A banned teen mom yearbook photo from 2013
In dual (but not dueling) Comments of the Day on the same post, Chris Marchener ably carries on the ethical discussion of why it is irresponsible for teens to have children while in school and unmarried, while the Curmudgeon himself, Rick Jones, takes up my challenge and proves that some progressives understand that glamorizing self-destructive behavior is neither compassionate nor wise. Here are Chis and Rick, in that order, both delivering Comments of the Day on the post Irresponsible and Incompetent —and Jaw-Droppingly Stupid— School Administration Decision Of The Decade: “Hey! Let’s Have A Yearbook Salute To Seniors Who Have Kids Before They Graduate!”
I cannot agree that it takes heroic courage to raise a child as a teenager but I will agree that the child made the ethical choice to treat the developing fetus as a living human being. Upon birth the child could be given up for adoption. That too is a choice.
The fact is that the act of having a child without the personal resources to care for and raise the child imposes costs not only on the child but on society at large. I will admit there are no absolutes in describing the behavioral motivations of the young mother but much has been written on the subject such that many of these young girls are using the child as a surrogate for the unconditional love that they never received themselves. To that end the baby is merely an object to satisfy a need of the teenage mother. For these mothers keeping the child not heroic it is selfish. Glorifying the (poor) choice made reinforces the belief in others that having a baby as a teen is no big deal and may actually elevate their social status.
Who exactly is taking care of the child when the teenage mother is still in school? An extended family member? Maybe. What costs are being imposed on the family member that must now care for the child because you are in school? If paid daycare is the choice who pays for that? Who pays to clothe and feed the child? Not the young mother as she has no resources. Where is the father to pay for these costs? Oh I forgot we no longer have fathers we have “baby daddies” – those irresponsible young men that make their rounds inseminating as many girls as possible to prove their manhood because they never learned from a real father what it means to be a man.
Neither the pregnant teen nor the inseminating male have the resources to pay for the food shelter and medical care for themselves or their offspring as a result of their CHOICES, which is why our social services programs costs have exploded in the last 50 years. We cannot remind young people of the negative effects of a sexual choice if we eliminate the negative effects. We have no problem stigmatizing other behavioral choices. Smokers are social pariahs. The government banned us from seeing images of people using tobacco in publications so that children would not see smoking as a glamorous lifestyle and start the habit. We have a war on obesity in which we make the overweight person feel unattractive, unwanted and a blight on a healthy society. Why? Because the claim is that both of these behaviors impose third party health care costs. So, to all those not wanting to create a stigma for unwed teen moms do you feel as strongly about the stigma we attach to those behaviors or physical characteristics?
In the past, carrying the stigma of being an unwed mother prevented both the births of children that suckle on the teat of society’s resources, and the desire for abortions because the child – I reinforce the word child – did not make the very bad choice to engage in sex until they were socially and economically responsible enough to raise the child.
I would never stigmatize the child for being born to any single person because they were not consulted beforehand. I can, however, choose to find irresponsible sexual behavior among teens to be blight on our society.
The most important thing a female can do to empower herself to achieve future success is to make good choices about her own sexual habits early on. This probably means telling her suitors to keep it in their own pants.
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. Continue reading
Deonna and Kimberly: fit for classes, unfit for the yearbook?
It was only a couple of weeks ago that an Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz featured the decision of North Carolina’s Wheatmore High School to disallow the yearbook photo a beaming unwed senior took with her baby, after the school unwisely opened the can of ethical worms by inviting students to include meaningful “props” in their pictures. Of that controversy, I wrote,
“Society sends foolishly mixed messages about unwed and teen pregnancies already, and a student using her yearbook photo to proclaim her pride in single-motherhood would indeed appear to be teen pregnancy advocacy. See? She’s happy! She graduated! She has an adorable baby! You can have one of these adorable living dolls too! “Don’t get pregnant before you’re legal, married and have a degree, but if you do have a baby, we’ll be glad to let you display it like it was your winning 4H project!” makes no sense, not that the whole “bring a prop” plan was much better.”
Now the predictable variation has raised its troublesome head. In White Cloud, Michigan, high school students Deonna Harris and Kimberly Haney were told by high school administrators that their pictures were unfit for publication in this year’s school yearbook, because they are pregnant. They were offered the chance to be shown from the neckt up—you know, like they used to show actresses on TV sitcoms from the waist up when a a star’s pregnancy couldn’t be worked into the script—but the students refused.
The “logic” of Barry Seabrook, White Cloud schools superintendent, was that 1) allowing the full body photos would constitute a violation of Michigan’s official policy that the school’s sex education program should be based on abstinence; 2) some parents would make trouble, and 3) the inclusion of the pictures in the yearbook might promote teen pregnancy. Not one of these makes logical sense, is fair, or just reason to stigmatize the girls or make them disguise themselves. Continue reading
Last year’s high school controversial high school yearbook-related Ethics Quiz in involved a comely female student who wanted to advertise sex;* this year’s edition is about the potential results of effective advertising.
Wheatmore High School in North Carolina told its graduating seniors that they should have their yearbook photos should include some object that would have personal significance. It was very kind of them to guarantee at least one Ethics Alarms-worthy donnybrook with this brain-dead idea: just imagine all the props students could have brought along to prime lawsuits and Fox News stories. A diabetic student might have posed with a syringe, for example. Or an empty martini glass. The “V is For Vendetta” mask. A Romney-Ryan button. A John Edwards for President button! A winning poker hand. A blow-up doll. A Samurai sword, or more edgy yet, a pressure cooker. Or, of course, a hunting rifle. I’m amazed that only graduating senior Caitlin Tiller thought of a prop that was guaranteed to set school administrators’ teeth grinding, but she certainly chose a dandy one: her baby.
The school rejected the resulting photo of the happy 17-year-old, unmarried mother holding her year old child, Leelin, as celebrating teen pregnancy and motherhood. It also cannily waited long enough to inform Caitlin that the yearbook was days from publication by the time she found out. Caitlin and her mother vociferously protested ( “They should be proud students are willing to stay in school graduate and make something of themselves and not try and hide it” —-Tiller’s mother, Karen Morgan), but to no avail.
Your 2013 Ethics Alarms Yearbook Ethics Quiz:
Was it fair and responsible for the school to reject the photo of Caitlin and Leelin?
and a Bonus Question… Continue reading
No, Candace, we haven’t forgotten Murphy and her amazing vanishing baby.
Conduct that is harmful to society needs to be rejected and condemned by society, and society has limited options for accomplishing that. It can make destructive and harmful conduct illegal, but some kinds of conduct can’t be illegalized. Uncivil speech, for example, is ugly and causes discord, and the only way to make it less common is to let those who engage in it know that neither they nor their communication habits are appreciated. The Supreme Court has decided that we can’t make lying illegal, but we certainly have the power to make habitual liars feel unpopular.
When society sends mixed messages about destructive conduct, or worse, tell those who engage in it that they are still wonderful people and that their conduct might be just fine for them, it poisons itself. There is a solid, practical reason for Kant’s Rule of Universality, which holds that conduct that would be lead to societal catastrophe if everybody engaged in it is wrong should be discouraged. If everybody doing it would be bad, it’s a good bet that the fewer doing it, the better.
No toxic social conduct illustrates the folly of hesitating to condemn it more vividly than unwed pregnancy, particularly teen pregnancy. While shunning and shaming pregnant teens was undoubtedly cruel, sending the message that unwed motherhood is socially acceptable is arguably crueler. This kinder, gentler response, combined with the warping influence of wealthy celebrities proudly parading their “baby bumps” courtesy of equally rich celebrity boyfriends, has led to an explosion of births without wedlock, especially in the black community. The children of these non-marriages are handicapped from birth, more likely to fall into poverty,substance abuse, illiteracy and crime; the mothers involved less are likely to succeed in careers or life; government programs, funded by taxpayers, are too often required to mitigate the damage. Continue reading
A Mike Huckabee advisor?
…and also the courage test.
Speaking unpopular truths and backing down once they prove unpopular is worse than what most politicians do, which is to avoid speaking the truth at all. In Huckabee’s case, he compounded the villainy by not only backing down, but by absurdly lying about what he had said, despite the fact that his words were recorded and his meaning was clear as a bell.
Huckabee, in case you don’t follow the remarks of former state governors under the delusion that he can they can be elected President, had criticized Oscar winner Natalie Portman’s proud single mother-to-be act, saying, Continue reading
Unwed teenage pregnancies are on the rise again. There are many reasons, but one of them has to be this: it is hard to discourage self-destructive and societally damaging conduct while the culture celebrates it. Continue reading