I watched an interview with the governor of Utah this morning. He was defending his state legislature’s recently passed law that does the following: it restricts minor’s use of social media without parental consent, restricts use of media platforms between the hours of 10:30 P.M. and 6:30 AM, and allows lawsuits against media companies that users claim harmed them.
All of this is wrapped up in the guise of parental rights, once again.
But here’s the sticking point for me: parents already have these rights. Parents buy the phones, computers, and contracts that are being used by their teens. Parents can take them away. Parents have the right already to limit time on social media, demand that lights go out at night at a reasonable time, and fill their sons’ and daughters’ schedules with homework, sports, school programs, and family activities.
Or parents can choose not to, and let government do the heavy lifting. But the catch is that when government makes the rules, parents have fewer freedoms and rights - not more.
Remember Governor Youngkin and his platform of parental rights in schools- rights that parents already had ? The trouble with the governor’s plan was that these rights took on the parameters of the Youngkin administration - you know, banning books, modifying curricula that makes students uncomfortable, and forever searching for CRT.
But if you’re a parent and you want more rigor in your student’s assignments, where do you go ? If you see the need for more disciplined teaching, who do you call ? If you’re concerned about plummeting test scores across the state, where’s the hotline ? In other words, if you’re not on the Youngkin bandwagon, have you gained rights - or lost them ?
My kids were pre-teen during the dawn of the computer age. Thankfully, things like DOS, slow internet connections, and very little knowledge about what was really out there kept kids pretty much at an arm’s length from too much destruction. Cable TV was more of a challenge, as the stations that came with subscriptions were sometimes unfit for young teens, and they, too, needed to be monitored by parents. So we did.
I’m not saying that one or both of my kids didn’t land on an unsuitable website or watch a movie we didn’t approve of. Of course they did, but we muddled along as best we could in a world we didn’t understand or control. We set the rules, the times, and the punishments, if they overstepped.
And that’s the point: when parents abdicate their authority to government, don’t they lose the authority they might need the next time, with another issue ?
Don’t miss the irony: the party that constantly maligns government interference is now the one imposing their rules. And this is also the party that tells potential parents they can’t decide whether to have a child or not, but also wants to tell the same parents how to raise their children. Hmm…
So beware of charlatans offering you freedom and rights that you already possess. There’s always a catch. These politicians want far more than your money for promises that cost them nothing. They want your vote.