Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Point of Values?

Why do we instill values in our children?

We instill values in them to teach them right from wrong. We instill values in them so they may follow our beliefs. We instill values so they know how to make choices. We instill values in them so they'll do the right thing.

Values are, at heart, deeply held beliefs, usually about right and wrong. They are personal, but often shared by groups(such as religious denominations). They can be about any variety of subjects.

The key word is personal. It's not that you shouldn't be free to share your values, you most definitely should. It's that you shouldn't try to force your values on others. You can have debates and discussions, but most people feel as strongly on an issue as you do. And as unshakable you are on that issue they are as well. And "that issue" can be anything, literally anything. You can agree to disagree, because often trying to bring them around to your point of view is about as productive as beating yourself over the head with a stick.

The point of teaching values to children is teaching them what you believe is right and wrong, which means teaching them to recognize what is right and what is wrong. And when they see something that they recognize as wrong they will have the ability to say "I disagree with that." and not participate.

This very much applies to book censorship. Censors often say that the book(s) in question are a threat to their "values" and will lead their children to do things that go against these values. Even when they've been taught these things their entire lives.

If you've taught something to your children(I'll go with "homosexuality is bad" since that is a common topic when it comes to books) their entire lives and a book they happened to pull off a library shelf(and if you've taught them as such, why would they be pulling LGBTQ books off the shelf in the first place?) threatens to damage or change their values, that would be the failure of the parent. If your child or children are so easily strung along by influence, then you have far bigger problems. Like not letting them read Superman comics and sleep in the top bunk. If they're teenagers, then they have access to many more things unsupervised than just books in a library.

As for the "What about children who don't have parents or guardians active in their lives?" argument, you have no legal right to act in loco parentis for them. We aren't talking about saving them from being hit by car, we're talking about books. Being hit by a car is obviously dangerous. Whether a book is dangerous or not is subject to opinion.

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