Friday, May 22, 2009

Please tell me they grow out of it

I have to honestly ask: Have middle school-age children always thought this way, or is this yet another indication of the morally bankrupt instruction they have received since birth in our oh-so politically correct universe?

This morning, I am teaching my 7th graders about the Age of Enlightenment; all those political thinkers from the 17th-19th centuries like Locke, Voltaire, and Montesquieu.

We started the lesson with Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who believed that the closer to a "state of nature" that people lived, the better. He believed that we people are born good, and that it is government and civilization that corrupts us. I mentioned a quote of Rousseau's to my students in which he said, "One could say that savages are not evil precisely because they do not know what it is to be good."

The students weren't too sure what that meant, so I gave them the example of a lost traveler getting stuck on some remote island full of cannibals. The cannibals capture the traveler, kill him, cook him, and eat him. That is the cannibal culture, and that is what they do. I then asked my students if this was wrong?

They all agreed it was not, "If that's their culture." But they are killing an innocent person, I protested. But they held their ground on their position. I could have brought up other examples like clitorectomies on little girls in the Muslim world or the practice in India of forcing the still-alive widow to join her dead husband on the cremation pyre - a practice extinguished by the British when they controlled India. However, I am not in the mood to have some Muslim or Indian parent breathing down my neck so close to the end of the school year, so I once again emphasized that the students were giving the OK to the killing of an innocent person, and left it at that.

This interaction is a textbook example of the legacy of the multicultural crap that has been fed to our youth over the last few decades: No culture is better than any other. Who are we to say what is wrong and what is right for someone else? Sorry, but a culture of freedom and the respect for life and the rule of law is better than cultures in which these qualities are missing.

Later in the lesson, we got to John Locke and his Natural Rights theory. This is when I ask my students where their rights come from - who gives them their rights?

The number one answer? Government.

I am really fighting the tide here.

Good Day to You, Sir

30 comments:

Darren said...

Sad, isn't it?

hobbitt said...

My husband encounters that at college. He uses the same example, "I wish to practice my native Fore custom out of New Guinea. We practiced ritualized canabalism generations ago. Would you like to come over for dinner, say...about 6o'clock?" Eventually the students get the point.

Anonymous said...

More like frustrating.

On a positive note, after having students look at the Declaration, and my discussing it with them, the students get that their rights come from their Creator. Oh . . . did I just teach that?????

I also peg them a million times with a CFU: Does the government give you your rights?

I also make sure and hammer home this point: if ________________ gives you your rights, then _________________ can take a away your rights.

In addition, I say this: Your rights are yours, from birth, and they cannot be given to you by anyone else. They are inherent, given to you at birth.

Don't know if this helps - hang in there - if they already knew everything, they would not need us.

Babbie said...

My favorite line (NOT) in high school essays after a student has taken a position is, "of course, everyone has their [sic] opinion." In other words, all ideas and opinions are equal. And that's in a Catholic high school.

Anonymous said...

Do they grow out of it? Don't you know the results of the recent Presidential election? Viva Peron!

Chanman said...

Anonymous: Touche'!

Donalbain said...

Well, government does give rights. There is no other body that can do so. In a society with one government you might have a right to do some action, but in another society you would not have that right.

Now, you can claim that you really DO have the rights even when the government prevents you (or punishes) you for doing something, but to me that is empty philosophy. There is no evidence for the existence of the existence of rights absent some form of society. If someone came up with a right-o-meter that we could use to detect the presence of rights, then I could be persauded the other way, but until then...

What most people mean when they say "You have the inherent right to do X" is "I think you SHOULD have the right to do X".

Anonymous said...

"But though men when they enter into society, give up the equality, liberty and executive power they had in the state of nature, into the hands of the society, to be so far disposed of by the legislature, as the good of the society shall require; yet it being only with an intention to everyone the better to preserve himself his liberty and property"" (John Locke, Second Treatise, Chapter 9).

Donalbain said...

Men do not have liberty in the "state of nature". Absent a government, each man is at the mercy of the nearest strong man who wants something. If the local thug says he will kill me if I do not give him my crops, then how is that freedom?

Chanman said...

"Men do not have liberty in the 'state of nature'. Absent a government, each man is at the mercy of the nearest strong man who wants something."

Exactly Donalbain; did you read what anonymous quoted from Locke, or did your fingers begin flailing on the keyboard before your brain engaged.

Locke is saying that with the creation of a government, our liberties are better protected. In other words, government doesn't give us our rights, government secures the rights with which we were born. I believe the U.S. Declaration of Independence says something to that effect, and guess where Thomas Jefferson (who wrote the Dec of Ind) got the idea for that line? From the writings of John Locke.

Bottom line Donalbain: Government does not grant rights; government is created by man in order to protect rights that were granted to us by God. And no, you don't have the "right" to steal because you feel like it. Rights come in with a built-in limit that says that you have the right to do what you want, but when that infringes on someone else's rights, then that's where your right stops. I believe that is called the Golden Rule. Our founders sure knew their Bible.

Donalbain said...

Oh. It is God. Fair enough. My imaginary friend says I have the right to punch you in the face.

Please show that YOUR "god" outranks my "god". When you can do that, you will have shown that your idea of rights is better than mine.

Donalbain said...

And on a technical note, the Golden Rule is not about rights, but about obligations.

It does not say "Allow your neighbour to do what you would like to do." It tells you to do things.


Maybe a concrete example might help.

Does George Takei have the "right" to marry the man he loves?

If so, then where does that right come from and if not, why not?

Chanman said...

Read the Declaration of Independence and then get back to me, otherwise, step off and troll some other blog.

Anonymous said...

Saying that rights come from men or from a collection of mankind called government is akin to saying that humans have no rights at all.

Donalbain - like many atheists, you have failed to consider the serious nature of Christian Theology - it is not as simple as many of you make it to be. Who can seriously consider the sophomoric arguments of atheists who have not done their homework about Christianity? C'mon my imaginary friend?

Besides, if you studied history you might at least acknowledge the significance of monotheism to the development of republicanism and our form of government; which requires an understanding of justice, mercy, a sense of right and wrong rooted in the dignity of the individual.


George

Anonymous said...

"But though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of licence: though man in that state have an uncontroulable liberty to dispose of his person or possessions, yet he has not liberty to destroy himself, or so much as any creature in his possession, but where some nobler use than its bare preservation calls for it. The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions: for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent, and infinitely wise maker; all the servants of one sovereign master, sent into the world by his order, and about his business; they are his property, whose workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one another's pleasure: and being furnished with like faculties, sharing all in one community of nature, there cannot be supposed any such subordination among us, that may authorize us to destroy one another, as if we were made for one another's uses, as the inferior ranks of creatures are for our's. Every one, as he is bound to preserve himself, and not to quit his station wilfully, so by the like reason, when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he, as much as he can, to preserve the rest of mankind, and may not, unless it be to do justice on an offender, take away, or impair the life, or what tends to the preservation of the life, the liberty, health, limb, or goods of another."

Donalbain: so this sounds like a bad idea to you? If so, explain why?

Anonymous said...

To simplify: it matters not whether you are a Christian, Buddhist, any other religion, or no religion. You are born with rights that are natural and inherent as stated in the DOI. With this in mind, here is the pecking order:1.Creator 2.Man 3.Constitution 4.Government. Therefore, government is low man on the totem pole. What government gives, government can take away. I strongly suggest that Donalbain rent the movie "Braveheart" with Mel Gibson. This shows what goes wrong when government does not protect the rights of people, and instead becomes tyrannical.

Donalbain said...

The DoI is just the opinions of some people. It is not evidence that those people are correct on matters of philosophy.

As for whether something is a "good idea" or not, that is not the discussion at hand. The discussion at hand is whether something is TRUE. And there has so far been presented NO evidence for the existence of any rights that are not granted by some government or equivalent human body.

Chanman said...

The DoI is just the opinions of some people, huh?

You know the best part? We in the United States live under the DoI, which states that "we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights." We Americans decided that creating a government whose job it is to secure rights that we are born with is much more preferable to living under a government that grants or retracts rights according to its whims. Those "opinions" in the DoI make up the backbone of the founding purpose of our country.

You have fun in merry old England where I see on a constant basis that your country is far more advanced down the road to hell than ours.

Cheers.

Donalbain said...

Well, at least you have agreed they are just opinions. That is something. But again, you are just asserting that you are "born with rights" and are not offering evidence to back that up other than those opinions.

If there was some way to objectively test what rights a person has or does not have, we would not be having this discussion. You could simply point out the way we can test what rights exist in nature and I would be shown to be incorrect. You can't do that though, and so you just have to state your opinion as if it was fact.

Chanman said...

Actually "quote marks" like that with which I surrounded your word "opinions" means that I do not believe they are opinions; I am quoting you.

You ain't too bright are ya? What do you teach again?

Anonymous said...

Donalbain: so this sounds like an untrue idea to you? If so, explain why?

Seriously, have you read Locke?

George

Anonymous said...

Don

Please explain what is true regarding man's rights?

Donalbain said...

The truth (as far as we can tell using actual evidence) is that rights exist as a function of the society in which we live. So, for instance, at one point in the society of the UK, women did NOT have the right to vote and now they do. Similarly, in South Africa a few decades ago, blacks did not have the right to vote and now they do. In Virginia a few decades ago Mr and Mrs Loving did not have the right to get married, then they went to court and then they did have that right. In ancient Rome a slave did not have the right to freedom and their life...

Now, some people might claim that those people really did have all those rights but that government was simply refusing to recognise or protect them. However, there is no evidence for that claim and there is no functional difference between right that has been denied and a right that does not exist.

If anyone had any such evidence then this would be a vastly different conversation and human society would have been vastly different.

Chanman said...

Obviously, you are set in your opinion, so have fun with it. What scares me is that there are many people in the U.S. who have the same twisted and dangerous view of human rights that you do: that government can give them or take them at its whim.

I leave you with these parting words:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. That among these rights are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness; That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Believe whatever nonsense you like, but I prefer to live in a country based on this kind of thinking.

Donalbain said...

"We hold these truths to be self-evident"

And some people believed it was self evident that slavery was OK.

And some people believed it was self evident that disenfranchisement of women was OK

And some people believed that it was self evident that banning inter-racial marriage was OK

And some people believe it is self evident that banning same sex marriage is OK

Chanman said...

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. That among these rights are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness; That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Believe whatever nonsense you like, but I prefer to live in a country based on this kind of thinking.

Donalbain said...

"We hold".. not "We have evidence that"..

And considering this was from a bunch of men who didn't think women had the same rights as men, and who thought that it was acceptable to set up a constitution with 3/5 of a person...

Forgive me if I don't accept their word for it.

Chanman said...

Opinion is one thing; intellectual dishonesty is another.

The "3/5 of a person" lie is a strong one that you lefties love to pull out no matter how thoroughly it has been shot down. Apparently, you need an education as well.

The lie is that the Founding Fathers were all a bunch of dirty racists because they considered black people to be 3/5 of a person.

First, the 3/5 Clause applied only to slaves; free blacks in the north and south were counted as full people, just like anyone else.

Further, and more importantly, I have a pop quiz for you Donalbain:

Who fought to have slaves considered 3/5 of a person, the pro-slavery southern delegates? Or the anti-slavery northern delegates?

Answer: It was the ANTI-slavery northern delegates. In fact, these northern delegates did not want the slaves counted AT ALL, whereas the PRO-slavery southern delegates wanted every one of their slaves counted as a full person.

It all had to do with the census. Congressional representation is based on state population; the more people a state has, the more representatives the state gets in Congress. If the southern states could have had their slaves counted as people, that would have almost doubled the amount of reps they would have in Congress, which would have given the South more ability to spread slavery through the legislative process. That is why the northern states didn't want the slaves counted at all.

In order to keep the Constitutional Convention from falling apart, the two sides did the same thing that they did with other issues during the convention: They compromised. The compromise was to count three slaves out of every five for purposes of determining representation.

For you to pull out this tired falsehood shows you to be either a liar or an ignorant fool.

Oh, and by the way,

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. That among these rights are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness; That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Believe whatever nonsense you like, but I prefer to live in a country based on this kind of thinking.

Donalbain said...

So.. no evidence has been presented for the existence of rights absent government. I will leave it at that

Chanman said...

I bet you will leave it at that.

Remember...

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. That among these rights are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness; That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

My evidence is that this position has made the USA a beacon of freedom for the world.

Believe whatever nonsense you like, but I prefer to live in a country based on this kind of thinking.