Never Too Young

The headmistress of a school in Birmingham, England, decided that it was high time her pupils—or students, as I suppose we must now call them—learned a little tolerance. By the age of 4, it was surely essential that they should learn that not all children had a mummy and daddy, but that some had two of one and none of the other.

This teaching did not altogether please the parents of the children, 50 percent of whom were Muslim. Some of them started to demonstrate outside the school, among them those dressed in coal-black crow costumes. One of the local members of parliament supported the parents, to an extent. Surely, he said, this could all wait until the children were, say, 7? Thus he hoped to have it both ways and garner the votes both of the conservative Muslims and of the revolutionary libertines.

Amazon.com Gift Card i... Best Price: null Buy New $25.00 (as of 07:45 EST - Details) My objection, however, to the headmistress’ proposed lessons for the infants was that they did not go nearly far enough. After all, if your aim is nondiscriminatory inclusion, then all must be included without discrimination—or one is a hypocrite. It is therefore time that we had books introducing necrophilia to tots, the first line of which could be “Daddy likes dead bodies.” There could be quite an exciting story to it, which would surely engage the children’s sympathies. For example, because Daddy was not allowed to lie with dead bodies as he would have liked, he could be shown having to break into hospital morgues to do so. One day, Daddy is caught in the act and hauled off to the police station. When he appears in court, an intolerant, red-faced judge doesn’t listen and sends him to prison, where he is badly treated by the other prisoners. And all because Daddy wanted to do something that harms no one (a dead body not fulfilling the philosophical criteria for personhood, and any distress caused being the result of unfounded and ungrounded social prejudice)!

And what about sadomasochism? One cannot, or ought not, protect children from realities just because of their age. How about books with titles such as Bondage for Babies or Torture for Tots? “Mummy and Daddy like to tie each other up, and Daddy asks Mummy to whip him.” The great advantage of sadomasochism as an object of pedagogy is that it can easily involve practical work. “Now, children, take out your leather thongs and scourges!” This is much more exciting than the potato prints I remember having done as a child, when I wasn’t allowed even finger painting, let alone flagellation.

Then, of course, there is autoerotic asphyxiation, a dangerous activity, and surely a proper subject for harm reduction? Practical instruction could come with a little booklet, Safe Strangling, and be taught with first aid. Since education, as we know, is not an event but a process that lasts for the whole of a lifetime, compulsory refresher courses could and should be arranged, rather like a fire drill.

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