Monday, December 10, 2007

Siren Call of Parents Rights

WE SUPPORT PARENTAL RIGHTS — that looks reasonable on a picket sign or news release. Who are these people and why shall we continue to see...and hear...more of them?

Some key points in this first of a series include:
  • Many very different interest groups use the term for very disparate concepts.
  • Some of these groups have, to use the standard winger term, an agenda.
  • They've been following their strategy and tactics for years and will continue to do so.
  • Many are willing and eager to strip rights from everyone else to create new ones for themselves.
  • They are going to be more and more in our ears and eyes, and courts.

What Do You Mean?

Political activists, particularly those on the right have become very good at creating boffo slogans or at the least hiding their intent behind high-minded and benign-sounding terms. The parents' rights folk haven't coined that catchy slogan, but are real good at the latter.

Who could argue with giving rights to parents to raise their kids? What could be more sensible and fair, eh? Before we feel too warm and approving, let's ask who is using parents or parental rights lingo.

Among the many definitions, each with their own set of organizations, websites and publicity, are new or expanded rights and privileges for:
  • sperm donors to see or have some custody
  • more latitude when investigated by child protective agencies
  • divorced parents' visitation
  • looser home-schooling requirements
  • vouchers and tax breaks for non-public schools
  • accommodations for scholastically advanced students or those who need remedial help
  • access to library records of minor children
  • freedom to use corporal punishment on children (and even wives)
  • grandparents' visitation
  • parent-specified limits on what teachers and even students can discuss in classrooms
  • removal of specified books from school and public libraries

Jack-in-the-Box

Our own most noted local case is was the manufactured one of the Mad Dad, joined by his wife and later another couple from Lexington. It is instructive because they have followed the precise agenda of related groups in other states. We'll surely see more of these situations in many locations. They pop up like a jack-in-the-box.

The Lexington case is a good example for several reasons. First, the groups assert rights they don't have, often claiming such rights predate the concepts of government and laws themselves. Then, they engineer a confrontation. When they lose that, they simultaneously find pliant lawmakers to advance bills for them and bring civil suits claiming their imagined rights were violated. Beyond this, they often have enough sub rosa donations to appeal their court loses, both getting more attention and holding on to the hope of eventual legal victories.

The real aim is to undermine existing shared rights to carve out expanded or new ones in the specific areas they want. It's such that has attracted the watchful eyes of such lefty groups as People for the American Way. Over a decade ago, they published a detailed analysis of 'Parental Rights' Initiatives, which they called The Trojan Horse of the Religious Right Attack on Public Education.

Future posts here will detail some of the legislative and judicial efforts of self-described parents-rights groups. Meanwhile, without being too paranoid about it, I'd note that the Mad Dad types are not just kindly and high-minded parents. They do have an agenda, one that would harm kids and families alike, as well as undermine education and established freedoms.

We aware that their aims are control of shared pubic rights. They are not going away, even after numerous defeats and proof that they are a tiny minority. Unfortunately, the Mad Dad is not unique.

Part two on the attack of the control people is here. An overview of this mini-movement's aims is here. The assaults on ideas and books in schools and libraries is here.

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