Children Eat Brains


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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 Jameson’dtm  forgotten.

 

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: …
Bizzo: What?
Bosso: I have children.
Bizzo:
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.

 

2 thoughts on “Children Eat Brains”

  1. you’re comparing apples to oranges, at least w/r/t left/right and the war on terror. Sheehan and the Code Pink ladies do run around making fools of themselves, and generally annoy the hell out of everybody within earshot, but for the most part, their kids are already dead. They may be acting out in the explicit memory of their dead children, but the practical implication of their movement is to keep other people’s kids from getting killed.

    The people who are willing to support the torture of other people’s children (not to mention sending other people’s children to get killed in the world’s least fun sandbox) aren’t just a small group of poorly dressed nuts irritating Senators, they’re the entire Republican base. 

    But i don’t think this is a left/right thing. I don’t think being a conservative makes you willing to send other people’s children to a certain death to secure a (mostly illusionary) security for your own spawn – at least not by any coherent definition of conservatism that i’ve ever heard. i think having a sociopathic obsession with ones children has lead people to vote for a post-millennial (and, really, Millennial) republicans. 

    That sort of amorality is non-ideological, but I’m guessing in the last fifty years people like that have voted exclusively Republican. But I think that has less to do with these parents than by people in the Republican establishment whipping up fear of The Other. But at the same time, if the Democrats get any traction with these people to convince them that melting polar ice caps are going to kill their babies, I’m sure they would. That’s just a much more abstract case to make. 

  2. The children are, at best, a straw man here.

    The parents who created a fake school prom? Without kids, they’d still stand on street corners across from the funerals of soldiers and tell everyone who God hates and what he plans to do to them.

    The lawyer mom? If she didn’t have kids, she’d just be a lawyer with a reverse-polarized moral compass.

    The stalker? Still a stalker, kids or not.

    And your boss? Having kids gives him a justification for an unpopular position. He doesn’t have that position because he has kids, he’s willing to share that position because he can defend it as a result of having kids.

    I hear the “you don’t understand because you don’t have spawn” argument all day long because I work (for some reason) in early childhood education. But even in those contexts, the children are a defense, rather than a cause, of the views.

    When I say that I don’t understand why anyone would spend $50 on a pair of shoes for a three-year-old (who, within a week, will paint on/vomit on/outgrow them), the parent who says it’s because I don’t have kids is the same person who, lacking kids, would just spend ridiculous sums of money on other frivolous items.

    And yet, being kidless, we still certainly have other motivations for unpopular positions. There is always another “out” for misbehavior. If you cheat on your wife between rounds of golf, it’s just your sex addiction acting up again. Ran over ten people on the sidewalk? It’s because of your screwed up childhood or your poor impulse control or the fact that your teacher used red ink to correct your papers.

    You’re misreading “the evidence” here. The children are ancillary — if having children caused some sort of neurochemical change that compelled you to invade MySpace and send emo teens into suicidal death spirals, then society wouldn’t find that behavior reprehensible. Even among parents (and among adults, I daresay that parents outnumber the childless) these are reprehensible behaviors.

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