A right-of-center columnist who thinks Bristol Palin’s pregnancy was a private matter that shouldn’t have been discussed

I sent this e-mail yesterday to Kyle Smith of the New York Post:

Mr. Smith:

Your column on the New York Times’ non-coverage of the Van Jones story is right on, but with one false side note. You write:

Being a communist is personal but being the pregnant teen daughter of a vice presidential candidate is public business?

The idea that the pregnancy of Sarah Palin’s teen-age daughter was not something of legitimate public interest and importance is an irresponsible libertarian fantasy. Palin herself announced on September 1, 2008, three days after her introduction to the country as McCain’s vice presidential choice, that her unmarried 17 year old daughter was pregnant. She then brought her daughter and the daughter’s boyfriend to the Convention, where they were front and center and feted. All this was unprecedented. It meant that the Republican party was approving of an out of wedlock relationship and pregnancy at the highest level of our national life. So it had ceased to be a private matter. It had become a statement of what the GOP and the social conservatives believed to be right and good for society as whole.

This was happening. It wasn’t the liberal media that made this happen. McCain and Palin and the GOP made this happen. And how, according to you, should people have reacted to this?. Closed their eyes to what was in front of their eyes and pretended it wasn’t there?

Obviously it was a public issue. Palin herself made it a public issue, by accepting the nomination, and thus making her daughter’s out of wedlock pregnancy known to everyone on the planet.

Please don’t indulge in this libertarian notion in which things that are obviously of importance to society are imagined not to be of importance, merely “private,” and people aren’t supposed to notice them and have opinions about them.

Nothing is more important to the health of a society then the nexus of marriage and children. Most of the social ills today are due to children being raised without fathers. Unmarried mothers dependent on the state lead the society in the direction of socialism. The downgrading of the importance of men as husbands and fathers destroys society’s strength and courage.

When you say, as the Palin supporters said last year, that the Bristol situation was purely private and can’t be criticized, you’re saying that unmarried motherhood is of no social importance and can’t be criticized, the very attitude that leads us to a messed up society filled with disordered people who need the government to take care of them.

Do you want America to remain a free country? Then you should recognize that traditional sexual morality is indispensable to a free, self-governing society. Nothing could be of more public importance than that.

The Bristol issue was discussed at length last September at my blog, View from the Right. I was very critical of the conservative movement, which supposedly stands for family values, for throwing away their principles by cheering for the Bristol situation.

Here is a collection of those blog discussions. I has many entries in the collection, but if you have time to read just one, Please read this one, by Laura Wood, who also has her own blog here:

Why teen pregnancy, even when followed by marriage, is a tragedy; and why parents are responsible

Here is the key passage:

For the record, it’s important to remember that even without the horror of abortion, a teen pregnancy typically is a tragedy. That it might end in a sudden and unexpected wedding is no great triumph over circumstances. Few teenagers possess the judgment to pick a spouse; the financial ability to maintain a home; and the maturity to care for an infant. They are generally not enthused for any of these things and this lack of enthusiasm stunts their futures. “Bristol—and lots of other girls out there—are going to be just fine,” said a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. That’s a brazen lie used to soothe adults into self-satisfaction and excuse them of their neglect. Pregnant teens can expect a future that involves divorce, interrupted education, haphazard careers, lower incomes, and troubled offspring. A highly-visible, publicly sanctioned teen pregnancy is likely to increase the incidence of all these things among less fortunate teens influenced by example.

A teen pregnancy is always, and unequivocally, the failure of adults. This was a widely-held view in the past, when teenagers regularly were provided with adult chaperones and constant supervision. They were also provided with a strong disincentive to have sex: the social stigma of illegitimacy. This social stigma came from the adult world and was one of its greatest gifts to the young.

It was common knowledge in former times that teens were too impulsive to be left alone with the opposite sex. Brain research has since confirmed that the make-up of the adolescent brain favors impulse, over forethought. In other words, teenagers are wired to be indifferent about the future. The latest brain research and centuries of common sense have not reached parents today, some of whom are, like the Palins, quite affluent and educated, and many of whom possess more modest skills and far greater obstacles to the glowing future envisioned by the Palin’s neighbor. It is common practice today, in rich and poor homes, to permit teenagers unsupervised time in cars and private homes with the opposite sex. Why is it common practice? Because it makes life easier for adults. The teenage birth rate in the United States is the highest in the developed world. This rate has declined in recent years due to the use of contraceptives, abortion and abstinence programs, but remains alarmingly high, at 53 per 1,000 teens between the ages of 15 and 19. In the white, working-class neighborhood of Fishtown, Philadelphia, no one bats an eye anymore when a twelve-year-old shows up in maternity clothes. So many of the teens have become pregnant in the local middle school that a doctoral candidate who works as an 8th grade teacher is doing her thesis on the mysterious attraction toward early pregnancy among her students. She might look for the reason for the phenomenon not in the minds of the girls, but in the complete lack of social stigma attached to illegitimacy and the absence of adult supervision during the hours after school.

This unsupervised life comes at a time when teens are sexualized as never before in history, exposed to a steady diet of sex on television and, most especially, in popular music. A teenager walking down the street with Ipod plugs in her ears is most likely listening to orgasmic longing translated into chords and childish lyrics.

So here we have it: it’s no surprise that Bristol Palin is pregnant. No surprise at all. What is a surprise is that anyone, anywhere would see anything good in this development. It is shameful, deeply shameful, a disgrace on the Palin family and a disgrace for America at large. America worships energy. The energy of millions of women earning a living in the world, whether out of “necessity” or out of the desire for personal fulfillment, is a god Americans worship on bended knee. That god exacts sacrifices. It expects children and adolescents to be placed every day on its altar.


Lawrence Auster

- end of initial entry -

John Dempsey writes:

I just learned something that astounded me. While reading your letter to Kyle Smith, I thought about no-fault divorce and its impact on American culture. So I looked it up in Wikipedia and found that the Bolsheviks had originally put this into effect shortly after the revolution. But did you know that it was then California Governor Ronald Reagan who first signed it into law in the U.S. in 1970? Amazing.

I guess he never read Louis de Bonald.

LA replies:

Unfortunately, Bonald’s “On Divorce,” in which he showed the connection between breakdown of the family and radical democracy, was not translated into English until 1990, almost two hundred years after its original publication.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 14, 2009 07:05 AM | Send

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