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To What Expose Kids?
State courts recently rebuked Texas Child Protective Services and told them to return 440 kids to their polygamous Mormon parents. The main complaint I’ve heard is that these teen girls can not really consent to polygamous marriage because they were not exposed enough to the rest of the world. For example, Will Wilkinson:
About kids raised on isolated compounds by religious fanatics … It is tyrannical for parents to attempt to reproduce their ideologies and prejudices in their children, especially when this requires social isolation and emotional coercion. … They just have a political right to not be stopped, within bounds. Many parents, though they intend the opposite, are in fact guilty of wrongful disregard for the development of their children’s psychological freedom.
Of course responsible parents know they should expose kids to more than just the local neighborhood. But parents’ judgments on optimal exposure surely depend on their judgments about that outside world. Someone who sees outsiders as mostly immoral heathens will choose less exposure than we as outsiders would choose for those same kids.
So is the principle here that parents should go beyond their simple judgment when choosing to what to expose our kids? For example, should we let polygamists argue for their way of life directly to our kids? Should we let pedophiles argue their case directly to our kids? Or is the principle here that we know we are right and those other parents are wrong, obligating us to make those parents give their kids what we judge best?
I wonder, could different cultures make a deal where they each give the other cultures X hours to make their case to their kids? Of course with many cultures of differing sizes there’d be the issue of what fraction of that time each culture gets to use. And of course unreasonable cultures might be excluded from the deal. (But what criteria could characterize "reasonable"?) And if such a deal is not possible, even among some reasonable cultures, what exactly would that say about what we think about who should be exposed to what?
Added 29June: Will responds here.