In loco parentis

One of the things that I have found in my relatively few years involved in scientific research is that there are parts that are much more difficult than others. From conception to execution to communication, there are a number of repeatable discrete steps in the research pipeline, and while it varies somewhat, there is definitely a pattern. I know that lab work is tricky, and nobody likes grant writing, but the hardest part for me is coming up with a research question. The way in which you ask the question dictates, to a certain extent, how you approach answering it. Some questions, like “why is math hard” are far too broad and poorly-defined to be operationalized. Others, like “does fire ruin my new phone” are too trivial and mundane to be worthwhile.

A properly-created research question is money in the bank. So, as an act of magnanimity, I am offering up this fruitful research question for free, to be researched by anyone who wants to tackle it. “What is it about having kids that turns people into stupid assholes?“:

Anti-gay parents and religious groups told the standing committee for social policy at Queen’s Park on May 7 that gay-straight alliances (GSAs) “promote the gay lifestyle” and that Bill 13 is tantamount to “slavery.”

More than 20 people spoke against Bill 13, the Liberals’ Accepting Schools Act, during the first of four committee hearings. The committee is also looking at Bill 14, the Progressive Conservative anti-bullying legislation. Education Minister Laurel Broten says the best elements of Bill 14 will be incorporated into Bill 13.

I know some people who are parents. Most of them are perfectly decent people who are entirely sensible and intelligent people. It is certainly unfair of me to draw conclusions about all parents, but for whatever reason whenever I hear a news story that involves ‘parents groups’ or ‘concerned parents’ or ‘parents rights advocates’, I know that I am about to read a story about panicky morons who think that whelping spawn gives them some kind of magical super-powered insight into reality.

This story perhaps takes the cake:

Charles McVety, president of Canada Christian College, was the first to speak and said Bill 13 “embraces a radical sex education agenda” and children will be taught “about oral and anal sex.” “My daughter is a precious little 14-year-old girl. I beg you not to do this to my daughter,” he said. “This bill goes against the Bible. The Bible is a very important document.”

Chuck… buddy. Your daughter’s 14. She knows about oral sex. I’m not saying she’s done it (although who knows?), I’m saying she knows it exists. Also, there’s oral sex in the Bible, along with genocide and daughter-fucking. If you’re really worried about your daughter learning about some warped shit, keep her as far away from the fucking Bible as possible. The only thing that’s “radical” about teaching kids about oral sex is that they’ll learn that getting head is fucking RAD, and she’s going to figure that out whether or not you like it.

Next to mount the soapbox of inanity:

Ekron Malcolm, director at the Institute for Canadian Values, called Bill 13 “a form of slavery” because students will be exposed to positive messages about being gay. “You are forcing your ideas on my family values, my black family values… How dare you take away my right to teach my children my heritage.”

Hey… Ekron. You think that anti-gay assholery is a ‘black family value’? Well, from my black family to yours:

Animated gif of a man hitting another in the face - the keys (and a tooth) fall out in slow-motion to spell 'FUCK YOU'

Nobody is telling you that you’re not allowed to raise your kids to be little bigoted pricks like you are. They’re just trying to make sure that schools are safe places for gay kids who won’t have to put up with your little douchebag progeny kicking the shit out of them. For someone whose history likely includes slavery, the fact that you compare ‘not being allowed to bully gay kids’ to goddamn slavery means you deserve another animated .gif:

A woman shouting 'What the fuck's wrong with you?'

Also, a retrograde piece of shit like Mr. Malcolm working for a group called ‘The Institute for Canadian Values’ is particularly Orwellian. Most Canadians think you’re a dick, Mr. Ekron, and that your beliefs have very little value.

Here’s my favourite part:

At several points committee members challenged the speakers, asking them to point to any section of the legislation that mentions sex education. “So, the GSA component in the bill is the sex education you’re referring to? When you talk about sex education, you mean the word gay?” NDP MPP Peter Tabuns asked. “Gay means sex?” To this, presenter Jim Kwan, from the Markham Voice website, replied, “Yes.” Liberal MPP Kevin Flynn asked if Kwan had actually read Bill 13. Kwan said he had not [emphasis mine], adding, “GSAs promote the gay lifestyle.”

They hadn’t read the fucking bill! They showed up to protest a bill that they hadn’t bothered to even get a summary of first! Seriously, there’s no faster way to undermine your position (which wasn’t all that strong to begin with) than to get all hot and bothered about sex ed classes when the bill isn’t about sex ed! It’s like the people who protest late-term abortions and are stupefied to learn that more than 90% happen before the second trimester.

Then again, this is a group of people who say shit like this:

“Bill 13 provides too much sexually focused information,” [Kim Galvao] said. “Our children don’t need more sex education. They need less.”

Congratulations Ms. Galvao – you’ve managed to say the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard from a parent ever. Your kids need to be less educated? I feel like just saying that shit out loud should immediately trigger someone from Social Services to be sent to your home to make sure you’re a fit parent.

Luckily, this particularly slice of ‘humanity’ represents a very angry but very small proportion of troublemakers who would rather see gay kids (other people’s of course) disproportionately suicidal than have to explain to their little angels that mommy and daddy live their moral lives in the rapidly shrinking horizon of yesterday.

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  1. Steve says

    It’s not being parents that turns people into stupid assholes. It’s being Christians. It’s just that being parents gives people some additional clout as “Think of the children!” still resonates with people no matter what is actually said.

  2. Metaphysical Ham Sandwich says

    It’s just that conservative theistic organizations co-op terms like “Family” for their names because “Assholes”, while being more descriptive of their actual mode of operation, would be less useful in maintaining the illusion of their usefulness to society.

  3. Orakio says

    It bears investigation, but, I suspect that you have the causation that results in your correlation backwards: Jerk-wads claim words that sound good to the average person, such as family, values, etc, in order to mask themselves. It’s difficult to get votes if you call yourself “Ignorant Bigots Against Head,” after all.

  4. Sivi says

    Aw, I was sort of hoping this was going to be about coming up with a research question. Having trouble with that for my PhD thesis.

    But yeah, seriously, the bill says nothing about sex ed. A friend of mine was arguing a bunch with someone in “Power 2 Change”, since that person was arguing that all four club types described in the bill were concerned with sexual orientation.

  5. says

    Maybe I should start an organization called “Concerned Parents for America” that is anti-bigotry since, as a parent, I’d kind of like for my kids (and everyone else’s! Because they exist!) to live in a better world than what we’ve got.

  6. Riptide says

    I think your title is pretty apt (apart from the double-entendre); all too often, these “small gubb’mint” asswipes want the government to act *in place of* parents, via legislating standards of behavior “for the children.” I’m sorry; it’s not my fucking job to make sure your precious little indiscretions never ever ask you any tough questions. It’s your job as a parent to answer those questions or, better yet, to equip the post-coital mess to answer the questions xermself.

    And if I ever *were* to have a child (perish the thought), these assholes’ display of standing proudly in defence of bigotry would take me to a whole new level of fuckoffsville.

  7. says

    “Think of the children!” seems to be second only to “God says so!” as an excuse to bring out the worst in human nature. The main difference is that there are times when it is in fact legitimate and necessary to carefully consider the needs and interests of children, whereas there is never an occasion to worry about what God wants.

  8. Brianne Bilyeu says

    Best bait and switch ever with that intro, my friend! I thought I was going into a science article and had to read “What is it about having kids that turns people into stupid assholes?“ a couple times before jumping below the fold!

  9. Miki Z says

    I view this as “parent essentialism”, the attitude that being a parent somehow instantly instills in one the knowledge and wisdom necessary to raise the Perfect Child. Being on the wrong side of social issues can be quite threatening — it is, perhaps, clear to these parents that their children will eventually regard them as bigots. In order to stave this off, other people’s children may be sacrificed. After all, as a parent, the bigot knows how all parents should act. It’s not their fault that the ‘ram’ God provided was someone else’s child, because no child of righteous parents will be hurt.

    Don’t want your child to join a GSA? Don’t let them. Of course, they may wonder why you won’t let them hang out with their friends, but your position is defensible, right? On second thought, better make sure to keep the kids ignorant.

  10. says

    Luckily, this particularly slice of ‘humanity’ represents a very angry but very small proportion of troublemakers…

    …that have a disproportionately large voice in right-wing parties and noise machines across the country, and thus the ability to make themselves look bigger than they are and obfuscate the issue, as has been done in the US.

  11. outeast says

    It’s selection bias. People join such groups in order that their united voices can oppose a bigger voice (often the state, but also other institutions)… so when the action that’s being opposed is laudible, it’s inevitable that the opposition voices will be otherwise. I see the same tendency towards assholery in groups that use words like ‘community’ too… far from always, but often enough that the word makes me twitch.

  12. says

    Hey Crom! Your very last link isn’t working (abstinence only failure latest research shows) It may be access only for SFSU people? If anyone can find a working link, it would be totally gnarly.

    Great post, BTW. I am so glad that FtB picked you up. If it weren’t for that I may have never stumbled upon your blog (which is arguably one of my favorite). Keep doing what you’re doing!

  13. says

    Hmm, that’s weird. I’m not an SFSU person, and I was able to access it both from home and work. The link is a press release summarizing the many ways in which abstinence-only sex education fails, whereas actual sex education reduces the risk of STIs and unwanted pregnancies.

    Thank you for the kind words. I have no intention of stopping any time soon!

  14. John Horstman says

    I disagree. Parents, even atheist parents, tend to get stupid about things like bodily agency, privacy, authoritarianism, etc. with respect to children. Seriously, I might scream the next time someone drops the, “You’ll understand when you’re a parent/when you have kids,” line on me when I object to, say, forcing a child to endure unwanted touching by relatives (I’m talking non-sexual stuff, like familial hugs or kisses on the cheek), commanding a child to recite details of hir life for an audience when ze doesn’t want to, or prioritizing the parent’s own sense of security in the safety of the child over the child’s agency in unreasonable ways (for example, refusing to let the child spend time away from the parent in what is a relatively safe environment, like a sleep-over or play date, because the parent doesn’t want to be separated, or refusing to let a teenager date/date a given person).

    See, I WON’T understand when I have children, because I’m not an insecure, authoritarian mess who thinks it’s okay to dictate the behaviors of others just to reduce my own unreasonable anxieties. I happen to think that children are actual people – people with a paucity of life experience and more limited familiarity with various helpful cognitive abstractions, like logic, evaluating likely outcomes, or long-term planning, but people all the same, entitled to the same human rights as everyone else by virtue of being people.

  15. John Horstman says

    Speaking of Orwellian phrases, I object to the characterization of pro-abstinence propaganda as either education or having anything to do with sex. Pro-abstinence propaganda is by definition NOT sex(uality) education; it’s functionally the opposite.

  16. says

    Agreed one hundred percent. We don’t force our daughter to permit people to touch her when she doesn’t want them to (with exceptions for health and safety), with the expectation that she will pay the same respect to everyone else. When we’re playing, say, tickling, and she says “no,” we don’t treat it as a teasing thing, so she’s learned that “no” absolutely means “no.”

    The problem is that a lot of people, regardless of their political or religious affiliation, think of children as property instead of as human beings who need guidance to grow up to be functioning members of society. (We’re accused by about half the people we know of being way too lenient–not using corporal punishment–and by the other half of being way too strict–in that we are teaching her to be respectful of other people instead of letting her indulge every impulse.) They’re not ours to hit or to touch at will. They’re independent human beings. I think that one of the most egregious examples of this property-based mindset on the left is anti-vaxxers, actually.

  17. says

    Hmmm, a few hours ago I was receiving a ‘403 error’ on it. All is well with the cosmos, now. It has been working. Seriously though, you’ve opened up an entire conversation that I have been missing (and as a minority myself, I tend to think I am socially ‘aware’.) I recommend you to all my friends!

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