Pregnant girls, by guest blogger Lulu

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

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

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

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

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

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

So sad.

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

Marriage
Sex
Relationship
Love
Dating
Living together
Baby

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

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

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

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

The list of what was actually happening was less sunny:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So very very sad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE: To all the students who have been leaving such thoughtful comments on this post: Thank you. I’m really quite impressed by what you’ve been saying and by your taking seriously the points I made. As you can see, it’s been a long time since I wrote this post. My son is quite a mature teenager now and, I’m happy to say, has outgrown a lot of the behaviors that mothers find so frustrating. I think he’s still too easy on himself, because he’s still not cultivating all his natural gives, but he has turned in a nice young man who has a very strong internal moral compass. I know — and this is the highest praise I can give him — that when he faces moral dilemmas in his life, he will make smart, moral decisions.

Statism in a nutshell

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

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

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

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

Is this for real or not?

Do you think this story is real or a hoax?  If real, it’s terribly disturbing.  If it’s a hoax, well, it’s also terribly disturbing that someone would do something like that.  Right now, Noisy Room is assuming it’s real but, because NR is committed to honest reporting, any useful information one way or another would probably be appreciated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cross-posted in Right Wing News

This is what comes of sexualizing little children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pop culture enmity to teenage self-control

This is the kind of thing my kids have to suffer through:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A youthful indiscretion?

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

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

What do you think?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[snip]

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

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

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

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

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

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

[snip]

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

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

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

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

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

New York Times admits that liberals are dodos *UPDATED*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the rest here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the rest here.

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

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

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

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

Politics and parenting styles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The man I want my daughter to date *UPDATED*

This is an entirely  hypothetical scenario, because my daughter is only 12, and I’m not planning on her dating for at least another fifteen or twenty years, if not more.  However, the sad fact is that, contrary to my entirely reasonable wishes, the dating scene is going to start in three or four years — and that’s just the stuff I’ll know about and can control.  Thanks to the parent grapevine, I’m completely aware that the more precocious kids at my daughter’s middle school (meaning 12 through 14 year olds) are already getting into trouble with sex.

The school is trying its best.  When Valentine’s Day became too sexualized, the school simply canceled it.  Students are not allowed any Valentine’s Day observations on campus.  I don’t know how effective that cancellation has been, and I don’t know whether it happened before or after the two 8th grade girls were caught in the bathroom at a dance orally servicing a long line of boys, but I still appreciate that the school is trying.

You really can’t blame the children.  They live in a hyper-sexualized culture.  At home, I’m preaching self-respect and abstinence (and backing that up with classic movies in which the women were strong, charming and virginal), but at their schools, they’re discussing Lady GaGa (whose costumes are so revealing they’ve sparked rumors she’s a hermaphrodite); obscenity laden rap songs (which the 11 year olds know by heart); the fact that Miley Cyrus has become a “slut;” and the sexual escapades of John Edwards.  No matter what I do, my kids are exposed to a sexual morality I find disturbing and demeaning.  Fortunately my kids are still young enough to be disgusted by these various behaviors, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re being steered into thinking sex is simply a commodity, with anything short of actual intercourse falling into the “innocuous” category.

All of which explains why I’m so taken with Tim Tebow.  Here you have a young man who is handsome, charismatic, and an extraordinary athlete — and he’s also proud about saving himself for marriage.  Despite the manifest temptations that being a star athlete must present, he’s open about his virginity.  The jaded press may giggle in shock and embarrassment but I, as a mom, am deeply impressed:

What’s so important about Tebow is that people cannot claim that he’s a virgin simply because he’s too pathetic to get a girl.  Instead, this moral dynamo is a virgin because he’s taken a principled stand that is inextricably intertwined with respect for himself, for the women he dates (and I assume he does date), and for the woman he will eventually marry.  I can’t think of a better lesson for young people.  And that’s why I want my daughter to date a man like Tebow:  someone who has principles every mother can love, and who, in a culture obsessed with sex, is proud of those principles.

Incidentally, despite the fact that 99% of the families in my ultra liberal community would draw back in revulsion at the thought of their child dating an evangelical Christian, I can guarantee you that 100% of them would be dancing on air if they knew that their daughter’s date, because of a deep commitment to and reverence for women and the sanctity of marriage, wasn’t trying to get his hands in their daughter’s pants.

I’m also very appreciative of the fact that Tebow’s sudden prominence outside of football circles (I, for example, wouldn’t have heard of him but for the Superbowl kerfuffle) coincides with a solid study showing that abstinence education is the best way to prevent kids from having sexual intercourse.  You and I have always understood that if you give kids step by step instructions, complete with condoms and cucumbers, in how to have sex, they might be inclined to have sex.  For the educated class, however, it took a vast study, complete with a large control group exposed to those condoms and cucumbers, to establish what we knew intuitively:  if you emphasize that our bodies are precious, that modern science cannot protect people from diseases and unplanned pregnancies, and that there is a deep measure of self-respect and respect for others that goes with abstinence, you will have healthier, safer children.

UPDATE:  And here comes the perfect example of the media’s constant desire to turn our children into sex objects.  These are twisted people who seek to validate their unsavory approach to life by co-opting our children.  People like Tim Tebow are vital to counteracting this cultural rot.

Americans cool on abortion, appropriately given the societal damage it both causes and reflects

My views on abortion have changed mightily over the years.  The selfish, immature side of me still longs for a pro-choice label, but the mature, moral side of me has concluded that, subject to a few exceptions, pro-Life is the way to go.  I won’t expand on that right now, but you can see more on my views here.

On the subject of abortion, I want to draw your attention to three things:

First, if you somehow managed to miss this headline story, let me be the one to tell you that the Superbowl, of all things, is at the center of an abortion controversy.  Tim Tebow, super-duper college quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner, is going to be in a television commercial that is slated to air during the Superbowl.  In it, he and his mother talk about the fact that she elected to go ahead with a difficult pregnancy, even though the medical establishment assured her that the baby was likely to be dead or damaged at birth.  Tebow, of course, was neither.  Women’s groups are outraged (h/t Soccer Dad), although they sound more foolish than persuasive in their anger:

A national coalition of women’s groups called on CBS on Monday to scrap its plan to broadcast an ad during the Super Bowl featuring college football star Tim Tebow and his mother, which critics say is likely to convey an anti-abortion message.

“An ad that uses sports to divide rather than to unite has no place in the biggest national sports event of the year — an event designed to bring Americans together,” said Jehmu Greene, president of the New York-based Women’s Media Center.

[snip]

The protest letter from the Women’s Media Center suggested that CBS should have turned down the ad in part because it was conceived by Focus on the Family.

“By offering one of the most coveted advertising spots of the year to an anti-equality, anti-choice, homophobic organization, CBS is aligning itself with a political stance that will damage its reputation, alienate viewers, and discourage consumers from supporting its shows and advertisers,” the letter said.

Hmm.  While I know that large sectors of the American public watch the Superbowl (I guess that’s the coming together part), I always considered it a rather divisive thing, considering that half the audience is devoutly hoping that the other half turns off the television set in deep despair.

But more to the point, I found interesting the fact that the women’s groups state, with no authority, that celebrating a successful life that resulted because the baby’s mother made a choice, is something that will “damage [CBS’s] reputation, alienate viewers, and discourage consumers from supporting its shows and advertisers.”  I think the women’s groups are backing the wrong horse.

Which brings me to my second point about abortion.

The invaluable Zombie was out on the streets of San Francisco this past weekend, documenting the annual pro-Life rally held in that bastion of radical liberalism.  What you’d except from a photojournalist is a series of photos showing a few cowering pro-Lifers, surrounded by screaming pro-Choicers, all carrying “keep your hands off my uterus” signs and wearing kuffiyahs (because who doesn’t go to a feminist rally wearing the clothing symbol of the most repressive, misogynist culture on earth?).  But there you’d be wrong.  In a stunning combination of photos and text, Zombie reveals that the rally was a blow-out for the pro-Life crowd.  As Zombie says:

[W]hen the anti-abortion group Walk for Life staged a march in San Francisco last Saturday, January 23, they turned out an overwhelming and jaw-dropping 40,000 pro-life activists, who were met by a well-advertised counter-protest which managed to draw no more than 80 (that’s eighty, eight-zero) pro-choice advocates. 40,000 vs. 80 is a 500-to-1 pro-life advantage, something that seems inconceivable in the sex-positive liberal stronghold of San Francisco. How did this happen?

Talk about must-read journalism.

And the third and last thing I want to discuss about abortion isn’t really about abortion at all, it’s about the culture that supports unfettered, unlimited abortion.  As you probably read somewhere the other day, the teen pregnancy numbers rose a bit higher in 2006.  Robert Rector tells us that (a) those numbers are not what they seem and that (b) more seriously, those numbers reveal, not about a problem that can be corrected with ever more birth control and abortions, but a fundamental societal breakdown amongst young Americans.

As for me, with one pre-teen  and one very observant 10 year old, I spend a lot of my time talking about values and self-respect.  I’ve learned that, in a wired world, I cannot protect my kids from exposure to our sex saturated culture.  All I can do, over and over, is talk about the value they should place on themselves, the respect they owe others, the moral forces in favor of marriage and abstinence, and the risks associated with disease and young, out-of-wedlock pregnancy.  I hope, devoutly, that my kids take these messages to heart, because I really don’t have much else in my armament.

My parents always complained that, raising children in the late 1960s and 1970s, they had a hard time parenting against societal trends.  They couldn’t have imagined how much worse it would become.  Yes, they had to deal with hippies and self-actualization, but pop culture was still reasonably traditional.  The Brady kid actors may have been getting into trouble behind the scenes, but the message to the viewing audience was still one of traditional values.  Who would have imagined then MTV, YouTube, Lady GaGa, Adam Baldwin Lambert (isn’t that the crotch-grabber from American Idol?), and the whole parade of degradation that oozes out of every pore of American society?  Looking around, it’s clear that abortion is both a cause and a symptom of a society that has lost its sexual bearings, bearings that should be grounded in respect for the opposite sex and reverence for human life.

Creating sympathy for illegal immigrants amongst middle schoolers

My daughter’s Spanish class has spent the last couple of days watching a movie.  I know many people who learned English by watching American television, so I don’t have a problem with using movies as a teaching device.  I do, however, have a big problem with the movie chosen — La Misma la Luna — which is a movie that uses the travails of a charming and pathetic little boy to make the case that our laws against illegal immigrants are cruel:

The film tells the story of Rosario (del Castillo), a mother who emigrated illegally to the United States, and her nine-year-old son, Carlitos (Alonso). Rosario and Carlitos have not seen each other in four years, when Carlitos was only five. Rosario, now living in Los Angeles, California, calls her son, still in Mexico, every Sunday. Carlitos lives in a small Mexican village with his sick grandmother. Carlitos encounters two immigrant transporters, Marta (Ferrera) and David (Garcia). When his grandmother passes away, he crosses the border with them. After getting separated, Carlitos continues the journey, pairing up with another illegal immigrant named Enrique. Although Enrique (Eugenio Derbez) initially refuses to help Carlitos, he soon grows a bond with him. One day, Carlitos is sleeping on a park bench and almost gets caught by the police but Enrique throws food at the police, getting caught instead. Carlitos flees and arrives at the bus stop from which his mother called him. He sees her across the street at the payphone, and they are reunited at last.

This is not just me being a conservative contrarian, with a knee-jerk reaction to anything that depicts illegal immigrants  positively or American immigration policies negatively.  Even the New York Times figured out that this movie is pro-immigration propaganda (although, typically, the Times writer seems most upset about the fact that the propaganda is too obvious to be effective):

“Under the Same Moon,” an “Incredible Journey” for the socially conscience-stricken, arrives in theaters trailing a standing ovation from last year’s Sundance Film Festival and more than a whiff of sanctimony. And even allowing that Sundance audiences are notoriously unreliable arbiters of quality — for every “Spanking the Monkey,” there’s a “Spitfire Grill” and a “Quinceañera” — their wholehearted embrace of this manipulative, saccharin product is dispiriting.

[snip]

This is screenwriting by numbers. Unlike, say, Ken Loach’s marvelous “Bread and Roses,” “Under the Same Moon” is too busy sanctifying its protagonists and prodding our tear ducts to say anything remotely novel about immigration policies or their helpless victims. The filmmakers know that middlebrow movie audiences prefer their thorny social issues served lite and with a side order of ham, an opportunity to shed happy tears and enjoy a guilt-free drive home to the (let us hope, legal) baby sitter.

“Under the Same Moon” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). It has bad white people, hard-working brown people and morally ambivalent people of mixed race.  (Emphasis mine.)

So here we have a movie that is such obvious propaganda that even people who agree with the message are offended by it, and this is the movie our local middle school chooses to show the 11, 12 and 13 year olds who are taking Spanish.

The fact that it’s being taught in a Spanish class is important.  Theoretically, if it was being taught in a Social Studies class, it would be part of a discussion about illegal immigration, national sovereignty, secure borders, social policy, etc.  (I say “theoretically” because, in American schools today, it’s just as likely to be used as a stirring battle cry to man the barricades against the INS agents).  In Spanish class, however, the kids just take it as it comes, all the while identifying with the plucky little boy separated from his mother only by America’s cruel laws.  The only bow to addressing the issue was a question, “What do you think of illegal immigration?” which the kids had to answer in their beginner Spanish.  My daughter, bless her heart, replied, “I think it’s a bad idea.”

The fact is that, whether the issue is illegal immigration, gay rights, or national security, there are always going to be people in a minority situation who do not benefit from the legal status quo and who are, in fact, hurt by it.  I’d be willing to bet that most (although certainly not all) illegal immigrants who come here are decent, hard-working people, who truly want to make a better life for themselves and their families.  Their sad stories, though, don’t change the fact that, collectively, their presence here is damaging to America’s well-being, nor do they change the fact that there is nothing morally wrong or unjust about a country protecting its borders, preserving its national sovereignty, and enforcing its laws.

The Left’s appeal to emotions — especially with kids as the symbol and the target — is what happens when you have a perpetually moving moral touchstone.  I’m reading Paul Johnson’s masterful A History of the Jews right now, and found interesting his discussion about the Jewish belief in a single all-powerful God who articulates huge moral precepts (and a bunch of very specific contractual rules), as opposed to the Pagan gods, who were completely random.  They were not fixed in name, location, principles, or anything.  Morality, such as it was, was always decided by the whim of the moment of the God of the moment.  There were rules, but there was no justice, at least as we understand it.

The same holds true with Leftist political positions, which emanate from feelings, not from fixed principles.  Whoever feels most strongly wins.  Sometimes those strong feelings march with morality, justice, common sense, and societal needs; and sometimes they don’t.  But they’re so seldom grounded in anything more than “I feel your pain.”  (Incidentally, I’m not arguing that beliefs grounded in traditional Judeo-Christian principles can’t and shouldn’t change.  The Jews themselves are a perfect example of moral and doctrinal development over the centuries.  I’m just arguing for fixed points other than “I feel your pain,” at least when we’re contemplating remaking society.)

Emotional angst is an especially good propaganda tool for young people.  Pre-teens and early teens live in a flurry of emotions anyway.  They are reasonable creatures, but that’s not their first response to any situation.  It takes work, patience, information and intelligence to create a fact-based, reasoned argument that will be comprehensible to a very young adult.  On the other hand, pathetic pictures of puppies, big-eyed kids and bad guys are instant winners for the younger set.  I hope that Scott Brown’s victory, which resulted from independent Americans really seeing the Left for the first time, marks a culture shift that has Americans more vigilant about the creeping Leftism, not in D.C., but in every school in America.

(I should add here that I acquit my children’s school of intentionally using this film as propaganda qua propaganda.  For these people, imbued in a Leftist world view, this movie is as American as Superman insofar as it has clearly delineated and, to them, entirely appropriately drawn good guys and bad guys.)

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.

Kevin Jennings, the “Safe Schools Czar,” is unwittingly poised to take a swan dive off the Obama bus

The first scandal that unfolded was an autobiographical confession from Kevin Jennings, Obama’s “Safe Schools Czar.”  Jennings proudly wrote that, when he elicited from a teenage boy the fact that the teenager was sexually involved with an adult man, Jennings didn’t flinch.  Unconcerned about such minutiae as statutory rape, child abuse, and pedophilia, Jennings focused on the real issue:  condoms, which he advised the child to use.  So far, Jennings has survived that scandal.

Zombie predicts, however, that Jennings won’t survive the next round of revelations, this one concerning Jennings’ idol, a guy named Harry Hay.  In a starry eyed speech from the mid-1990s, Jennings spoke of Hay as an inspiring leader of the gay rights movement.  Well, that’s true if you think that pedophilia is a significant part of the movement.  Hays was an active advocate for what’s sweetly called “man-boy love.”  Less sweetly, it’s called pedophilia or child rape.

Nor is this predilicition for sexual congress with young boys a small part of Hays’ history.  Jennings therefore cannot defend his hero worship by claiming  “But I didn’t know.”  As Zombie demonstrates, whenever Hays’ name comes up, NAMBLA, the “man-boy love” organization is a big part of his identity.

In any event, given Jenning’s admittedly cavalier response to the story of a teenager preyed upon by an older man, one really shouldn’t doubt that Hays’ belief about the important role adult sexual mentors play in gay youths’ development jives comfortably with Jennings’ own beliefs.

Is our children’s education really getting as self-referential as I think it is?

I’ve been nostalgic lately, and have been thinking a lot about my favorite stories and books from my elementary school days in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  One story I particularly remember from my time as a 4th grader was about a teacher who had in her class a girl from a very run down neighborhood.  If I remember correctly, the girl had very dirty, shabby clothes, so the teacher gave her either a bar of soap or a new pinafore, I forget which.  The child, inspired by the teacher, went home and cleaned herself up.  Her family members, seeing her look clean, were impressed, and they too began to wash themselves and wear nice clothes.  Looking and smelling as good as they did, her parents realized that their house was dirty, so they cleaned it.  Then they painted it — inside.  With the inside immaculate, they were embarrassed by the exterior, so they cleaned and painted that too.  The neighbors, impressed by this single shiny house in the neighborhood, decided that they, too, wanted to live that way.  And so, because of a bar of soap (or a pinafore), an entire community was transformed.  I just loved that story.

Other books I vividly remember were the Laura Ingalls Wilder stories, which first made me aware of the wonders of our modern civilization and the extraordinary courage of our pioneer ancestors.  (Well, my ancestors weren’t exactly pioneers, living either in the shtetls or grand houses of Europe, but I’m talking our collective American ancestors.)  I also recall a marvelous book about a young woman in Colonial America who was kidnapped by Indians.  It was not a politically correct book, but I happen to know, now, that it was based upon an actual memoir written by a young woman in Colonial America who was, in fact, kidnapped by Indians.  In other words, it wasn’t PC, but it was factually accurate.  As for me, I didn’t take away any negative lessons about Indians  en masse.  I was simply impressed by the young woman’s courage and fortitude.

Another story that’s lived with me was one about a soldier in a fox hole somewhere in the Pacific.  With bullets whizzing overhead, he discovered that he was sharing his fox hole with a poisonous snake, which promptly bit him.  The story told about his desperate fight for survival, as he put a tourniquet on the wound and tried to outlast the poison.  He did survive (of course, since the story was told in the first person), but the last line informed us, the riveted 4th grade readers, that he still had a hole the size of a teacup in his thigh.

In other words, the stories I remember reading as a child were outward looking.  They were about grand adventures, and heroism, and courage, and good and evil, and moral obligations.  They took me outside of myself.  My peers, when pressed, remember similar stories.

And what all of us have noticed, but only I remark upon, is the fact that so many of the stories our children read in their schools are what I call navel-gazing stories.  They’re about kids who are bullied at school, or who have an eating disorder, or who have an alcoholic parent, or who are shy, or any number of other Oprah-esque scenarios of somebody’s personal soap opera.  The child protagonist always triumphs in the end, whether that means s/he tuns the table on the bullies, eats healthy food, forces the alcoholic parent into a rehab facility, or makes a big speech, but I don’t see my kids feeling inspired.

There’s nothing big in these books.  They’re about ordinary people with problems.  Ho-hum.  Neighborhoods aren’t changing, frontiers aren’t opening, external forces (war, snakes, Indians) aren’t requiring people to act with fortitude.

Even Anne Frank, the perennial Holocaust book, isn’t outward looking.  It is, instead, a remarkably claustrophic book about people who are not coping with the Holocaust, but are struggling to cope with each other.  I don’t mean to insult the book.   I truly think it’s one of the great masterpeices of adolescent writing, and one of the great works of the Holocaust.  Nor do I mean to denigrate the suffering of those in the Secret Annex, only one of whom survived the war.  And I really weep every time I think of the appalling suffering that accompanied Anne’s death.  Although the children’s versions of the book tend to have Anne dying peacefully of typhus, she didn’t.  Anne died alone, with her dad having vanished, and her mother and sister having preceded her to death.  It was winter, she was starved, she had no clothes, and typhus is not a lovely disease from which to die.  But they don’t tell that to the children.  As taught, there’s nothing epic about Anne’s suffering and ending.  It’s all about getting along with people in the attic.  (For my one other, very big, problem with the message from Anne Frank’s book, go here.)

The books are children read tell them morality is dictated by feelings.  If it makes the adolescent narrator or protagonist unhappy, it’s bad.   And yes, eating disorders, and drinking problems, and bullying are bad, but these are details.  They’re not about the larger scope, the bigger pictures.  The kids don’t look at epic struggles, whether physical, as in war, or moral.  Everything is just another soap opera in the lives of the citizens of a pampered nation.

I’m sorry for my kids, and I’m not surprised that they grumble a lot about the stuff they have to read.  All that navel gazing can get mighty dull.

Round-up of random stuff

I have a bunch of open tabs on my monitor, so I’m just going to jumble all of the stuff here, in one post:

On Obama, the UN, and the World:

I noted yesterday that Obama seems to have a huge problem with the more democratic nations in the world, and a corresponding affinity for the totalitarian dictators.  That’s why I think his “naive” speech about the UN having more power isn’t naive at all, but is part of his desire to place more power in the hands of the dictators.  And you know you’re in good company with that kind of viewpoint when Anne Bayefsky, the greatest UN Watcher of them all, says that Obama’s speech was deliberately calculated to appeal to the totalitarian in the UN.  The speech should also be seen as part of a package that has Obama offending Britain again, while bullheadedly siding with a would-be Honduran dictator who has tin-foil delusions about Israeli operatives beaming radiation into his head.

On media matters:

Just to let you know that Rachel Maddow is not only biased, she is completely dishonest.  But you knew that already, didn’t you?

The potential AIDS vaccine

I supposed it’s good news that scientists have come up with an AIDS vaccine.  Except that it only protests 30% of the people who use it.  To me, that means “back to the drawing board.”  However, some in the scientific community seem to believe that it means it’s ready for prime time:  “Even a marginally helpful vaccine could have a big impact. Every day, 7,500 people worldwide are newly infected with HIV; 2 million died of AIDS in 2007, the U.N. agency UNAIDS estimates.” Color me stupid, but wouldn’t you think that giving people this vaccine would increase high risk activity, something that would offset and possibly exceed any benefits from the vaccine?

The New York Times continues to explore the possibility that Obama is not perfect

In a long, boring editorial in the NYT today, the editors did something bizarre. After first making sure we all knew that Afghanistan is George Bush’s fault, they suggested that maybe, just maybe, the Dear Leader might want to get off his tuchis and figure out a way to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming an Al Qaeda/Taliban cesspool out of which the worst kind of destructive Islamic germs emerge.

As the inexperienced Obama self-destructs before us, Palin grows

Obama may be so bad that he’s scaring even his friends, but the opposite news is that Sarah Palin, who wasn’t ready for prime time (not that it mattered because she was only running for Veep, and she has more smarts in her finger than Biden in his whole brain), is polishing herself, learning and growing.

Can’t we just dislike the man because he’s a yutz and a putz?

Did you know that Walter Mondale is still alive? Go figure. Well, he is, and he’s assuring us (thoughtfully, of course) that yes, racism is what makes people hate Obama. Not all people, but some people. Well, that’s probably true. But I’m willing to bet that the critical mass of people who are turning against him — many of whom voted for whom or were just neutral — dislike the man because he’s incompetent on the economy, and all too competent when it comes to destroying America’s strength and standing in the world.

A trend we hope stays in Britain

The newest trend amongst Britain’s elementary school aged children is “shag-bands.”  Shag is the British slang for copulation.  The different colored bracelets represent an ascending scale of sexual acts from kissing and touching to things you don’t want to know about.  The younger elementary children see the bracelets as decorative.  The older ones are putting them to the purpose for which they were intended.

The past you always have with you

An amateur treasure hunter in England turned up one of the largest Anglo-Saxon hoards ever.   It is a reminder of how little we still know about the world around us.  It is a wonderful window to the past.  And it is a reminder that civilizations come and civilizations go.

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

When the possibility of seeing your enemy triumph is the best motivator of all

I’m struggling to figure out if there’s a larger message to the true story I’m about to tell, or if it just reflects the virulent sibling rivalry that my children feel towards each other.  As my daughter herself said when she realized how successful the new regime is, “We’re not very nice people, are we?”

I believe in chores, but my children don’t.  Carrot or stick, nothing motivated.  With all their material needs satisfied, working for money had charm for a week or two; and with limits to the punishments I can impose (thanks CPS), I didn’t scare them much with threats, either.  That is, nothing motivated them until this past weekend, when I came up with the most fiendishly clever plan evah!  Here’s the deal:

Each child is responsible for a specific area, with the child’s daily allowance of fifty cents contingent on that responsibility.  My son got the kids’ bathroom; my daughter got the kitchen table and environs.  Both spots have been the source of running battles about messy behavior.  Significantly, these battles have been between the kids themselves, with each child going ballistic about the other’s toothpaste stains or dirty dishes.

Rather than getting better after this division of labor, the battles intensified:  “She’s left her mess all over the bathroom counter so I can’t clean.”  “His dirty plates are on the table so I can’t clean.”  A work strike seemed imminent.  And then — a flash of evil genius struck.  Here’s how it goes:

If my son cleans the bathroom, he gets fifty cents.  If he is unable to clean the bathroom because of my daughter’s mess, he still gets fifty cents.  In other words, her behavior means he gets something for nothing.  On the other hand, if my son fails to clean the bathroom, my daughter gets fifty cents.  In other words, his behavior means she gets something for nothing.  The exact same principles apply to the kitchen, with my daughter receiving payment for doing nothing should my son leave a huge mess behind, while my son gets payment for doing nothing should my daughter fail in her duties.

I have never seen the kids so galvanized.  It’s one thing to walk away from their own money, which they’ve been willing to do time and time again.  It’s another thing entirely to see money go into an undeserving sibling’s pocket — and to know that it’s entirely your fault that your good-for-nothing brother or sister got unjustly enriched.  Considering what a powerful motivator this plan is, you can see why my daughter concluded that she and her brother aren’t very nice people.

As for me, as I said at the start of this post, I’m wondering if there’s a larger lesson to be learned here about human nature, the relationship between citizens and their government, national security, whatever….  As always, I value your input.

And here’s something amazing:  I was able to find, on the internet, a video of my children at war.

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

Supporting a totally debased culture *UPDATED*

One thing I have to give credit to Barack Obama for being is a complete pragmatist, even if that pragmatism operates to the exclusion of moral decency.  Witness his decision to jettison Israel entirely (something Elliott Abrams explains carefully here) in order to placate the Muslim world.  Many think that Obama’s affinity for the Muslim world has a lot to do with his upbringing, although that’s mere speculation.  (I wouldn’t doubt it, but it’s still speculative.)

Much more likely, though, because it’s been an oft expressed sentiment on the Left for years, is that Obama is animated by the pragmatic belief that the Muslim world hates us because we support Israel and, if we’d just stop that support, they’d stop hating us.  If this theory is correct, the benefits that would flow from sacrificing Israel would be obvious:  cheap oil and no suicide bombers.  If you’re goal driven, it’s a worthwhile experiment.  After all, Jews have died before and they’ll die again, but peace in the Middle East is a once in a lifetime experience.  (And who cares if its the kind of peace only Tacitus would recognize?  Atque, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.)

The problem with this type of bottom-line pragmatism is that you have to sell your soul to achieve it.  Aside from running the risk of exposing a liberal democratic nation to nuclear annihilation (or just good old-fashioned machete slaughter), you also find yourself sending almost a billion dollars in aid to people who espouse values you might find just a little bit, just a wee bit, antithetical to your own.  We know about the misogyny, the homophobia, the antisemitism, and the anti-Christianity that characterize the Muslim world.

(Thinking about it, we ought to find new words than ones I used to describe Middle Eastern Muslim culture.  In America, those words lack punch, because in practice, they involve saying mean things about woman or gays or Jews or Christians, or depriving them of jobs or housing or, very, very occasionally, physical attacks.  In the Muslim world, the word “misogyny” means women have no legal rights, suffer regular physical abuse, including genital mutilation, and are regular victims of honor killings; homophobia means that gays are tortured and executed; “antisemitism” means a cultural press for total genocide; and anti-Christianity means that Christians are dispossessed, expelled and killed.  You know a culture is bad when it demands a whole new vocabulary to be intelligible.  But as is often the case, I digress.)

But if you thought those were the only things that need change in a culture that Obama proposes become our ally against the Jews, you’re wrong.  At Brutally Honest, Rick exposes yet another stomach churning aspect of Muslim culture.

In the culture of alcohol and drug abuse, a well recognized person in the game of addiction is the enabler:

An enabler in most definitions is a person who through his or her actions allows someone else to achieve something. Most often the term enabler is associated with people who allow loved ones to behave in ways that are destructive. For example, an enabler wife of an alcoholic might continue to provide the husband with alcohol. A person might be an enabler of a gambler or compulsive spender by lending them money to get out of debt.

The West has always been a Muslim enabler, whether it’s by buying Muslim oil (which we admittedly have needed, especially because we refuse to produce our own), or by funding to the tune of billions of dollars the most corrupt, hate-filled governments on planet earth.  Barack Obama is taking it to a new level.  Voters need to look inside themselves and see whether they want to take a gamble on pragmatism that sees them supporting these same governments, or if they want to continue to exist on the side of greater truth and morality.  I know where I fall.  Sadly, I also know where my president falls.

UPDATERick cautions that the video to which he linked might not be as it seems.  Nevertheless, I stand by everything else I said, and the possibility that Rick’s video isn’t as bad as it looks doesn’t change the basic tenor of my post.

UPDATE II:  Today, it’s a story out of Sudan regarding the misogynistic cruelty committed in Islam’s name.  And just reflexively, I’ll ask:  Where’s NOW now?

A Swiftian view of the death of Palestinian children

Hamas has been making much of its dead children.  It had a field day with photos of those children who died when the IDF shot shells into a “UN school.”  Most of the world (including, of course, a credulous and/or complicit media) managed to ignore the fact that it’s bizarre that, in the midst of war, people would congregate their children in one place; to ignore the fact that shots were fired from the school grounds; and to ignore the fact that the place was booby trapped internally so that it blew up, killing the occupants.  For all of them, in their wrath, it is enough that the Palestinian children are dead.

Likewise, Hamas has had a field day with the mysterious CNN footage of a child dying in a hospital.  Again, the usual crowd has ignored the fact that this footage shows, in the role of doctor, a rabid Marxist known for loathing Israel; to ignore the fact that the child was manifestly the victim of on-camera malpractice; and, of course, to ignore the fact that the camera-man is a well known computer guru for Hamas.  That’s all irrelevant.  What’s relevant is that it is, yes, another dead Palestinian child.

To all those who are so upset, I say to you:  You’ve got it wrong.  Rather than castigating the Israelis and demanding their deaths, you should be celebrating and thanking them.  Why?  Because the Israelis have enabled these children to achieve their cultural destinies.  From the time of their birth (indeed, for generations before their birth), these little Arab children have been taught that their highest purpose is to die for Palestine.  (Don’t believe me?  Check out this and this and this and this and . . . you get the picture.)

If Israel hadn’t gone into Gaza as it did, and targeted the myriad Hamas armaments around which the children were clustered; fired missiles into booby trapped schools; or warned Palestinians in advance about which buildings were targets, so Hamas could hustle the children into the building, those children would have been denied the fulfillment of their dreams.

If you’re confused about how meritorious Israel has been in ensuring that Palestinian children achieve the career success for which they’ve been groomed, think of it this way:  We all know that Prince Charles of England has been raised for one job and one job alone:  to be King.  Wouldn’t it be the ultimate tragedy if something interceded to destroy the one job he’s fitted for, making the whole of his life effectively useless and irrelevant?  So too have the children of Hamas been raised to die for Hamas.  How banal their existence would be if the Israelis foolishly sat back and let Israeli children steal that Palestinian destiny by dying in their stead, the victims of repeated Hamas attacks, instead of the other (and appropriate) way around.

So to all you silly people around the world decrying the fact that Palestinian children are dying (and, funnily enough, I don’t remember hearing a peep out of any of you when Israeli children were the target of 6,000 or so missile strikes), give it up.  You’ve got it wrong.  You should be celebrating the fact that, thanks to yet another act of Israeli benevolence (with other examples being Israel’s decision to ship food and health supplies into Gaza, even as Egypt and Jordan refuse to do so), Palestinian children are finally getting the chance to achieve career goal and are enjoying the martrydom they crave.

________________________________________

For those of you who wonder whether I serious when I wrote the above little essay, I admit to being quite serious — up to a point.  Certainly a six year old has no idea what being killed really means (although many of these children have seen death up close).  Sadly, though, children don’t choose the society into which they are born, and these poor souls had the profound misfortune to be born into a society that sees them, not as the future, but as the weapons as the present.  Even more sadly, their society recognizes that they are useful weapons whether dead or alive.  In that paradigm, the international community doesn’t help the situation at all by allowing this same sick society to perpetuate itself generation after generation.  Instead, in the face of this type of evil, the kind thing is to reduce break that society entirely, allowing room for a new culture to grow in its place.

And if you doubt me, try to imagine whether Naziism would have gone away if the Allies had not so decisively defeated it.  If the Allies had kept backing off when the fighting got just too icky for them to feel comfortable, they would have done nothing more than prune the Nazi leadership, always leaving room for new, and stronger, shoots to grow in place of the dead.  That’s what Israel has done to the Palestinians.  Rather than destroying a poisonous plant, Israel has repeatedly allowed the roots to survive, enabling the plant to sprout again and destroy yet another generation.

The tremendous evil that is Palestinian culture — a culture that values its children more dead than alive —  will not stop until the roots are dead.  In the case of the Palestinians, “dead roots” will be the moment when the citizens of that benighted land realize that a culture that trains its children to embrace death, and that has a leadership that intentionally kills its children as part of its weaponry, is a dead end and MUST STOP.

All of which means that, while I recognize the tragedy that is a child’s death (how could I not, with children of my own?), I also realize that this Palestinian cultural madness has to be stopped, definitively, or many more children will die in the ensuing years.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

A mish-mash

It’s been an incoherent day, one that never gave me the opportunity for contemplation and writing.  Instead, I’ve been bopping here and there, and dealing with one thing and another.  Nevertheless, I have been tracking the news, so I thought I’d just write up a mish-mash of thoughts about current issues and events.

Gaza

The top issue/event, obviously, is Gaza.  By now you’ve all seen the hysterical headline about Israel having blown up a UN school, killing scores of civilians.  At the exact second I read the words “UN school,” I knew it wasn’t a school at all but was, instead, a weapons storage facility and a headquarters for fighters.  Why did I know this?  Because the UN in Gaza is completely complicit with Hamas.  In that part of the world, the two are one and the same entity.  I also knew that the school wasn’t really a school because Gaza intentionally places fighters and weapons around children precisely so that it garner this type of scare headline.  Michelle Malkin has a fact-filled post detailing all the many ways in which my instincts on this one were dead on the money.

Speaking of Hamas setting its children up as targets so that it can further vilify Israel in the eyes of the world, you really must read Ron Rosenbaum’s article explaining why, to the extent there are differences between Hamas and the Nazis, Hamas is infinitely worse.  As part of that line of thinking, it’s worth noting that even the Nazis weren’t willing to sacrifice their own children merely to score propaganda points.

As is always the case, everyone in the world outside of America is urging Israel to back down.  (In America, while Obama is ominously quiet, even Dirty Harry Reid has acknowledged Israel’s right to defend against the non-stop rocket attacks that have poured death and destruction on the land for years now.)  In the past, Israel has listened.  This time, I’m hoping against hope that she gives the world the middle finger and does what she has to do to defend herself.  I’ve never understood why Israel, rather like the pathetic nerdy kid in high school, keeps twisting herself into damaging contortions to satisfy people who will despise her regardless.  Eventually, the nerd just has to go it alone and the hell with the critics.

Incidentally, although the world doesn’t deserve good fortune, if Israel is wise enough to give it the finger, it may just get good fortune anyway — the good fortune in this case being that an Israeli victory against Hamas in Gaza is also an Israeli victory against the mad Mullahs in Iran.  As has been the case for decades now, Israel is our proxy, and we should be grateful that she’s putting her bodies on the line so we don’t have to.

And one last word on the subject:  Reader Lulu send me an email pointing out something interesting, which is that Hezbollah is doing nothing right now.  You’d think that this would be a perfect time for Hezbollah to force a two-front war on Israel.  That it’s not doing so might be a good indication that, all propaganda to the contrary, Israel may have inflicted serious damage on it back in 2006.  Iran can replace the arms, but maybe she can’t replace the men.

God

In England, the atheists have launched an ad campaign encouraging people to abandon religion so that they can be happy.  One of the brains behind this initiative is Ariane Sherine. She decided to launch the ad campaign because “she became angry after noticing a set of Christian advertisements carrying a website address which warned that people who reject God are condemned to spend all eternity to ‘torment in Hell.'”

I’m perfectly willing to admit that trying to scare people into religion may not be the smartest way to go about things.  I do find the ad campaign peculiar, though, because I was under the impression that polls show religious people are more happy, not less happy, than the average atheist (putting aside the fact that the average vocal atheist always seem to be a pretty darn angry person).

As you all know, I’m a big believer in the many virtues of religion, although not particularly religious myself.  Aside from liking the core moral aspects religion brings, I’ve also always appreciated (and envied) the way religion brings meaning to life.

In a religious world, man is not just a random collection of atoms, molecules, cells and organs, put on earth to procreate and scrabble for food until he dies.  Instead, at least in the Judeo-Christian tradition with which I’m familiar, man’s life has meaning and purpose.  Whether God used evolution as his tool or instant creation, man exists in God’s image.  His corporeal body may not necessarily be the mirror image of God’s being, but he is in God’s image to the extent that his mind and spirit are attuned to justice and a higher purpose.  We’re not just meaningless bugs.  We are something special and our time on earth has meaning, whether we emphasize that in our own lives or not.

All of which is to say that it strikes me as mighty darn peculiar to advertise an absence of religion as the answer to the search for happiness.  You might as well say, “You’re a meaningless bug.  Get used to it.”

Tolerance

While the first wave of hysteria following the passage in California of Prop. 8 has finally died down, hard feelings continue.  A Catholic Church in San Francisco was covered with offensive graffiti, likening the church and its parishioners to Nazis. The beautiful irony of this story is that this particular church, located near the Castro district, has always been a welcoming place to gays.

Aside from the fact that vandals, by their very nature, can’t be expected to be intelligent (I guess), I find it strange that we live in a world in which hewing to unexceptional traditional values that span all cultures and all times is an invitation to vandalism.  As you know, I’d be perfectly happy to see the state get out of the marriage business, leaving that to religion, and instead get into the domestic partnership business, with an emphasis on encouraging stable behaviors that strengthen society.  Pending that unlikely situation, however, I can’t help but wonder if the gay marriage advocates realize that offending ordinary people who support ordinary values is not likely to advance their cause.

Two random things to pass onto you

I plowed through my inbox today, which is always an overwhelming task.  Over the course of a week, I ended up with a 500 email backlog.  Amongst those 500 emails, however, were a couple of treasures.

The first was information about a grassroots organization aimed at creating a coherent opposition to Obama’s wackier proposed projects.  Check it out and see what you think about it.

The second, from a friend of mine who works in a public school district, is an open-letter to Obama asking him to prevent corporal punishment in America.  The first thing that struck me about the letter was the weirdly homoerotic tone the letter took when describing corporal punishment.  Instead of reading like an advocacy piece, it sounded like something the Victorian poet Algernon Charles Swinburne, a noted masochist, would have written.  Here’s the advocacy letter:

Typically, the child is required to assume a rump-presentation posture so as to facilitate being battered on his or her buttocks with a wooden board. In fact, this offers the punisher an unpatrolled avenue for sexual exploitation.

The letter also points out that teachers aren’t trained to administer corporal punishment, so that there are a lot of untrained corporal punishers out there.  Don’t know why, but that made me laugh.

As for me, I think there is a gaping chasm between a spanking and a beating.  I got a fair amount of spankings from my parents when I was growing up.  I didn’t stop loving my parents, I didn’t fear my parents, and I didn’t turn into someone with bizarre S&M urges.  What did happen, though, was that I very, very quickly learned the big no-nos in our house and didn’t do them any more.  The result was a very peaceful home, especially because my parents weren’t simmering in a stew of frustrated, impotent anger.

By the way, I don’t spank my children, not because I don’t feel that, at least when they were younger, it wouldn’t have been useful, but because I don’t have any desire to be hauled off by Child Protective Services.

Indoctrinating the new brownshirts *UPDATED*

I didn’t put this on my site because (a) I found it so terribly disturbing I wasn’t yet prepared to deal with it and (b) I pretty much assumed you’d see it on all the other sites (including Drudge) that carry it.  Still, Deana is right that we cannot do enough to expose the humiliating brainwashing that is part and parcel of the thinking of so many Obama acolytes.  Prepare to be enraged, upset and depressed:

UPDATE:  The good news is that the school superintendent is taking it seriously — responding with grace and not defensiveness.

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.

What next for the nanny state?

Here in California, the hands-free cell phone law went into effect July 1.  (By the way, does anyone know whether there was an actual increase in traffic accidents after cell phones became popular?)  This morning, I heard a story that said that 1,800 fires and dozens of injuries resulted from fireworks last year.  Of course, in most communities around where I live, most fireworks are already illegal.  Yet, I also heard a story this morning that in California alone 50 people died last year from boating accidents, but I’ve not heard a call for a ban on pleasure boating.  And, a few days ago I heard about the latest of the frequent fatal accidents at amusement parks, but I haven’t heard any calls to ban amusement parks.

A few questions:  How do does our government select which forms of entertainment to protect us from?  What is next on the nanny state agenda?  I suppose the next logical step is banning cigarette smoking by drivers.  Hard to picture a hands-free cigarette.  But what else?  And why is the government in the business of protecting us from our own (and, I suppose, each other’s) stupidity? 

This issue has deeper ramifications than one might think.  Perhaps the biggest cause of the decline of American civilization in the last 50 years is that we’ve gotten very soft.  We don’t have the stomach for a serious, protracted war.  When challenged economically, we don’t step our game up a notch, we run for the cover of protectionist legislation (conservatives are especially guilty of this one).  We use social promotion and grades-free systems to protect our children from their own failures.  We teach unearned self-esteem, rather than stressing the need to actually accomplish anything to earn self-esteem.  We ban running, active and competitive play on the playground.

At all levels, we excuse failure.  It’s the parent’s fault.  It’s society’s fault.  It’s the government’s fault.  It’s the fault of stuff that happened to our great great great grandparents 150 years ago.  It’s the UN’s fault.  It’s the EU’s fault.  It’s OPEC’s fault.  It’s the fault of all those other nations who engage in “unfair” trade practices.  It’s everybody’s fault but our own personal fault.

We’ve gotten so soft, in fact, that we expect the government to protect us from ourselves and to give us everything we need, whether we’ve earned it or not (think the push for universal health care, for example).  We think safety, security and even comfort are inalienable rights.

At bottom, all of the various threads I’ve pointed to are attacks on personal responsibility, and there do not appear to be any limits placed on the attackers.  This cannot be healthy, can it?  If we decide government is responsible for everything and no one is responsible for himself or herself how will our society survive?  In a nanny state, we all become children.  And no society of children can long survive.  Does this make sense?  And what, if anything, can we do to prevent the increasing infantization of the American public? 

Teaching kids how to lose *UPDATED*

All of us have noted a trend, one that is especially prevalent in public schools, to insulate kids from losing.  I know that my kids’ public school, as part of its master plan, has instituted a policy by which the kids don’t do any competitive sports on campus in order to protect them from dealing with loss.

I think this is an appalling idea.  As I frequently tell my children, they’ll lose way more often in life than they’ll win.  In order to succeed in life, they have to have a hunger for winning, coupled with the ability to deal with losing.  I tell them that when you lose, you’re sad, you try to figure out how you can do better next time, you suck it up, and then you get on with it.

I actually have a very personal reason for feeling this way.  My parents were very rigorous, demanding parents.  I did not grow up in a loosey-goosey home except for one thing:  If I lost or didn’t do well at something, my mother was so sympathetic that, if I wanted, I was allowed to walk away.  I can’t tell you the number of things, academic, musical and athletic that I abandoned along the way.

I understand and appreciate my Mom’s motives.  She’d had a really terrible life (the usual “terrible” stuff of divorce and dislocation, compounded by several years interned by the Japanese in Indonesia during WWII).*  She so wanted me to have the happiness and security that she had missed.  Part of that was wonderfully done, by giving me love and structure and fairly high expectations.  And part of it was too soft, and didn’t teach me to deal with adversity.

The end result is that my default mode is to be a whiny quitter.  It’s only by high effort from my adult brain that I’m not a whiny, quitting adult.  I do stick with things, but it’s not easy.

I long ago figured out that I needed to do things differently for my kids.  I found my role model about eight years ago when we were visiting some relatives with three very athletic children.  The kids were running around madly, when suddenly the youngest squealed, and ran up to his Dad crying, with a bloody nose and fat lip.  His Dad enveloped him in a hug, said some truly sympathetic words, cleaned him up and threw him back in the game.  There was no lingering over his physical injuries or wallowing in his psychic wrongs.  The boy is now both a basketball and a baseball star, as well as a very sweet person.

I was thinking of all of this today because, over the last couple of weeks, my daughter has had run-ins with a little girl, as well as with the girls’ mother.  I don’t think I’m being unduly partisan when I say that, while I can be as critical of my child as the next person, my child has the right of things here.

You see, both girls are competing in the same sport, at the same age level.  My daughter adores the activity and has gone from abysmally horrible to pretty darn good.  The other child went from okay to okay.  She hasn’t seen the improvement my daughter has, probably because she doesn’t love the sport as my daughter does.

When my daughter was at rock bottom in the weekly competitions, and everyone else she knew was doing well, she was sad about her own failures, but applauded her friends’ successes (and I know this is true, because I saw her in action).  As my daughter has improved, over-taking this other girl, the other girl has not been a good loser.  Every time she does less well than my daughter, she has a tearful tantrum.

If that were all, it would be just between the girls, and that would be the end of it.  Last week, though, when my daughter ran up, flush with her first success, the mother turned on my daughter for daring to be happy in front of her own psychically wounded little girl.  She then proceeded to spend the next hour lavishing her daughter with attention in an effort to cheer her up.  As for me, I was stuck trying to explain to my daughter why someone yelled at her for being happy.

I’m perfectly willing to agree that my daughter, glorying in her first win after weeks of big losses, probably was completely insensitive to the other girl’s anguish.  Part of that insensitivity, though, was that my daughter has learned, as I’ve taught her, to suck it up.  Acknowledge your loss, feel bad about it for a minute, and then move forward.  She was totally incapable of comprehending a family dynamic that rewards  sore losing with enormous attention — and gifts.

These people are good friends, and I’m not going to damage a solid friendship over this one — which is why I’m venting here and not talking to my friend.  It’s also good for my daughter to learn that not everyone is as tough as she is and to develop the compassion to deal with them, even if she believes there response to be excessive or bizarre.

Mostly, though, I feel sorry for the other girl.  As I know to my own cost (and my mother was not as solicitious as this mother), it’s terrible to go through life not knowing how to lose or deal with adversity.  Sooner or later, something bad is going to happen that you can’t walk away from, and you’ll be stuck trying to deal with it without having developed any coping mechanisms at all.

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*My Mom’s experiences at camp are one of the things that keep me from being quite as whiny as I could be.  For example, with today’s heat wave, when I was at the sports event today and temperatures were hitting 100, it was tempting to whine about how unbearable it was.  Then I remembered that, in camp, when the guards were feeling particularly malevolent, they’d impose a collective punishment on a camp filled with women (young and old) and children:  Everybody would have to stand in formation, in the tropical sun, for 24 hours.  Unsurprisingly, large numbers of them died where they stood.  I can therefore take a few hours under an awning with a cool drink in my hand.  If I whine, I keep the tone light.

UPDATED:  I am very, very happy to report that my friend herself figured out that her daughter needs to toughen up.  It turned out that, after today’s breakdown, she gave her daughter a good talking to about learning how to lose.  I’m so pleased.  These are good friends, and people I really value, and it was very hard dealing with situation involving our girls that had us using such diametrically different approaches to a common scenario.

Still, while this problem is resolved (Hurrah!), parents here continue to have a really sad inability to let their children deal with the fact that life is not fair.  On that same point, if you haven’t yet read Joseph Epstein’s The Kindergarchy, you really should.