When people can’t solve their own problems, they turn to The Nanny State. Conservatives claim a desire for small government, but they advocate strict law and order provisions pack US jails fuller than in any other country, soon to include a couple 11 year old boys who snuck a look at internet porn. They loves some of that Nanny State!
Commentary By: Steven Reynolds
The Nanny State? I’ll bet that term was invented by conservatives who were trying to get the best of liberals. They think government is too large when it works to protect people from their own actions. Sort of a libertarian critique on liberal government, I suppose, that demands personal responsibility rather than an all-protective government.
As a general rule, I think I’m there with a critique of government that indemnifies people fromt heir own mistakes. I’d rather see a government not protect people from being responsible for their actions. So a critique of the Nanny State sits well with me, to some degree. Still, conservatives use the term innapropriately, and frankly they depend on the government to bail them out time and again. The bottom line here for most conservatives is they want enforcement of the laws they like, and funding of the programs they like, and all other laws and programs are provided by “The Nanny State.” Yes, hypocrisy is the rule of the day for Republican conservatives, as usual.
Here’s an example. It is surely ludicrous, but it is from the reddest of red states. Two eleven year old boys sit down at their computer in class and go hunting for porn. By typing “lesbian” into the search engine they get around the school filters and hit the mother lode, which they show off to friends, of course. The story is from the Salt Lake Tribune:
Two American Fork fifth-graders could face criminal charges for looking at pornography on a school computer, but some people are wondering how they were able to access the images in the first place.
Police were called last week after two 11-year-old boys at Forbes Elementary School pulled up images of sexual acts on a school computer and then showed the pictures to nine other students, said American Fork Police Sgt. Gregg Ludlow. The incident came to light when one child told a parent and another told the principal.
Ludlow called the images “pretty explicit” but declined to elaborate. He said the boys made multiple attempts on different days to access inappropriate material. Ultimately, they typed the word “lesbian” into a search engine and were able to pull up pictures not blocked by the school’s Internet filter.
The school suspended the boys for two days. They could face charges in juvenile court of dealing in material harmful to a minor or lesser charges for viewing pornography at school, or be referred to the probation department instead of going to court, among other possibilities, said Chris Yannelli, deputy Utah County Attorney. If they are adjudicated in juvenile court, consequences range from community service to serving time in a juvenile detention facility, he said.
Rhonda Bromley, Alpine School District spokeswoman, said district officials decided to involve police based on the seriousness of the case.
“The bottom line is, because of the age it’s obviously a sensitive thing, but what they did was inappropriate, and it was wrong, so as educators and a society hopefully we need to help them learn that,” Bromley said. “It’s a little disappointing to hear people say, “Boys will be boys.’ … I don’t know what the magic age is when people can stop saying –Well, boys will be boys.’”
Ludlow said the boys subjected the other children to something they might not otherwise have seen.
“Our main emphasis is not to hammer these kids,” Ludlow said. “If we can get them into the juvenile justice system and make sure they’re getting some counseling or other services, that’s our end goal.”
First of all, I’m not so startled by this crime. I remember being exposed to porn the summer before the first grade, and being more excited about doing something we were hiding from adults than by the images. OK, that was a long time ago and the images were what we would now call “quaint,” pictures of topless women dressed up in cowboy gear – vests and chaps and the like. The illicit images set my then 10 year old heart aflutter, but it was the illicit part, not the nudity per se. But I digress.
They’re consigning these two boys to the juvenile justice system, spending their taxpayer dollars when they could just dish out punishment at the school and at home. I don’t know these boys, and I’m not claiming that 11 year olds can’t know the consequences of their actions and all, but this seems like a denial of both parental and school responsibility. No, I’m not making the argument that the school should have a better internet filter, as will likely be made, but that there is no need to so frivolously hand over 11 year old miscreants to the Nanny State when the school and the parents could handle the job. I’ve got no argument that there is a legitimate concern about children being exposed to pornography in school, but ratcheting up the punishment over natural curiosity is excessive. That’s not the mere “boys will be boys” argument, but one that says that natural curiosity must be nurtured, not punished excessively. By the time these folks are finished the boys will likely be registered as sex offenders.
It seems my opinion here matches that of the readers of the Salt Lake Tribune. (Should I be worried?) Here in the reddest of red states they were all gung ho over the teabagging thingie yesterday, but when it comes to policing the sexual development of their sons, they’d rather iron hand of the state do that. Meanwhile, a couple boys doing naughty things are shuffled off into the juvenile justice system, which likely will do far more damage than the appropriate punishments handed out by parents and schools. I suppose the right wingers in Utah are so traumatized by the very word “lesbian” that they want the state to handle the case so they don’t have to. Yeah, all these laws about sex registries and regulating the sexuality of these precious snowflakes are a great way to spend the tax dollars Utah residents don’t want to pay anyway.