Neal Conan went to bat for two law professors on Talk of the Nation, a program on National Public Radio May 12. Naomi Cahn and June Carebone are the authors of the recently published, “Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture.” During the half hour interview, Conan asked few difficult or probing questions of the authors. On three separate occasions, Ms. Cahn responded to Conan’s “questions” with “That’s right.
The authors propose that families with a good deal of sense about them will follow liberal, enlightened families – those living on either coast. It's a family system that reflects Blue for liberal and Red for conservative, for voting preferences in elections. The problem with their system is simple: as most people who follow politics know, it is the black voters that make the Blue states Blue, and not Red. Without the minority vote in urban areas, the Blue states would be – Red states.
This discredits the authors' attempt to form a behavior model based on a voting group. The authors do mention minorities - blacks and Hispanics. Black teens have an increasingly higher abortion rate in recent years, but have had a larger drop in the teen birth rate, according to the authors. Could this be because black teen girls are having more abortions?
Children from Blue families who graduate from college at a higher rate, have children only after they find gainful employment and are successful in their respective careers, are those who are to be copied. What the authors suggest seems to be a little racist: be like white liberals because they are more liberated and successful.
They give their children permission to have sex before marriage, but make sure their children are successful at preventing pregnancy, with contraceptives or a trip to the abortion clinic. The authors can’t seem to agree on an age when one becomes an adult. But they do know that being a responsible teen means not having children, even if it means having an abortion. Indeed, Blue state teens in northeastern states of New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maryland also have the highest rates of abortion in the U.S.
What are we to learn from this? Abortion is okay, so long as the Blue state families are "supportive."
As Cahn puts it, there are two choices: have a child and get married, or wait until you are older - an adult.
Conan also seems to like this idea; wait until you’re an adult, and then form a family, he says. The standard for publicly contradicting the Blue state ethic is Bristol Palin, Sarah Palin's daughter. Pregnant by her then boyfriend, she chose no to have an abortion. Carbones comment on Palin’s actions: “Instead, what you have were red-staters applauding the decision not to have an abortion, and blue-staters apalled at the thought that anyone would think it appropriate to have a child at 17, that Bristol was ready and prepared.”
Bristol Palin has become a national spokesperson for abstinence education.
In general, liberals dismiss her efforts, labeling it a step backward for teens, marriage and the family. What can we learn from this Blue state ethic in practice: holding young adults accountable for a commitment to education is fine; having high expectations for having sex outside of marriage, or being abstinent is a waste of time. Instead, they trumpet a widely held view among liberals and like organizations; abstinence education, or holding teens to a high moral ground in regard to sex is an untenable position.
But if teens are not adults, why treat them like adults in regard to having sex? Or why act like they don't need guidance, encouragement, standards to live up to if they are teens? Doing that would be sound education and family "policy."
Why would it not be good sex education policy? The critical factor is that like the authors, liberals would like to stay clear of any moral standard on the issue of sex education.
The authors also hide behind the shadow of those who support a traditional two-family support system.
They say that this is the most successful system for producing college educated children who defer child -bearing until later. But liberals in general do not support this system to the exclusion of others. And they are loathe to discredit alternative or other oriented families or lifestyles. Lastly, the authors offer another explanation for the high Blue state turnout during the 2008 election. It was really because of the popularity of the Blue state ethic, not the presidential candidate.
© 2010 Larry Ingram
Based in St Louis,
Larry Ingram writes about the news media, movies and culture, as well as on topics like race, privilege, Christianity, religious expression and tolerance.
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