Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Let's get real about the family

After reading today that the American Family Association is ending its nine-year boycott of Disney, I started browsing around their site and then wandered over to the Christian Family Coalition site and then to the Family Research Council site. Impregnable citadels of conservatism. Wouldn't it be comical if I tried to take them on? It would be like a housefly dive-bombing a medieval castle.

But one thought has continued to nag at me for quite a few years: a family begins with a private decision, but the ramifications of that private decision greatly affect the public. Do you actually know any married couples who, before they conceived, went around asking members of the community if it was okay if they had kids? Now...do you need a minute to digest that question? It's not something you run into frequently. Re-read the question if you need to. Your answer, I know, is going to be "Of course not." No one consults the community before having children.

No one.

Starting a family is such a private, personal matter that it never even occurs to a potential parent to wonder if they should consult the community about it. Consult the community? They would think you were crazy if you suggested it. They'd say "If I want to start a family, it's my business and no one is going to stop me!"

(You can tell there's a big "however" coming, can't you?) However, once those children are born, their protection becomes a very public matter. Parents will not hesitate to do what they must to protect their children. They will have laws changed, they will change the entire character of a community if they have to. Protecting their children becomes the very public outcome of a decision that was made completely in private.

I can just imagine Gary Bauer indignantly sputtering about everyone equally possessing the natural right to have a family. Sure. The right to keep and bear children is such a natural right that I don't know if there are even any laws on any books protecting a parent's right to procreate. But, regardless, the fact remains that once children are conceived and born, they collectively have a tremendous impact on a community which was not in any way consulted regarding the conception of those children.

You've never thought about this before, have you, Soccer Mom and NASCAR Dad?

Now, I'm not suggesting that we begin legislating who can and can't have kids, although it does occur to me that requiring parent's licenses, in the same way we require driver's licenses, would not be a bad idea. Issue them only after the parents have had adequate training and testing. Why not? After spending some time at the mall, you don't come away thinking the same thing?

But what I am suggesting is that parents not assume that the community is obligated to accommodate parents protecting their children. For the community to be obligated to do that, they would have had to be involved in the decision to create the children. Since parents make that decision completely without input from the community, any accommodation the community offers them in their quest to protect their children is a gift.

Therefore, you don't have the right to expect people to move out of the way of your oversized sport-utility strollers. If people move out of the way politely, it's a gift. They are under no obligation to accommodate your private decisions.
You don't have the right to limit the many forms of free speech in the community to protect your children. You made your decision privately, so deal with it privately. You do not move the entire community to where you think it ought to be to protect your children.

The slogan of the Christian Family Coalition is "Winning the culture war one battle at a time." A private decision to have children grants parents the right to wage culture war on the community to protect those children? It doesn't. If cable services and Web browsers offer parental controls so parents can block certain content, it's a gift. Boycotting advertisers in order to get certain TV programs cancelled to protect your children is overstepping.

You made the decision in private, so deal with it in private.


Lee said...

I found this rather humorous. You make some interesting and valid arguments that did a good job of making a strong point. And... it was funny. lol

Arvin Hill said...

[insert standing ovation here]

You're gettin' surlier all the time, Don. Nice work.

Rhoda IV said...

The AFA has always sucked balls, I've hated Rosie O' Donnell forever for trying to kiss the AFA's ass, by shitting on musical acts like Marilyn Manson and violent (but good) videogames, when she was still in the closet. Your post is hilarious and true, keep on.