No Right to Not Be Offended

I have a pretty strict no-provoking policy among the kids.

For many years this has been enshrined in my mom-phrase, “Don’t. cause. problems.”

The idea is that many people (and children most-blatantly) find their ability to affect the emotional (or physical) state of other people to be quite entertaining.

It’s closely related to the delight of the small child who realizes s/he can knock over a tower of blocks.  After the initial shock, interminable repetition becomes hilarious and a delight: I, aware of my finiteness in this vast world I do not understand, nevertheless have the power to effect change!

Or something equally giggle-inducing.

So, desiring a maintenance-pattern that requires the least amount possible of my direct intervention, I taught my children from a very young age that this form of entertainment was a barely a degree more acceptable than swinging the cat by his tail.

The resulting problem is one I can see in our society as well:

When people become used to living in a neutral environment, where conflict is not blatant, anyone who makes life harder seems bad.

I am agitated, therefore they are provoking.

 ~ ~ ~

Earlier this week, while I was out in the barn, there was a small earthquake in the house. Natasha, in a blanket-sleeper and boots, staggered (having just awakened) out to tell me that Melody wouldn’t stop screaming.

Apparently Elisha (on his bed) began making a noise that Melody (on her bed) found “annoying” and he would not stop come pleas or high decibels.

In negotiating the situation, I asked if he had been following her around with the noise, and found out, no, they had just (both) gone back to their room after breakfast.

~ ~ ~

Because Elisha was the one causing Melody’s discomfort, she assumed he was the one that needed to change. But they were both in places they were allowed to be, doing nothing intrinsically bad.

In fact, both children frequently enjoy making random noises together, kicking the air and creating competing rhythms.

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Parental Rights Amendment

More things to think about in relation to the Parental Rights Amendment:

  • The reason the amendment efforts exist is because there is currently no legal precedent assuring that parents (rather than other entities) have any say over their children.  Only historical precedent.

(And, as with historical precedent of marriage defined as between one man and one woman, courts have begin ruling that historical precedent is not strong enough for force of law.)

    • There is most-definitely a need for some kind of protection/articulation of our rights as parents (to direct the upbringing of our own offspring).
  • The reason PRA supporters are working on a constitutional amendment is in direct response to the threat (and I do not use that word lightly) of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child.
    • You can click on the link to see why many parents are concerned about the CRC becoming international law, but for the purposes of this discussion I will just say that as an international “treaty,” the CRC (if ratified by Congress) would supersede any state-level efforts to affirm parental rights.

This is the reason for beginning with a constitutional amendment: the resistance to CRC must be at the national level.

All that said, I still don’t fault NRLC for their stance. (More than one IRL person has challenged me on my defense of NRLC’s objection, and I added these facts to to show readers PRA is not beign unreasonable either: that this is all bigger than two worthy organizations not seeing eye-to-eye).

I really believe you should read all the links: the necessity of the amendment, the details of the concerns NRLC expressed in their letter, and consider (this is the hardest, most-frightening, thing to me) how the “wrong” judges interpreting the amendment– however it is worded– could redefine a national approach to parenting.

That is, all legal cases dealing with an amendment would be national issues, with the outcome affecting all parents in the United States.

Call me a pessimist, but all the assurances that no reasonable person could read this wrong (and I agree with this), cannot assure me that we live in reasonable times.

I love logic. It’s a nice break from the real world.

In the end, I truly don’t know what to hope for.  I want a parental rights amendment. But I want the government to have the teeth to perform its God-ordained protective role.

And if the government can use the PRA “exception” language to protect a Muslim girl from genital mutilation, (stepping in to protect the child from her parents’ practice/application of deeply-held religious beliefs…) I cringe at the same time, wondering how long it will take an activist judge to step beyond physical protection to emotional, relational, or educational protection.

Ultimately, having the amendment will provide a context within which to begin and define these battles, but I still tremble to consider how unsure their outcome must be.

Constitutional Amendments are Designed to be Hard Work

I was sad to read about the struggle with National Right to Life (NRLC) regarding the Parental Rights Amendment, and checked with a friend who works for a state branch of NRL. I want to share her response that opened another perspective that I did not get from Farris’s article alone:

Perhaps part of the disconnect comes in from the types of people each organization works with every day. HSLDA and PR work with good parents…parents who really have the best interests of their kids in mind, who want to educate and protect them. NRLC deals daily with parents who want the legal right to kill their children. So of course PR is saying, “We have to give parents the right to protect their kids, because that’s what parents want to do!” And of course NRLC is saying, “Are you kidding? Parents want to kill their children! We have to protect the children!”
Having read both perspectives, I understand where NRLC is coming from. Amending the Constitution is VERY serious, a much bigger deal than changing state law or even federal law. Because the PRA would be enshrined in the Constitution, it’s imperative that it protect the unborn. Giving parents total authority over the lives of their unborn children, in the constitution, would ultimately be very damaging to the pro-life cause.
In the article, Farris describes the amendment as “abortion neutral,” but considering the state of the abortion war, I hesitate to agree a neutral position is possible (just look at Planned Parenthood’s response to the “neutral” Komen for the Cure group). Once this “neutrality” is locked into the constitution the battle will begin over which side it strengthens, and I cringe at the dangerous possibilities.
If the NRLC elements create a “dead on arrival” element, is there no other way to strengthen parental rights, even incrementally? This outrageous case of an infant being taken from her mother is the perfect example.  I pray success and precedent from this as the effort of parental rights gains a wider hearing, but I don’t agree that NRLC is being overly sensitive or unaware that their efforts create frustration.

A constitutional amendment is a Big Deal, and NRLC stepping in to agree it’s a Big Deal is not an attack but a healthy check between two mature, educated and well-meaning organizations.

In choosing to start with a constitutional amendment as its goal, PR has stepped up to the highest standard possible and should be prepared for a rigorous vetting– especially from good-spirited organizations entrusted with a particular focus.  Who better than these to understand the present reality as it pertains to the center of their focus?

There need not be any shame in an incremental approach.  The more cases that can come together to emphasize the rights of parents, the better aim or case proofs pro-family groups will have in interpreting the function of such an amendment when it is ratified.

I believe that an amendment is needed; I want to feel secure in my place and role to protect my children. But what I can’t bear is the image of pro-abortion advocates waiting behind closed doors, gathering resources, “staying out of our way” only to throw a series of cases into motion as soon as the back door’s paint has dried.

I agree with the NRLC’s position that if this is going to be “enshrined in the Constitution” there cannot be any wrinkles to be ironed out later.  If this results in a further delay of a Parental Rights Amendment, so be it.  My insecurity (even fear) as I wait is worth the lives of unborn children.

Election 2008

A quick collection of my thoughts on these results.

Yes, I’m disappointed Obama won, but it’s not because I wanted McPalin so much as I grieve even the possibility of the FOCA (I’m still praying against it).

A few posts I read after learning the results sort of meshed together in my tired mind.


From Penelope Trunk (in a completely unrelated post), referring to her initial instinct to have a good cry after a disappointment:

But then I realized that I never fall apart. I get through lots of stuff and people always say it’s so much but really, what else can you do? People get through what they have to.

I’ve said that before in different ways.  “America” (i.e., those in it not currently euphoric) will find that life goes on.  Our call has not changed, and believers may even find it easier to stay engaged with their culture with a bit of fire lit under them.

~ ~

Bonnie at Intellectuelle observed in Voting for Our Imaginations,

I just think that what we actually vote for isn’t presidential candidates but for our own hopes and dreams. It’s good that we can hope and dream. It’s even better that we have a lot more choice in this country than those in many other parts of the world can even dream of. We have a responsibility to honor this freedom of choice and…choose. But we must also realize, I think, that we don’t have the power we think we do; that politicians and their policies don’t always have the power we wish they did; and that, often, they do actually have a lot more power than is good for either them or us.

Watching (on television) some of the African Americans in line waiting to vote, I felt the weight of why they were voting.  One couple that reporters spoke to was (I guessed) in their 60s or 70s.  When asked if they ever thought this day would come, both were nearly speechless with emotion and shook their heads emphatically.

This wasn’t about policy, and maybe not even about handouts.  This was about making history and having your racial identity (inseparable, I’d argue, from your personal identity) symbolically validated. Perhaps for the first time.

 ~ ~ ~

My thoughts and prayers have shifted to the judges: that they will hang on until the next congress is elected (and that a conservative congress will be in place).

This moment makes me think of a similar moment about 8 years ago, when we had a GOP majority w/ a GOP prez.  A lot of Christians seemed to think we had it made, and I wonder if they stopped praying.

My workplace at the time played NPR and many Democrat supporters were calling in with their concerns about the new situation and articulating why this new development was the end of the world. Some of them were most poignant, and I could feel the fear in their voices, even if I couldn’t identify with it.

Then a young man called in with an entirely different view.  Let it go, he said, it’s just one election. This is the way the American system works: one group gets it for a while, and if they screw up bad enough they lose their chance. Let them have it for two years. When the American public sees the mess they make of things we’ll get it back.

That next election (again, if I remember right) was the point at which the Democrats got enough seats to block so many of Bush’s nominees for the high courts. The chance could return.


This is the view I’ve tried to take. I’ve begun praying that truth with be honored, that evil will be revealed and the innocent protected– no matter who’s officially in-charge.

The largest blessing I foresee with Obama and a Democratic Congress is that even the most hopeful supporters will see that humans are not the answer to the problems we face; they won’t be able to say “If only Obama was elected…”

This is how I pray.