Gender Identity

I recently read an article by Denise Shick, the author of “My Daddy’s Secret”, “When Hope Seems Lost” and “Understanding Gender Confusion”. In the article, she discusses her father’s journey from identifying as male to identifying as female and how this affected her, her mother and her father. It is an interesting perspective.

My own interest in this subject comes not from an identity crisis but a different type of philosophical crisis. I have spent most of my life walking the thin line between libertarianism and anarchy. I believe strongly in the rights of the individual to live as he/she sees fit, but also recognize the need for individuals to compromise their own self-interest at times, for the sake of a functioning society.

The smallest, most intimate form of society is the family unit. Ms. Shick’s works demonstrate how disruptive one person’s search for self-satisfaction can be on all the other individuals in that family. But is it fair to ask anyone to live a life of quiet desperation for the sake of others? The answer lies in the individual’s level of commitment to the family that will be affected.

Societal norms change. We of a certain age – members of the “Boomer Generation” – have witnessed quite a bit of change. Many of us are shocked by the recent demands for acceptance of untraditional lifestyles. We shouldn’t be. It was our generation that started the movement for individualism. Just because we didn’t predict where it would lead doesn’t mean we aren’t responsible. This is the natural progression of our own acts. We need to own it.

Nor should we be surprised by the breakdown of the family unit. We broke the barriers that had prevented us from living together without marriage. We considered commitment as an unnecessary obstacle to “free love”. If we didn’t need to commit to marriage, it follows that we wouldn’t need to feel any obligation to the well-being of the families we create.

When an individual’s happiness is seen as more important than the happiness of our spouses or our children, the society formally known as “family” is irrelevant. And if we can ignore the well-being of our own families, it is easy to care less about the effect our actions have on the larger society.

We are the original “Me Generation”. This is on us.

Sometimes safety measures make us less safe

Recently, parents in California were charged with child endangerment for letting their kids walk home from the park unattended. That’s old news. You’ve already heard it.

But it got me thinking about my childhood. We walked to and from elementary school without supervision. We rode our bikes to High School because it was too far to walk. Back then, I never saw a kid wearing a helmet unless it was on the football field.

After school, we played in the woods across the road. There weren’t any parks. In the winter, we rode our sleds down the icy slopes, weaving in and out, between the trees.
We took chances and sometimes we got hurt – a scrape, a bruise, and sometimes a broken bone or two – but all my friends and all my classmates survived. That is, until we turned 18 and our government sent many of us to Viet Nam.

Maybe someone should charge Uncle Sam with child endangerment.

Life was risky, but with every risk we learned to make better choices. Kids today don’t have the opportunity to make choices. Experience is a great teacher. Without experience there is less learning. How will our children become adults? Maybe a better question is: What kind of adults will they be?

Many young men and women who went to Iraq and Afghanistan came back in much worse shape than our generation did. Could it be because this generation is less equipped to face obstacles?

You might say kids are safer now. Maybe they are, but I wonder if they are as happy as we were. It’s hard to be happy when you live in fear of so many everyday things. We are teaching them to believe security is more important than freedom when we should be teaching them the value of freedom and the spirit-crushing effects of fear.

Those parents I mentioned earlier said they were raising “free-range” kids. The opposite of “free-range” is “caged”. Is that really what we want for our children? It’s considered inhumane to treat animals that way.
Every effort to make us safer makes us less resilient. We are informed of all the potential dangers in order to convince us of the wisdom of whatever the latest safety fad happens to be.

Growing up, I seem to remember falling off my bike was part of the process of learning to ride. Now we have training wheels. Kids have to wear helmets to avoid hitting their heads if they fall. How can you fall with training wheels? I don’t remember anyone getting a concussion from falling off a bike, but I do remember a few broken teeth. Maybe we should mandate face masks, too. I’m surprised we don’t require seat belts on bikes. Maybe that will be next.

We also didn’t have seat belts or air bags in cars. One of my cousins thought seat belts were a great idea. This was in the ‘60’s when most cars didn’t have them. He paid to have them installed in his convertible and gave seat belts as Christmas gifts. He was afraid for all of us.

He was 19 when he missed a turn and ran off the road. His car rolled down the embankment three times before crashing head-first into a tree, The impact pushed the steering column through his chest, but I’m sure he didn’t feel it. On one of the roll-overs, his head had become detached from his body. Decapitated people don’t feel pain.

Without a seat belt he would have likely been thrown from the car. I can’t know if that would have saved his life, but I do know that being securely strapped in killed him. It was a long time before I could bring myself to fasten a seat belt. I’m still not sure it’s wise.

In order to convince us all to wear them, we were told numerous stories of people who died without one. They never told you about my cousin.
Society’s attitudes change within a generation or two. We’ve been overly protecting our children for a while now, so it shouldn’t surprise us that young adults have been more than willing to give up freedom for security whenever they’re told it’s necessary for National Security.

Those who would trade freedom for a little security will have neither. Remember that the next time you’re told to be afraid. And stop teaching your children to be so cautious.
Paul Anthony

The immoral results of Morality Laws

Fourteen states have passed laws prohibiting sex offenders from living within a specified distance from schools. The distances vary from state to state, depending upon the severity of the perceived threat that sex offenders may pose to our children. Since we still do not feel safe, some have suggested that the distances should be increased.

Most people think of sex offenders as a threat to our children, because when most people think of sex offenders they think of pedophiles. Wanting to protect our children from this horrible aberrant behavior is only natural. Are all sex offenders pedophiles? Are they all a threat to children?

Can you imagine an eighteen-year-old male having sex with his seventeen-year-old girlfriend? You may not approve of such behavior, but if you live in the real world you should not be surprised to hear that it happens. The eighteen-year-old is legally an adult, while his girlfriend is legally a minor. Since he is an adult who had sex with a minor, whom the law says cannot legally consent, he can be prosecuted for statutory rape and labeled a sex offender for the rest of his life. Because she is legally a child and he is legally an adult, he also fits the definition of a pedophile.

Now fast-forward ten years. He is twenty-eight, his wife is twenty-seven and they have two children. It is not likely that their children will be molested by their father, who showed a predilection to have sex with someone merely one year younger than he was.

And yet, these children will have to be bused to school each day, because they will be prohibited from living within walking distance of their school as long as they reside with their parents!

Will our children be made safer by penalizing the children of an alleged sex offender? How will those children be treated by their peers and their parents? Who will explain all this to them?

Of course, not all sex offenders are pedophiles. Some are convicted rapists, whose victims were other adults. They never posed a threat to children. In fact, if they were convicted of “date rape” in their youth, they may not pose a threat to anyone! And, although they may live the rest of their lives as morally upstanding pillars of the community, their children will still be prohibited from living in the same neighborhood with their classmates.

Every action has consequences. For that reason, it may be morally justifiable to punish those who commit crimes. The punishment should fit the crime, not last a lifetime – and, more importantly – it should not be passed on to future generations!

Driven by fear, we elect people who offer to protect us from every conceivable threat. Laws are passed to provide us with greater security. As a result, there seems to be an increase in convictions for sex related crimes, but are the crimes increasing, or is it our definitions of the crimes that have increased? Are we really safer, or just more paranoid?

Years ago, a major educational campaign was launched to protect our children by making them aware of “stranger-danger”. The frequency of child molestations did not diminish. The dirty little secret is that most child molestations are perpetrated by relatives and friends, not by strangers. We still cling to the belief that we must protect our children from strangers because we don’t want to acknowledge the fact that the danger is so close to home. It is more comforting to believe that the danger posed is from outside our inner circle. It is easier to blame them.

If someone has been shown to be a threat to children, keeping them a certain number of feet away from a school is not enough. If the threat is real, there is no safe distance, period! As long as they pose a threat, it is up to the courts to prevent them from re-entering society. If they have been released from prison, having served their time, it should be presumed that they are no longer dangerous and are able to live a normal life.

Not all sex offenders pose a threat to children. We must be willing to make that distinction, regardless of our distaste for their crimes. Paranoia does not make us safer.