Yesterday I wrote a post about the appeal of nudity, and I wanted to title it "Gymnophilia", but I discovered that I'd already written a post with that title over a year ago. (It's a fairly generic title, on a subject that is central to this blog). So I reread that older post (which is something I often like to do), and was linked to yet another post, about people using the "think of the children" argument as a justification for the restriction of civil liberties. And it got my mind churning (this is one of those "you know what really grinds my gears?" topics). Here's an open letter to anyone who's ever used their children (or hypothetical children) as a gambit in the war on freedom:
Your right to construct an intentional environment for your children, limiting their exposure to things contrary to your worldview, ends at your front door (or local area network, in these increasingly digital times). You do not have the right to limit the free and public expression of ideas because you want to control what your child sees and hears. This is not a tradeoff; the very belief that you can - and even should - stunt a child's education to support your own intolerance is despicable, and inimical to a democratic mindset.
Of all the many individuals among the world population, parents have the unique opportunity (if they so accept it) to be the strongest influence in a child's life and upbringing. Is this not good enough? Children are their own people. They are independent agents. Your job is to guide them, not to make their decisions for them. Teach them how to be critical thinkers. Explain why you believe the things you do. And then let them choose for themselves whether or not to follow in lockstep behind you.
You can disagree with this, and try with all your might to enforce your will on the rest of society. But I am never going to agree that my freedom of expression should be curtailed because you'd prefer to keep your own children in the dark, or that such a barbaric act could ever sanely be considered a moral imperative. So if you don't want your children (or yourself, because that's what this is really about, isn't it?) exposed to the wonderful diversity of human culture, you'd better keep them locked up at home. And I only hope that somehow, someday, they manage to escape your tyrannical oppression.