“Won’t somebody please think of the children?” A plea often uttered comically on the Simpsons, but too often uttered seriously in real life.
“How can you dare argue against the MPAA? Don’t you care about the children?”
“How can you possibly be such a horrible person as to support gun-ownership? Don’t you realize that more children are killed by gunfire every year than by cancer, influenza, and pneumonia combined?”
“Don’t you realize that those… those murder simulators are teaching our children to be psychopaths? You went to school during Columbine, don’t you realize how dangerous video games are?”
“The Buffalo PD and the tabloids were, and are, perfectly within their rights to hound the Ramseys – don’t you realize that the statistics prove they’re the most likely suspects in their little girl’s killing?”
“Nancy Grace did nothing wrong in her interview with Melinda Duckett – even if she didn’t know what happened to her son, Nancy was trying to help everybody find her little boy! It’s not her fault that Melinda went and inverted her face with a shotgun after the interview!”
Time after time, people try to use the welfare of children to push their agendas through, to excuse their horrific behavior. In the name of the children, innocent people can be accused of murdering their own children, have their characters slaughtered by the media, and become pariahs for the rest of their lives.
In the name of the children, our rights can be trampled on, mauled, folded up into little balls, and ceremonially impaled on the ramparts for all to see.
In the name of the children, people can be ambushed by journalists and accused of being pedophiles, regardless of the truth.
In the name of the children, it’s considered perfectly valid to persecute other children – not for doing anything wrong, but merely for bringing nail files to school or wearing black.
You will find that each and every one of these things has been done in recent memory. Most of them are still happening today. That there is typically a perfectly good argument against whatever is being done is meaningless – the battle cry of “won’t somebody think of the children” is an even stronger one than accusing your opponents of being like the Nazis.
After all – it’s silly to say that somebody’s being a Nazi for wanting to disarm the public. Sure, Hitler was of the opinion that the first thing you did to dominate a populous was to take away their weapons, but the people trying to disarm us aren’t trying to make us incapable of resisting their excesses. They’re just thinking of the children, trying to protect them from those horrible, horrible guns!
If the children are so open and vulnerable, then how the Hell did our species survive to this point? How did they live through a time when every household had multiple firearms in it – and had to, as a matter of survival? How did they live through the early periods of Hollywood, before even the Productions Code, let alone the MPAA keeping an eye out for them? How did they survive through an era when their parents weren’t scowling at any adult who had the temerity to threaten their child by taking their hand and help them up after they fell?
How was our species not raped, murdered, and psychopathed out of existence, before everybody was thinking of the children?
The simple fact is that “think of the children” is the rhetorical H-bomb. Nobody is willing to argue with you after you level that threat. Nobody’s willing to say “yeah, I am thinking of the children. I’m thinking that their parents ought to do their damn jobs instead of expecting us to!” If they do, they immediately become horrible monsters who think that children ought to be left to the wolves, just because they were born to parents who weren’t able to protect them from the monsters pedophiles/media/firearms/bacteria that hide beneath the bed everybody knows are out there, just waiting to pounce 24/7.
On the internet, and occasionally in reality, there’s this thing called Godwin’s Law – the first person to reference the Nazis in an attempt to win their argument loses, unless they can support it firmly. I think it’s about time we put “won’t somebody think of the children” on the same level – it’s an empty rhetorical shield, used to deflect any argument or counterpoint.
After all… in the end, wasn’t Hitler just thinking about the children too?