Hooray for Youth Activists

I ran into an article written by Sasha Mushegian, a Kansas City highschool student, decrying book censorship in school libraries and literature class reading lists. Specifically, she was condemning the actions of her local "fundamental Christian back to the roots, why are my children reading books with the F-word in it" group. Sasha does a wonderful job dissembling the core arguments of this group and most other censorship groups in general. Take a look.

Richard Dawkins had a tv program on in the UK called 'The root of all evil?' exploring, among other things, what affect religion has on young people (you can find a copy on YouTube). Of course he was very negative about it, being who he is and where he stands, but he had some good points. (paraphrase) “Children are labeled with their parent’s religion as babes, even though they could not have come to that decision on their own at that age. We do not label children with the political party of their parents, we expect them to make up their own mind about that sort of thing, why should religion be any different?” I think parents try to project their political outlooks on their children as well. If children are never given the chance to look outside the perfect box their parents put them in (even if the parents are not in it themselves), they will never question the validity of what they were taught. If they never question what they were taught, it can never expand, grow or become perfected. It is expected that parents will indoctrinate their children into their own beliefs. Is this ethical or even effective?

The fewer ideas that are inserted into a child's brain, the less data that child has in order to make decisions then and later in life as an adult. Lack of a decision making ability is severely crippling for anyone.

Many people do not think the FLDS (the polygamist group of Mormons in Texas who were in the news a couple months ago) should be allowed to raise their children because of the specific beliefs that the children are being taught. Is it any more ethical if you are brainwashing them to be Southern Baptists, Gays, Catholics, Wiccans, Presbyterians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pentecostals, Buddhists, any other religion? How about Republicans, Democrats, Mac users, Doctors, Lawyers, Loggers, Mill workers, Spanish Speakers or overweight ... eh?

You have a right to be any of those things, and you have a right to NOT be any of those things. Everyone else has that right as well. It is almost impossible to raise a child without instilling in them some of your own ideas and ideals. That’s okay. It’s when you actively limit their choice and rebuke them for turning aside form your ideals that you are doing something wrong as a parent.

All that aside, does it even work? If the child is the same type of person as their parents (ie without pressure they would have chosen the same path as their parents) they will probably either A: shrug it off and continue on that path; B: feel hurt, distance themselves from their parents, even though they stay in rank; C: angrily leave the fold, joining a similar group, or becoming agnostic. If they are a different type of person than their parents (this is usually the majority) they might A: stick with what you have told them, even though it doesn’t fit them; B: drift away and join some other group that better fits their personality; C: rebel and try to revolutionize the group they grew up in; D: rebel and try to destroy/“reveal” the group they grew up in and/or anything like it. There are a lot of other possibilities, these are just some examples. Which category each child falls in depends on the way they are raised and their personality.

Which of these examples really accomplished the goal? Most of the first group does, although, only the first one was positive. Out of the second group, the first option would “look” like it worked. The child stays in the religion, from the outside everything looks great, even though they have no conviction that it is true. They stay in out of honor, comfort, fear, laziness or ignorance. Unfortunately, the majority of people in general fall into this category. If raised in a situation that they do not fully believe, they will stay in it as long as possible, which is usually until they die. This is the reason that revolutions do not happen until the conditions are so bad that they cannot be stood for another moment. Anger and aggravation rushes out at whatever is causing the discomfort until it is alleviated. Everyone then goes back to life until they are again discomforted.

You should not force your children to be like you are. Whether you are a member of the religious right, banning Harry Potter and Darwin or a polygamist banning everything possible or a scientist banning fantasy novels. It doesn't matter who you are or what you ban, your children are not you, you will either kill their brains or alienate them from your own way of thinking.

Why do parents do this to their children? They want them to grow up as happy as they were / are. The thing they forget is that they themselves were either A: brainwashed as a child, and never got over it (and as such they can be forgiven, they are just carrying out their programing) B: Converts to that way of thinking, and so they used their mental faculties to decide what was right for them rather than being forced. C: Different in personality their children. Children are not a small version of yourself, they have the right to think what they wish, be comfortable with what they want to be comfortable with, listen to their own music, even though all the adults think it is the devil's music (*shakes head* that one has been going on since someone figured out how to clap their hands to a beat... 'when I was your age, we didn't disgrace ourselves by beating our hands together. Noise, that's what it is! Noise! ... :-) )

As children are people too, they have a right to start choosing who they will be at a younger age than 18. I am really proud of the children who stand up for their rights.

Where is the boundary between the rights of children and the rights of parents? When good choices are removed. There is a difference between ethics and dogma. Teach your child to be a good person, let them decide on the rest. You can help them along by being a good example. I think you will do more by just being an example than by keeping all outside influences away from your children. They will respect you, even if they disagree with your doctrines because you taught them that the most important thing is the way you act, the way you treat other people. If we didn’t have that, we couldn’t call ourselves civilized.

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