Thursday, 9 October 2008

Are Family Values Negotiable?

I finally managed to summarize the rest of the discussion at Terry Morris' Webster's Blogspot about traditional family values. The first instalment can be found here. It was triggered off by Sarah Palin's somewhat doubtful role as a paragon of "conservative" virtues when she, the mother of five children, chose to accept (potentially) one of the most demanding "jobs" in the world.

Is parental supervision feasible nowadays? Can one jettison it and still think of one as a conservative?
Terry Morris said...
Mom wrote:

"I am wondering how you view the latest announcement that Mrs. Palin's unmarried daughter is pregnant. [...] This makes Mrs. Palin look better than the rumor, how?"

Mom, I don't know, I didn't devise the strategy. You'd probably have to ask the McCain team about that one. But the way I view it, in a nutshell, is this:

Bristol Palin has been failed by her parents. Her Mom, the most important female in her life, chose a "career woman's" life over a life of motherhood. She (Mrs. Palin) could have chosen either/or, but she tried to have her cake and eat it too, something that rational people know is impossible. Her Dad, the most important male in her life, chose a supportive spouse's role over the role nature, reason and religion had secured to him.

Thus Bristol Palin has been failed by her parents. But more than being failed, she has been betrayed by them; they are using Bristol and her situation as proof of their "family values."

But as Laura W. wrote at VFR, "supervised children don't get pregnant."

Where, I ask, was Bristol's supervision?
September 2, 2008 10:51 PM

Vanishing American said...
I have to take somewhat of a dissenting view on the pregnancy thing.
First, contrary to what Laura W. says, supervised children DO get pregnant. It happens. When they are old enough for sexual activity and pregnancy, they are also at the age to be somewhat independent. Nobody, not even stay-at-home moms, can supervise their teen children 24/7.
Back in the 'Leave it to Beaver' era, when virtually all mothers were stay-at-home moms, girls did most assuredly get pregnant, even in the best of families, adolescent hormones and urges being what they are.
In those days, it was simply handled more discreetly. I don't question the fact that it happens far, far more often these days, but now it is not even a cause for embarrassment on the part of most teens or their parents. And many of the supposedly conservative parents nevertheless put their girls on the Pill so that there is no risk of pregnancy.
But even the best and most attentive parents find it hard to counteract the influence of popular culture, which is loaded with sexual messages and imagery. Even in our local Christian school, the teens still wallow in the x-rated pop culture of the day, regardless of how strict their parents may be at home. The sexual messages are everywhere, and even those who shelter their kids as much as they can find that their children are exposed second-hand to much of the worst influences. It's everywhere.
I sympathize with parents of teens today; it's harder than ever before to keep kids separated from the corrupt culture around us. I am glad I am past that stage of life and no longer have that battle to fight as a parent.
But those who blame the parents 100 percent are expecting the impossible; children in their teens can't be protected all the time, unless you shackle them to yourselves and never let them out of your sight.
September 4, 2008 10:45 PM

The_Editrix said...
VA, we are talking about humans, not about mechanical gadgets, so if somebody says that supervised teens don't get pregnant he is bound not to mean that NO teenager got pregnant and that supervision was 24/7. But it was, and that is the difference, the rare exception and nobody shrugged it off as "one of those things".

I don't think that it is simplistic to say that in times when we dared calling "nice girls" by that name, nice girls didn't become pregnant, even though the supervision wasn't (COULDN'T BE) 24/7. Then, it was understood that, at that age, a relationship with a boy or man intimate enough to get one pregnant was out of the question, contraceptives or not. One respected one's parents and -- yes -- one was afraid of the social consequences as well.

And as far as the hormones were concerned, we were expected to sweat it out and we did. Since when are "hormones" an excuse for anything? If for a pregnant teenager now, then what next? For a sex offender?

But it is elitist now to remind girls of the fact that they are "nice girls" and in a time where it is the accepted practice to follow the call of one's hormones they don't have something like a "reputation" to lose anymore either.
September 5, 2008 3:52 AM

Terry Morris said...
To be honest with you all I've been half waiting for someone to come along saying that Bristol and Levi began having sex with the permission of Bristol's parents (and an ecstatic approving response from Republicans.) Something that isn't uncommon today either.

I know quite a few women that became pregnant both as teens and out of wedlock. The common denominator in all of them was lack of parental supervision. In fact, in one case the parents allowed their daughter, on the weekends, to hang out up town, at night, unsupervised ... for thirty minutes at a time. She was required to check in at home every thirty minutes. In my view that isn't supervision; it's a recipe for disaster. I even warned that it was a recipe for disaster before the disaster ever occured. But it didn't change anything, obviously.

VA, isn't it part of a parent's responsibility as a parent to recognize and understand the fact of teenage hormones, and to put up road blocks to their children yielding to them? Further, aren't we supposed to understand that teens with hormones jumping are particularly adept at utilizing what unsupervised time we alot them to their own perceived advantage?...
September 5, 2008 8:07 AM

Terry Morris said...
I wrote in the original entry that I hope beyond hope that Sarah Palin never considered it her choice to abort her baby. This is interesting because the entry was written on Sept. 1.

On September 2 I received an email from Dr. Dobson's CitizenLink organization titled "Gov. Palin announces teen daughter's pregnancy; Dr. Dobson offers Prayer".

Here's an excerpt from that email in which the Palins are quoted on their daughter Bristol's pregnancy:

We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents, they said in a statement Monday. As Bristol faces the responsibilities of adulthood, she knows she has our unconditional love and support.

If I take what is said by the Palins at face value, then apparently Sarah Palin does believe it is her choice whether to abort her baby or not. In fact she apparently not only believes that she - a 44 year old adult woman - has the right to make this choice, but that her 17 year old minor daughter Bristol (and all 17 year old minor children by extension) have the right to make the choice between life and death for their babies.

So, essentially, the hopes I expressed in the original entry have been dashed.

The least she could have done would have been to make a distinction between an adult woman's choice and a minor child's choice. But she probably looks at it like a lot of other people I know who say that if a boy is old enough to go to war, then he's old enough to purchase and consume liquor, and our laws should reflect that. In Bristol's case (and as I said before, all 17 year old minor girls by extension) Mrs. Palin's logic probably goes "if she's old enough to get pregnant she's old enough to decide to abort."

But maybe I'm just reading too much into her statement. And maybe I'm reading too much into Dr. Dobson's blind support for Palin.
September 7, 2008 5:49 AM

Terry Morris said...
And by the way, I don't know whether any of this stuff people are saying about Levi's (Bristol's boyfriend and the father of her child) MySpace is true, but if it is he sure as heck isn't someone I'd want any of my daughters marrying under any circumstances.

I happen to believe that marriage is not always the answer to righting the wrong of an illegitimate pregnancy. In point of fact it's probably rarely the answer, particularly in today's goofed up world. What mother or father in their right minds would wish upon their teenage daughter a marriage that has a very good chance of failing.

Two wrongs don't make a right.

But like I said, I don't know anything about Levi. Maybe he's a great kid and has all the stuff to be a great father and a great husband to Bristol. Could be.
September 7, 2008 6:07 AM

The_Editrix said...
"The least she could have done would have been to make a distinction between an adult woman's choice and a minor child's choice."

Terry, once one allows exceptions from sacredness of life one will find it difficult to support one's stance, factually and ethically. Why should a mature woman have more "right to choose" than a girl? I say (for argument's sake) that a girl has her whole life ahead of her whereas a mature woman lives (in the majority of cases) in more or less secure circumstances. Such an argument is in no way less supportable than yours.

Human life is sacred. Full stop. And any (ANY!) qualification will take to to very slippery grounds.

"But maybe I'm just reading too much into her statement. And maybe I'm reading too much into Dr. Dobson's blind support for Palin."

I don't think you do.

September 8, 2008 2:34 AM

Terry Morris said...
Nora, thank you. Please allow me to clarify my position...

I wasn't trying to say that an adult woman has more right to choose to kill her baby than a teenage minor. I realize that this is an untenable position to take. I was really just trying to make a point concerning Sarah's public statements on the matter, and the apparent content of her "family values".

The Palins released a statement to the press saying that they were proud of their daughter for deciding to have her baby. This implies that 17 year old Bristol Palin was afforded the choice in the matter, and that her parents recognize her right to make that choice (thank God she made the right one, eh?).

As the father of a sixteen year old daughter, I can tell you that I recognize and grant no such choice to my daughter. Not that she would make the wrong one, but it's not her choice to make, neither morally nor as a dependent child living under my roof. As her parent I have complete authority over her until she comes of age. So if there's any "choice" to be made, I'll make it for her ... if "choice" is even the right word here. And I'd never give her any impression that she has such a choice.

The point is that Sarah Palin, if her statement says anything about her view on the subject, seems to believe that a 17 year old minor pregnant child under her care and supervision has an independent choice in whether to have her baby or not. But as parents and guardians we should not even entertain the notion that they have such a choice in any case.

I think it says something about the depth of Palin family values that they put it in these terms without making some qualifications to their statements. But perhaps I'm misunderstanding what they meant.
September 8, 2008 4:54 AM

The_Editrix said...
I understand better now. Thanks for clarifying that for me, Terry.

I am sure I don't "get" some details in their right context because I am not American and I don't want to make my criticism of Sarah Palin, who seems to be a nice woman, sound too personal and judgemental. But one thing she isn't: a conservative. I'd like to refer to the discussion at VfR. At one point Lawrence Auster said that Palin "represents something that has replaced conservatism" for which he hadn't yet a name. I replied that there is no name for it because what she is can't be defined as a political stance. All she is, is "unconventional". So she chose not to abort her child, so she has no hangups about shooting, and she happens to be still married to the same man. Is that enough to be be labelled "conservative"? What a toil is that "unconventional" marriage and family life for her husband?

Being conservative is, as I put it at VFR, not a patchwork of non-politically correct items, it is a lifetime concept, a worldview.

The discussion about the pornographic site somebody recently recommended at VFR shows that it is enough to spite just one politically correct issue (in this case feminism) to pass as a "conservative". More cases in point: Those "Islam critics" who happen to be Muslims and, somewhat naturally, tackle Islam first, but would like to abolish religion generally. Hirsi Ali or Irshad Manji come to mind.

I may be wrong, but nothing I have read about Palin in the Internet resembles your family life, as you describe it here.

As I said, Palin seems to be a nice woman, she may be even an able VP, but to sell her as conservative is akin to false labelling.

As an aside: I am somewhat bound to like her out of sheer cussedness because the German media picture her as a cross between Torquemada and Dzenghis Khan.
September 8, 2008 6:05 AM

Terry Morris said...
Thanks again, Nora. I read your comments at VFR and thought them very interesting and insightful.

I agree with you that Sarah is not a conservative.

I wrote at VFR that there's a large "eccentric" community in Alaska and that there's an element among Alaskans that one might call "rugged individualism", and that this is sometimes mistaken as conservative. I think Sarah can be described as both of these, but not as a conservative.

Incidentally, have you read Wasilla resident Mrs. Kania's postings at VFR?

As a former resident of Alaska I know a little bit about the state and its people, though I claim no deep understanding of them as Mrs. Kania might have. Alaska is not a conservative state for starters, as I said in one posting at VFR. But beyond that, and in reply to some of Mrs. Kania's sincere statements about the Palins, particularly about their being "very normal people," which I translate to mean "they're just your average American family", I take respectful exception in a couple of emails to Auster on the subject. Hopefully he'll find them worthy of posting and you can read them there. If not I'll post them here at my site.

But I like your term "unconventional", Nora. I think it's a better term than my "eccentric" for describing what Sarah Palin is in part.

In Alaska the unconventional is more "normal" than it is here in the lower forty eight. As I wrote in part to Auster, it is not a novelty in Alaska to see a woman shoveling three feet of snow off of her roof while her husband stands safely on the ground giving her directions and orders. But I don't think it's normal either, anymore than I think it's normal to see a woman wade out waste deep into the frigid waters of the Russian River to catch salmon, but neither is it a novelty.

None of that, among other things, is conservative, it's unconventional as you said.
September 8, 2008 6:44 AM
So far, I have still to find a place outside the Auster/Morris orbit where Sarah Palin is discussed according to her merits (or the lack thereof) and not, in Pavlovian drooling, either as the Jeanne d'Arc of Conservatism or a right-wing extremist because she thinks that it is not alright for a woman to murder her unborn child. Information on that would be more than welcome.