-disciplined.)  Also, they inherited a good dose of our horribles too:  stubbornness, temper, etc.  Both my husband and I have, for these many years, been much more appreciative of what our own parents went through with us.  Bruce Kesler has also been thinking about his mother and her parenting experiences.

How the Left uses children’s art in the war against the Jews *UPDATED*

Me, at Pajamas Media:

I challenge you to find a news report with more layers, all of them misleading, than an ostensibly unbiased San Francisco Chronicle “news” article about a canceled art exhibition at the Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland, California. The story’s core is uncomplicated: The museum agreed with an organization called the Middle East Children’s Alliance to showcase art that Palestinian children created. In response to protests, the museum halted the exhibit.

Through a magical combination of ambition, distraction, uglification, and derision, though, Chronicle readers are left believing that children in Gaza, after suffering horrible abuse at Israeli hands, are now victims of American Jewish censorship. (Of course, Chronicle readers, already primed with a steady diet of this kind of reporting, probably started out believing this statement to be true, so this most recent story is just fuel to an already raging fire.)

Chronicle staff writer Jill Tucker begins her report by saying that the museum, “citing pressure from the community,” canceled the exhibit, which was to have consisted of drawings that Gazan children created in the wake of the 2008 war. The pictures’ subject matter included “bombs dropping, tanks and people getting shot.” Barbara Lubin, spokesperson for the Middle East Children’s Alliance, the organization sponsoring the exhibit, validated the drawings on the ground that they represent the children’s “experience.”

Read the rest here.

UPDATE:  Kidkaroo’s link to a report about another child indoctrination program, this one in antisemitic Norway, reminds us that this is a worldwide problem.

That’s my boy!

My son wrote a very sweet essay about the people and things that made him what he is today.  I thought you all would enjoy these two paragraphs:

I also admire the people in the Marine Corps and the Navy Seals.  They are willing to give their lives to fight for our country.  They have also helped me find out what I want to do in life, which is to become a Marine or Navy Seal.

My country also helped make me who I am today by giving my parents a good job, a nice house, and a nice school.  My country also gave me patriotism.  It also is a free country so I am not a slave, and if I were a slave I would not be who I am today.

The Nanny state makes it impossible to raise children — and then takes them away

Sometimes the matched sets just write themselves.  Both of the articles I’m quoting here are from England.  The first in our set is an article saying that town councils across England are being told that they need to reinstate actual playgrounds.  The current versions, which are the kid equivalent of a padded room, are creating useless human beings:

Old-fashioned playground equipment like climbing frames, sand pits and paddling pools are set to be re-introduced after research found a degree of risk helps children to develop.

For years councils have felt forced to remove older attractions from their sites fearing any potential injuries could result in costly legal battles.

But recent research has shown that children actually benefit from risk when they play as it helps them develop the judgement skills they need in later life.

[snip]

Chairman Bernard Spiegal told the Sunday Times he believed Britain had been obsessed with risk assessment which was having a negative effect on children.

He said: ‘We were crippling their confidence by not letting them learn through experience.

‘We don’t want children losing fingers in badly designed swings or getting their heads trapped under a roundabout. But there’s nothing wrong with a bump, bruise and graze.’

I’ll add that current “safe” playgrounds don’t inspire much energy in the kids. The installations are so bland, the kids get bored quickly, and long for the less rigorous comforts of their computers and TV sets.

Before we head to the matched-set article, just have fixed firmly in your mind that Britain is a country that, out of an excess of nanny state caution, has rendered children’s physical play boring, essentially herding children back to the couch.

If you’ve got that notion firmly in mind, it’s time for article number two, which is harrowing. It all started a few years ago when a young boy banged his head and, because he was angry at his father, called his town’s version of Child Protective Services and accused his father of hitting him. Child Protective Services did exactly what one would expect it to do when dealing with a stable, middle class family — it latched onto it like a piranha or tick, and proceeded to suck the life out of the family.

The family’s sin? The kids are overweight. It’s now come to the point that Dundee’s CPS has announced that it will remove the four youngest children permanently, hiding them from the parents:

Four obese children are on the brink of being permanently removed from their family by social workers after their parents failed to bring their weight under control.

In the first case of its kind, their mother and father now face what they call the ‘unbearable’ likelihood of never seeing them again.

Their three daughters, aged 11, seven and one, and five-year-old son, will either be ‘fostered without contact’ or adopted.

[snip]

Warned that the children must slim or be placed in care, the family spent two years living in a council-funded ‘Big Brother’ house in which they were constantly supervised and the food they ate monitored.

[snip]

The couple have not committed any crime and are not accused of deliberate cruelty or abuse. Their solicitor, Joe Myles, said there was ‘nothing sinister lurking in the background’ and accused social workers of failing to act in the family’s best interests.

‘Dundee social services department appear to have locked horns with this couple and won’t let go,’ he said, adding that the monitoring project caused more problems than it solved. ‘The parents were constantly being accused of bad parenting and made to live under a microscope.

[snip]

Social workers became aware of the family in early 2008 after one of the sons accused his father of hitting him on the forehead. In truth, he had fallen and hit his head on a radiator – a fact he later admitted. However, the allegation opened the door to the obesity investigation.

While the couple admit experiencing what their lawyer calls ‘low grade’ parenting problems, which would have merited support, they were aghast when the issue of weight was seized on as a major concern.

[snip]

The couple were ordered to send their children to dance and football lessons and were given a three-month deadline to bring down their weight. When that failed, the children were placed in foster homes but were allowed to visit their parents.

After the couple objected to this arrangement, the council agreed to move them into a two-bedroom flat in a supported unit run by the Dundee Families Project. They insisted on the couple living with only three of their children at a time.

At meal times, a social worker stood in the room taking notes. Doctors raised concerns that the children put on weight whenever they spent time with their parents, a claim they vehemently denied.

[snip]

Although the children’s weight was the major concern, other allegations were included in a report. It showed that social workers were worried when the youngest child was found crawling unsupervised. The parents point out they were never far away and the flat had no stairs.

They also found her ‘attempting to put dangerous objects’ in her mouth. The family say this is natural in toddlers and she was never successful.

[snip]

The father, aged 56, said: ‘We have tried very hard to do everything that was asked of us. My wife has cooked healthy foods like home-made spaghetti bolognese and mince and potatoes; we’ve cut out snacks and only ever allowed the kids sweets on a Saturday. But nothing we’ve done has ever been enough.

‘The pressure of living in the family unit would have broken anyone. We were being treated like children and cut off from the outside world. To have a social worker stand and watch you eat is intolerable. I want other families to know what can happen once social workers become involved. We will fight them to the end to get our beloved children back.’

You can read the whole litany of social worker horribles here.

Anyone who has read Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism will not be surprised by the family’s sufferings.  This kind of micromanagement is precisely what the “loving” nanny state does.  Indeed, think about the fact that Obama’s administration has taken to calling itself your “federal family.”  For those who thinks it’s a figure of speech, it’s not.  Socialist government does not believe that it can trust parents to raise the next generation of cogs in the government organization.

In the same way, anyone who has paid any attention at all to Child Protective Services agencies (in whichever country, and under whatever name they operate) knows that too many of these organizations are much less concerned with protecting genuinely at risk children (the beaten, starved and killed who make periodic newspaper headlines), and are much more concerned with forcing middle and working class families to abandon their parenting role or to risk being forced to hand their children over to the state.

There’s a reason I believe that CPS stands, not for Child Protective Services, but for “Causes Parental Suffering.”

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

The Bookworm Turns : A Secret Conservative in Liberal Land, available in e-format for the new low price of $2.99 at Amazon, Smashwords or through your iBook app.

Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of man?

Pedophilia is an up and coming subject, as pedophiles strive to become mainstream.  In an article about Dr. Earl Bradley, a convicted pedophile, Fay Voshell makes an incredibly important point:

Dr. Bradley’s behavior is illustrative of the sort of things a pedophile does to his victims, including sometimes killing the child he rapes, sodomizes, or performs oral sex on; and it is why the American public holds such people in odium.  Pedophilia is not a matter of innocent hugs and kisses, or thanking heaven for little girls, or just plain loving kids in general, but of perversions so frightful that to put words to them scorches the page and makes angels weep.

As prominent twentieth-century theologian C.S. Lewis said when writing about sexual perversions, “I am sorry to go into all these details, but I must.”

Knowing what it is pedophiles actually do is the reason there are severe restrictions on their movements, on where they live and where they may walk among the rest of society.  Such perversions have so distorted their souls that the likelihood of cure is quite low while the reversion to their vile practices remains quite high.  That is because, as Lewis remarked, “perversions of the sex instinct are numerous, hard to cure, and frightful.

This is a point to remember when you think about other efforts to mainstream behaviors that traditional Judeo-Christian societies frowned upon.  Rather than being less open-minded than we are, those societies might merely have been less innocent.  As the oh-so-sophisticated post-Edwardians said, “Victorians have minds like kitchen sinks.”  It was true, too, because the tightly constrained Victorian era was a response to the unrestrained licentiousness that characterized large segments of late 18th and early 19th century British culture.

High School Daze

My daughter started high school at our local public high.  It’s a great high school.  It’s got a beautiful facility, high quality staff, all the bells and whistles you can think of, an involved parent body, and a whole lot of very nice kids.  I always knew all that, but I had that information reinforced when I attended my first PTA meeting.

I learned something else at the local PTA meeting:  drug and alcohol use are “rampant” (their word, not mine) at this high school.  By the time the kids are juniors and seniors, there’s a “culture” of abuse.  It’s part of “the fabric” of the students’ social lives.

Part of the problem is the curse of affluence.  The kids have the wherewithal to buy high quality fake IDs and the money to spend on drugs and alcohol.  The other part of the problem is something that never occurred to me — parents.  As I confirmed with some internet searching later, there’s a trend amongst parents to host pot and alcohol parties for their children.  The theory behind these illegal parties is these parents’ belief that, if the drug and alcohol use is done under their aegis, they can keep it “safe” and “responsible.”

Plain common sense tells how wrong this attitude is.  I confirmed my common sense by speaking with my daughter when she came home from school.  I told her precisely what I’d learned, and warned about parties where parents offer alcohol.  She said, “If we hadn’t talked about this, and some parent offered me a glass of wine, I would have thought it was okay and taken it.”  It’s that simple.  If authority figures say something is okay, then it must be.

Amazingly, Disney (Disney!) handles this issue of parental approval surprisingly well in 17 Again.  The plot device is that a man is suddenly transformed into a 17 year old (played by Zac Efron), and finds himself in school with his own children, a boy who is being bullied, and a girl who is dating the bully.  This scene is about condoms (and ignore the execrable Margaret Cho as the sex ed teacher), with Efron’s character watching in horror as a basket of condoms is handed to his own daughter:

Although the movie doesn’t come out and say so, I do believe that someone at the Disney studio disapproved of a high school teacher saying, “To hell with abstinence.  You guys can just have condoms because we’re too weak to stop you from hurting and demeaning yourselves.”

But back to the drug issue.  I also learned that, if my kids throw a wholesome party (a few vetted and trusted friends) and that party is crashed by drug/alcohol users, if those gatecrashers get into trouble after leaving my property, I’m still liable.  (As a lawyer, I knew this; as a mother, I had refused to recognize it.)  The way to short circuit liability is to call the police.  The police representative at the school said kids should know this too, as these events often happen to hapless kids when their parents are away for an evening.  The host kid should feel no compunction about placing a non-emergency call to the police, especially since our local police are extremely nice people.

I thought this was good advice, but I added my own warning to the kids:  If any kid ever uses drugs or alcohol on my property, in the house or in the yard, I will rip that child’s head off and celebrate as I watch the blood splatter on the ceiling.  The kids laughed, but I think they got the message.

 

Bad seeds and total war

Rick, at Brutally Honest, struggles with an agonizing question that always faces moral nations when they embark on a war:  What about the enemy’s civilian population?  Is there ever a justification for targeting women and children, as was done at Hiroshima and Nagasaki?  He links to an equally thoughtful Joe Carter post on the subject.

Before I get to the larger issue of whether there is ever a justification for attacking civilians directly, let me touch upon the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.  When I was growing up, it was fashionable to say that the only reason America dropped the bomb was to show to Joe Stalin that America had the bomb.

The first challenge I ever met to this prevailing Leftist academic dogma came from Paul Fussell, in his book Thank God for the Atom Bomb.  In the eponymous first essay, Fussell argued that Truman’s advisers told him that, while the Americans would inevitably win against Japan, continuing traditional warfare would mean invading the Japanese mainland, and facing a citizen army of women and children.  The advisers estimated another 30,000-40,000 American military dead, plus Japanese dead in the hundreds of thousands.  That calculation made a couple of bombs seem like a reasonable alternative.  One would end up with the same number of Japanese deaths either way, but still save American lives.

As my mom was a POW in a Japanese concentration camp, and Truman’s decision did save her life, I’ve always been comfortable with that decision.  Incidentally, recently released records from 1945 show that it was Fussell, not the revisionists, who correctly nailed the 1945 analysis that led to the bomb.  (That is, we now know that (a) the Japanese were prepared to fight to the last infant and (b) that’s precisely what Truman’s advisers told him.)

The above is a pragmatic discussion, a numbers game, if you will.  I have a slightly different point to make, which is the bad seed theory.  It’s a theory that gets a lot of play in my house, because my young son (who hopes to enter the military one day) struggles with the notion of fighting people who embrace a bad idea because they don’t know any better.  He fully understands that your average Taliban fighter (not the Western-educated elites, but the guys on the ground) has never been exposed to ideas other than the virtue of sharia and worldwide Islamic domination.  His world view is a one way street.  My son therefore struggles with moral relativism as it plays out on the field of battle.

The problem for my son, as for all generations of fighters, is that the battle doesn’t always play out on the field.  Or sometimes, as the Civil War showed, the battle cannot be won efficaciously on the field.  It wasn’t until Sherman marched through Georgia, demoralizing the civilians, that the war finally ended.  As with the war against the Japanese, the North would have inevitably won, but at a much greater cost to the North, and a potentially greater cost to the South.  It seems that, in war as in love, sometimes you’ve gotta be cruel to be kind.

What we do know is that wars over values, as opposed to wars over borders, are always the most viciously fought.  One can compromise over a river bed.  One cannot compromise over people’s most deeply held beliefs.  Your beliefs are either right or they’re wrong.  God is on your side or he isn’t.  Once the battle has gone existential, there is no middle ground.

Also, even as we’re struggling with the morality of our own actions, they’re still trying to kill us.  The Underwear Bomber who tried to blow up an airplane full of people is busily arguing that he didn’t commit a criminal act, because, had he been successful, the slaughter would have fallen under the heading of religiously justifiable homicide.  The Koran is his book, and the Koran authorizes infidel killing.  It’s that simple.  Nor is this killing a subject of anguish and morality.  For those who embrace Islamism, it’s a sport — fun and totally reasonable because authorized by Allah.

It’s the young ‘uns that matter.  Yes, they are the future.  But the future they create will be determined by the values they embrace.  Sometimes, one has to demonstrate to that generation, resoundingly, that their God has failed.  Sadly, depending on the rot that’s corrupted the next generation — the bad seeds — the battle for hearts and minds cannot be won as long as they see a smidgen of hope.  The only way to prevail is to show that their God has failed, and then to educate them up again, as we did in the post-WWII era with Japan and Germany.

Having said all that, I’m opposed to targeting civilians as a general principle of war.  One fights the military.  Civilians become potential targets only when it becomes clear that there is no other way to destroy a much greater evil.  And of course, one of the hallmarks of a greater evil is a nation or ideology that deliberately puts its children in the path of war.

UPDATE:  By the way, the Left knows that it’s the young ‘uns that matter.  As I wrote years ago, sex is a powerful factor in Leftist control, something that Zombie points out in telling of the latest Leftist sexual outrages against young children.

Community Servitude *UPDATED*

As I’ve noted before, although merely (and gratefully) comfortable myself, I live in an affluent community.  I am a Marin resident, after all.  In response to this affluence, the local middle and high schools, both public and private, have all jumped on the bandwagon to require “community service” as a prerequisite for grade promotion and graduation.  Depending on the grade level, children have to perform six to sixteen hours of “volunteer” work per year.

Just this year, our local school upped the ante by integrating community service directly into the science curriculum. In the second trimester, the students were required to choose from causes — many of which were politically correct, such as anti-nuke, pro-green, anti-gun, etc. — to research.  Although I wasn’t pleased with the menu, I didn’t mind the project.  It required the children to hunt for data, analyze the data, and write up a report, which included recommendations for dealing with the “problem” — all of which struck me as suitably academic in nature.  This trimester, however, the students are required to “act” on the report.  That is, to the extent that they’d identified a “problem” and come up with a “solution,” their third trimester grade depends upon their implementing that solution.   To that end, my child’s teacher actually signed my daughter up at an internet website to fund raise for a specific cause.

I was on the phone to the principal about five minutes after learning about what the teacher did.  I explained to him that neither my child nor I would be fundraising for any causes the school selects.  I admit that it’s a bit of a gray area politically.  California students cannot be forced to fund-raise directly for the school itself.  I’m willing to argue, though, that the prohibition against fund-raising extends to being forced — for a grade — to raise funds for a cause the school selects.  The principal was, as always, very pleasant and conciliatory, but I don’t think he quite understands the real issue behind my outrage.

What I explained to him, repeatedly, and what seemed to go over his head, repeatedly, is that I, as the parent, am responsible for my children’s social development, including whether my kids develop a social conscience.  If I want them to be spoiled, selfish brats, that’s my prerogative as a parent.

The school’s responsibility is to educate them with information.  I understand, more than most, that the information selected will necessarily have an impact on the children’s belief systems (they’ve all been green indoctrinated, regardless of the ostensible subject matter of a given class, and their American history program struggles valiantly not to be too negative about America), but the fact remains that there is still an academic gloss overlaying the traditional subject matter teaching.  This forced volunteerism, however, has nothing to do with traditional education, and everything to do with usurping the parents’ role when it comes to imparting values to a child.

As it happens, I do substantial amounts of volunteer work, so I am constantly modeling the virtues of volunteer work for my children.  We also speak about those less fortunate than we are and, in past years, my children have been expected to contribute 50% of their gift money to a charity of their choice.  I can make them do that because I’m their mother.  For a public school to make similar demands on the children oversteps what should be the boundary between a parent, on the one hand, and a public school, on the other.

The most interesting thing about all of this is that, based on my informal polling of my children and their friends, is that the school’s efforts are backfiring.  The children I know litter with impunity, never turn out lights, and can’t be bothered with recycling.  Having had green-ism force fed to them for their entire lives, they are jaded about it, and do not want to be coerced.  It’s true that, when they grow up, they’ll almost certainly hew to the Democrat party simply because their education has been aligned with that party, but they won’t be true believers.  They’ll act reflexively, without believing anything at all.  (I, of course, am working as hard as I can to stand as a bulwark against this Democrat party indoctrination, but few in my area disagree with the ideology underlying their children’s education.)

As for the enforced volunteerism, the kids are wise to that too.  I got an earful from several kids in my carpool complaining bitterly about being forced to do community service as a prerequisite for their grades.  They understand that, if you’re forced to do something, as they are because of their grades, than the activity is not true volunteer work.  Further, they consider the community service requirement an onerous burden that is to be avoided at all costs.  To that end, they routinely engage in whatever scams they can to have labeled as “community service” something that cannot in any way be considered traditional charitable work.  Thanks to mandatory “volunteer service” (or, as I call it, “community servitude”), the children I know are disinclined to do any type of volunteer work and much inclined to engage in scams and cheats.

UPDATE:  And with perfect timing comes a story about the Obama administration encouraging less actual education and more Leftist activism.

Pregnant girls, by guest blogger Lulu

There is a pregnancy epidemic right now at the high school where I used to run a girls’ group. All the time I am shocked and saddened to see another young girl with a growing belly or another with babe in arms.

There is no stigma at all. Whatever happened to shame or pressuring boys to “do the right thing”? Gone are the rumors, the marginalization, the “slut” comments, the judgment of others, the pressure of peers that encourage waiting and responsibility. There simply is no stigma. In fact, the boys strut like proud roosters with their girl. The girl basks in the attention of her friends as they swarm around the mommy to be and kiss her belly.

And thanks to enforced ‘tolerance” and a determination not to marginalize girls who get pregnant in high-school, there is no longer any shame in it at all. That stinks because I believe shame is a very important emotion and shaper of our behavior.

The boys need to feel ashamed of themselves for using girls like objects, impregnating them, and then thinking their role as father is to drop in and buy pampers once in a while. The girls should be ashamed for casually bringing life into the world for their own selfish reasons (someone to love me, etc) instead of waiting until they could create an environment for the child that could provide stability and proper care.

I am angry with the school for not enforcing its own dress code. The low cut tops. The short shorts. The spaghetti straps. These are against the rules, but no one says anything. No one insists the girls cover up with an old hideous shirt from the lost and found, or old gym shorts. But they should.

Where are the staff to stop the fondling and making out on steps in full view of everyone on campus? Boys and girls. Girls and girls. No boundaries. No values.

So sad.

One exercise I did with my girls’ group a month or so ago was designed to have them explore their values versus their behavior. I wrote on the board these words:

Marriage
Sex
Relationship
Love
Dating
Living together
Baby

I asked the girls to make two lists. One was to put the words in the order in which they thought they should take place according to their values, and the other was to put the words in the order that they saw people actually following. They were allowed to leave words off if necessary.

Without fail, and to my surprise, all the girls wrote that the order things should take place in was this:

Dating, love, relationship, marriage, sex, living together, baby.

This is a very traditional view and I hadn’t expected it.

The list of what was actually happening was less sunny:

“Dating”, sex, relationship (all admitted this stage sometimes did not occur), baby.

I pointed out to them that there was a huge discrepancy between their values and their behavior. I asked them why they thought that was. Some looked so sad as they described the pressures to perform sexually or to end up alone. (Of course, they were alone anyway as these “relationships” did not last).

Will these kids ever be able to have a healthy relationship? A sex life with a caring and loving partner? What about their children who will grow up in a world of single moms, with children from multiple dads, all with different last names?

I can’t help but look at this and want to scream at the faculty, at the entire educational institution, for failing these children so egregiously, for failing to teach any moral standards at all. These kids are steeped in political correctness. Lord knows, they’ve had tons of diversity education, safe sex talks, say no to drugs, global warming awareness, and Identity politics. But at home and at school, no one seems to be willing to provide moral standards. No one is willing to upset the darlings by reminding them that having a baby too young is grossly irresponsible and even tragic. Shouldn’t society put some peer pressure on them to remember that a baby is a human being and not a doll? It’s not a Paris Hilton Chihuahua status symbol to dress nicely and neglect. A baby is a human that requires immense amounts of time and energy to raise.

They forget that a baby doesn’t stay a baby for long. Soon it will become a child that will require discipline, education, supervision, guidance, a future. What kind of environment is best for raising this child? Would it be a fifteen year old girl, no longer with the baby’s father, leaving the bulk of child rearing to her own resentful mother, and bitter because she can’t do fun teenage activities any more, or a stable, committed, financially secure, adult couple?

No one has told them how a baby interferes with fun and parties. Young mommies either have to stay home and care for the baby or drag it along- but it hasn’t occurred to them that their friends won’t want a baby along screaming in McDonald’s or an arcade. Babies are demanding, not logical, and if young mommies or daddies scream and ht them will only cry more. Once a teen has a baby, life will never be the same again. Finishing school and achieving life goals are do-able mainly for those girls who have parents willing to care for the baby for them.

Maybe if pregnant girls were once again shuffled off campus to a pregnant girl school it would be less glamorous and rewarding. Maybe the dads could be instantly shuffled into family court to be forced to take responsibility. Maybe along with sex ed the kids could get some values. Maybe the church should rise to the challenge and let young men know that impregnating girls is not a sign of manhood. Having sperm is no great accomplishment. Waiting to make a baby until you are mature and self-sufficient, and creating a whole and intact family, however, is a sign of manhood and maturity. We need to return societal pressure and judgment. Kids are falling apart from a lack of boundaries and moral standards. And they will take society with them.

I have yet to meet parents who say they wish their daughter became pregnant in high school (or even middle school), or that their son became an absentee father.

A final thought. In the past, and not so very long ago, girls were expected to marry as virgins. OK, many didn’t make it, but many did. Fear of pregnancy, social stigma, and wanting to be a “good” rather than a “fast” girl had a lot to do with it. But beyond that, by withholding sex and making the guys work for it- earn it, really- by getting a job and by marriage, the girls were forcing the guys to become civilized. Sex is a huge human drive and guys will work very hard to get it, and if becoming a responsible man and provider is the way to get it, by golly, guys will do it.

Now there is no incentive to be civilized. All the sex a guy can get without even buying her a soda, getting girls pregnant is a notch on a guy’s studly belt (so to speak), and he really has no parenting or financial obligations. Hey, it’s optional. And everyone is degraded. The babies suffer because they are born to a child and a shadow.

Has this generation degenerated to the human equivalent of dogs humping?

So very very sad.

I will keep you posted. I, for one, plan to react and bring in a series of speakers, former teen moms, their moms, and so on, to bring the kids a taste of reality. How will they know, if no one teaches them?

Is the military a good way to turn boys into men?

I love my son dearly and he dearly loves me right back.  He’s bright, exceptionally well-coordinated and, if I do say so myself, he’s very good-looking.  He’s also selfish, hyper-competitive, lazy, ill-mannered and a total slob.  I have been working for years on all those traits and there has definitely been some improvement, but we’re not even halfway there.  Thankfully, as he’s not yet teenager, I still have a while to work on him.  I’m worried, though, that the traits I mentioned all tend to worsen, not improve, as young boys turn into young men.  As a parent, I foresee I tough road ahead of me.

I often find myself saying to myself, “Boy, the military would be good for my son.”  With a coercive power I can’t hope to equal, it would teach him discipline and neatness.  Also, because of unit cohesion, it might take him out of his selfishness.  Lastly, the military’s hierarchical nature would be good for such a hyper-competitive person, because there is clearly delineated room for upward movement, complete with external proof (ribbons, stripes, etc.) that the person is improving.

Even as I have this thought, though, the mother-voice in the back of my brain says, “What are you doing, woman?!  Do you actually want to send your darling little boy to a tough, often cruel environment, one in which he stands a much better chance of being killed than if he stays safely at home with you?”

Well, right now, while he’s still a beardless little boy, and the questions are hypothetical, my higher brain answer to that mother-voice is “Yes, yes I do want him to go to the military.”  (By the way, I’ve probably just qualified myself for a visit from Child Protective Services for admitting that I think the military would be good for my child.)

Here’s my thinking:  People need meaning and purpose in their lives.  Some people are internally driven.  They define and seek out their own goals.  Others, especially young men, drift.  Nowadays, that drift is made worse by computer gaming.  I know a man who was a top college student in the computer sciences, with computer companies frantically wooing him.  He ended up getting a great starter job, and quickly rose through the management ranks.   Then, something terrible happened to him:  his mother inherited a lot of money.  He knew, as of that moment, that he too would inherit a lot of money one day.  He no longer needed to work.

All of us dream about insta-wealth and early retirement, of course.  We imagine pursuing our passions, and believe that will give us complete pleasure.  Maybe that’s true.  I don’t know.  All I know is that, at 28 years old, this man quit his job and started a new life playing computer games.  That’s all he does:  exercise and computer games.  That’s all he’s done for twenty years.  He doesn’t seem very happy to me.  He’s playing his games, which is what he wants, but mostly he seems lost.  When I look at him I see a stunted life and wasted potential.  He’s never grown up.  Given the opportunity, he opted to remain a 13 year old boy forever.

This man is the most extreme, but not the only example, I know of a young man who simply decided to stop living and growing.  One of these young men, however, and I’ve written about him before, was moved by 9/11 to join the military.  He’s served in Afghanistan and Iraq; he’s lived under horrific conditions; he’s been under fire — and he’s as happy as he’s ever been in his life.  His life has meaning.

It seems to me, therefore, sitting with my smooth-faced little boy, that his life will be a happier one if he can find meaning in it.  There is no meaning in life as a computer gamer and slacker.  You fill your time, but you may as well be a cow chewing cud, or a pig rooting around in the mud.  We humans are better than that.

In a way, women have it easier, because having babies forces them to grow up, to look outside of themselves, and to have responsibility.  But in this day and age, young men don’t have responsibility thrust upon them through fatherhood.  Assuming the mother doesn’t abort, she still makes limited demands on the guy.  Certainly, few women nowadays demand marriage, and the notion of dad standing there with a shotgun is truly dead and gone.  The military, however, does thrust responsibility on young men, and they seem to be the better for it — assuming, of course, that they survive the experience.

All of this is not quite as hypothetical as it seems.  My son has always been military mad, and still talks about going to a military college one day.  He’s too young to understand what that really means, but it’s definitely part of his mental make-up.  While I won’t ever push him to the military — that’s a path I think a young person has to find by himself — my current thinking is that I won’t argue him out of it if that’s what he decides to do.  Certainly, I think it would help him with a lot of the behaviors and personality traits that currently prevent him from (yes) being all that he can be.

I’d be very interested to hear from active duty military people, vets, and the parents of current and former military people.  Am I blinded by the beauty of the uniform, or am I on to something here?

Statism in a nutshell

I have friends who have taught in inner city schools.  Without exception, they have told me that, if a child’s parents are drug-addled, the school lunch may be the only meal the child gets.  There is a tremendous virtue to feeding starving children.

Having said that, I found revealing a statement Michelle Obama made after her husband signed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, a law that buffs up school lunch programs at the expense of food stamps (emphasis mine):

[W]hen our kids spend so much of their time each day in school, and when many children get up to half their daily calories from school meals, it’s clear that we as a nation have a responsibility to meet as well,” Mrs. Obama said. “We can’t just leave it up to the parents. I think that parents have a right to expect that their efforts at home won’t be undone each day in the school cafeteria or in the vending machine in the hallway. I think that our parents have a right to expect that their kids will be served fresh, healthy food that meets high nutritional standards.”

That’s statism in a nutshell, isn’t it?  “We can’t just leave it up to the parents.”  This absolves the state of any responsibility for protecting children whose parents no longer care for the children.  It’s so much easier, instead, just to push all parents aside.  This global approach has the purity of Occam’s Razor.  There are no unnecessary details.  Instead, there’s just a fundamental power grab.

Our de-aspirational society; or, a society aiming for victimization and tawdriness

More than a hundred years ago, writing in a deeply religious era, Robert Browning observed “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”  Perhaps it’s no surprise that today, in a society with a pop and media culture dominated by secularists who have abandoned entirely the notion of heaven, our young people are encouraged, not to reach for the stars, but to engage in base behavior, bounded by the lowest possible common denominator of victim identification.

Any0ne over thirty (or, maybe, forty) will no doubt agree with me that our popular culture has changed dramatically in terms of the goals it sets for young people.  Certainly there is nothing today that compares to The Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conservation, a guidebook written by Jesuit scholars back in the late 16th century that George Washington  studied with regularity and reverence.  Fast forward approximately one and a half centuries, and you have Harry Truman, reading over and over again a book entitled Great Men and Famous Women.  These were aspirational books that had as their purpose teaching young people to abide by moral principles and to think big, whether in personal interactions or in lifetime goals.

Literature generally, right up until my childhood, aimed high.  Every American child, myself included, must have read Parson Weems’ highly fictionalized The Life of Washington.  If you read that, you knew that you too could be president if you were incredibly hard-working, brave and honest.

In the 19th Century, young boys were nourished on a steady diet of Horatio Alger books.  While Horatio Alger’s private predilections may have been unsavory (there were strong indications that he was a little too fond of young boys), none of that came through in his popular works.  Instead, in book after book after book, young boys were told that if they were honest, hard-working, good-natured, and brave, they could slowly, but surely, ascend America’s social and economic ladder.  Girls got exactly the same message from Louisa May Alcott’s delightful works.

Whether in works by these iconic authors, both of whom dominated American popular culture for decades, or in books by all the other writers targeting American children, for the better part of a century the goal was always the same:  children should aspire, not necessarily to fame or fortune, but to a rock-solid middle class lifestyle, marked by a high moral tone.  The message was remarkably egalitarian:  all who embraced America’s moral and work ethics could achieve this goal.

These works were by no means great literature.  Indeed, Horatio Alger is a dreadful writer, but there’s something charmingly earnest and inspiring about his plots.  In the 20th century, the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books, for example, were churned out by the dozens using a factory scheme, but the message never varied:  diligence, bravery, good cheer and honesty were the tickets to success.

Books nowadays are another story entirely.  Every week, after a trip to the library, I sort through the books my 13 year old daughter wants to check out, and am horrified by what our nice suburban library has on the teen shelf.  The most innocuous books merely give the teenage protagonists permission to be whiny, self-absorbed and manipulative.  No matter the issue, the answer is “feelings, nothing more than feelings….”  The more troubling books seek to inform the children’s sexuality, whether by encouraging early sexual behavior or by messing with gender constructs.  And while there are a few uplifting books hidden amongst this pile of dreck, the vast majority of offerings are remarkably self-involved and devoid of any antiquated notions such as generosity of spirit, self-sacrifice, bravery, or core moral absolutes.

One sees precisely the same pattern with non-print media.  When it came to early and mid-twentieth century movies and TV shows, there was certainly a lot of stuff that had no moral message at all, but the available family fare didn’t carry a bad message either.  Children who watched I Love Lucy may not have been thinking in terms of diligence or self-sacrifice, but they also weren’t mastering the arts of snark and disrespect.  Those shows aimed specifically at children during the thirty year period from the 1950s through the 1970s, while admittedly bland or foolish, were innocuous or tried in an entertaining way to enforce core societal values.  Watching the Brady Bunch or Leave It To Beaver taught me about honesty, reliability, and respect for my elders.  The tone towards adults was always respectful.

As with the books, the values in these shows were also egalitarian.  No matter who you were, if you behaved the Brady way, or the Beaver Cleaver way, you’d do okay.  (And if you behaved the Gilligan way, i.e. foolishly, you end up wet and pummeled by coconuts.)  It was all very clear.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and we get a remarkably different pop culture vision for children’s moral and social development.  Whether one thinks of books or television shows or movies, the message is always the same:  being disrespectful to your peers and to adults is attractive; adults are buffoons; men are useless; clever manipulation often trumps honesty; and, at the end of the day, what really counts is your feelings.  If any given episode of Miley Cyrus or I Carly or Suite Life of Zack and Cody actually carries a so-called moral, that moral isn’t that a specific behavior is wrong, but that the bad behavior might hurt someone else’s feelings.  In other words, in the world our media hands to our children, all ethical questions are resolved by a quick glance at ones own navel.

Aside from a moral vacuum, today’s media also offers an aspirational vacuum.  The heroes it sells to our children are athletes or movie stars.  While I may appreciate an athlete’s skills or a movie star’s pleasant screen persona, neither has distinguished himself (or herself) by willingly making a huge sacrifice, perhaps the ultimate sacrifice, on behalf of someone else.  A-Rod may show superb self-discipline when it comes to honing his skills, but he’s doing it to be rich and famous (and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that), not for the betterment of mankind.  This is not a hero by any traditional standard.

Sleazy behavior is also normative.  As any parent of a little girl can tell you, Miley Cyrus morphed from snarkily wholesome to unutterably sleazy.  That’s bad enough, but what’s even worse is the excuse pop culture offers her:  she’s just growing up.  In this moral vacuum, growing up doesn’t mean taking on responsibility or displaying elan, class and sophistication.  Instead, the only thing growing up means is to engage in tawdry acts of public sexuality.  As a mother, it’s a great challenge to explain to ones children that becoming a sleaze-monger is not the normative external sign of maturity.

Worse, when the media is confronted by real heroes — by people who willingly put their safety and even their own lives at stake to advance a cause greater than themselves — it assiduously ignores those people.  I’m speaking, of course, of our troops.  As often as not, when the media pays attention to a service person, it is someone who, in an almost passive way, suffered horrific injuries.  I don’t mean to denigrate these men.  Merely by enlisting, they showed a rare moral courage, and their bravery in coping with terrible injuries is always inspiring. Still, they are only one side of the warrior equation.

The other side, the side the media ignores, is the men who actively leap into the breach.  Outside of the military press and the conservative blogosphere, you’ll be hard pressed to find stories celebrating the truly heroic exploits of such men as Sal Giunta, Bradley Kasal, Marco Martinez, Michael Murphy, Michael Mansoor or Marcus Luttrell.  If the media notes them at all, these stores are forced upon them by the fact that some of those men, whether dead or alive, have had the Medal of Honor bestowed upon them.  As a parent and a patriot, I resent that the media ignores people who triumph over their enemies and focuses only on those who triumph only over their own injuries.  Both should be celebrated, not just the latter.

If the materials made available to American children do tell stories of people actively triumphing over circumstances, those triumphs are very identity specific, and are tightly tied to someone’s victim status.  Thus, in contrast to the egalitarian message of old, that saw all hard working, brave, moral people rise up in the world, my white children are exposed to an endless stream of stories that, with few extremes, trumpet the triumphs only of those people who fall within PC victim parameters.

The problem with these stories is that the emphasis isn’t on virtuous behavior, but on victim status.  Whether in textbooks, required reading, “news” magazines, or movies shown in classrooms, the “value” being advanced is is being black, or being gay, or being Hispanic, or being female. These presentations then go on to say, almost coincidentally, that if one digs deep into the life story of these carefully classified people, one will find some abstract, overarching virtues as well. “He’s gay and — wow! — he’s brave, too.” “She’s black and — this is so cool — she’s compassionate.”

Well, I’m sorry, but being black is not a value. Being Hispanic is not a virtue. Being gay is not an ethic. Each of these is simply a label to help classify a person, because classification seems to be an innate human — and certainly and innate Leftist — need. None of these labels, however, touch upon conduct, morals, goals, bravery or any of the other abstract virtues that can reside in all people.

I’m happy to hear about heroic, brilliant, compassionate, important blacks, gays, women, Hispanics, etc., and I want my children to hear about them too. The focus, though, should be on the “heroic, brilliant, compassionate” parts, which are universal values we want to see all children learn. Only then should we go to the subset idea, which is that, no matter the label you give yourself (or that is given to you), you can aspire to these over-arching values, virtues and ethics.

The ne plus ultra of our de-aspirational society is our President, of course.  Although he’s almost exactly my age, because he grew up as a child of the Left, while I had a steady diet of virtue, he had an equally steady diet of cultural denigration.  Small wonder than that he travels the world, rigorously applying often imaginary virtues to cultures based upon their otherness, with no regard whatsoever for the abstract values that should define all moral societies.  And small wonder, too, that, to the extent he can periodically rouse himself to say something nice about America, that niceness is always tied to the elevation of some victim group.

Our youth can succeed only if they are taught that there is something beyond self-involvement, victim identity, and sex.  Because our popular culture refuses to recognize the abstract virtues of honor, bravery, patriotism, respect, honesty, etc., it is up to us to celebrate those virtues and to tell our children the tales of those who embody them.

Cross-posted in Right Wing News

This is what comes of sexualizing little children

There is a post zooming around the liberal side of the internet, in which a mom says her son is gay . . . no, he’s not . . . yes, he is . . . who really cares?  The genesis for this post was the fact that her 5 year old son wanted to be one of the girl characters in Scooby Doo.  She let him, and some women at the preschool got upset that she’d let him dress up as a girl.  The blogging mom gets the ultimate point right, which is why in the heck are people getting fussed about what a 5 year old wears for Halloween?

Where the post irritates me, and it’s not the blogging mom’s fault at all, because her bottom line is correct, is the title — “My son is gay” — and this paragraph:

If you think that me allowing my son to be a female character for Halloween is somehow going to ‘make’ him gay then you are an idiot. Firstly, what a ridiculous concept. Secondly, if my son is gay, OK. I will love him no less.

Here’s where the post gets me:  Why are we talking about the whole gay thing when the subject of our talk is a 5 year old?  I mean, I agree that if my teen or adult child is gay (or lesbian), I will love and support that child regardless.  And I totally agree with the mom (who sounds smart and loving) that cross-dressing 5 year olds, unless they live in a fetish household and are forced to cross dress 24/7, are not at risk of turning into homosexuals.  What I don’t agree with is trying to categorize little kids as gay or straight.

I admit that this is a bee in my bonnet.  Over the course of my medium long life, I’ve known totally “masculine” boys who grew up to become gay, totally “masculine” boys who grew up to become straight, totally “feminine” girls who were ultimately lesbians, and totally “feminine” girls who were straight.  The same holds true for “feminine” boys and “masculine” girls.  People’s sexuality may be innate, but their childhood behavior, unless it’s totally outside any known norms, is, at best, a most inaccurate indicator of the path they’ll choose in life.  And yet I’ve known people to say of their 3 or 4 year old children, “Well, I think he/she is gay/lesbian.”  They may be right, but why are they thinking of such a little child in sexual terms?

Clearly, I’m getting to a larger issue here, which is the way we sexualize children in our culture.  Recall the recent hoo-ha about the seven year old set doing a raunchy dance in stripper clothes.  Certainly every Halloween, somewhere there is an article righteously upset about the hooker costumes offered to the small fry.

Also, think about what “growing up” means nowadays.  Miley Cyrus came to fame as the “clean” pop star whom parents could allow their little girls to watch.  Now she’s grown up (she’s 17) and gone sleazy.  In the old days, “growing up” meant becoming sophisticated or, perhaps, responsible.  Someone who sang little girl songs might have moved to jazz.  Now “growing up” means that kids — at least, famous kids — move to nakedness and public sex.

Anyway, I’m kind of running out of steam and time here.  I agree with the mom whose post is linking that we should love and support our children no matter what path they chose (as long as they live an honorable life, of course), but I just hate the whole notion of a culture that sees us even thinking of 5 year olds in terms of their ultimate sexual choices.

Putting all your information out there — and having it turn around and destroy you

Some of you may have been aware of a very ugly situation that started when NewsRealBlog concluded that one of its contributors (not an employee, but a contributor), displayed a truly unhealthy sexual interest in young children.  Although the editors at NewsRealBlog are conservative, they also respect an individual’s right to privacy.  However, if an individual goes public, over and over and over, with bizarre and explicit posts focused obsessively on sex with children, they concluded (rightly) that it would be morally wrong to continue to have any type of association with that person.  Even if that specific individual hasn’t had sex with children, and isn’t even trying to have sex with children, using the internet as a forum to play out those fantasies is an active incitement to pedophilia that cannot be countenanced.

The whole thing should have ended there, as a reasonable decision by a collaborative blog not to publish unpaid writings from a source who, while sound on libertarian principles, proved to be an exceptionally unsavory human being in a way that endangers children.  Things went a little crazy, though, when David Frum, who apparently mentors Alex Knepper (the man at the center of the controversy) decided to stick up for him.  He did so by attacking NewsRealBlog.  The latter struck back with the most dangerous weapon of all:  facts.  [Warning:  Do NOT click the link if children are present.  Do NOT.  It's truly icky stuff.]

Frum, rather than mumbling something about “Oh, I didn’t know that,” decided to counterattack by calling the NewsReal people witch hunters, cyber stalkers, McCarthyites, etc.  Interestingly, he didn’t deny Knepper’s sordid obsession with sexualizing children.  He just said it was unfair for NewsReal to find out about it.  And you know, if NewsReal had combed through garbage cans and hacked into private email accounts, there would have been a point to this charge, no matter how icky Knepper’s sensibilities are.  Once again, though, NewsReal slapped Frum down with facts.

The pivotal fact for purposes of my post here is that everything NewsReal found was just out there.  Knepper hadn’t made any effort to hide his thoughts on the subject.  He’d posted widely and wildly in a variety of public forums that could be accessed by a simple Google search.  In doing that, the 20 year old Knepper proved typical of his generation.  (By the way, apropos his age, his relative youth is no excuse, no matter what Frum says.  Knepper’s writing makes it clear that he is not a man just out of adolescence who still has his teenage girl friend from high school.  Instead, this is a man who lusts after prepubescent children, as well as young teenagers.)

We’ve all noticed that we are raising a generation that views the internet as its community, just as it views the local playground, the school yard or the neighborhood hangout as community.  The boundaries of privacy that we adults feel do not exist for this up and coming generation.  Knepper had no compunction about putting his sexual fantasies out into the ether.  He was talking to his “cyber friends,” and was unconcerned that the whole world could eavesdrop.

I see the same in my children.  No matter how often I tell them that the internet is a public square, with no privacy, and a permanent memory, they still place information out there that no adult from my era would ever contemplate making public.  Since my kids are still fairly young, they’re not posting things that are terribly embarrassing, and certainly not illegal, but they’re still private.  I’ve concluded that, at least in part, the problem isn’t that my kids don’t understand the internet’s ramifications.  The problem is that they don’t care.  The notion of a zone of individual privacy, a place where only you and a few invited guests can go, is alien to them.

Right now, my husband and I simply remind our children that whatever is out there will remain in perpetuity for colleges and potential employers to examine.  We hope that their self-interest is sufficient to rein them in.

I do wonder, though, if we’re seeing a new era of privacy.  Or perhaps what we’re really seeing is an old era of privacy.  The privacy we enjoy is a modern construct, resulting from affluence and a large population.  We live behind closed doors and our world is made up of strangers who don’t care about us.  In the old days, people lived in small communities, and often shared homes, rooms and even beds.  (In the Middle Ages, a whole family would sleep on one flea-ridden straw mattress, with the sheep and cows arrayed around them for warmth.)  People lived in public then, just as our children are starting to do now.  I guess it’s only strange for those of us trying to bridge the gap as we shift from one paradigm to another.

For an extremely good post summarizing this whole episode, and giving Knepper a chance to defend himself (although I don’t think he succeeds in doing so), please check out John Hawkin’s post at Right Wing News.

Sex and the next generation of young immigrant women — by guestblogger Lulu

Some days seem to crystallize some of our society’s more discouraging trends. In my mental health work on the front lines I see a great deal of what the chattering classes cluelessly opine about. Today, for some reason, I saw, one after the other, a series of young women with similar problems and, as I spent time with them, I found myself thinking sadly of the things they had in common. (Some details have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals described, but one feature they all have in common is that they are either illegal immigrants themselves, or the children of illegal immigrants.)

I spent a great deal of time today talking with a young woman who was asking for help with her nine year old son. He was out of control. Defiant and oppositional, even in elementary school, he refused to do his work or get up in the morning to get ready for school. He preferred to hang out outside with other kids, some of them older. Mom admitted that she had not paid much attention to him. She let him go outside because she couldn’t deal with him.  She also couldn’t deal with his father. She was totally overwhelmed by her responsibilities.

The problem was that she was way too young to shoulder these responsibilities. Heavily pregnant with her fifth child, this 23 year old woman had three others under the age of five. Remarkably, she was still with the 33 year old former gang member who father the nine year old.  The father, now toiling away at several jobs to support his ever growing brood, spend almost no time with them.  The children were growing up fatherless, though there was a father, and virtually motherless, though there was a mother.

The relationship of the mother and father began with illegal sex between a young minor and a grown man. From the age of 14 and her pregnancy, she lived with him, playing house with a live child, as she grew up. Perhaps because he had been a man, not a teenage boy himself when he got involved with his child-girlfriend, the father did not abandon the mother. But, like so many men who choose children to dominate, he kept her subjugated and trapped under his patriarchal thumb.

Shortly after this meeting, I coincidentally met with a large group of teenage girls who wanted to learn about how to feel more empowered. None of them knew what a healthy relationship was, how to say “no” to unwanted advances,or even  how to plan for a better tomorrow.

I looked around the room. Quite a few of the girls were pregnant. One I remembered well from my previous encounters with her. My heart sank to see her expanding belly. She was only 15, unbelievably immature, extraordinarily angry. She was the kind of girl who got into fights and picked on other kids. She was desperately wounded inside. Her dad had abandoned the family when she was small. The mother left her with other relatives and never bothered to call. She had not been nurtured or cared for, making her exactly the sort so needy for love that she would run after any show of affection.  Sadly, “any affection” always ends up being sexual.  A baby will love her, right? It will be someone, her damaged core dreams, she can keep.

The girl is perhaps borderline retarded, perhaps just never taught how to think by her miserable upbringing. Who knows who the father of her baby is. Will he last more than a few months in her life, if he is even still around? Surely he won’t stay. She is hard to love or even like, thanks to her rage.

Over and over I have found that the girls I meet who are the least emotionally ready and capable of being parents are always the ones who end up pregnant the youngest. What makes them a burden on society is also what makes them a draw to the sleazy guys — often, grown men — who see their vulnerability and sexual availability. And none of these girls, ever, think of adoption.

I then meet individually with another young teenager, sobbing because she has just miscarried. She has been sexually active since she was twelve when she was date-raped, though she does not realize then that, when he forced her to have sex, that was rape. She has an absent father and an emotionally absent mother and the guys that offer her affection in exchange for sex sex sort of compensate for the deep emotional wound she carries. She knows that she is not ready to be a mother, but the loss of the pregnancy that shouldn’t have been, and the loss of the 35 year old lover, who now sits in jail, makes her weep.  She needs to grow up, to have a future. She needs a mother to nurture her, a father who takes the time to be a presence so she doesn’t have to find love in the arms of an adult sleazebag. The medical professionals who saw her gave her advice on safe sex and contraception. No adult, at home or in school, or in medical offices has ever told her that she could wait or even say no. They just figure she is having sex anyway.

I have found that the group of young girls is hungry for the permission to say “no.”  Their attitude isn’t about how much they enjoy teenage sex. It is about how pressured they feel, how sex is the only way they can have a boyfriend, and how they are aware that women have lowered the standards for guys and that the guys themselves have been lowered.

These children learn in school how to have safe sex, but they are not taught about commitment, nor about emotional and social responsibility. The thinking that predominates in the schools is that teaching values is judgmental. The educators cannot comprehend that teaching these girls that all teenagers are sexually active is, in fact, also teaching a value. These girls are the victims. They want guys who respect them and they never meet them.

The girls admit they accept crumbs from guys because otherwise they won’t have boyfriends. There is no such thing as restraint or protective love, or even courting. Everything ends up in a sex act — oral, vaginal.  “Dating” boils down to getting together and humping. The girl hopes this will lead to love and commitment or dreaming that the sex is a sign of love and commitment.  The boy is king of the world, a rooster strutting among his hens.

The whole day saddens me. I am sad for our society for the burden all these people place on taxpayers. We are paying for the social crises that a generation has transported across our border without our consent.  As a compassionate person I feel for their sorrows and deprivations and try to help as best I can, but as an American I cannot help but feel some resentment that this burden should be here at all.

I am certain that at least some of these innocent babies will become everyone’s problem. At least some will become the children in foster care, juvenile detention, and prison. At least some will receive free breakfasts and lunches in school, food stamps, public assistance, and time and attention from gang units in the police department, defacing our public buildings with graffiti and filling our streets with gang warfare. They will be high school dropouts or marginally skilled and marginally educated.  At least some will sell or use drugs, or become parents themselves at young ages. The babies will be US citizens, but they will live on the fringes.

Throughout the day I observed the toll and burden of illegal immigration on this country, and I observed the sorrowful emotional toll of the utter collapse of courtship and sexual restraint on our youth. Certainly, their physical desires are not stronger than any generation of young people that preceded them. Rather, they are inundated with messages, by their celebrities, TV shows, music, internet culture and on and on, messages not of self-control and dignity, but of sexual hotness. They learn that if a guy waits two months for sex it is a really long time, because the expectation is that no waiting is necessary.

Sex is empty. It is loveless, though she may think she is in love.  It is a tragic consequence of the sexual revolution that ended formal courtship and replaced it with the human equivalent of dogs humping. It lowered men and debased women, and the innocent little babies born to these needy, immature, sexually active, under-nurtured, lost young  souls makes me truly sad. Everything is backwards. First sex. Then a relationship . . . maybe. Then maybe, after a few kids, marriage one day — if they are still together.

One thing I’m sure of, after pondering about the young women I saw today and the societal message they have — in order to civilize young men once again, our young women will have to believe that they deserve better, and to refuse to sleep with men who, aside from the minimal necessity of an occasional flattering word, treat the girls like a hole in the mattress, rather like  a cherished person. The girls must be whole in order to insist that the men be whole as well.

[Bookworm here, adding one link that graphically illustrates the terrible economic consequences flowing from the social devastation Lulu describes.]

A youthful indiscretion?

By now you’ve all read that Levi Johnston is backing off from the slanders he stated about the Palin family and, to give him credit, he’s doing so public.  What intrigued me was the fact that he attributed his lies to “youthful indiscretion.”  Aside from the fact that he told those lies less than two years ago, and that he is, in my eyes, still quite youthful, I found it a peculiar excuse.

To me, a youth indiscretion is something thoughtless, something you do because you just don’t think clearly through to the consequences:  foolish sex (and he certainly did commit that indiscretion); foolish drinking; cow tipping; etc.  I don’t see deliberately and methodically slandering your child’s grandparents as a “youthful indiscretion.”  That’s fullblown malice, irrespective of ones youth.

What do you think?

The “patriotism” they’re teaching our school children — or, let’s talk about shallow thinking

I was at my child’s school the other day, and happened to glance at the daily handout the children receive.  It had the usual special announcements and ended with “Today’s Patriotic Quotation.”  I was rather pleased to see that there was a patriotic quotation included (on a daily basis, yet).  Reading the quotation, though, just depressed me.  As far as I could tell, it had nothing whatsoever to do with patriotism.

Patriotism means support of or pride in ones country.  A patriotic quotation, therefore, would laud something distinctly American.  I’ve been happily awash in patriotic quotations lately, since I signed up for daily emails from The Patriot Post.  Every day, as part of the material this organization sends to me, I get a quotation from the Founders reminding me of America’s exceptionalism.  Here are just a few examples:

“Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction.” –Thomas Jefferson, letter to Wilson Nicholas, 1803

“No morn ever dawned more favorable than ours did; and no day was every more clouded than the present! Wisdom, and good examples are necessary at this time to rescue the political machine from the impending storm.” –George Washington, letter to James Madison, 1786

“The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust.” –James Madison, Federalist No. 57

“I trust that the proposed Constitution afford a genuine specimen of representative government and republican government; and that it will answer, in an eminent degree, all the beneficial purposes of society.” –Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, 1788

I admit that many of the Founder’s quotations are more intellectually sophisticated than the average 11 year old can comprehend, but there are other truly patriotic quotations floating around, highlighting the wonders of the American system and the fundamental goodness of the American people.  (And I would be delighted if you would send your favorite patriotic quotations to the comments section in my blog.)

The day I visited the school, though, the “Patriotic Quotation” had nothing whatsoever to do with America.  Instead, it was this, from Eleanor Roosevelt:

It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.

Am I missing something when I read that, or am I correct that it is entirely unrelated to America?  Instead, it’s the standard pabulum of the Left, waffling on about the wonders of peace.

Believe it or not, despite the fact that I’m a conservative, I’m all for peace.  But peace is only worthwhile if it stands for something.  As my regular readers know, I’m extremely fond of quoting Tacitus, who spoke of Roman military victories thusly:  “They make a desert and call it peace.”

Totalitarian countries are very peaceful.  There are no barroom brawls, no street protests, no euphoric rock concerts, no wacky TV shows, and no political debates.  All is quiet.  If citizens follow the myriad rules, if they keep their heads down and worship at the government’s shrine, all is peaceful.  The residents in such countries work at peace daily in their continual efforts to stay alive.

You’ll pardon me for being condescending here, but I cannot escape the feeling that the liberal approach to war and peace is extraordinarily shallow.  They attach labels to appearances, and then try to derive deep meanings from those labels.  (Hardly surprising, I guess, from a political orientation that rotates around the hardcore labeling that is identity politics.)

Here are the familiar liberal tropes, the behavior labels, if you will:  “War is bad.”  “Peace is good.”  “Small armed groups rising up against a large military are good.”

But what if the War is the Civil War, which broke the back of the institution of slavery?  (It also severely damaged states’ rights, which I understand, but I’m focusing on slavery here, a genuine evil that Progressives surely would want to see destroyed.)  Or how about if the War is World War II, which defeated Nazi Germany?

I don’t need to re-hash my peace shtick, set out above.  Peace is good only when it’s allied with freedom.  Peace alone can easily be the quiet of the grave.

As for the “small armed uprisings,” you know that I’m thinking of all the Progressives who compare Al Qaeda or Hamas to the American Revolution.  At the shallow strata that constitutes Progressive thinking, if you’re big, you must be the oppressor, and if you’re small, you must be the oppressed.

I actually wrote about this precise point some years ago in an American Thinker article regarding Leftist — or, as I called it, Marxist — morality, a post triggered by my watching an acclaimed movie called Maria Full of Grace, which was a sympathetic portrait of a drug smuggling illegal alien.  Marxist morality is a distinct creature from our more traditional Biblical morality.  Rather than reinvent the wheel, let me quote myself:

This ethical paradigm [i.e., Marxist morality] isn’t premised on right and wrong.  It is, instead, concerned with oppressor and oppressed. We all know, of course, that Marxism orders the world by oppressors and oppressed.  I always saw this hierarchical standard, however, as ex post facto retrofitting explaining, not why someone was right to do as he did, but why he shouldn’t be punished.  This Marxist approach was an explanation for things that had already happened (a la the Officer Krupke song), not a moral justification for determining future conduct.

[snip]

If you haven’t seen the movie, the plot precis is that a poor, unemployed, pregnant Columbian girl gets herself a job as a mule, running cocaine into America.  The San Francisco Chronicle, in its review, introduced the movie as follows:

A “Bonnie and Clyde” moment — when you find yourself rooting for the outlaw over the authorities — comes a third of the way into “Maria Full of Grace,” a revelatory independent film whose moments of incredible sadness are offset by the same state of grace that blesses its astonishing title character.

Given that the lead character is an unwed pregnant woman engaged in illegal conduct, I naively assumed that the “state of grace” to which the review refers was the moment in which Maria suddenly realizes that she is engaged in evil, immoral conduct; repents; and works to undo the wrongs in which she was involved.  Had I begun by reading the Roger Ebert review, I never would have made this silly mistake.  Thus, Ebert has this to say, in relevant part:

Long—stemmed roses must come from somewhere, but I never gave the matter much thought until I saw “Maria Full of Grace,” which opens with Maria working an assembly line in Colombia, preparing the roses for shipment overseas. I guess I thought the florist picked them early every morning, while mockingbirds trilled. Maria is young and pretty and filled with fire, and when she finds she’s pregnant, she isn’t much impressed by the attitude of Juan, her loser boyfriend. She dumps her job and gets a ride to Bogota with a man who tells her she could make some nice money as a mule — a courier flying to New York with dozens of little Baggies of cocaine in her stomach. [....]

Maria is a victim of economic pressures, but she doesn’t think like a victim. She has spunk and intelligence and can think on her feet, and the movie wisely avoids the usual cliches about the drug cartel and instead shows us a fairly shabby importing operation, run by people more slack—jawed than evil. Here is a drug movie with no machineguns and no chases. It focuses on its human story, and in Catalina Sandino Moreno, finds a bright—eyed, charismatic actress who engages our sympathy.

By writing the above, Ebert unwittingly defines the second part of Leftist morals, the part that states that, if you are on the bottom of the Marxist hierarchy, your status preemptively sanctifies any conduct in which you engage, provided that it is directed against oppression (however you define that oppression, or whoever creates that oppression).  In other words, morals aren’t just about feelings, anymore.  Instead, they can be determined relative to a person’s status on the economic ladder. “Maria is a victim of economic pressures.”  Given her situation, she cannot make immoral choices.  All of her choices are virtuous responses to her degraded situation.

[snip]

I might have spent several days brooding over the movie’s complete immorality, and the critics’ swoons over that same movie, if I hadn’t heard the next day a laudatory review on NPR  about the new Battlestar Galactica series. In that science fiction show, cyborgs have conquered humans living on a distant colony, and the humans are struggling to deal with the situation and to overthrow the cyborgs.  The critic interviewed in the NPR spot said that, to him, the show worked to make the viewer understand the insurgents in Iraq by showing us that they have an “oppressed minority fighting against conquering majority” viewpoint. In other words, it makes the Iraqi insurgents sympathetic.

Frankly, I have a hard time being sympathetic to people who back regimes that murder millions of its own people; who enjoy beheading innocents; and who would like to impose a relentlessly grim religious rule that requires death sentences for eating ice cream, singing, playing tennis, or putting on a clown show for children. These are not good people whether they’re in power or are seeking power.

In the Leftist moral view, however, just as all workers are exploited and should be praised for taking the initiative by engaging in utterly immoral, illegal activity, so too are all underdogs virtuous. If you’re in charge, you’re bad; if you’re struggling to overthrow those in charge, you’re good. It doesn’t seem to occur to Leftist moralists to examine the motives of those involved in any given struggle.

There’s more of the same in the rest of my article, here, but I think you get the point.

And so I’m right back at the quotation they served at my child’s school as an example of patriotism.  It had nothing to do with America, and everything to do with a conviction that some abstract peace is the highest goal.  Having read that, I sincerely wonder what yesterday’s patriotic quotation was, and what tomorrow’s will be.  Does the school ever praise our country, or does it just use famous Democrats and Leftists as mouthpieces for shallow and abstract ruminations about facile and meaningless goals?  I hope that the day I was there was just a one-off, since our children our vulnerable, and their schools’ indoctrination affects them strongly.

New York Times admits that liberals are dodos *UPDATED*

The dodo, as you may recall, is extinct.  I wonder, though, how many people remember why the dodo became extinct.  It was because, lacking any serious natural predators in their homeland of Mauritius, the dodos were a bit too friendly to incoming colonists (and their animals), and simply allowed themselves to be eaten into oblivion:

As with many animals that have evolved in isolation from significant predators, the dodo was entirely fearless of people, and this, in combination with its flightlessness, made it easy prey for humans. However, journals are full of reports regarding the bad taste and tough meat of the dodo, while other local species such as the Red Rail were praised for their taste. However, when humans first arrived on Mauritius, they also brought with them other animals that had not existed on the island before, including dogs, pigs, cats, rats, and Crab-eating Macaques, which plundered the dodo nests, while humans destroyed the forests where the birds made their homes; currently, the impact these animals—especially the pigs and macaques—had on the dodo population is considered to have been more severe than that of hunting. The 2005 expedition’s finds are apparently of animals killed by a flash flood; such mass mortalities would have further jeopardized a species already in danger of becoming extinct.
Dodo skeleton, Natural History Museum (England)

Although there are scattered reports of mass killings of dodos for provisioning of ships, archaeological investigations have hitherto found scant evidence of human predation on these birds. Some bones of at least two dodos were found in caves at Baie du Cap which were used as shelters by fugitive slaves and convicts in the 17th century, but due to their isolation in high, broken terrain, were not easily accessible to dodos naturally.

It turns out that there is very little difference between your modern liberal and the vanished dodo. Liberals are trying to spin this difference this as an attack on conservatives (“conservatives are paranoid loonies”), but we know who’s going to survive at the end of the day:

Researchers have found, for example, that some humans are particularly alert to threats, particularly primed to feel vulnerable and perceive danger. Those people are more likely to be conservatives.

One experiment used electrodes to measure the startle blink reflex, the way we flinch and blink when startled by a possible danger. A flash of noise was unexpectedly broadcast into the research subjects’ earphones, and the response was measured.

The researchers, led by Kevin B. Smith of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, found that those who had a stronger blink reflex at the noise were more likely to take such conservative positions as favoring gun rights, supporting warrantless searches, and opposing foreign aid.

That makes intuitive sense: If you are more acutely sensitive to risks and more fearful of attack, you also may be more aggressive in arming yourself and more wary of foreigners.

In other words, despite the nastiness that crept into that Nicholas Kristoff report (as, for example, the swipe that conservatives favor the ultimate evil of warrantless searches), the fact remains that we are the un-dodos, ready to defend ourselves from predators as necessary.

Kristoff also assures his liberal readers that science shows that conservatives are generally meaner, more abusive people, especially when it comes to their poor children:

This research is tentative and needs to be confirmed, but it fits into a fascinating framework of the role of personality types in politics, explored in a recent book, “Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics,” by two political scientists, Marc J. Hetherington of Vanderbilt University and Jonathan D. Weiler of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They start by exploring data showing a remarkably strong correlation between state attitudes toward spanking children and voting patterns. Essentially, spanking states go Republican, while those with more timeouts go Democratic.

Professors Hetherington and Weiler contend that the differences stem from profound differences in cognitive styles. Spankers tend to see the world in stark, black-and-white terms, perceive the social order as vulnerable or under attack, tend to make strong distinctions between “us” and “them,” and emphasize order and muscular responses to threats. Parents favoring timeouts feel more comfortable with ambiguities, sense less threat, embrace minority groups — and are less prone to disgust when they see a man eating worms.

We’re brutes, you understand, brutes.  Except that research that Kristoff didn’t mention shows that the more authoritarian parent (who is someone distinct from the abusive parent) is good for children.  Thus, people who impose quick and decisive boundaries on their kids are doing them a favor:

Children who are smacked by parents often turn out more successful than those who have not, research has found.

The study concluded that children who had been physically disciplined when they were young, between the ages of 2 and 6, were performing better as teenagers on almost every measure that was taken into consideration than those who had never been smacked.

It was only in cases where it continued beyond the age of 12 that the children were found to be affected negatively, resulting in a dip on performance indicators.

The results of the US-based study undermines the efforts of various campaigners who have been trying to have physical punishment outlawed in the UK, who have claimed that it causes long-term damage to the children.

Read the rest here.

So, even as Kristoff tries to show that, genetically, conservatives are paranoid and cruel, the facts show that people who have these conservative instincts survive well and raise children who thrive.

UPDATE:  Right Wing News interviewed Thomas Sowell.  You should read the whole thing, but this bit jumped out at me, as part of the dodo syndrome about which liberals are so peculiarly proud:

If terrorists with nuclear weapons don’t focus your mind, nothing will. Yet, not only are we doing nothing, we’re doing elaborate, clever nothing. We’re going to the United Nations, we’re holding conferences. There are resolutions being passed. You know — a lot of busy work — none of which has the slightest chance of deterring Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

San Francisco School Board cuts academic programs to fund gay rights at school

Two days ago, I brought to your attention the fact that the San Francisco School Board — despite facing a $113 million dollar budget shortfall over the next two years, despite its admission that it will be cutting summer school and academic programs, and despite the fact that there has not been a sudden outbreak of extreme prejudice against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) students in San Francisco’s public schools — was seriously contemplating putting into place a whole new program aimed at tracking discrimination against the GLBT crowd and at educating the San Francisco student population to drop words such as “dyke,” “fag” and “queer” from its insult lexicon (although I’ll just note here that all those words are very “in” with the Queer activist crowd).

I was careful to point out that this program was simply the subject of debate at the Board meeting.  To be honest, I thought it would die on the vine, because even San Francisco politicians can’t be so crazy that they’ll openly undermine academic programs during a budget shortfall while simultaneously creating a whole new layer of costly victim class bureaucracy.  But as Mencken should have said, “No one ever went broke underestimating Progressives’ pathological need to tax the public to obtain reparations for self-defined PC victim groups.”  And so, in a turn of events that appears to have surprised even the SF Chronicle‘s reporter, the San Francisco School Board turned its back on the academic needs of the majority of the students trapped in San Francisco’s mediocre public schools, and pandered:

The San Francisco school board added to the district’s massive $113 million shortfall over the next two years by voting Tuesday night to fund a substantial increase in instruction and services related to gay and lesbian issues.

Though the district is facing layoffs and significant program cuts, board members unanimously agreed that the estimated $120,000 annual price tag was worth it to support gay and lesbian students – children who are more likely to experience bullying and skip school because they are afraid.

The resolution calls for adding a district position to manage “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning” youth issues. It also requires the district to keep tabs on harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation and distribute educational packets every year to parents encouraging them to discuss sexuality, gender identity and safety with their children.

The measure, sponsored by the city’s Youth Commission and Human Rights Commission and the district’s Student Advisory Council, requires district staff to seek outside funding to cover the costs, but guarantees at least a half-time position and other services regardless.

About 13 percent of San Francisco’s middle school students and 11 percent of high school students self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, according to a district survey.

Read the rest here.

(As an aside, the last paragraph I quoted has a very high level of self-identification compared to national numbers.  One reason there might be such a high level of self-identification is that GLBT kids in SF do feel fairly safe, despite the fact that they are bullied more than their peers — or, at least, safe enough to explore and recognize their sexuality.  It could also be that gay parents raise gay children, something that does not answer the nature/nature debate about gayness, but that seems to happen fairly often to the extent I’ve observed gay parents.  San Francisco, of course, has a lot of gay — and, I might add, loving and wonderful — parents.  It could also be because the constant focus on gay sex in San Francisco’s schools and streets affects youngsters’ sexuality, pushing them in experimental directions they might sublimate, happily or not, in a slightly more repressive environment. )

But even with a high 13% GLBT self-identification, and even accepting that these kids are less happy than your average teenager (who is often plenty unhappy), and even accepting that GLBT youth are the subject of greater bullying, it strikes me as unconscionable to for a School Board, which is tasked with the well-being of all students in the district, to engage in this type of touchy-feelie programing when the district as a whole is going broke. The fact is that bullying should be unacceptable regardless of the nature of victim.  Heck, I got bullied unmercifully at some rough schools because I was short and wore glasses.  The solution is to de-rough the schools, many of which are worn out and gang-ridden, rather than to focus on a specifically identified victim group.  This is a weird version of the Left’s obsession with equality of outcome, rather than equality of opportunity.  Rather than making a better, safer environment for all, the Progressives are trying to ensure that GLBT students are picked on at precisely the same statistical rate as their non-GLBT peers.

As I pointed out the other day, San Francisco isn’t alone in this desire to appease minority sensibilities at the expense of the majority.  Berkeley, right across the Bay, garnered significant headlines when its school district proposed cutting science programs (that is, solidly academic programs) because not enough minorities were signing up for them.  After an uproar from parents who care more about their children’s education than parading them as sacrificial lambs to Progressive politics, the school district has backed off the plan, at least for now.

Fundamentally, this isn’t about GLBT safety, no matter how the School Board dresses it up.  This is simply the Progressive mindset at work:  minorities are victims; victims need reparations; within the context of public education, reparations come in the form of denying academic opp0rtunities to all students (including, of course, the victims themselves).

Politics and parenting styles

As you have probably guessed from my blog silence this weekend, I have been heavily engaged in various family activities, many of which seemed to involve soccer balls or (this weekend) footballs.  I haven’t had lots of time to think about current events (which must, in any event, take a back seat to the Superbowl), but I have had a lot of time to think about parenting.  These thoughts have let me to the conclusion that, at least in my household, our parenting styles reflect quite precisely our political beliefs.

With some glaring exceptions (most notably second hand smoke which bugs me so much I’m willing to allow the government to prohibit smoking in public places), I’m fairly libertarian.  I believe in individualism, without tight government oversight.  I trust that people, armed with adequate information, will make appropriate decisions regarding their own well-being.  If they choose not to make appropriate decisions, I believe that they should be responsible for the consequences.  I think our government should be there in the case of unforeseen disasters, that it has a responsibility to protect the nation from national security and epidemic health dangers, and that a humane nation must always care for those who cannot care for themselves (such as the mentally or physically disabled).  Mostly, though, I believe that citizens thrive when left alone.

It turns out that, as the parent of pre-adolescent children, I bring precisely the same attitude towards parenting.  I make sure that my children are very clear on the big rules and the big moral issues.  Some of the rules tell them what they must do (go to school) and some tell them what they may not do (drink, drugs, sex, violence, etc.).  The morality is predicated on both the Golden Rule (“Do unto others…”) and the Hillel Rule (“Do not do unto others…”).  I hold them responsible for handling many of their own affairs.

Here are a few examples of how this parenting works:  I will remind the kids to do their homework, but I will not force them to do it.  Their homework is not my problem; it’s theirs.  If they fail to do it, they have to deal with the teacher.  Both of my kids do their homework.

I do not dictate what my children should wear.  I have some moral parameters (she may not wear slut clothes; he may not wear gang clothes), but otherwise I’ll simply give them information, whether that’s about the expected temperature or the type of event we’re attending).  They may make their own choices.  If they’re too hot or too cold, or under-dressed or over-dressed, next time they will probably take more seriously the information I gave them.

I do not tell my kids what they should do with their friends.  I may say they cannot watch TV or play computer games, and they know that they’re not allowed to engage in criminal, cruel or dangerous acts, but otherwise they’re supposed to find their own amusement.  Their ability to have fun with their peers is not my responsibility.

I understand that this laissez-faire attitude won’t work under all circumstances, just as it won’t for a government vis a vis all of its citizens, at all times.  When my children were little, they needed me to have a much heavier parenting hand.  When they’re sick, they need my care.  When they’re in danger, they need my protection.  When they violate rules that don’t come with an automatic “natural consequence,” I may have to step in and provide that consequence.

But always, always, I endeavor to give my children as much freedom as they can possibly handle.  I also try, at all times, to communicate as clearly as possible with them.  Because I don’t bury them in a flurry of prohibitions and directives, it’s pretty easy for me to be clear about the things that matter.  They know what I expect, and they can easily make choices to abide with my expectations — or to ignore them and face the consequences.

My husband is a very bright man who suspects that most people process information poorly and don’t make good decisions.  He believes that certain races and cultures (cultures = Sarah Palin hicks) simply can’t function without an educated hand guiding them — preferably a hand educated at a reputable East Coast institution.  He is a firm believer that government exists to provide as many services and rights (even if those rights are conflicting) as possible.  Government should provide education to everyone (legal or illegal), health care to everyone (legal or illegal), and housing to everyone (again, legal or illegal).  He believes firmly in anthropogenic climate change and wants the government, by hook or by crook, through incentives or punitive measures, to change our economy and way of life to protect against imminent immolation.  He is a relativist, who believes that there are few absolute rights and wrongs, and that America fought her last good war between 1939 and 1945.  He is, in other words, a modern liberal.

What’s interesting is how closely my husband’s parenting style mirrors his belief that government, acting for its citizen’s own benefit, must constantly micromanage their lives.  While I will inform my children that it’s cold outside, he will tell them what they must wear.  While I will remind them that they have to do their homework before bedtime, he will sit them down with threats of reprisals.  While I will tell them to get away from their computer games, he will try to plan out their activities. He is very directive and protective.  He tends not to give the children information or a big picture idea behind his rules and directives.  Instead, he just says “Do this” or “Do not do that.”  He and the kids run into trouble sometimes when they interpret something contrary to his meaning.

Here are two examples of the way in which children and adults miscommunicate, although neither is from my own home.  The first concerns the mother who says “Don’t let me see you hit your sister.”  A grown-up understands this to be a prohibition against hitting.  A child, however, may quite logically read it as a prohibition against hitting his sister within Mom’s line of sight.  Likewise, a parent who tells a child to “get your backpack out of the front hall” may be surprised when the child merely moves it to the living room.  Children are literalists and it can make for some huge communication problems, especially with a directive parent.

My husband approaches parenting with tremendous love for the children, just as my laissez faire approach is a loving one.  That is, he does not perceive himself to be a bully, nor do I believe myself to be neglectful.  Each of us thinks that our approach is the best way to shape our little ones into happy and productive adults.

The kids, to their credit, are shaping up nicely.  They do well in school, have normal social lives and good friends, stay out of trouble, and dress appropriately.  It’s impossible to tell whether the freedom I grant them or the direction he gives them is responsible for their current well-being.  Perhaps it’s an amalgam of the two — which is also a good metaphor for a healthy government being one that balances between anarchy and totalitarianism.  There are circumstances where the laissez-faire approach is neglectful to the point of cruelty; and other circumstances in which a heavy hand is stifling to the point of dysfunction and despair.

(I’ll keep you posted on all this as my children approach their teen years.  My husband and I may find ourselves doing some fancy footwork to adapt our parenting styles to those changing circumstances.)