Thursday, September 17, 2009

Culture of Stupid

A few days ago, my local paper ran this story about abstinence-only sex education in Texas public schools, and among the commenters was a reader who said this:
I don't care what side of the argument you're on. If you believe that kids should be taught how to use protection or if you believe abstinence is best solution...THEN TEACH YOUR KIDS! It is not the responsibility of government run schools to be teaching this subject. Is it possible that the rise in teen pregnancy is due to ignorant parenting? Why do so many people support letting the brainwashing machine (schools) do YOUR job?
This seems to me to be a common attitude amongst the rightwing and libertarian factions in our society - that a public school education is the equivalent of being "brainwashed" by the government. And don't EVEN talk about a university education - that's where the evil liberals get ahold of your brain and turn you into a communist. Of course these are the same people who dominate the Texas State BOE and are working furiously to insert as much Christian evangelism and rightwing ideology into our public school curriculum as possible so, for them, "brainwashing" by "the government" is perfectly okay as long as they get to set the agenda. An interesting concept, I must say.

And look at the huge rise in popularity of home "schooling". It gives me the willies. I actually had a rightwinger at work relate this anecdote to me about a friend of hers whose daughter had been home-schooled all her life then they decided to try to send her to public school when she was in middle school (and one wonders about the wisdom of THAT plan - is middle school really the best time to introduce your children to a culture of peers?). According to this woman, the daughter came home after "TWO DAYS!!!" (hysterical emphasis supplied by my co-worker) with drugs and cigarettes in her purse. Now, the first thing that occurred to me was that this girl's parents, having had pretty much exclusive control over her formative early years, had rather dramatically failed in preparing her for her transition to a peer-centered environment, or in instilling their "values" in her. But I try to restrain myself from entering into these conversations at work - you know, it's just not a good idea.

But there's the rub, I think. Paranoia is not rational. The toxic blend of authoritarianism and paranoia that defines today's rightwingers produces a population that is both outraged and terrified, and with an ever-more-tenuous connection to factual reality. They're homeschooling their kids and stockpiling weapons. They don't trust educational institutions, and our news media has morphed into a device for simply reinforcing views already held.

What do we do?


Freewheel said...

I don't know the answer to your question, but here's a helpful graphic to go with your post:

AnnPW said...

Very funny, FW - I loved it!