Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Unexplored Case Against Adultism

Originally published on May 7, 2014. Last updated on September 8, 2017.

Many readers are likely to stumble across this because they already oppose Adultism and presumably search for fresh content tackling it. If you are one of those, odds are that your proposed remedies to this overlooked malady never target the initiation of biological parenthood. A common theme I've noticed with critics of adultism is the tacit belief that good and bad parenthoods are a thing, in a categorical sense, and that the main driving force behind generically bad parenting (or stewarding) is the substandard levels of respect adults show for the personhood of non-adults. Aside from this, opposition to adultism for these critics is not to be confused with anything that remotely resembles an opposition to biological parenthood itself. The anti-adultist aims to improve parenthood, not to question it on a foundational level.

I on the other hand believe that any solution to adultism that relies on nonjudgmental overviews of parenthood is no solution at all. All such solutions are supplementary at best and nickel-and-dime tweaks at worst. Patchwork. I settled on this view some time ago, after coming to the conclusion that there are no finely grained good and bad parents. There are only more/less imperfect parents. Now that I am well acquainted with a topic as niche as adultism/anti-adultism, I'll try to merge some of what anti-adultists are after with some of what I'm after.

Okay then, so what's the best way of dealing with varying degrees of parental imperfection? Implore future generations to find new-and-improved [childfree] hobbies? I would vote for that. I'd pay for it too. But something tells me that's just not in the cards. So Plan B: Mold them into dreamers who specialize in perfecting imperfection! In other words, more of the same.

Cue the elevated call for cooperative upbringings of minors; something any civilized biological mom/dad can pull off with ease, as I'm always prepared to rehear. So what exactly is meant by cooperative in this context? No Spanking and the like, from what I've gathered. Don't get me wrong, this is decent as it goes, in that many parents and stewards throughout the globe still feel entitled to corporally punish the minor(s) stuck under their roofs.

Most of the time however, and especially across the West, modern approaches in the form of No Spanking are a barefaced applause light. The associated tips on Peaceful Parenting are a goldmine too, with gurus and advice-givers conveniently limited to A-B-C oversimplifications, paying no mind to X-Y-Z complications unless explicitly pressed on the matter by disgruntled viewers or customers. In confronting the muddier cases, the high mindedness of parent/child cooperation adds zero clarity. Intra-peaceful antagonisms begin to surface. After all, cooperation is a heuristic, not a destination. Well then what's left? A 180 were we function on non-cooperative grounds that are parent-disregarding and child-regarding. The resolve here is an even riskier one; disciplinarianism is a parental sin. Music to the anti-adultist's ears, sure, but can hardline permissivism withstand all stages of child-rearing? 

At what point does autonomy-minded support for child-freedom collapse into neglect or plain recklessness? What such countermeasures might entail, hardly anyone really seems to agree on a large enough scale. This is why exceptionless alternatives like cooperationism and permissivism are unsatisfactory remedies to all the ills Adultism carries. The remedies are chalk full of side-effects, some of which can be fatal.

If you are nodding along so far, much of what follows should echo some of the thoughts you've had over time sporadically.

Legitimate guardianship of youth –– whatever that turns out to be in the concrete –– remains conceptually murky. For good reason. Much of it has its roots in progressivist autonomy lingo. This comes as no surprise considering how traditionalistic takes stop at consanguinity in discerning legitimate vs. illegitimate stewards. Progressive countertheories vary quite a bit, even among enthused denouncers of adultism. Animated talks of Child Autonomy, while admirable in the abstract, rub me as wishy-washy practically speaking (in that they gloss over the optimal answer to Adultism; the reprimand of willful procreation tout court). By contrast, if the primacy of autonomy is to be understood as a non-practical or absolutist prescription on how the average minor ought to be raised, the difficulties only thicken; so much so that traditionalists' default appeal to consanguinity starts looking reasonable by comparison.

The purpose of this entry is, firstly, to explain why autonomy-based arguments targeting Adultism amount to bandaids for an all-important discussion of this bent. From there the post enhances reasons for why procreation-absenteeism is the only tangible resolve. The intent being to narrow in on outspoken critics of Adultism, especially ones who'd find the below judgments lacking. I'm particularly interested in feedback from anyone professing to decry all dimensions of Adultism, while remaining unconvinced of –– or unsure of – the AntiNatalistic stance, in the aftermath.

Note: If your familiarity with AntiNatalism extends solely to what you've read from David Benatar or his unelected YouTube disciples, be advised that one of these things is not like the other, and all that jazz.

For regular readers: Here are some sites and activists that take issue with Adultism. If the overview in the glossary doesn't suffice, these are a superb source for elaboration of this position.

Glossary (for those who can’t be bothered to click the hyperlinks)

Adultism: A vulgar assumption that the power adults yield over minors is legitimate and warrants nothing in the way of justification from the ground up. Adults are cognitively better than non-adults and are therefore entitled to act upon non-adults without agreement. It differs from ageism in that ageist views operate as a two-way street ("Older > Younger" & "Younger > Older") while adultist views are discriminatory towards youth as the exclusive target. The elasticity of Adultism enables familial and systematic mistreatment of and condescension to minors, as seen in every society, past and present.

Adventurism: A mindset that involves attempting to gain an advantage by doing things that are regarded as foolish or risky. Inserted here for interpersonal and familial contexts more so than political/geopolitical contexts.

Welfarism: A form of consequentialism identifying significant consequences as those that impact human or animal welfare. [Update 2014-09-28: Better yet, Sentiocentrism]  

Negative Preference Utilitarianism: A subcategory of NU that promotes only the minimization of negative preferences, distinguishing itself from Classic Utilitarianism by its acknowledgement that every person's sense of satisfaction and dissatisfaction is unique. [Update 2014-09-28: See full post]

Value Pluralism
: Directly opposed to Value Monism, this stance allows for the formulation of multiple values which may be equally justifiable and fundamental, despite being in conflict with each other. In many cases, such incompatible values would be incommensurable. There is no rank order among them.

Note that these are not transcribed word-for-word definitions. The descriptions were expanded on by me in an effort to more suitably encapsulate the terms’ applicability to what I’ll be conveying below.

Unlike these five, the remainder of the hyperlinked words are commonly used, so they don’t warrant a separate showcase in my estimation. If you click any of them and still find yourself puzzled as to their relevance, let me know in the comments and I’ll clarify further.

I’m taking extra precaution with the lexicon this time around because in the past it’s been brought to my attention that I assume too much about these things. In other words, I give the readers enough credit and don’t treat them like my terminological inferiors. Some nerve I have.

The Raw Bargaining

Over the last two years the focal point of this blog has been to mount oppositions to monistic theories of value, namely the ones promoting qualia-welfarism (read: non-colloquial hedonism) as the premise that’s set in stone. The criticisms on display aren't meant to invalidate welfarism’s extensive role in ethics. They explain how treating qualia as the be-all end-all staple of value can feasibly leave us not seeing the forest for the trees, in numerous cases.

[Update 2016-06-01: Numerous paragraphs that originally followed the above have been relocated to the bottom of this post, as they are, on retrospect, inessential and awfully longwinded. The reader misses nothing important regarding Adultism by not consuming them here at the top, and can scroll to the bottom of the page if she wises to experience the post in accordance to its original sequence.]

While monistic welfarism is a foul of sorts, pluralistic welfarism still resonates as a rule, even within humancentric accounts of ethics, simply because an overwhelming majority of human beings would rather not endure anything close to non-trivial hardship, as recognizable by them. Most are quick to bargain away a slew of pleasure-quests and everlasting pleasure-rewards, including the best of the best, if it means not having to experience the worst of the worst (which can be identified as being anything that the individual personally considers to be "worst of the worst" for that particular sentient organism).

This near-universal willingness to bargain away the promise of peak pluses in order to avoid the accompanying nadir minuses might seem counterintuitive at first glance, thanks in part to the bravado-affirming cultures we're soaked in. However, once push actually comes to shove and the non-trivial harm is staring us right in the face, calling it a day is precisely what most of us would do with our bargaining chips. Withdrawals of this nature warrant no apologies, as one's act of withdrawing doesn't drag third parties into a bargain-free terrain. Sadly, the implications of this intrapersonal resistance to peak bargains is undercontemplated at this stage in our moral development. Should it ultimately find itself in the conversational limelight, it will be recognized for the acute component of ethics that I currently contend it is. Following that, the epistemic incalculability of any abstract interpersonal framework would be seen for the non-factor that it is. This is also why a shift towards ‘Negative Preference Utilitarianism’ in lieu of ‘Classical Negative Utilitarianism makes so much sense when we’re evaluating persons whose identities are developed, leaving them capable of providing informed-consent to just about anything.

In light of this adjustment, I’ve proposed that paternalistic questions about the sensorial aggregate be substituted for non-formulaic, idiosyncratically driven ultimatums, posed in hypothetical form.

Here I will get into the specifics of what that means and why it’s important. Basically, from the get-go, you present your conversational combatant with a clear-cut choice between:

(1) An additional life where the interlocutor is guaranteed to experience the greatest conceivable good (IE: Anything the interlocutor may perceive as the apex of what makes life worth living or initiating) for a prolonged period of time, followed by enduring the worst conceivable bad (IE: Whatever the interlocutor earnestly dreads even more than non-trivial harm) for a prolonged period of time.

(2) Not coming into existence in the first place by declining to go through with the package-deal offered in option # 1.

The participant’s answer will often be # 1. As mentioned, I hold that most people who profess ideological allegiance with this choice are being disingenuous, perhaps unknowingly, because the push hasn’t actually come to shove as of yet. The worst imaginable non-trivial harm or ailment of the participant's earnest choosing is not staring the participant in the face; it’s just being opined on conceptually from the comfort of the internet and is therefore glossed over with utmost ease.

Every aspect of this posturing should be treated as an aside, but this is precisely where many YouTube Benatarians lose the plot, as they respond to adventurist-minded "But I don't mind heavy duty suffering" type answers with flippancies like Easier said than done”. Their hypotheticals are awfully different from the above one since they presuppose the correctness of the Benatarian Asymmetry and from there envision paternalism-for-all as a sound recipe for ethics. This follows considering how focused on the dreaded aggregate they continue to be, making them formulaic. But that’s also immaterial at this stage.

Instead of accusing the participant of insincerity –– which the accuser can’t back up, short of outright torturing the participant into submission to debunk any espoused “never-say-die” preferences –– simply remind the participant that, in the context of Natalism, the posed ultimatum actually revolves around the participant’s child, and not the participant.

By initially setting up the "1 vs. 2" option binary as though it were about the participant and only the participant, then promptly pulling the curtains by specifying that the second set of options are the actual relevant ones, you will instill the non-necessity of the aggregate tally in the minds of onlookers, which is a must. Now the non-formulaic weight of the moiety can really kick in.

If the answer is still # 1, the interlocutor posing the question is dealing with a virulent risk-junkie whose incredulity towards the legitimacy of other people’s standards – and to fail-safeness itself – runs so deep that questioner may as well be communicating with a creature from another galaxy; one where adventurism-for-all is the alpha and omega of virtue. If that’s the case, the fruitful approach would be to disengage the obdurate participant and redirect your efforts on balanced interlocutors who exhibit at least a modicum of contempt for interpersonal risk exposure. By taking this angle over the aggregate nonsense, you’ll find that risk-junkies of such nonchalant caliber are a rare breed anyway, and that a great many value pluralists are latently susceptible to a fail-safe way of thinking.

Common ground here is not contingent upon some assembled house-of-cards that we all must accept, nor does it hinge on stern repudiations of rosy optimism followed by nods to morbid pessimism. There is no dictate calling for an ideological superstructure, since there’s no such thing as the blueprint in the first place. The only moral stipulation is the foreswearing of medieval values that sanctioned non-consensual sacrifices, along with the acknowledgment of individual standards that cannot be quantified, much less proven as being "right" or "wrong".

Because there are no formal longitudinal surveys shedding light on the public’s answers to ultimatums of this sort, I’ve been left with no recourse but to incorporate anecdotal evidence into why I’m so confident that this line of questioning is the best way to go. Judging by the replies I’ve received from friends, acquaintances and coworkers, it’s apparent that westerners are prone to siding with # 1, but only when # 1 explicitly states that the decider is putting their own welfare on the line. Once I take it to the next level by clarifying that the decider would be putting someone else on the line –– in this case a child who is unable to comprehend what’s at stake –– the numbers aren’t nearly as lopsided.

It must be stressed that penchants for adventurism, stoicism, heroism, triumphalism, adrenaline rushes, etcetera... don’t have to spiral into antipathy for risk-aversion whenever the decision at hand submerges an external party whose take on assorted "pain for gain" ideologies is unknown at the time of impact. Always keep in mind that this ultimatum enshrines no mandate to narrow in on species-driven frameworks, like Extinctionism vs. Perpetuationism, those being distractions in post-enlightenment eras.

Among my friends and acquaintances, option # 2 actually enjoys a robust majority (8/1) when the decider has to choose for someone else; a minor who won't be able to give informed-consent to just about anything for approximately two decades. It is only my coworkers who remained a minority (5/7) when it came to siding with # 2 despite a biting awareness that their decision directly implicates someone else; an infant or toddler who is yet to reach the age of reason. Though the moment I revoke all genetic ties between the decider and the minor, option # 1 plummets even further, to the point where # 2 enjoys a predominant majority status (11/1) even among the perfunctory coworkers (many of whom are big on family values, so that shift was to be expected).

Their thoughtful migration towards the fail-safeness of option # 2 took little convincing from me, and only strengthened my long held view that the typical westerner isn’t nearly as incredulous to the importance of interpersonal risk-averseness as online encounters with sophists would lead us to believe. This to me suggests that the last vestige of rationale penetrating the public’s unexamined affinity to Natalism –– or merely the public's indifference toward the Natalism vs. AntiNatalism kerfuffle altogether –– comes down to the cloaked copout of familialism.

Undereducated or substantively ignorant parents subordinating their own flesh and blood is none of our business, somehow, while the thought of much wiser couples subordinating random minors where no consanguinity is present between the 'owner' and the 'owned' is indeed society’s business. Somehow.

In the post-industrialized west, some exceptions to the contrary have been made, namely with cases involving non-trivial beatings of the child by the household autocrat; consanguinity and all. And maybe a red-flag here or there as it relates to an exorbitant volume of emotional abuse at the hands of an unstable parent. That’s about it though. Familial ties remain the sole requisite granting biological parents the cultural and legal stamp of approval to shape the minor in accordance to the parents’ set of values over viable alternatives. This carte blanche standard remains intact even in the face of soaring discord between the values held by the parent versus ones held by the minor.

This is arguably necessary once the post-natal conditions kick in, and the parent is merely looking to shield infants and toddlers. The strife turns insoluble as children see themselves demonstrably maturing throughout adolescence, often to find that the particular values they’ve been led to believe are wrong are actually no less wrong or right relative to other ones, and that those competing ones simply differ from those of their domestic micromanagers. Societies that allow and encourage a free-flow of information –– which includes castigation of mainstream viewpoints vis-à-vis open discussions of contrary viewpoints –– are the very societies that have seen the most shrinkage of in-group favoritism with each passing generation. Enter in-group alarmism, emanating from traditionalists, replete with self-parodying taglines ranging from “the breakdown of the family system” to “the abandoned ideals of the forefathers” to the low-hanging fruit of “white genocide”. The panicky narratives –– now parroted in the comment sections of many sites with even a modicum of traffic –– were precipitated not by the out-group's infiltration of the in-group, but by the newfound generational divide among the in-group. 1960s America is illustrative of this. (conspiracy theories about "Cultural Marxism" infiltrating American universities notwithstanding)

It is because of this in-group division that Adultists' and Natalists’ attempts to redirect the conversation to what basically boils down to a quarrel resembling "The Precocial vs. The Altricialserves as a red-herring, as human identities are what's being discussed. Despite tireless attempts to have the child adopt a set of values held within the closely knitted in-group, many minors go on to reject the bulk of their parents' values, and they are not value crippled for it. Inserting some altricial-minded rationale for said attempts at parental conditioning falls laughably short of hitting the mark. The only way to protest this is to assert that the household ruler’s astuteness is indeed demonstrated rather than just surmised.

Now there are undoubtedly outlier cases wherein regular folk reach a consensus on certain sets of inferior values, notably with psychopaths who value self-serving depravities like skinning or burning people alive for shits and giggles, and things of that nature. When I speak of arbitrary oppositional values, I'm excluding the perverse externalities of psychopaths or sociopaths and am narrowing in on the spectrum of remaining value collisions common in the household.

Regrettably, none of this is grounds for controversy in the current landscape. Most westerners draw the same conventional line at domestic corporal punishment and never look back, leaving other forms of Adultist subjugation to reign supreme without a shred of inspection. A consummate pushback against said subjugation entails frank and unapologetic censure of deliberate initiations of any 'Owner-Owned' catch-22. This is the only way to truly stamp out the need for Adultism. One can pull this off by (spoiler ahead) simply not birthing the next round of fragile minors. By bringing minors into a perilous world to begin with, we create a moral dilemma by having to either subjugate or neglect them during their upbringing.

Adultism would retrospectively be a lesser-of-evils approach should the subjugated individuals thank the parent for it post-adolescence (or further down the road, whenever cognitive development finishes) and when they're of sound mind. Likewise, neglect (minimalist oversight) would retrospectively be a lesser-of-evils approach should the neglected individuals thank you for it post-adolescence (or further down the road...) when their identity sets in.

Decisionally precocious minors, while still vulnerable on a financial level, are done a huge service by being afforded enough leeway to do as they please, despite being allowed to live under their parents' roof free of charge. The schism arises out of the lamentable fact that not everyone shares the same criteria for what constitutes a precocious minor.

So if the options come down to:

(A) Control the child.

(B) Neglect the child.

(C) A healthy balance between controlling and neglecting the child.

…then a strong case can easily be made that tacking on a "none of the above" choice makes the best out of an otherwise unnecessarily tricky situation. The only way for "none of the above" to register as option "D" is by way of procreation abstention.

There is no such thing as a bulletproof, catch-all formula for successful parenthood. Notions of sensible parenting and the authentic stewardship of youth rest on the shaky ground inferring that the parent and child will end up with compatible enough outlooks on life once adulthood rolls around. Since worldviews are not heritable, this amounts to blind guesswork, which points to a lack of justification behind the willful initiation of a difficult circumstance calling for (A) control, (B) neglect, or (C) some combination thereof, while ruling out "D" to boot.

Natalism is the overriding ideological currency keeping the "none of the above" plea option from rearing its head on a wide enough scale. The reason people overlook every aspect of this – primarily throughout Eurasia – is due to the naïve view of children as extensions of their parents, which I refer to as Familial Essentialism. Cue the widespread acceptance of rhetorical absurdities like “Christian children” or “Muslim children”. The more emancipated a society becomes, the more dastardly such claims on children will ring to the inhabitants of that society. Same goes for any notions of "Jewish children" once we set aside the ethnic component and focus exclusively on the religious one.

Throughout the Cold War, this verminous line of thinking was happily extended to “Capitalist children” and “Communist children”. Individuals born in Capitalistic regions were prima facie considered “one more for the home team” and ditto for those born in Communistic regions. The whole thing perturbingly resembles Manifest Destiny. To this day, familialists on the fringes believe that Americans are born ordained to uphold Capitalism while Russians are slated to believe in Communism, and that the exceptions to the rule don’t disprove the essentialism behind it all in the same way that gender non-conformists don't cast aspersions on the reality of gender roles (which they plainly do, among other mountains of evidence).
Traditionalists offhandedly dismiss the existence of gender non-conformists as credible counterevidence of their Gender Essentialism fabric, because they consider such individuals to be anomalies that can be written off. But consider again the growing states of flux amid familial affairs circa 1960s America and onwards; those value oriented squabbles also started out as anomalies and grew from there.

As with the in-group's generational divide example, gender conformism is dwindling at a breakneck pace in the very societies that treasure openness towards discussing and accessing alternative points of view. So it’s hardly any wonder that the more uncompromising 'info-closed' societies are ones that end up with higher levels of in-group solidarity, along with traditional gender conformity. The essentialism of it all is paper-thin, as the undercurrent of characterology doesn't measure up to modern standards of scrutiny the way it might have a century ago. The self-styled idolatry of the in-group survives in 'info-closed' Nations, because those at the helm restrict info-avenues partial to the out-group; the availability of which may have led intellectually curious members of the in-group to the out-group's best commentaries. Sometimes all it takes is a peek at such commentaries for the cultural pendulum to start swinging in the other direction. Other times, it takes a '50/50' level playing field for the trigger to go off. In any case, environments encouraging inquisitiveness play a pivotal role.

This is on par with how the disciplinarian feels entitled to control the child's vicarious experiences; prohibiting access to 'adult' entertainment in the form of websites, television programs, films, music, art, etc... on account of those being a bad influence on the child when really the content therein is often just not the adult's cup of tea. Exposure to 'R' rated material has been said to have profound negative effects on impressionable minds, but these claims aren't called into question by disciplinarians despite never having been substantiated with due rigor. Having spent much of my life challenging anyone who lazily blurts out such claims, I’ve come to find that the average disciplinarian holds verificationism in contempt. Practitioners of verificationism are rarely clustered together in likeminded neighbourhoods, unlike stats-ignoring disciplinarians who have a tendency to flock to suburbia, now so accustomed to 'adult-only' prudence that the entire concept of rigorousness needn’t enter the fray to begin with.

Even after a few begrudgingly concede that the absence of hard data which would've supported restricting minors' vicarious experiences, they still circularly argue in defense of the barricades' tenability, insisting profusely that 'R' content is best kept out of their child's vicinity because it just has to be a detriment to healthy development. It just has to, and the failure of longitudinal studies to demonstrate as much is just down to methodological flaws. If true, the first sign would be the higher rates of "underdevelopment" diagnoses with correlative effects to grownups who were allowed to consume miscellaneous "Parental Advisory" content as kids. Such an overlap does not exist. If anything, my own experience shows that minors exposed to “R” material are less likely to act out once adolescence kicks in, as they haven't spent their entire childhood feeling caged in. So this is just more "kids these days" drivel dressed up as a sapient cautionary tale of what will go wrong if the child doesn’t buckle down and avoid whatever “R” content the reactionary adult thinks the child should avoid. Just awful, egregiously poor excuses for meddling in individuals’ vicarious experiences; young or old.

Returning to the intergenerational overview; societal shifts observed in the more 'info-open' regions throw a colossal wrench in theories that tout individual parental discretion as a touchstone answer to complex decision making. Likewise, the disconcerting lack of universal criteria for what makes a child “precocious enough” throws a wrench in the countertheories boasting cooperative or permissive stewardship, with minors being given ample breathing room to exercise their own judgement 24/7, and parental interference bites the dust. Seems both theories find themselves in somewhat of a bind. The Adultist method is much worse, but I suspect that a polar opposite approach taken to its bitter end wouldn't do most minors any good either. Ergo AntiNatalism.

Parental Clairvoyance

The most dynamic value dispute which is bound to crop up in contemporary parent/child relationships is one of Scholastic Nihilism vs. Scholastic Enthusiasm. I briefly touched on this in Section F of the previous post, but never really developed on it.

Paradoxically, even in the face of unyielding discordance among adults on what constitutes proper schooling, the value/disvalue of scholastic achievements is considered to be just another "Parent vs. Child" battleground where a rigid standard for interpersonal guardianship is not only easily ascertainable, but is vaunted as unimpeachable.

Tragically, the pro-schooling outlook is routinely presumed to be correct or wise, so the child ought to comply with every assignment, no matter how tediously unavailing each element of the assignment may be. Should the child refuse to be subservient to the adult's shrewd judgement in this area, punishments in the form of groundings or some other removal of the child's privileges are gobbled up as bona fide disciplinary measures taken by the parent (or the surrogate teacher).

Enter 'Tiger Mom' syndrome, the repugnance of which is hard to convey fully without turning this post into a novel, so I'll just stick to the basics. Dispelling the necessity of this particular form of power-tripping is my forte, having been fortunate enough to enjoy a measure of compatibility with my folks on almost every facet of this issue.

As a child, I witnessed my share of incompatibility manifest with a few peers and their fanatical, micromanaging parents. Many of those peers are, as of this time, still at odds with those same parents on the subject of schooling, which is crucial considering that all parties involved are presently adults. The peers are in their mid to late twenties by this stage. The heated disagreements didn't just fizzle out with the initiation and continuation of adulthood, contrary to what the all too prescient parent insists will be the case, using stab-in-the-dark speculations like "You'll thank me for this one day" and disingenuously portraying the conjecture as a factual statement. The disagreements, as it turns out, are wholeheartedly static. Their persistence undermines any ingrained notion of the adult as the prophetic party, and should be enough to sever extenuations of hegemonic Adultism towering over the child, in this area.

So what do I have against education? Not a thing. This is not about education, because schooling has never been about education first and foremost. Please spare us both that sinister conflation. Having students immerse themselves in heaps of make-work doesn't qualify as 'education'.

If you're reading this and are in high school, ask a teacher who teaches the sciences to answer a few questions from your last Social Studies exam, or from your last Linguistics exam, or from your last Fine Arts exam. Or take a random question or two from the compilation of mandatory or elective subjects you're taking and try them out on a teacher who specializes in an entirely different subject. Give it a shot and get back to me with the results.

I conducted questionnaires of this nature with my high school teachers during sophomore year, and not once did any of them get the answer right. Some flat-out refused to participate, even though I never cornered any of them with the questions in the middle of their class session. On the contrary; I always made sure to solicit their answer during a first-period break or a lunch break, and made certain to appear genuinely curious about what the answer would be.

Following this lackluster experience, it was clearer than ever that portrayals of the education industrial complex as seen in many episodes of The Simpsons were no cartoonish exaggeration. I always assumed as much, but was assured that the episodes, while optimally clever, are evidently a distortion of reality. From my vantage point, the irreverent ridicule hit the nail on the head, and was now vindicated.

The lesson here is that not only do students forget roughly 80% of the minutiae they're examined on throughout high school, following each semester, but the same forgetfulness envelops the very parties whose job it is to instill in students' minds the ostensible significance of memorizing such minutiae in the first place. A most adorable revelation.

Long-term memorization was never the point of schooling, as the well accepted "cram" style of studying makes quite evident. Short-term regurgitation of data is the measuring stick behind what makes one scholastically successful, on paper. Once the exam is over and done with, the crammed data dissipating in the minds of students is inconsequential, because the established paper trail already relays what the student managed to cram in at the time of the test.

The primary objective of schooling is not to fill the minds of youth with pertinent facts to facilitate function throughout adulthood, but rather to gauge a rough estimate of one's abilities and/or stamina for the 9-5 drudgery of work-life in adulthood. The moment one grants the discernible reality of this, it's fairly easy to be disinclined to participate in the rank-and-file process of servitude that's perceived as "education" but that’s really just schooling.

The crux of it all comes down to how well students end up coming off to future employers, in establishing a fancy paper trail for themselves. Does a single perpetrator of Adultism understand this? Does a single Natalist understand it? Point me to the ones that do. Assuming you locate such people, are they capable of grasping the potential here for justifiable value disputes, namely concerning Careerism vs. Career-Apatheism?

Even if I were the employer or the hirer who benefits from being able to evaluate potential employees based on their resumes and educational (read: schooling) backgrounds, I’d still not endorse the schooling industrial complex in its current incarnations. Any cost-to-benefit analysis of it that starts and ends with the interests of those who affirm "work hard, play hard" ladder-climbing careerist attitudes, at the expense of more lackadaisical "do enough work to get by" type attitudes, is an analysis I want no part of. And that’s not even getting into the issues with bloated teachers' unions.

Making estimates about interviewees’ aptitudes based on what portion of their youth these people (who you've just met) chose to sacrifice on desultory assignments and tests for school, is not the mark of a productive interview. And no, I've not yet encountered a proponent of Adultism or Natalism who grasps this critical issue, even after diligently explaining to them the unmissable actuality of it.

I’ve challenged my share of staunch Careerists over the years, all of whom were dead-set against entertaining the slightest notion of their kid growing up to be a career-apatheist for justifiable reasons. It’s as though they’re hardwired to believe that careerism is “truth” and is by virtue worthy of being passed down, even if the child who has to inherit it happens to an outspoken career-apatheist who has no interest in status ascension. The parents' egomaniacal craving for such ascension was surreal to me at the time. Now it’s part and parcel given the precarious economic climate post 2007, seamlessly raising the competitive bar for vested careerists.

With the advent of public schooling, pedagogical disciplinarians were the quickest to mold their children into a mindset of normalcy with becoming rote memorization drones. They did this by contriving a faux imperative to have youngsters sacrifice large chunks of their youth for “the future”. As is the case with beauty pageants, the underlying motive has little to do with what’s best for the child and is more about the parents’ need to compensate for their academic shortcomings, with fear tactics like “You’ll be destitute one day if you don’t abide” thrown in for good measure. Flagrant nonsense. The conventional blue-collar parent is neither homeless nor uncomfortable, despite being psychologically bludgeoned by the very sub-par academic record that the present-day student is supposed to do everything in her power to surpass, or else. Rather, many blue-collar disciplinarians simply dislike what they surreptitiously perceive as their 'mini-me' doing as poorly as they did. Another blow to the already starved ego, the kid's report card is. The outcome sees minors left with no plausible alternative but to acquiesce to the debauched will of the adult they're stuck sharing a roof with.

So the root of the Scholastic Enthusiasm vs. Apatheism value clash boils down to the parent’s bruised ego thirsting for some vicarious convalescence, and has little to do with a heartfelt fear that children with shitty report cards are likely candidates for forthcoming homelessness or catastrophic lifelong difficulties, all because they got Ds and Cs instead of As and Bs.

The optimal way to sidestep financial ruin is to (1) avoid credit cards like the plague, (2) not be loured into the quicksand of parental life (i.e. creating dependants) with its documented pitfalls, and (3) not be fooled into thinking that you need to live a lavish, exhibitionist, white-collar type lifestyle.

This is easy to comprehend and pull off, and amazingly doesn’t require earning six figures after majoring in a field one has no authentic passion for. It also doesn't require obeying one's domestic martinets as it relates to their hardon for schooling. At this point their valuing of schooling looks to be more deontological than consequentialist. Hardly reassuring.

Meanwhile, the more progressive “hands-off” formula for parenthood has seen children left to their own intuition in deciding what they wish to do with their free time or extra-curricular activities. This approach is somewhat nobler in its intent, but it can produce horrific consequences when it comes to minors who are far from prodigies, but whose parents wear rose-tinted glasses and see their kiddo as gifted nonetheless. Examples include a subset of welfare recipients who are capable of earning income but would rather milk the system for as long as possible; lacking any semblance of a work ethic. We can also include the profusion of child celebs who were not pushed further into the fast life deal by their parents, but who still crashed and burned on their own accord over the years.

A number of individuals are just doomed to injudicious outlooks and an overall lack of wherewithal wherein life becomes an ongoing white-collar party once you strike gold with one TV program or one music album or one feature film. From there on out, levelheadedness is something to be scoffed at, like any other square trait. In such cases, parental interference might have helped matters, in contrast to leaving the prodigal child to his or her own devices 24/7. But we cannot know for sure. A subset of misguided minors may only need a smidgen of interference from a prudent grownup, and they'll be fine. Others may require a full dosage of uncooperative oversight, if they are to avoid disaster. Hindsight, not parental fortune-telling, will bring answers as to the few who needed a disciplinarian, versus the rest who needed something closer to a cooperationist.

So who’s got the surefire correct method? The traditionalists who extol strict discipline? The stereotypically permissive cooperationists who believe that children can be raised on healthy doses of love and understanding? Maybe it’s the suburban middle-grounders who take their parental marching orders from the latest Dr. Phil offering? How about this guy? He really, really hates quotes like "Spare the rod and spoil the child" so he must be on to something. He's quite the orator too. Oh wait, he's a Propertarian lunatic. Disregard.

So enlighten me: Who has the correct theorem for such ill-fated guardianship tasks?

The answer is no one, quite clearly. Correctness here relies neither on cooperative vs. domineering methods, nor on their respective ranges, but on the set of beliefs the minor will go on to acquire post adolescence. Remember, austere careerists aren't "wiser" or "better" than career-apatheists (and vice-versa). They're just more driven than their behavioral counterparts, and seeing as how being driven is openly acknowledged as being nothing more than a personality trait, it shouldn't be foisted upon anyone, including the youth. One doesn’t have to be driven in order to earn a sizable enough paycheck and avoid being a welfare recipient, so a personal drive to "work hard, play hard" by achieving goal x/y/z fails dismally as a criterion for wisdom in the pursuit of provident parenting. This is particularly true in the context of an American society that lauds individuality (or at least pretends to, while simultaneously belittling perfectly decent individuals who happen to not be driven... America: Twofaced as ever).

If you view higher schooling as a virtue in and of itself, you’ll obviously disagree with these summations of its purposelessness on the grounds that "knowledge is power" or some such banal offering. So again; this is not about knowledge acquisition because much of the information learned through schooling is not retained due to the fatuous "cram" method of studying that students are cornered into utilizing. If you're still unconvinced, tell it to the record-setting jobless rates among degree-holding millennials who still live at home, or to the minimum wage earners comprised of other millennial graduates whose focal point in enrolling was to ultimately earn six figures.

That's not power, that's an empty platitude wallowing in couth. It's also an arrant non-return on a life crushing investment like post-secondary schooling. But fine, go ahead and believe that these graduates wouldn’t dream of trading in their virtuous degree (and debt) for a steady income, or an income surpassing that of the minimum wage. Maybe that can be the next survey I conduct with the locals here, assuming I manage to find enough participants to make it longitudinal. Commenters are always free to chip in with their own grievances with (or accolades of) the schooling they underwent in their respective district. I won’t disparage anyone’s input, regardless of how it jives with my take.

It's one thing to be jobless or on minimum wage without crippling tuition debt. It's another thing to find yourself in the same situation with said debt, parasitic interest rates, and wasted years behind you, as the current crop of graduates know all too well.

Because of the unfortunate situation so many millennials find themselves in, the established difference between education and schooling is alive and well, now more than ever. I will reiterate that I’ve never encountered a single Natalist or a single practitioner of Adultism who grasps this difference. They seem unable to wrap their minds around it, but they're the very people for whom this reality needs to kick in the most, as they're the ones pushing these inexperienced and unsuspecting kids off to post-secondary schooling where the massive debts are accrued. A fragment of those young adults do manage to fully pay off their student loans within their first few years in the workforce, given their quickened financial success. More power to them. The intent of this fulmination is to highlight those who aren't nearly as auspicious, despite graduating all the same. Then there are those who attend and pay tuition, but don't graduate, for one reason or another.

For the longest time I've found it unsettling just how few debt-riddled graduates take into account that a diploma won’t enable them to pay off their student loans swiftly. The realization sets in too late for them, especially compared to those who didn’t attend (or last in) post-secondary institutions but who understand the gravity of the risks involved. Pardon my immodesty here, but consider my nearly paid off mortgage to be 'Exhibit A' pointing to the non-necessity of higher schooling, when one plays one's cards right.

The weight of the financial risks woven to post-secondary endeavors dawned on a friend of mine once he was already over his head in student loans, without earning anything close to six figures. The reality managed to evade him for years due to the residual effects of being raised in a household with militant Scholastic Enthusiasts instilling their warped mindset that mistakes rote memorization for genuine education. He latently harboured an outlook closer to Scholastic Apatheism, which would've materialized sooner had it not been for his steadfast indoctrination commencing at the time of his toddlerhood.

In fairness to western norms, the guy I speak of is originally from Tokyo. He only migrated to Canada at the age of eleven, so the pro-workaholic conditioning that hijacked his better judgement from the get-go is indicative of the familial subjugation norms in Eurasia more so than those in our western versions, which are milquetoast by comparison. Eurasian youth are generally the first to internalize the notion of inferiority to adults, due to having had Adultism drilled into their psyche from day one. How else does one account for their acquiescence bias towards all sectors of schooling?

Hopefully this last round of financial mishaps ends up bringing about fewer Scholastic Enthusiasts among millennials. The ideal would be for millennials to avoid breeding altogether, but failing that, those who go on to breed can at least avoid echoing their parents' scholastic milieu to the next generation. Rather than perpetuating the adventurist "work hard, play hard" approaches to schooling, millennials can consider opening the door to non-adventurist "do enough to get by" values that sidestep schooling altogether while emphasizing ironclad education, as long as this education is in keeping with the field of interest of the student's own choosing. In other words, every subject of study would be an elective, commencing at the high school level. I'd still keep subjects non-electives during elementary school however, as I'm not a cooperation absolutist myself (which is why I take the next logical step, leading to AntiNatalism).

So time and time again, from any angle we look at it, we are unable to establish a set-standard for interpersonal stewardship that will be applicable to all individuals, even with something as sacrosanct as schooling or careerism. Keep in mind that the items I've gone over are only two value clashes stemming from scholastic and careerist differences, which are interlocked. There are plenty more irreconcilable differences; innumerable ones.

Consider the difficulties with routine infant circumcision, a subject I'm glad to revisit anytime. Will the male infant go on to mind this procedure once he familiarizes himself with the medical non-necessity of it, along with the role of nerve endings that he's not equipped with? There is simply no way to know. What we do know is that there are far more adult males who were cut at birth for cosmetic, religious and cultural purposes –– along with those who were cut (relatively) shortly after birth for those same trivial reasons –– who now take issue with their parents' decision, compared to the miniscule number of adult males who were never cut and who now take issue with having been left with droopy foreskin. So the lopsidedness in dissatisfaction rates alone is enough to point to an avoidance of circumcision being performed on healthy infants. But from any way you slice it –– or avoid slicing it for that matter –– there's still no guarantee of contentment.

Coverage Nowhere: The West Disappoints

So why is it that, in the wake of all this, no media outlet treats Adultism itself as a controversial issue? At this juncture none of this passes for a topic that's even fathomably contentious. Whether one consumes mainstream media or indie media, one is not going to come across a segment dedicated to challenging the reprehensible behavior of power-trippy Tiger Moms, or anything of the sort.

Traditional media tends to portray differing schools of child-rearing as “none of our business” aside from the above noted cases involving full-blown beatings or psychopathy, and while alternative media allows for a handful of red-flags beyond that, no outlet outright decries Adultist practice the way they would decry nonsensical arranged marriages (coercive marriages) had such practices suddenly gained traction in the west. No outlet fusses over the issue of forced marriage because western men and western women are not subjected to it, thanks to its atavist complexion here.

The discrepancy in treatment stems from the public’s unexamined acceptance of meritocracy’s absence in familial relationships, which is itself enough to lay waste to the notion of heritable worldviews. Once this fallacy is promptly crushed, the very real encroachments of Adultism –– and of interpersonal risk initiation –– would be harder to reconcile for the general public. If readers have any doubt about this, just consider the difficulty that arises with adopting an orphan and ask yourselves why the standards for adoptive parents are astronomically high compared to the non-standards for biological parenthood.

Adoptive couples must jump through droves of hoops if they wish to adopt anyone, and rightfully so. Even a tiny blemish on the couple’s permanent record(s) lends justifiable cause to disqualify them from pursuing legal guardianship of the minor. Couples are expected to have superlative backgrounds in order to get somewhere with this, whereas familial ties are enough to render any such hoop jumping superfluous. Part of the reasoning behind the "biological > adoptive" disparity boils down to pragmatics (which I pragmatically acknowledge as necessary) given the ugliness of forced abortions, but it’s more about the public’s poorly conceived affirmation of familial essentialism, which presupposes Adultism, which is a natural progression of Natalism.

The baseline should aim higher with respects to the familial on philosophical grounds, the way it already does with the adoptive on legal grounds. (in understanding that the legal should not always be a reflection of the philosophical)

Given the pervasiveness of forced arranged marriages in much of the developing world –– Africa, Latin America, The Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and parts of East Asia –– I suspect that populations of non-westerners would be far more willing to side with option # 1, compared to the individuals questioned in my own social circle. (The 1 vs. 2 option thingy from near the top... yeah, that thing) Had I surveyed a bunch of Saudis instead of Canadians, the fail-safeness of option # 2 would not have been the majority choice, regardless of whose sentience is on the line; the decider or the unsuspecting minor.

It should come as no shock that people who are conditioned by the dominant mores of the underdeveloped world would jovially rationalize their support of unearned ‘Parent/Child’ relationships if pressed on it, the same way they reflexively support unearned ‘Husband/Wife’ conjugal relationships when pressed on it by tendentious westerners. Both unions are grounded in familial edict, combined with reverence for Adultism. The idolatrousness has to go, but the cultural shift must start in the west. I don't see it making headway anywhere else. If you have experience dealing with interlocutors who can't even let go of arranged marriages, you can hazard a guess as to how much more cantankerous they'll be when pressed on their support of involuntary relationships in the form of 'Parent/Child' schemes.

Despite their shared features, I don't propose that Natalism is the moral equivalent of arranged marriages. It's close, but still lower on my 'unethicality' scale. I'm just pointing out that an appeal to highly selective (positive) outcomes can be applied to vindicate both practices. Some children do end up marching in lockstep with the values their parents force-fed them, much in the way that some men and women who are destined to spend their lives together – on account of a vapid convention which is force-fed onto them by their respective families – can easily end up enjoying each other's company and shared values far more compared to the mutually agreed upon suitors of western men and western women, whom they weren't privy to. Autonomous matrimonies in the west have been known to result in divorce and chaos, despite the voluntary initiation of the wedlock. This is why exclusively consequentialist reasoning falls short in some respects (but more on that in future posts).

While populations in most of modern Eurasia still presuppose the authenticity of a near-absolute pecking order between the custodial 'Adult Class' and the 'Youth Class' destined to custody, societies in the western sphere currently permit pretty much the same custodial arrangements between the two camps, but with explicit limitations on any notion of children as chattel. So there’s still much crossover when it comes to the standards (non-standards) for stewardship in the developed and underdeveloped world; both running on familial decree. The driving force behind this commonality is the ideology of Natalism, pure and simple.

Some Natalists are indeed more cooperative and permissive in their child-rearing methods. Other Natalists go about it in traditionally Adultist and domineering ways. Point is, they're all Natalists at the end of the day, tethered by their willingness to initiate a circumstance calling for an unpleasant choice between subjugation and neglect. For this they should not be lionized.

Wrapping Up

The main question for challengers of Adultism who already subscribe to Natalism –– or those who are wholly indifferent toward Natalism and intend on staying that way while still lambasting Adultism –– is simply this: Considering that many of these subjugation limitations you hope for are dicey in practice, wouldn't you agree that you're putting the cart before the horse?

You believe in, or take no issue with, the creation of persons who will inevitably be subordinates to whimsical agendas, whose higher-ups will always be unelected by them; be it in the household, the school of the parent's choosing, the daycare of the parent's choosing, etcetera...

You seemingly disassociate with AntiNatalists, who are the only ones responding negatively to these deliberate catch-22 initiations by Natalists. Granted, this could be due to an unawareness of AntiNatalism's existence rather than a deliberate sidestepping. But even so, you support baby steps in the form of legitimate vague stewardship wherein "children as chattel" concepts are never tolerated... and that’s it? That’s where it ends?

Color me underwhelmed. Please explain the foolhardiness behind drawing a vivid a line in the procreative sand; telling Natalists their catch-22 salivations are a far cry from innocuous.

Tell me how you reconcile Natalism with your Anti-Adultism, and ditto for any natal-apatheist or sympathizer who has an axe to grind with Adultism. I for one am unable to reconcile the two, and I've been scolding Adultism as dynamically as you have.

For everyone else, don't shy away from telling me if you think I expect too much from dissenters of Adultism or if I've read too much into the parallels between their objections and my (our?) objections to parental dominance. Right now the edifices of these two camps appear to be as intermingled as those embedded in Natalism and Adultism.


Update 2016-06-01: The below has been relocated here from "The Raw Bargaining" section:

It was also done to remind myself that sloppy set-ups pinning Paternalism against Adventurism miss the mark, as they operate atop of false dichotomies. Same goes for homogeneousPain vs. Pleasure” set-ups that engage in sum-ranking at the expense of all things plural. With this, the anti-pluralist handwaves the "Veracity vs. Mendacity" side of ethics, which can be argued to be an ingredient in its own right. This should register with anyone who treasures truthfulness regardless of the sensorial benefits it often carries.

But even if you confront the voluminous issues with Natalism exclusively from the standpoint of qualia-welfarism, emblematic questions like “Is this life engine burning more fuel than it is consuming?” would not be the proper ones to pose, let alone to stockpile on, as if they on their lonesome knock Natalism out of the ball park. They don't, given that sensorial negatives and positives are epistemically impervious to inter-organismal calculation. So when focusing on the welfare of moral patients who already possess seasoned judgment, the only calculation worthy of concern is one that tabulates the verifiable testimonies of said individuals, contra third-person conjecture. And even though measuring what's customarily referred to as "pain units" is impossible empirically, in most cases we can still posit –– beyond reasonable contention –– that concentration camps with six million innocent victims are more undesirable than concentration camps with five million innocent victims.

The lone exception to this is the near-impossible scenario in which imprisoned 'Group A' totals more individuals within the group, but still ends up with lower counts of “I’d rather be dead than endure this torture” thought processes when compared to imprisoned 'Group B' that totals less individuals within the group, but accumulates more I’d rather be dead than endure this torture” thought processes overall. So in ultra rare cases like this one, robustly designating a desirability/undesirability pecking-order would not be as cut and dry as a straightforward numbers game makes it seem.

Any Inter-organismal Calculus problem should not be mistaken for the standard complaints from non-consequentialists regarding impalpability besetting all states of qualia, as that smacks of intellectual laziness. The same impalpablitly arises within the individual's own weighing of self-directed harms vs. benefits ratios, yet no one gets away with pretending that that deliberative process is beyond the scope of sensible overview. On a farsighted view, the worthiness or unworthiness of all such good-to-bad ratios must be understood as a question to be answered by the experiencer, not the third-person spectator. The underlying grievance that I pushed, and will continue to push, stems from the separateness of persons; qualia being a quite variegated affair due to harm and 'non-harm' being experienced by moral patients whose psychological building-blocks (or genetic endowments) render dissimilar pain tolerances. This means that any hands-on attempt at sensorial aggregation on a global scale must downplay the distinctness of idiosyncrasies, for pragmatic purposes. 

The moment varying thresholds cease to be downplayed in painstakingly nuanced conversations about ethics, it becomes difficult to monolithically emblematize individuals’ personal accounts of tolerable harm-to-benefit ratios, to sweeping experiential 'sum' states on some global level (“the fuel” corresponding with “the engine”). These glaring difficulties don’t resonate with some ethicists; generally radical ones who embrace value monism and thus naturally end up believing that they can prove the supremacy of paternalistic measures at the expense of competing value agendas, like honesty or camaraderie.

Again, this recognition shouldn’t diminish welfarism’s role in general, as most moral patients happen to be non-human animals. It does say something about its role in universality however, as all-encompassing qualia-welfarism inevitably tends towards strong paternalism.


  1. Your views on life are so myopically negative.

  2. Nope.

    How about you scroll back up and try picking out a quote or paragraph from here that exhibits this myopic negativity. Would love to see what you come up with. Quite sure it'll be gold. Until then, I'm going to be referring to you as Mr. Balderdash.

    From now on every anon who shows up here with nonsensical one-liners will be given an epithet matching the quality of their comment.

    So, Mr. Balderdash, if you decide to one day actually read my stuff, you'll discover that I've targeted only certain *features* of this broad thing you lazily call "life". For example, I've been critical of the goings on in the wilderness, as I'm sure you'd be too if you were the one getting munched on by assorted carnivores. But since the post you just commented on has absolutely nothing to do with this wildlife suffering I'm so myopically down on, just know that anyone who sees your remark after reading the post will be nonplussed by it.

    Newsflash for Mr. Balderdash: The subject is Adultism; more specifically how it interrelates with Natalism.

    Feel free to chime in with something relevant.

  3. JesuscockinallahassMay 18, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    ABM, you're the last person on this planet who requires any kind of validation or 'back up', least of all from me, but I cannot help but shake my head in disbelief at the irony of the first poster's comment.

    He or she refers to you as being myopically negative. Insanity! Your negativity is qualitatively made up of an uncanny ability to see through and deconstruct the false edifice upon which our society stands. Therefore myopia - at least of the philosophical variety - is certainly not a symptom from which you suffer. In fact, when you get right down to the essence of your posts, your exposing of received wisdom for the sham that it is, is something very positive. Seeing the truth in the false is an extremely rare skill and while you wisely don't proffer hand made solutions of your own very often, it is still a breath of fresh air to read your thoughts. If you're myopic then the rest of us are simply blind.

  4. There is no negativity either though. This is just another adorable case of someone mistaking bluntness for negativity.

  5. You claim that there's no evidence of R rated material having negative effects on young minds, and you're wrong. Studies have shown that children who are exposed to violent films or violent porn or allowed to play gruesomely violent videogames from a very young age do in fact end up pretty warped by it. This really shouldn't come as a shock to a determinist.

  6. It’s pointless to mention blank “studies” without actually citing them.

    At any rate, I can hazard a guess as to what you’re referring to.

    Years ago I read a piece on “violence normalization” & the individuals psychologically plagued by it, allegedly stemming from them having spent an inordinate amount of time playing (you guessed it) violent videogames as kids/teens. This wasn’t the study itself, it was just an article (can’t recall if it was NYT or WP) linking to the study.

    Even if we assume causation in lieu of correlation here by granting (for argument’s sake) that the methodology was flawless, the findings pose no threat to my argument against the average disciplinarian. This is because disciplinarians prohibit *all* accessibility to "Parental Advisory" content prima facie, rather than starting off with the merit-based view allowing for the possibility of the untested minor being capable of handling “adult-only” media, & going from there based on the individual minor’s behavioral patterns. Defaulting to this approach is reasonable because addiction, or even ongoing overindulgence, can distort human psychology regardless of the age it commences at. Not all minors have addictive personalities, just as not all adults are immune to addiction.

    With this in mind, we can see how appealing to studies whose entire purpose is to narrow in on abnormal subjects (who spent an *inordinate* amount of time indulging a single form of “adult” content, rather than balancing multiple “adult” products, the way kids already balance their gleaning of “G” rated content) is a red herring in a context where disciplinarians’ kids are denied any & all exposure to “adult” media on the whole. The crux of the issue is disciplinarians spitting in the face of “innocent until proven guilty” standards when it comes to even precocious minors. Point me to a study that undermines their autonomous discretion & concludes “guilty until proven innocent” for all vicarious experiences with “adult” content when said content is balanced; TV shows, films, art, videogames, books.

    Like I said in the post, the standards for evidence are anything but rigorous. And they don’t have to be, given how culturally ingrained Adultism already is. A textbook example of this is the arbitrary yet unquestioned age barrier for voting rights. A moment’s thought discredits this restriction. The only way to whitewash its arbitrariness is by denying the existence of everyone under 18 who exhibits astuteness & passion when it comes to politics, in tandem with denying the existence of everyone over 18 who knows diddly squat about politics yet enjoys voting rights. Knowledgeable minors who’d like to vote aren’t even given the option of taking a test to prove their competence.

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