As we all know, conservatives and particularly social conservatives are worried about the children. Not just their own children, but all of our children. They're worried about what the kids are seeing on TV and at the movie theaters. Where they're going on the internet. The music that they're listening to. The whole works. And they're so concerned about the children being infected by these horrible nasty sources, that they're willing to deny these things to us all. Not just porn, but violence, and unwholesome materials, bad influences, and everything else that makes life worth living. We're all supposed to forego this stuff, for the sake of the children. Right?
And of course, a lot of that is bullshit. It's not about the kids. It's about us. These people want to tell us what we're allowed to see and can't see. And all based upon their own specific set of morals, with the bible supposedly backing up their claim. And I'm sure that a big part of it is that they just don't like us having all the fun, while they're stuck watching The Waltons and Benny Hinn. Or whatever the hell it is that those people do in place of having fun.
But I'm also sure that the kids really are a big part of this. I've got kids and have met their friends, and they really are a fairly impressionable bunch. Mine are better than most, but if MTV showed cool youths dancing to polka music while wearing Minnie Pearl hats, I'm sure my kids wouldn't be far behind. And I'm also sure that in many ways, these influences are stronger than my own. Me and my wife are pretty cool people, and none of this seems to have rubbed off on either of them. Currently, I'm listening to a ten-hour Stereolab (the greatest of all musical acts) shuffle on iTunes, while my twelve-year-old daughter is sitting right behind me listening to some fag-ass "rockers" on the headphones (and no, I don't mean that in the homosexual sense).
For that matter, both my teens are fairly anti-gay and it really bugs the hell out of me. I don't make a big deal about it, but they've clearly picked this anti-gay stance from their friends, and I find it to be pretty offensive. But I'm sure they'll grow out of it. When they start sporting James Dobson t-shirts and telling me that God hates fags, I might want to think about an intervention, however.
And my point is that conservatives, particularly social conservatives, have a big problem with bad influences on our kids. And they think it's the parent's responsibility if a kid grows up bad. It's irresponsible to let our kids watch the MTV and violent movies and Queer Eye. And the problem is so grave that we have to just stop making these things, just to make sure that none of the kiddipoos get their grubby little hands on any of it. Especially the porn.
Where It All Falls Apart
But here's the weird part. Poor inner-city kids grow up in a bad setting. They don't eat right. They see bad behavior all over the place. Violence on the streets. Drugs on the streets. Drug use by their own parents. Parents who get their kids to buy and/or sell drugs. All kinds of crap. Crap that these conservatives don't even want us to be able to watch in movie theaters. Bad stuff. And these kids grow up with it. Not on film. But as a real influence in everyday life. Something going on around them all the time, since they were born. All that they've ever known, outside of TV and movies. And I don't want to overemphasize this, as I'm sure it's not always as bad as this. But it's clearly stuff that conservatives know, know to be bad influences on children.
And yet what are their attitudes towards these people. Sympathy? Understanding? Do they take these factors into consideration when thinking about these people? Do they think about bad influences which can make people go bad? No. What do they do? They attack these people and denounce them. And anyone who blames the parents is a "moral relativist" who excuses all bad behavior. This, from the people who think that Janet Jackson's brief nipple-shot ruined our children, and who think that sex-ed and homosexuals on TV will bring our country down.
But none of that applies when we're talking about the poor people. Suddenly, it's no longer the parent's fault for how the kids grew up. Suddenly, the child is responsible for their own behavior. Suddenly, it's not about the corrupting influence of violence, drugs, and porn. It's all about people not taking responsibility for their actions and their lives. It's about lazy people who get what they deserve. As if there is some point at which your childhood influences stop influencing you, and you wake-up and can make decisions independent of your earlier influences. And if that were the case, why would we need to protect our youths from boobies, dicks, and vaginas? Hell, if your childhood influences didn't matter, the Dobsons shouldn't mind if we let our kids totally gay it up until maturity set in. It wouldn't make a difference.
And it's bad enough that we do this to adults who grew up badly. People who are victims of influences far worse than what the conservatives want to deny us. But they also believe that the children themselves need to suffer. That a child deserves to starve because of his parent's mistakes, laziness, and immoral behavior. That a child deserves to be poorly educated and just plan poor, because of his parent's actions. That a child deserves to be subjected to the horrible influences that responsible adults should be denied, simply because of his parent's mistakes.
In these cases, the children are seen as mere objects, existing only relative to their parents. These children simply become part of the punishment against the parents. Good things happen to children of good, moral parents; and bad things happen to children of bad, immoral parents. And so this is just a big morality lesson. These children are no longer seen as individuals deserving protection against bad things and evil influences. These children exist only as a warning to the others: Behave properly or your kids will suffer.
The Sins of the Father
And we're even seeing that right now. Many conservatives insist that the people who stayed in New Orleans deserve to die because they failed to heed the evacuation warnings. That these people should starve and suffer because of their mistakes. And let's set aside the issue of people being unable to evacuate. Because I'm sure there were people who could have left, but didn't. But do these people deserve to die? Was it so impossible to save them that their mistake became a capital offense, worthy of death? Or at least days of hunger and thirst? Hell, a prison sentence for failing to evacuate would be a far better punishment than leaving them to die, as these conservatives suggest we do. And this would make far more sense if sending aid had been much harder. But it wasn't that help was so difficult. It was that the government screwed up, and is now trying to rationalize those screwups.
But it's not just the people who chose not to evacuate that they are wishing this on. It is children. Children are there, and these conservatives believe that these children should suffer because of their parent's mistake. And again, it is often the same conservatives who insist that children and teens are too stupid to understand smut and violence properly, are the same ones who suggest that children of these non-evacutees deserve to suffer. Sure they wouldn't say it that way, but if anything, that just shows their own callousness and small-mind. Because they aren't thinking of the children and babies suffering. They just want to rationalize what happened. They're so busy trying to make things seem better, that they can't even think about saving these children.
And this isn't to suggest that criminals should be allowed to commit crimes, simply because bad things happened to them, and they were swayed by bad influences as a child. And this isn't to say that we shouldn't punish criminals. Because punishment is certainly required. But there should also be understanding and compassion. And maybe if the Dobsons worked as hard at curing poverty and bad influences in inner-cities, as he did at ending pornography, violent movies, and homosexuality; we could go far to making the world a better place. But I guess that just isn't as fun or easy as converting gays and getting the boobies off of the television. We all have to have our hobbies.