Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Teaching kids that Uncle Fred might be a pedophile is "unprincipled?"

High Ideals and No Principles by Thomas Sowell on National Review Online: "What is called “sex education,” whether for kindergartners or older children, is not education about biology but indoctrination in values that go against the traditional values that children learn in their families and in their communities."

Were that true, it would be a damning allegation. It's a shame that the once respectable NRO seems to have abandoned the principle of basing opinions upon facts presented honestly in the light of respectable and honorable Conservative perspective.

Here's what Obama was actually suggesting:

When Obama's campaign was asked by ABC News to explain what kind of sex education Obama considers "age appropriate" for kindergartners, the Obama campaign pointed to an Oct. 6, 2004 story from the Daily Herald in which Obama had "moved to clarify" in his Senate campaign that he "does not support teaching explicit sex education to children in kindergarten. . . The legislation in question was a state Senate measure last year that aimed to update Illinois' sex education standards with 'medically accurate' information . . . 'Nobody's suggesting that kindergartners are going to be getting information about sex in the way that we think about it,' Obama said. 'If they ask a teacher 'where do babies come from,' that providing information that the fact is that it's not a stork is probably not an unhealthy thing. Although again, that's going to be determined on a case by case basis by local communities and local school boards.'"

In addition to local schools informing kindergartners that babies do not come from the stork, the state legislation Obama supported in Illinois, which contained an "opt out" provision for parents, also envisioned teaching kindergarteners about "inappropriate touching," according to Obama's presidential campaign. Despite Obama's support, the legislation was not enacted.

So, I'm forced to wonder aloud - as I have, all to often when these memes come up - as to how such harmless and frankly needful information could be considered destructive and harmful to families?

Could it be the "inappropriate touching" part?

Look - I know how utterly snide and insulting that sounds. But I'm not saying it in order to score political points or shoot across the bow of anyone's "Culture War" gunboat. This observation comes out of almost two decades of involvement in abuse and survivor's issues. Bluntly, I'm the product of something that (though my specific memories are unreliable) would, both by the patterns of cracks in my psyche, point toward something for which the term "inappropriate touching" would be an understatement of truly mythic proportions.

And of the people I know who's shatter patterns resemble mine, it's almost a cliche' to observe that the shattering occurs within a family context that justifies it's abuse via authoritarian belief structures, generally with some religious trappings.

I can count on the fingers of one thumb the number of polyfragmented, traumatized, dissociated and disordered multiple personalities that did not have such a background, absent something like autism or a particularly hidious scholastic enviroment. Lucky me, I hit the trifecta and despite my inherent conservative biases, it's real hard to ignore such compelling evidence without engaging in levels of denial that are truely and literally insane.

Further, my wife was a special educator for twenty years and has a parallel observation - that in her suburban schools, it would be common for two to three children to disclose (out of classes of 25 to 30) some form of abuse whenever the issue was brought up - often through a reading assignment. Oddly enough, such books are very high on the list of books conservative and religious groups would like to see banned.

As a person who's dedicated much of his adult life to figuring out how things can go so badly wrong within the confines of family and church; institutions that both claim the right, duty and ability to shape children so that they "do right," I have come to the conclusion that our national fetish for preserving "innocence" of children is, sadly, just that.

A fetish.

And whether or not that fetish is personally sexual in any particular person, all persons that buy into and support it add to the cover it grants to Republican Pedophiles.

It seems that the authoritarian conservatives - and far too often, the religous authoritarian conservatives - are easily seduced by the idea of proving their power to themselves and to others by sexually exploiting those with less power, while sexually disenfranchising all those who are not in power. In the most brutal and literal sense, the Authoritarian sees power and sexual abuse - rape, to not put too fine a point on it - as being both the expression, the reward and the natural right of the alpha male.

Now, this understanding is cloaked in culture and shrouded in denial, to the point where conservatives may think that they are being completely honest in making what they think as principled objections to what they see as interference in family matters, and the right to determine what sort of information regarding sexuality is appropriate to their children.

But I see nothing in what Sen. Obama was advocating that would actually be a threat to that - assuming the matters were handled appropriately. And meanwhile, the "abstanance only" movement is more than willing to trade in misinformation and outright lies about the consequences of premarital sex, contraception and abortion.

So if this is a principled position, it's a principle that admits that it's ok to decieve "for the greater good," to bear false witness, to install toxic fear and shame as an acceptable price for the prevention of "sinful behavior."

Having spent far too many years hip deep in the consequences of such stupitdity, both personally and in support of the weeping consequences of being forced to face the price and consequences of surviving their childhoods in abusive and almost universally religous conservataive families, I call bullshit.

And Thomas Sowell is either bullshitting himself or trying to bullshit you. Either way, it's another reason to vote for someone with a realistic view toward the costs and benefits of early information and age-approprate education about maintaining appropriate sexual boundries, both in and out of one's own family.

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