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Parents and Culture

[This was meant to go on tpmcafe.com, but the interface there has me completely defeated, so I'm putting it here and I'll figure out how to copy it over later.]

I've avoided jumping in to any previous flare-ups of the question, "Should Democrats talk more about violent video games, sex on TV, etc.?" But the way that Garance Franke-Ruta framed the question this week in her inter-office argument made me think I might have a few small points to add.

First, her starting point, which is that Democrats have to be particularly concerned about the drop off in support from married women with children is unarguably correct. Part of the reason this is a particular concern is that the distance between being a young unmarried woman -- and voting Democratic -- and being a married woman with children is not a lot of years. We're not talking about something inherent in these individuals, but a change in their priorities or perceptions over a relatively short period of time. That's the kind of thing a political party has to be able to do something about. (Unlike young white men, who are Republican when they're single and stay Republican.)

I remember once hearing the insufferably cutesy-poo Republican pollster Kellyanne Fitzpatrick opine that women became Republicans when they acquired the "three M's: Marriage, Mortgage and Munchkins." Please don't let that be true! There's no reason for it to be true.

But that means addressing what those parents are concerned about, and sure, the "coarsening of the culture" and the sense of a loss of control over the influences on our kids is a big one. I'm largely what Garance calls an "adolescent libertarian" on cultural matters, but I ran back pretty fast yesterday when I heard my 4-year-old, who I'd left playing some sort of Flash game on the Disney web site, say, "Dad, I clicked something and I think I got somewhere I'm not supposed to be." (It turned out to be some sort of Bounty design-your-own-paper-towel site, which is harmless as long as she doesn't click "purchase.")

A few points to make about this issue:

First, this is one of those issues about which the only reasonable reaction is an ambivalent one, and it's fair to assume that many of those who say they're concerned about culture in this way have a similarly ambivalent or complex reaction. That is, they want some greater sense of control on the influences on their children, but they suspect that any legal solution will either be ineffective or will have negative consequences. Likewise with any technological solution, like the V-chip or internet parental controls. That doesn't lessen the concern, though, and parents want to feel that politicians understand that concern.

Second, be careful about assuming that this is an area where there's a lot of opportunity for left-right alliances. I noticed this in the mid-1990s, when Bill Bradley started talking about some of these issues: you can quickly find yourself in bed with people who seem to be talking about the same thing, but whose real gripe is with the positive portrayal of gay people, single parents and sexually active single people in the media. I remember once being asked by another Senator's office whether Bradley would endorse a study of sex and violence in the media. They sent over the study, two-thirds of which consisted of a second-by-second analysis of every moment on the now quaint Melrose Place when Matt, the gay character, had mentioned going on a date with a man, had referred to a man as "hot," etc., e.g., "9:47: A man is seen leaving Matt's apartment in the morning as they exchange a knowing glance." As far as I'm concerned the impulse that leads to that "study" is as disturbing as anything else in our culture, perhaps more.

Third, avoid "policy literalism." Just because people in polls say, "I'm concerned about sex and violence in the media," doesn't mean that the only response is to propose a law that would somehow limit sex and violence in the media. Remember that typically the next sentence out of a parent's mouth is something like, "I can't be with him 24 hours a day." The part of the concern that government can do something about is that parents' don't feel they have enough time to understand all the external influences on their kids and help them deal with them. So a well-constructed way of talking about the time pressures of the modern economy is fully responsive to the concern about values. Karen will have more to say about this, I expect.

Fourth, there may be an opportunity here for a broader shift in the debate about the market and government. This was the argument that my friend David Callahan made in the New Republic in January: that going after Hollywood was "a golden opportunity to please [Democrats'] base and swing voters at the same time--to complain about market capitalism run amok, about the public interest subverted, and about moral decline." The argument would be that, "when financial self-interest is touted as one of society's greatest virtues, as it has been lately, individuals will behave badly," and that includes Enron and other examples of the breakdown in corporate ethics, but it also includes selling lowest-common-denominator culture to kids, only because it makes money.

In short, there's no question about whether to address these concerns. How to address them is another matter.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on June 9, 2005 | Permalink

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Comments

I must say I am almost sympathetic to the censors' argument when I hear my little brother talk about the things he hears from the other kids on his bus. It's all South Park and crude sex jokes and talking about websites with content that, while not porn, is damn close. The problem is, he's in third grade. And it seems like it's having an effect. He's already developing a lot of neuroses about sex, love, marriage, and what not. He's always talking about how he doesn't want to get married, and I think that's in part because he knows married people have sex, and that scares him. My experience with him has made it clear to me that kids should not be exposed to too much sex too soon, but there's no way to insure that without censorship, because there's always going to be some kids with more lenient or absent parents who's seen all the things that are forbidden, and because they're forbidden they take on the extra aura of the strange and mysterious. Add to that the social cache of being the kid that has access to the Forbidden, and you have tremendous incentives for kids to try to subvert any parental control on what they watch.

Posted by: Greg | Jun 9, 2005 5:46:18 PM

And there are different kinds of concerns about culture. I mean, I hate the modern neoconservative movement, but I was once sympathetic to some of their cultural concerns, i.e., I understood why Hilton Kramer felt the way he did..

My buggest cultural concern is that Latin isn't available in enough schools, and that even the good ones don't start the kids early enough (10, 11-or 12 say). That isn't really about being afraid of sex. After all, there's some pretty racy stiff in Catullus. I kind of doubt that the issue would be a huge vote getter though.

Posted by: Abby | Jun 9, 2005 6:09:13 PM

And there are different kinds of concerns about culture. I mean, I hate the modern neoconservative movement, but I was once sympathetic to some of their cultural concerns, i.e., I understood why Hilton Kramer felt the way he did..

My buggest cultural concern is that Latin isn't available in enough schools, and that even the good ones don't start the kids early enough (10, 11-or 12 say). That isn't really about being afraid of sex. After all, there's some pretty racy stiff in Catullus. I kind of doubt that the issue would be a huge vote getter though.

Posted by: Abby | Jun 9, 2005 6:09:13 PM

Look, why not just bite the bullet and take on the underlying problem. We live in a society that has elevated the free market to supernatural levels - no matter what our religious beliefs we worship at the altar of the market. The fact is the market only works in a limited sphere of human activity. Would anyone here trust the free market to provide health care? Education?, Day care? And, of course the market makes this medium's number one "killer application" pornography. If married women with children lean GOP maybe its because they use ersatz concern for the pressures of life part of their message. In reality their programs cause that pressure. Treat those realities - Health care, schools, day care, economic stagnation that forces women with children to work whether they want to or not, and see if the GOP keeps its advantage.

Posted by: richard lo cicero | Jun 9, 2005 8:31:55 PM

Remember that typically the next sentence out of a parent's mouth is something like, "I can't be with him 24 hours a day."

I like where you're going with this line, Mark. The problem isn't that people say "sh*t" on television; the problem is that parents have to work so hard to pay for the bare essentials of living in America today that television becomes a babysitter. Providing things like universal health care, fair taxation, mandated vacation time, and Social Security mean that people can spend less time worrying about how many hours they'll have to work to keep the electricity on next month and more time thinking about what they're going to do with their kids that evening.

The question Democrats should put towards the parents of America is: do you want less sexy TV or more time to spend with your kids?

The argument would be that, "when financial self-interest is touted as one of society's greatest virtues, as it has been lately, individuals will behave badly," and that includes Enron and other examples of the breakdown in corporate ethics, but it also includes selling lowest-common-denominator culture to kids, only because it makes money.

I don't like where you're going with this at all.

Posted by: RMG | Jun 9, 2005 9:05:07 PM

My anecdotal evidence suggests something very different which is that the megachurches are one of the few organizations that provide support for women who are somewhat surprised at how hard it is to quit work and become a soccer mom. I see people joining these churches when they get to the "3 M's." The megachurches function somewhat the way the Women's Lib movement did in the late 60's/early 70's except they are pushing women to the right rather than the left as a way of coping with their predicament.

Posted by: SusanJ | Jun 9, 2005 10:59:47 PM


The Republican Party exists to help business screw the rest of us. The Democratic Party's mission is to use government to protect the rest of us from private power. Liberals who grasp this when discussing economic policy -- social security, environmental regulation, workplace safety, etc. -- have a real blind spot about the ways that many Americans are bothered by unchecked corporate culture. It should not take children to appreciate that so much of mass culture is dreck, and that as a society, we can aspire to do better. Anyone who listens to NPR should be able to appreciate that free markets do not give us the culture we want and need.

Posted by: Tyrone Slothrop | Jun 10, 2005 12:49:06 AM

From a marketing perspective, the Republicans have owned the moral scold mind category since the twin barbarisms of polygamy and slavery.

Perhaps the Democrats shouldn't try to beat them at that category--they could always invent a new category, one that fits the basic DNA of the dems. Maybe its too subtle a difference--but how about being the party of ethics "I choose to..." rather than that of stern patriarchal morality "Thall Shalt Not!"

And, oh by the way did we mention that Marriage is a healther institution in Blue States than in the Red zones?

Posted by: Porco Rosso | Jun 10, 2005 8:55:23 AM

I am one of the young, single, socially left-leaning women of whom you speak. Though I am atypical in that I don't desire marriage at all and actively, to put it bluntly, dislike children. However, I'm also from a family of educators and so I am sympathetic to the struggles and concerns of working parents.

I understand, in an admittedly intellectual way, your reaction to "Daddy, I clicked on something I shouldn't have." But as a single adult, I should be able to watch/read what I want to watch/read, and a lot of what I choose to watch/read is not suitable for children. The problem with government regulation is that it's all-encompasing. It will not only affect parents and children, it will affect me too and I'm selfish enough to have a problem with that.

You want to encourage a better rating system? Fine. You want to put parental advisory stickers on various types of media? Go for it. You want volutary controls (i.e. V-chips and website filters) that can be turned on and off? I'm with you. Parents should have as many tools and as much help as possible in determining and choosing for their children.

But after that, after the ratings and the warning labels and the voluntray controls (all of which already exist, btw), what's next? What's the next step here, if it's not "recommendations" that come dangerously close to government censorship? Lobby the entertainment industry, ask them to show some restraint and take some care. Outside organizations are welcome to organize boycotts.

But I should be allowed to watch Desperate Housewives just as it is, and to see any "controversial" movie I want, because I'm an adult and that's what I choose to do.

Posted by: NYCmoderate | Jun 10, 2005 11:47:21 AM

Since no one has picked up on my comment let me try to say it more clearly. I don't think women become Republicans because they are appalled by the appalling sex and violence in media. I think they first become part of an organized religion (specifically right-wing Christianity) because this type of church provides them support for the very genuine problems they encounter as a result of the 3M's and then they second start voting Republican. The need to protect their children from the evil media is a second-order problem but actually positive in that it helps these women justify staying home with their kids rather than continuing to work.

I think that what is going on here is similar to what Frank brought out in "What's the Matter with Kansas?" These women don't realize that their real problems--lack of good daycare, poor public schools, having to spend a huge amount of time driving their kids around a suburbia with no public transportation, the glass ceiling, the increase in working hours for professionals, etc.--are not the fault of us evil liberal Dems.

Posted by: SusanJ | Jun 10, 2005 1:10:44 PM

"But as a single adult, I should be able to watch/read what I want to watch/read, and a lot of what I choose to watch/read is not suitable for children. The problem with government regulation is that it's all-encompasing. It will not only affect parents and children, it will affect me too and I'm selfish enough to have a problem with that."

I should also be able to discriminate in selling my home to anyone I want. I should not be required to pay taxes to fund welfare to lazy people. I should be able to run red lights with impunity.

It's called living in a community. If you actively dislike children, I'm sorry (should we ban them for you?), but you don't have the right to ignore their interests just because you don't have them or want them.

I'm not for censorship per se and I certainly think people should be able to watch what they want in the privacy of their homes (that's why they have DVDs, for example, and books), but I don't think it's unreasonable for society to set some limits on what goes over the public airwaves. At one time, we had George Carlin railing about the 7 words you couldn't say on TV; now you can say all of them and what have we gained? The current FCC has gone off the deepend, but I don't think that means we have to allow ANYTHING on the air.

As for the stuff about lack of childcare, bad public schools, not enough time, etc., that misses the point. These are problems but even in the days of Leave It to Beaver, parents couldn't monitor their kids 24/7. Is it so unreasonable to expect a society in which parents don't have to monitor EVERYTHING their kids watch? Is it so unreasonable to not have to explain why people have bumperstickers like "Don't like my driving? Eat Shit." Look, I'm not a prude, I certainly use my share of bad language, and I like Desparate Housewives, but, as a parent (but even if I wasn't a parent) there is no safe harbor from the constant barrage of crudity and nastiness that is our culture. I'm sorry--culture is a problem. I'm not trying to say people shouldn't sleep together or any crap like that; the religious fundamentalists are idiots but that doesn't mean that the culture isn't a legitimate issue. I see 13 year old girls dressing like street walkers, flaunting their sexuality. If you want to argue that that's ok, then you obviously don't have kids.

I honestly don't know how to translate these concerns into public policy. I don't want to turn the US into Iran. But you can't just give culture a pass because Hollywood is Democratic.

Posted by: Marc Schneider | Jun 10, 2005 2:04:59 PM

It's called living in a community. If you actively dislike children, I'm sorry (should we ban them for you?), but you don't have the right to ignore their interests just because you don't have them or want them.

No, I stay away from children by my own choice, and if you'd read the rest of my post, you would see that i'm fine with all the monitoring and stickering and rating and labeling and v-chipping that you want to do.

But I have rights too and you aren't better than I am or more worthy of rights than I am just because you made the decision to have children. I'm an adult and if I want to want watch legal pornography in the privacy of my own home, no one should be able to tell me I can't just because the mere existence of it is bad for children.

I'm not forcing it on children. I'm even going so far as to agree that many systems should be put in place to keep it away from them.

I'm offended, quite frankly, by the suggestion that I'm ignoring their interests. You know what? I get no direct benefit from any of the tax dollars that go into public schools or tax credits for families or healthcare for children and families (but never for itinerent workers like me) or any of the other millions of local, state and federal programs that I support financially. No matter who's in the White House and Congress, I'm not getting any of the tax cuts. And all that's fine because this is a community and families do have a greater need than mine (generally speaking), and I'm benefitted in a less direct way by a society of well-educated, non-violent chlidren.

But you don't then get to turn around and tell me I'm ignoring their interests just because I want one thing--my entertainment--to be dictated by my own desires and not what's best for children.

Posted by: NYCmoderate | Jun 10, 2005 3:16:05 PM

NYCmoderate,

I agree, you have every right to watch pornography in your own home. With a DVD. All I'm saying is that we as a society have a legitimate interest in setting some reasonable standards for what is on TV. I'm not saying anything else. You have plenty of options for watching pornography or anything else.

Posted by: Marc Schneider | Jun 10, 2005 4:29:33 PM

Marc,

The problem is that it doesn't stop there. Sen. Stevens and others are already proposing that broadcast decency standards be applied not only to pay cable, but also to premium channels like HBO and Showtime. No matter how common cable TV is, it is in fact still a paid service for which you have to actively sign up. To the best of my knowledge, no one is forced to have cable and certainly, no one is forced to watch it (which goes for broadcast too, btw). How then is that any different from what's available to buy on DVD?

Do I think we should have ala carte cable so that parents can pay for cable news and sports, but not MTV and USA? I've thought they should do that for many years, but the combination of big media companies invested in the current packaging system and the Dobsonites who don't want to let this go as a wedge won't let that happen.

Plus what is pornography? You said you like Desperate Housewives. Well, a lot of people would say that it's borderline indecent if it's not there already, that the treatment of sex on the show is immoral and dangerous.

The problem, as always, is where is the line? And if it's the government doing the line-drawing, then isn't there an inherent danger that things you don't find in the least offensive will not be merely recommended against but banned outright just because other people may find them offensive?

Posted by: NYCmoderate | Jun 10, 2005 5:59:33 PM

So let me get this straight: most single women are Democrats, and most single men are Republicans. But when they get married, they both tend to become Republicans.

Umm... do I have to connect the dots here?

Could it be simply that a certain number of wives in America vote the way their husbands tell them to?

Is it OK to say that out loud?

Not that I agree with that practice, but we'd be foolish to pretend it doesn't happen. Even in the 21st century and all.

Posted by: Frank Bruno | Jun 10, 2005 7:16:55 PM

I'm sorry, NYCmoderate, but somebody who says that "I don't like children" is like somebody saying "I don't like black people." I think something is wrong with you. You don't have to want children, but you should have some appreciation that childhood is a universal human experience, and one that must go well for good adults to be made.

If you can't accept a major part of humanity, you don't have a place in a discussion with me or any inclusive political party about how humanity should govern itself.

Posted by: Buford P. Stinkleberry | Jun 11, 2005 7:14:14 PM

Mr. Stinkleberry,

I think you don't understand. You criticize people who don't like kids, because you assume those people don't care or want children to have good lives so that they can grow up to be good adults. There is no necessary relationship between the two propositions.

Your second paragraph changes the topic again, saying people who don't like kids don't "accept" kids. Again, no necessary relationship exists between the two, and least not that I can see.

Comparing kids to Blacks is inappropriate. Children can't discuss politics, literature, good food, travel, history, work, they are dependent, they need discipline, they need knowledge, they are expensive, they are tied to their parents for many years.

People who don't like kids generally don't want to have them or be around them. They don't like any or all of the subjects I mentioned above. Hopefully, most Americans agree that kids are most likely to grow into decent adults if they have good schools, good parents, good experiences. Older adults and Californians are famous for thinking otherwise. Perhaps those who are gleefully accepting their huge tax cuts join the ranks of those who don't care about society as a whole. Is this a good place to use the word "responsible," as in lack thereof?

Posted by: AE | Jun 13, 2005 10:25:08 PM

Excellent point, NYCmoderate. The question is always where to draw the line, and government efforts to define "decency" generally fail. I don't find Desperate Housewives to be indecent (or pornographic), I just find it to be a lousy show. We may wish there were some obvious line that could be drawn to separate decency from indecency, but there isn't, and this means that governmental interference in culture necessarily fails. And, worse, leads to the stifling of freedom and the censorship of art (Saving Private Ryan, anyone?).

I've made some of these same comments both at my own blog (see link below) and at TPM Cafe, but they bear repeating.

To be clear, I do worry about the so-called coarsening of the culture, and, though not yet a parent, I do worry about the exposure of children to what is at times an awfully vulgar culture. But this, to me, requires responsible parenting, education that prepares young people for an increasingly complex cultural environment, and a recognition that, in many cases, the world of adulthood should be closed to children. The great cultural critic Neil Postman once wrote about the disappearance of childhood, that is, the breakdown of the necessary divide between childhood and adulthood, and he was, as usual, right on the mark. But what we don't need is censorship. There need to be barriers to prevent children from accessing what is specifically "adult" culture, such as pornography or even certain mainstream movies, but adults, in my view, should be able to access such adult content freely and without fear of recrimination.

But, let's face it, even such cultural libertarianism has its limits. This is the problem that plagues all liberals. We want liberty, not licence, but where is the line between the two? Liberty at its limits, after all, resembles licence, and the two ultimately become one and the same. For example, I support the legality of pornography for adults, but clearly I don't support all pornography: some crosses the line, the moral line that I set somewhere out on the fringes, but my line might not be your line and I may find myself in disagreement even with accepted communal standards, which are themselves constantly in flux. So what to do? Perhaps the answer is not the draw some firm legal line between acceptable and unacceptable "culture," but rather simply to acknowledge that the issue is complex and that absolutism will get us nowhere.

Ultimately, the rule of law must prevail, and that means the usual interplay between different branches of government, with different interests balanced against one another and transient public opinion set against constitutional safeguards. And this means that different communities will have somewhat different standards of what constitutes appropriate culture. As long as individual liberty is protected, and as long as public policy does not descend into the quagmire of censorship, I'm not sure that's such a bad thing.

Either we allow that culture, however defined, is some nebulous concept that defies easy moralizing, and hence requires common sense mixed with a commitment to balance the competing claims of individual liberty and communal norms, or we give in to absolutism, either of the left or the right, and end up with a thoroughly impractical solution to the problem.

Posted by: Michael Stickings | Jun 13, 2005 11:18:09 PM

"Older adults and Californians are famous for thinking otherwise."

How can you make a generalization like this and expect to be taken seriously?

Look, children are special cases. They are highly sensitive and impressionable in ways that adults are not, and they need a certain amount of protection from the excesses of the marketplace.

And I maintain that if you actively dislike kids, as NYCmoderate claims to, something is on some level wrong with you. I think substituting "black" for kids in this instance is perfectly appropriate. Accepting children is much like accepting black people if you're caucasian....were talking about you accepting "others," humans that are different from you.

Saying you "dislike" them is very different from saying you don't find much in common with them and aren't particularly interested in spending time with them.

And I pity you if you can't take joy in children, in the same way I pity a person who can't see the profound beauty of a sunset, or a particular piece of music. You're missing out on a huge piece of what makes life special.

Posted by: Buford P. Stinkleberry | Jun 14, 2005 12:40:33 AM

I am very sorry to be slightly off-topic but there is one question I am struggling to find an answer to.
I have never been to USA and nor can talk to many americans but I have heard on several occasions that many american teenagers find it very difficult to divide 111/3 without a calculator or they add fractions 2/3+1/4 like (2+1)/(3+4). Is it a fact or just some sort of "ideological talk"?
I am not trying to make a joke!
Thanks.

Posted by: yuryr | Jun 14, 2005 5:11:25 AM

Older adults and Californians don't like to pay taxes to support schools. Californians still have not repealed Prop. 13; their schools are 49th? in the country and they are a very wealthy state.

I know of places that do not inform nursing homes, senior living places, or certain parts of their community that have a high older adult (=senior) population that a vote on a tax increase for schools is coming up. One of the important factors for retirees looking to move is taxes. They don't like them.

I don't equate the words 'like' and 'accept' at all.

I think saying I dislike x is equivalent to saying I don't want to spend time with them, we have nothing in common.

I should have commented on this:

"If you can't accept a major part of humanity, you don't have a place in a discussion with me or any inclusive political party about how humanity should govern itself."

Well, you may be excluding quite a few people. There is a trend away from having kids, for one thing. For another, many people who have kids have them under pressure from a spouse or other familial/social pressures, not because they like them.

Does anyone else want to kick people who don't like kids out of the Democratic Party?

Posted by: AE | Jun 14, 2005 9:45:05 AM

No, I just want people who "dislike" children to not be involved in making policy involving children. Basically this kind of self-selection happens automatically anyway in political activity.

What I'm really talking about here is that a person has the gall to "dislike" something and then proclaim that they can fairly make policy about it.. Is that clear enough?

Did I ever say anything about "kicking people out of any party"? No, but you certainly seem to enjoy projection of motives and a disregard for political and electoral structures. For example, you seem to imply that all Californians support something merely because it is law, without regard to election and legal dynamics (i.e. the effect of supermajority requirements in ballot initiatives) Subtlety and detail are not your strengths.

Posted by: Buford P. Stinkleberry | Jun 14, 2005 11:05:40 AM

Perhaps the answer is not the draw some firm legal line between acceptable and unacceptable "culture," but rather simply to acknowledge that the issue is complex and that absolutism will get us nowhere.

If I can, I'd like to make sure I understand your argument. I've heard sentiments like this before in other debates on public policy - that one needs to acknowledge there is some problem out there (however nebulous and difficult to define it might be) that needs solving before one delves into specific policy solutions. Colloquially you might phrase this as, "You know, there oughta be a law..." Here, it's that parents are worried about the corrosive effects of corporate culture on the intellectual and moral development of their children. Dismissing the debate out-of-hand is narrow-mindedness disguised as high-mindedness. That's how I understand your (and probably Mark's) argument, and I hope that's a fair reading of it.

My response would be: is not speech special? Of course, liberalism means a positive vision of government to help improve the lives of citizens, but speech (and television, movies, records, etc.) seems like such a sine qua non for a democratic, free society that it's a category off-limits from government regulation. I'm reading the Federalist Papers right now, and I love this line from James Madison:

"Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency."

Replace "faction" with "South Park," and I think that's a pretty strong rebuttal to your argument.

I'll allow your point that there is a lot of garbage on TV, the movie screen, and the radio, and that yes, much of it certainly has a negative effect on children. But I can't allow your point that liberalism means the government has a right to regulate what a person (or a corporation) can or can't express (which seems to be the only solution government might propose to solve this problem), regardless of its corrosive effect.

South Park is the price we pay for living in a free society, and I've yet to hear a convincing rebuttal to that.

Posted by: RMG | Jun 14, 2005 12:02:50 PM

I'm a mom whose kids are now grown (last one graduating from HS Friday.) I hope I am not considered a priori hostile to kids for agreeing with NYCModerate. When my kids were much younger I vividly remember being very annoyed when listening to a local public radio call-in show regarding Tipper Gore's efforts to have ratings of music CDs placed on the packaging. Many of the callers (lots were avowedly liberal) were scornful of her efforts. THIS is what alienates parents from liberalism. But what NYCModerate suggests is perfectly reasonable.

We don't make everyone who skis stay on the bunny slopes because the advanced slopes are harmful to small children. We ask that the operator of the ski resort label the slopes. Parents can then decide whether their individual child is ready for an advanced slope, or whether to take them skiing at all. Why is paid media any different? As a parent I know it is difficult to say no to a child, but that is a parent's job.

However, as for media that can be received in an unrestricted manner, there is where the old "broadcast decency" rules are much more defensible.

To Mark who is appalled at "13 year old girls dressing like street walkers, flaunting their sexuality", I would say that it is unlikely that many 13 year olds are independently wealthy. Their parents either bought those clothes or funded them. They have the power and the responsibility to say no if they believe that behavior is harmful. I did, and I can assure you that I still have an excellent relationship with my children.

To NYCModerate, I applaud you for knowing your capabilities and limitations. Not everyone is cut out to rear children, and it is not appropriate to exert pressure on those not leaning that way by telling them "you don't have a place in a discussion with me or any inclusive political party." I'm sure NYCModerate makes many contributions to the life of her community in other areas.

Posted by: cafl | Jun 14, 2005 11:14:32 PM

"women became Republicans when they acquired the "three M's: Marriage, Mortgage and Munchkins." Please don't let that be true! There's no reason for it to be true."

Not for me. It was raising teen-agers and starting our own business that gradually turned me into a Republican. The mortgage was paid off.

Posted by: Norma | Jun 15, 2005 8:21:41 PM