Friday, July 25, 2008

The tyranny of children and other amusements

Oh, man. I wish I knew folks with kids to whom I could send this essay. Wait, don't I have a nephew around here somewhere? I thought I had a nephew around here somewhere...


mfheadcase said...

Heh, i actually disagree at least in part with the author of that... It isn't rule of the children, they actually have less autonomy now than ever.

It is rule by people who play on us by saying "But think of the Children!"

These manipulative dinks come from point ranging from just right of center, like Obama and Clinton to the far right like Bush and Cheney... and all of them have strong statist leanings.

Besides, he is also generalizing a lot from his own experience, My parents were also both born and raised in the mid-west... not far from the author apparently.

My dad was the younger of 2 kids, 11 years separating them... My mom was middle of the 11 who lived to adulthood. And looking around at folks near their ages, my mom's experience seems closer to typical around here.

But hell, what is typical?

AG said...

Good point re the autonomy, MFH. But the "think of the children" crowd has always struck me as curiously anti-child, or at least utterly unfamiliar with how childhood operates. Kids are little anarchists, and much more bloody-minded than most adults. Which is, you know, why parents are supposed to keep them around for 18 years or whatever to socialize 'em. Instead, you have parents who would rather change the world to fit their kids, which... well, that's how you get pissed-off articles like that one. perhaps, then, we should say that the world is falling prey to the forces of infantilization? That puts the folks who hate this foolishness actually on the side of the kids' better instincts, which are to figure out how to function inthe wider world. The parents the writer describes in the article were the epitome of that.

(And both of my parents tended more to your father's age spread -- four kids each spaced seven years apart on one side, two kids with a 13-year gap on the other. As for me, I was in large part raised by my grandparents, who though good and loving people were quite comfortable with a difference between The Grownups and The Children...)

mfheadcase said...

The types who want to force the world to change for their idea of what children should or shouldn't have have been around for probably as long as there have been children. Like this asshole:

Wertham thought that the CCA, created because of him, was inadequate... apparently because it only neutered comics, and did not kill them outright. And it did this without the legislation that Wertham wanted. A short term victory that in the long run helped produce writers like Alan Moore, Frank Miller and Warren Ellis.

These idiots: also got what they wanted in the short term. A self censoring slice of the entertainment industry. What they also got is artists fighting back, taking their tipper sticker and using it as self promotion.

The bluenoses are constantly winning short term victories in their war on ideas kids shouldn't have, but get anyway, from the world around them when not from comics and music.

Unfortunately the "think of the Children" crowds have been winning other battles in the national and world concsiousness... It is getting to the point where refusing to give kids what the want is viewed as neglect... and giving them what they need to stop being kids is viewed as abuse.

It helps that the "think of the children" crowd are actually multiple mutualy hostile camps... and it seems that only the most boneheaded ideas make it out of any given camp into "common wisdom"

Generally the single issue that can be blamed for all of our children's ills.

"Just say 'no'."
"Stranger Danger."
Music is evil.
Comic books are evil.
Pulp Magazines are evil.
Penny Dreadfuls are evil.
Being able to read anything other than the Bible is evil.
Being able to read the Bible is evil... That need to be left up to the Priests...

They all keep losing in the long term... but in the mean time their short term victories are helping to keep people from learning autonomy for longer and longer

The more we are protected from any concievable harm we are, the less able we are to handle it when the protection inevitably fails. And the less able we are to handle the real world, where frankly, no one gives a shit about our self esteem.

MC said...

See, the thing I've always found so abhorrent about those "Who will think about the Children" people in terms of cultural/societal influences is the fact that their underlying message is that they are somehow more moral than the rest of us... that only they can somehow protect others' children from the supposed dangers of modern pop culture. Or worse, they seek to deprive me, an adult, of pleasures and experiences that I am capable of making an informed decision about.

If I want to play a violent video game, or see some groundbreaking programming, or view pornographic materials involving consenting adults, then I should have the freedom to do so.

In most cases, it seems these people who crusade for the what's best for the children or the community do so for selfish reasons: they don't want to have to spend time trying to stop their children or themselves from being exposed to such materials.

Jeff Trexler said...

Apropos of your post, Barnacle Press has just wrote about a century-old comic strip, The Newlyweds' Baby, that they aptly place in their "It Was Ever Thus" department.

In the strip, comics legend George McManus (later work: Maggie & Jiggs) names the kid Napoleon.