Both the left and the establishment right have the wrong priorities
During debate on House Bill 314 recently, several Republicans led by Rep. Julie Yamamoto joined with Democrats in lamenting that the bill would put bounties on the heads of librarians. They worried that the civil action enforcement mechanism would incentivize dastardly people to surreptitiously move inappropriate materials to the children’s section and then file suit, hoping for a quick payday an an opportunity to humiliate those poor librarians.
Yamamoto herself had privately complained about the enforcement mechanism in leaked emails, saying “What’s next? Flogging?”
Rep. Tony Wisniewski answered that specific charge during the debate, explaining that the library catalog would show whether a book was categorized as for children or for adults. Both the Democrats and the establishment Republicans were arguing in bad faith.
At a higher level, however, the debate demonstrated how the ideal of compassion has been inverted in our society. The people making this point were either unconcerned about the children whom the bill was trying to protect, or they thought the problem of inappropriate materials being made available to them did not really exist.
I was reminded of the rhetoric surrounding criminal justice reform.
Kim Kardashian has made a habit of befriending death row inmates and begging courts for clemency. She usually presents a story about a tough childhood, allegations of misconduct by police and prosecutors, claims of racism or other bigotry that unfairly influenced the jury, and a promise that they are reformed.
Never mentioned in these profiles are the details of how this person brutally murdered innocent people, sometimes even children.
The most egregious example might be that of Brandon Bernard. After he was executed by the state of Texas, Kardashian posted this on Twitter:
She feels compassion - and demands you feel it too - for a death row inmate, but seems to have no thoughts to spare for victims. In 1999, Bernard and a friend robbed Todd and Stacie Bagley, shooting them both and then burning their car with them inside. An autopsy revealed that Stacie Bagley was still alive when Bernard lit her car on fire.
Do you see how this is misplaced compassion? You’re shown a picture of a man who is made out to be a victim of society, a victim of racism, a victim of a corrupt system, and invited to spend your pathos on him, while the people he harmed are entirely forgotten.
The end result of this misalignment is a society that treats criminals with more compassion than victims. We can see the future we have to look forward to across the pond - in Britain, burglars who hurt themselves breaking into homes have pursued legal actions against the homeowners, and elsewhere in Europe migrants have gotten away with rape because of judicial compassion for their situation.
Society, politics, and pop culture have all bought in to this inverted morality.
We are asked to feel compassion for the drug dealer given a harsh sentence but not the lives he ruined on the way.
We are told that banning abortion is cruel to would-be mothers while ignoring the very life of the unborn baby.
Just a few days ago media demanded we feel compassion for the trans-identifying woman who murdered six people, including three young children, in cold blood. In a complete and total inversion of morality, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that we must stand with the trans community because they are “under attack”.
If our society is to survive we need to reorient our compassion to its proper place. We must return to treating adults as adults and children as children. Adults are autonomous beings with moral agency. If an adult signs a contract, he or she should be held to it. If an adult commits a crime, he or she should be held responsible. If an adult commits a heinous act such as murder, he or she should pay whatever price society has determined is necessary.
If a librarian knowingly stocks his or her shelves with materials that are not only graphic and obscene but specifically designed to groom children into deviant sexuality, then he or she must be held accountable. This is exactly what Gina Marker, librarian of Centennial High School, did. Yet corporate media treats her as the victim, and Democrats and establishment Republicans in the Legislature play along.
On the flip side, we must regain the perspective that children are children and should be protected from the worst the world has to offer. Many people take it for granted that children today are savvy and precocious, and the proliferation of mobile devices and social media has blurred the lines between adults and children. This is something that must be reversed. Children deserve to grow up free from the knowledge and burdens that adults must carry. They should not be made to grow up too quickly, nor be used as pawns for political revolutions. Just because many children have already been exposed to things that they should not have does not mean we should simply accept that as normal.
Save your compassion for victims before criminals. Protect children. Hold adults accountable for their actions. Those basic ideas are the foundation of any good political movement today.
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