Tuesday, February 05, 2013

State should stay out of parenting

State should stay out of parenting

(My Clovis News Journal column for January 4, 2013)

Should parents have the final say in raising a child? How can you protect children without violating their rights, or the rights of their parents?

Everyone who isn't mentally or emotionally damaged wants to protect innocent children, but how far can you go to protect them?

I think parents do have the last word and the ultimate responsibility in raising their children- and I don't use the word "their" as an indication of ownership, but of relationship. Slavery is wrong and children are not the property of their parents. That also means children are not anyone else's property, either, nor do they "belong to society".

But what should you do if you know of mentally challenged parents who leave a baby home alone while running errands? Or what if parents high on crack cocaine share some with their 6-year-old? What about parents in a cult who give their children to a charismatic leader for his twisted purposes? How about parents who give their children too much access to junk food or television before they are mature enough to know what's best for them?

What is your responsibility if you know of these things happening, and you think the parents are endangering the kids?

In cases of imminent physical harm you can intervene; just as you could if you see a person getting mugged. As in the case of a mugging, you are then responsible for your actions and any consequences which come from them, even if you believe those consequences are not fair. Intervention doesn't necessarily mean using force, but could mean offering a helping hand.

What constitutes abuse in your opinion may not to others, and you may do things which horrify someone else. For example, I think it is critical to familiarize young children with guns and the safe handling thereof to prevent tragedies later; just like water safety doesn't happen by keeping children ignorant of swimming. Yet, some consider it abusive to let kids be in the same house with a gun. Do you really want anyone to have the power to step in and forcibly take over your child's life because they disagree with how you live?

If you think a situation is critical enough to take action, be responsible enough to do it yourself and personally accept the consequences. The greatest danger to families comes from having a government employee act on your behalf. They are rarely held accountable for their mistakes and the lives they ruin. Plus, they are paid out of "taxes" which are collected through coercion. You can't do the right thing in the wrong way.


Hooray for our side!

A while back on War on Guns, David Codrea was commenting about an anti-liberty bigot and pointed out that the guy's city council profile listed his favorite book as "Guns, Germs, and Steel".

David characterized the book as claiming that "...Western Civilization is just a fluke and we all lucked out,..."  He then went on to offer this alternative explanation "...the first people to apply the scientific method on any kind of consistent and large scale reached the path to advancement first."

I recently finished reading the book and didn't get that from it.

What the book's author seemed to me to be saying was that humans are all the same species.  We basically all have the same potential (but there are individual differences in intelligence and personality traits), at least averaged over the population.  But, location and circumstances matter.

"Western Civilization" wasn't a fluke- it was the natural consequence of certain natural conditions. It doesn't matter where it happened to begin, or who it began with.  At least, not to me.  I don't get the objection to that.

I would be living a very different life had I been born in the Australian Outback, without electricity or abundant food and water, rather than in the "American Outback" where those things are currently common.  I can't begin to pretend that there is some property of "me" that would have the same skills and use the same technology and have the same opportunities no matter where I happened to be born and grow.

Because a population of humans did "luck out" and live in an area where food production could be made less time-consuming, their time was freed so that they could learn to apply the scientific method instead of spending their time worrying about where the next meal would come from- if it came at all.

So, while it may have been "lucky" that some humans were from an area where there were abundant domesticable plants and animals, and those domesticates were able to spread over a wide geographic area due to the orientation of the continent, that isn't a judgement on anyone else.  I can't even claim it is "better" to be technologically advanced.  I like it, but that's just me.

I would have just as much value as a person if I lived in a cave and wore animal skins.  I might even be just as happy, although probably not as comfortable.

Opportunities matter a lot.  Even though I am not convinced that agriculture was a good thing in the long run, saddling humans as it did with a professional class of thugs and thieves who enjoy a (temporary) veil of legitimacy.