December 7, 2005

The Government Is Not Your Mom And Dad

Jonathan Turley gives his take on parents’ rights in the issue of their minor childrens’ abortions here.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood, a case concerning the right of parents to be notified on abortions given to minor children. The case is seen as a bellwether on the court’s shifting majority on abortion as well as the future of parental notice and consent laws in 43 states.

and continuing later in the Op-Ed,

Pro-choice advocates would make abortion the only absolute right in our Constitution, even though it was not fully recognized by the Supreme Court until 1973. Conversely, parental rights have been recognized since the founding of our Republic but are routinely dismissed when they collide with the almighty right to an abortion.

The pro-choice crowd is represented almost exclusively by liberal socialist leftist anti-American scum progressives.

Moving along, there are two sides to this debate, one here,

GENEVA - Efforts so far by the food and drink industry to improve the nutritional value of their products to fight childhood obesity are simply not good enough, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

“The industry’s efforts are commendable, but inadequate. They are only a drop in the ocean,” Colin Tukuitonga, who oversees the WHO’s global strategy on diet and physical activity, said before a meeting with representatives of the food and soft drink industry.

Some industry giants such as Kraft, Nestle and Unilever have recently reviewed their recipes and reduced the salt, sugar and fat content of some of their products. They have also pledged to change some of their advertising and marketing practices.

and the other here.

There’s no correlation between ad exposure and childhood obesity. George Mason University’s Todd Zywicki noted at a forum last summer that the average American child actually watches less TV than he did 15 years ago. What’s more, children face less exposure to food ads now than they did then, for a variety of reasons. The remote control has made ad-watching optional over the last 20 years, and more recent technology like TiVo may make traditional commercials completely obsolete.

Broadcast television is also losing younger viewers to cable, where ads in general are 40 percent less prevalent and where food ads comprise about half the percentage of overall ad time that they do in broadcast. Cable also offers more options for channel-flipping during commercials, and premium cable stations like HBO, which have no commercials at all, have become popular. All told, the average American child viewed 900 fewer food commercials in 2003 than he did in 1994. That this same average child gained weight amounts to a pretty solid rebuttal to the theory that food marketing is a significant contributor to childhood obesity.

You’d need to ban ads in adult programming. The fact is, you simply can’t limit a kid’s exposure to food ads, unless you’re prepared to ban all food advertising. Most children’s television viewing isn’t limited to children’s television programming. Kids watch shows intended for adults, too.

In fact, the kids most prone to obesity – those with minimal parental supervision – are also very likely those most likely to watch adult programming. Former Federal Trade Commission administrator Timothy Muris pointed out in a conference last June that if Congress had caved and banned food ads aimed at kids the first time the idea was proposed in the 1970s, the only television show that would have been affected would have been Captain Kangaroo.

Today, such a ban would probably hit a few other programs as well, which brings us to the next point…

The ban would cripple children’s television. The FCC already mandates that broadcasters devote a portion of the broadcast day to children’s programming. Food ads make up a huge portion of the ad revenue for those programs. Cut off that ad revenue, and the broadcasters subject to FCC regulation lose any incentive to invest in high-quality children’s television. Why put money into a sure loser?

Furthermore, television not subject to FCC regulations — cable, for example — would likely drastically cut back on the amount of television time it carves out for children, or just disregard children’s programming entirely.

The cause of childhood obesity lies elsewhere. Several recent studies have suggested that the single best indicator of a child’s health, diet, weight, and activity level is the health, diet, weight, and activity level of that child’s parents. Children of active parents tend to be active. Kids tend to eat what their moms and dads eat.

That said, there’s also some evidence that the caloric intake among kids hasn’t changed much over the last quarter century. What has changed is the amount of time kids are active, outside, and exercising. Kids today may watch less television, but they more than make up for it with video games, Internet activity, DVDs, or some combination of the three.

On the latter side of the debate, the Cato Institute rightly points out that the true status of childrens’ respective states of fitness result from their emulation of their parents’ dietary and exercise habits and their own sedentary passtimes.

The former, based on the World Health Organization statistics, places the blame for childhood obesity on food producers and their marketing programs.

The WHO conclusions, as can be expected, are those championed by the left, who, bless their litigious little hearts, have of course been doing everything in their power to place all burdens for preventing childhood obesity on the evil food producers.

So, they seek to take away the rights of parents to have any knowledge of or involvement in decision making where their adolescent children’s having abortions are concerned while absolving parents of any blame for their children’s obesity, in all cases via the courts so as to place the law between parents and their responsibilities as parents.

In public schools, the left, again using the courts, this time the far left 9th Circus Circuit Court Of Appeals, has obtained a ruling that

“We … hold that there is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children ….”
Judge Stephen Reinhardt, Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

In the same schools, where the right to prayer or any sort of religious reference was some time ago outlawed{except in the case of schools where the only religion permitted to be represented is Islam, via required Koran studies by Judeo-Christian children}, teachers and faculties are permitted to preach liberal doctrine to students or to revise history to meet the standards of the left.

In short, by small step after small step, each processed through the courts, the left is slowly but surely usurping the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit, excluding them gradually ever more from any kind of parental rights and indoctrinating their children into a leftist school of thought not unlike the methods used in Chinese, North Korean and former Soviet schools.

This is an occurrance that should be of some concern not only to parents, but to all right-thinking Americans and something that needs to be addressed as the tenacious left, headed up by organizations like the ACLU, are yet again applying methods of gaining their ends that are slowly termiting the America we know and love out from under us.

by @ 6:36 am. Filed under Liberal Agendas
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8 Responses to “The Government Is Not Your Mom And Dad”

  1. civil truth Says:

    Seth, I posted the following comment on another site shortly after the 9th Circuit Court’s decision was published reagarding sex education and parental rights.As my parent, my first reaction was that the 9th Circuit’s decision was ridiculous. And certainly, my sympathies are with the parents whose children were subjected to highly questionable behavior on the part of their school.However, after reading the posting and discussion at The Volokh Conspiracy, a legal site I hold in high regard, I am inclined to agree that in this instance, the court got it right. Remember, “even a stopped watch is correct twice a day.”In particular, for those who advocate judicial restraint, the courts properly declined to invent a new Federal/Constitutional “right”. Or to put it another way, the parents in this case were wrong to seek relief from the Federal court. In general, education has been jealously guarded as a state function, not a Federal function.Rather, the appropriate venue of action is at the state level, either through the state courts or through the state legislature. Alternatively, the parents could also agitate to bring about change in their local school board, either though persuasion or through the ballot box.Perhaps the lesson is to think twice and consider whether supporting a larger principle (judicial restraint, etc.) is more important in the long-run than getting a particular result. Do we really want to be in the position of Pyrrhus who reported said after one particularly costly battlefield victory that another such victory would leave him without an army? I think not.

  2. Seth Says:

    C.T. –

    Whew! The first thing I did on waking this cold, blue skied Chicago A.M. was read your very worthy comment and, being a link junkie, have since travelled from one site to the next(like a Harvard education compacted into one morning, LOL, those were excellent and absorbing posts and comment threads), taking some time to get through the thread at VC(I especially enjoyed the debate between Patterico and Raj at stcynic.

    First, I have to say that I am a great advocate of states’ rights and completely agree with you that the parents should have addressed the issue at the local level rather than making a “federal case” out of it. However, they live in(and the children involved go to school in) California, a profound liberal enclave in which the vast majority of residents apparently believe that anything they want to be law or policy must become the law of the land and as a result tend to take every niggling whim of theirs to the federal courts.

    In about the 23rd comment in the VC thread, a commenter called Hey, in the first 2 of his 3 paragraphs, writes,

    – It does seem to most people that this suit was filed incorrectly. It very much looks like a civil case for fraud, based on the inaccuracy or lack of specificity of the survey’s consent form. That this case was filed points to the general ignorance amongst the general public and lawyers of exactly what is in the constitution.

    This ignorance tends to stem from “liberal” groups pursuing litigation as an alternative to legislation. That conservative groups and what appear to be justifiably angry parents use the same tactic, while understandable, is disappointing in terms of intellectual coherence as well as the degree that even conservative or libertarian groups have been “liberalized”. –

    And I believe he has it right. Having lived in San Francisco for many years and having weathered scores of debates on the issue of local vs federal authority and litigation vs legislation, I have found that “the natives” are more friendly with litigation. What they want must be The Law for the entire country.

    Had I been the attorney for the plaintiffs, I would, out of sheer sense of responsibility, have recommended approaching the issue via local legislation rather than a lawsuit(unfortunately, all too many lawyers view the almighty greenback as the prime consideration in any instance), though as Hey pointed out, there may have been grounds for a local lawsuit for Fraud, as the consent form approach is somewhat nonsensical, because it does not allow for graphically sexual applications and, as was pointed out in another comment, those children with signed consent forms will communicate what they were exposed to with those who did not take the “survey.”

    Slightly OT, I consulted my own San Francisco based attorney on the issue when Kender first brought it to my attention in a telephone conversation(the day before the 9th Circuit heard the case), and she referred me to the signed consent issue, but that was as conversant as she was on the subject.

    Radical Guy’s comment,

    – Why do I have to establish my fundamental right to pull my kids out? Where, precisely, did the State even get the power to kidnap my kids every day for indoctrination?

    Sure, I can go to private school or homeschool, but only if I pay my way or meet State-set criteria.

    Would we allow an adult-education “draft” of even one-day-per-year to teach us CPR, or good manners, or how to do our taxes? What makes their power over kids any greater?

    I understand the policy arguments about externalities and public goods and whatever, but I still fail to see where the State power ever legitimately began, even though it’s been accepted by most for over a century.

    I hope that decisions like this lead more people to question the whole darn system. –

    was more in line with my own beliefs, those being essentially that, Constitutional interpretations notwithstanding, parents’ relationships with their children in terms of such indoctrination-based areas as morality, religion, sexual topics and political opinion should be sacrosanct, not accessible by the state on an indoctrination level. What if you have your own timetable for talking about sex with your own children, for your own reasons, and the state upstages you at what you consider a premature time(like, say, six years too early)?

    But returning to the main topic of my post and again referring to Radical Guy’s comment, there is a wide gulf between educating children and indoctrinating them, and it would seem that, whether the case was heard in the wrong venue or not, the 9th Circuit’s decision flatly denied parents the right to raise their children as they see fit by denying them the final say in an area that should be their pesonal domain.

    I believe that the parents involved were probably motivated more by the fact that in the liberal California environment there was no way they could have achieved anything through legislation, and that their only other alternatives would have been to a)shell out money they might not be able to afford and enroll their children in expensive private schools or b)move out of state to a less intrusive educational environment.

    These options should not have to be forced upon anybody.

    Schools are for teaching children the three R’s, as it were, and subjects such as History/Social Studies and Science, not for political, sexual and social indoctrination. The latter two are the parents’ job and up until only recently were acknowledged as such.

  3. Mags Says:

    The European Union’s heath commision released some frightening, but not very surprising numbers, regarding childhood obesity today: More than 400,000 children become overweight each year in Europe (!). The numbers for North America is no better. The 2 leading causes of this epedemic is: poor eating habits combined with a lack of activity. No surprise there either. This is, of course, a very complex problem and not easy to solve. If you are interested, please visit (and leave me feedback if you wish) my recent blog regarding this:


  4. Seth Says:


    I went to your site(excellent, interesting blog and great post), but the Internet access where I’m staying at the moment{Comfort Inn, 15 E. Ohio, Chicago) sucks and the lengthy comment I attempted to leave was eradicated by the Comfort Inn’s ISP. I will attempt again to reply when I am someplace where there is better access.

    What I completely agreed with in your post was your laying the bulk of the blame for childhood obesity on the family. It is the parents’ responsibility, not the government’s nor the food provider’s, to see that children are properly fed and encouraged to get the proper exercise. It is part of parenthood.

    I don’t believe that the state should do the parents’ job in that regard, though the schools could assume part of that role by serving more nutritious lunches, eliminating snack and soda machines and, in gym class, encouraging physical competitiveness from an early age(before the kids have the opportunity to become hooked on the X-Box).

    When I grew up in the 1960s, before a child became too anchored in a sedentary home activity, there was a parental order: “Go out and play.”

    It worked very well.

  5. Mags Says:


    You are spot on. The change has to happen at home, from an early age. No doubt about it. Putting the blame on the government is simply too easy and wrong.


  6. Seth Says:

    Mags –


    Unfortunately, at least speaking for the U.S., the left quadrant of our political make-up continuously attempts, with all too much success, to take authority away from parents and cede what should be parental authority to governmental auspices.

    That’s one of the reasons that conservatives are pushing for a voucher system wherein the tax allocations for a public school education would go to financing a child’s education in the private school of the parents’ choice.

  7. Mags Says:

    It makes no sense what-so-ever to think that any government can govern and control what should happen in the homes of it’s citizens. Childhood obesity is, like it or not, a product of poor parenting-hood. Of course, this sounds harsh and nobody likes to hear that, it’s much simpler to put the blame on soicety and look for the government to solve the problem, but that will never work.


  8. Seth Says:


    Unfortunatlely, that is the goal of American liberals.

    They believe that their way is the only way and seek to make their way “the law.” This is why every issue they have that most people disagree with ends up in court, where they attempt to legislate by setting legal precedents.

    Taking parental responsibility away from parents and transferring it to the government would give the state more control over what is indoctrinated into those young minds, and in the final analysis, that is what the left wants.