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:

The Left — criminalizing childhood

The news is filled with stories lately about the way in which Progressive-managed public schools are behaving insanely when it comes to kids and faux-guns.  My friend Mike McDaniel, whose regular home is Stately McDaniel Manor, has an article up at PJ Media today which combines surreal (yet sadly real) stories about teeny-tiny kids caught in their school’s anti-gun cross hairs.  To the extent the world is going to hell in a hand basket, I can only say that the Progressives are making the trip there a whole lot faster and uglier.

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.

Parents are good for children, and children are good for parents (especially selfish parents)

Having babies used to be biologically inevitable.  If you were a woman who had sex, the possibility of pregnancy increased automatically with every act of sexual intercourse.  People have always had birth control (withdrawal, the rhythm method, vinegar-soaked sponges, primitive condoms, etc.) but their success rate was random and limited.

Then came modern birth control — pills, diaphragms, IUDs, quality condoms, etc. — and, for responsible women, sex stopped leading to pregnancy unless they wanted it to happen.

The societal assumption when birth control use surged in America was that women who used birth control would invariably have children.  They’d simply do so on their own time-table, rather than on Nature’s.  Some women waited too long (or just had problems with conception), but science had an answer there too, with increasingly successful fertility treatments, implants, and even complex surrogacies, using a combination of egg, sperm, and womb.

What no one predicted was that, given the choice, women simply wouldn’t want to have children.  This isn’t just because they’re Malthusian environmentalists who are afraid that children will destroy the world.  It’s because they don’t see children as part of their happy (and sometimes selfish) life plan:

For many individual women considering their own lives and careers, children have become a choice, rather than an inevitable milestone—and one that comes with more costs than benefits.

“I don’t know if that’s selfish,” says Jordan, the daughter of an Ecuadoran and an Ohioan who grew up in the South Bronx, explaining her reasons for a decision increasingly common among women across the developed world, where more than half of the world’s population is now reproducing at below the replacement rate. “I feel like my life is not stable enough, and I don’t think I necessarily want it to be … Kids, they change your entire life. That’s the name of the game. And that’s not something I’m interested in doing.”

I totally get that.  As I hit my 30s, I was living the lush life:  good job, good income, nice apartment, quality boyfriend and, when the long work hours were over, a lot of “me” time.  I had no biological clock ticking away.  I didn’t want children.  In general, I’m not that fond of them.  Yet here I am today, completely defined by my status as “Mom.”  What the heck happened?

What happened was that my boyfriend (now husband) wanted children and I wanted him.  The other thing that happened was that I took a long, considering look at all of the older childless couples I knew, who voluntarily stayed childless, and I didn’t like what I saw.  Without exception, these people were more affluent than their peers, they were well-traveled, well-dined, and well-groomed.  They were also rigid, humorless, thin-skinned, and unable to deal with even the most minor crises.  I realized that it’s not just that (g00d) parents are good for children, it’s that children are good for parents.

I hated the baby and toddler years, and they definitely accelerated my aging (chronic sleep deprivation did not agree with me).  I also hated the schlepping, the endless frustration of dealing with toddlers, and the chaos in my once-quiet house.  I don’t like irrational creatures and there is no creature more irrational (from an adult perspective) than a toddler.  Toddlers, of course, function in a completely rational world, defined by their immediate desires, limited understanding, and somewhat magical thinking.

It got easier as the kids grew up, and now I’m in a really great position where I’m optimizing the benefits that come with being a parent.  I enjoy my teenagers, a great deal.  They’re intelligent, loving, funny people and, while I like it when I’ve got my house it myself, I certainly don’t dislike it when they’re around.  I like their friends too, and am very happy to have (no kidding) the most popular house in the neighborhood.  My son, bless his heart, told me that all his friends like to be here because I’m the easiest-to-get-along-with parent they know.  I’m not a pushover — it’s just that, as with politics, I’m laissez faire.  I have a few fixed rules but otherwise, if the kids are not hurting themselves, each other, my dog, or my house, I leave them alone.

Meanwhile, they keep me young.  I hope I’m not mutton dressed as lamb, but I know the games, music, movies, language, clothing (which I don’t copy), and the general culture of youth.  I am not calcified and I am not rigid.  I don’t get hysterical if there’s no blood or vomit involved in whatever crisis arises — and I don’t even get hysterical about blood or vomit.  I just move a bit more quickly to cope with it.

My point is that the selfish person should want to have children.  I believe that my children benefit from my selfishness, which leads me to a benign neglect that keeps them from trying to grow under the shadow and endless wind of a helicopter parent, and I get to stay young, agreeable and adaptable.  It’s a good deal for me, even though the upfront costs (two miserable pregnancies followed by years without sleep, rest, or privacy) were high.

Education for the brainwashed generation

I know I’m just grumpy, but this promotional mailing from Ithaca College rubbed me the wrong way:

Ithaca flier

Ready to write environmental wrongs.  Ithaca College will turn your academic passions into unforgettable experiences — and make you ready for the adventure of your life.

I know that the first sentence is meant to be a clever pun, but it’s not.  At first glance, I thought it was a typo or blatant grammatical error.  On second reading, I thought Ithaca was promising to teach students how to plan to create environmental wrongs.  On third reading, I realized that Ithaca is offering to teach students how to “list” environmental wrongs, although I suspect there’ll be a fair dollop of creative writing (i.e., anthropogenic climate change) thrown in.

The whole thing — with the smug girl and the promise that documenting, or making up, environmental wrong is the “adventure of your life” — made me queasy.

Am I overreacting?  I probably am.  But as Kurt Schlichter said about Lena Dunham’s and HBO’s vile, nihilistic show Girls, we need to know what’s out there, because it is out there, and it’s aimed at our children.

“It’s for the animals” — Leftist indoctrination of children

Conservatives often talk about the fact that Progressives use children as a wedge issue for everything.  Changes in immigration law?  It’s to protect those poor children whose parents illegally dragged them across the border.  Changes in health care law?  It’s so that children, right up until the childlike age of 26, can get full health care, regardless of their parents’ economic or lifestyle decisions.  Gun control?  It’s for the children, never mind that statistics indicate that children die in greater numbers when gun control increases even as cultural brakes decline.

Barack Obama surrounds self with children for gun control

Barack Obama, of course, took the “it’s for the children” approach to public policy to sickening new heights when he surrounded himself by a gaggle of youthful darlings to herald his stale and ineffectual “gun control” orders.  He then followed this unsavory photo op with heart-rending videos of children pleading for an end to guns in America.  Yes, children are our future, and yes, we want to leave them a viable world when we pass on, but Drudge was right when he noted that only demagogues surround themselves with children to justify increased tyranny.

I’ve established (to my satisfaction, at least), that Progressives misuse children in order to co-opt their parents.  But how do Progressives co-opt the children?  Easy:  “It’s for the animals.”

In the old days, animal stories and movies used to be about a kid’s relationship with his animal, whether the animal was a yearling, a yellow dog, or a black horse.  The child learned and grew because of his responsibilities for the animals and, often, because of the hard, human choices he had to make regarding the animals.  Animals weren’t better than humans, but they existed artistically to help children learn about love, responsibility, and tough decisions.

Baby Seal

Starting with the baby seal campaign in the 1970s, though, the Left realized that it can bring kids on board by making them feel that ordinary human activity is devastating for animals.  The starting point, and it really wasn’t a bad one, was to focus on the animals that were being driven, quite unnecessarily, to extinction, such as the baby seals beaten for fashion fur, the dolphins killed by careless tuna fishing methodologies, or the various African and Asian animals being minced and powdered for aphrodisiacs (and no, I do not want to hear that there’s nothing frivolous about the man who needs an aphrodisiac).  There really wasn’t a credible reason for these animals to be subject to mass slaughter.

Polar Bear with Cubs

Lately, though, the Left has been using animal education with children, not because the animals are a target of foolish, wasteful behavior, but because their deaths are a byproduct of necessary human behaviors that the Left hates.  Thus, we saw the whole spectacle of polar bears who were supposedly being driven to extinction because Mommy drives a minivan, or spotted owls being driven from their habitat because nasty humans insist on living in houses.  It’s one thing to heed the Biblical injunction that we are stewards of the earth, something with which I heartily agree.  It’s another thing altogether to teach children that, if at all possible, we should vanish from the earth entirely.  (Something that’s looking surprisingly likely, given world-wide demographic trends.)

The reality of life is that anything that living creatures do on this earth affects other living creatures.  This is true for plants (kudzu, for example), animals (the balance of wolves and deer in Yellowstone, for example), and humans.  Because humans have the greatest geographic range and the most inventive minds, we have more scope to affect our surroundings than do plants or animals.  Moreover, even when we seem to be changing for the better, we still manage to mess with nature.  When we had horses and carriages, the world was awash in filthy, germ-carrying urine and feces.  When we got cars, the urine and feces vanished from cities and towns, but we got dirtier air.  When we eat meat, we use resources to feed the animals, the animals produce waste, and we have to kill the animals to take advantage of their protein.  That all sounds yucky, right?  Except it turns out that when we seek protein alternatives (and even Progressives won’t deny that we need protein), we starve indigenous people who are dependent on these alternatives, rather than eating them just because it makes them feel very politically correct.  In the same vein, our decision to use corn for fuel, because it’s “cleaner” than fossil fuels, led to starvation and revolution in the Middle East.

Humans, like any animals, have to fight for resources — we fight with each other, and we fight with animals.  Because we’re human, we have the gifts of a greater, more flexible intellect and of a moral compass, so we are obligated to mitigate the negative effects our actions have on others.  Mitigating those effects, however, is not the same as vanishing altogether — which is pretty much what the Leftists are suggesting to our children is the best solution of them all.

I’m a horrible child! I ruined your life! — Turning the abortion debate into the punchline to a silly joke

One of my favorite silly jokes goes as follows:

A man runs into a friend.  “Oh, my God!” he says.  “I just made the most terrible Freudian slip.”

His friend asks “What did you do?”

The man answers, “Well, I was having lunch with my mother.  I meant to saying ‘Mom, please pass the peas,” but what I actually said was ‘You horrible woman!  You’ve ruined my life!’”

I don’t know why I find this joke so funny — beyond the obvious point that what the man said was not a Freudian slip — but I just do.  It makes me laugh every time.

As is always the case, though, Progressives manage to go one better than any joke, but they invariably ruin the punch line.  The latest example comes from Britian’s Guardian, a reliably Left wing publication.  The article is entitled — no kidding — “I wish my mother had aborted me.”  The author, Lynn Beisner, assures us that she’s not one of those sad-sacks who has a miserable life and, therefore, wishes she’d never been born.  Instead, she explains, she wrote the article as a counter to those ridiculous emotional pro-Life stories that revolve around a woman who contemplated abortion, decide not to do it, and raised a child very grateful to be alive.  How disgustingly bathetic, Beisner says:

What makes these stories so infuriating to me is that they are emotional blackmail. As readers or listeners, we are almost forced by these anti-choice versions of A Wonderful Life to say, “Oh, I am so glad you were born.” And then by extension, we are soon forced into saying, “Yes, of course, every blastula of cells should be allowed to develop into a human being.”

Beisner is going to counter this horrible narrative — by pitching an emotional story about how her birth stunted, not her own, but her mother’s life:

An abortion would have absolutely been better for my mother. An abortion would have made it more likely that she would finish high school and get a college education. At college in the late 1960s, it seems likely she would have found feminism or psychology or something that would have helped her overcome her childhood trauma and pick better partners. She would have been better prepared when she had children. If nothing else, getting an abortion would have saved her from plunging into poverty. She likely would have stayed in the same socioeconomic strata as her parents and grandparents who were professors. I wish she had aborted me because I love her and want what is best for her.

Or, to use fewer words:  “I’m a horrible child!  I ruined your life.”

What Beisner doesn’t realize is that she’s not breaking new ground here.  She’s treading the old, hard-packed pro-abortion ground, only in a way that’s more silly than usual.  Because the pro-abortion crowd has always and only focused on the woman (“It’s a woman’s choice”), the issue always has been that the woman gets to ask herself “Will this baby ruin my life?” and then to abort if her answer is “Yes, probably.”

Well, I’ve got news for Beisner.  Babies always ruin a woman’s life.  That is, they ruin the life she knew before babies came along.  Goodbye, lithesome figure!  Goodbye, sleeping through the night!  Goodbye, privacy!  Goodbye, eating a meal without interruptions!  Goodbye, ready money!  Goodbye, dancing all night (at least, without bouncing a crying baby in your arms)!  Goodbye, spontaneity!  It’s all over.  Everything that made for your youthful existence is gone.

What Beisner misses, though, is the “Whenever God closes a door, he opens a window” aspect of having children.  For every goodbye, there’s a hello  Hello, bidding farewell to your immature self and saying welcome to the you that is a fully realized adult!  Hello, to a little one entwining himself or herself around your neck and saying ‘Mommy, I wuv you so much’ — and meaning it!  Hello, to having an incredibly rich social life, one that doesn’t revolve around the drunken hook-up scene, but one that involves other parents who are so glad to welcome you into the Parent Club!  Hello, feeling connected to your country, because it’s not just yours anymore, it’s also your children’s and your grandchildren’s.

Some people are going to be horribly damaged by their inability to turn their backs upon giddy youth in favor of responsible maturity.  But for every one of those people, there’s going to be someone grateful for the love, stability, and meaning that parenthood brings.

The only thing that Beisner gets right (although she fails to live up to her own standards) is that emotional pitches are meaningless, because different people have different emotional responses.  What she When emotions are meaningless, the only thing that matters is principle:  Do you believe that (a) life begins at conception and (b) that this life is immediately entitled to full respect?  If yes, you must be pro-Life; if not, well, then pro-abortion is a reasonable position for you.  But don’t try dressing it up with sob stories about living children or unhappy mothers.

Being honest with children, without abandoning your right as a parent to pass judgment

So much of parenting is about communication.  Because children listen with their hearts as well as their minds, that communication had better be honest.  If it’s not, your child will instantly know you for either a fool or a liar.

Being honest, though, is not the same as being judgmental.  There is a time and a place for both.  Most parents have discovered that, occasionally, passing judgment on someone or something simply encourages a child to push back, thereby turning into a fight something that ought to be a deep and principled discussion.

A good example of the way to be both honest and effectively judgmental (meaning getting your child to acknowledge your principles without pushing back) is the drug talk.  Most parents of high schoolers have made the sad discovery that a certain percentage of their child’s peers are doing drugs.  When you, the parent, hear such stories, you can be simultaneously honest and judgmental by stating your principled position about drug use.  Mine is that drug use is very dangerous for children and teenagers.  Even ostensibly mild drugs such as marijuana have a damaging effect on a young person’s intellectual and emotional development.  (You can imagine the rest of the factual lecture here, because I’m sure you’ve given it yourself.)

What the wise parent avoids, though, is leveling an attack, not against the drugs, but against the drug user.  As sure as the sun rises, if you attack an individual, your child will spring to that individual’s defense:

Mom:  Boy, is that a stupid girl to be smoking pot at her age.

Child:  She is not stupid.  She gets really good grades.

That’s the moment the parent has lost control of the conversation. It’s now going to wend its way through various pointless rhetorical pathways, with the parent trying to prove that a teenager she’s never actually met is an idiot, while the child vigorously asserts that the teen is a paragon of virtue, but for the drug use.

The better way to keep the conversation going is to offer an honest opinion about your emotional response to that errant teen, or your sense of that same teen’s emotional status:

Mom:  That’s so sad.  In her Facebook picture, she looks like such a lovely girl, but drug use, especially when you start so wrong, is damaging at so many levels.  She must be deeply unhappy or insecure to throw herself away with drug use.

Child:  How can she be insecure?  She’s always bossing people around.

Mom:  People who have a genuine, bone-deep confidence, don’t feel the need to throw their weight around, or medicate their insecurities with illegal drugs.  [And so on and so on.]

A parent who is honestly sympathetic to a child’s plight can be judgmental without forcing her child into a defensive posture. Using this technique, you can have conversations with your kids about hard topics – drugs, sex, social challenges – that are deep and without embarrassment, because the kids know that the parent will honestly talk facts, but avoid labels that trigger a self-defense, or peer-defense, mechanism.

Honesty also has the virtue of cutting straight through the euphemisms all people — and especially teenagers — use to hide the fact that a certain behavior is morally wrong or simply degrading. My favorite example of this is the talk I had with some girls I was driving to a high school dance.  They were chatting excitedly about whether or not they would be asked to dance (yes, even in this modern day and age, the boys still ask the girls), and whether they should let a guy freak dance with them.

I couldn’t resist chiming in.  “You know what freak dancing is, don’t you? Freak dancing is when a strange guy masturbates against your bottom.”

From the back of the car came a chorus of disgusted squeals.  “Oh, my God!  That’s so gross.  I’m never going to freak dance.”

(Since they were in the back, they didn’t see my fist pump.)

I doubt I could have gotten such a dramatic, heartfelt response if I’d allowed the girls to think of freak dancing as “just a dance” or tried delicately to address the matter as “a sort of dance where the guy rubs himself against you.”  Also, by going straight to the heart of the matter, without waffling, I also signaled to the girls that the type of dancing they were contemplating is something that they can talk about with me openly, without the need for embarrassment.

I am consistently honest with my children, and I’ve never regretted that decision.  Even when my children catch me being dishonest (for better or worse, I’m a big believer in social lies that enable others to save face when it comes to issues that do not involve core ethics or morality), I explain what my thinking is and why I’m doing what I’m doing.  I’m the magician who shows every aspect of his tricks.  And yet somehow, the magic is still there, because my children have absorbed my morality and values, and apply them to their daily lives.

Is a familial genetic legacy the right reason not to have a baby? No! *UPDATED*

PJ Media has had two interesting posts about whether familial genetic legacies are the right reason not to have a baby.  David Swindle passes on an article about the fact that well-known “comedienne” Sarah Silverman (I use the scare quotes because I don’t think she’s funny) announced recently that she will not have children because she and her family have a history of depression.  Silverman can’t bear the thought that any children she has might suffer the same fate.  Conservative blogger Kathy Shaidle also thinks that her family’s genetic possibilities — in her case, shortness — makes having babies a bad deal for the babies.  (Shaidle offers up a number of other reasons why she wouldn’t have a baby, all of which make it clear that she’s thought the subject through carefully and really isn’t the maternal type.)

Neither woman is concerned about a life-threatening genetic problem, the kind that mandates that the child will suffer terribly and die young.  Both are concerned, though, about traits that have affected the quality of their otherwise successful lives.  Within this framework, Silverman and Shaidle are both wrong.  There are many reasons not to have children, but their genetic concerns aren’t the right reasons.

To begin with, there’s no guarantee that a child will inherit whatever genetic problem exists in the family.  Keep in mind that babies aren’t clones.  They are, instead, the end result of thousands of years of genetic mix-ups.  My great-grandmother had fraternal twin girls.  One was six feet tall, the other five feet tall.  They represented the two genetic extremes in just one family line.  I’m five feet tall.  My (male) cousins on the maternal side hover around 6’7″.  They married short women; I married a tall man.  All of our children are clocking in at average.  Nature does what nature does.  We can make some educated Mendelian guesses about the probable outcome when a couple have a baby, but those are just that — guesses.

Things get scary when we take those guesses out of the hypothetical realm (“I’ll never get pregnant because of this-or-that possibility”) and into the realm of making affirmative decisions about those little fetuses (“I’m pregnant and I know what’s wrong.”).  On the Today Show, Nancy Snyderman, the science correspondent, waxed enthusiastic about plucking “defective” babies out of the womb:

SNYDERMAN: Well, you might learn that a child has a severe genetic problem. It gives parents a chance to decide whether they’re going to continue that pregnancy or not. This is the science of today. It is running fast into the future. And I think the future will be such that you’ll find out that your child may have a genetic hit. You can fix that genetic problem, and improve your chance, a child’s chance of having a healthier –

STAR JONES: When will you know about this?

SNYDERMAN: Well, it’s out there now but it’s too expensive.

DONNY DEUTSCH: But obviously there’s another flip side guys, there’s another flip — Look, I’m a pro-choice guy, but at the end of the day what’s stopping people, “Oh, my son is going to be blond, I want — ” You’ve got to do it for the reasons you’re talking about, but –

SNYDERMAN: I get the genetic-engineering issue. But the reality is we’ve already jumped out of that with amniocentesis.

JONES: Correct.

SNYDERMAN: So, the science is there. The problem is that science goes faster than we have these societal questions. And that’s exactly why we should have these societal questions now.

Donny Deutsch may be a liberal, but he honed in like a laser-guided missile with his question which, rephrased, is “who’s to decide what constitutes a defect sufficient to justify terminating a nascent life?”  Snyderman pretty much brushed him off.  Her answer, rephrased, was “with knowledge comes power.”

Snyderman is obviously an acolyte of the Peter Singer school of ethics/eugenics.  Peter Singer holds an endowed chair at Princeton, which means that he daily gets the opportunity to sell his views to the best and the brightest, young people who move on from Princeton to positions of power and responsibility.  This matters, because his academic output includes such books as Should the Baby Live?: The Problem of Handicapped Infants (Studies in Bioethics), Animal Liberation and In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave.  The title of that first-listed book — Should the Baby Live? — pretty much sums up the man’s philosophy:  he advocates euthanizing handicapped infants.  He is, of course, reviled by the handicapped community (and rightly so).

The moral abyss Singer creates with his euthanasia musings is highlighted by the fact that his animal liberation writings make him a founding father of the animal rights movement — a movement that’s come to full flower in PETA insanity (which analogizes the death of chickens to the death of Jews in Hitler’s gas chambers). Singer explicitly believes that a healthy animal has greater rights than a sick person.  If you need a further insight into Singer’s warped world — and let me remind you that this warped world gives him tremendous status in academia, not to mention worldwide accolades — Singer has no moral problem with bestiality, provided that the animal consents, an attitude that places him at odds with the same animal rights movement he was so instrumental in creating.

I recognize that there’s a difference between refraining from pregnancy because you, the potential parent, are concerned about a hypothetical birth defect, and aborting a baby that is actually proven to have that defect.  The problem is defining “defect,” which leads me to the second reason Silverman and Shaidle are wrong in deciding not to have babies because of family genetic histories.

The fact is that one person’s “defect” is another person’s opportunity.  For example, the Time article to which PJ Media links makes clear that there’s a connection between depression and creativity:

But what the commenters didn’t mention is that the same genes that can cause depression may also encourage the sensitivity and sensibility that gives Silverman her creative talent. Indeed, some research suggests that the same exact genetics that might lead to depression can also lead to mental superhealth, depending on whether a person endured high stress in early childhood or had a calmer, more nurturing environment.

I can actually speak to that point.  Some of you may have noticed that my blogging has dropped off in the past six weeks.  I don’t believe that the timing is random.  Six weeks ago, I started taking tricyclics to deal with chronic, aggressive, and debilitating migraines.  I’m happy to report that the medicine has worked.  My migraines haven’t dropped to zero, but having two mild headaches in six weeks is an extraordinary reprieve from the pain and sickness that was dogging me.

That’s the up side.  The down side is that I’m having a much harder time writing.  The sizzling connections that use to race across my brain and come pouring out onto my keyboard are gone.  I sense them, but I can’t grasp them.  You see, tricyclics are antidepressants.  Although I’m taking a fraction of the clinical dose for depression (about 0.1 of the clinical dose), the medicine is still working on those parts of the brain that would have produced depression and that apparently do produce creativity.  I’m flattened out.  Not completely, but significantly.

I’m currently making the choice to lose some of my creativity in favor of freedom from pain and sickness.  But it’s my choice.  I’m a sentient being and I can make these decisions.  I’m neither a “never was” that never even got conceived or, worse, an “almost was” that got aborted.  In a year or so, I’ll try going off the medicine and see whether my brain has stopped being hysterical, so that I can be both pain free or creative.  Again, it will be my choice.  I live in hope.

Oh, and that bit about hope — it’s the third reason that Silverman and Shaidle are wrong to make genetics a reason not to have children.  Medical advances mean that the same problem that debilitated grandma, and inconvenienced mom, may be nothing to the child.  Having a baby is always a gamble.  We gamble that we’ll stay healthy, that they’ll stay healthy, and that the world will stay healthy.  We gamble that, when we read a horrible headline about a school bus accident, that this type of accident will never happen to our family.  There are no certainties in life.  Just as there’s no way of knowing whether a pregnancy will result in a child with a genetic problem, there’s also no way of knowing whether, in that child’s life, there won’t be a solution.

Anyway, some things don’t need a solution.  I’m only an inch taller than Shaidle, but I’ve found it a problem only when buying a car.  I’ve ended up buying Japanese cars, not only because I like their suspension and reliability, but also because they’re the only cars that have seats that raise up enough that I don’t need to sit on a pillow.  If there weren’t Japanese cars, then I guess I’d sit on a pillow.  Other than that, and the occasional frustration when a tall person sits in front of me at a show, I’ve never felt handicapped by being short.  Heck, I’ve never even felt short.  I have a large personality, which more than compensates for any height deficiencies.  Indeed, it’s so large that most people are quite surprised to learn that I’m “only” 5 feet tall.

Even if medical advances can’t help (or pillows aren’t available), what exists within a person may well be the determining factor in that person’s success.  My uncle was a genius with four fully operating limbs — and he was a complete failure in life, poisoned by a combination of Communism and his own character flaws.  At the other extreme is the amazing, inspirational Nick Vujicic, who was born with only a single little flipper.  Nick does more with that flipper, and with his incandescent personality, than most whole-bodied people can ever hope to do.  We wouldn’t have missed him if he’d been aborted.  That is, no one would have gone around saying, “Gosh, it’s a shame that Nick Vujicic was never born.”  However, his birth, and the message of hope that he shares, is something valuable and, knowing him and what he does, we can definitely say that the world would have been less light-filled without him.

If you don’t want to have babies, don’t have them.  On the down side, they’re hard work, messy, frustrating, and expensive.  (The up side, which all parents know, is for another post.)  Just don’t use your genetic weaknesses as the justification for your decision.

UPDATE:  A true update, regarding an event I attended the same evening I wrote this post.

Mitt the Bully; Obama the Bully; Every kid the bully

Let’s put aside the laughable fact that the MSM has had to go back to 1965, when Romney was a teenager, to find something bad about him (or, more specifically, something bad about him and a putatively gay person).  This ridiculous attack has naturally generated attacks against Obama and Biden, both of whom, either in memoirs or biographies, turn out to have been bullies when they were children.  Not chronic bullies, but they were mean to other children.

This is insanely stupid, and can reflect badly only on the MSM and the general Democrat establishment.  As Rhymes With Right says:

I work with kids every day.

At some point, virtually every single one of them will engage in some activity that can be defined as bullying.

That may be because of immaturity, peer pressure, or simply thoughtlessness.

Some continue their bullying behavior into adulthood, and some particularly warped individuals — like anti-bullying activist Dan Savage — even manage to find a way to justify their bullying as morally virtuous.

I distinctly (and with a great deal of discomfort) remember being a bully when I was in school.  It probably stands out in my mind because I was most often a victim.  Being a skinny, little, glasses-wearing bookworm was not a recipe for social success.  When someone came along who was an even bigger target than I was, I gleefully joined in with my former tormenters.  I honestly don’t know what I was thinking.  Was it just a child’s natural instinct to pick on those weaker?  Was I hoping to ingratiate myself with the power structure?  The answer is lost in the heavy mists of time.

What I do know is the Greg nailed it:  “At some point, virtually every single one of them [kids] will engage in some activity that can be defined as bullying.  That may be because of immaturity, peer pressure, or simply thoughtlessness.”

Watching the Dems implode is proving to be more fun than I expected.  I only hope ordinary voters figure out what’s going on, and throw the bums out.

Remind me why I wanted to be a grown-up?

I’m surrounded by young people who, as is the nature of young people, are in a hurry to grow up.  They see being “grown up” as this Paradise where no one bosses you around, where you get to have as much candy as you can buy, where there’s no homework, and where you get all the fun, without the responsibility.  I remember viewing “grown ups” that way.  I’m having the kind of week, though, where I keep asking myself “Now, why did I want to be a grown up?”

The key word for being a grown-up — and one that seems to have eluded the OWSers — is responsibility.  When you’re a young adult, you’re responsible for yourself.  As you age, and have children and aging parents, you suddenly start becoming responsible for everyone.  As a card-carrying selfish person, this high level of responsibility goes against the grain.  But still, I do it, because it’s part of being a grown-up.

Kids nowadays have these tremendously attenuated adolescences because they don’t have responsibility.  They might be responsible for homework or sports participation, but that’s pretty much it.  The safety net is always there and they never have a feeling that, “but for me, things might fall apart.” It seems nice, but I’m not sure it’s a good thing for the way the human mind needs to develop.

And on that note, I’ll leave you to contemplate this post at Hot Air, about one young woman’s vision of what it means to be a grown-up — and that way in which Leftist society is outraged that she dare to think so.

Since I’ll be gone for several hours being a responsible grown-up, please consider this an Open Thread.

The schizophrenia of modern public (i.e., Progressive) schools

We spend a lot of time talking here about the way our Progressive culture infantilizes young people.  Just think about the way the whole liberal world had a collective head explosion when Newt suggested that young people get jobs to learn the value of discipline and achieve the satisfaction of wages.  But all is not perpetual babying of our youth when it comes to the Progressive education establishment.  Woe betide the child, even a 7-year-old, who dares to transgress political correctness.  Under those circumstances, no consequences is too severe, both to punish the malfeasor and to stand as a warning to all other children tempted to violate Progressive norms.

I speak, of course, of the child who punched a bully in the crotch (something, by the way, that we are all taught in self-defense classes is the best way to disable a predator) and was charged with sexual harassment.  The story would be a non-story had the incident been treated the old-fashioned way, with both bully and victim hauled off to the principal’s office, to get proportionate punishments (with, I hope, more serious punishment going to the bully).  In my day, those punishments included staying after school, missing recess, perhaps a one- or two-day suspension and the dreaded “I’m going to have to tell your parents about this.”

Mark Steyn summarizes perfectly the horror unfolding here, and I do mean horror.  This is not just a silly joke about an over-reactive school administration.  This is a life-long sentence for the 7-year-old:

There may be “another side” to this story, but it’s hard to foresee any version of events in which a First Grader can plausibly be guilty of “sexual assault”. Nevertheless, if found guilty, Mark Curran when he turns 18 will be placed on a “sex offender registry”, and his life will be ruined. If officials of the Boston public schools system genuinely believe that when a seven-year old kicks another seven-year old in the crotch that that is an act of “sexual harassment”, then they are too stupid to be entrusted with the care of the city’s children. If, on the other hand, they retain enough residual humanity to understand that a seven-year-old groin-kick is not a sexual assault but have concluded that regulatory compliance obliges them to investigate it as such, then they are colluding in an act of great evil.

Sometimes societies become too stupid to survive. If you’re wondering how a candidate’s presidential campaign can be derailed by allegations of “gestures” of “a non-sexual nature” that made women “uncomfortable” two decades ago rather than by his total ignorance of foreign policy and national security, well, this stuff starts in kindergarten. The loss of proportion and of basic human judgment in the American education system ought to be an unnerving indicator.

Yeah, you got that right.

Newt Gingrich, poor children, and work habits

One of the reasons a lot of people, myself included, like Newt is because he says politically incorrect things that ordinary people think.  In other words, his politically correct utterances aren’t out of the KKK playbook, they’re out of “the reasonable common-sense before 1960s Leftist education took over” playbook.

A week ago, he said that child labor laws are stupid insofar as they prevent children from getting paying jobs (including janitorial jobs) that would help them to maintain their own schools — at less cost, incidentally, than using unionized janitors.  His most recent utterance, expanding on this point, was that poor children have no work ethic:

“Really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works so they have no habit of showing up on Monday,” Gingrich claimed.

“They have no habit of staying all day, they have no habit of I do this and you give me cash unless it is illegal,” he added.

All the usual suspects are up in arms.  I haven’t bothered to hunt down quotations from the unions that keep schools supplied with janitors, but I’m sure they’re not happy.  More than that, though, Newt’s statements have been interpreted to mean that he advocates a return to 19th Century child labor, complete with seven-day work weeks, 12 of which are spent laboring in a coal mine.  Take a gander, for example, at this screen shot from YouTube after I searched up “Newt Gingrich poor children”:

Charles Blowhard, New York Times opinion columnist, is horrified that Newt might look at the way in which the poor behave and conclude that their learned behavior contributes to their poverty.  He also comes back with reams of statistics about the fact that the poor do work:

This statement isn’t only cruel and, broadly speaking, incorrect, it’s mind-numbingly tone-deaf at a time when poverty is rising in this country. He comes across as a callous Dickensian character in his attitude toward America’s most vulnerable — our poor children. This is the kind of statement that shines light on the soul of a man and shows how dark it is.

Gingrich wants to start with the facts? O.K.

First, as I’ve pointed out before, three out of four poor working-aged adults — ages 18 to 64 — work. Half of them have full-time jobs and a quarter work part time.

Furthermore, according to an analysis of census data by Andrew A. Beveridge, a sociologist at Queens College, most poor children live in a household where at least one parent is employed. And even among children who live in extreme poverty — defined here as a household with income less than 50 percent of the poverty level — a third have at least one working parent. And even among extremely poor children who live in extremely poor areas — those in which 30 percent or more of the population is poor — nearly a third live with at least one working parent.

I’ll accept as true the fact that the poor work, but that’s too facile.  We also need to look at their attitude towards work.  As Shakespeare would say, there’s the rub.  Let me quote from a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago, describing the way in which a white liberal tried desperately to explain away the fact that large corporations find it extremely difficult to keep minority employees:

Mr. Bookworm works for a very large corporation.  While we were in the car with the kids, the conversation turned to the exquisite sensitivity the corporation has to show when it’s faced with firing a minority employee. The process is arduous, requiring huge HR involvement, dozens of staff interviews and a lengthy paper trail.

The reason for this labor intensive firing is the unfortunate fact that minorities tend to be less satisfactory employees. As Mr. Bookworm was at great pains to point out to the children (and correctly so), this is a group trend and has nothing to do with the merits of any individual minority employee. It’s just that, if you look at a bell curve of minority employees versus a bell curve of white employees, you’ll find more white employees than minority employees in the segment denoting “good worker.” No modern corporation, however, wants a reputation as a “firer of minorities.”

The above are facts. What fascinated me was the different spin Mr. Bookworm and I put on those facts. Mr. Bookworm sent twenty minutes explaining to the children that, to the extent blacks were poorer employees, it was because their culture made them incapable of working. (This was not meant as an insult. He was talking, of course, about the culture of poverty.).

Mr. Bookworm painted a picture of a black child living in a ghetto, with a single mother who gave birth to him when she was 14, with several siblings from different fathers, with a terrible school, surrounded by illiterates, hungry all the time, etc.  No wonder, he said, that this child doesn’t bring to a corporation the same work ethic as a middle class white kid.

This creates big problems for corporations.  A modern corporation truly wants to hire minorities.  Once it’s hired them, though, according to my liberal husband, it ends up with workers who are incapable of functioning in a white collar, corporate environment. The corporation therefore finds itself forced to fire it’s minority hires more frequently than white or Asian employees, with the result that it’s accused of racism. Its response to that accusation is to proceed with excessive caution and extreme due diligence whenever a black employee fails at the job.

My suggestion to the children was that minority employees, aware that it’s almost impossible to fire them, might be disinclined to put out their best efforts on the job.  Why should they?  Logic and energy conservation both dictate that a smart person should do the bare minimum to get a job done.  In this case, for the black employees, the job their doing isn’t what’s in the job description.  Instead, their job is simply to keep their job.

Amusingly Newt thinks exactly the same as my liberal husband does.  They both blame black culture for poor black employment habits.  The difference is that, while Newt thinks it’s a fixable situation, starting with the children and their attitude toward labor, my husband, like Mr. Blowhard, thinks that all one can do is accept that minorities are going to be lousy employees.

America’s black poverty culture (as opposed to the Asian or East Indian) poverty culture is handicapped by a terrible, false syllogism:

  • Slavery was work
  • Slavery is evil
  • All work is evil

Even when they’re getting paid, too many African-Americans seem to feel they’ve sold out — that any work involving the white establishment is tantamount to slavery and that they can participate in this system by participating least.   It’s a principled stand, but it’s a principle that’s in thrall to terribly flawed logic and that ensures generational poverty and despair.  As far as I’m concerned, Newt gets serious kudos for his willingness to state what is, to the working class, quite obvious:  learn how to work well when you’re young, and you’ll be able to support yourself when you’re old.

Personal morality and responsibility

11B40 asked a good question, which is why I’m so focused on McQueary, when it was Sandusky who committed the crime.  It’s because I have no fellow feeling with Sandusky who, if the allegations are true, is a perverted monster.  I therefore don’t need to analyze my behavior or parenting decisions with regard to his conduct.  McQueary, however, is Everyman.  Each of us could be in his shoes.

McQueary’s response to a horrible, unexpected situation wasn’t perverse or illegal.  Instead, it was just the lowest common denominator of acceptable behavior that an ordinary human could commit.  I have within me the capacity to do exactly what he did — but I want to be better than that.  That’s why I’m also hammering away at columnists who explain what he did, not just to offer explanations, but also to excuse his conduct.  Like them, like all of us, I could be McQueary, but I don’t want to be McQueary.

Perhaps my obsession with this is also because I’m a parent in a morally challenging world, attempting to give my children moral lessons.  That hit home yesterday. As I hadn’t quite made it back to the house when my 12-year-old son got home from school, he called me, his voice trembling with unshed tears. “Mom, I have to tell you this. I need to confess. There was this old guy handing out little pocket Bibles at school [actually, next to the school, on non-school land]. Then, on the school bus home, one of the kids had candy and I wanted the candy and the kid said he’d give me the candy if I ripped up the Bible — and I did. Another boy threw a bunch of Bibles out the window.  I’m so sorry. I know what I did was wrong and I just had to tell you.”

When I got home, my son was still very upset, partially because he knew he’d done something wrong (both destroying a book and destroying a religious symbol) and partially because he was worried about getting expelled from school.  Without actually meaning to, I made him even more upset.  On my way back home after his call, I’d already called a friend whom I knew was taking her kids to a non-denominational youth night at the local church. I figured it would be good for my son immediately to go to a place where the book of God matters. When I mentioned I’d told her, he completely broke down, sobbing hysterically. “How could you? She won’t respect me any more.” (And I can’t tell you how glad I am to know that he realized that what he did would impair his standing in the eyes of the community.)

It got worse for my little guy when I opened my email and discovered an email from a friend and neighbor who didn’t know that my son had confessed, telling me about what happened and adding that several of the children on the bus were quite upset. “Oh, no! None of the parents will respect me anymore. This is horrible. I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t mean to destroy God’s property.” More sobbing. My son wrote our neighbor an abject apology for having committed an offensive act, and she sent a gracious reply.

I wasn’t pleased with what my son did, but I wasn’t angry at him.  It seemed to me that he was angry enough at himself.  He knew that he’d done an irresponsible and offensive act, although he did so foolishly and entirely without malice.  He also felt very keenly that what he had done might diminish him in the eyes of people he respects and whose respect he desires.

Indeed, I was quite pleased that he was upset and able to identify his own wrongdoing, rather than arrogant and dismissive.  He could have gone the other route:  “It’s just a book, and people who believe in it are stupid, and I should be able to rip up a book if I want, etc.”  That he didn’t, that he immediately realized he’d made a mistake, was a comforting reminder that my son is a fundamentally good person, who is simply a long way from maturity.  He is not, thank goodness, a punk or a sociopath.  A good (not angry or accusatory) talk about decency and respect, a total media blackout for two days, and a rather pleasant evening for him at a church youth group (he wants to go back) were, to my mind, entirely sufficient responses.

What was really interesting — and here we’re back at my whole obsession with McQueary and a society that passes the back and practices moral relativism — was the response from a liberal friend of mine.  Rather than acknowledging that my son had done something wrong, his ire was all focused on the old man who had handed out Bibles.

“That’s illegal.”  ”

No, it’s not.  He wasn’t on school property, and he wasn’t handing out anything that is illegal or that is prohibited to minors, such as drugs, alcohol, cigarettes or pornography.”

“Well, it ought to be illegal.  You can’t just hand out Bibles to people.”

“Um, actually, a little thing called the First Amendment says you can.”

He was shocked.

My friend’s next challenge was that handing out a Bible to school children was entrapment.

“That man was trying to entrap children.  He knew that most of them would throw it away and that boys would play with it.  There’s no difference between shredding it and throwing it in the garbage can.”

My friend was unconvinced when I pointed out that (a) the fact that many children on the bus were upset shows that treating a Bible with disrespect is not a natural or appropriate act and (b) that there is a difference between respectfully disposing of an unwanted item and deliberately destroying it in public view.  Intention matters.  And it was because intention matters that I was upset with my son for what he did, but I was neither angry nor perturbed.  His intentions weren’t blasphemous.  He just wanted candy.

Because issues such as this pop up in one form or another quite often when you have parents, you can see why I think long and hard about the messages we send our kids when it comes to right and wrong, and about responsibility to individuals and to society at large.

What do you all think, whether about my parenting decisions, about my McQueary tie-in, about societal messages, or anything else this post might have brought to mind?

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.

My guilty little secret turns out to have been a good thing

In Marin County, spanking a child is a very dangerous activity.  Although spanking is not illegal, it’s enough to entangle you with Child Protective Services and, from that moment on, parenting life as you know it is over.  Despite the danger, when my kids were little, I spanked them.  With two unguided missiles, sometimes the only way I could get control over the situation was a quick smack.  With a four year old, reasoning doesn’t work; taking away privileges is too time-attenuated; and my kids didn’t care about time-outs.  A quick spanking relieved my anger and gave them a very quick lesson in cause and effect (cause:  naughty; effect:  spanking).

It turns out now that my secret forays into old-fashioned discipline were a gift to my children:

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.

I only wish I could have been able to smack them on a more regular basis when they were really naughty little kids.  (Not beat, smack.)  As it was, because of the dangers inherent in corporal punishment, the situation had to be very extreme before I resorted to spanking.  I think my life would have been easier and, I think, they might have been more disciplined now.

And the indoctrination beat goes on — but at least we now see it happening

The conservative internet is appropriately riled by a video of New Jersey public school children singing a song to the Obama:

Lyrics
========
Mmm, mmm, mm!

Barack Hussein Obama
He said that all must lend a hand [?]
To make this country strong again
Mmm, mmm, mm!

Barack Hussein Obama
He said we must be clear today
Equal work means equal pay
Mmm, mmm, mm!

Barack Hussein Obama
He said that we must take a stand
To make sure everyone gets a chance
Mmm, mmm, mm!

Barack Hussein Obama
He said Red, Yellow, Black or White
All are equal in his sight
Mmm, mmm, mm!

Barack Hussein Obama
Yes
Mmm, mmm, mm!

Barack Hussein Obama

For people raised in a democracy, and raised on songs about “the land of the free,” seeing a Dear Leader song is deeply, deeply disturbing.  Democracies are not supposed to celebrate individuals in that way, since the worship of an individual is one of the first steps in the march to a statist system.  (It’s funny, when you think about, but “statist” systems are invariably focused on demagogues, rather than the state itself.)

That we are seeing these videos and are able to be so incensed about them is actually a good thing.  The misuse of public schools and the indoctrination of children have always been part of the Democratic/Progressive playbook.  The problem for ordinary Americans is that they didn’t see it.  Thanks to the internet, however, and thanks to the increased confidence Leftists feel now that one of their own is the White House, the rock has been lifted and a spotlight is shining on all of the Left’s nasty little secrets.  Americans no longer drift along unaware of what’s going on.  It’s in their faces and, I suspect, critical masses of them will resent and resist.

Among others blogging on this subject are:

Michelle Malkin

Pierre LeGrand

Lorie Byrd

Kids make great targets — if you’re the Taliban

The American and world media go into a screaming frenzy whenever American or Israeli troops injure or kill a child.  They do this despite the fact that such incidents are rare and, more significantly, they are aberrant:  both the American and the Israeli military go out of their way to avoid injuring civilians, even if it means putting their own troops at greater risk.

The same media outlets conspicuously avoid reporting on an ugly little fact about the world’s Islamic fighters, whether those fighters are in Bali or Gaza or Indonesia or Iraq or Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the world:  these fighters consider children either an integral part of the fight (whether as cover, junior fighters or propaganda instruments) or as completely irrelevant collateral damage in any fight.

The following video shows a Taliban fighter casually activating a rocket despite the fact that a child is directly in the line of fire:

In case you were worried, a worry that distinguishes you from the Taliban killer aiming at one of his own countrymen (or country-children), the child survived the bombing, American medics treated him on site, and he ended up being airlifted to America for further treatment.

Hat tip:  Soldier’s Angels Germany

Tomorrow belongs to me *UPDATED*

My daughter, who attends middle school, told me that she understood the the take-away message from Obama’s speech to be “The future is your responsibility,” a thought she found unpleasantly burdensome.  Generally, she thought the speech was long and boring.

As for the “tomorrow belongs to you” aspect of Obama’s little talk, my mind irresistibly floated to the song below.  I am not comparing Obama to Hitler. This song is not a Nazi song.  It’s an American Broadway song. It’s just that the song’s title and refrain were such a perfect match for the way in which my daughter understood Obama’s message:

My daughter, incidentally, wasn’t the only child to find Obama dull.

UPDATE:  My elementary school aged son just got home and he too thought it was boring.  Some kids simply tuned out altogether.

UPDATE II:  Two bloggers make the excellent point that sending a direct message to children about education is not the President’s job and that in itself makes Obama’s speech suspect.  (See here and here.) And yes, other presidents have spoken to school children, but those have usually been one and one classroom experiences, not broadcast to a nation of captive children, and no president before has ever been so dismissive of his constitutional boundaries.

I side with the Muslims (and Christians) on this one *UPDATED*

The article only interviewed Muslim parents, but it’s clear Christians were involved as well.  These were the parents in England who pulled their young children out of school rather than have the children be subject to a month long GLBT indoctrination, er, education sessions — and who are now being threatened with government sanctions.

Let me state here what regular readers already know:  I am a libertarian.  I do not care with whom you sleep or with whom you fall in love.  I do not wish any ill on any people because of their sexuality.  I believe that there is a graduated scale of sexuality, with some people being completely heterosexual and some people being absolutely homosexual (I’ve known both kinds), and many people floating in the middle, amenable to cultural pressures (and I’ve known many of these too).

I am also a parent.  If my children are gay I will love them and wish the best for them, whatever their choices.  However, I don’t want them to be gay.  The gay culture is not a healthy one, with higher rates of alcoholism, drug abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and partner abuse.  This is something I’ve seen first hand, growing up and living in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the most gay friendly environments in the world.  I don’t know why the gay lifestyle seems to carry with it more lifestyle problems, and I won’t hazard any guesses here.  Whatever the reason, it’s not what I hope for my children.

Therefore, while I believe it is extremely important that children are taught to be tolerant of people’s lifestyle choices, I do not believe it is up to the public school system to present a cheery perfect view of homosexual life that, quite sadly, is often at odds with the reality of the GLBT culture.  I’m concerned that, in addition to providing rah-rah cheer to that small number of children who are indubitably at the homosexual end of the sexuality scale, it will also provide a little too much encouragement to those who float in the fluid middle.  Additionally, given that these classes were aimed at 3rd and 4th graders, who have, at best, a hazy view of sexuality, these lessons struck me as teaching way more than the kids needed to know.

P.S. (and warning): This post is about children and education and sexuality and the state assuming the role of parent when it comes to teaching sexual values, especially to very young children .  If you wish to engage in gay bashing, do not do it here.  I will delete any comments I deem threatening or offensive or just plain crude on that subject.

UPDATE:  And, coincidentally, here’s an article from today’s Chron about the fact that lesbians have more health problems, both biological and lifestyle related.

Destruction of property

As we were driving back to the ‘burbs from an outing in San Francisco today, we saw a rare sight:  an older lady nattily attired in furs.  Standing near her was a young woman, screaming into the lady’s face.  The children were mesmerized.  First, they’d never seen furs and, second, the spectacle of a public screaming intrigued them.  As we drove past, they asked why the women were fighting.  Mr. Bookworm said that they could just be two women who knew each other, but he and I also posited that the young woman might be a stranger who launched a verbal assault against the fur-clad woman simply because the latter was wearing furs.

The kids were perplexed.  Mr. Bookworm and I explained that in the old days (a la I Love Lucy), lots of women desired and wore furs.  We also explained that, while some furs (such as mink) were harvested pretty much like chicken, other furs were the product of very inhumane trapping (foxes) or clubbing (baby seals).  We also explained that the anti-fur people had gotten more and more aggressive, to the point of throwing paint all over women’s fur coats, regardless of whether they were farmed fur or fur obtained through more brutal approaches.

What fascinated me at that point was my daughter’s comment about the paint throwing:  “That’s a really good idea.”  And in a way she’s right.  I think it was the risk of paint more than anything else that stopped a generation of women from wearing furs.  It just wasn’t economically viable to wear a $20,000 fox coat and take the risk that it would be destroyed in an instant by someone wielding a pot of paint and then vanishing into the crowd.

On the other hand, if my daughter accepts that the paint strategy was a good one, she’s also accepting that it’s perfectly okay to destroy other people’s property to achieve your goals — and that way lies anarchy.  My husband may be a liberal, but he owns a car and a house, and he perceived the same problem with her delighted acceptance of an “end justifies the means” philosophy.  We therefore asked her to imagine whether it was okay for someone who does’t like global warming to smash up our car — while we’re in it.  Or for someone who thinks it unfair that she has luxuriant hair, while sick kids go bald, to cut off her hair on the street.  Those examples, which hit close to home, brought her to an awareness of the fact that we like to think that our property is (and should be) inviolable.  Our next step with her is to brainstorm ways to change policies with which we disagree without personal attacks or destruction of property.

All in all, though, the whole conversation was interesting because it showed me how easy it is to convince children that violent attacks and property destruction, because they are effective, must be good — assuming that you agree with the end goal.  It’s a reminder that, because there’s little reason to believe that Ayers has changed his ideology, and he’s been very vocal in his belief that his violent tactics “didn’t do enough,” we really do need to be vigilant against seeping Ayer-ism in an Obama administration.

The new green colored brownshirts

It was only yesterday that the creepy video emerged from Hollywood showing kids singing a song of worship to the golden world that will emerge when Obama ascends to the White House.  In connection with that video, I noted that the indoctrination of children reminded me very strongly of the way in which Hitler, with his Hitler Youth (I call them brownshirts, because that was the uniform and that was the adult cadre), and Stalin, with his Communist Youth, turned children away from the family and made them loyal only to the state.  It was not uncommon for these same children, in their youthful, indoctrinated zeal, to turn in their parents, only to watch with despair as those same parents were then hauled of to Dachau or some choice Gulag — or, worse, executed before their eyes.

An energy company in Britain has now started a program aimed at turning each child into a “green policeman” in the family home.  It starts with the “Climate Cops” at this cutesy website.  If the website was just about playful reminders to children to turn off lights, refrain from wasting water, and close the refrigerator door, it would be innocuous.  But it isn’t.  Part of the “mission” is to police your parents, who are committing “crimes.”

Thus, in the document exhorting children to order a “challenge diary,” the children are told this (emphasis mine):

Our planet needs all the help it can get, and the more kids that get involved, the more energy we can save!

Grown-ups are often just too busy to realise how much energy they are wasting, and that’s where you come in…

By using the Climate Cops Challenge Diary to record climate crimes at home and in your community, you can encourage others to switch-off and conserve energy.

Considering the green hysteria that’s still enveloping the Western world (despite mounting evidence that hysteria is not warranted), I find it unnerving that children are being encouraged to keep a written record of their parents’ infractions.  No, it’s not state action (although it is a public utility); and, no, no one’s being escorted to gulags or concentration camps.  Nevertheless, it’s a pattern — a pattern that’s been done before, and that has the potential to be used again — by which children are encouraged to look upon their parents as the enemy, and to feel comfortable tracking and recording their infractions.  Not scary yet, but definitely icky.

Hat tip:  Mike Devx

The new brownshirts *UPDATED*

One of the most horrific things about both the Nazis and the Communists was the way in which they indoctrinated children.  Children were encouraged to place the State — and especially the state’s leader, whether Hitler or Stalin — above the family, and to give their loyalty to the former, not the latter.  Unhappy parents discovered that the state’s spy network extended to their own home, with their children, having been completely reprogrammed by the state, turning them in for whatever the average 9 year old deemed to be a treasonous infraction.

Thank of that as you view this video, which Kim Priestap found and posted at Wizbang.  Kim doubts that this is what it pretends to be — a grassroots moment where hyper aware kids discover the beauty of the Obamessiah and suddenly burst into song.  I agree with her, but I find it even more disturbing as a harbinger of our children being co-opted to the state:

UPDATETrust Confederate Yankee to discover just how polished this allegedly grass roots effort really is.

UPDATE IIThe Anchoress adds her two cents about the Orwellian nature of that creepy video.

A backlog of links

Even thought I didn’t and couldn’t post yesterday, it didn’t mean I wasn’t paying attention.  I have a whole bunch of links I want to share with you.  I won’t take too much time on any one link, because I have only a short time before the Mom stuff starts again (summer, you know), but here goes:

If you haven’t yet read Jonah Goldberg on Obama’s postmodern deconstructionist style of communicating, you must.

If you haven’t yet read John Hawkin’s humorous and humane ideas for dealing with friends and families who haven’t yet made their personal journey to conservatism, you must.

If you haven’t yet learned that the Democrats seem compulsively drawn to old fashioned Communist symbolism, you can read more about that here.

You probably already read Andrew Breitbart’s column about the struggles conservatives have in Hollywood.  Coincidentally, it came out the same day that Jon Voight’s op-ed critique of mindless Hollywood liberalism was published.  In his most recent column, Breitbart takes on the mean-spirited, intellectually foolish and, yes, McCarthy-esque responses Voight’s column generated in Hollywood.

AJStrata launches a funny, yet pointed, attack on Barry the Cable Guy’s utterly unprincipled “get ‘er done” philosophy, which sees him saying or doing anything it takes to get to the big White House.

I commented yesterday on the wonderful pun in Soccer Dad used to title his post called Hello martyr, hello Fatah.  Elder of Ziyon took the sick tragedy underlying that pun and created a brilliantly sad/funny video.