Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What About The Children?

When did policy debates get reduced down to: "what about the children?" I was reading the news today and two articles referenced this line of argument once again:

The first story I can understand more than the second. A man walking around nude (there are references to exposure, but this would assume the person knows his intent and no where in the story did they prove intent). He is about to go on trial for what he has been charged; but has not been found guilty yet. That doesn't matter though, because we have to assume he is guilty and his intent FOR THE CHILDREN.

The second story is even more ridiculous. The justification for banning cell phones while driving is:

"But the question remains: Are you willing to let the next person who is injured be your child? To me, that trumps everything."

The reason quotes like this make any sense is it is a moral high ground that no one can refute and if they try they sound uncaring or cold. The reality of the situation is that people using this type of rhetoric are manipulative. The level of ethical repugnance of using children as pawns to push political or social policies is immeasurable. It attempts to forbid any discourse from taking place by putting the opponents of the "for the children" position on a footing of "evil."

The world is much more complicated than "for the children" rhetoric that we here. A good example of this is Here is a website that is about capturing child predators. What a great thing "for the children", right? How is it a founder of PJ Xavier Von Erck doesn't even like children? He started the operation to clean up chat rooms and the internet because he was annoyed by being bothered. What ever your view of this website and the TV series from it, the insight to gleen is this: "FOR THE CHILDREN" is a thin reason to do something. Humans are more complicated, people are more complicated.

Thinking of what is best for our children is an important question. Using the children as a political pawn is a thin veiled attempt to project our values into the world and then use "protecting children" as the method of justification. As opposed to the process of actually discussing those values and evaluating them. If we did things "for the children" then we should be asking:

  • Should we be at war in Iraq? What about the next father who dies. Bring home the soldiers.... for the children.
  • How many kids come home to a home alone. Businesses need to be required to shut down by the time school is out.....for the children.
  • What about the next child who is injured in youth sports. Youth sports should be banned..... for the children.
  • What about the next boy that is violated by a priest. The entire Catholic church should be shut down.... for the children.

And the list goes on and on and on. These are ridiculous ideas, just as it is ridiculous to use this method to justify most social/political policies. My suggestion: lose the moral high ground methods and actually discuss the issues at hand.

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