Monday, February 05, 2007

Paging George Lakoff

Hey Spotty! Did you read Katie's column this morning?

Yes, I read it. It's Spot's job, after all.

Oh, yeah, I forgot. It's a really nice story about how Katie and her husband are already feeling sad about being empty nesters next year.

You missed the subtext, grasshopper.


You missed the subtext. How many times has Spot told you that with Katie, the subtext is everything?

Ok, I'll go back and read it again.

Spot will save you the trouble, grasshopper. Here's the money quote:
Throughout, it's vital to keep the goal of child-rearing in mind. "The
goal is to let them go and help them find a place to make a
contribution, make their mark as an adult," says Buri [the St. Thomas psychology prof quoted by Katie].
In other words, you have to shove the little buggers out; it's for their own good. Incidentally, when we had our field observation of the communix rixatrix, the common scold, the other day, Spot forgot to mention that the mother scold often drives her young away from the nest whether they are ready or not. The result is higher mortality for young scolds. That's why the scolds are prolific: it's an effort to perpetuate their species.

Katie's repeat of the quote above fits perfectly in her world view and what George Lakoff would call the strict-father (parent) morality. Here's what Lakoff says (at page 66 of his book Moral Politics) on the subject:
The mature children of the Strict Father have to sink or swim by themselves. They are on their own and have to prove their responsibility and self-reliance. They have attained through discipline [another of Katie's favorite themes], authority over themselves. They have to, and are competent to, make their own decisions. They have to protect themselves and their families. They know what is good for them better than their parents. Good parents do not meddle or interfere in their lives. Any parental meddling or interference is strongly resented.
One of Lakoff's principal theme in his book is that people who employ this child-raising method often project it onto politics. When they do, they're usually conservatives. It's understandable. If I kick my own kids out of the house, why should I care about anybody else's?

Spot believes this mode of thinking is one of the most important ingredients in social Darwinist hunter-gathererism.

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