Wednesday, March 11, 2009

For Bristol Palin: A Rambling, Somewhat Boring, but Nevertheless Heartfelt Post about the dangers of Dogmatism

About three weeks ago, Harrogate triggered a barn-burner of a thread in relation to Bristol Palin's interview on Fox, particularly regarding Rightist reactions to her candid statement that abstinence-only education was not realistic. What was at stake in that thread for Harrogate anyway, was the alacrity with so called moral values pundits were willing to throw Bristol overboard as having no credibility on the issue, because she is a teenager.

While numerous other epistemic issues were raised by Situationers, for Harrogate what remains most interesting about the Rhetoric surrounding Bristol is the extent to which these so called "values" pundits are willing to subjugate any and everything to ideology. They are the type of people Harrogate fears. NOT because they believe in abstinence before marriage. NOT because they are religious. NOT because they are conservatives. But because they pass conviction-town and integrity-ville and then keep right on going up the road to doctrine-istan.

There is a class of person--and you can find them as well on the Left as on the Right, as easily in the secular sphere as in the religious--for whom the actual world, including the myriad human beings occupying it, are like proverbial flies in an otherwise perfect ideological ointment.

But anywho. Now we learn that Bristol and Levi may well be breaking up. What will happen as a result of this, in the Right blogosphere? How will the decision of two high-profile human beings, not to have a shotgun wedding, be received in the ideological matrices that lie in wait? Time will tell.

In the meantime, and on a related note, Harrogate found this recent column by Rebecca Hagelin interesting. Unlike other talking heads that Harrogate has recently linked to on this blog, Hagelin's column has the ring on human authenticity: the "Spring Break" that she arranged for her two college Sons sounds absolutely awesome, and you can tell from, her tone that this is a woman who is writing from a place of joy.

Sigh. But the column is also Heavy on the Doctrine, so much so that much of the value of the piece is lost. For example:

Face it: When an adult in authority stands in front of the classroom and directs graphic discussions of sex in every form, forces boys and girls to sit by each other throughout the humiliating lectures, and then further violates the child's natural tendencies to be private or modest, then you end up with kids who follow what they’ve been taught. On the other hand, when kids are treated with dignity, taught the value of abstinence, and how to avoid placing themselves in compromising situations in the first place, the research shows that more of them do, indeed, respond by adopting a lifestyle of self-control and more responsible behavior than those drowning in "sex ed".

This column is rhetorically interesting to Harrogate because it shows how a compelling piece of writing can be ruined by a tedious effort to make everything "fit."

1 comment:

solon said...

The Spring Break column was interesting, especially as it sows the seeds for the political revolt by the author's children.

Hagelin writes from the language of civic republicanism: the way for a political community survive, and the key for self-government, is to participate in a political community (in this case, the family), practice virtue (the kids will not drink), and control corruption (drinking, Girls Gone Wild, etc).

As parents, the most important thing to do is engage in teenage surveillance: "The kids go back and forth between our houses, so my friend and I both get to spend time with them and listen to their entertaining -- and interesting -- chatter."

Of course, freedom only exits once safety is in place, or, spring break is sanitized for the protection of the kids. Anything that breaks those norms of safety ("mandatory" sex-ed classes that outrage the students-- imagine,students outraged with being presented knowledge that will help them in the "real" world.) And the norms that the parents put in place, to make teenagers feel trashy for using a condom, helps to reassure the parents that what they believe is right even as it leads us to the actions by Bristol Palin. Yeah...further success in society. Where are those WMDs?

Hey... nice dig at educators having low expectations of students. It reminds me of the author's low expectations of everyone else in society (other than her children.)

And teenagers are known for their modesty. That is why they engage in sexting. Of course, where has the column gone?

Oh well. Interesting read. Maybe we will find those WMDs in Iraq after all. Or spread democracy to the world. Or privatize social security. All of these sound like good ideas, even if they are not in "reality."