One nation, under leveraged fringe?

Sex education, I often hear, is "none of the schools' business." Parents should be able to "opt out" at the very least.

It's true that parenting should be up to the parents, and I certainly agree that schools shouldn't be parents.

But what I want to know is why it seems that so many of the people who don't want schools getting into things like sex education because it's justly none of the schools' business nonetheless want religion, or "God" (now meaning new forms of religious indoctrination) "put back" in the schools? By what logic are sexual matters the responsibility of the parents, but not religious matters?

I mean, shouldn't parents be allowed to opt out of having their kids learn Intelligent Design in science class? Wouldn't some parents find that just as offensive as others would a condom on a banana? (Or was that a cucumber?)

Is it my imagination, or has the word "secular" become a synonym for "evil"?

Just asking.

And I'm not talking about God in the general secular sense, either. There used to be a more or less secular form of God, but over the years champions of secular atheism such as the ACLU -- in unholy collusion with certain religious conservatives -- worked relentlessly to purged this workable compromise from the schools and even from the founding. This has radicalized the debate into two very shrill camps: those who scream "God" when they mean fundamentalism, and those who scream "secular!" when they mean atheism. In my view, it's increasingly hopeless.

Pat Robertson types and ACLU types have done more for each other than they have for the country. The fact that enemies often obtain leverage from their enemies is a simple enough concept that I suppose an economist or mathematician could reduce it to a formula.

(I just wish they could come up with some way to protect the majority against the tyranny of this leveraged fringe.)

posted by Eric on 12.06.05 at 12:39 PM







TrackBack




Listed below are links to weblogs that reference One nation, under leveraged fringe?:

» A pox on both your houses from dustbury.com
The flap over Christmas and other minor skirmishes in the culture wars are basically a product of an "unholy collusion," says Eric Scheie: There used to be a more or... [Read More]
Tracked on December 7, 2005 8:27 AM



Comments

"But what I want to know is why it seems that so many of the people who don't want schools getting into things like sex education because it's justly none of the schools' business nonetheless want religion, or "God" (now meaning new forms of religious indoctrination) "put back" in the schools?"

I'm not sure this is fair. As I understand it the God people want schools to allow children to pray- NOT to be taught religion. Regarding intelligent design they don't want there children to be taught that their religion is wrong.

Whereas, the 'sex people' want sex to be actively taught.

I get your larger point though, and I agree that sides are being drawn farther apart and it isn't necessary.

Harkonnendog   ·  December 6, 2005 9:12 PM

I'm not talking about allowing children to pray, and I have no problem with that. It's Bible based teaching which I keep hearing about. (I don't think it's a winner of a position, although if the so-called "Constitution Restoration Act" passes, it might be.)

Eric Scheie   ·  December 6, 2005 10:35 PM

The purpose of schools, public or private, is to teach kids, at the very least, what they need to know to function as responsible adults in a free society -- whether or not the parents approve. And sex-ed is clearly in that category: a little know-how is needed to avoid a lot of mistakes and suffering.

If parents were able to educate their kids without outside help, there'd be no need for schools. But parents aren't fully able to do this job, due to constraints on their own time, knowledge, or prejudices; so most societies recognize this fact and provide for some sort of out-of-home schooling, so kids won't be chained by their parents' limitations.

Opting out of sex-ed is no more justifiable than opting out of civics. If a civics class taught kids that everyone in the US has the legal right to speak freely and practice whatever religion they chose, would you want any parents opting their kids out of that?

Raging Bee   ·  December 7, 2005 8:41 AM
But parents aren't fully able to do this job, due to constraints on their own time, knowledge, or prejudices; so most societies recognize this fact and provide for some sort of out-of-home schooling, so kids won't be chained by their parents' limitations.

I disagree with any blanket statements that parents are unable to (fill in the blank) their kids as well as society. It's presumptuous and it's wrong, as if the state must rescue children from their parents.

Parents have the biggest stake in their children's welfare and are therefore better motivated to do a good job with their kids than the state ever could.

"Chained by their parents' limitations"? That line alone sounds like it came from Orwell's 1994!

Bonnie   ·  December 7, 2005 2:59 PM

I made the statement as a generalization; and, in fact, many parents, of various persuasions, have explicitly agreed with it: they know full well that their kids need knowledge that they themselves don't posess! That is, in fact, why my own parents paid huge amounts of money for a private school: to teach me stuff they either didn't know (like physics, biology, literature, etc.) or didn't have time to teach me (because they were both civil servants of the non-lazy type).

It's not about "rescuing" children from their parents (although, truth be told, some children really do need rescuing); it's about helping them do their duty.

Raging Bee   ·  December 7, 2005 3:41 PM

Oops, I meant 1984. Forgive me.

Bonnie   ·  December 7, 2005 3:44 PM

That's okay, I still don't remember anything in "Nineteen Eighty-Four" that has anything to do with this topic.

Raging Bee   ·  December 7, 2005 4:19 PM

Parents don't have the time to teach their kids about sex? It isn't like it is a five year course or something. Let's see... so far I've taught my daughter about a billion things- I spend probably 1-3 hours a week checking her homework, more when she's stuck- 5 hours a week playing with her- an hour a week disciplining her... and that's not including her mother.

What a ridiculous thing to say. A teacher would spend what? 50 minutes a day for two weeks, so 250 minutes, so 4 hours and ten minutes, teaching 30 kids about sex at the same time... Whereas I spend twice that much time a week interacting one on one with my daughter.

What are you talking about? Do you think parents don't understand the subject or do you think they don't know how to talk to their children or do you think they don't raise their kids? What, they just feed them and send them on their way?

Harkonnendog   ·  December 7, 2005 4:49 PM

I know that you know that you are deliberately misrepresenting what I said. Go back and try again.

The point about sex-ed, specifically, is that many parents (though not you, if what you say is true) really don't teach their kids what they need to know about sex, when they need to know it, either because they never learned it themselves, or because they're too emotionally hung up to educate others, or because they have prejudices that prevent them from dong what is right for their children. (My parents did their best, and were as honest as they could be, but there were gaps in their knowledge, and they had no problem with my teachers filling the gaps.) Whatever the case, the kids need to learn about the subject at some point, in order to function responsibly; and the state has a compelling interest in ensuring that they learn this, right along with reading, math, and the laws of their country, whether or not the parents agree with it. If one kid's parents did their duty, great! But if another kid's parents are filling him/her with harmful nonsense, then someone else has to correct the problem -- and that's one reason we have teachers.

Raging Bee   ·  December 7, 2005 7:14 PM

Raging Bee,you said:
"But parents aren't fully able to do this job, due to constraints on their own time," so I addressed the time issue.
But the full quote was:

"But parents aren't fully able to do this job, due to constraints on their own time,knowledge, or prejudices;"-

Uh... I'm not quite sure you undertand the implications of what you're saying. First- discussing knowledge- you're assuming teachers know more about sex than their parents- as if teaching requirements include courses about sexuality with information non-teachers don't have. Then you are assuming that parents want teachers to teach their children things about sex the parents don't know. They've had children- presumably they've got some basic knowledge.

Then you mention prejudices- exactly what prejudices should the parents NOT be passing onto their children? And who decides what is a prejudice as opposed to a cultural value? and who are teachers to decide that? teachers aren't exactly the best educated segment of our society, you know...

You've gone beyond education- and into the raising of children.

"The purpose of schools, public or private, is to teach kids, at the very least, what they need to know to function as responsible adults in a free society -- whether or not the parents approve."
The purpose of schools is to teach kids reading, writing, and arithmatic, what they need to know to function in a literate, industrialized society. The teaching of morals, etc. is the responsibility of parents, not teachers.

To put it more bluntly, children must not be raised by the state, but by parents.

Harkonnendog   ·  December 8, 2005 8:55 PM

Wrong again -- I am not "assuming" that ALL parents are less informed than teachers; I am stating the FACT that MANY parents are not sufficiently informed to teach their children all they need to know (not just about sex, but about other subjects as well -- it's a big and complex world), and that schools exist to support parents in this task. Not to replace, but to support, assist, and augment, according to the standards by which society chooses to treat its kids.

Parents have primary responsibility for their kids' upbringing; but they delegate many of those tasks to schools, either by choice, or by necessity.

Then you are assuming that parents want teachers to teach their children things about sex the parents don't know.

That is not an assumption; it is an observable fact, at least for a large minority of parents, including mine and my friends'. Just like the fact that the sky is blue. And no, the "basic knowledge" required to make a kid is not enough to enable responsible adult choices in all situations.

Then you mention prejudices- exactly what prejudices should the parents NOT be passing onto their children?

Those prejudices that either conflict with the basic values embodied in our Constitution, or hinder proper adult civil conduct in the US, or are known to encourage or result in harm to innocent people. Example: immigrant kids from Saudi Arabia should be taught that not all Jews are evil, and everyone has the right to choose their religion when they grow up, whether or not their parents believe this.

...The teaching of morals, etc. is the responsibility of parents, not teachers.

Society, in general, has the duty of passing its knowledge AND its core values to each succeeding generation. Parents are the first line of defense here, and if they do the job well, more power to 'em. But if they don't, or can't, society needs a Plan B, otherwise it is cheating innocent kids.

Raging Bee   ·  December 9, 2005 11:51 AM

"Parents have primary responsibility for their kids' upbringing; but they delegate many of those tasks to schools, either by choice, or by necessity."
They delegate them when the kids are taught things the parents specifically don't want them to be taught? Kind of Orwellian, isn't it?

"..The teaching of morals, etc. is the responsibility of parents, not teachers.

"Society, in general, has the duty of passing its knowledge AND its core values to each succeeding generation."
I guess you and your buddies, not parents, get to decide what those core values are? If people disagree too bad, huh?

"Those prejudices that either conflict with the basic values embodied in our Constitution..."
Such as slavery is okay? Or that women shouldn't be allowed to vote? Good thing the shakers' and quakers' weren't taught these core values as children, huh?

"Then you are assuming that parents want teachers to teach their children things about sex the parents don't know."

'That is not an assumption; it is an observable fact, at least for a large minority of parents, including mine and my friends'."

Lol... Do you have any clue about how pretentious and ridiculous that statement is? I mean are you joking or what? It is an ovservable fact- but only to a minority??? So the majority is what? blind? unable to recognize fact??? Or are you and your peers Plato's philosopher kings that are just not being given their rightful power? lololol

Harkonnendog   ·  December 9, 2005 5:24 PM

I guess you and your buddies, not parents, get to decide what those core values are? If people disagree too bad, huh?

Um...you, too, can participate in such decisions. Ever heard of political action? Voting?

"Those prejudices that either conflict with the basic values embodied in our Constitution..."
Such as slavery is okay? Or that women shouldn't be allowed to vote? Good thing the shakers' and quakers' weren't taught these core values as children, huh?

Where in the current Constitution are these values found? Have you ever heard of "amendments?" There's 27 of them.

It is an ovservable fact- but only to a minority??? So the majority is what? blind? unable to recognize fact???

Are you having trouble with the English language? Or with reality? One more time -- it is an observable fact that many parents, at least a large minority and possibly more, want their kids to be taught what they need to know in order to stay out of trouble and function as free citizens, whether or not the parents posess such knowledge themselves. Not only do I observe it, but many parents explicitly admit it, in both words and deeds. Think, for example, of the barely-literate coal-miner who wants his kids to have more education and opportunities than he ever had. Is this really not comprehensible to you? Or are you so hung up with hatred of "the state" that you can't admit that social institutions (public or private) sometimes fulfill a useful purpose?

Raging Bee   ·  December 9, 2005 7:35 PM

"Think, for example, of the barely-literate coal-miner who wants his kids to have more education and opportunities than he ever had. Is this really not comprehensible to you?"

The barely literate coal miner, (do you realize that choosing this example undermines your own argument? I mean how many barely literate coal minders are out there, Bee? I bet the answer is zero.) wants his kids to have more education, yes. He DOES NOT want you to teach his children about sex, lol. How do I know this? Because we are talking about the parents who want their kids to be able NOT to attend sex ed class. You want to force them, I don't. Nor does this miner think that having you teach his children about sex gives his child more opporunities.

"Where in the current Constitution are these values found? Have you ever heard of "amendments?" There's 27 of them."

They are right there where they were originally. The point is that, had the state normalized slavery, had the state taught these values to children then, had the state decided it would raise rather than educate then, the way you want it to now, they would still exist.

"it is an observable fact that many parents, at least a large minority and possibly more, want their kids to be taught what they need to know in order to stay out of trouble and function as free citizens"
Thanks for the rewrite- I misunderstood your earlier comment because it was ambiguous (or maybe I just read it wrong), and because the above makes no sense given the context of these comments. How do you make this jibe with the fact that you are trying to force all kids to take sex-ed classes regardless of their parents wishes?

You said:
"The purpose of schools, public or private, is to teach kids, at the very least, what they need to know to function as responsible adults in a free society -- whether or not the parents approve."
Then you said this:
"Um...you, too, can participate in such decisions. Ever heard of political action? Voting?"

So you admit that a minority agree that kids should be forced to take these sex-ed classes, and yet you cite voting as a way to ensure only the correct core values are taught?

"Or are you so hung up with hatred of "the state" that you can't admit that social institutions (public or private) sometimes fulfill a useful purpose?"
This is a strawman. I don't hate the state, I CAN admit social institution sometimes fulfill a useful purpose... So what??? That's got nothing to do with telling parents their kids have to learn sex-ed from, say, Adrianne Hockett, Amber Jennings, Amber Marshall, Carol Flannigan, Celeste Emerick, Christian Gallagher, etc. etc. etc.

Harkonnendog   ·  December 12, 2005 4:25 PM

So you admit that a minority agree that kids should be forced to take these sex-ed classes, and yet you cite voting as a way to ensure only the correct core values are taught?

I'm beginning to suspect that you are feigning confusion in order to avoid addressing my actual points. So let's go through this again: first, I said that a large minority AT LEAST (as in possibly a majority) of parents understand that they need schools to assist them in educating their kids, including in the subject of sex; second, I said that states' education policies could be influenced by popular participation, in response to your implication that I want such policies rammed through against the majority's will. This is as it should be, since we are a republic, and I haven't met the elite yet that could be consistently trusted to know what's best for the people.

You seem to be especially hung up on the teaching of sex-ed to kids. Yes, there are many parents who don't want their kids to be taught about sex in schools. There are many others who do, or at least don't mind.

Here's my opinion, which has been formed by my own experience, which the far right have yet to refute to my satisfaction, and which I'll use my franchise to enshrine in my state: kids should be "forced" to take sex-ed (or at least prove they've learned what they need to know) for the same reason they're "forced" to prove knowledge of math, law, history, drivers'-ed, etc.: because it is necessary for people to function as responsible adults in a free society; and because greater knowledge means greater freedom, and greater ability to avoid costly and painful mistakes; which ability benefits both the individual and society.

Yes, there are parents who don't want their kids to take sex-ed in schools. I'm sure there are also parents who don't want their kids taught that Pagans have the same legal rights as Christians; or that evolution is the sole, and uncontested, scientific explanation for the diversity of life on Earth; or that the Holocaust really happened. All of these parents' oppostition is wrong, and should be overruled, for the same reason: it conflicts with the well-known needs of the kids, by denying them information they need to function and thrive as responsible adults in a free society.

Raging Bee   ·  December 12, 2005 5:03 PM

"You seem to be especially hung up on the teaching of sex-ed to kids." I'm not hung up on it, lol. I would not have my daughter opt-out of a sex-ed class. I am "hung up" on the idea that parents who prefer not to have strangers teach their kids about sex should not have a choice about it.

"for the same reason they're "forced" to prove knowledge of math, law, history, drivers'-ed, etc.: because it is necessary for people to function as responsible adults in a free society"
what exactly, let's just be honest here, what EXACTLY do you think parents won't teach their kids that schools will? what generally UNknown sexual knowledge do the majority of Americans not know that kids must know to function in a free society?

"first, I said that a large minority AT LEAST (as in possibly a majority) of parents understand that they need schools to assist them in educating their kids, including in the subject of sex;"
this shows nothing. I am a part of that minority, but I would NEVER vote not to allow parents to have their kids opt-out. no chance in hell people would vote for that

"since we are a republic, and I haven't met the elite yet that could be consistently trusted to know what's best for the people."
lol. because we ARE a republic individuals should be left alone unless or until the majority proves it has an obvious pressing need not to leave it alone. and no, you've come nowhere near proving that. you haven't even tried, really, probably because you know you can't.

"I'm sure there are also parents who don't want their kids taught that Pagans have the same legal rights as Christians; or that evolution is the sole, and uncontested, scientific explanation for the diversity of life on Earth; or that the Holocaust really happened."
First, evolution is NOT the sole, uncontested scientific explanation... 2nd, you don't really need to know that the Holocaust really happened to function in a free society, 3rd, and most important, the entire argument is a strawman.

Again, what information, exactly, is there that parents don't know or wilfully withhold from their children, about sex, which will stop them from functioning in a free society? Until you establish that parents aren't teaching these things, and that they are important enough to curtail individual liberty and give the state primacy over the family, all these other arguments don't work.

Harkonnendog   ·  December 13, 2005 3:01 PM

April 2011
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

ANCIENT (AND MODERN)
WORLD-WIDE CALENDAR


Search the Site


E-mail



Classics To Go

Classical Values PDA Link



Archives



Recent Entries



Links



Site Credits