The Public Exposure Of Children
After the Sandy Hook shooting, a mother’s blog post about her struggles with her mentally ill son went viral. In response, Sarah Kendzior criticized the mother, Liza Long, for violating her son’s privacy:
Children deserve privacy, especially troubled children. A child does not deserve to have his mother embark on a media tour promoting him as a future mass murderer.
The two women ended up reconciling, and released a joint statement that ended with this:
We both agree that privacy for family members, especially children, is important. Neither of us anticipated the viral response to our posts. We love our children and hope you will respect their privacy.
Our nation has suffered enough in the aftermath of Newtown. We are not interested in being part of a ‘mommy war’. We are interested in opening a serious conversation on what can be done for families in need. Let’s work together and make our country better.
That the attention was not anticipated is important to note. If Liza Long had known she was about to thrust her son and his mental illness into the national spotlight, the result probably would have been much different.
Unfortunately thrusting 8 year olds into the national spotlight is the sort of ends-justify-the-means political strategy the Obama administration is willing to deploy, and the usually dependable Crooks&Liars are all too eager to play along, featuring the letters of Taejah, Grant, Hinna, and Julia.
To put in context the social/emotional development of 8 year olds, consider these behavior traits:
Children need guidance, rules, and limits.
They need help in solving problems.
They are beginning to see things from another child’s point of view, but they still have trouble understanding the feelings and needs of other people.
Many children need help to express their feelings in appropriate ways when they are upset or worried.
The politics of going uber-emotional with kids just a few years older than the 20 victims of Sandy Hook is exploitive, plain and simple. It also opens the door for any opinionated blowhard to lecture children, like this blogger does:
Hinna seems like a nice little girl. Sadly, her parents are the kind of people who don’t mind her being turned into a political pawn.
While the behavior of Hinna’s parents is rather sick, it is President Obama who is the Grade A Loser for ultimately using a little girl as a human shield. Now the “war on women” smear will be converted into a “war on children” for anyone who disagrees with the administration’s proposals. Indeed, if the president was being philosophically honest with the public he would admit that he too subscribes to a third-grader’s logic on the issue: “No guns. No guns. No guns. No guns.” He would admit that deep down he wants an amendment to the Constitution, but that he could never muster the two-thirds supermajority of both Houses of Congress necessary to propose it, and the three-fourths of the states needed for ratification. (Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, but a lot of Obama voters own guns and would never give them up.)
Someone needs to tell Hinna that there are no guns in federal prisons, either — but people still get hurt. Badly. And some of them die incredibly gruesome deaths, too. The federal government controls everything these bad men and women do each day, from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to bed, and criminals still find creative ways to kill each other. And so, the way to have less successful shootings by madmen is not to have a police state that goes around trying to round up all the guns and counting bullets to find out if you have eleven or twelve in a magazine instead of ten — it’s to concentrate more attention on the behavior of madmen.
The problem I have with the above quote is that, for the most part, I agree. And that’s a problem for Obama’s second term momentum.
Did someone say serious conversation? No, hashtag GunAppreciationDayRituals is much more fun (@billmon1):
#GunAppreciationDayrituals Gather by the gun rack in the living room, recite favorite chapters from The Turner Diaries.
#GunAppreciationDayrituals Dress village idiot up as BATF agent, curse and throw mud, have village priest perform symbolic exorcism.
#GunAppreciationDayrituals Try out positions from Carbine Sutra — ancient Hindu guide to gun eroticism.
#GunAppreciationDayritual Abstain from sex with wife (just like every other day, in other words).
I’m not sure the usual scare tactics of invoking extreme right boogeymen (who do actually exist in small numbers, and are kinda scary up close) combined with the emotional appeal of 8 year old children reading letters will be oomph enough to move the needle away from gun worship.
I could be wrong, especially if something else happens.