I love the way the news media describes stories like this, with disturbing little mini-news flashes buried within. The depressing story of the Mesa High School Yearbook’s adorable feature on its graduating, unwed parents gave us many examples.
- “Mesa yearbook photos of teen parents anger some”––wait, you mean everyone with half a brain isn’t horrified by this? At least The Arizona Republic was one of the “some,” writing in an editorial “that featuring pregnant teens in a two-page spread of photos glamorizing a life-altering mistake risks normalizing dysfunction.” Uh, yeah, I would think that would be obvious to more than “some.” News Flash! It isn’t.
- “A representative for the district did suggest that parenting isn’t a valuable accomplishment for high schoolers,” writes ThinkProgress. He suggests it? Statistics tell us that those teen parents are more likely to drop school, more likely to be unemployed, and more likely to require government hand-outs to survive. Out-of-wedlock births increased from 7.7 percent in 1965 to more than 40 percent in 2012, including 72 percent of black babies, with teen pregnancies leading the way. The reason this has happened, and few can dispute this, is society’s elimination of all significant opprobrium or disapproval of the act of pre-marital sex, teen sex, and, therefore, teenage motherhood. Helping the social pathology take root, and it is one that has disproportionately crippled the prospects of minorities, are various toxic role models: TV characters, like Murphy Brown; movie stars, singers, TV kid show stars (Britney Spears little sister), even a proud, unmarried, pregnant Congresswoman, Rep. Linda Sanchez, who uttered this fatuous justification: “We’ve evolved as a society so much. The reality of single working moms is such a powerful reality!“
Democrats must be so proud.
Actually, they are.
Then there are the TV shows that make having babies in high school out to be a great, romantic adventure—“Glee,” and “Teen Mom,” “16 & Pregnant’ and various “very special episodes” of other shows. This is the ultimate example of idiotic mixed messages from the schools and the culture: “Wait until you have a degree and a husband, having children too early and without a stable family dooms them and you! But aren’t you a courageous young woman to take on this challenge, and such a good mother!” Doing a special yearbook feature to make unwed, teenage mothers feel great about themselves was the next step; after this, I suppose it will compassionate, caring schools giving special commencement awards and scholarships to the best Teen Mom—or better yet, all of them.
I especially like the statement by the school district responding to the loud disapproval from “some” parents and commentators: “Yearbooks are an opportunity to commemorate students’ school activities and achievements. The material presented reflects choices made outside of the school environment. The feedback received about the subject matter will help refine the judgement used when determining content in future yearbooks.” Translation: “It is what it is. Please have our brains donated to science, so they can determine when they turned into cheese.” Refine the judgement? The material presented reflects unequivocally bad, disastrous choices made outside of the school environment. What’s in store next year, a special spread on the school’s junkies and drug dealers? How about a feature on bullies? Cheaters! Drunks!
The quotes from the defenders of the yearbook feature on teen moms and dads are illuminating too, in their complete detachment from the concepts of accountability, responsibility, and logic:
- “I don’t think that they should be put down or criticized for going to school and raising their kids,” said one supportive student. Take his diploma away: he’s not ready; he has the critical thinking skills of a Shar Pei. See, kid, not glamorizing and celebrating irresponsible conduct isn’t the same as “putting it down.” Furthermore, nobody is criticizing teen parents for “going to school and raising their kids.” They are being criticized for getting themselves in the position where they have no choice but to do those things. Understand? No, of course you don’t. Back to 10th grade with you.
- From a Mesa yearbook staff member: “Student parents don’t have time to go to homecoming and do all that because they have a kid, so they don’t really get to be seen on the yearbook, so we thought it would be a good idea to put them on the page where they could be seen.” You thought that, did you? Did it occur to you that the many social disadvantages of having a child in high school are part of the package of disincentives that discourage students from taking this disastrous step, and that seeing the infliction of the many small pains and inconveniences of too-early parenthood on other students help persuade some more perceptive students not to invite the far greater penalties this mistake will force them, and their kids, to endure? No, of course you don’t—you’re seventeen. Luckily, you have a faculty supervisor who—didn’t have the brains God gave a fungus.
- Gloria Malone, one of the founders of #NoTeenShame, a group of young mothers who, before they go on public assistance, want to change the conversation around young parenting “to a non-stigmatizing and non-shaming approach, while highlighting the importance of comprehensive sex ed,” explained in an interview that stigmatizing and blaming teen parents doesn’t work because “young mothers can feel like all the hard work they’re doing is in vain… We can’t forget that we’re talking about humans who have feelings, and emotions, and families.” You forget, Gloria, or perhaps don’t comprehend, that the idea of shame, which is an invaluable tool of ethical development, is to signal that conduct is wrong-–irresponsible, damaging, self-destructive, for those who haven’t engaged in it yet. Yes, they have feelings, and emotions, and families, and the fact that they followed those feeling and emotions rather than thinking rationally about consequences is why they have families.”
- Finally, here’s progressive websiteThinkProgress’s rationalization, which amount to changing the subject: ”
“In general, teen parents are often met with shame and stigma — personally blamed for society’s downfall, despite the fact that they’re subject to bigger structural issues that are largely out of their control, like insufficient access to sexual health resources and economic inequality. Since May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, this time of the year typically signals an uptick in these type of negative messages about how having a baby will ruin high schoolers’ lives, and by extension, our country’s economy.”
1) Even if we want to eliminate shame, that doesn’t suggest that treating unwed pregnancies as praiseworthy and a proper object of celebration isn’t societally destructive. 2) Burgeoning teen pregnancies are a major problem; to avoid confronting that, ThinkProgress relies on a straw man, knocking down an argument nobody makes, that this alone is all that ails society. 3) If unmarried teens feel that they are burdening the rest of us, good-–they are. If they feel that way soon enough, they might not become unmarried teens. Like shame, guilt and regret are also important tools of ethical enlightenment. Sorry, Ye Sensitive Ones, but it’s true. 4) Teens may be “subject to bigger structural issues that are largely out of their control,” but having babies is something that is emphatically within their control, and because it is, they should know that they will experience the just consequences of it, and realize that before they engage in the conduct that invites those consequences. 5) Having babies ruins highschoolers lives more often than not, as well as their parents’ lives, and the lives of those students’ kids. Relaying “negative messages” that convey valid warnings and truth is not some kind of deviant behavior. Do all progressives think this way?
Well, enough do, which is why the percentage of unmarried mothers, and expansion of the various social problems it feeds, continues to grow. That irresponsible desire to isolate individuals from the consequences of their conduct, together with the collectives of fools that so often get the upper hand in our schools, moves what Rep. Sanchez thinks is “evolution” ever closer. In fact, devolution is what it is.