Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Many Ways That Child Abuse is Still Legal.

Warping the minds of your children with lies about science: child abuse.*

Exposing your children to cult-like thought control: child abuse.

Refusing to protect your children (or the public) from disease because you can't do math or, big surprise, because you think some spook in the sky said so: child abuse.**

Refusing to educate your children, because then they might get out into the world and realize there are alternatives to your stupid religion (a.k.a. to your religion): child abuse.***

Refusing to give medical treatment to your children (or allowing your children to refuse to treat themselves) because you think a book written by a bunch of dead hucksters and delusional maniacs tells you not to: child abuse.

None of it should be permitted. The first two are protected by the free speech clause of the First Amendment, I suppose, but should brainwashing be protected?

Yet instead of worrying about these real kinds of child abuse, we get a constant hue and cry about violent video games.

Sometimes I think there's no hope whatsoever for this country, at least not until all the religious fanatics kill themselves off through stupidity (or each other, through religious wars like the one Ann Coulter wants to wage against Islam), hopefully not taking the rest of us down with them.

* Just watch the video. Just watch. But make sure you haven't eaten for at least two hours beforehand, or you WILL throw up all over your computer.

The most terrifying moment is about seven minutes in, where a child mocks evolution, successfully indoctrinated by the godliars.

** Daniel will give me shit for this one -- but then again, Daniel and I basically agree on nothing as far as I can tell. I think it's pretty clear, however, that a rational decision-maker -- a good Bayesian -- updates on the overwhelming expert medical opinion in favor of vaccination.

Also: fuck lawsuits. Think jail time.

*** I seriously think Wisconsin v. Yoder is one of the worst cases in the history of the Supreme Court. It's certainly in the top 10, and, in the latter half of the 20th century, its only competition is probably Buckley v. Valeo. Make no bones about it: the express reason the Amish gave for refusing to educate their children was that it would interfere with their religious brainwashing:

Amish objection to formal education beyond the eighth grade is firmly grounded in these central religious concepts. They object to the high school, and higher education generally, because the values they teach are in marked variance with Amish values and the Amish way of life; they view secondary school education as an impermissible exposure of their children to a "worldly" influence in conflict with their beliefs. The high school tends to emphasize intellectual and scientific accomplishments, self-distinction, competitiveness, worldly success, and social life with other students. Amish society emphasizes informal "learning through doing;" a life of "goodness," rather than a life of intellect; wisdom, rather than technical knowledge; community welfare, rather than competition; and separation from, rather than integration with, contemporary worldly society.

Formal high school education beyond the eighth grade is contrary to Amish beliefs not only because it places Amish children in an environment hostile to Amish beliefs, with increasing emphasis on competition in class work and sports and with pressure to conform to the styles, manners, and ways of the peer group, but also because it takes them away from their community, physically and emotionally, during the crucial and formative adolescent period of life. During this period, the children must acquire Amish attitudes favoring manual work and self-reliance and the specific skills needed to perform the adult role of an Amish farmer or housewife. They must learn to enjoy physical labor. Once a child has learned basic reading, writing, and elementary mathematics, these traits, skills, and attitudes admittedly fall within the category of those best learned through example and "doing," rather than in a classroom. And, at this time in life, the Amish child must also grow in his faith and his relationship to the Amish community if he is to be prepared to accept the heavy obligations imposed by adult baptism. In short, high school attendance with teachers who are not of the Amish faith -- and may even be hostile to it -- interposes a serious barrier to the integration of the Amish child into the Amish religious community. Dr. John Hostetler, one of the experts on Amish society, testified that the modern high school is not equipped, in curriculum or social environment, to impart the values promoted by Amish society.

The Amish do not object to elementary education through the first eight grades as a general proposition, because they agree that their children must have basic skills in the "three R's" in order to read the Bible, to be good farmers and citizens, and to be able to deal with non-Amish people when necessary in the course of daily affairs. They view such a basic education as acceptable because it does not significantly expose their children to worldly values or interfere with their development in the Amish community during the crucial adolescent period. While Amish accept compulsory elementary education generally, wherever possible. they have established their own elementary schools, in many respects like the small local schools of the past. In the Amish belief, higher learning tends to develop values they reject as influences that alienate man from God.

And the Supreme Court decided the case for exactly that reason:

The conclusion is inescapable that secondary schooling, by exposing Amish children to worldly influences in terms of attitudes, goals, and values contrary to beliefs, and by substantially interfering with the religious development of the Amish child and his integration into the way of life of the Amish faith community at the crucial adolescent stage of development, contravenes the basic religious tenets and practice of the Amish faith, both as to the parent and the child.

Liberty doesn't mean the liberty to shelter your child from all views that disagree with yours. In fact, that's pretty much the opposite of liberty -- the opposite, that is, of the child's liberty.

The state of Wisconsin tried to point this out, but Justice Burger dismissed their concerns with a total non sequitur about the fact that the Amish don't commit many crimes.

The State attacks respondents' position as one fostering "ignorance" from which the child must be protected by the State. No one can question the State's duty to protect children from ignorance, but this argument does not square with the facts disclosed in the record. Whatever their idiosyncrasies as seen by the majority, this record strongly shows that the Amish community has been a highly successful social unit within our society, even if apart from the conventional "mainstream." Its members are productive and very law-abiding members of society; they reject public welfare in any of its usual modern forms. The Congress itself recognized their self-sufficiency by authorizing exemption of such groups as the Amish from the obligation to pay social security taxes.

(Of course, the Amish aren't particularly law-abiding either. In fact, when it comes to violence against women, well... in my fantasies, Burger said "oops" when he learned about this, then went for another swig of Scotch. Susan Okin could have told you that. I would only add that multiculturalism is bad for children too -- especially religious multiculturalism.)