Monday, November 28, 2005

Society's new whipping group; kids and parents

In a meandering article called Kids Gone Wild, talk show host Judith Warner pushes every hot button issue on the minds of talk radio Americans.

  • nearly 70 percent of Americans said they believed that people are ruder now than they were 20 or 30 years ago, and that children are among the worst offenders
  • Children have always been considered, basically, savages
  • what seems to have changed recently, according to childrearing experts, is parental behavior
  • The pressure to do well is up. The demand to do good is down, way down, particularly if it's the kind of do-gooding that doesn't show up on a college application
  • Once upon a time, parenting was largely about training children to take their proper place in their community, which, in large measure, meant learning to play by the rules and cooperate
  • Rude behavior, particularly toward adults, was something for which children had to be chastised, even punished. That has also now changed
  • Parenting today is also largely about training children to compete - in school and on the soccer field - and the kinds of attributes they need to be competitive are precisely those that help break down society's civility
  • "We're insane about achievement," he said. "Schoolwork is up 50 percent since 1981, and we're so obsessed with our kids getting into the right school, getting the right grades, we let a lot of things slide. Kids don't do chores at home anymore because there isn't time."
  • Educators feel helpless... -snip- More than half said they ended up being soft on discipline "because they can't count on parents or schools to support them."
  • "Parents are out of control," he said. "We always want to blame the kids, but if there's something wrong with their incivility, it's the way their parents model for them."
  • "These kids are so extremely stressed from the academic load they're carrying and how cloistered they are and how they have to live under the watchful eye of their parents," Dr. Mogel said. "They have no kid space."
  • Stop blaming the children, they said. Stop focusing on the surface level of behavior and start curing instead the social, educational and parental ills that feed it.
  • and on and on
Yes, Warner's article is a litany of reasons society needs to be upset with children, parents, laws that protect children, teachers and adults, and so on. The fact that most of complaints and remedies in the article are self-contradictory is of no consequence - Warner is not writing to solve problems, she writing to aggravate the sleeping American lynch mob.

A corollary talk media screed is that American itself is uncivil these days. On CSpan you can hear one politician after another lamenting the good old days when you could just bash liberals, the poor, welfare moms, feminists, unemployed black men, flouride in drinking water, atheists, the ACLU, Democratic budget surpluses, and extended drum solos.

What's missing in all these arguments, of course, is a whole truth. After all, there's a little bit of truth in all these complaints. And the talk media has trained American kids to point the finger at schools, schools to point the finger at parents, and parents point to society, and society to kids. Everybody is a loser in this chase your favorite boogeyman game.

It keeps everybody complaining about everybody else instead of the truly rude. And it villifies our children in ways that justify a return to a military draft that exposes these kids to extermination. Already, military recruiting is targeting children as young as fifteen years old to enlist in programs that obligate them to military service after graduation from high school and military training during high school summers.

I want the talk media to discuss that issue. And while they're at it, here's what I think is rude;

  • A government controlled exclusively by one party who acheived that power with lies, theft, subversion, dirty tricks, and -gasp- 30 years of RUDE media behavior toward anyone who disageed with them (I wonder if there's a connection there?)
  • An American public so gullable that every new lie that's uttered by the ruling party becomes a trance-like mantra (Why wouldn't kids respect their dazed elders?)
  • A two-party political system in which the ruling party treats the national treasure like a slush fund for every greedy, whimsical, or demented expenditure imaginable (these so-called 'rude' kids are being handed the bill - is it any wonder little Johnny and Jane America aren't smiling?)
  • A set of government bureaucracies who are accountable to no one yet dictate expensive mandates to local communities who cannot afford their -cough- visions
  • A national Education department that complains about national student math scores yet mandates the comparison of incongruous student test results and declares those results 'proof' of failing schools (these 'rude' kids and teachers know they're being used as social engineering guinea pigs). In the (sigh!) old days this was called bad math or "it don't add up".
  • The intellectual pestilence of religious fanaticism here and abroad
  • The uneasy quenching of thirst at a restaurant away from home knowing that environmental protection is an oxymoron these days (kids teeth are rotting because the flouride's gone but who knows what is being poured into those bottomless cups of cola)
  • The bashing of ghetto youth for using slang while thousands of unintelligible foreigners are insourced to replace American workers
  • The promotion of incompetent individuals to positions of national importance based on cronyism, political kick-back, mutually assured complicity, and other unscrupulous activity
  • and so on

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