Friday, August 19, 2005

Big Brother as Moral Compass

Dear Internet Diary

On 20/20 tonight, John Stossell introduced us to some parents who monitor their children's bedrooms with electronic equipment. They claim to check the cams every 10 minutes, and closely monitor all computer activity.

The segment showed, to my surprise, a dissenting opinion that was decidedly secular. I don't remember if he was a psychologist or something, but he said that child spying was wrong because the kid no longer can make moral choices. He simply does what his parent wants because the parent is watching.

Sound familiar?

I agree with this assessment wholeheartedly. What I really was thinking was, "this poor kid can't masturbate!" Of course, I'm sure he's figuring out how to beat the system (pun intended). I guess, for some Christian viewers, this is good news. I can only wonder if that's what this kid's mom is trying to prevent in the first place. If you've been around some of these people long enough, you know that they think that masturbating is not only a terrible offense to God, but will somehow cause teen pregnancy, democratism, and something called "ideas."

This mom claims that she is checking on her son to make sure he does his homework. I suppose asking him when she gets home from work is out of the question. I wonder what her boss thinks about her wasting company time watching her son pick zits in his room?

I was disappointed in the segment, in that they didn't say anything more about the comment by the "expert." What did he mean by saying that spied-upon children won't learn how to make moral choices? Of course, Christians would (or should) have no trouble thinking that it is perfectly okay to learn "right from wrong" in this way--that you do the right thing because you are being watched. That's exactly what their religion teaches. You are not allowed to make moral judgements on your own. That's for God to do. Unless you are pulling rank in the whole Christian family heirarchical system. But this is why these parents are so goddamned idiotic. Do they really make all of their choices in life with the image of an angry parent yelling in their head? Or a vengeful God? If they do, why do they want to inflict that on their kids?
If they refuse to hold and pass on the virtue of independance, why in the world did they ever take away their kids' pacifiers and blankies?

Here's to the kids. May they find decent apartments off-campus at a college many, many miles away from home. There but for the grace of Reason go these Monitored Kids.

Thanks for listening, diary.

1 comment:

Rev. Barking Nonsequitor said...

Small children need constant supervision, but that needs to taper off as they get older. Recently, here in St. Paul there was a case where a couple locked their 11 yr old daughter in a basement dog kennel to control her behavior. http://www.startribune.com/stories/467/5543767.html
They were charged with "unreasonable child restraint". If you were a responsible adult you wouldn't do this to any ordinary kid, but I am sure there are some instances where a parent might want to resort to this. I have no clue how to handle a berserk 11 yr old.
I think this kind of monitoring would get a big thumbs up from parents who feel overwhelmed with responsibility of parenthood - and there are many of them. Who is really in the cage - the kid being watched or the parent that has saddled himself with the burden of vigilance?