Sunday, November 19, 2017

Pissed off by Kristof

There was an old Timesman called Kristof
Who just got me royally pissed off
   By fudging his points
   With invidious joints
That I couldn't quite follow the gist of.

Discussing the "paradox" according to which "Blue States Practice the Family Values Red States Preach":

The liberal impulse may be to gloat: Those conservatives thunder about “family values” but don’t practice them. But there’s also perhaps a measure of hypocrisy in the blue states. As Cahn and Carbone [Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture, 2010] put it: “Blue family values bristle at restrictions on sexuality, insistence on marriage or the stigmatization of single parents. Their secret, however, is that they encourage their children to simultaneously combine public tolerance with private discipline, and their children then overwhelmingly choose to raise their own children within two-parent families.”
Liberals, in other words, may be wary of strict moral codes, but they want to make damn sure that their own kids don’t have babies while in high school. It helps that they believe in comprehensive sex education and reliable birth control.
I don't think I "bristle at restrictions". I think I try to not judge, lest I be judged, Matthew 7:1, as if I believed in God, and try to remember that I haven't always managed to live in the placid domesticity I live in now, and I've tried to let my kids know that they're better off hesitating before they enter into a relationship and not having kids till they can afford them, and that birth control is a good idea and abortion, should it ever come to that, an option, and that I believe gay and trans kids are just as deserving of love as straight ones. I'm not secretly beating up my kids to make sure they bring up their own kids in two-parent families. There's no gap between my public posture and private affections at all, and the kids know it.

Where I get moralistic is in telling them not to hate on people who are different from them, not that that's every really been a problem in the family either, and to understand that if they know somebody who's had a baby too young that doesn't make her a wicked person, you know, and that the only sexual behavior that's really reprehensible (other than the kind of violent or asymmetrically pressuring behavior we're all talking about this week, which is as must be constantly repeated more properly understood as a power issue than a sex issue) is that which hurts others—and that you should even be cautious about judging when somebody gets hurt because le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît pas. I watched hours and hours of Gilmore Girls with my daughter, analyzing all the characters' choices with her, and the whole family does plenty of gossiping about exotic friends and relatives. The approach suited my old hippie personality, but I do believe it's more effective than telling them they'd better not break rule #644 or God will hate them.

Strict Southern Baptist–style sexual morality, all preach and no practice, leads to the most awful gaps between code and behavior, with or without the hypocrisy, and not because the standards are too "high" but because they're not sufficiently human. It causes a hell of a lot of unhappiness, too, and it certainly encourages hypocrisy with its insistent dividing of the population into the Bad and the Good and rejection of the gray in-betweens. It may also encourage some of that violence, with the rigid absolutism that interferes with men learning about their own feelings, but I'm aware that Blue states aren't anything like free of it. But I don't need Kristof to bothsides me into admitting that.

Update: Kristof's data, which are certainly real:

According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey of 32 states, those with the highest percentage of high school students who say they have had sex are Mississippi, Delaware, West Virginia, Alabama and Arkansas. All but Delaware voted Republican in the last presidential election.
Meanwhile, the five states with the lowest proportion of high school students who have had sex were New York, California, Maryland, Nebraska and Connecticut. All but Nebraska voted Democratic.
When evangelical kids have sex, they’re less likely to use birth control — and that may be a reason (along with lower abortion rates) that red states have high teen birthrates.
Nine of the 10 states with the highest teen birthrates voted Republican in 2016. And nine of the 10 states with the lowest teen birthrates voted Democratic.

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