Flutterby™! : Dan as parent hater continued

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Dan as parent hater continued

2001-07-16 19:07:40+00 by Dan Lyke 10 comments

Just a place to hang continuing "Dan as parent hater" discussions.

[ related topics: Child-Freedom ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:14+00 by: Dan Lyke

So in a message in the previous thread Mark A. Hershberger said:

Finally, there is always an "us and them" mentality to discussions like these. "Us" in my case is parents and "Them" are those adults who are not parents. There are a lot of (sub)concious assumptions about the "otherness" of them. "They" are selfish, self-centered, egotistical, etc. and it takes effort to avoid labeling "them" with negative attributes and saving a lot of the positive ones for "us".

It's funny, but I don't see the "us vs them"ness, at least not in the way that you cast it. I think we've got a whole bunch of conversations going on here, and the splits don't necessarily fall along child-free versus parent lines.

For an initial us-vs-them, how about instead splitting it down the lines of those who believe that parenting is a personal choice, with personal rewards, versus those who believe that having children is a public service or right which demands special dispensation and support? That's more the way I see it.

#Comment made: 2001-07-16 23:24:19+00 by: Dave Winer [edit history]

A friend told me a story, I don't remember the source, but it changed my thinking dramatically. Sometime in the 20th century the human race crossed a line where we could start tipping the balance between nature controlling us, and us controlling nature. Before the line was crossed, we were at the mercy of disease and the elements, and while we still are, we could now inflict so much damage on the planet, on such a large scale, that we could wipe ourselves and lots of other lifeforms off the planet.

It's worth taking a new look at our values to see how some of them may now be obsolete. In the past a birth of a new child was an affirmation of the survivability of our species. More and more over time a birth is now a problem for the survivability of our species. Each new human we create will consume more rain forests, deplete fossil fuels, destroy a certain amount of the ozone layer, the list goes on and on. So adjusting our values to create approval for people who are generous enough to forgo having children, seems to me, to make some sense.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:15+00 by: Pete

What human activities consume the rain forest? Which of them are a practical necessity?

What human activities destroy the ozone layer? Which of them are a practical necessity?

What human activities deplete fossil fuels? Which of them will be practical necessity when the child you seem to fear will be an adult?

And keep buffing, Dave; you're working that up to a nice sheen. Maybe someday I'll get praise for insulting the poor that are so gauche as to reproduce. And argue against educating their grubby little children, too.

"When someone works for less pay than she can live on--when, for example, she goes hungry so that you can eat more cheaply and conveniently--then she has made a great sacrifice for you, she has made you a gift of some part of her abilities, her health, and her life. The "working poor," as they are approvingly termed, are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor to everyone else." -Barbara Ehrenreich

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:15+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger


You're probably right that I don't have the lines quite right. I do think that those of us who have children will approach this differently than those of you (see? that's an "us 'n them") who don't. It is easy to philisophically hold to an objectivist viewpoint till (like one mother who posted on the cost of a child about her handicaped child) you have to deal with the reality that you simply /cannot/ support your own children though you may have been prepared to when they were born.

I don't necessarily see raising children as an indulgence (it certainly is not one for me) although it seems that some people do have "vainity" children. (This can perhaps be seen most readily in the discussions about people creating biological clones of themselves, a concept I personally find disgusting.)

Parenting certainly has personal rewards, but there are also societal rewards. To deny this is to deny reality.

Do I think that my children deserve a subsidized education? Wouldn't hurt, but the subsidies that are provided where I live (New Orleans) pretty much suck, so I won't be taking advantage of them -- certainly not for the first few years and probably not after that.

Do I think I deserve a tax break for having children? Get real! Yes, it is nice to not have to pay so many taxes, but taxes are not my biggest concern when it comes to my income.

Time off from work to take care of the kids to the doctor? Nope... My wife is a full-time mother and in those cases where I do help her, it doesn't really matter since I'm paid by the hour.

This is what I'm talking about when I say "us 'n them". The "childless-by-choice" crowd rants on and on about how coddled parents are and how much we expect. Meanwhile those of us who experience the reality of parenthood do not see what you are complaining about. I've been childless before and I find it strange that those of you who choose to remain so find so much to complain about.

Perhaps you are reacting to the rising image of the vainity parent. The one who wants to have it all: a nice car, nice house, and, oh, nice clone of himself. While I'm sure these people exist, I think they are much rarer than those who actually sacrifice money, status, and earning power to raise their children.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:16+00 by: Dan Lyke

Dave, I find it interesting to compare that issue of control of nature feeling to music. In the late '60s the experiments with the electric guitar, ala Jimi Hendrix, and the experiments in electronic music in the '70s and even into the '80s, like Thomas Dolby (whom I've been flamed by [grin]), were about walking that line between control and chaos.

But come the synthesizers in the Macintosh it became clear that we had control. We weren't limited by technology, we could push in any direction, and the technology would hold. Music was no longer about how can we make pretty sounds, or how can we walk the line between pretty sounds and chaos, it became about choosing from any set of sounds we could imagine. And now that we've explored most of them, music is a lot about nostalgia.

Visuals are about to go the same direction (if they haven't already, people point to Final Fantasy, but I think Titanic[Wiki] was a better example).

I see further evidence of that transformation in mechanics. Steam trains are cool! Electro-diesel engines are a scaled technology. When I was in high school, there were plenty of '60s and even '70s cars that were cool. Any 20 year old cars nowadays that are cool? Maybe the DeLorean.

Yep, we've got control. And we need instill care in the culture, because we've taken that control while maintaining the older beliefs.

And Mark, if you practice what you preach, then I think you're an "us", along with me, and I can't imagine what in my, or even Topspin's, rantings is setting you off. Are we hitting some hidden nerve?

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:16+00 by: Larry Burton

I think what is setting Mark off is the same thing that sets me off from time to time. While I agree with most of what you and Topspin are saying, I've had the advantage of knowing both of you long enough and well enough to also hear what you are not saying, every now and then a little something ya'll say on this topic has me thinking, "you don't have a clue as to the reality here." It's minor and I don't even have an example to give you on it but it happens. It can't help but happen. There are things you can't know until you do. If Mark doesn't know you as well as I do then its easy to read more into what you say than you say.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:17+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger


Larry sounds like he knows where I'm coming from here, especially when he says:

every now and then a little something ya'll say on this topic has me thinking, "you don't have a clue as to the reality here."

When you complain about "breeders", it can sound like you are complaining about all parents since you don't have children. Parents could be understandably ticked by the way you talk about "breeders". Oh, and posting pointers to tasteless websites doesn't help people who don't know you to hold you in high esteem.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not trying to tell you to act a certain way. But you must understand that you cannot act in a way that shocks many people's sensibilities without any consequences. People (parents especially) will misunderstand how much you value good parenting when they only see you ridiculing people who are doing a poor job of parenting (or children in general as the above link seems to do).

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:18+00 by: Dan Lyke

So if that's tasteless, how do you feel about Swift's A Modest Proposal?

#Comment made: 2001-07-19 17:21:51+00 by: topspin [edit history]

I'd support forced education for those who hate babies .... and those who can't recognize satire.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:18+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger

I admit it has been a while since I read Sprogopolis, and when I posted the above I was low on sleep, and feeling sensitive....