Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Paranoia

Feel the paranoia dripping from Lynne K. Varner in the Seattle Times:
The other day, I found this frightening pronouncement from a stay-at-home mom writing for the Institute on Religion and Public Life's Web site: "If our society is to be revitalized, the committed, religious, stay-at-home mother will have to be at the forefront." I'm not sure what I, the committed, religious working mom, ought to do? Pack my handbasket for that trip to hell? I shouldn't joke. The reality is, I'm uncomfortable with the strict lines being drawn in our society under the pretense of a return to values. We're getting close to passing the kind of judgments and challenging the kinds of freedoms that made the Puritans leave England.
I agree that stay at home moms can - and do!- have a big positive impact in the neighborhoods they live in, and not just one their own kids. They are often active in schools and can help to look after kids who do not have anyone at home. What is puzzling is the logic gap - "stay at home moms are needed to revitalize neighborhoods" leads to "all working women will need to stay at home." Huh? Varner is engaging in political rhetoric and attacking a straw man, an exaggerated version of the position she opposes, one that is easier to attack than your opponents real position. Secondly, and more depressingly, Varner is engaging in simple peer pressure. She appears to fear that if the pendulum of public opinion begins to look at stay at home moms more favourably, she and all working women will come under almost irresistible pressure to stay at home. Why can't we all just women do what they see as best for them in their own circumstances? Why is there so much worrying about what other people will think? Why is it "we all do this, or we all do that?" Lastly, just how did that quip about the Puritans get by an editor? Puritans left England because they considered England to be too soft, especially in matters religious. How is it that Varner thinks she can draw valid parallel between her situation and theirs?

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