Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Preventing Mass Shootings through Parental Licensure?

"Opponents of abortion ask with sincere anguish, “What about the babies?“, but we should be at least equally concerned about those babies’ long and perilous journey after birth. It may be time for us directly to confront the painful problem of weighing the procreative rights of adults against the basic rights of their potential children.

Suppose we come to a river and find it full of children being swept down by the current, thrashing and struggling to keeps their heads above water. We can leap in and save a few, but they keep coming, and many drown in spite of our best efforts. This is Harris’s (cited in Shanker, 1993) analogy for attempts to socialize children in the public schools.

It is time to go upstream, Harris insists, to see what is pushing all those children into that river of no return. What we shall find upstream is increasing numbers of immature, indifferent, unsocialized, or incompetent people, most of them unmarried and many economically dependent, who are having children whom they cannot or will not competently rear. The licensure of parenthood is the only real solution to the problem of sociopathy and crime.

Prior to World War II, most developed countries maintained what amounted to a tradition of parental licensure. The ancient taboo against out-of-wedlock births led most young people to understand that if they wished to produce a keep a baby, they must first get married, and for that a license was required from the state. A child’s jingle from that time said it all: “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage.”

But the sexual revolution of the 1960s discarded that bit of ancient wisdom, and the institution of “no-fault” divorce (which is often faulty in the extreme when children are involved) compounded the problem. It is time, I believe, to consider legislation designed to redress the balance-to place the rights of children once again ahead of the procreative rights of prospective parents.

In most jurisdictions, children are given for adoption only to mature married couples who are self-supporting and neither criminal nor incapacitated by psychiatric illness. If only these minimal requirements were made of persons wishing to retain custody of a child they have produced biologically, millions of American children would be saved each year from Harris’s maelstrom, and hundreds of billions of tax dollars would be saved with which to make their world a better place. It is something to think about."


“The fact itself, of causing the existence of a human being, is one of the most responsible actions in the range of human life. To undertake this responsibility-to bestow a life which may be either a curse or a blessing-unless the being on whom it is to be bestowed will have at least ordinary chances of a desirable existence, is a crime against that being.”

- JOHN STUART MILL (1859/1956, p. 124)


“It still remains unrecognized, that to bring a child into existence without a fair prospect of being able, not only to provide for its body, but instruction and training for its mind, is a moral crime, both against the unfortunate offspring and against society; and that if the parent does not fulfill this obligation, the State ought to see it fulfilled, at the charge, as far as possible, of the parent.”

- JOHN STUART MILL (1859/1956, p. 121)




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