March 03, 2009
Well, it seems that more than a few people (including some students of Objectivism) think it's completely wrong to (choose any):
- Allow children to attend political gatherings.
- Allow children to participate in political gatherings.
- Allow children to be seen in or around political gatherings.
- Allow children to have their picture taken if they are permitted to participate in political gatherings.
- Allow children to hold paper.
- Allow children to get rained upon.
- Allow children to wear fun hats.
- Allow children to wear fun hats in the rain.
- Allow children to hold paper, wear fun hats and have their pictures taken while at a political gathering in the rain.
- Allow children to echo the political leanings of their parents.
- Allow children to publicly echo the political leanings of their parents whilst wearing fun hats.
For the sake of this discussion, I'm going to do like everyone else seems to be doing and completely drop the context and content of the situation.
So, they took their children to a political protest. So what?
It's popular to complain about the fact that so few people actually vote in elections, but when someone goes a step further and actively promotes their views in public to prompt political discourse, people get upset because there are children present. Well, just where exactly are children supposed to learn this? From the sofa in their living room?
In order for children to understand the impact of politics in their lives, they have to be taught. It has to be demonstrated. Good parents will not only encourage this, but actively promote it and demonstrate this behavior themselves. Children need to see what a peaceful, legal, Constitutionally-protected demonstration looks like.
It is not only foolish but outrageous that anyone should argue that parents should keep their children away from these events. Perhaps those people believe the children should be left to observe from the car?
Some people equated bringing children to the rally to using them as "human shields." Stop the car. Shields from what?! Now if we're talking about taking children into a war zone or to some sort of violent uprising, I would agree. But protecting children from ideas is outrageous. (See above.)
Some seem to think that if you allow the children to hold a sign, then you're giving the impression that the children are brainwashed because children can't understand the ideas they're espousing with the signs they hold. This is really an argument about a marketing tactic: are children an effective medium for promoting political ideas? Well, they were worth a mention in the paper and on numerous blogs, so I would say it worked to some extent. I'd say it works best when they're absolutely adorable and wearing fun hats, actually.
If you think the opposition will object to the inclusion of children and refuse to change their mind because of it, you should remember that they're the opposition and aren't likely to change their minds in the first place.
If you think people in the middle won't be swayed because they'll be put off by children, then they're idiots, and you probably don't want their help anyway.
Does anyone believe that children understand the complexities of the ideas involved in the protest? No.
Does anyone think a child holding a sign makes an idea any more or less valid? No.
Does anyone think the children are present at the protest for any other reason than the fact that their parents or guardians are there? No.
But let's pretend that the children are in some way brainwashed, much in the same way mystics around the world brainwash their children into believing in magic and heavenly fathers with baby jeebi. (That's the plural of "jeebus," right?) As the children grow into adults it's ultimately up to them to make up their own minds, so unless you're claiming that people can't think for themselves (at which point I will allow you to excuse yourself from talking to me further) I fail to see the problem here.
So, I would argue not only is it appropriate for children to be present at such events, but that it is beneficial to their education to be there. Children SHOULD see their parents engaging in political discourse and being passionate about ideas. Children SHOULD see how adults conduct themselves when they disagree with the government. Children SHOULD be exposed to ideas and encouraged to explore, discuss, and defend ideas.
All these busy-bodies accusing Mr. And Mrs. Rational Jenn of being bad parents, abusing their children's minds, and undermining their own political objectives should check the facts and check theiir premises.
I appreciate you standing up for us. And I totally agree with your post, and have been saying the same kind of things to Jenn all day on the phone.
The only problem is that I want to be one of the Rational Jenns. Can I be chief assistant to Rational Jenn?
Posted by: Kelly Elmore at March 03, 2009 07:23 PM (VvU3e)
I'll post about this on my blog soon, especially what I think my actual kids got out of our big adventure last Friday.
Posted by: Rational Jenn at March 03, 2009 07:24 PM (uQ7sR)
Posted by: Rational Jenn at March 03, 2009 07:26 PM (uQ7sR)
I'm at least a bit gratified in that I have posted several defenses to the people-who-have-no-appreciation-for-adorable-kids-in-their-hats crowd, and it seems that, once they got over their gut-reaction, they are backing down a bit and conceding our argument.
I think their reaction is a knee-jerk one from years of seeing kids in *different* kinds of protests, like "save the earth" rallies. In *those* protests, the kids holding the signs have been manipulated, lied to, and sometimes even brainwashed into thinking that they are <i>actually saving the earth</i>; that they need to convince people to use hybrid cars or what have you.
Brainwashing requires a lie. It is the act of manipulating someone into a false belief.
In *this* case, we told the kids (two of the kids in the picture are mine & Jenn's, and yes -- they're adorable -- thanks for noticing) that our government wants to take our money and THEIR money, to pay for other people's houses. This is the *truth* and is therefore, by definition, NOT brainwashing!
And how is it that people think a 6-year-old is too young to understand a concept like property rights? It's one of the FIRST rights that kids really understand!
I mean seriously, we're "brainwashing" our kids into believing reality?!?!?! Sheesh!
Posted by: brendan at March 03, 2009 10:44 PM (uQ7sR)
That's why I didn't get into whether or not your children were actually being brainwashed.
But since we're getting into it, I agree with what you've said above and I'll add just this: Doesn't it seem like there's a certain moral equivalency happening where people regard all protests and rallies as being of the same character? Like those rotten brats who blockaded themselves in the cafeteria are the same as you guys with your posters, tea bags, and tricorn hats.
Posted by: Flibbert at March 03, 2009 11:37 PM (Cniw0)
Posted by: brendan at March 04, 2009 02:19 AM (uQ7sR)
Posted by: Kevin at March 04, 2009 12:14 PM (7UtBp)
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