Article > We don't need no education?
Description :: More mores from a relativist?
This is my second attempt at a dialog regarding the "Think of the Children" article by Unordained. My first one resulted in a dialog between Unordained and myself but it was via AIM and not on this board. I've reread his article and still have managed to find fault. What a surprise! This article seems to have two main points. 1) Children are resilient. 2) Make sure when you decide what culture is "beneficial" for your child that you aren't merely trying to shape your child into you in regards to subjects which are purely arbitrary. Subjects cream flavors, musical styles, know..the things that aren't a matter of morality. (if you don't see the sarcasm dripping from those words...) I'm going to try a different style of rebuttal. Maybe it will be more effective. Now note for me. Unordained's article is a little scattershot style. Defending against a scattershot approach makes for an even more scattershot defense. So the flow of this article sucks bad. Lastly, my article talks over and over about how a parent should raise their own children. Unordained's talks both about how much parents worry and how our Society should attempt to restructure (or not) the family. My article assumes that a given person will try to raise their children in a way that fits their views. It assumes further that a given person will try to restructure (or not) their society in a way that fits their views. So it is, in fact, the same issue. If there is a solution than a parent must attempt it on their children and a voter must attempt it on their society.

Lets get past the easy one first. Yes, children are resilient to damage. Children come out of severely painful situations intact. However, I would argue that much of the time, though they are alive, they oftentimes remain forever damaged. This must not be forgotten. So yes, parents, understand how little effect you have on your children when you speak implicitly against a thing. But realize what a huge impact you can have when your children watch how you act.

The real issue I want to tackle, as usual, is the moral aspect. I'm a conservative and that makes me the morality police right? Sarcasm again...keep up with me. :)

Unordained writes: "I've heard plenty of arguments against all sorts of moral evils based on the harm it might do to children. Gay marriage, adoption of children by lesbian couples, divorce, adoption of children by single parents, artificial insemination of various types of people, etc."

Lets pause Unordained for a moment and realize that in the middle of this medium sized list, Unordained changed from a moral subject to a social subject. After divorce, he's delved into subjects that deal not with whether or not a thing is objectively wrong or not, but whether a thing is socially beneficial or not. This is a big difference and it is here that I choose to make my defense. Lets unpause Unordained and let him finish.

"We've not made it illegal for terribly poor people or people with transmittable diseases, or people with genetic illnesses, or people with bad breath or who live in a third-world nation to have kids -- yet couldn't any of these factors also harm the little guys?"

A good question. Each of these things deserves research. However, what Unordained is doing here is justifying one "wrong" with another "wrong." How progressive. Note that though not everyone believes that homosexuality, for example, is wrong, many many people do. So for a relativist, these things are not about morality but they are all about what is beneficial to society. This does not develop the dialog but instead attempts to cross the gulf by forcing (probably accidentally) the underlying moral beliefs on the audience. The world is irredeemably flawed. But don't let that fact cause you to stop fixing what you can.

"Do children need a working father and a stay-at-home mother to grow up decently? Honestly, I've seen plenty of kids raised in such a supposedly ideal environment still turn out completely wrong. I've also seen kids grow up in the worst environments, and still make it out strong morally, physically, and intellectually."

This argument is flawed completely. Lets not bring up the exceptions and generalize from them. I've seen plenty of people who were raised in a bad environment and were scarred for life. I have never seen a person that grew up in a bad environment (not trivially bad mind you, I mean, at least, emotionally abusive), I have never seen such a person come out unscathed. Alive, yes. Happy, often. But chemically depressed. Now, one could argue that I am abusing a correlation. Perhaps we should not assume that the bad environment caused the chemical depression. Perhaps the chemical depression caused the bad environment! Good thinking. Again. Children are resilient. But we must choose what it is that we will and will not attempt to pass on to them. If we try to shape them too much, oftentimes they rebel (at least, that's how it is in my experience). I'll detail this at the end of my article.

"So when I'm told that a lesbian couple shouldn't be allowed to have kids by adoption or insemination or marriage (that is, we ban the marriage to try to prevent two women from living together and raising a kid) and even threaten to have social services take the children away to "a better place" when these circumstances come up, I've really got to wonder what's wrong with us. Have we, in our effort to dress up children as innocent angels, forgotten how strong they are? Are we so insecure as to think that kids only believe what they're told? Ask my parents, they'll certainly disagree on that point."

Bad argument again, oversimplifying and generalizing from an exception. Sometimes kids listen to their parents. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes "bad" kids rebel against "good" parents. Sometimes good kids rebel against bad parents. Sometimes kids listen to their bad parents and are warped. Sometimes kids listen to their good parents...and become good themselves. Note that homosexuality becomes a subject after a section of more or less optional material.

"We can't prevent the death of a parent, or both. If this theory were to hold up, the children of such dead parents would be scarred beyond recognition."

Another poor argument. There's a lot worse that can happen to a kid than to have their parents die. Some kids would have been better off if their parents were dead. I'll say it again. Some kids would be better off if their parents had died. This cannot be ignored! So though Unordained attempts to go to a situation which as negative as possible and argue upwards from there, he in fact, has a long ways to go. He evidently needs to see more dented people.

"Children get tossed around social services, living in orphanages -- is that a normal family environment?" No. That in fact, is an attempt by the government to cut social losses. Lets go further. I fear that "normal" family environments are all too scarce. Indeed, I have trouble relating to the world because I grew up in a "normal" environment. Almost all people my age look at me like I'm a loser because my parents are my friends. They passed their morality on to me and I believed it because I was able to verify it externally. They treated me as fairly as they could. They set up standards for discipline (punishment fits the crime) and did their best to adhere to the standards. I feel lucky. But heck. Why try as hard as my parents did. Lets do whatever the crap we want. Kids are resilient right?

I would argue that kids...people in general even, are not so much resilient as they are flexible. They are not like glass, hard but shattered at a blow. They are not like metal such that they can withstand very strong blows and suffer hardly a scratch. In my experience there are essentially three kinds of people. As Unordained says "Your kids will find a path for themselves, with or despite you." 1) Comformists. They do what people pressure them to do. If you are a Comformist, I formally pressure you to stop. It's dumb. For instance. School teachers have seen a rise in girls kissing girls since the Britney-Madonna crap. Obviously, this rise is not due to a studied dialog of whether or not this kind of thing is morally appropriate, otherwise it would not be the result of a kiss between Britney and Madonna! 2) Active Non-Comformist. These people don't do what people tell them to. They do the opposite..oftentimes in a nearly predictable fashion. And boy do they take pride in it! Oh, and don't try reverse psychology on them, it doesn't work. I've tried. :) 3) Passive Non-Comformist. Pressure means nothing. It's just another person attempting to affect you. Listen to what they have to say (not how loudly they say it) and see if it makes sense. If it does, conform. If not, ignore them. I have met a total of one (1) of these and I am him. Obviously, there are different strengths of conformism or non-conformism.

"Let's be honest: gay marriage and whatnot aren't about the children. If we were truly concerned about making sure that our kids grew up in the "best possible environment" (assuming that such a thing actually exists) then we'd be doing more than just trying to prevent gays from raising kids. It's just an excuse. Think of how often you've heard politicians use "Think of the children" as a phrase intended to show their adversaries as uncaring, anti-child murderers for not signing a bill into law that contains provisions they can't agree with (tax cuts, tax increases, pollution, whatever.) Excuses, deflection."

Aha. He got around to making his point. It's a doosey. Doo...zee. He begins with the "Lets be honest" thing. He ends with an argument about politicians. For humor value I'll turn the argument inside out and attack it with the result. When is the last time you heard someone say "lets be honest?" Its usually a politician acting as though anyone who disagrees with what he thinks is being dishonest. Thus, anyone who says "Let's be honest" is doing the same thing. Therefore Unordained is a Unordained's argument is the same thing. There. Okay that was fun. Lets attempt a dialog now. Gay marriage isn't about the children, it's a moral issue (for me, I know some of you don't care). Thus, it falls (for me) into "Stuff that I must impress upon my children. This is not unfair of me. I desire to impress upon my children that they should not murder. This springs from my religious views. Oh so it's only okay for me to impress my morality upon my children when it matches yours? When everyone agrees? A majority? A super-majority? What? When it is PC? How about this. If you don't want people telling you what to do don't tell other people what to do. If you don't want people imprinting their moral values on their children, don't try to press your moral values on others who are not even your children!

Besides. Who cares how people raise their kids. They're resilient right? So it doesn't matter...right? If we're evil and press a Right-Wing political stance or Protestant theological bent on our children...they'll recover. They're resilient right? So it doesn't matter. Or..perhaps it does to Unordained. Because although for some of us this matter is a moral one and not a political one, the same cannot be said of Unordained's article. He doesn't seem to see how it could be anything morally driven. "Let's be honest: gay marriage and whatnot aren't about the children. If we were truly concerned about making sure that our kids grew up in the "best possible environment" (assuming that such a thing actually exists) then we'd be doing more than just trying to prevent gays from raising kids." And how right he is! If I ever have children to raise, I will be doing much more than "just trying to prevent gays from raising kids." Everyone will be trying to raise my kids for me. Gays will want my children to think it's okay to be gay. The NRAs will want my children to think it's okay to be NRA. The left wing public school teachers will try to teach my children not to discriminate...about nearly anything. The right wing will try to teach my kid not to be indiscriminate about nearly anything. For me, in this case, it is about the chilren. His article does not seem as though it could conceive that having a desire not to have kids raised in an environment that promotes homosexuality implicitly, that this could be anything but political! It's a moral issue. This is why I deeply enjoy youth ministry. Because for me its about the children. Naturally, some left-wingers could see youth ministry as an attempt to indoctrinate the right-wing blah blah blah on the children. Such a person could go on a tirade..perhaps on an internet forum about how we shouldn't indoctrinate the youth because it obviously could not be truly morally driven. Also naturally, an atheist Right-Winger could believe so desperately in right-wing propaganda that he would seek to not only indoctrinate his kids, but post his views to a public forum and encourage others to do the same. He would seek to make social mechanisms that do the same also. Can we be surprised that people from different political bases differ on this matter? For me it's moral.

Face it. People have beliefs. Convictions. They believe things so fervently that they feel that their children must believe them or they will be damaged. Similarly, some people believe some political things so fervently that they post things to message boards attempting to sway their readers.

So, lets take this Moral vs Political thing and apply it to Unordained's article...maybe this will be a clear way to discuss it. If it's moral, and it is Wrong to push Politics on your children, then there is some recognition needed that for many, this isn't a political thing. It's moral. And if it is political, and we don't want Right Wing people to raise their children in a Right Wing way, how much sillier is it to push a Left Wing agenda on Right Wing people? Worse still is to push a Left Wing political agenda on an audience which surely contains people that just want their kids to turn out to be morally okay?

So what things to do we need to impress upon our children?

The Right Morality

If this exists, then children need to know it. If not, then who gives a crap? Eat, drink, and be merry, because it doesn't matter. Do whatever feels good and never question what anyone else is doing. We wouldn't want to judge. Since this is not agreed upon, we cannot discuss it here without plenty of backing. You do your best to make your children understand that Morality is an illusion and that it would be wrong to believe anything else, and I'll teach my children what I think is Right.

The Proper Respect for the Law

Is the Law just mob rule? Is the Law an institution which Morally must be followed unless it contradicts what is Right? We can't discuss this because it is not agreed upon unless we have a lot of proof.

The Proper Family Structure

Is there any objectively Right way to structure a family? Is there any way to structure a family which is socially constructive? Whatever the truth is, we need to impress it upon our children. And again, this is not agreed upon; we cannot discuss it here without a lot of proof.

One More Thing

Unordained's article points out many contradictions in The Law. He then attempts to say that since there is a contradiction that we have to be more accepting about something. One of these is is not. The law should be consistent. It cannot. We want to make Laws which are Good but we must avoid instituting a religion. Indeed, now we must avoid making laws which have a Religious backing. Indeed, nowadays we cannot have the boyscouts (which are obviously a Religious organization) renting a Public building. My point is that there is a contradiction between the following two beliefs. 1) Laws have Moral Authority and 2) Laws do not come from a Objective Moral Standard. If Laws have no Moral Authority, then who cares. Rebels are martyrs, and people who get knifed were just too weak. If Laws have Moral Authority, what is that Authority? all comes down to this doesn't it?