Friday 22 July 2011

Get your rhetoric off my family!

Twitch of the mantilla to John Smeaton for pointing out the hypocrisy of the "family planning" movement which bases its arguments around the rhetoric of "choice". Statements from Simon Ross of Population Matters (formerly the Optimum Population Trust) in last Sunday's Observer suggest that "choice" is only acceptable if you choose what the population-limiters find acceptable.  To paraphrase Henry Ford, you can choose to have any size family you like, as long as it's below population replacement levels.  David Beckham and Boris Johnson are singled out as "very bad role models with their large families". Ross goes on to suggest that society needs to "change the incentives to make the environmental case that one or two children are fine but three or four are just being selfish"

The irony of this is presumably lost on Ross and it would be funny if we didn't know that this sort of population control already happens in China (paid for, dear reader, with taxes that your government and mine gives to the United Nations Population Fund - the UK also funds the UNPFA -- see top of p14 on the Multilateral Aid Review, published March 2011 ) and that "incentives to make the ... case that one or two children are fine"  are a slippery slope towards the government deciding how many children a family is allowed to have. It starts with tax incentives, it ends in coerced abortion. 

Public attitudes to family size are changing too. People feel that they have the right to pass judgement. Here's a real life example: several years ago, I was shouted at by a well-dressed, well-spoken woman in her 50s in an upmarket optician's shop in central London. After my eye appointment, I had taken my children into the loo and each little one had needed a turn and then the baby's nappy had needed changing. When we came out this woman complained that we'd taken too long. I apologised and explained that several of us had been using the loo and that I had also had to change the baby's nappy. "I heard them playing in there" she retorted "it's not a playroom!". "They're only children" I said as patiently as I could, between gritted teeth, "there's no harm in them being happy and chattering while I change the baby's nappy".  This really got her goat -- "THE SELFISH GENE!!" she shrieked "you all get it as soon as you have a baby! You think you can just do as you like! How selfish having so many children! Don't you care about the planet?" (As absurd as this sounds, I swear that I'm not making it up -- this is a verbatim account).  I was completely floored by this twist in the conversation, and said quietly "my children will be the doctors and nurses giving you medicines and wiping your bottom when you're old and helpless. They are a gift. God bless you." She flounced into the lavatory and slammed the door, and I ushered the children out. The younger ones were oblivious to what had happened, but the eldest asked "Mummy what was wrong with that lady - why was she shouting at us?" I told his that I thought she was probably ill, and that's why she had behaved the way she had. 

The sad thing is that her attitude is all too common, and to a large extent condoned by the mainstream media which in turn is informed by Population Matters and other population-control cronies like the Green Party, various "family planning" organisations that treat pregnancy as a disease, and so forth. 

I'm really tired of this anti-child, anti-life, anti-family and, crucially, anti-woman rhetoric. Children matter, families matter, and -- if you look at the science -- the declining birth rate and resultant population implosion is going to have a devastating impact economically and socially unless we find a way of redressing the balance. I think we need to be pro-active in fighting these attitudes -- for the sake of our own children and their children.

Fortunately I meet more people who are positive about children and families than people like the woman described above, but then again I steer clear of posh optician's shops and order my contact lenses online these days...

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