Here’s a slightly early Christmas gift for those of you who think I only attack pundits on the Left. Today, let’s take a look at a piece from the Right, written by Trevor Bothwell, a freelance writer living in Maryland. Bothwell certainly has respectable Conservative movement bona fides, considering that he writes frequently for The Washington Times and Townhall.com.
In an article entitled “Judicial Activism No Better From The Right,” Bothwell looks at a recent decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, famed as the most liberal Court in America, as well as the one that is most overturned.
In the case of Fields v. Palmdale School District, parents sued in reaction to an overtly sexual questionnaire, distributed to young children, without parental approval, that included questions related to touching private parts, and if the kids thought about having sex. Predictably, the Court ruled in favor of the school district noting that:
parents “have no constitutional right…to prevent a public school from providing its students with whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual or otherwise, when and as the school determines that it is appropriate to do so.”
In keeping with his bona fides of what now passes for doctrinaire Conservatism, Bothwell praises the decision, instructing us that:
“…even if this ruling was fueled more by the judges’ collective desire to allow this type of behavior in our public schools than it was to respect the scope of the Constitution, it nevertheless remains that there is nothing in the Constitution discussing who is allowed to teach our children about sex and how it must be done.”
The implication being, of course, that to proscribe such behavior on the part of the school district would be “judicial activism.” HORRORS!
According to Bothwell, what parents should do instead is:
“…raise the issues in the court of public opinion—by starting grassroots organizations protesting such misuse of our tax dollars; by holding town hall meetings to garner support for our positions; and by raising awareness in the press and debating elected officials—or even better, voting said representatives out of office when they don’t conform to our demands.”
Either that, or simply pull their kids out of public school altogether. He concludes the piece by reminding us that:
“It’s important to protect our children. But if we don’t protect the Constitution, there’s only so much we’ll be able to do for them anyhow. In the end, the power to influence our kids resides in us, not the courts.”
Bothwell’s essay is so full of sophistry that one scarcely knows where to begin, but I’ll give it a try.
Clearly, parents first contacted the school district, complaining about the sexual content, and were rebuffed. In a civilized society, we are supposed to redress our grievances via the legal system. The legal system is slow enough, but advocating longer-term solutions does nothing to solve the parents’ current problem. Moreover, the cavalier notion that the parents could simply remove their kids from the school ignores two key facts: Many cannot afford private school, and since they are supporting the public schools with their taxes, why shouldn’t they have a say in what goes on? Is that not one of the prime functions of a representative government?
In his eagerness to heap ironic praise on the miserable 9th Circuit, Bothwell misses completely the tortured logic used in its findings. True, parents have no constitutional right to prevent a school from doing a sex survey in primary grades, but that is not the half of it. There is nothing in the Constitution about schools, parents, or sex education. But, there certainly is something in the Constitution about petitioning the Government for a redress of grievances. It’s called the First Amendment. You could also take a look at Article III, Section 2.
Thus, the non-action of the Court was anything but. Rather, it was a viciously cynical act, along the lines of returning little Elian Gonzalez to Cuba on the grounds that our country supports fatherhood.
As to protecting the Constitution, Bothwell proves that he can be as mindless as anyone on the Left. I realize that the presidential oath of office contains the phrase, “…preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution..” But, I have absolutely no idea what this means, and neither does anyone else.
Inasmuch as Article V provides for amendments, how can one preserve that which can also change? Perhaps it means that we shall always have a document entitled “The Constitution of the United States.”
As far as protecting it, I assume this means that we are protecting the ideals spelled out in its pages. But, surely since the Civil War, the original theme has been violated beyond redemption. Perhaps this slogan means that we are protecting what is written in it right now, or maybe it means that we are protecting its latest interpretation by the courts? Search me.
If the State can now take private property in an arbitrary and capricious manner, obviously in violation of the Fifth Amendment, or can order the execution of an innocent citizen in violation of the Eighth and probably the Fourteenth amendments, or discover a nonexistent right to privacy, that permits private executions, exactly what are we protecting?
Finally, the bit about influencing our kids residing in us quite conveniently ignores the power of many other influential factors, including educational institutions and the media itself.
Does Bothwell truly believe that his writings have no influence on kids, compared to that of their parents? Does he think that parents can always successfully combat the pernicious influences of the mainstream media? I guess that’s why we don’t have culture rot now, right?
Kind of makes you wonder just what his brand of conservatism is trying to conserve, doesn’t it?