The Bookworm Beat (10/21/14) — Still catching up with email edition, and Open Thread

Woman writingIt’s always the same: Over the weekend, because of family demands, I get almost no time at my computer, and my email starts to back up. By Tuesday, between my two email accounts, I have several hundred unread emails. I then do the logical thing: I cravenly avoid my computer. Finally, late on Tuesday or perhaps by Wednesday, my conscience finally catches up with me and I embark on a frenzy of responding to emails, reading articles, and posting.

I’m heading for my frenzy now, although I’m somewhat hamstrung by the various drives I have to make on behalf of young people who cannot drive themselves. By the time you read this post, I’ll have been working on it intermittently for several hours, so I sure hope it’s good.

An obligatory comment about Monica Lewinsky

She still loves Bill; Drudge destroyed her life; and it’s everyone’s fault but her own that her life imploded when her affair with the president went public. Even the world’s smallest violin is too big and noisy to express how little I feel for Monica Lewinsky.

Lewinsky wasn’t 15 when she embarked on an affair with Clinton, in which case the fault would be entirely his. She was 24, by which time she was old enough to have a moral compass that said “You don’t have an affair with a married man,” and also old enough to have figured out that, considering that her partner in adultery was the president of the United States, when/if the fecal matter finally hit the fan, it would be a Cat 5 fecal storm.

It was not Matt Drudge’s fault; it was not the “bullying” media’s fault; it was not Lucianne Goldberg’s fault; it was not even Hillary’s fault, much as I would love to blame her just because I don’t like her: it was Monica’s fault and Bill’s fault, and neither is excused by the bad behavior of the other. Both behaved immorally, both tempted fate, and both got caught.

The only thing that’s really unfair is that Bill didn’t end up as ignominiously as Monica did. Apparently the party that oh-so-valiantly fights for women everywhere (as long as they’re not in politically correct Muslim countries or homes) was happy to kick Monica to the curb, while feting and enriching and even worshiping the man who let her take the fall.

How the New York Times is spinning WMDs

Up until Bush actually invaded Iraq, everyone and his uncle thought that Saddam Hussein had WMDs. Indeed, as the New York Times recently made clear, everyone and his uncle (at least if they worked in the American government) knew that Hussein had WMDs . . . because the US had given them to Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war. With this knowledge finally out there, Bush ought to be vindicated and the Democrats ought to be ashamed, except that in the looking glass world of American politics, that’s not what’s happening.

Presumably because of embarrassment about having given these WMDs to Hussein, during the Iraq War the Pentagon kept their discovery a secret, even though revealing them would have vindicated the decision to go to war. Meanwhile, back in the present, following Obama’s pullout from Iraq, leaving it ripe for ISIS, the New York Times is saying that these particular WMDs don’t count, precisely because they were old and American, rather than shiny new and Iraqi.  I’m unclear on why they’re less WMD for this reason, but there you have it. (If you see the NYT’s author, C.J. Chivers, on The Colbert Report, he makes this point explicit.)

So, in a swirl of finger-pointing, embarrassment, and misdirection, we once again lose sight of the main point: Saddam Hussein had WMDs. Sure, we gave them to him when he was sort of our ally, but the fear in 2003 was that, when he turned out to be our enemy, he might use our weapons against us — kind of like it’s reasonable to fear now that ISIS will use against us the American weapons that the US military accidentally delivered into its hands (if ISIS reports are accepted as true).

VDH has more on the whole WMD story.

On immigration and amnesty, the only word I can think of is “impeachment”

I don’t need to say anything. Drudge says it all:

Fullscreen capture 10212014 40850 PM.bmp

Oh, and I guess impeachment is the word I’m thinking of when it comes to Obama’s attempt to evade Congressional scrutiny of his deal with Iran.  I certainly can’t think of any decent, upright, moral, pro-America, pro-ally reason for him to do that.

A few words about ISIS’s latest video

The latest ISIS-released video gets me back to a point I’ve made before about ISIS. This particular video shows a father leading the charge when it comes to stoning his daughter to death for dishonoring the family through alleged adultery.  Other than those specifics, though, it’s pure ISIS:  Men torturing and murdering women, children, teenagers, and other men.

What makes ISIS different from all other torturers in the modern era is that other bad actors tried to hide their barbarism from the world at large (although they rubbed their own people’s nose in it to make sure the people stayed at heel).

The Soviet Union hid its terrors in the Kremlin basement and in Siberian gulags. When Westerners came to town, the Soviets showed their shiny happy face. The same holds true today when visitors go to Cuba or North Korea: they get taken on the rounds of all the polished, “successful” looking communities, while the government hides the fear, poverty, and despair that underpins its regime. (Think too of the Potemkin walls China put up around ghettos in Beijing for the Olympics.) The Nazis, even though they used fear to control people within their territory, were secretive about their most foul plans.  The most grotesque emanations of their foul ideology took place Gestapo headquarters in occupied territory or in concentration camps.

But not ISIS. The videos we see of beheadings and stonings and crucifixions aren’t copies smuggled out of occupied territory by resistance groups trying to make the world aware that ISIS is a truly terrible entity. Instead, ISIS proudly circulates these videos to the four corners of the earth.

The word “proud” is important. ISIS doesn’t distribute these snuff films merely to strike fear in the hearts of weak Westerners. It does so because, just as we promote the products of our factories, singers, dancers, intellectuals, painters, and architects because our own sensibility says that these products reflect well on us, ISIS believes that it is showing its best face when it crucifies teenagers, beheads babies, or makes a party out of a father stoning his own daughter to death.

To ISIS, snuff films are the good stuff that they have to offer:  “You can go to New York, and all that you’ll see are some big buildings, shows, art work, and a tall green woman on an island. But if you come to Iraq, you’ll get to kill people in the most brutal way possible. ISIS: It’s the Islamic vacation paradise!”

In 2001, Holiday Inn accurately predicted the US response to Ebola:

From Maetenloch, at Ace of Spades:

Mark Steyn was prescient too….

While we’re talking about successful tea-leaf reading, Ed Driscoll says that Mark Steyn accurately, yet satirically, predicted Monica Lewinsky’s retrospective about her moment of infamy.

The Lewinsky essay appears in Steyn’s new book, The [Un]Documented Mark Steyn, a collection of his essays. At $29.95, the autographed hardback isn’t cheap but, if you buy it, you’ll not only get a great book with Steyn’s signature, but you’ll also help fund his continued litigation against unrivaled fraudster, Michael Mann (of the false hockey stick climate change canard).

I have to admit that I’ll be waiting for the Kindle version. Because of the arthritis in my wrists, I no longer want big, heavy books. They’re just too hard to hold. And because of my vision, which is about 20/2000 along with age-related far-sightedness, I like the way Kindle allows me to make my text nice and big. I console myself that, when I buy the Kindle version (assuming there is one) some part of that purchase price will still make it into Steyn’s pocket.

The LGBTQ mafia goes after Robert Oscar Lopez

If the name Robert Oscar Lopez is familiar to you, it’s probably because you’ve read his articles over at American Thinker. Lopez, a bisexual English professor who was raised by two moms, opted for traditional marriage. Indeed, he and his wife just had their second child. Unfortunately for Lopez, he’s a man of conscience and, with the societal elevation of same-sex couples who adopt, special order, or use egg or sperm donated babies, he’s bravely asserted that same-sex parenting shouldn’t be encouraged. According to Lopez, same-sex homes are not like other homes and it’s unfair to bring a child into that environment. As a result, he’s become one of the most reviled men in America, insofar as the LGBTQ lobby is targeting him in the most vicious and inciteful terms imaginable.

As between bad foster care and a loving same-sex couple, I think it’s a no-brainer. But there’s a lot weirdness about same-sex couples who sort of create their own babies. I know a lesbian couple that had a gay friend inseminate the more feminine half of the couple. The resulting baby was a boy. The moms are good women and very attentive parents, except that the woman who bore him hates men so much that she cannot stand to have her own son touch her. Meanwhile the other partner also hates men with ferocity, so she’s remarkably cool about the kid. What kind of a home life is that?

When I read the news, I know that biological mixed sex parents can be pretty horrible too. Nevertheless, history and data tell us that the worst situation happens to the step child or, in our non-marrying age, the child living with a boyfriend who hasn’t even married his mother. Adults in a household with a non-biological child seem to yield to some atavistic imperative to stomp out this vulnerable creature that doesn’t have their genetic lineage. I can’t imagine that doesn’t hold true for same-sex couples too.

And a little child shall lead them

If I were a political candidate, I wouldn’t necessarily listen to a 20-year-old college student giving me advice about employment policies, nuclear negotiations, or executive management. I would definitely listen to that same college student, though, for advice about how to communicate with the youth of his generation. And finally, Republican politicians seem to be figuring out that, when it comes to political messaging, it is indeed a little child who shall lead them.

An Ebola timeline

One of the first things I do when I write a legal brief is create a timeline. Seeing how events relate to each other in time can be quite edifying, and it can expose unexpected strengths and weaknesses in ones case. Sharyl Attkisson has performed this useful task for Ebola, putting together a nice neat timeline showing America’s relationship to the virus since July of this year.

John Wick

I can’t figure out if John Wick is just a garden variety thriller, a trashy blood-fest, or something else. And doesn’t it really matter when it has Keanu? I actually probably won’t see it because I never see movies (Mr. Bookworm frowns on the expense and I’m loath to send money to Hollywood anyway), but a Keanu movie is always tempting….

Pictures

Some are my finds, most are from Caped Crusader, and some are from Sadie:

Charlton Heston political correctness tyranny with manners

Traitors in America join Dem party -- Kerry and Fonda

Sowell on Obama's care for Africans not Americans

Al Sharpton and Jeffrey Dahmer

Liberals investigate traffic jams not assassinations

RG III on political correctness

Reagan Republican extremists win

Kurdish v American feminists

Islam demands beheading

Yesterday's ally is today's enemy

Hazmat suit cartoon

Franklin Graham no sharia in America

JFK opposed high taxes

Truth wasn't included in the equation

The jihad isn't over it's at the infiltration phase

D'Souza I told you so

Are you more likely to be infected or beheaded than you were six years ago

The only two reasons for federal list of gun owners

City of Houston free speech enforcement

Vets before illegals

Obama baloney

Washington Obama and Biden on the truth

Ron Klain covers Obama's butt

Moderate Muslims demonstrating for peace

Ebola Response Team

Raising your children to be good people

helping old lady cross the streetMy parents raised me to be academically successful.  They came from a European milieu that valued intellectual elitism above all other things.  That was my value too, and one I applied to the people with whom I chose to surround myself.

As the years went by, though, I realized that intellectual elites often aren’t very nice people or even very smart people.  All too often, they armor themselves with degrees and disdain.  Some are nice, some aren’t, just like all other people.  When it comes to the ones who aren’t nice, though, what’s so interesting about the intellectual elite is how easily they rationalize away their meanness.  Their knowledge doesn’t lead to morality, it leads to a moral narcissism that sees them as the ultimate arbiters of what’s “good.

Having concluded that my parents’ European elitist values didn’t lead me to the people and places that would have worked best for my life, I’ve tried extremely hard to raise my children to be “nice.”  To me, that word contains within it such  notions as kind, honest, moral, helpful, and loyal.  You don’t have to be the top student or the best athlete, but you’d better not be the kid picking on the unattractive girl or the dorky boy. And when someone asks for help, you give it.

For the children’s entire lives, I’ve operated on the principle that, when it comes to them, I have to “catch them being good” — and that means catching them when they’ve been kind to another person or done the right thing.  I never let such incidents go without saying.

In other words, I agree with Rabbi Joseph Telushkin:

But here’s something depressing: It didn’t work. For their entire lives, I’ve been doing the right things — modeling good behavior (sometimes with great effort, since I’m not an innately nice person) and catching my children (and their friends) when they were behaving well — but it didn’t work. The hardest thing about the last several weeks hasn’t been the inconvenience of crutches, it’s been the fact that my children have been completely unwilling to step up and help out. I have been beyond disappointed. Despite all my efforts, I was unable to counter other influences in their lives, influences that revolve around grades, money, and self-fulfillment through selfishness.

My only hope now is that, once they’re on their own and life has its way with them, my children will discover the same life lesson that I learned: that at the end of the day, the behaviors that you will value most in yourself and in others are the ones that are rooted, not in money or prestige or transitory pleasures, but in innate decency and goodness.

The Left turns the idea of same-sex couples having babies into a shallow fashion statement

Elton John babyLast week, I posited that gay parenting has a problematic biological component that the Left assiduously ignores — or, more accurately, it has a lack of a biological component that the Left assiduously ignores. In any gay parenting relationship, at least one of the parents is a step parent, something that might explain why a recent study shows that children raised in same-sex households are less likely to go to college. History shows that (subject, of course, to individual differences), step parents don’t do as well as biological parents when it comes to the children in their care.

At the time I wrote my post, I was unaware that the New York Times had published a very excited article about gay parenting.  I was probably unaware because it published the story in its “Fashion and Style” section, which I never read.  The Times was just thrilled that affluent, beautifully dressed older gay people could spend lots of money to create children through science, not biology.

Before I address the Times‘ peculiar placement of that article — which is the main point I want to make in this post — I need to address some of the issues about same-sex parenting that the Left refuses to discuss.

In earlier post about issues connected with same-sex parenting, I focused on the possible problems arising from the step parenting aspect of same-sex child-rearing.   Rivka Edelman, who grew up with two fathers, writes about another problem with same-sex parenting — misogyny and misanthropy:

Sometimes I feel like such a stickler. I am not nitpicking when I say there was a mistake in the pages of The New York Times Fashion and Style section, piece, “And Baby Makes Three.”

We must fall on the side of intellectual honesty. That title should have read, “four,” or “five,” if one were to consider the actual human females involved in the production line of surrogacy these days.

The Times’ telling omission reflects something ominous, the deep misogyny of a gay male community, which in turn has been accepted and championed by many people who consider themselves progressive.

[snip]

Well, that dog doesn’t hunt. I grew up in a gay household and I know the arguments better than I know the pledge of allegiance. So save it. All of it– the missives, the threats. Don’t prove my point to people about loving the gay community. They will turn and tear their own to shreds in a heartbeat. Because the fragile narrative has to be protected at all costs. Family is a photo op. And children are props.

Let’s not kid ourselves about the cute photograph affixed to this New York Times article: That kid is not related to both of the “Daddies.” That child has been denied one parent so that men could prove that two men can play at baby-making—and ironically the men needed two women to do it.

The misogyny that Edelman talks about is the erasure of women from the equation.  Who needs women in this brave new world?  What Edelman could also have said was that, when lesbians have babies, men have been erased from the equation.  Who needs men in this brave new world?

When I started reading Edelman’s piece and saw it was about misogyny, I actually assumed it would head in a different direction:  How well does a man who finds women repulsive manage to parent a little girl and how well does a woman who finds men repulsive manage to parent a little boy?

Although it came to me as hearsay, I once heard from a very reliable source (who got it from the horse’s mouth) a dreadful story about a little boy born to one of two women in a lesbian relationship.  Because she was the biological mother, he felt a physical affinity for her and wanted to cuddle her.  Because she found men revolting, she could not bear to have him — her own son — touch her.  When he was a little boy, whenever he sought comfort from her, she didn’t rebuff him directly.   Instead, she held herself rigid (rather like someone with a tarantula crawling up his leg) waiting for the moment he would go away.  (I’ve heard that the same is true for some — not all, but some — women who raise a child who resulted from rape.)

I recognize that anecdote is not the same as data, but I do wonder about the “opposite sex” dynamic in a LGBTQ household.  Growing up in San Francisco, I had many, many gay friends.  The friendships were peculiar.  These men sought me out, which was flattering because these men were intelligent, and witty, and just fun to be around.  (Two of them had a moral decency that still has me rank them among the best people I’ve ever known, and that was true despite the fact that, before I knew them, they had been promiscuous members of the San Francisco leather scene.)  Many, although not all, of them were also complete bitches about women, constantly criticizing how women looked and acted.  It was as if these men were competing with the women, proving through their verbal attacks that they were better at being female than the women were.

My Dad summed it up best for me.  Back in the 1970s, looking at the hideous clothes women wore and the openly gay designers who created those fashions, he asked, “Why in the world would women want to be dressed by people who find them repulsive, or at least unappealing, at a fundamental sexual level?”  Good question and one that should interest all people of good will, gay or straight, who look at the gay parenting trend.

I’ve known fabulous same-sex parents and horrific biological parents.  Again, anecdote is not data, and my incomplete little samples prove nothing.  They just raise questions.  Nevertheless, considering the gay marriage and gay parenting debates roiling our society, it’s criminal that we’re not even allowed to ask these questions.  If we dare to raise them, we’re shouted down as “haters.”

Peculiarly enough, I don’t see myself as a hater.  Instead, I see myself as a “seeker” — someone who is witnessing profound changes in our society and who would like more information about the data underlying those changes. Indeed, when I ask and answer my questions, I come out pretty darn libertarian on the subject of gay parenting.

For example, if I found out that 25% of gay men who parent girls hate their daughters, would I say that’s a reason to oppose all gay men from parenting?  Or, conversely, if 25% of all lesbian women parenting sons hated boys, would that be a reason to oppose gay parenting?  No.  Emphatically not.  In terms of the broad bell curve of all parenting, those numbers, while tragic, are insignificant.  The number of children cruelly abused at the hands of heterosexual parents (both biological and step parents) makes it plain that nature is cruel to children and that the inevitable unlucky ones will find themselves at the hands of cruel, careless, horrible people.

I’d still be libertarian even if solid data showed that, at the highest point of the bell curve, it’s very clear that boys raised by lesbians and girls raised by gay men have significantly worse outcomes than comparably situated children when it comes to drug use, suicide, alcohol abuse, lifetime earning, etc.?  Even with that data, I don’t think that’s a reason to stop child-rearing in the LGBTQ community.  Take away gay parents, and there will still be children, raised in both functional and dysfunctional homes, who turn to drug use, suicide, and alcohol abuse, and who end up in poverty.  There will always be dysfunctional homes and sad children.

If I’m so libertarian, why am I concerned about that fluffy New York Times article and why am I asking the questions in the first place? The answer is that I’m trying to put the breaks on the Left’s thrill-a-minute approach to the sheer excitement of gays having babies.  Let me state again what I said at the beginning of this post: The New York Times put the story about gay designer babies in its Fashion and Style section, along with articles about the latest from the Paris design houses.  This bespeaks a profound lack of seriousness about a very serious subject — namely, the societal embrace (as opposed to the legal embrace) of parenting relationships that may be damaging for children.

Gay parenting as a fashion statement

For those members of the LGBTQ community who desperately want a child, my libertarian soul says “go for it.”  But for those who see — indeed, are encouraged to see — a child as the latest, trendy fashion accessory, I am utterly appalled that we live in a world where no one is standing athwart the barricades yelling “Stop and think about this first.”

When I stop and think about the New York Times‘ latest fashion trend, you know what I think of?  Black teen mothers in the inner city.  In the late 1980s or early 1990s, before political correctness made the topic impossible to raise, NPR did a report about black teen girls having babies. There are still stories about that problem today, but they’re always couched in Marxist terms involving black oppression at white hands. (And, considering the staggering numbers of black babies getting aborted, there are almost certainly fewer black teen mothers, making such stories less compelling.)

What made this “old time” NPR report different, was that it focused on the dynamics within the community itself. What I remember was that the story revealed was that having a baby was a statement about style and popularity. While the boys just wanted sex, the girls wanted those babies. They willingly got pregnant so that they could pick out a cool name (this was the era of those made-up faux-African names), have a baby shower (cool gifts), and otherwise take on the social status of a teen mother who was “hot” enough to attract a guy willing to impregnate her.  It was also a story about low self-esteem and loneliness, both of which these unhappy girls thought would be alleviated if they had a mini-me.

To the extent that the New York Times is using its fashion pages to encourage same-sex couples to have babies, then the LBGTQ baby-making community is no better than the inner city teens at the end of the last century. One does not have babies to be stylish, cool, avant-garde, edgy, or whatever else the fashion mavens want from this life. One has them because biological reality demands it (traditional same-sex couples) or because one genuinely wants the task of loving, caring for, supervising, worrying about, and educating a malleable little creature to become a good adult. It is extremely hard work. It’s a 24/7 job that requires constant vigilance, values, and energy. It’s not a purse that you carry around proudly for a season and then put in the closet.

In addition, if those gays living in their hermetically sealed gay communities (as almost all of my gay friends started to do once they became politically radicalized) feel that their lives are empty, and that a baby will fill in that space, they will learn what those black teens learned:  a baby will not fill the emptiness in your own soul.  Instead, the terrible thing is that you nurture that same emptiness in your baby.

Let me repeat:  Babies are not fashion statements.  But by stifling debate, the Left can sell the notion through its fashion pages.  This is a terrible thing.  How terrible?  You can get some insight into what happens to kids who are born to parents who have them for reasons of fashion, not love, read the chapter about Hollywood parenting in Andrew Brietbart’s and Mark Ebner’s Hollywood, Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon — The Case Against Celebrity. It will make your skin crawl.

A free society lets people have babies if they want babies.  A sick society hides from people the potential downsides of this decision, both for them and the baby, and encourages them to think of babies as nothing more than the latest trendy jacket.

(Note:  Regarding the photo of Elton John, his partner, and their first baby at the head of this post, I should say that I like and respect Elton John.  He’s a grandfather to his own children, but he’s also proven over the years that, after an exceptionally decadent and self-destructive few decades, he’s come out on the other side with a lot of stability and common sense, both of which make for good parenting decisions.)

Living life according to Hillel: “That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow”

Old woman walking awayMy mother called me yesterday, her voice shaking with tears.  “I’m in such terrible pain.  I can’t stand it.  I need to see the doctor.”

“Okay,” I said.  “I’ll take you.  When can the doctor see you?”

Mom’s answer made me realize I’d been played.  In a suddenly ordinary voice, she replied, “I already called and he can’t see me today, but he can see me tomorrow.  What time works for you?”

As someone suffering from a few of my own rickety joints, I have no doubt that Mom’s in significant pain and that a codeine shot will help out.  For that reason, I always take her to the orthopedist whenever she asks.  It’s just that I rather resent that she felt theatrics were necessary to get me to “yes.”

These trembling theatrics are what my Mom has always done.  That’s why, even though she’s a nonagenarian, they still bug me.  I can’t slough the tactic off by saying, “At her age, between labile emotions and a sense of helplessness engendered by age, of course she’ll use emotional manipulation.”  The reality is that this is just her way.

When I was growing up, we had a family friend who was wonderfully dramatic.  She easily turned something as mundane as her morning trip to the grocery store into an epic, and always amusing, adventure.  Because she was dramatic, my sister and I called her a drama queen.  What we didn’t realize was that her drama was to entertain, not to manipulate.  Meanwhile, back at home, our mother was enacting quiet little dramas about everything, all with an eye to achieving her ends.  It was very effective but, as you can see, decades later, it still irks me.

I love my mom.  She had a rotten life in many ways and developed survival skills to deal with a broken home, frequent relocations, Japanese concentration camp, the Israeli War of Independence, a frustrating marriage, immigration to a country she basically dislikes, etc.  I respect that, despite those troubles, she spent her entire adult life as a highly functional human being who worked hard, had a wide circle of friends, lived life vigorously, and parented with love and commitment.

Nevertheless, I still don’t like being played.

Despite this gripe, believe me when I say that I’m not making a big deal of yesterday’s phone call beyond whining a bit here.  I’m also using this self-indulgent whine to lead to a larger point.  I firmly believe that, at a certain age, we have to let go of resentments — or at least, as here, turn them into occasional grumbles, rather than life-controlling forces.

More importantly, I believe that, to the extent we don’t like people’s behaviors, it behooves us not to emulate them.  Or, as Hillel said, “That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow.  This is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary.  Go and study it.”  Thus, while I’m sure I have uncountable failings as a mother, the one sin I never commit is using emotional manipulation on my children.

I routinely try to remind my children about the Hillel principle.  It’s not unusual for them to respond to a scolding by saying, “You and/or Daddy and/or my sibling do it too.”  I then ask, “Do you like it when I (or your Daddy or sibling) do that?”  The answer, of course, is always “No.”  Which leads to the obvious follow-up question:  “Why in the world would you willingly emulate behavior you think is bad?”  I then always add, “Now that you’re teens, you’re old enough to stop just being reactive and, instead, to start making decisions about the type of person you want to be.”

It’s because they are teens, that my kids don’t instantly modify their behavior in response to my little Socratic dialogues.  Nevertheless, I want to plant this seed in their mind:  “You are responsible for choosing who and what you want to be in this life.  If you admire behaviors, copy them; if you dislike behaviors, avoid them.  You cannot in good conscience willingly engage in behaviors you believe are bad simply because ‘other people do them too.'”

***

Here’s an irony.  Just as I finished proofreading the above post, my Mom called.  “I have no pain today, so I guess the doctor won’t see me, right?”  I told her I was so happy she was feeling better.  While she doesn’t miss the pain, I sensed that she regretted that she won’t get to go to a doctor today.  She does love her doctors — and they, bless their hearts, take wonderful care of her.

How can schools act “in loco parentis” when even parents don’t act “in loco parentis”?

Robert Marucci doing his thing to entertain the masses.

Robert Marucci doing his thing to entertain the masses.

“In loco parentis” is a Latin term that translates to “in the place of a parent.”  To the extent it still shows up anywhere today, it shows up in courts when an institution appears on behalf of a child, instead of the parent appearing on behalf of the child.

The phrase used to have a place in education too.  Schools once acted “in loco parentis,” meaning that, when children, including college-aged children, were in their care, the schools imposed the type of rules that parents would be expected to impose.  At colleges and universities, dormitories were single-sex, and there were strict limits admission to people of the opposite sex.  After all, if it was reasonable to believe that Mom and Dad wouldn’t let their 18-year-old daughter “entertain” a man in her room all night, the college shouldn’t let her do that either.  Likewise, if parents were unlikely to approve of their children drinking themselves into a stupor on a regular basis, the schools ought to disapprove of the same conduct.  Boorish behavior, disrespectful language, public nudity, etc. — they all fell under the same rule:  if most parents wouldn’t approve, the college also wasn’t going to approve.

Because American public schools, unlike colleges and universities, don’t offer room and board along with education, the “in loco parentis” doctrine was less visible.  The deal was that the kids went to class, got taught a lesson, and then came home again.  Still, the schools, just as parents presumably would, frowned on public sex, drug use, violence, and obscenities.  In the old days, therefore, schools would not have looked kindly on the discovery that one of the school’s students was a gay internet porn star.  Just as Mom and Dad would be unlikely to invite Linda Lovelace into their home, the school would decline to invite Mr. Gay Porn Star into its classrooms.  Both parents and school would have said that the porn actor was a corrupting influence on the young minds under their care.

One high school in Pennsylvania made the mistake of thinking that it still has a duty to act in the place of the parents.  When it learned that Robert Marucci, an 18-year-old senior, was earning money on the side by having gay sex on the internet, it suspended him.  Because “corrupting others” is no longer an acceptable notion in America’s public schools, however, it based the suspension on the ground that Marucci’s presence at the school was “disruptive,” and interfered with the other students’ ability to learn.  Of course, since it was fellow students who apparently discovered Marucci’s sideline when they were surfing gay porn sites, one suspects that, if preventing “corruption” was the goal, that horse left the barn a long time ago.

How wrong the school was.  There was an immediate uproar.  How dare the school try to shelter students from the antics of a fellow student who strips off his clothes and has sex with men, live and on camera, for money? The school quickly backed down.

All of the above was to be expected in today’s world.  Nowadays, what constitutes unforgivable debased behavior is to say that you believe in heterosexual marriage and sexual relations, support the Second Amendment, and believe that it’s murder to dismember a living baby because the mom doesn’t want it.  (Never mind that most Americans put gradations on the Mom’s desires, showing sympathy when she’s been raped and being decidedly less sympathetic when she expresses horror that an extra baby will force her to shop at Costco.)

What actually surprised me about Marucci’s story is his Mom’s reaction.  As far as she’s concerned, her son is “awesome” (her word, not mine):

Melyssa Lieb, from Cocoa, Florida, said she vehemently supports her son, 18-year-old Robert Marucci, who was suspended from his high school after classmates discovered his explicit career.

‘I think he’s the most awesome person in the world,’ she told WKMG through tears. ‘He stood up and he was the man of the house when I couldn’t be.’

It’s pretty foolish to expect schools to act “in loco parentis,” when parents cheer on their children funding them through pornography.

When Britain, then the mightiest Empire in the world, surrendered to the rag-tag Americans in Yorktown in 1781, a British military band played “The World Turned Upside Down.”  How apt:

On raising boys *UPDATED*

Boys playing cops and robbersOn my Facebook page today, two of my friends put up links with advice for parents raising sons.  One link came from an ultra liberal friend and the other link came from a solidly conservative friend.  There is a vast chasm between the two sites when it comes the types of men each post is trying to create.  I therefore thought it would be interesting to offer the two sets of advice side by side.  Please note that I’ve only included the headings.  You should visit both sites to see the specifics behind each heading.  (My comments, which I hope clarify the more cryptic headlines, are in parentheses.)

First, from “Raising Boys,” a subset of “The Good Men Project”, comes a post entitled Seven Memes That Will Change The Way You Think About Raising Boys:

1. We Need To Teach Boys That Being “A Girl” Is Not An Insult.
2. All Boys Are “All Boy” (e.g., it’s not just rambunctious, athletic boys who are “all boy”).
3. But They Should Not Get Away With Bad Behavior Just Because They Are Boys.
4. We Believe In Men, Their Maturity And Compassion
5. Teach Your Son to Respect Women
6. We Need to Showcase More Multi-Dimensional Boys and Men in the Media (e.g., not just vampires)
7. And One Day Soon, We Will Be Using the Expression “Boys Will Be Boys” To Describe This: (followed by a picture of a trio of boys sitting quietly on the floor pretending to give bottles of milk to dolls)

Second, from “Belief Net,” comes a post entitled Ten Things Every Dad Should Tell His Son:

1. Do Courageous Things
2. Work Harder Than Anyone Else
3. Hang with the Wise
4. Stay Away From Porn
5. Reflect True American Character (i.e, fulfill the Founder’s vision)
6. Assume a Gift Is Hidden (i.e., you have to work to get the good things out of life)
7. Remember that Everything Counts (i.e., don’t live your life making careless choices because you assume something isn’t important)
8. Know that Marriage is a Covenant
9. After You Screw Up, Step Up
10. Focus on Stewardship

I’ve often said that the Left wants to feminize boys, while conservatives should have as their goal taking boy’s behaviors (their energy, their loyalty, their drive to leadership) and channeling them into virtuous values and conduct. These two lists seem to exemplify those different ways of thinking about transitioning boys to men.

This is not to say that I reflexively disagree with the first list. Indeed, I strongly believe in several of the items on that list. It’s just that the list’s purpose doesn’t seem to have as its primary purpose taking ordinary, generic boys and turning them into ordinary, generic, and good men. Instead, its primary purpose seems to be to validate those boys who don’t have an excess of what I call “boy energy” (and I live surrounded by lots of very boy energy) and to insinuate that the best boys are the ones who, rather than channeling their boy energy to a more noble way of being, simply sublimate it altogether.

I probably would endorse the first list if it were merged into the second.  If one successfully raised a boy with all of those principles, what would emerge would be a fully-rounded man perfect for romance novels:  tough, but sensitive….  Back in the real world, however, which is where I live, if I were parenting a completely generic boy (which I actually am) and could pick only one list to use to raise my child, I’d pick the BeliefNet list.  I like that list because it recognizes the reality of boys, rather than trying to force boys to conform to a theory.

I’d also pick the BeliefNet list because the good parts of the “Raising Boys” list can be incorporated as subsets of the ideas in the BeliefNet list.  For example, items 4 and 8 from the BeliefNet list (“stay away from porn” and “marriage is a covenant”) incorporate within them the notion that “girl” is not an insult, that men should be compassionate, and that men must respect women.  Likewise, items 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 10 readily encompass “believing in men, their maturity and compassion,” because guys who step up to the requirements in the BeliefNet list will be mature, reliable, honorable and, one hopes, compassionate.

In sum, for me the BeliefNet list looks at boys as they actually are, and prepares them to become the men that they should be.  Meanwhile, the “Raising Boys” list looks at boys as girls are, and prepares them to become the men that, without being homosexual, nevertheless most closely resemble girls.

UPDATE:  With perfect timing, one of my “real me” Facebook friends posted this on his wall today:

Gentleman

UPDATE II: You may also want to read Kay Hymovitz on the damage single motherhood does to boys.

News from the gender-wars front

Boy dressed as girl

The following three articles floated across my radar yesterday. I’ll introduce them, but leave you to analyze them.

The first is from a post that a lesbian wrote regarding her discovery that her son is a boy, not just when it comes to external equipment, but when it comes to behavior too:

One of the guiding principles my partner and I are committed to is raising our kids with as few gender limits as possible. Our intent is not to make them genderless or feminine. We only hope that by giving Avie and his little brother, Izzy, the space and support to grow and explore who they are or want to be without oppressive expectations, gender and otherwise, we will promote a foundation of emotional health for them. (This does not mean we’re raising them without any expectations, just that we’re trying to refrain from imposing those that we believe to be oppressive.)

The second reports on a newly released study about kids and daddies:

Growing up without a father could permanently alter the structure of the brain and produce children who are more aggressive and angry, scientists have warned.

Children brought up only by a single mother have a higher risk of developing ‘deviant behaviour’, including drug abuse, new research suggests.

It is also feared that growing up in a fatherless household could have a greater impact on daughters than on sons.

And the third reports on the expectation that ordinary guys will start to follow the fashion world’s push for women’s clothing on men (an older story, from July, but still new to me):

"Manly" halter top

The “manly” halter top

Androgyny and ‘feminine’ looks are all the rage on the men’s catwalks – but will guys actually wear these clothes? Yes they will, predicts Maya Singer.

As I said, I’m not offering any comments. I think these three things speak for themselves.

Schools and parents who teach children to become chum for bullies

School-bully-001
One of my pet peeves is bullying.  I’m not talking about bullying amongst students, although I certainly don’t like that.  I’m talking about the bullying from school districts and Progressive parents who work overtime to ensure that children are brainwashed into fearing self-defense so much that they would rather be led as lambs to the slaughter than stand up for themselves.  The schools are dividing students into two classes:  the bullies and their institutionally created helpless victims.

I’m fulminating about this because of a story I found in the San Jose Mercury News.  There really was bullying going on — students attacked a 15-year-old classmate — but what makes me crazy is the fact that the mother ordered her child to take a beating, while the child celebrated the fact that it was better to get beaten up than to have problems with the school administrators (emphasis mine):

Ann Benediktsson, a 15-year-old Dougherty Valley High School student, was walking home on Thursday when a classmate approached her to say she would soon face a peer in a fight.

Ann’s mother, on the phone with her at the time, told her two things: Run home, and if a fight happens, do not fight back.

“It was the hardest thing I have ever had to say in my life,” Kate Benediktsson recalled. “I felt useless.”

[snip]

Minutes after speaking to her mother, Ann ran into her peer in a park along with over two dozen other students, waiting to witness the event. While Ann attempted to keep her attacker from pulling her hair and socking her jaw, the bystanders pulled out their phones and filmed. In a video Benediktsson obtained of the fight that she later posted to YouTube, students can be heard egging on the fight, sometimes cheering when Ann’s attacker made contact.

Ann never threw a punch.

“I am proud of how I handled it,” Ann said. “I’m glad I didn’t hit back because the principal and teachers would have just said it was a spat between teenagers.”

I cannot believe that a mother told her child to be a punching bag for bullies.  Moreover, I cannot believe that a mother told this to her girl child. One of the primary lessons women learn in every self-defense class is this:  if you fight back against someone who is assaulting you, you are likely to suffer physical injuries, but you are also much less likely than the passive victim to be raped or killed.

In the African savannah, when lions stalk wildebeests or gazelles, the lions do not like to have to work hard for their meal.  They want the lame and the weak stragglers, not the vigorous animals that put up a fight.  Human predators are the same.  A women who walks with an upright, energetic step, and who is aware of her surroundings, simply isn’t as appealing as the gal shuffling along with her head down.  And if that shuffling gal, when attacked, suddenly finds some gumption and fights back, the predator will often back off in any event and look for an easier victim.  (For more on the psychology of self-defense, I highly recommend Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence.)

The mother in the above news story essentially taught her daughter to be shark chum.  Moreover, while the mother ordered the “principled” stand, it was her daughter who ended up taking a beating.  The daughter was certainly an obedient child, but I do rather wonder if the mother would have stood there that passively if it was she, rather than her child, being attacked.

I wasn’t the only one thinking it’s a bad article that celebrates the next generation of victims.  Although the article garnered only eight comments, one of them was right on the mark as far as I was concerned:

ghosthunter007

sorry but I rather take a suspension and stand my ground than to be hit upon, that is the problem with parents these days oh don’t fight back, I taught my son how to defend himself and in doing so he is respected because those who tried to fight him lost. I hate bullies. Everyone should know how to defend themselves.

Ever since my kids hit school, I’ve given them a single message:  Never be the one to start a fight but, if someone else starts the fight, you make sure to end it.  And don’t worry about the school’s subsequent response.  If you had to use physical force to defend yourself, and if the school attempts to punish you, I will take the school on if I have to go all the way to the Supreme Court.  I’ve never had to make good on this promise, since no one has ever physically attacked my kids.  I suspect that, with my instruction ringing in their ears, they don’t walk around like shark bait.

By the way, I always back up this instruction to my kids by telling them that, had Jews not been conditioned by centuries of oppression to avoid arms, put their heads down, and try to appease authorities, its likely that the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened.  Please understand that I’m not blaming those victims.  First, no one could ever have imagined what the Germans intended to do.  Second, the Jews’ behavior wasn’t a conscious decision.  It was the result of a thousand years of conditioning.  Israel, thankfully, while not blaming the victims, nevertheless learned the lesson.  Like my children, Israel won’t start a fight, but she will finish it.

Incidentally, reading this news report about a school district’s institutional hostility to self-defense effectively bullying a child into victimhood, a behavior the child’s mother reinforced, reminded me of a post that America’s Sgt. Major wrote a couple of years ago at Castra Praetoria, explaining how to deal with bullies.  I highly recommend it, because it’s both enjoyable and instructive.

I’m very lucky with my children — and I do think it’s because I raise the children with morals, not just rules

My daughter and her brother fight a lot; both of them give me way too much push-back at bedtime; and they’d rather play on computers than do their homework.  Having said that, I realize when I talk to other parents how lucky I am with my children.  What I’ve described are behaviors.  We all have them.  But what makes my kids so great is that they both have a strong moral core.  They may do stupid and irritating things, but they’ll never do bad or destructive things.

One of the things behind that, I believe, is that I tend to focus on Big Ideas.  One of my pet peeves with public school in our area is that it eschews big ideas.  Everything has to be self-referential.  You learn Shakespeare by having the kids do a project where they “re-imagine” Romeo and Juliet in their own high school.  You read books that are all about feelings.  All of the books have messages about liking yourself, or not bullying, or not committing crimes, but none are premised on Big Ideas.  All of them revolve around social dynamics (nice kids will support you, bad kids will hurt you) or getting the correct feeling about what you’re doing.

These books are kind of like Google Map instructions.  You print them up, and they tell you drive 1.2 miles, then make a left turn onto the freeway, then take the 2nd exit and make a right turn at the bottom, etc.  They’re very helpful for that particular situation, but they give you no guidance should you make a wrong turn.  Their very specificity renders them useless at that point.  Having a big map, or even a compass (North?  I’m supposed to be heading north?!) enables you to deal with all situations.

Although my children have been resistant to reading the classics, I feel it is incumbent upon me to talk about Big Ideas.  “Don’t bully” is a rule, not a moral principle.  Discussing with them the differences between Hillel’s and Jesus’s formulation of the Golden Rule has vast moral implications, though.  I find both formulations morally fascinating.  Hillel said “Do not do unto others as you do not wish them to do unto you.”  Jesus said “Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you.”  Both versions have profound and important implications for good behavior in a functioning society.  Both offer guidance.  Each needs serious thought to understand and apply.

Girls today, who are bombarded with faked up images of luscious women, and who are told to hate men but to have sex with them at the drop of a hat, get very limited fare when it comes to dealing with these pressures.  Their books have the distraught “ugly” girl who somehow manages to triumph in the end over mean popular girls.  They’re fun to read, but I defy you to find me a real girl who can use the tactics in the books to her own advantage in the real pressure cooker of a real high school.

I grew up reading Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (a book I doubt any Marin girl has ever read), and found it a very useful moral guide.  Jo and her sisters grapple with poverty, social pressure, impulsive teenage behavior, and poor-decision making, but they do so at a deep moral level.  They don’t triumph because they’re more clever; they triumph, sometimes after years, because they look at their values and determine what is most important to them — and believe me, it’s not being skinny and in with the in-crowd.

Jane Austen’s comedies of manners are also deeply concerned with core values.  Elizabeth and Darcy find each other because, when push comes to shove, they follow the correct societal values.  Elizabeth tries to tame a wayward sister; Darcy comes to the aid of the woman he loves, because he believes that he failed her morally when he did not warn her about Wickham’s true character.  Both come to realize that they were blinded by superficial behaviors, and recognize the other’s moral worth.  Certainly manners matter.  But the fact that Austen’s books include villains who abuse manners as a method of taking advantage of young women too foolish or emotional to separate moral wheat from immoral chaff is core to each of her stories.  They’re not about mere rules, although they take place in a rather rigid, rule-bound society.  They are about core principles that transcend class.

Anyway, today is a funeral day for one of my Mom’s old friends, so I am off, and won’t be back for hours.

Please consider this an open thread.

An excellent forum at the Watcher’s Council regarding the decision to let 15 year olds buy Plan B over the counter

As the mother of the Obama government’s Plan B (aka “Morning After Pill”) demographic, I have strong feelings about the move to let 15 year olds just go to the store and buy the stuff.  The Watcher’s Council has a forum up on that subject and, as always, Council members say the most interesting things — and that’s true whether or not I agree with their conclusions.  You can read it all here, but I’m going to reprint my contribution below:

As the parent of minors, I think it’s appalling. The Left will always justify this kind of rule-making or legislation by pointing to those teenage girls who have dreadful home lives, and are at risk of being physically hurt if they confess to a pregnancy. Yes, those are real situations, but I’ve never seen any evidence that they are anything but a small minority. In the real world, parents whose daughters come home pregnant are not going to be happy, and they may yell at their daughter, but they don’t abuse her. They rally around her. In other words, they are family and they are there for her. (In this regard, I think the movie Juno was pretty accurate.)

The facts on the ground mean that the state’s motive in making birth control and abortifacients available to ever younger girls isn’t because it’s trying to protect a small minority of at-risk girls. Rather, it’s trying to break down the family unit. Sex is a great way to force that schism because, next to hunger, sex is the most powerful motivator. By promising children sex, and lots of it — without any messy consequences such as disease or pregnancy — the state ensures that children look to the state as the bountiful provider. The message is a simple one: We’ll make you happy; your parents will make you sad.

Of course, no one is looking at the very real consequences of the state’s handing out sex like an addictive drug. The state pours toxic hormone soups in adolescent bodies; treats those young bodies with powerful antibiotics; alienates young minds and emotions from those who are most likely to love them; and sends the message that human sex, rather than creating powerful, life-long emotional bonds, has no more meaning than (and about as much charm as) bovine, canine, or feline sex. No wonder the girls who graduate from the hook-up culture in college don’t feel liberated but, instead, just feel used and emotionally frozen. They have been used — not just by the men who get the girls, but by an all-powerful state that has as its goal the end of individuals’ control over their own bodies.

Lastly, there’s also something profoundly wrong about a government that, even as it criminalizes adult men and women who have sex with children, does everything it can to encourage children to have sex. I don’t have a good word to describe that. Revolting? Hypocritical? Sleazy? Obscene? Immoral? I think all apply.

Coincidentally, I just opened an email from a friend alerting me to an article that Melanie Phillips, a brilliant British conservative, wrote about the reason that Big Brother has it in for families. Please read it. It’s very important, and provides a counter-narrative to the state’s claim that parents are a child’s natural enemies, rather than their most loving supporters (in most cases).

The Left uses sex to break up American families

I had an interesting conversation with my mother, who may be 90, but is still sharper than most people you’ll meet.  We got to talking about the Gosnell abortion/murder trial, which came as something of a surprise to her.  Despite the fact that she watches the news and reads the newspaper, she hadn’t heard a thing about it.  That wasn’t a surprise to me.

From there, the conversation wandered to the moral merits of abortion.  My Mom came of age in a time and place when abortion was neither approved of nor frowned upon.  It just existed.  In the turmoil after the war, when people were starving in cities decimated by fighting, having a baby seemed like an impossibility — and it could be a death sentence for both mother and child.  Nobody approved of abortion in war-torn streets, but they didn’t stop it either.

For that reason, it’s always been hard for my mother to understand the fervor Americans feel about abortion.  To her, it just . . . is.  (That’s probably the case for a lot of people who aren’t committed to one side or another of the abortion debate, which is why the media couldn’t risk the Gosnell trial coming into the open, in case it swayed indecisive people into the pro-Life column.)

While Mom couldn’t quite get the morality of abortion, I was able to get her to understand that the modern American state uses abortion to separate children from their families.  We’ve talked before here about the fact that, in California, youngsters under 16 or 18 can’t play paintball, get their ears pierced, or get a fake tan without a parents’ permission.  They can, however, get birth control, get abortions, and get treated for sexually transmitted diseases, all without a parents’ knowledge.  Putting aside the invitation to the worst kinds of child sex abuse, what’s happening here is that the state promises children the keys to the kingdom of pleasure.

Food and shelter are necessities.  Good food and good shelter are pleasures.  But sex . . . there’s the ultimate endorphin rush.  Mom and Dad, being mean, spiteful people, won’t let you have it, and they’ll give you Hell if there are consequences because you ignored their strictures.  The state, though, it puts no obstacles in your path.  Indeed, it helps you along with condoms, birth control pills, patches, and morning after pills.  If you get pregnant, you get the Morning After pill or an abortion, and if you get an STD, it gives you antibiotics — all without the knowledge or consent of the people who, in 90% of all cases care about you most in the world.

The Left claims that this legislated immorality is to protect young girls from abusive parents who will leave them homeless or beat them if they come home pregnant.  (Again, let’s ignore the fact that everything the Left does actually encourages the sexual abuse of children.)  Using an argument that focuses on an extreme minority, the Left has put us in a position that sees all girls and boys in America get to have free sex courtesy of the State.  The state has driven a wedge into the family unit, using the most potent endorphin driver available to motivate and reorient young people.

When I put it that way (as opposed to debating abortion’s morality), my mother suddenly sat up very straight, looked me straight in the eye, and said “But that’s socialism!”  I practically jumped up and down applauding that she had realized what was going on. It turned out there was a reason for her insight.

I’ve mentioned before that my Dad came from a Communist milieu and, while he eventually voted for Reagan, his sister remained a devoted Communist until the day she died.  Although she escaped Nazi Germany and eventually ended up in Palestine (and, after the War of Independence, in Israel), she decided that this young socialist state wasn’t properly committed to true Marxist socialism.  She therefore returned to East Germany, where she lived out the remainder of her life.

She was still living in Israel, though, when my Mom and Dad got married.  One day, when my Communist aunt was present, the subject of children came up.  Mom said that she wanted to wait until she had a nice home of her own and some security before she had children, so that she could have the joy and comfort of really raising her own family.  My aunt was shocked.  “No.  That’s wrong.  The children belong to the State.  You do not have the right to withhold them from the state, which should raise them.”

With this conversation living in her memory, my mother immediately understood the ramifications of a government severing the ties between parents and children.  In some places, such as Mao’s China, it uses coercion.  In America, it uses sex.  No matter the method, the goal is socialist.

Keeping in mind the above, it’s understandable why people who fear socialism (as I do) greeted with howls of outrage the MSNBC contributor who said quite clearly, “All your children are belong to us.”  Melissa Harris-Perry framed it cutely as it takes a village to raise a child, but that soft overlay covers pure, brute-force socialism.  Villages are voluntary communities that share values.  Homes are the ultimate refuge of the individual.  Socialism holds that individuals have no value, except to the extent that they provide bodies to power the socialist state:

Obama’s Department of Justice says mommies are meaningless

I live in an affluent community.  One of the constants in this neighborhood is that, if a family can afford it, the mom retires to take care of the kids.  This is true even if the mom’s salary was comparable to the dad’s.  Often, this isn’t the mom’s preference; it’s the children’s.  Our neighborhood children adore their Dads, but their mother is the pivotal figure in their lives.  The formerly working mom in an affluent neighborhood really intends to go back to work, but it’s hard.  The children want mom to feed them, they want mom to cuddle them, they want mom to cheer on their after-school sports, and they want mom to make them better when it hurts.  They love their dads, but they want their moms.

I know that there are exceptions to what I just wrote.  I know two dads who have been their children’s primary caregivers while mom worked, and they’ve both raised spectacular kids in a very happy way.  These are successful families no matter how you define what constitutes successful parenting.

Nevertheless, you just can’t get by the mom-thing:  Mom carries the baby, gives birth to the baby, feeds the baby, and parents the baby in a different way than even the most loving dad does.  The fact that women are different from men (Viva la difference!) brings a different quality to their relationship with their children.  The fact that a rich community, one with the luxury of choice, opts for the traditional female parenting model, tells you something about the bond between mother and child.  Although intelligent, loving, willing people can come up with different relationships, Mother Nature hardwired moms to be the nurturers.

That’s what I say.  The Obama administration, in a brief supporting same-sex marriage that it submitted to the United States Supreme Court, says different:

The Justice Department presented its conclusions about parenthood in rebutting an argument made by proponents of Proposition 8 that the traditional two-parent family, led by both a mother and a father, was the ideal place, determined even by nature itself, to raise a child.

The Obama administration argues this is not true. It argues that children need neither a father nor a mother and that having two fathers or two mothers is just as good as having one of each.

“The [California] Voter Guide arguably offered a distinct but related child-rearing justification for Proposition 8: ‘the best situation for a child is to be raised by a married mother and father,’” said the administration’s brief submitted to the court by Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr.

“As an initial matter, no sound basis exists for concluding that same-sex couples who have committed to marriage are anything other than fully capable of responsible parenting and child-rearing,” the Department of Justice told the court. “To the contrary, many leading medical, psychological, and social-welfare organizations have issued policy statements opposing restrictions on gay and lesbian parenting based on their conclusion, supported by numerous scientific studies, that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are as likely to be well adjusted as children raised by heterosexual parents.”

“The weight of the scientific literature strongly supports the view that same-sex parents are just as capable as opposite-sex parents,” says the administration.

To support this argument, one of the documents the administration cites is a “policy statement” by the American Psychological Association. This statement claims that some studies indicate same-sex parents might be “superior” to mother-and-father families, but then concedes there is little actual data on the results of raising children in two-father households.

“Members of gay and lesbian couples with children have been found to divide the work involved in childcare evenly, and to be satisfied with their relationships with their partners,” says this APA policy statement the administration cited to the court. “The results of some studies suggest that lesbian mothers’ and gay fathers’ parenting skills may be superior to those of matched heterosexual parents. There is no scientific basis for concluding that lesbian mothers or gay fathers are unfit parents on the basis of their sexual orientation.”

“Studies of other aspects of personal development (including personality, self-concept, and conduct) similarly reveal few differences between children of lesbian mothers and children of heterosexual parents,” says the APA policy statement. “However, few data regarding these concerns are available for children of gay fathers.”

The Obama administration further argues that because California law already permits domestic partnerships in which same-sex couples are allowed all the “incidents” of marriage–including the right to adopt children and be foster parents–that Proposition 8 only denies same-sex couples the use of the word “marriage” and does not change the status of child-rearing in the state.

“Moreover, as the court of appeals determined, ‘Proposition 8 had absolutely no effect on the ability of same-sex couples to become parents or the manner in which children are raised in California,’” says the administration. “As explained, California law, both before and after Proposition 8, grants registered domestic partners the same parental rights and benefits accorded to married couples. And Proposition 8 does not alter California’s adoption, fostering, or presumed-parentage laws, which ‘continue to apply equally to same-sex couples.’

“In light of California’s conferral of full rights of parenting and child-rearing on same-sex couples, Proposition 8’s denial to same-sex couples of the right to marry bears no cognizable relation, let alone a substantial one, to any interest in responsible procreation and child-rearing (however defined),” says the administration. “Indeed, because a substantial number of California children are raised in households headed by same-sex couples.”

Children can absolutely survive without mothers.  In the pre-modern era, the risks of childbirth saw enormous numbers of children orphaned.  Children are resilient.  They’ll survive a parents’ death; they’ll survive both parents’ deaths; they’ll survive good foster homes and bad; and they’ll survive in a two-father family, a two-mother family, or a non-traditional family where dad stays home.  But to pretend that a stable two-parent home with a loving mother providing a feminine role model and a loving father providing a masculine role model is unnecessary and passe is something that could only happen in a post-post-deconstructionist world, one in which a boy can announce that he is a girl and, voila!, that makes it so.

We 21st century first worlders have an enormous arrogance, one that sees us thinking that we can successfully ignore our biology and human nature as a whole.  Just a few examples show how wrong that hubris is.  We think that we control the entire earth’s atmosphere, rather than just have the ability to pollute or keep clean our immediate internment; we think that we can control disease, only to see our antibiotics become ineffective, with viruses such as AIDS sneaking past our “civilized” defenses, and traditional scourges such as TB coming back in new and ever more virulent form; we think that we have reached an apex of civility that overrides the cruel animal in us, only to witness unspeakable atrocities in every corner of the world, in every decade of every century; and we think that we can use our superior abilities, not just to constrain biology, but to ignore it entirely.

Please understand that I do not intend to say here that non-traditional households cannot succeed and that they are unable to create a loving, nurturing environment for children.  I’m just saying that, if history has taught us anything, it’s that it’s utterly foolish to pretend that Mother Nature doesn’t usually get the last word — making it quite wrong and dangerously foolish to create public policy based upon the pretense that Nature doesn’t exist.