“What’s Going On Here?”: The 8th Grade’s Speaker Of The House Snub

It is fair to say that no primary school class of any grade level would have snubbed a Speaker of the House by boycotting a scheduled meeting with him or her ten years ago, twenty years ago or ever. That this happened last week is worth paying heed to, and worthy of careful consideration. It is another symptom of a seriously ill culture, society and democracy.

Half of the D.C. field-tripping 8th grade from South Orange Middle School, about a hundred students, rejected their photo op with Speaker Paul Ryan, and were allowed to wait in the parking lot while Ryan greeted the other half.

What’s going on here?

What’s going on here should be easy to diagnose. The vicious, anti-democratic partyism, partisan incivility and hatred that has poisoned public and private discourse that has moved the United States toward governmental paralysis and the worst societal division since the Civil War is being passed on to the next generation. Anyone who cheers this as a positive development is a lousy, unethical citizen. It’s that simple.

The snub is 100% the product of irresponsible and ignorant parents, aided and abetted by incompetent teachers, seeded by the open warfare and excessive rhetoric of political leaders, though not, ironically enough, by Paul Ryan. Ryan has always comported himself, in this office and his previous one as an ordinary House member, by traditional statesman standards. He is polite and respectful, indeed was too much so  when Joe Biden snorted, rolled his eyes, sneered and interrupted him repeatedly during the 2012 Vice-Presidential debate. Ryan is a gentleman and a professional. He has also dedicated himself to public service and the best interests of his country as he sees it, like all honest elected officials, at great personal sacrifice. As Speaker of the House, a job he did not seek but accepted because he was needed by the institution, Ryan has immense responsibility and daunting challenges. Nobody has to agree with his political views, support his initiatives, or hesitate to criticize, lobby, advocate or vote against what he does or tries to do. Every responsible and civil American, however, should respect him for serving the nation as best he can. As for children, and that is what 8th graders are, they have only one duty: be respectful to the elected leaders of their towns, states and nation. Yes, every single one of those leaders.  Children have neither the standing nor the knowledge nor the wisdom to be otherwise.

Matthew Malespina, one of the grand-standing 8th graders who waited in the bus, was interviewed by ABC about why he snubbed the Speaker of the House. “It’s not just a picture,” the indoctrinated, arrogant kid told the reporter. “It’s being associated with a person who puts his party before his country.”

Gee, I wonder where he learned that empty phrase? What do you mean by this, Michael? Members of both parties belong to them because they believe their party’s governing philosophy is in the interests of the United States. Give me an example of Ryan “putting his party before his country” that doesn’t mean “if Republicans cared about the country, they’d be Democrats.”

Explain the complexities of fixing the evident flaws of Obamacare while not creating unacceptable risks to the health care system. Tell us how you would have negotiated the ethical dilemma of either supporting your party’s Presidential candidate whom you believe to be unqualified, or risking splitting your party and giving control of the government to an opposition party that you believe is pushing the nation in dangerous and untenable directions.

Go ahead, you’re 13, you know everything. What’s your plan? Tell us how you would begin fixing the crumbling infrastructure, a multi-trillion dollar task, without raising taxes to crushing levels or pushing the national debt over the brink. Tell us how the U.S. should help its poorest citizens without making them permanent government sycophants. Tell us how society can take away money earned by corporations and wealthier citizens without destroying the incentive to innovate, take risks, create jobs.

You know nothing. It’s very likely that the parents who have been programming you know nothing as well other than party-fed talking points, but at least they are adults in a democracy, and empowered to be part of government even though our broken news media and education establishment has left them below the minimal level of civic literacy for the process to work as designed.

“The point was, ‘I don’t want to be associated with him, and his policies and what he stands for,'” said Elissa Malespina, Matthew’s mother, a smug hyper-partisan fool who undoubtedly agrees with the attitude of the Georgetown professor who refused to work out in a gym that had a member whose views she found offensive. No, Elissa: a photo is a photo, not an endorsement, just like using the gym didn’t make the professor an honorary white supremacist. But I’m sure you’ve carefully discussed the competing issues of shunning, pluralism, democracy, the political advocacy system, governmental theories, Locke, Rousseau, Jefferson, Hamilton, Burke with your impressionable son, right?

Just kidding. We know what you have been doing since November is telling your child along with anyone else who would listen that Donald Trump is an illegitimate President and anyone who supports him in any way has enlisted in Evil’s Legions, which of course includes the Republican Party and Paul Ryan. Nice work.

It is not damaging enough that progressives are trying to turn the U.S into an ideologically segregated society where citizens of varying opinions can’t work and play civilly together, and where every citizen respects the leaders chosen by our elections, as they must if democracy is to function. They are determined to spread this cultural poison to the next generation before they have the ability to think for themselves.

This is what the conduct of the South Orange Middle School’s 8th grade means, and that’s what’s going on here. It is one more ugly, harmful and perhaps permanent side effect of the “resistance”—including much of the media and Democratic Party—rejecting democratic principles and institutions because they didn’t create the results the Left wanted this time.

Now that’s putting party before country.

103 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Childhood and children, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Family, Government & Politics, U.S. Society

103 responses to ““What’s Going On Here?”: The 8th Grade’s Speaker Of The House Snub

  1. Ugh. My apologies to early readers of this post—somehow I put up the pre-typo checked version. I think it’s fixed now.

  2. valkygrrl

    Ten years ago this wouldn’t have happened? Nancy Pelosi was the speaker then, yes? You really don’t believe that I could have found an 8’th grade class with students that would snub her?

      • valkygrrl

        *snort* Now pull the other one.

        • The answer really is no. It may be comforting to pretend that conservatives have as easily abandoned reverence for offices and institutions, but they don’t. You really think that no school from a conservative community ever had a photo op with Pelosi? Some communities teach manners.

          • Matthew B

            We’ll wait for the example that isn’t coming….

            I’ll further add there is no comparison between Ryan and Pelosi. Pelosi is far more deserving of a snub. She didn’t believe in civility.

            • Rich in CT

              Please see Wyogranny’s reply below; your cynical belief that no example would emerge has been proven wrong within exact 2 hours.

            • No official of the United States deserves a snub based on their policies, as opposed to personal conduct, That’s the slippery slope that led the CBC to boycott the inauguration—in that case, theoretical policies.

              • I definitely agree that one must respect the OFFICE irrespective of the office HOLDER in these situations. But I respectfully disagree that the door of disrespect swings only one way. Although the name of the player and the sport currently escape me, the incident of aconservative member of a championship team refusing to appear to be congratulated at the Obama White House remains clear in my mind. He made great hay about the matter as well – arguing it was a case of free speech… 🙂 Never you mind, I am way ahead of you in that those “champions” who say they will not meet with Pres. Trump are just as sportsmanship-challenged.

          • I live in a very conservative place. A few years ago a child from here was chosen to go to Washington DC to help .Nancy Pelosi light up the Christmas tree. The tree was from Wyoming and the decorations were made by school students in Wyoming. There was no question that he would go. Of course he would. It was a great privilege to be invited. It was a great honor to be asked to make ornaments for the tree. Obama was President and his values couldn’t have been more opposite from the views of this community yet we all felt great patriotic pride as our school and community volunteers came together to create a tribute to our state, our country, and the Christmas season. No one, even the most rabid anti Obama/Pelosi/Reid even mentioned politics to our students. It should be self-evident that respect for the nation we live in creates a better environment for children’s development than division and disrespect.

            • Sarah B.

              Yay Blazers!

            • Steve-O-in-NJ

              Anyone want to make a bet that Trump will not be able to host a White House Christmas Concert this year, because the A-list entertainers are still boycotting?

              • valkygrrl

                Are A-listers a requirement?

                • Steve-O-in-NJ

                  Without them why bother? Even GWB could get Mandy Moore, Reba McIntyre, and Usher. That said, if Trump can’t get anyone worth seeing, then I think that concert will just join the president throwing out the first pitch as one of those traditions that’s going to be cut, for completely nonpolitical reasons, of course.

    • Joe Fowler

      Well, my web search for just that – any article about any students snubbing Nancy Pelosi – came up with nothing. I did find hundreds of photos and articles showing her with, and talking about her with, students from pre-school to college age; no mention of any snub. So I’m calling wishful thinking here.

      • It’s denial. The conduct of Democrats since the election is unprecedented, and the reason it is unprecedented is that the conduct is obviously divisive, dangerous, unjust and insane.

  3. deery

    I guess I’m not sure what exactly the unethical conduct is here. Many people don’t wish to take photographs with famous people they disagree with politically. Several politicians in the Right have found themselves in trouble for daring to be photographed with Obama.

    Is it that teenagers aren’t allowed to have political opinions ( no matter how misguided or misinformed)?

    Apparently they did not create a ruckus when they declined Ryan’s offer of a photo; he was not aware that half the class did not want to take a photo with him. So they were not unethical for that reason.

    They did not seem to under parental instruction to snub Ryan as the parents, when informed about what happened, seemed surprised. So the refusal was not a result of parental interference.

    The kids exercised their free speech rights in a quiet, respectful way, while still allowing their peers who thought differently to have their moment with the Speaker. They made no demonstration about it. If a reporter had no happened to be wandering by at that exact moment, no one would have been any the wiser. You may disagree with the kids’ nascent political views, but I have a difficult time seeing how quietly turning down a photo op with a person you strenuously disagree with can be unethical conduct.

    • RomanBW

      You phrased excellently my own feelings. Neither would I wish to have my photograph taken with someone promoting a bill which seems unethical to me.
      RomanBW

    • Pennagain

      Deery, a two-year old can have an opinion; on certain matters — the taste of plain oatmeal, for instance — it could even be considered a valid, informed opinion. The opinion of a child of thirteen is technically the opinion of a teenager, but it is not (with some niggling exceptions more or less on either side) at the same level of valid, informed opinion an eightteen year old adult with voting privileges. One is an adolescent, the validity of whose opinions is prone to hormonal shifts as well as continuing echoes of the personal opinions of parent and teacher (minus the objectivity of a civics course) — how many children do you know who can support a political argument contradicting the grownups who control their lives? The other, yes, still a teenager is nonetheless considered a grownup, having had the time, education and maturity to develop valid, informed, independent opinions.

      The parents and teachers engineered a photo op. (Nobody “wanders by” school shoots or anything that concerns the higher government officials under the present POTUS, Deery, they’re set up for publicity purposes!) Otherwise, Michael and the other ninety-nine know-littles would have been kept at home in the first place.

      • deery

        I’ll grant that the teenagers may be misinformed about politics (or not). But I don’t see the unethical conduct of quietly turning down a photo op with a person you may disagree with, even if your reasons for disagreeing may be misinformed. So, if we quizzed the teens, and it turned out they had a thorough depth of knowledge of politics far outstripping that of most adults, then it would be ok for them to turn down the photo op? Is the unethical conduct their presumed (by us) ignorance, or the discreet refusal to take a picture?

        • philk57

          It seems to me that the core unethical behavior in this instance is the “otherizing” of someone whose political position you disagree with. It normalizes shunning of people with differing opinions.

          I also point out that “otherizing” is a technique used when you are conditioning someone to treat the other as an enemy.

        • Pennagain

          Deery, I have no intention of following you into one of your conditional “IF” wildernesses. Nothing in your reply corresponds to any of my statements. What I find unethical, in fact, is your attempt to bait the reader with not very imaginative extrapolations.

  4. So… I’m torn. On the one hand, I agree with the general sentiment, that in the case of Ryan, these children probably don’t know enough to have an opinion on his politics or performance. Parroting a political reason for not taking part in the picture is thus somewhat ridiculous.

    And yet… I think you go to far in generalizing, Jack, when you say *As for children, and that is what 8th graders are, they have only one duty: be respectful to the elected leaders of their towns, states and nation. Yes, every single one of those leaders. Children have neither the standing nor the knowledge nor the wisdom to be otherwise.*

    That’s an attitude I wouldn’t want any of our children to be taught, because it’s the mindless lockstep deference to authority that ends up with them believing they have to be respectful because of a position someone holds rather judging the person holding the position on the basis of their actions. At 13, I knew that a nearby town’s elected official beat his wife and children regularly… because I would see the bruises on the kid when changing for gym class, and they’d sometimes mention needing to do things around the house because their mother was too hurt to. Should I have been respectful of that bastard? Sure, I didn’t have the standing to do anything, or even the first clue what I should have been doing about the situation; It doesn’t change the fact that I knew this was a person unworthy of his position, or the respect (everyone sitting and listening to him at assemblies, etc), that my school officials told us it entitled him to.

    Believing that people should be respectful of a position, rather than of the individual holding it, is problematic because it causes institutions to need to protect the position from criticism first, rather than removing bad actors who have managed to achieve it. This is how you end up with situations like the Catholic Church covering up for pedophile priests; because the respect exists for the position of being a priest, rather than for the individuals holding that position, it becomes more important to ensure that the image of priests as a whole is not damaged, than it was to ensure that predators are removed from their ranks. It’s how you end up with good police officers covering for bad cops, rather than risk the department being seen as having employed corrupt people.

    • That’s an attitude I wouldn’t want any of our children to be taught, because it’s the mindless lockstep deference to authority that ends up with them believing they have to be respectful because of a position someone holds rather judging the person holding the position on the basis of their actions.

      No, you end up with an adult who know that respect, not automatic deference, but respect, for legitimate authority is the default position of any responsible citizen, and opposition and even defiance to authority becomes a responsible position only when one is mature and informed enough to know when authority is being abused.

      What the kids who snubbed Ryan were doing was just accepting a different authority, their parents and teachers, who were, in fact, exercising it incompetently. I don’t blame the kids. They are just their parents protest puppets.

  5. said, “Half of the D.C. field-tripping 8th grade from South Orange Middle School, about a hundred students, rejected their photo op with Speaker Paul Ryan, and were allowed to wait in the parking lot while Ryan greeted the other half.”

    Think about this for a minute; allowing about a hundred children to wait in the parking lot creates a logistical problem, eighth grade children with nothing to do except sit around waiting for the other half of the class to finish with an event, you cannot leave those children there alone you must have adults there to supervise the children. So how do the teachers/chaperones deal with this on the fly, the answer is you don’t, the children all go to the photo op and the ones that don’t want to be in the photo stand on the side when the photo is taken. To intentionally divide so many students you must pre-plan for this and that raises flags about the encouragement of political indoctrination within the school system.

    1. To have the appropriate number of teachers/chaperones available for such division of students, this must have been part of their initial plans for the trip.

    2. If this was planned that far in advance; who instigated this intentional division of students and why?

    3. How was this option presented to the students?

    4. Why would a school system even remotely consider this as an option on a trip to Washington DC and present to the students?

    5. Did they give students the same kind of options for students that had political reasons that they didn’t want to attend the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, or how about National Museum of American History; I’m absolutely positive that there are lots of safe place triggers in those places.

    If this is pre-planned intentional division of the students the result of political indoctrination efforts at the South Orange Middle School (or maybe the school system caved into a few ignorant politically motivated parents) then the political left should be very afraid of their future, the indoctrination only worked on about half of the eighth grade students the other half chose to dissent from the indoctrination. Eighth grade students are not exactly experts at intelligently opposing political propaganda. I wonder if they took the names of the dissenters, are they going to protest the dissenters homes, are the dissenters going to be treated differently in school, maybe some after school detentions should be involved for these evil dissenters. 😉

    Lastly; if parents and teachers think that students that are around 13 years old are adult enough to make these kinds of obvious political choices, is an Constitutional Amendment allowing 13 year old children to vote just around the corner.

    • Trumpgurl

      Robert Payne, a contributor to Nation of Change, recently wrote a good article that suggested in part that the media falls short on delivering meaningful information. His example was the pro-con panels of experts blathering platitudes about healthcare, but without delving deeper to the real solutions.
      Apparently, the ABC interview of the student was similar: heat without light.
      The problem lies not so much with the media, but to the small minded masses, whose short attention spans are what gives us these sound bites. How do we make the McNeil-Leher Report or the William F. Buckley Hour hip enough to attract viewers? Answer: shorten discussions to rants, video clips, and yogurt commercials.
      Regarding teenagers…8th grade ends primary schooling. It’s the watershed learning experience for most kids; it goes downhill from there, with all the distractions they will entail and the different interests they will pursue as they journey through high school.
      When a student refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance, it is not the job of the educator to force them to recite or even stand, but it is the time to revisit the reasons people would want to perform that ceremony: They can begin with Red Skelton’s rendition/explanation of the Pledge line for line.
      As far as Ryan is concerned, I can at least see the motivation by those parents to engineer the snub: I recall some of his comments and positions during the 2012 presidential campaign as a bit insincere: He endorsed cutting the deficit by raising taxes on the middle class and cutting taxes for the wealthy

      • Trumpgurl

        Oops…Michael Payne

      • Trumpgurl,
        Did you accidentally post that as a reply to my comment? It seems like a comment more targeted towards Jacks blog and not a reply specific to my comment.

        • Trumpgurl

          I’m new to this.
          Does it matter?
          It’s contained in the same discussion, Yes?
          I’ll be more careful in future posts.

          • Trumpgurl wrote,

            “I’m new to this.
            Does it matter?
            It’s contained in the same discussion, Yes?
            I’ll be more careful in future posts.”

            I didn’t need any of that; you could have just said, “Opps”. 🙂

            • JutGory

              “I didn’t need any of that; you could have just said, “Opps”. ”

              And you could have said, “No, I was just curious, because your comment did not seem responsive to what I had written.”

              -Jut

              • JutGory wrote, “And you could have said, “No, I was just curious, because your comment did not seem responsive to what I had written.” “

                Maybe you didn’t notice or didn’t comprehend it but I had already written something along those lines in the previous comment, “It seems like a comment more targeted towards Jacks blog and not a reply specific to my comment.”

                Do you want to discuss the contents of my May 30, 2017 at 8:17 am comment?

  6. Steve-O-in-NJ

    I dunno. I was in the elite choir in college, which once in a while did get tapped to perform at the White House, although not while I was a member. I have continued to sing since, but not in any group that could be considered elite. If I did, though, and we did get an invitation to perform either at the Capitol or the White House during Obama’s administration or Pelosi’s tenure as Speaker, I think I just might find myself “unable to get the time off” or in a situation where “money’s tight right now.” Some of my colleagues I know feel the same way about the current leaders, so either way I think you might get only half the group to go.

    South Orange, btw, is an upper middle class (median income just over $120K per household) suburban community where under 8% of voters are registered as Republicans and Democratic presidential candidates regularly receive 2/3 to 3/4 of the vote. It should come as no surprise that the smug liberal gentry have been feeding their kids all this crap, and of course hurry to keep them away from Ryan, who’s one of the evil rich, not the good rich like Hillary, and not like them, whose checkbooks read like a who’s who of liberal causes.

    • 1. So you agree with the jerks who refused to perform at the inauguration? I find that hard to believe.
      2. In college, you are considered qualified to vote. That’s a material difference.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        In light of what’s gone on recently I am looking back and rethinking. Importantly, I would not try to attract attention, just say I wasn’t available and let the matter drop. I wouldn’t virtue-signal, which is what a lot of the recent jerks did.

      • In college, you are considered qualified to vote. That’s a material difference.

        ‘Qualified’ to vote by statute and by maturity are two different things, Jack… You should have seen the stupidity my peer group (and a young Slick) were up to in college! /snark

  7. Can we just get the civil war over with so my kids can at least young adults in a post-violence age?

  8. Rob Palmer

    As a kid I don’t recall my parents ever talking politics with me. They both vote conservative, but I didn’t learn that for a long time.

    When I was in 8th grade I visited DC with my class. We met our state representative, Jim Oberstar. I don’t recall even being told he was a democrat. My parents certainly didn’t coach me, “Don’t have your picture taken with that dirty commie.” I doubt they had any such opinion of Jim anyway. They would respect the office. There was zero talk about sitting out of the picture or snubbing. No one would even consider it. He took time out of his day to talk to school kids, the least you can do is be respectful.

  9. These children didn’t scream and yell, they didn’t throw things, they didn’t start fires, they didn’t try to block Ryan from appearing or speaking. They didn’t do any of the things that you complain about protesters doing. All they did was quietly refuse to participate in the event. It’s ridiculous to characterize this as “vicious, anti-democratic partyism, partisan incivility and hatred.” They were about as respectful as you can get without actively participating in something they disagree with.

    You’ve spoken out against parents who involve children as props in political matters they don’t understand, so I suppose that’s part of why you are upset at the parents involved. But why aren’t you upset at Speaker Ryan for involving these children in his staged photo op? Why aren’t you upset at the teachers who set it up? They involved the students in a show of support for Speaker Ryan.

    I gather you disagree with that characterization. You say it’s not an endorsement of Ryan, it’s just a photo. But in that case, if it’s just students not wanting to be in a photo, then it can’t be as big a deal as you’re making it out to be. You can’t have it both ways. It can’t be just a photo to participate and yet “vicious, anti-democratic partyism, partisan incivility and hatred” to not participate. You’re angry because you think it’s more than that, and that’s they same reason they’re refusing to participate.

    As for your but-they’re-just-children argument, I’ll concede that none of us should take their politics too seriously. They probably do know almost nothing. But you don’t learn civics by not participating. How are they going to learn if they don’t try out their ideas and maybe screw up? Even if I grant that they’re as unethical as you claim, they’re like kids stealing candy from the corner store: It’s wrong, but it’s not the end of civilization.

    • Yikes. Check your ethics alarms, Mark: I think they are on “airplane mode” or something. That’s one awful argument after another.

      1. These children didn’t scream and yell, they didn’t throw things, they didn’t start fires, they didn’t try to block Ryan from appearing or speaking.

      This is, of course, rationalization #22, and irrelevant. The point is that they have no basis for any protest at all. No they didn’t aim flame-throwers or sic veloceraptors on Ryan either.

      2. You know you are off the rails when you mischracterize my statements to make them easier to shoot down. I did not say, nor do I think, that what the students did was “vicious, anti-democratic partyism.” I wrote that the fact that they did it demonstrated that “the vicious, anti-democratic partyism, partisan incivility and hatred that has poisoned public and private discourse that has moved the United States toward governmental paralysis and the worst societal division since the Civil War is being passed on to the next generation That is a fair and accurate assessment, because none of the students had any genuine substantive reason to protest, except that their role models and authority figures have been subjecting them to anti-Trump/conservative/ Republican rants for months and perhaps longer.

      3. You’ve spoken out against parents who involve children as props in political matters they don’t understand, so I suppose that’s part of why you are upset at the parents involved. But why aren’t you upset at Speaker Ryan for involving these children in his staged photo op?

      You suppose? The kids are the teachers’ and the parents’ sock puppets. Is there any doubt? You really think 100 middle schoolers did this completely on their own? No you don’t…

      4. But why aren’t you upset at Speaker Ryan for involving these children in his staged photo op? Why aren’t you upset at the teachers who set it up? They involved the students in a show of support for Speaker Ryan.

      Because that kind of a routine photo op is how we pass civic literacy and respect for US institutions on to the next generation. Ryan isn’t campaigning, and a photograph like that shows support for the institution of Congress and the office of Speaker, third in line for the Presidency. My father had his picture taken with Bill Clinton, whom he detested. He was expressing respect for the office Clinton held at the time. He knew that such a photo didn’t mean he supported Clinton’s character or policies, because it doesn’t. Your contention is a new progressive delusion being pounded now to justify the party’s despicable behavior. What idiot would see a Middle School class smiling with the Speaker and think, “Wow, all of these kids support the budget policies of Paul Ryan and his party!”?

      5. It can’t be just a photo to participate and yet “vicious, anti-democratic partyism, partisan incivility and hatred” to not participate. You’re angry because you think it’s more than that, and that’s they same reason they’re refusing to participate.

      I am impressed: it is hard to make a series of bad arguments where each is worse than the one before.

      First, see above: you have used the same straw man twice. I did not say what the kids did was “vicious, anti-democratic partyism, partisan incivility and hatred.” I just know you can read better than that, if you try. Second, of course I can “have it both ways,”, because both ways are consistent. If a little girl refuses to kiss granddad at Thanksgiving because mom has been telling her that he’s a Republican and they want people to die and are trying to destroy the world (all arguments made by various Democratic demagogues that people over the age of six recognize as BS), that’s embarrassing to the grandfather, an insult, hurtful, and a personal rebuke, specifically BECAUSE the kiss doesn’t ally the little girl with Obamacare reform. Same here: it’s rude. It’s disrespectful. It is obviously so. It is more disrespectful BECAUSE the shoot is meaningless, except as a routine civic exercise.

      6. As for your but-they’re-just-children argument, I’ll concede that none of us should take their politics too seriously.

      “they’re-just-children argument”? Are you suggesting that there is a “They aren’t just children” counter argument? They ARE just children. That was a statement of verifiable FACT.

      7. “too seriously”? The deceitful equivocation prize for the day! Nobody should take the political statements of children seriously at all, because they are not the children’s political statements, and to the extent that they are, they are uninformed, and thus worthless except as emotional outbursts.

      8. They probably do know almost nothing. But you don’t learn civics by not participating.

      How is insulting the Speaker of the House while he is taking time out of his schedule to be accommodating to a field trip a learning experience? What have they learned, other than the fact that you can embarrass an official who has done nothing wrong, causing negative publicity, by pointless grandstanding? If one of the kids had spit in his face, would you make the same argument? Why not?

      9. It’s wrong, but it’s not the end of civilization.

      And for the grand finale, a second and perfect appeal to #22, “It’s not the worst thing.”

      Jeez. Get some coffee.

      • Windypundit,
        I was in the process of writing a reply to your comment that read very similar to what Jack wrote when I got an email notification of Jacks comment. I won’t repeat the same things he wrote; I agree with Jack’s reply to you – all of it.

        You should take a few minutes out of your day and read Jacks list of Unethical Rationalizations and Misconceptions

      • deery

        First, see above: you have used the same straw man twice. I did not say what the kids did was “vicious, anti-democratic partyism, partisan incivility and hatred.” I just know you can read better than that, if you try. Second, of course I can “have it both ways,”, because both ways are consistent. If a little girl refuses to kiss granddad at Thanksgiving because mom has been telling her that he’s a Republican and they want people to die and are trying to destroy the world (all arguments made by various Democratic demagogues that people over the age of six recognize as BS), that’s embarrassing to the grandfather, an insult, hurtful, and a personal rebuke, specifically BECAUSE the kiss doesn’t ally the little girl with Obamacare reform. Same here: it’s rude. It’s disrespectful. It is obviously so. It is more disrespectful BECAUSE the shoot is meaningless, except as a routine civic exercise.

        The little girl can refuse to kiss Grandad for any reason she wants. It might not be “nice”, but her bodily autonomy should trump grandad’s wishes on this. I’m from the camp that we should not force kids to show physical affection to adults against their wishes. Now if she announced that she was doing it because she thought granddad was a bad man, then that might be rude (or necessary, depending).

        The kids in this case were spontaneously offered a chance to take a photo with Speaker Ryan. Some took him up on his offer. Others quietly declined, choosing instead to stand out of the way across the street. This wasn’t even a “protest” as such, nor was it planned beforehand, or the result of parental instruction. Ryan himself was apparently unaware that some of the class had declined the photo op, so it wasn’t even grandstanding.

        Unless you are saying that the teens should have been forced to take the picture, I don’t see how what occurred was unethical. The children were offered the choice to take a picture. Some chose to, others did not, and no one seemed to hold any rancor against anyone else for exercising that choice. If we could all be so civil.

        7. “too seriously”? The deceitful equivocation prize for the day! Nobody should take the political statements of children seriously at all, because they are not the children’s political statements, and to the extent that they are, they are uninformed, and thus worthless except as emotional outbursts.

        Citation needed? Sure some (most?) teens can be politically ignorant. I don’t necessarily think they are any less informed than most of the rest adult population unfortunately. Nor do we know whether that is the situation in this particular case. And even if that was the case, so what? Ignorant, emotional people still have a right to pick and choose who they would like to be photographed with The mere act of turning down the photograph opportunity cannot be unethical. So it appears that you are saying that turning photograph opportunities because of policy disagreements is unethical (only with those under 18, or in general? If under 18, a blanket policy, or perhaps ok if they demonstrate sufficient policy knowledge?). Or is the ethical lapse on the part of the chaperones who did not force all the kids to take the picture? Or on the part of the kids’ parents, for discussing politics with/around their children?

        • “The little girl can refuse to kiss Grandad for any reason she wants. It might not be “nice”, but her bodily autonomy should trump grandad’s wishes on this.”

          I didn’t say she couldn’t reject and embarrass granddad. I said that she shouldn’t. She should also be taught why it is rude and hurtful. Elizabeth Warren COULD refuse to shake Betsey’s DeVos’s hand, and did. And it proved what a mean-sprited and unprofessional, uncivil asshole she is. My grandmother cared for us frequently as children, and would have given her life for us. It would have destroyed her if, as kids, we withheld a formal kiss on the cheek during a holiday.

          But by all means, endorse rotten and cruel conduct because one “can” engage in it. What do you think ethics is?

          • Isaac

            There’s a pretty recent feminist meme-type thing going around on blogs and social media, celebrating the idea of young gitls refusing to thug or touch male relatives because of empowerment or whatever. Deery is just parroting that sentiment.

      • Pete sez howdy

        What protest? Those who wanted to meet with the Speaker did, those who did not, did not. What protest? There was no demonstration, no chanting, no signs, no intention to make “a thing” of it. Without a reporter making something of it, there is no story. Why are we using the word “protest” to describe this event? It was kids making a choice there was room for them to make. Wouldn’t forcing them to meet with someone with whom they did not want to meet be the unethical choice in this scenario?

        • Of course it was a protest, and someone connected to the group made sure it received publicity as one. And again, it was an incompetent, gratuitous, insulting and disrespectful protest without substance. Just more division and messaging that people who disagree with you are not fit for human association. Nice lesson.

        • Isaac

          And that is why the term “silent protest” does not exist. In fact those two words have never been used in combination until just now. I’m the first. 100% of all protests throughout history have involved burning cars and vagina hats. It has always ever been thus.

          • Chris

            Well, the strategy here for at least the past year has been to ethically equate silent protests with protests involving burning cars. You even make a false equivalence yourself between “burning cars” and “vagina hats.” How are those two things similar? They aren’t, except that both have occurred at left wing protests, and all left wing protest must be demonized. So a group of 13 year olds refusing to take a picture with a man who wants to cut vital services for children has never done anything wrong ever they disagree with politically is condemned in the same tone as actual riots.

      • 1 & 9. Geez, maybe you’ve been drinking too much coffee. It’s not a comparative virtue rationalization to point out that you are seriously blowing this out of proportion when you use phrases like “vicious, anti-democratic partyism, partisan incivility and hatred” when describing children refusing to participate in a photo op.

        2. You say that you didn’t mean to imply that what the students did was vicious etc., only that it demonstrates that their parents’ vicious etc. values were being passed down to them… I think that’s a distinction without a difference when it comes to my point that you are way overreacting to a quiet, respectful protest.

        3. “The kids are the teachers’ and the parents’ sock puppets. Is there any doubt?”

        If the teachers set this up, I’m with you. If the kids are doing what they think their parents would want them to do, I guess I don’t see the problem.

        4. “What idiot would see a Middle School class smiling with the Speaker and think, ‘Wow, all of these kids support the budget policies of Paul Ryan and his party!’?”

        Oh please. That’s a straw man. Politicians are always campaigning. (Somebody made sure there were reporters present, after all.) Not wanting to participate in that is the only reason the students need to stay away. Or, if you prefer, it’s the only reason parents need to keep their children away.

        5. Another straw man. Grandpa deserves a kiss because he is grandpa, and his politics shouldn’t enter into it. The only reason Ryan deserves any attention from these kids is because of his role in government, so of course his politics are relevant.

        7. “Nobody should take the political statements of children seriously at all.”

        Then there’s no story here, right? No greater significance related to “the vicious, anti-democratic partyism, partisan incivility and hatred that has poisoned public and private discourse”? It’s just kids not wanting to participate in an optional school activity.

        8. “How is insulting the Speaker of the House while he is taking time out of his schedule to be accommodating to a field trip a learning experience? What have they learned, other than the fact that you can embarrass an official who has done nothing wrong, causing negative publicity, by pointless grandstanding?”

        You’ve answered your own question here. They’ve learned that even passive and respectful refusal to participate can draw attention to their concerns. Granted, this was not exactly a coherent social movement, but for a bunch of 8th graders, it was a toe in the water. (And “done nothing wrong” is begging the question.)

        “If one of the kids had spit in his face, would you make the same argument? Why not?”

        Because spitting in his face is not the same as quietly refusing to participate in a photo op. No, this is not comparative virtue. These are two different kinds of things. Spitting in his face is an assault. What the kids did was simply refuse to allow themselves to be used.

        • 2. You say that you didn’t mean to imply that what the students did was vicious etc., only that it demonstrates that their parents’ vicious etc. values were being passed down to them… I think that’s a distinction without a difference when it comes to my point that you are way overreacting to a quiet, respectful protest.

          Of course, it is a material difference. Children are acting like this because their parents are spewing partyist hate all day. Saying that the partyist hate inspires stupid, rude and ignorant protests doesn’t mean that the stupid, rude and ignorant protests are hateful and vicious. But they are still stupid, rude and ignorant.

          “Politicians are always campaigning.”

          Too cynical by half. Politicians never do anything nice, charitable, generous and traditional without being motivated by a desire for votes. Meeting school kids is part of the job of an elected official to enhance the image of the office he holds.

          “They’ve learned that even passive and respectful refusal to participate can draw attention to their concerns.”

          A. WHAT concerns?
          B. They learned that being disrespectful to adults is OK if the adult doesn’t belong to their parents’ party.

          “The only reason Ryan deserves any attention from these kids is because of his role in government, so of course his politics are relevant.”

          No, he deserves respect because he is an adult and they are kids, he is working for them, and they should show respect for his office. And his politics are not at all relevant, because 8th graders don’t know anything about politics, They have never held a job or paid taxes, nor have they voted, nor had to accept any responsibility at all. They don’t even know how lousy their schools are.

          “Then there’s no story here, right?”

          Disingenuous. The incident was used to denigrate and insult Ryan by the partisan press. See, even children hate these Republican monsters!

          • “Too cynical by half.”

            You just said a bunch of 8th graders engaged in stupid, rude and ignorant protests inspired by hate and viciousness. Pot, kettle, etc.

            “A. WHAT concerns? B.They learned that being disrespectful to adults is OK if the adult doesn’t belong to their parents’ party.”

            So, you don’t know why they protested, but you’re sure it’s something to do with their parents’ awful partisanship?

            “No, he deserves respect because he is an adult and they are kids, he is working for them, and they should show respect for his office. And his politics are not at all relevant, because 8th graders don’t know anything about politics.”

            I’m not particularly interested in the reasons the students had for what they did, because all they did was not participate. These are not self-righteous college students trying to shut down a public event they don’t like. These students didn’t march, they didn’t throw things, they didn’t yell and disrupt the proceedings, they didn’t call him names, and they didn’t prevent any one who wanted to meet Ryan from doing so. All they did was not show up.

          • Chris

            Children are acting like this because their parents are spewing partyist hate all day.

            Again, speculation. And I have to agree with Windypundit that you’re drawing a distinction without a difference here; by your logic, any protest is unethical, as to you it is inseparable from the “partyist hate” that you might see at a more aggressive protest. (But then, you’ve made it clear that you see virtually all leftist protest as inherently unethical.)

            A. WHAT concerns?

            You seriously can’t even imagine why someone would choose to protest against Paul Ryan? OK. The kids can. What does that say about their potential level of political knowledge?

      • Chris

        You suppose? The kids are the teachers’ and the parents’ sock puppets. Is there any doubt? You really think 100 middle schoolers did this completely on their own? No you don’t…

        I’m an eighth grade teacher. It is entirely possible that the kids decided to do this on their own. As you have no evidence otherwise, your premise is entirely speculation.

        But it’s OK to put thoughts into people’s heads if they’re on the left…

  10. Pete sez howdy

    Wait a minute. A few days ago we had a post here (“The Saint’s Excuse”) about professional athletes. The ‘ethical stance’ then was that belonging to a group did not give that group the right to choose your affiliations or allegiances. Why is it different now? Just because the rest of my 8th grade class decides that a certain action is an honor, why am I ethically obligated to go along with it? Why is not standing up for my values the ethical choice here, too?

    • Why is the distinction between minors and adults so hard to grasp? Why are defenders of the students aping their obviously ridiculous argument that having their group photographed with the Speaker of the House is some kind of political endorsement, when such photos are not, have never been, and are not seen or used that way? What is so difficult about the concept that if you are going to make a high-profile political statement, which is what a gratuitous snub like this is, you need to be able to explain exactly what you think you are protesting against, which none of these kids can?

      Watching people spin furiously to try to justify the awful and divisive conduct from Democrats and their puppets now is almost as grotesque as the conduct they are trying to rationalize.

      • deery

        Why is the distinction between minors and adults so hard to grasp? Why are defenders of the students aping their obviously ridiculous argument that having their group photographed with the Speaker of the House is some kind of political endorsement, when such photos are not, have never been, and are not seen or used that way? What is so difficult about the concept that if you are going to make a high-profile political statement, which is what a gratuitous snub like this is, you need to be able to explain exactly what you think you are protesting against, which none of these kids can?

        I think people do get the difference between minors and adults. Perhaps I , like many others, wonder exactly how it is germane to this situation. Political thoughts and opinions don’t flip on like a switch when people turn 18, they do tend to progress and evolve, starting at an early age.

        This was not a “high-profile political statement.” Ryan was not even aware that some of the teens had declined to take a picture with him. This was as basic, quiet, and respectable exercise of freedom of expression as one could ask for of teenagers.

        When asked why they did (days later) the teens managed to come up with somewhat thoughtful statements as to why they chose to do what they did, which you dismiss, without proof, as indoctrination.

        Photographs have been used by politicians since their invention as forms of endorsements and to soften their image, etc. Indeed, before the controversy broke, the photograph was posted on Ryan’s instagram account, presumably in a way to make him seem friendly and engaged. Some people don’t mind their image being put to use in that way, while others might resent it. But the decision should be theirs.

        Watching people spin furiously to try to justify the awful and divisive conduct from Democrats and their puppets now is almost as grotesque as the conduct they are trying to rationalize.

        Like most things dripping out of the right wing echo chamber, it seems like a bunch of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Someone didn’t want to take a picture with someone else. So what? But the right wing instead uses it to launch an attack on the kids, their parents, and their chaperones for an ordinary exercise of perogative.

        • philk57

          “Political thoughts and opinions don’t flip on like a switch when people turn 18, they do tend to progress and evolve, starting at an early age.”

          And these kids are being taught to think of (and treat) people (fellow Americans) who have different beliefs as their enemy.

      • Chris

        What is so difficult about the concept that if you are going to make a high-profile political statement, which is what a gratuitous snub like this is, you need to be able to explain exactly what you think you are protesting against, which none of these kids can?

        How could you possibly know this?

  11. My 6th grader wouldn’t automatically know Paul Ryan from a hole in the wall. But there are others in this admin who she vehemently disagrees with and would not want to be in the room with- UNLESS she was armed with some things to say. That’s not because I’m indoctrinating her, it’s because she’s paying attention and at almost 12, she’s got OPINIONS (and we discuss stuff she hears). Remember how strongly held this age group’s opinions are. If Paul Ryan is offering to take a pic with me, I’d have a few choice things to discuss instead. But 8th graders who politely declined don’t seem unethical. I think if they’d staged some sort of loud thing out of it, that would be unethical. But body autonomy does enter this discussion- because we are teaching them to remove themselves from uncomfortable situations and people, and whether we like it or not, this was exactly that for those who went to the bus. They were comfortable on the bus. As a chaperone on many excursions and a Girl Scout leader, I’d have figured out how to split the adultpower (chaperones and teachers) to accommodate them, AND then had a discussion afterwards.

    • Observation; it took a LONG time for Becky’s comment to appear, she created it as 12:50pm on the 30th and it appeared at 10:09am on the 31st. That’s unusual. Must have been a system glitch.

      Becky,
      I get your point about splitting the adultpower; however, comparing leading/chaperoning a Girl Scout troupe to leading/chaperoning an entire eight grade class is really not a reasonable comparison.

      You really didn’t say what kind of excursions you were talking about or the conditions surrounding those excursions, so I have no basis for commenting on that.

  12. My parents were staunch NDP supporters. The NDP in Canada is basically a sitting political branch of unionised labour. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting in the back of my dad’s truck and passing orange lawn signs out. I think… It was in many ways a happier time then, people didn’t hate the other guys so much as they supported their guys. Or maybe that’s just preteen rose coloured glasses.

    Regardless. When I was In grade 5, Our Prime Minister, Jean Cretien actually paid us a visit out in Northern Manitoba. Our teachers knew it was a special occasion and our class made a field trip out to the airstrip to see him land. Cretien, it was assumed, would follow the red carpet laid out for him to his car and we could wave as he passed by. Instead, he waded directly through the crowd and shook every single snot covered 10 year old hand he could get his mitts on, and we were thrilled. A bunch of my friends said things like “I’m never going to wash this hand.” but that was almost immediately proven a lie, because upon return to our school, our teachers had us dip our hands in paint and made a wall sized mural with them, so we had to.

    I actually liked Cretien… Adscam was awful, and he was a corrupt thug, you couldn’t have paid me to vote for him, although I’m sure if your price was reasonable he’d write the cheque himself and hand deliver it in a brown paper envelope. But he had a,,, substance, and charisma, that’s fairly undeniable.

    My hometown, Dauphin, by the way, usually shows about a tenth of a percent support for the Liberals. I myself had been dipped deep in orange Kool-Aid and wouldn’t develop my more reasonable policy positions until I was 18 and working…. But it never even occurred to me to say no.

  13. Pete sez howdy

    Why is it so hard to grasp that the opinions and values of minors are worthy of protection, too?

    The student who was interviewed made a clear (and fairly sophisticated) statement: “”It’s not just a picture, … It’s being associated with a person who puts his party before his country”

    It is Jack who is shows disrespect by dismissing the value of a young person’s views. Whether we agree with the young man’s statement or not, do we accept that age automatically brings correctness of view?

    On what basis does Jack make the claims that the student is “indoctrinated” and “arrogant”, and that the young man’s statement is “empty phrases”? Is there any evidence of ‘indoctrination’ than the single quote in the ABC link? Would an analysis of Speaker Ryan quotes indicate that he is “indoctrinated” in any way?

    • I wonder, would you hold the same opinion if the kids had instead said, for insance, “I’m so glad that porch monkey is out of office, it’s great to meet you sir, white power?”

      Somehow… I tihnk not.

      • Pete sez howdy

        Humble Talent: Huh?

        Of course, the example you cite would be unacceptable, … and it seems irrelevant to this discussion because nothing like that actually happened in this example.

        • I’m just making the point that it isn’t that “the opinions of minors should be protected” so much as it’s that because the opinions of these kids follow yours, you seem to be willing to defend them.

          I’d argue that if pressed, these kids would have no idea why they feel this way, they’ve just hear their parents say it, or seen it on the TV, and think it’s what they’re supposed to say. And that’s sad, because they’re being taught to hate early.

          • Pete sez howdy

            Why do you assume that you know what my opinions are? I was defending their right to make their own choice, based on their own values. If the hypothetical were

            “What if the kids stayed on the bus because they did not want to meet with
            Elizabeth Warren?
            or Fidel Castro?
            or Bernie Sanders?
            or Micheal Moore?
            or Tom Delay?
            or Dick Cheney?
            or Lindsey Graham?

            that would be a proper analogy to what went down, and I would support their right to make a choice regardless of which Devil we were sending them to. It is the adults forcing their values on the young people that I object to. Teach, lead by example, do whatever works to present your values ethically, but please respect those who make a different choice. When you have a plan for dispelling ignorance in adults, then we can talk about whether 8th graders should get the same treatment.

            Until then, try applying your standard of “… if pressed, these X would have no idea why they feel this way, they’ve just heard Y say it, or seen it on the TV, and think it’s what they’re supposed to say. And that’s sad, because they’re being taught to hate early,” and substitute any class of people you care to for X & Y. There are few genuine grown-ups who would pass that test … even the ones registered to vote. And that’s sad.

            • “Why do you assume that you know what my opinions are?”

              I mean…. You did call “”It’s not just a picture, … It’s being associated with a person who puts his party before his country”” a “spohisticated” opinion. A characterisation I disagree with entirely, by the way.

              “I was defending their right to make their own choice, based on their own values. If the hypothetical were”

              First off, no such ‘rights’ exist. They don’t have the ‘right’ to stay up until 3AM, eat nothing but Jello, or set their own curriculum either.

              ““… if pressed, these X would have no idea why they feel this way, they’ve just heard Y say it” “substitute any class of people you care to for X & Y. There are few genuine grown-ups who would pass that test … even the ones registered to vote. And that’s sad.”

              That IS sad. But at least they’re adults. Look, we tend to hear kids say what we interpret to be profound things and attribute some deep meaning to them, like there’s a self evident truth involved. But really, these kids are just really good at emulating the adults in their lives. Have you ever heard one of these kids being interviewed? “Hey little Johnny, it sure was nice of you to work so hard to get money for that charity, what gave you the idea to do it?” “I dunno.”

              And that’s just it… They DON’T know. “What did you mean when you said he put his party before his country?” No f’n clue. That’s what.

              • Pete sez howdy

                How do you know these young people “do not have a clue”? That is a popular assumption made in these comment sections, but the reporter either never asked the follow-up question, or didn’t report on it, if asked.

                I had the pleasure of meeting my Member of Congress once in the late 1980’s just after he had voted for SDI (Star Wars missile shield) funding. He had voted his party line and did not have a coherent reason for it, or even a working understanding of the legislation he had just passed, as far as I could tell. It is an odd standard you choose to marginalize a 13 year old (with no evidence that your assessment is accurate), when some Members of Congress cannot pass the same test.

                • Chris

                  I wonder, would you hold the same opinion if the kids had instead said, for insance, “I’m so glad that porch monkey is out of office, it’s great to meet you sir, white power?”

                  Somehow… I tihnk not.

                  This is genuinely one of the weakest attempts at a gotcha I’ve ever seen, HT.

    • ”It’s not just a picture, … It’s being associated with a person who puts his party before his country”

      Sorry, but l don’t find that sophisticated, I find it empty sloganeering. Sophisticated would be, “Because he has done/said X, which turns my stomach because I believe Y, I just can’t be in a photo with him and look at myself in the mirror.”

  14. Those students who did not want to be in the photo should have simply taken a knee.

  15. Spartan

    Let me give you another hypothetical to chew on — abortion. During my high school days, my debate class was asked to choose sides on abortion, and prepare speeches for or against. I chose the pro-life side and I was personally and fervently opposed to abortion. Now, my position may have been half-baked given my age and maturity, but no one could have convinced me that I was in the wrong. If I had been given the opportunity to pose for a picture with a politician responsible for overturning a pro-life law at the time, I would have declined. And I think that would have been my prerogative. And I think most people here would agree.

    I am running into this same issue right now with my 8 year-old. She HATES Trump — to the point where she wrote him a letter. Even though we are a liberal family, I very much discourage lock-step thinking. So every time I ask her why she hates Trump, the only item she can come up with is that he wants to build a wall. When I ask her why she loves Clinton, she tells me it is because she does not want to build a wall. That’s it. I keep reinforcing that: 1) she has to learn to think for herself even if she disagrees with her parents; and 2) these are not good enough reasons to hate or love anybody. It is not getting through yet, but right now she hates Trump to the point that she was uninterested in going to the White House Easter Egg Roll.

    Kids are allowed to think and feel and it is not for us to judge whether their emotions are genuine. Perhaps some of these kids will regret their decision not to get the photo op later on, but that is the choice they made.

    • I think that’s… Perhaps pleasant sounding, but ultimately a cop out. If your daughter held views that you found geuinely abhorrent, I’m going to use racial superiority as an extreme example, there’s no doubt in my mind that you would…. discourage… such attitudes. As you should, that’s your job as a parent. Pretending children would in an dof themselves come to good conclusions if left to their own devices is foolish… And I think you know that.

      • Spartan

        The topic was limited to politics. Abortion is a political issue — racism is not.

        • Spartan wrote, “Abortion is a political issue — racism is not.”

          Abortion is a moral issue that’s been politicized.

          Racism is a moral issue that’s been politicized.

          Please try to prove those statements wrong.

          • Spartan

            Zoltar, I love you but sometimes you are exhausting.

            Abortion used to be a criminal issue, now it is just a political issue — the political issue being whether or not it should be criminal again. Racism — absent violence — always has been a moral issue. At best, one has a civil right of action in very narrow situations such as housing and employment, but everyone has the right to be racist.

            If you are arguing that abortion SHOULD be a moral issue alone, then I, just about every Democrat, and some Libertarians would agree with you.

            • Spartan wrote, “Zoltar, I love you but sometimes you are exhausting.”

              Glad to know that I’m challenging you in some way or another. 🙂

              Spartan wrote, “If you are arguing that abortion SHOULD be a moral issue alone…”

              That’s not my argument.

              You wrote, “Abortion is a political issue — racism is not.”

              I challenged that line of thinking with…

              “Abortion is a moral issue that’s been politicized.

              Racism is a moral issue that’s been politicized.”

              …and I asked you to “try to prove those statements wrong”, I don’t think you have achieved that in your reply.

              P.S. Most laws regarding criminal activity are somehow based on morals.

            • deery

              Kids are allowed to think and feel and it is not for us to judge whether their emotions are genuine. Perhaps some of these kids will regret their decision not to get the photo op later on, but that is the choice they mad

              I agree with Spartan on this, as far as it goes.

              I’m not sure what the through line is for people that disagree with that, especially if they also with Jack railing against parents “indoctrinating ” their children.

              Kids can think whatever they want, and feel whatever they want. It’s out of my control , the only thing I would be able to control is whether they hide their thoughts and feelings successfully in front of me, or not

              Kids are pretty much guaranteed to have all sorts of wrongheaded and maybe even repugnant thoughts. That’s when you challenge their thinking, give examples, encourage them to read various sources and histories. No, it isn’t quite as easy as trying to force them to just accept things uncritically(“because I said so, thats why!”) but I think they are better citizens that way, rather than the authoritarian approach that many here seem to be advocating.

              • Responding to deery, but really to the whole Spartan thread. I appreciate Spartan’s engagement to make her daughter think about her opinion, as it relates to reality.

                My daughter (just turned 15) made an offhand comment about climate change, parroting something she has heard (probably on a meme)

                I gave her the facts. I explained why what she said was demonstrably false, and supported that assertion with objective reality she could verify (and I told her how, but don’t hold your breath) This included the released emails where the progenitors discussed how to falsify their data for political reasons, and how cherry picking data and continually unproven data models drive the discussion.

                She can hold any opinion she likes, once given the facts. If we withhold the facts then we allow sloppy thinking, biased decision making, and faulty logic to rule kids’ lives. She can be a liberal, should she decide to do so. But she will know how to defend the position she takes, and will be ABLE to apply critical thinking skills, even if she chooses not to.

                And she might. The old saw goes ‘if you are not liberal when you are young, you have no heart. If you are not conservative when you are old, you have no brain.’ Many choose to not develop their critical thinking skills (their brain) when young, and are apparently incapable of developing them later in life.

        • I think you’re being deliberately obtuse to avoid my point. If not “racism” as a concept, then one of the political fruits of racism… Like an aspiration to a white ethno-state.

          • Chris

            HT, you’ve got to stop pretending that all views and ideas are equal.

            If my child comes home and tells me that abortion should be outlawed, or that climate change isn’t real, I’ll express my disagreement, but encourage them to form their own opinions.

            If my child comes home and tells me that they believe only white people should be citizens, I am going to take a much firmer stance against their position.

            There is no contradiction there, and no hypocrisy. And responding to people who say “I let my child come to their own conclusions” with “Oh yeah? Well what if your child was a NAZI? I bet you’d have a problem with that, wouldn’t you? So much for the tolerant left!” is not a convincing argument, and just makes you look like someone who can’t draw a reasonable distinction between respecting normal political differences and enabling bigotry.

            • Chris, I think we are in agreement, here. Give the child the unbiased information to form a conclusion upon which to base an opinion, but let them form that opinion even if you disagree with it.

    • JutGory

      “”It’s not just a picture, … It’s being associated with a person who puts his party before his country”

      I think Jack’s point (if not, it is mine) is that this is the wrong attitude. Wrong. It is wrong because, like it or not, he IS ASSOCIATED with Ryan. Like it or not, Ryan is a citizen and a duly-elected representative of the U.S.Congress, a body that legislates for this kid as a constituent (he may even be one of Ryan’s constituents). That is what makes this comment so divisive. It is denying a fundamental connection we have to each other. It is denying that we are associated with each other by consenting to be governed by a system that put Ryan in his position.

      It is an attitude that finds a home in the Resistance. The Resistance seems to be against the holding of office by a duly-elected individual. You can’t “resist” Trump without resisting the system that put him into office, the system that connects us with each other.

      And, it probably explains Jack’s antipathy with illegal immigrants. They are, by virtue of their illegality NOT ASSOCIATED with us. But, to treat them as if they are entitled to be here erodes the notion that we are associated by virtue of being citizens that have consented to be governed by a specific system; illegal immigrants have not done so and are in tacit violation of that very system by their illegal presence. (Parenthetically, I work with a lot of immigrants and obtaining citizenship is an event to celebrate. They take the event very seriously, not just for the perks, but for the feeling of belonging. And, most federal judges I have spoken to (all three of them) will tell you that the citizenship ceremonies are some of the most moving parts of their job. If you have not attended one, they are something to see.)

      This apparent non-sequitur was all as a preface to this remark:

      She HATES Trump — to the point where she wrote him a letter. Even though we are a liberal family, I very much discourage lock-step thinking. So every time I ask her why she hates Trump, the only item she can come up with is that he wants to build a wall.

      Writing a letter? Great. Good for her. Civic engagement is good and it sounds like she understands why she feels that way. She has a position, and it is defensible. But….

      I hope the “HATE” is hyperbole on your part. There is no reason to hate Trump, especially for a policy position.* You can dislike the policy for any number of reasons, just as it can be supported for any number of reason. To hate someone for taking a position you think is wrong, however, is needlessly divisive and unproductive. It cuts off negotiations, dialogue, and compromise.

      -Jut

      *Yeah, you can dislike him for being an obnoxious jerk, a buffoon, boorish, sexist, crass individual with no sense of tact or judgment. I don’t think I would like the guy if I met him. But, if he asked me to come to the White House, I would go; I would even get my picture taken with him. The same would be true with Obama. I really disliked his policies (I am not sure I can think of one that I liked), but I would not turn down such an invitation. And, unless asked, I probably would not even tell him that I thought his positions were horrible. And, if asked, I would certainly do it more tactfully than to say they were horrible. Because that is how you conduct a civil dialogue about civics.

  16. wyogranny

    What is happening here, I think, is that people with an agenda fear being respectful and engaging in social interactions with the “enemy” because when you do that there is a possibility that you might develop friendly feelings toward them. Then, you might not have an enemy anymore. Having an enemy is what drives movements such as the current “resist” nonsense. Children shouldn’t be made a part of adult political wars. Why teach children to avoid understanding other people, or to simply be respectful?

  17. Keith Walker

    I am reminded of a pretty funny story from my son’s younger days. We live in a pretty conservative community, and GW Bush made a campaign stop several years ago. His motorcade took him directly past Nathan’s elementary school, and of course the entire K-5 student body assembled on the playground to wave as the buses went by. Later, on his return home, Nathan said, ” yeah, he’s a right-wing nut job, but he IS the president.” So I guess we did OK as parents??

    • Pennagain

      I think so. He may have changed his opinion as he grew up (did he? just curious) but the basic attitude was right on, and that came from you. Congratulations.

  18. Spartan

    This has been bothering me all day Jack. If a 13 year-old doesn’t have the maturity and wisdom to decide for himself whether or not to meet a politician, then it must follow that the same teenage would gain nothing from the experience itself. So, the only gain is to the politician who is getting a photo opp. That seems wrong and unseemly, so it is perfectly okay for the kid (or the parent) to refuse participating in that photo opp. (Similarly, it is up to me whether or not my kids’ school can use their pictures in promotional materials.)

    Now, if you are saying that this is not the case and students would have something to gain from meeting with a politician, then they obviously have reached the point where they possess basic reasoning abilities, and they can politely decline such a meeting. They should be able to do so without the opposing party shaking their fists at them and grumbling about “these kids nowadays.”

    • I was taken to see the lousy town manager of Arlington Mass, so we could meet our town’s leadership. That connected us to the process and the town we live in, that’s all. It wasn’t political. I was in the 6th grade, and had already given a two hour lecture on the American Presidency at te library, and to my 5th grade class. I’m pretty sure I knew more than about national politics than most, if not all, of those middleschoolers, so I wasn’t a dupe. Still, I saw the honor and value of our busy town manager taking the time to show us that we were part of the town too. He wasn’t politicking–his job wasn’t even an elected one. Ryan was doing the same thing for those middleschoolers, and the symbolically spit in his eye.

  19. Pennagain

    I grew up in a thoroughly corrupt local political community (Jersey City, Hudson County, 1940s) where politicians mostly scared the hell out of us kids. They never hid their opinion of children as nuisances (non-voters, non-party-contributors, non-influential: period); as pawns to gain them applause (recipients of school awards or sponsored – not paid for – say, a week at summer camp or a trip to the carnival); as slaves (untipped or unpaid car washers, runners, leaf-rakers, lawn-mowers, paperboys etc.); or as flat out enemies (boys in particular who set off firecrackers or let their dogs loose at a rally or dared put their dirty, sticky hands on our officeholders’ bright black Buicks).

    These refugees from Tammany Hall were no more considered respectable, responsible, worthy leaders than Dick Tracy’s B.O. Plenty and the school-age kids knew it. “Boss” (Mayor) Hague (“Listen, here is the law! I am the law!”), who ruled the city directly from 1917 to 1947 and indirectly for at least another 30 years, was universally hated and often feared, second to none in political corruption. Nonetheless, lip service and stiffly polite behavior was the rule in public, if only because parents were the greater examples; and they held the direct punishment power. Possibly, too, much as peer pressure obtained on the playground, children away from school lacked almost all the authority they would obtain in the next decade. We had an allowance if we were lucky, but no real buying power — we were a marketing force only in terms of breakfast cereal and comic books. Even toys and candy remained pretty much classics. Though we were a widely mixed group ethnically, in the classroom or the gym, we had no separate clubs or meeting places for our particular interests. We attended the afterschool activities, sports, religious observations and social functions dictated by our parents (I was treated to a few weeks of ballroom dancing classes one horrid Fall). Aside from running wild virtually unsupervised during any free time — and we found plenty of free time — we heard the opinions of our parents, ministers, teachers, newspaper-reading assignments, and listened with family around mealtimes to whatever was on the radio.

    Civics class, the workings of “real” government, was treated like history, something that happened to other people. History studies, however flawed we see them now, especially as to heroes, attached memorable personalities to specific administrations. We got the blueprints of the machinery — not opinions — but specific knowledge of how our government functioned. Or was supposed to.

    Presidents, or rather THE President, FDR, had all the respect due a kind of Greek god (not upper-case “G”). In other words, not everyone admired him — at least one of our neighbors found him responsible for every terrible thing that had ever happened to Mankind, but he … all these masculine pronouns are going to come back to haunt me when some PC friend finds this post … he was given the reverence of his position, strength and longevity (to kids, he had reigned forever and ever, way back before our great-grandparents). Meeting one of his people — a congressman or senator — was considered a great privilege we had as Americans. Even writing a letter (usually a group letter mostly composed by the teacher) was an Important, grown-up thing, an achievement that we were convinced would, in itself, “make a difference.” (That’s where that having-to-do-something got started, I think.) We also learned that when we were adults — at the great age of 21, not a mere teen, laughably, still in school! — we would have A Vote. And that that vote would always “make a difference.”

    Most influentially, we had debates — yes, even in elementary school (as some here have already pointed out, 8th grade was the top of that educational component; many would not go beyond it) — and those were about as free-ranging as you could get, barring open Nazi sympathy in these immediately post-war days. Just about anything went, so long as it was delivered in what one teacher called ladylike and gentlemanly speech. We argued back and forth and back again, kids of several races and classes, many ancestries, and opposing, even inimical convictions.

    Hidden within those speeches (and their after-arguments) were Politics. Politics conservative and liberal to the alt-degrees, in rough outlines, communism to capitalism, xenophobic to xenophilic. Moderates didn’t have a chance. We didn’t know they had names, much less the parties to which they arbitrarily belonged. Many of the subjects spoke virtually to economics, world food distribution, city planning, taxes, animal protection, labor, deregulation, lawmaking, health care, women’s rights … ( I once spoke on “Ladies Can Be Bus Drivers Too” thinking it would be taken as humorous – never heard the end of that one, but strangely enough, the pragmatic argument before the days of power steering “they’re not strong enough” is raised every few years in San Francisco when the question arises: “Where are the women cable car workers?” .The answer is San Francisco’s 2nd female gripman in 140 years began in 2010 operating the various hand and foot controls that propel and stop the 15,500-pound vehicles. The job is there for anyone who can do it.)

    What I (we) learned in elementary school translated into more concrete information in high school, including the reasons for behaving with respect towards the members of our government, regardless of whether we agreed with them or not. By college, I was able to stand against McCarthy’s burning in effigy, glad that I was that he was no more. but aware that he hadn’t stood alone, and that insulting his memory was not going to make dialog any easier.

    This is the foundation of opinion: Civics and Debate. This is what seems to be missing now … so we get kids mouthing their parents’ slogans, making public gestures of refutation without understanding the way our country functions much less respecting the people who make it run, however jerkily.

    We learned one thing – clearly and absolutely – way back in grammar school, without even being aware of it, that bi-partisanship was the only way to go. From that base it was inevitable to see that one way of thinking didn’t hack it, whatever the church or manifesto said: that it was dangerous NOT to understand what the other side was thinking, and NOT to be willing and able to debate; that it was fatal NOT to continue to inform that opinion for our lifetime. Those people and those governments that have only one side eventually tip over. Some days in the USA, I feel I am losing my balance . . . .

    For various reasons, I cannot engage here as often or as easily as I would like, but Jack’s Ethics Alarms posts, read to the bottom of the screen and occasionally on to a second one, inform with surprise, and often … eventually … say what I wanted to say. Carry on, please.

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      Frank Hague, the inspiration for the NJ Constitution, written after WWII specifically so someone like him could NEVER arise again. Yecccch!

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