Friday, May 23, 2008
We stand at a critical philosophical crossroads in this country. If we are indeed champions of religious freedom, even if that religion seems archaic and weird and most certainly unfashionable both literally and figuratively, then we cannot start throwing our weight around and tell that particular religious sect what they can and cannot teach their children.
Do we tell the Amish they're nutty for not driving cars?
How about the Jews for not eating pork?
The Catholics for the whole Trinity business?
The Mormons for la, la, la, la, la-ing through some of the silliest bedtime stories known to man?
Astrologists for not leaving the house without first consulting their daily chart?
Adherents to Chinese medicine who believe everything from ground bear tooth to obscure and rare plant life can cure whatever ails you, regardless of the harm harvesting said "therapies" causes to the natural environment?
And when was the last time you heard a bona fide court give an atheist shit for teaching their kids about the Big Bang?
That doesn't mean, of course, that anyone, religious or not, has the right to physically and/or sexually abuse their children. Reports of that kind should be investigated and pursued to the full extent of the law. But 460 children were removed from the FLDS compound in Texas last month based on nothing so much as a single allegation. There is no way all 460 of those kids suffered abuse. So one has to wonder: how much of this is about actual law and concern for a child's welfare, and how much of it is suppression of a religion that pushes all our buttons when it comes to the teeter/tooter relationship we have with religion in our so-called "enlightened" era?
I'm not a parent, but I have been a child and I can well imagine how utterly traumatic it must be for these parents and children to be separated like this. All because the Gub'ment of Texas thinks it knows what's best. Go ahead, investigate. But don't bust up hundreds of families just because you don't like how they define the concept.
If it were up to me? I'd remove every child from every parent who sticks their offspring in front of the television for more than a couple hours a day. Who indulges their child's every whim, so as not to play the bad guy. Whose level of maturity is so low, they have lost all ability to establish themselves as counselors, guides, and disciplinarians and morph instead into these warped best friend figures to the point of sporting similar hairstyles and belly-grazing crop tops (cough, Dinah Lohan, cough, cough).
But I don't have the right.