- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 11, 2004

Parents’ responsibility vs. children’s rights

Yet again, the courts have taken a stand favoring the granting of “rights” to some groups while removing them from others (“Mom’s eavesdropping violated privacy law,” American Scene, Nation, Friday).

Ignoring the details of the case and focusing on the broader issue, what the Washington Supreme Court did was grant broad privacy rights to minor children while depriving parents of one means of carrying out their legal responsibilities for monitoring their children and their children’s behavior.

What comes to mind is the Columbine High School massacre. In that case, the parents of the killers both implicitly and explicitly were held responsible by the media and by the nation for not being aware of their children’s activities and for not intervening. Had they done so — by listening to their children’s telephone conversations or monitoring their Internet activities, for example — they may have saved many lives.

As a parent, it seems to me that the courts cannot hold parents responsible for the behavior of their minor children while simultaneously granting rights to their minor children that deprive parents of the very means to carry out their legal responsibilities. Which way do the courts and the court of public opinion want it?

GORDON E. FINLEY

Miami

Back door is left open

In the article “House OKs intelligence reform bill,” (Page 1, Wednesday), there is this statement: “The House last night approved a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s intelligence community, despite objections from a host of Republicans that the bill was flawed and should be voted down.”

President Bush and many legislators are committed to supplying U.S. merchants with taxpayer-subsidized foreign labor. In order to accomplish this, Mr. Bush and his buddies, the U.S. merchants, did a lot of arm-twisting. I can just hear the phones of congressmen ringing and political campaign donors threatening not to donate money for re-election campaigns.

This is the reason why the House bill was gutted of the immigration provisions. The U.S. merchants and their lackeys, the corrupt politicians, have seen to it that illegal immigration remains protected against our laws.

This bill is like someone locking the front door and all the windows while leaving the back door wide open. The president, the merchants and the legislators don’t give a hoot about homeland security. They are only interested in making profit through taxpayer-subsidized foreign labor.

HAYDEE PAVIA

Laguna Woods, Calif.

Women have choices

Suzanne Fields’ Op-Ed, “Tilting for the children” (Dec. 2), regarding feminism’s effects on modern child-rearing, makes some valid points, but it also illustrates something both sides of the debate continue to miss: The need for women and their families to determine their own course in life.

For the past 40-plus years, feminists have labored for the rights of women to participate in the marketplace, to receive equal pay for equal work, to be treated fairly in the eyes of the law, and to gain the respect of society as individuals with minds and abilities. Their efforts have allowed women to break free from the rigid roles imposed on them by society.

Women have always worked, although not always in glamorous or well-paid professions. Although a few have managed to accomplish great things and achieve respect, women’s roles have been inflexibly prescribed. Women were to marry, bear and care for children, manage a household, tend to the sick and the needy, and occupy their time in a nurturing or decorous fashion.

It was a limiting type of life, and it took a strong character to overcome these limitations. In Virginia Woolf’s essay, “A Room of One’s Own,” considered a feminist siren song, she writes of the fate of Shakespeare’s sister, whom she imagines has the same talents and abilities as her brother but little opportunity to exercise them. There would be chores to tend to or younger children to mind and little space or privacy with which to write.

Woolf defines freedom in terms of money and privacy. “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction,” she writes. Women such as Woolf were luckier than most, however, coming from a privileged and educated background.

There has been a great deal of progress in the liberation of women. Women are employed in many industries and have reached distinguished positions. They own property, have opportunities for higher education and most of all are free to determine their own course in life. No longer is it taken for granted that a woman, upon finishing school, will marry and have children, although that is one of many options available. She can pursue higher education, embark on a profession, travel to far-away places or explore the things that interest her.

Despite all of this progress, there remains a rigid mindset of the roles of women. You see it most clearly in the debates among policy-makers and editorial writers about the roles of working woman versus the traditional stay-at-home mother. Many women today are leaving the workplace to care for their families full time. They believe the needs of their children come first. Some may also be weary of the constant strain of raising children and holding a job. Others relish the challenge of balancing both demands or have found means of having both through part-time work, telecommuting and job sharing. And then there are those for whom having a job is not a choice but a necessity.

Some feminists, however, feel that their ungrateful sisters are turning back the clock on women’s advancement. Conservatives applaud a return to traditional family life and a restoration of civilized society. Ordinary women are also at odds. The stay-at-home mothers and the working mothers, women with children and women without, regard one another with a mixture of envy and contempt as they assure themselves that they have made the right choices.

Where both sides get it wrong is that it is the choices that have set women free, and it is ironic that those on both sides of the aisle think it has to be all one way or the other. The real choice, the real freedom, lies not in what prescribed roles society sets for you, but in what is best for the individual woman and her family.

NANCY ALMASI

Alexandria

Soldiers deserve the best

Donald Rumsfeld’s response to the soldier who asked him why American troops have to dig through Iraqi landfills for pieces of scrap metal to protect their vehicles was “You go to war with the Army you have,” (World, Thursday). That’s insulting and wrong.

If our nation had been attacked by surprise, yes, we would have been forced to go to war with what we had. But the Iraq war was planned a year in advance, and the Bush administration chose when to attack. It had the time and the obligation to equip our soldiers with what they needed. Yes, some soldiers would get killed anyway, but the idea is to protect them as much as possible.

Republicans are very quick to pounce on anything a Democrat says that could possibly be interpreted as anti-military or disrespectful to our brave fighting men and women. But apparently the incompetent Mr. Rumsfeld can get away with just about anything, including contributing to more of their deaths.

ALAN LIGHT

Iowa City, Iowa

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