For awhile now, I’ve been rolling some ideas around in my brain about liberty and parenting and religion and education, and, while it has by no means coagulated into anything solidly coherent, I think it’s time to let others roll it around and play with it.
A few months back, I got involved in a discussion with a couple of our more libertarian commenters (whom I love dearly, of course) on the topic of education. They argued that in an ideal system, a child’s education should be determined entirely by the parents, and that adequate education for all would be provided by the market. We sparred mostly about the effectiveness of the market structure in this enterprise, but something was hitting me on a deeper level that I hadn’t really gotten a handle on until recently.
We were looking at the children’s education as a function of the parents’ freedom. At what point does a parent’s right to raise their child as they see fit (or, as some argue, their freedom to not pay taxes) infringe upon that child’s right to live a healthy life, relatively untainted by abuse? Don’t we owe it to all our kids to give them as equal a shot as is possible at success? That seems sort of intuitive to me. Being a grey area kind of person, I don’t expect to be able to draw a clean line here, but maybe some of you will offer your thoughts. Do we go with Dawkins’ assertion that any kind of religious indoctrination is tantamount to child abuse?
I was finally prompted to write this when I saw an article about a boy whose family belonged to a cult being found dead in a suitcase (sorry I didn’t include the link…the link tool is not working…will add later). Obviously this is an extreme case that (I hope) we can all agree on, but what about more subtle situations? What about the FLDS kids who are raised to believe that their way of life is normal and healthy? Do we have a right to tell them otherwise?