Re: Rights (Was Re: Violence in schools)

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Tue Oct 03 2000 - 13:55:45 MDT

"J. R. Molloy" wrote:
> David Lubkin wrote,
> > The trouble with asserting rights as a kid (or as a parent, on behalf of your
> > children) is that after you've made a stink, you have to go back to the same
> > school, to the same teacher. And won't they be glad to see you....
> Then again, American parents have the right to move their kids to Montana and
> home school them.

Ah, but is forcing your child to move to Montana with you kidnapping? No? Then
they have no rights separate from the authority of their parents.

> > The tough issue for me: Kids come in all stripes and colors. Some are mature
> > and responsible, some are wild animals, and some are in-between. From my POV,
> > the rules, particularly those in school, give adults broad discretion with
> > little recourse and few repercussions for treating children in a way that
> would
> > be wholly unacceptable if applied to adults. On the other hand, inner-city
> > teachers complain that, in this oversensitive, litigious age, they feel
> > powerless to deal with disciplinary problems.
> I think they should not only "feel" powerless to rule and control kids, they
> should *be* powerless, and let the kids evolve to autonomous responsibility of
> their own device. That's probably the best way to provide an environment in
> which a Siddhartha Gautama, Moses, Lao Tzu, Galileo, Socrates, et al., can grow
> up.

I have no trouble with preventing teachers from forcing students to behave. I do
have trouble with not permitting teachers to expel troublesome students who are
violating the rights of everyone else to teach or be educated. When a parent
enrolls their child in school, they must accept responsibility for the behavior
of their child, or else give the school the authority commensurate with the
responsibility they are being asked to assume.

> > I think children are the one of the hardest issue for a libertarian to grapple
> > with. What rights should children have?
> Basically, I think they should have the right to think for themselves, and to
> choose whatever philosophy (philosopher, science, school of thought, etc.) suits
> them best, regardless of the personal opinions of parents and teachers.
> > Where do the rights of a parent end?
> Parents rights ought to end where children's rights begin, IMO.

Funny. And they are?

> > What right does the rest of society have to interfere with how I raise my
> child?
> If your child becomes a serial killer, society has the right not only to
> interfere, but also to hold you responsible. This kind of policy would have the
> added benefit of discouraging many people from becoming parents, thereby helping
> to alleviate the overpopulation problem. (All social problems derive directly or
> indirectly from overpopulation.)

If a society prevents parents from taking action to prevent their children from
becoming serial killers, the it is on the head of society, not the parents.

> > Should the rights be age-based, or is there a reasonable way to assess
> > intelligence, maturity, and judgment?
> I'd say children (and everyone, for that matter) should be evaluated on the
> basis of their actions, their behavior, and their social conduct, rather than on
> the basis of age or whatever psychotropic substances they choose to put into
> their bodies.
> > The Libertarian Party platform takes a stab at it, but some of their
> > conclusions seem absurd. They feel that "children always have the right to
> > establish their maturity by assuming administration and protection of their
> > own rights, ending dependency upon their parents or other guardians, and
> > assuming all responsibilities of adulthood." Sure.... How about three-year-
> > olds who don't want to take a nap?
> If you focus on waking the 3-year-old from its naps at a regular and specified
> times instead of trying to make them take a nap at a specific time, this problem
> evaporates. Kids will go to sleep when they get sleepy enough. When kids get
> mature enough to object to being awakened at a particular time (selected by a
> parent or caretaker), then kids can decide for themselves what time to begin
> their naps.

Starting kids on a regimen from infancy does wonders for their emotional
stability (it works with pets too). Try feeding your pet from puppyhood at the
exact time every day. They do get to know when they are supposed to be fed.
Don't do so, and they will want to eat at any time, and are far more bothersome
on a consistent basis.

> > Animal rights are also hard. Why is it a property crime to kill Koko, the
> > gorilla with an IQ of 70, when it's murder to kill a human with an IQ of 70?
> Given today's atmosphere of animal rights versus human rights, I'd guess it
> would be easier to kill a retarded human than to kill a healthy gorilla. As for
> laws which pertain to this comparison, remember that the 70 IQ human probably
> has parents capable of litigation, but the gorilla does not. The old saw still
> rings true, "It's not what you know that counts, but who you know."

And if you can pay for it.

> > We already have a system of fractional civil rights -- certain rights for
> > adult citizens vs. felons vs. children vs. non-citizens vs. retarded -- why
> > not extend it to non-humans?
> I'd be more in favor of moving in the opposite direction on this. Instead of
> extending the concept of rights to non-humans, why not give rights only to those
> who demonstrate that they know what to do with them?

Ah, a meritocracy. Something I've often speculated about, but most people tend
to be of the opinion that a meritocracy is fascistic (mainly because they fear
they themselves will not qualify).

Mike Lorrey

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