Saturday, March 08, 2008

Parenthood Is The Most Important Choice

There's been total radio silence around here for the past couple of months, and its likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future, but I found the reasoning in this collection of articles to be so poorly though out, and so morally abhorrent, that I have to reply.

First Ms. Franks:

People with these views seem to forget that if society is going to continue, someone needs to have - and raise - kids.

I'll begin by pointing that the continuation of society is neither a logical nor a moral necessity; all that Ms. Franks is doing is expressing a personal preference. What's more, she puts forward the empirically testable hypothesis that society is in immanent danger of collapse unless everyone starts breeding right now. The UN, it seems, would beg to differ; total population levels are likely to continue increasing for quite some time. Unless Ms. Franks is arguing that world needs a lot more people, an idea which she doesn't really seem to be pushing, then her contention is totally without merit. So why bother making it at all? What's actually going on here, when you stop to think about it, is that there are some unspoken qualifiers to her definition of "society". Ms. Franks' real concern seems to be that its becoming difficult for certain sections of academia to balance their professional aspirations with the desire to have children. Rather than unpack all of the "-isms" embodied by the equation "society = academia" I'll just say `cry me a river'.

Continuing:

After all, the kid you're raising today may be the person wiping my ass someday in the nursing home. I'm sure not going to have any kids of my own around to do it, and the cats are pretty worthless when it comes to things like that. What is it worth, to society, to have some people willing to take on the work of producing the next generation? It ought to be worth quite a lot, but so many people continually pretend that having kids is all "an individual choice" and has nothing to do with our collective selves.
Oh, I get it now, how foolish of me! We need to have children so that they can serve us when we get old! IT'S FOR TEH GOOD OF SOCIETY!!!111!.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what I meant by "morally abhorrent". Such a view strips the next generation of its humanity and makes them tools to fulfill the current generation's desires. I will absolutely, uneqivocally, state that this is wrong. You cannot claim any respect for human rights while simultaneously proposing that children be regarded as objects in the service of someone else's goals.

Now, moving on to Bitch, PhD:

Let me reminds you, once again, that people do not "choose" to have kids. A lot of people choose *not* to have kids--birth control, wealth, and modernity certainly contribute to this decision, which is perfectly irreproachable, by the way--but reproducing is not a conscious decision. It is something that the bodies of living creatures simply DO. It is, in fact, part of the definition of "living."
Allow me to paraphrase:
Some segments of society (nudge nudge wink wink you know who I mean) are driven to reproduce by their wild and uncontrollable animal lusts.
Semantically equivalent but, funny, it doesn't sound so progressive anymore, does it? Because reproduction isn't just "something that the bodies of living creatures simply DO"; you don't wake up one day and find that you budded off a child in the middle of the night like a yeast. Children, at Bitch so eloquently points out, are a foreseeable consequence of fucking. For Bitch to assume that children just happen she must also assume that people are unable to forsee the consequences of their actions and/or unable to restrain themselves from fucking. That's rather paternalistic, don't you think? Until presented with evidence to the contrary we should proceed on the assumption that people are autonomous and capable of making rational decisions.

Though this may seem cruel the alternative is even worse. If we accept that some people lack the ability to make rational decisions then how can we, as a society, allow them to raise children? A person who is incapable of making rational decisions for themselves is also, by definition, incapable of making rational decisions on behalf of a child. At that point we as a society have the obligation to step in and take guardianship of the minor as we would in any other case of abuse and neglect. You can see where this leads, but its the inevitable result of Bitch's logic.

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