atheism, christians, education, health care, justice, Mormonism and other forms of child abuse, religion, religious right, Things We Should Know, willful blindness to absurd extremes

The Ultimate Responsibility

I am not a parent. It’s not that I didn’t want to be, I love children, and they seem to tolerate me well enough; events in my life have thus far prevented me from being a father. Which, of course, does not preclude it from happening in the future, and as time marches on, I have come to realize that I will in all likelihood become a ‘step’ to an older child or children, perhaps even adult children. I look forward to whatever life brings in that regard – I feel like I would have something to offer in terms of support, love, and guidance should the opportunity present itself.

I have great admiration for my close friends who are parents – you know who you are, and you know I admire you for persevering when times inevitably got tough and for producing incredibly intelligent and just thoroughly fantastic kids. Some of you have faced incredible hardship and adversity and still managed to bring up some resilient and loving children. You are the reason I feel like the future is in safe hands – your children will grow up to be independent, thoughtful adults who grew up to be just like you. Take that, Harry Chapin.

As proud as I am to know some amazing parents, and I know there are many more, I am still incredibly pained to hear of incidents like this. It is completely heartbreaking that parents would follow the pseudo-religious, Spanish Inquisition-like parenting style described in this abhorrent book.

book cover

As the article describes, some of the techniques advocated include:

  • Using plastic tubing to beat children, since it hurts a lot but leaves fewer marks to alert authorities
  • Wearing the plastic tubing around the parent’s neck as a constant reminder to obey
  • “Swatting” babies as young as six months old with instruments such as “a 12-inch willowy branch,” thinner plastic tubing or a wooden spoon
  • “Blanket training” babies by hitting them with an instrument if they try to crawl off a blanket on the floor
  • Beating older children with rulers, paddles, belts and larger tree branches
  • “Training” children with pain before they even disobey, in order to teach total obedience
  • Giving cold water baths, putting children outside in cold weather and withholding meals as discipline
  • Hosing off children who have potty training accidents
  • Inflicting punishment until a child is “without breath to complain.”

That children have died is horrifying, although frankly not surprising. A childhood should be a time of joy and learning about the world, it should never resemble a reign of terror. Any “parent” who decides this type of parenting is acceptable is not fit to lead a child into the world.

The fact that it is couched in religious overtones is not in the least surprising. Not only do some of the faithful adhere to the above child torture techniques (I’m the first to admit that not all do, however), some will also refuse medical treatment for their children on religious grounds. The only way we have to prevent abuse like this is to remove faith-based exemptions based on religious belief when a child’s health is at stake. Prayer in all its forms and manifestations have never, ever been proven to be effective in treating illness of any kind, and medical science has been proven unequivocally effective in saving lives, preventing infant mortality, and relieving suffering. Some of the cases listed here are absolutely horrifying. There is no excuse that could justify denying a child a chance at life simply because a parent believes illness is a test or part of a divine plan. Listen up, sunshine, if there were a deity, he created doctors and health care professionals as well as your weak-willed, deluded self. Get in the internal-combustion tool of satan horseless carriage and get your unfortunate spawn to the hospital. If you are lucky, the child will live – if we’re lucky, you’ll never see them again.

I realize I am not going to change anyone’s mind if they choose to follow an abusive religious creed, but if enough of us express our outrage at these types of abuses, perhaps the ruling classes will dilute the opiate just enough to prevent this from happening – even once. Religion, as a phenomenon of human behaviour, should never play a role in determining social or legal responsibility for anything. Marriage is not a religious ceremony, it is a legal one sanctioned by the state – they just let guys in weird dresses officiate. Voting is not a religious duty, it is a social one. I have no objection to religious faith as a private expression of a need for security or a need to feel special or to feel part of a community; however, when you start making decisions on other people’s behalf – what they can or cannot do or say or wear or who they can love – then, I object in the strongest possible terms. This applies to the act of parenting as well. If we value our children and want them to be responsible adults, let them choose to follow or not follow whatever creed works for them. When it comes to a child’s heath, however, your duty as a caregiver always supersedes any doctrine; the need to keep a child alive and to ease their suffering and seek a cure from sources that are proven to be effective is and always should be the moral imperative, not service to some imaginary, insecure dictator.

Religion be damned, if you’ll pardon the expression.

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christians, Conservatives, Inflaming rednecks for fun and profit, media, Mormonism and other forms of child abuse, religion, religious right, willful blindness to absurd extremes

Devil’s Advocate

As a follow-up from Kevvy’s post on the absolutely breathtaking inhumanity of Pat Robertson, particularly in regard to the Haitian disaster, I give you video evidence of the greatest single exhibition of assholatry in human history:

I take some small measure of enjoyment from the look on his confederate’s face – watch again and see how she’s barely suppressing her disgust.

So, sowing discord, taking joy from the misfortunes of others, preaching prejudice and hatred… Who’s the agent of ‘satan’, Pat?

Actually, I take that back – if I’m going to invoke the concept of religion to criticize this putative pinnacle of piety, I have a better idea of who the linkage should be with.

Canadian politics, censorship, christians, Consevatives, culture, education, Mormonism and other forms of child abuse, politics, religion, willful blindness to absurd extremes

Close Your Eyes, Honey. Reality Will Pass Us By Soon…

In the interests of “getting parents involved in schooling”, Alberta has passed a law requiring schools to notify parents when ‘controversial’ topics such as sex, sexual orientation or religion will be discussed.

Or, to put it another way, intolerant lobby groups have successfully enabled intolerant  parents of innocent children to discourage intelligent debate and ignore facts that can influence their socialization, their health and their well-being. The “ignore it and it will go away” philosophy of education hasn’t really been a huge success in the past, and I wouldn’t necessarily expect it to work to anyone’s benefit this time, either. The law places limits on free speech that would be unacceptable outside a fascist dictatorship – having studied education, the free flow of ideas and the pursuit of knowledge through unlimited questioning of assumptions seems to me to be the most effective way of creating a citizen that is informed and willing to engage in their communities and the political process, not to mention increasing the odds that they can and will learn from other cultural traditions through a fair-minded and inquisitive approach to social interaction.

What Alberta is creating, by allowing reactionary parents to deny exposure to knowledge and controversy to their children, is another generation of reactionary parents. Ignorance breeds fear, which leads to hatred. That fundamental fact of human nature seems to have escaped the legislators out there. Take away the right of children to be educated through free inquiry, and you are robbing them of experiences that, while sometimes uncomfortable, can be life-affirming and character building. The parents in question obviously lack confidence that educators can protect children from the evils of sexuality and other religious views – I lack that confidence too, but that to me is a positive, not a negative. If I were a parent who were worth anything (as I consider Kevvy to be, for example), I would be there for my children to discuss anything they were disturbed by, to help give them context and the benefit of my experiences, not take away the opportunity for them to ask the questions out of a sense of parental laziness: “I’m too busy to set them straight on these liberal ideas, so it will save time if they are not exposed to them.” If parents were doing the job they are supposed to do, socialization into the family unit with all of its benefits and flaws, the law would not be necessary, and children would be free to form their own opinions.

You have done teachers, and especially children, an injustice. For the sake of political capital among the conservative ‘grassroots’, you have created the means to perpetuate ignorance and hatred, to place children’s health at risk, and to leave the impression to other Canadians that Albertans are ignorant hicks.

Not all of them are, I understand, but certainly the politicians are looking more and more like it.

Mormonism and other forms of child abuse, religion

Being religious doesn’t make it law…

The argument underpinning Winston Blackmore’s defence against charges of polygamy is summed up in one sentance, a sentance that highlights my problem with the public role that religion plays in our nominally secular society:

“This is not about polygamy. To us, this is about religious persecution, for persecution has always been about politics”
 

The fact that polygamy is actually illegal doesn’t matter, the fact that Blackmore and his ilk believe that fucking teens celestial marriages are God’s Will ™ frees them from mere mortal constructs such as the law of the land. It’s the same argument that frees churches across the land to institutionalize homophobia and provide it corporate sponsorship and political clout.

Religion is not an opt-out clause on legality and it cannot be allowed to be used as a Get Out of Jail Free card for its followers. If it can, then we must be prepared to allow slavery, the death penalty, homophobia, lynching, child abuse, and a host of other currently illegal activities for the same reasons. 

Personally, I’m looking forward to stoning someone for something,  anything. Just once, because I know it wouldn’t be long before it was my fate, too.

This would be quite a can of worms to open.