Conformity vs. Freedom: A Case for Diversity

The Decision to Write About My Little Pony

I have to admit my initial reluctance to write a blog post about My Little Pony.  It’s not that I have anything against the show…in fact, I’m quite neutral on the show.  I never watched it.  I know essentially nothing about it.  It’s not even that there are about 10 million more interesting things going on in the world that are blog-worthy…(Crimea, for example, or the missing Malaysian flight, or the daily Constitutional violations our government commits, or the upcoming elections…I need not continue).

Instead, my initial reluctance to write about 9-year-old Grayson Bruce’s story stems instead from my initial internal argument about what I would write.  On the one hand, I don’t think that Grayson’s school or his parents should fight his battles for him.  On the other hand, I think the school’s response gives the wrong message to kids, and needs to be corrected.

Backstory

In case you are unfamiliar with the story, 9-year-old Grayson Bruce likes My Little Pony.  A decade ago this would hardly have been a news story.  But with a growing prevalence of attempted suicide among young boys who are thought to be homosexual, and with the increasing intensity of cyberbullying, and with government’s overreach, especially in schools, growing at a dangerous pace, this story is a perfect storm and deserves a spot on the headlines.

To quickly summarize: the kid likes an unpopular show, as a result, his classmates bullied him physically and emotionally, and the school did essentially nothing but encourage him to hide his feelings in order to stop the bullying.  Conform or die.

The Perfect Storm

Common Core is a symptom of a much larger problem of parental disengagement and cultural disease.  This seems like a harsh statement, until you look at the facts.  First, Common Core is nothing new–it teaches the same failed methods of math, reading, science, etc that have been tried before (when I was a kid, it was called Chicago Math and it lasted about a year in my school before they realized that no one was learning anything).  What is new is that schools are allowing the Department of Education to suggest a “common” curriculum–basically making all schools conform to a set of standards, or at least encouraging them to do so.  This ‘dumbing down’ of curriculum selection and gearing curriculum toward standardized testing (which is a major factor in Common Core) is a natural consequence of big government/authoritarianism/conformity.  It brings the top down and the bottom up to make everyone fall somewhere in the middle.  Its result is a mediocre, slow death of individuality.  This principle of bringing the top down to bring the bottom up is not new, either.  It’s been tried in so many countries it’s hard to count.  The results have ranged from perpetual mediocrity to mass murder, but never excellence.

Meanwhile, as society prepares a generation of drones who can’t think for themselves, schools send the message of more authoritarianism and one-size-fits-none regulations via zero tolerance policies.  You bring a spork to school, you chew your Pop Tart in an L shape, you do anything that steps outside the rigid parameters of conformity, and you’re out.  Expelled, or suspended, or in some cases even arrested, and your future hangs in the balance because of a school that’s been given way too much power over you.

What is the purpose of school, anyway?  I thought it was to train future productive citizens of the country in basic things they needed to know.  How to balance a bank account.  How to read, write, and do basic math.  How to think critically about a problem they might face.  How to do a trade that might get them a job.  How far away have we gotten from that common sense purpose of sending our kids to a building for 8 hours every day?

Finally, the trend of cyberbullying is on the rise, and many in my own political camp (libertarians) will claim that this is a falsity, but I experienced it myself.  It’s not the same as it was when I was in school, because before Twitter and Facebook became your primary residence instead of a place you visit every now and again, you could escape the constant barrage of suggestions that you go kill yourself.  You could go home and log off those websites for most of the evening and still have a relatively normal social life.  It was harder to bully people because you had to deal with the people directly.  When a jerk stole my tator tots every day in the cafeteria, I finally snapped and jumped up, put him in a headlock, nearly cut off his air supply, and made him spit out the tator tot.  He never bothered me again.  You can’t do that to someone who is firing electrons at you.  Nor does he have any incentive to stop firing those electrons.

So how does this all fit into the perfect storm?

Imagine a world where you don’t quite fit in.  This is probably easy to do, if you’re LGBT, or if you’re a different color than everyone else, or if you’re intersex, or if you’re a Mormon, or if you’re…I don’t know, a *human being*.  EVERYONE is different, and NO ONE fits into every crowd.  Authoritarianism, Common Core, Socialism, Big Government, whatever you want to call it–a giant authority that has lots of rules to “protect” people–has to make actual rules in order for their bureaucracy to work.  That means that those “zero tolerance” policies can only cover so many things.  There’s plenty of evidence of this truth.  Perhaps they classify all sharp objects as “weapons” and your spork gets you suspended or expelled.  They couldn’t have foreseen that you might bring a spork when they made that policy because they are human beings, and it’s impossible to foresee every possible circumstance.  That’s why big authority is inherently flawed.  But I digress.  They have these rules to “protect” you, but it’s inevitable that someone will be outside a protected class for some reason or another.  What happens then?  In order for this bureaucracy to stand, in order for it not to collapse in on itself, the only solution is the one that fits their mantra of a COMMON purpose.  You must CONFORM.  You must be like everyone else.  If it’s not in the rules, it can’t happen.  And that’s a scary world, indeed.

Solutions

Back to My Little Pony.  Here are some proposed solutions to Grayson’s problem:

1. Homeschool.  This is the best option, and the one they’re going with right now.  It’s best because Grayson was in a worse spot anyway, in a government run school that forces all kids to advance at the same pace, and doesn’t recognize individuality.  All kids would benefit from homeschooling.

Sidenote- If we deregulate the education industry and allow for private homeschools to form in neighborhoods, the tried and true method of the one-room schoolhouse would come back, and would offer salvation to working parents.  Classes would be small, curricula would meet the needs of the individual children, and attendance would go up until about 8th grade, at which point attendance would be voluntary if the student was apprenticed and learning a trade (like computer programming, or being an electrician, or whatever).  It would get kids into the workforce early, teach them about earning/saving money, would provide cheap labor, and would equip them to go on to college with some real life experience instead of extending childhood for 4 years so they can drink and party and learn about liberalism on the taxpayers’ dime.

2. The school could do diversity training.  Real diversity training.  Not the kind where they teach white kids that they are inherently “privileged” or form sessions where they exclude entire races of people in order to somehow foster diversity…instead, the kind where they teach people what MLK, one of my heroes, wanted everyone to understand.  We can be different and work together.  We are *not* the same.  We *are* different, and that is what makes us a beautiful civilization.  We should embrace, not shy away, from differences.  This would likely not decrease the frequency of the bullying, but it would probably decrease the intensity of it.

3. The school could revoke its zero tolerance policies about violence (assuming it has them), and let the kids fight this out.  This seems like an archaic way to solve a struggle, but it works for children.  Even if you lose a fight, you still stood up for yourself and you are respected for it.  Kids need to learn to fight their own battles.  Mom and Dad (or the school, or the government) won’t be there to do it for them forever.  They also need to recognize the consequences of their actions.  When you choose to make fun of someone, you might get punched in the gut for it.  When you choose to punch someone in the gut, you may get a detention for it (I said revoke zero tolerance policies, not revoke all punishment for violence).

Conclusion

I think all LGBT people and all Mormons have a really good reason to be libertarian.  We are minorities.  We know something with a surety inside ourselves that drives us to be different from the rest of the world.  We have such conviction about who we are…or at least about who we are *not*…that we act differently, and we don’t conform.  We should support any system that increases people’s ability to choose for themselves what they want, and we should reject any system that restricts creativity and individuality.

If Grayson Bruce can teach us anything, it’s that we should be prepared to support the next generation of kids who dare to be different.

For a really great video on bullying, see this:

And for what Glenn Beck had to say in response to Grayson, see this.

J. Cabot is a young engineer and author. He was born intersex, but didn't receive treatment until he reached adulthood. He approaches the world with an insatiable curiosity and has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and exploration. He tackles every puzzle before him with thorough research and a scientific mindset. In college, he sought out an answer to the question of whether God exists, and the Holy Spirit witnessed to him that God does indeed exist, and that God had been present in his life from the beginning. After bouncing between churches in a search to find the right one, he became an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He considers the medical challenges he has gone through in his life to be gifts from God which have served to make him stronger. He also considers his responsibilities as a member of the men's group in his church to have helped him develop his role as a man in society and serve the Lord to his fullest capacity. His life is dedicated to serving God, his family, and America.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Gender, Personal History, Politics, Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 125 other followers

%d bloggers like this: