Not reacting according to Culture War sides
February 16th, 2012
Unfortunately, in today’s Culture War driven political climate, one’s political affiliation and group identity often dictates their response to issues and situations.
And our community is not immune. We make excuses for those who kinda may support us – or are, at least, affiliated in some way with our supporters – while holding to ridicule and derision proposals and ideas by those who oppose us on matters of equality whether or not those proposals or ideas have merit or impact our community uniquely in any way.
At BTB we try hard to be thoughtful rather than reactionary. We don’t always succeed, but we try. And it is in that context that I declare my agreement with Gary Bauer and Concerned Women for America on a situation.
The matter is trivial, a foolish mistake made by an overzealous government worker who turned off their brain and placed tick-boxes on a clipboard as being far more important than the purposes for those tick-boxes.
According to the Carolina Journal, an agent with the Department of Health and Human Services came to West Hoke Elementary School to inspect the lunches of pre-schoolers and make certain that they were eating an approved meal. The school decided that one four year old girl’s lunch – consisting of a turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice – was not adequately nutritious and so she was informed that Mommy’s lunch was bad and it was replaced with a cafeteria meal. [UPDATE: DHHS has issued a press release stating that the child was not told that Mommy's lunch was bad, that they do not inspect home prepared lunches, and that besides she was simply offered milk to supplement her meal. To date (2/17) there is no information on exactly how she came to the impression that her lunch needed additional nutritional elements or why whomever noted the lack of compliance with federal guidelines missed that the lunch the girl actually ate was not something that a nutrition-focused parent would select.]
For lunch that day, the girl ate three chicken nuggets.
Now, the right wing is delighted. Here is an example of government at its worst, lurking in your child’s classroom and making her eat chicken nuggets. And the opportunity to attack their enemies was too good to pass up.
Dr. Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America sees Michele Obama as to blame.
I think our state legislators [and] our federal legislators have to get involved in this because regulation is coming from the top, and quite frankly, a lot of this stems from the first lady’s emphasis on nutritional requirements that the government has to certify that each child has the appropriate nutritional requirements.
Gary Bauer (who isn’t running for President this year) sees communists in the bushes.
The girl’s grandmother, who often makes her granddaughter’s lunches, asked rhetorically, “This isn’t China, is it?” Not yet, but welcome to Obama’s brave new world. If the government can force us to buy specific products, force religious institutions to violate their values and send lunchbox inspectors to sort through our kids’ food, Chinese-style “commissars” are in our future.
It’s tempting to leap to the defense of the Obamas and the federal program, isn’t it? Considering that it’s Crouse and Bauer our instinct is to disagree and insist that federal guidelines are necessary to protect the health of children. This can’t be blamed on Obama because this was never their intent and besides this error was on the part of the school. Let’s get our excuses in order and blow these right wingers out of the water…
Except that in this case they are right. Not about the ‘blame the Obamas’ part, but about this being an example of a federal government that has exceeded all reasonable boundaries and has insinuated itself much too far into the minutia of our daily lives.
If we stop for a moment, we will all agree that three chicken nuggets are not a healthier choice than a turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice. Some of us snort at the notion that a government which approves of chicken nuggets – about as close to poison as you can get and still call it food – has any business making any valuations about nutrition.
Some of us go further, questioning why it is that any government official, at any level, is inspecting the lunch bags that parents send with their children. Why the federal government is dictating standards at local schools for home-brought lunches, at all? When did the Senator from Alabama and the Representative from Pascagoula get the right to decide what my kid eats for lunch, anyway?
Some of us hold to the principle that a child’s health and nutrition are primarily the responsibility of that child’s parents and if they are lacking in knowledge or concern then their community – relatives, neighbors, teachers – can offer counsel. Ultimately if it raises to the level of abuse or abandonment of care, the state can step in as protector.
But to abdicate our own responsibilities as parents and community members to a federal bureaucracy is to invite lunch bag inspection. If our desire to control others and force them to do what we know is best rules the day, then control and force will be the result.
And we need not use the examples of “forcing religious institutions to violate their values” to illustrate our point. (And he’s right, as long as they are using their own money and not administering taxpayer funded programs, the Catholic Church should not be forced to pay for contraception, abortion, or any other procedures they find morally objectionable. Nor should the Gay and Lesbian Center be forced to pay for insurance that includes ex-gay counseling, for that matter.)
It’s not the poor abused conservative Christians that are the real victims of governmental excess. Rather, our own community is the very poster child for federal abuse, most of it instigated by political allies of Gary Bauer and Janet Crouse.
The State of Massachusetts is suing the federal government because the Feds refuse to honor the centuries old right of states to determine marriage (so long as they are constitutional determinations). Residents of that state – and five others – are victims not of federal lunch inspectors but of federal crotch inspectors. If there are not the right amount of penises in the relationship, then the government box-tickers will not approve. “No, don’t eat that – not enough penises. Have a chicken nugget.”
Federal legislators are actually proposing a bill that would ban equality-supporting chaplains in the military from offering the rites of their faith to military members at their own chapel if those rites affirm the commitment of a same-sex couple.
And, in a policy that every ‘small tax conservative’ and every ‘pro-business conservative’ and every ‘fewer-restrictions conservative’ should each use as example number one – but for some unknown reason they never ever seem to bring up – our Federal Government has dictated that if a business wishes to offer to its employees health insurance coverage for their spouses, the business must track gay employees separately from straight employees and report this coverage to the Federal Government so that it may tax the gay employees – but not straight employees – on their health benefits.
But Crouse and Bauer aren’t interested in government intrusion on those issues. They lobby for increased federal crotch inspection and further appropriate orientation requirements. “Don’t tell me what to do, but here’s a list of laws that we think should restrict the freedoms and equalitites of gay people.”
I think that the question we should be asking is not “Why is this program anti-gay?” or “Why is this program anti-religious?” or even “Why is this program anti-parent packed lunch?” but rather the question should simply be “Why is this program?”
If we stop fighting and hating each other enough to think, surely we can agree that we all could use a bit more liberty and independence and a little less bureaucracy in our lives.