Friday, June 01, 2007

Children should not be raised on kiddie-tailored propaganda

Publisher aims to teach kids right from left
A Torrance executive says he sees too many children's books with liberal views. His titles aim to tilt the shelves the other way.


There's a radical concept that I'd like to put forward....

Instead of complaining about "liberal" bias and putting out rightwing children's books in the name of ideological balance/overbalance, why don't people focus on finding and conveying the truth, regardless of whose "agenda" it may seem to support? Afterall, especially when some of these books are being marketed as "nonfiction", shouldn't they actually be supported as 'not being fictions' set up just to argue a point of view?

If you're going to make a story for kids that's supposed to teach them about the real world and how it works (or doesn't), base it on something that has actually happened in reality, and in the same reality that you're setting it in. Don't take your lemonade-stand fable from a Communist milieu and call it typical American liberalism; maybe let your gay penguins have the non-happy ending and one dump the other for a wife (which is what actually happened). That's life -- if you're calling it realistic then stick to what's really there. Princes and fairytales are accepted as being of the realm of fantasy and metaphor, but don't sell contrived propaganda to 'impressionable young minds' and call it an honest perspective. You know what?--Heather really did have two mommies. And she's just as perfectly well-adjusted as (and possibly a lot moreso than) any kid raised in a standard mom-&-dad sex=gender dichotomous household. That's truth. It happens and has been happening for years now, it's real, it's as functional as anything. Same with little Buster Bunny's travels, 'cause that's really information too. Truth. Real people, real existences. You don't like it, then get out of the business of even pretending to have an objective viewpoint.

I feel very strongly about children's books and what they teach. I've read a wide range of literature aimed more-or-less didactically at kids, from Grimm's Fairytales to Tootles to The Chronicles of Narnia. You know, the first tome actually has more enduring worth in it than those more-modern examples, even with all the religious assumptions and violence and dubious magic and what-have-you. Those fairytales do less of the mental violence of being targeted at children to shape them as thoroughly as possible, and are far more psychologically realistic despite all their fantasy -- they're not even as sexist as C.S. Lewis comes across (ever read the Narnia books and gleaned his attitudes?).

In my opinion, kids deserve to have better than mere lessons and manipulations at every turn, and any author or publisher who sets out trying primarily to entrain them into an ideology -- regardless of the nominal agenda -- does not deserve to be in a position of reaching them via those words. At that age, I'd consider it child molestation -- just as I tend to consider formal religious instruction (as well as formal anti-religious instruction). Children deserve to be treated honestly and with respect, not just as future party members or mini-activists. If you can't manage that, I think censorship may be in order, and precisely where most people would never think to apply it.

(And just to be clear on my values, I also hated that "socialist" one with the beautiful fish giving away his shining rainbow scales just to be accepted by others. Bollocks. Self-betrayal is never a defensible virtue in my book.)

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