Sunday, May 25, 2008

Insults and Yardsticks (On Those Who Attack)

At Starry Sky Ranch, Kim has a great post about being mean-spirited. She references a "vicious attack on homeschoolers," to which she does not link (she says, "It was that bad"), and then proceeds to discuss the ridiculousness of many of the attacks leveled against homeschoolers. In the attack she highlights, she tells how many of the commenters stooped to attacking "the guest blogger's hair, wardrobe, punctuation, children, and general personhood."

I've seen something similar in many attacks on homeschooling parents and on homeschooled kids. When people have little or nothing to add to a conversation, they choose to insult the person talking. And of course homeschoolers make such fabulous targets, because 25 years ago when homeschooling was illegal, and homeschoolers had to hide under the bed whenever anyone knocked at the door, some of them did come out a bit unusual. Not only that, but at the time, in order to be willing to put up with the challenges of doing something illegal, homeschooling parents almost had to be fanatics. Even so, most homeschooled kids turned out well, and many went on to be successful in almost every area of their lives. So what if their hair or their clothes were a bit unusual?

But to assume that homeschoolers today are just like homeschoolers were then would be a HUGE mistake. Today homeschooling is legal in every state, there are many ways in which homeschooled kids can be involved in interactions with other kids, and we run the gamut from atheist to Wiccan to Muslim to Jewish to Christian (and probably more). Some families resent the structure of school that forces all kids into the same mold; some want to provide more enrichment for their gifted kids; some think one-on-one is the best way to educate. Some parents feel the schools move kids too quickly; others feel they move too slowly. Some want their kids to have more hands-on projects, some want them to read all the "classics," some think they should spend more time outside; some want them to go to college early and be teaching college classes by age 23. Some expose their kids to little or no modern culture, spurning the TV and reading and talking instead; others participate willingly in all the latest fads that come along, buying their kids "Seventeen" magazine and letting them "sag" or go Gothic or whatever.

It only shows how foolish these critics are when instead of raising valid concerns about homeschooling, they resort to ad hominem attacks - totally irrelevant to the issue at hand. And as Kim points out,

One thing we have always tried to drive home to the kids is that if a person is
reduced to discussing bodily form and function they must have nothing more
substantial to contribute to the conversation. Likewise when a person raises his
voice or makes personal attacks he generally has nothing legitimate to add

You'll definitely want to read the whole thing.

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