Lawmakers in the United States, thanks to an unforgivably apathetic and grossly uninformed populace, long ago perfected the art of opportunism in crashing down the gates of individual freedom each time an atrocity or indescribable crime paints headlines in blood.
‘Think of the children,’ seems to be the standard if implicit rallying call of the putatively patriotic members of Congress, governors, mayors, and the rest, ‘think of our security as a nation!’
And the people, stirred to an emotional crescendo through this nebulous atmosphere of fear, eagerly champion the erosion of everyone’s rights — because, of course, a bad thing happened — and it could happen, again.
Disaster happens, paranoia and broad insecurity are stoked to maximum effect, invariably ill-conceived and short-sighted legislation is then hastily applied, and everything’s back to normal — rather, the amplified, new normal, wherein the Nanny State takes an even more meticulous interest in the private lives of its citizen-children — the whole affair formulaically stale, yet unfailingly accepted as necessary to protect the feckless citizenry from itself. Because, after all the dust settles, that description, control — rather than any tangible, palpable increase in safety and security — summarizes the true aim of legislatures in the wake of tragedy.
Perhaps the worst opportunism — that undertaken with the disingenuous bullhorn of morality — is unfolding in California, following the discovery and subsequent media blitz detailing an inarguable case of child abuse, so unmistakably horrifying in scope as to be an exception destined for text books on crime, psychology, and criminal psychology in the near future.
Authorities in Riverside County, California, were alerted to the Perris home of David and Louise Turpin by one of their thirteen emaciated children — who had managed to escape what has been characterized as a house of horrors by investigators. Ranging in age from two years to twenty-nine, several of the couple’s children were reportedly found shackled to their beds amid untenable conditions. Undoubtedly, the Turpins must endure fitting punishment for the abuse inflicted over years. Outrage and tears from neighbors and other family members appears ongoing in the media, perhaps loudened to quiet guilt over their own failings to seek assistance.
It’s a clear-cut case of abuse.
Authorities fast pointed to the parents’ claiming they homeschooled their children to call into question the fundamental right of parents throughout the State of California — if not also elsewhere — to school or unschool progeny in the way they see fit. Homeschoolers, they rail, must not be permitted the wide girth in law they’ve enjoyed thus far … because abuse can happen.
As if on cue, discussion centered around the need to regulate, track, observe, analyze, and generally treat parents schooling children in the home as presumed abusers — because abuse can happen in the home — refusing to allow the brazen lack of constitutionality, legal precedence, remnant ethical questions, and the most basic logic to enter into the negotiative stages as talk foments into dangerously rights-eradicating proposals of law.
To wit, as Jenna Ellis contributes to the Washington Examiner,
“Suggested measures have included options for involuntary quarterly home visits and interviews from child protective services and other government agencies. This kind of government regulation and oversight would reduce the valid legal option of homeschooling from a fundamental parental right, to direct the education and school choice for children, to compelled consent to government intrusion upon the sanctity and privacy of the home and school choice.
“These kinds of alarming ‘solutions’ to an unfounded problem rises to the level of a government search of the family’s home and interviews of children, under the pretext that homeschool choice infers that parents are more likely to be child abusers. It’s a similar illogical path as inferring that because a person chooses to be an independent contractor as a legitimate employment option, they are more likely to evade tax filings, or because a person chooses to exercise any other valid legal option, they are doing so for some other unrelated nefarious purpose, and on that basis alone the government has grounds to treat them as suspect.”
Ellis further points out data from ostensively respectable institutions like the World Health Organization, the U.S. Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, the American Psychological Association, and the Mayo Clinic, among others, evince no heightened incidence of child abuse among households who homeschool.
Further still, schooling children in the home is still a right in every state in the union — each with its own educational or other requirements or lack thereof — and is not regulated or monitored at the federal level. Homeschooling has indeed exploded in popularity in recent years as parents with the ability to do so choose not to subject their progeny to the government’s preferred variety of education — one largely based upon test-taking, regurgitation, and the bane of many, Common Core.
Whatever their reasons, homeschooling does not equate abuse. It does not equate neglect, strictness, religiosity, anti-socialness, nor does it equate harm — of any variety.
It is laughable the lawmakers in California seek to demonize a practice due to the appalling and inexcusable transgressions of two criminals who incidentally claimed homeschooling in some documentation in the past.
Presuming all homeschoolers harbor hidden inclinations to abuse their own children and fitting legislation into place to ensure the abhorrently invasive monitoring of law-abiding homeschoolers would be akin to suffering a massive and violent attack at the hands of a few terrorists — and then implementing mass surveillance and monitoring of the citizenry to keep everyone safe. From … the citizenry.
Homeschool Legal Defense Association President Mike Smith, forced into a statement by the absurdity of regulation for homeschooling being bandied about the state legislature, asserted last week,
“These efforts incorrectly assume that homeschooling is the problem here. Hasty legislation based on horrific and criminal behavior — behavior that has nothing to do with homeschooling — would be unfair to the thousands of law-abiding families in California who work hard to provide a safe and loving environment for their children.”
A Nanny State government, in its current iteration, seeks control of as many facets of the public’s private lives as can be obtained without battle — easily accomplishing the task in soothing overtones after tragedy.
But it would only be through a paucity of reason, logic, fact, and understanding of what it truly means to school children in the home that California’s politicians duplicitously enact controls upon a segment of the populace by-and-large deeply committed to active engagement with youth and an eye to a better future — just because abuse can happen.