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Steve Weatherbe

Opinion,

Bedtime stories ‘allowed,’ but not church or private school: prof re-engineers family for egalitarian utopia

Steve Weatherbe

COVENTRY, England, May 7, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Parents alert: right now a left-wing philosopher is dreaming up arguments for why you should be stopped from sending your children to private school or take them to church, mosque or synagogue. He’s okay for now with the bedtime stories, however.

His name is Adam Swift, a political philosophy professor at Warwick University in Coventry, a specialist in social justice and especially on how healthy families confer unjust social advantages on their children. This is the subject of his book, Family Values: The Ethics of Parent-Child Relationships, and of a May 3 interview on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s web-based program, “The Philosopher’s Zone.”

Socialists have always objected to the way rich parents pass on their wealth to their children without the latter working at all—hence hefty death taxes—but Swift takes this idea several steps further, arguing that being loving confers an even bigger, and more unfair, advantage. And while Swift is willing for parents to be allowed by the state to keep their children at home and even to read them bedtime stories—a particularly iniquitous activity—he thinks their ability to take them to church, synagogue, temple or mosque ought to be restricted.

Judging from ABC’s interview, Swift and his “team” at Warwick U’s Centre for Ethics, Law and Public Affairs have apparently decided that reading bedside stories is acceptable while sending children to private school is not, though according to “child development theory” bedside stories actually deliver a greater social advantage to their children over storyless children, than does sending children to private schools over public schools.

'We needed ... a way of thinking about what it was we wanted to allow parents to do for their children, and what it was that we didn’t need to allow parents to do for their children, if allowing those activities would create unfairnesses for other people’s children.'

This is because “filial intimate relations”–Swift cannot bring himself to say “love”--between “particular adults” and the children under their authority--whom Swift can’t quite call  “parents”--results in psychologically much healthier children who do better in school and adult life than those denied loving childhoods.

Happily, Swift only briefly considers the obvious solution (to the founders of the Soviet Union, anyway), which is “to abolish the family,” before rejecting it as “a really bad idea.” In this trade off, at least, between two good things, equality and healthy child development, the latter wins.

But then Swift considers private schools. These he is ready to toss. The advantage they provide to child development is smaller than that delivered by love—or, as they like to say at the Centre of Ethics, Law and Public Affairs, by “filial intimate relations.” And like inheritance it results in highly unfair, unearned, and unequal conditions between the two classes of offspring. Away with private schools and legacies.

What about parents taking their children to church? asks ABC’s interviewer. Clearly Swift, who admits readily he never goes to church, sees no benefit in it to children at all. (There is, in fact, plenty of empirical evidence of the advantages, collected here by the Marriage and Religion Research Institute).

Swift sees church as a detriment. On the one hand, he finds it acceptable for parents to pass on their preferences for sports (for no apparent reason other than that Swift himself likes taking children along to cricket matches, at least in theory). But on the other, for parents to use their authority to teach children their religious beliefs “we think gives parents too much influence” over “distinct entities with their own moral status.”

But what Swift fails to address is the alternative: if parents do not teach their values to their children, who or what will provide them? The state? The entertainment media? Or, may heaven help us, public universities such as Warwick U? And what is likelier to produce adults who are “distinct entities with their own moral status”? These institutions, or parents?

There could be only one answer for Canadians who have observed closely two recent phenomena: The Ontario government’s desire to deliver its new sex education curriculum, normalizing minority sexual behaviors, to all students without the consent of either parents or children; and the unanimous declaration of all public law school faculties in Canada that the establishment of a rival, private school founded on |Christian beliefs would be an intolerable offense against equality: the same value espoused as supreme by Professor Swift of Warwick U.

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