Sunday, November 10, 2019

"What About the Children?!": Youth Rights Before Parental Police States

"What about the children?!" Some haggard disembodied voice wails from my flickering TV set, jerking me awake from the Ambien-grade slumber that any more than 15 minutes of C-Span inevitably delivers. It's happened a thousand times before. The voice almost always belongs to some sobbing middle-aged white woman, overdressed like June Cleaver for some senate hearing on the dangers of one victimless crime or another, online prostitution or E-cigarettes or satanic Portuguese techno, always something new, always something to be terrified of. Part of me feels for the woman, I really do. She's usually lost a child to something or other. She's clearly in pain. But another disgraceful part of me wants to tell her to shut the fuck up and take some goddamn responsibility for your own life. Because, beneath the theatrics, 9 times out of 10, this pearl-clutching stock character is really saying "I couldn't find the time to parent my dead child, so now the police state has to pick up the slack!" And the Wall Street whores of Washington take their cue and start passing more pointless legislation.

I know, I know, I'm a cunt. In today's era of 24/7 stage 4 late capitalism, many parents are too busy working 80 shifts for peanuts to so much as even check in on their kids. But the wailing woman on C-Span is rarely a blue collar casualty. She and her ilk, who fill the ranks of an endless barrage of parental guilt trip lobbies like MADD are almost always well connected, upper middle class, office drones, who's kids dropped dead while they were busy paying off the Beamer or banging the European tennis instructor. And now they're busy boycotting Juul or Marilyn Manson or whatever suburbia's chosen monster of the week happens to be, while the rest of their brood are at home with some over medicated nanny, experimenting with dryer sheets or some such nonsense. This army of rambling soccer moms call themselves children's rights advocates and "What about the children?!" is the manic war cry they shout just before decapitating your, as well as their own damn children's rights.

I have long considered myself to be an advocate of youth rights, the bra-less lesbian sister of the children's rights movement. I don't have any kids, nor do I really want them, but I identify very strongly with kids because, in a sense, I still am one. Most queer people, especially trans people like me, never really leave their teens emotionally. That's where the trauma of having a biological determination that seems to belong to every adult in your life, from your parents to your teachers to your doctors, begins. And in a odd sense, all kids are queer in that they still haven't done enough experimenting to figure out who or what the fuck they really are yet. And that's the divide between children's rights and youth rights. Youth rights acknowledges the basic fact that kids have a right to experiment, they have a right to fuck up, and they're going to do it with or without the approval of the adults in the children's right's nanny state.

Who were you when you were 14? It's a simple question that the C-Span barkers never seem to find the time to contemplate. What did you do with your misbegotten youth? If you were lucky, you had the time of your life doing stupid shit, smoking and drinking stupid things and crashing your parents car afterwords. Getting knocked up by some twenty-something parking lot urchin and then selling your old bike to pay for the Plan B. You fucked up. You did thoughtless moronic crap just to see if you could and you survived. And every once in a while somebody didn't, and it was tragic, but it was also inevitable. Not every hatchling tortoise survives the gulls. What makes humans so goddamn special. Trial and error is how all animals evolve. Remove that imperative and you cripple a generation or worse.

But the children's rights set doesn't see it this way. That's because what they really advocate has nothing to do with their children's rights. It's all about parent's rights. They infantilize their own children and reduce them to the voiceless property of the state, to be molded and guided by a managerial class of  tenured teachers, overworked bureaucrats and professional adults. And this is where kids really get hurt. When you deny someone's basic rights to individual autonomy, you make abuse by those who police it inevitable. Just ask anyone lucky enough to survive the foster care system. They'll tell you they would have been safer on the streets. Equality matters in this country for blacks, queers and disabled folk. Why not for children? You really care about the fucking children? Then treat them a little more like people and a little less like pets.

So what is the answer then? How do we keep kids away from vaping and "assault style" weaponry? The hard answer is you don't. If you really want democracy, it almost always comes with a side of danger. But I do have two suggestions on what we could do, and you're probably not going to like either of them. The first is lower the age for everything to 14, voting, drinking, sex, driving, smoking. I know, blasphemy right? I'm not saying that we should do this to encourage such behavior (especially voting.) I'm saying we do this to acknowledge the very simple fact that we can't prevent young adults from engaging in consensual behavior, even stupid consensual behavior. They're going to find a way to do it anyways. We all did. Let's at least take it out of the shadows and leave these kid's decisions up to them and their families to figure out, rather than the cold probe of the faceless federal government.

My second suggestion is much easier but no less provocative. Turn off the TV, put down the picket sign, shut the fuck up and listen to your kids. You might be surprised to find out that they're human beings too. Give them the respect they deserve by allowing them to speak for themselves and maybe they'll return the favor with an honest relationship. Crazy hippie shit from the tranny anarchist, I know. But give it a shot, at least before you end up on C-Span wailing "What about the children?!" Your kids will thank you by pissing you off six feet above sea level.

Peace, Love & Empathy- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack; songs that influenced this post

*  Cherry Bomb by the Runaways
*  Kids In the Dark by Bat For Lashes
*  Go Home by Julien Baker
*  Children In Heat by the Misfits
*  The Suburbs by Arcade Fire
*  Lookers by the Menzingers
*  Bad Kids by Black Lips
*  Looking For a Kiss by New York Dolls
*  Panic by the Smiths
*  Bae by the Front Bottoms


  1. The way anarcho-capitalists usually deal with this subject is twofold:

    1. Children are dependents, and as such, can be controlled to a certain extent by their parents, but should have the option of:

    a. Establishing maturity by some reasonably objective means or
    b. Have some mechanism whereby they can choose different parents or guardians, provided that these new guardians are willing to take on the responsibility of taking care of new dependents.

    2. As far as the law itself restricting children's activities, I don't see this as legitimate, as, if we are really going to have religious liberty (or even freedom of conscience in general), we can't simply have a blanket law that says: no sex, no drugs, no alcohol. As far as driving is concerned, your mind is too focused on the current statism. The privilege of driving should not be up to the state at all, it should properly be up to the owners of the roads, and to the insurance companies those owners authorize to issue drivers’ "licenses".

    But what about the threat of incest? Frankly, I don't see how a blanket law against incest is consistent with religious liberty, as there have certainly been some societies in human history whose predominant religious beliefs sanctioned incest. In the real world, protection against incest by parents could be achieved by either establishing maturity, if possible, or choosing new parents.

    When I was a young teen, my father let me experiment with gunpowder, he even bought me the Potassium Nitrate I needed to make it with. I set the roof on fire and could have easily burnt down the house. Should my father have gone to jail for that, or should I have been placed in "protective custody?" How in all that's Holy would that have benefited me? My father and mother were probably a little bit "hands off" in parenting style for some people's taste, and perhaps I could have used a little more guidance, but, fuck, I thank them to this day that they let me be whoever I wanted to be, and never, ever, made me feel worthless.

    Your basic point is well taken, that a little less "clamping down" by society would result in children turning into more responsible adults. There may be a few casualties, but I would think there would be many fewer than in the current society where parents and the State make so many kids feel worthless and hate themselves enough to commit suicide. Not to mention, getting rid of the State in general would result in far fewer families in poverty, which is what causes most family conflict.

    Here's a link to a book you might be interested in titled "Super Parents Super Children":

    While I have not read the entire book, I figure it must be OK when a reviewer said, "These two are the worst parents in the world."

  2. I agree with you on pretty much everything. My suggestion for lowering the age of this and that should be viewed as advice on guidelines for post-state societies. I don't believe the federal government has the right to exist, so their guidelines are mute.

    1. You have presented a genuinely refreshing point of view. Usually conservatives and others who shout the loudest about "personal responsibility" are the ones who most wish to deny people even the chance of exercising personal responsibility. But I know you are not a conservative, you are a "reasonable radical."

      Just looked at a weather map and it looks like you guys are in a deep freeze. We are slightly below average but far more typical than you guys for this time of year. Today, though, my beautiful solid black cat Twilight came in from outside looking more like marble than ebony, as he was covered from head to tail with splotches of snow, as we had a pretty good heavy wet snowfall all day.

    2. Yeah, it's fucking evil out there. Pussy shit compared to the Rockies, though.

      Nobodies ever called me "reasonable" before. I'm almost tempted to get offended.

  3. The "unreasonable" person is often viewed as quite reasonable by her fellow rebels. Just being in the minority does not make one objectively "unreasonable," just as one being in the majority is no guarantee of being right.

    1. I know. It's a punk rock thing. "If it stands, tear it down." I think is how Chuck Dukowski of Black Flag put it. I have a long history of contrarian tendencies. Not a whole lot of Rothbardian Bookchinites out there. I always root for the underdog, even if the underdog is a "villain."