I spent the Summer of 2004 in Montana, working at a hot tub dealership. My boss was a well-traveled mechanic/ex-navy/salesman, and to bullshit with him was a benefit that made the rest of that gig almost worth it.
2004 was a year of history and the year I watched John Kerry’s campaign, threw up in my mouth a little, and started voting for Democrats anyway. My boss was an early adopter of the Drudge/Brietbart brand of tabloid Conservatism, so we argued that summer. And he said something I have never
Bizzo: [five minutes of being a nerd later] … so because of the long-term effect and the law at stake, and the way the Congress is likely to go, I think even a mediocre Democrat is better for us right now. In order to break these programs. How can you as a veteran say otherwise?
Bosso: I have children.
Bosso: You’ve thought a lot about this. Fine. But I have children. And I look at Bush, and he’s promising to do whatever it takes, anything, to protect my children. Even if … that didn’t work … or wasn’t true or, whatever … I can’t sleep and I can’t look at my kids, if I don’t vote for the people who protect them. You don’t have kids. [long pause] You can not understand.
We didn’t talk about politics after that.
Whatever the guy intended, what he taught me was, having kids makes you immoral. Or differently moral. Everyone says "it changes you" but they usually mean in some kind of good way. They don’t say it makes you territorial-bordering-on-sociopathic.
But that’s informed the way I read the news.
The case in 2006, where a girl’s mother spent hours every day stalking her daughter’s rival, creating fake personalities to fuck with her head until the teenager killed herself.
Or the story of the lawyer mom who falsified her son’s community service records then took his school to court to demand they give him extra credit.
(Note how this story, like the one in the same article, robs another kid of a scholarship)
Or today’s story of the many, many parents who conspired to create a fake school prom, complete with fake chaperones and invitations. So they could send the queer and disabled and unlikable kids there as a joke. And compare photos of their kids posing with the suckers, and high-five. While all their kids attended a secret, real prom.
There are many, many others. But you get the point.
I have done stupid, self-destructive things. I have done arrogant things and cruel things. I can be an asshole.
But as per Hitch’s thought,* these are alien vices. I’m not tempted, at all, to enter high school politics, or abandon my career to strip teens of their awards, or vote to abolish the Republic, on the off-chance a stranger’s kid will die first. I can’t even think these things.
Yet on the evidence, I would. It’s one of those principles that has no end, right? To protect and advance my child is sacred, perfect, completely good. I would do anything for my child.
See, right now there are things I would not do.
(Obviously, all parents aren’t like this. It’s an appeal to extreme cases. But both Left and Right agree that being a parent gives you an out for any public behavior. If you want to appeal to that out.)
Even if I had the money, the stability, and the partner, I’m not sure I could do it. Gain a kid, lose ethics? Lose the very idea of ethics?
How do you make that choice?
*I know. This guy. One of these days I’ll stop linking to him. Spider-bitten, past his prime, phoning it in. "Hitch 22"? Was that a Michael Moore joke? Either way stupid, and I can’t decide which way more. But he still rips through his own gas cloud now and then and makes the definitive, clear point on an issue. Like.
The Church needs and wants control of the very young and asks their parents to entrust their children to certain "confessors," who until recently enjoyed enormous prestige and immunity. It cannot afford to admit that many of these confessors, and their superiors, are calcified sadists who cannot believe their luck. Nor can it afford to admit that the church regularly abandoned the children and did its best to protect and sometimes even promote their tormentors. So instead it is whiningly and falsely asserting that all charges against the pope—none of them surfacing except from within the Catholic community—are part of a plan to embarrass him.
This hasn’t been true so far, but it ought to be true from now on.
More on that later.