Friday, June 15, 2012

Children as a Gambit in the War on Freedom

In response to the "think of the children" argument, which many people attempt to use to dumb down public culture to a level suitable (read: safe) for children, and to sanitize the public square of any potentially offensive content; someone might ask me, if I choose to wear a dress in public (and this question could also be asked of homosexual couples, nudist protesters, etc.), whether I have any concern for the children who might see me and then become confused or, worse yet, traumatized by what they see.

Quite the contrary. If you want to indoctrinate your kids with harmful beliefs like 'men don't wear dresses' (or 'gays are evil', or 'naked bodies are disgusting', or what have you), then you'll probably view me as a public menace for daring to express my individuality in public. The reality is that I'm performing a public service, by providing children (as well as the rest of society, but the children especially, who are still constructing their beliefs about the world, and have had less time being bombarded by mainstream dogma) an example of alternative views and lifestyles.

If you object to that, then you're free to exercise your nearly omnipotent parental powers and lock your kid up at home, refusing to allow him to go outside. But the moment you step into public, you relinquish your control over the surrounding environment, as well as your monopoly over the kind of media and stimuli you and your kids are going to be exposed to.

So no, your right to raise your kids the way you see fit does not extend to limiting the freedom of expression of others who have differing viewpoints (including about how to raise their kids). Whether it's sex, violence, nudity, drugs, swearing, drinking, smoking, spitting, fashion of all kinds, anything at all that you might be offended by and want to "protect" your kids from being exposed to, it is not within your rights to ban any of it from public spaces, much less the private homes of others.

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