If You Respect Their Privacy Too Much, You Risk Being a Good Parent

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In addition to the embarrassment of placing one of the government's anti-drug ads right next to a story about the failure of the government's anti-drug ads, there is the embarrassment of the headline on the ad: "It's a fine line between respecting your teen's privacy and doing your job as a parent." I think what the Office of National Drug Control Policy meant was, "It's a fine line between respecting your teen's privacy and failing to do your job as a parent." As it is, the government is suggesting that the less you know about what's going on in your children's lives, the better.

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  1. I think that they’ve officially removed all forms of the word “fail” from their offices and products; it’s too hard to avoid admitting their real situation if that word is allowed. Best to just censor it completely.

  2. Paraphrase: “There’s a fine line between [the interventionist element of] a parent’s job and [the libertarian desideratum of] respecting your teen’s privacy.” Other issues aside, what illogic am I failing to register?

  3. Winnie,

    I think the point is that the ONDCP doesn’t really appear to think there’s a “fine line” between the two; it thinks there’s a huge chasm and why on earth would you respect your kid’s privacy DRUGS!!! DRUGS!!! OMG!!!” Or something like that.

  4. Everybody knows what they meant, regardless of logical accuracy. Unfortunately I find you often have to sacrafice logical accuracy in order to communicate effectively. Here is an example of this type of thing that I get into all the time with my wife:

    Wife: “You’re not going out, then?”

    Me: “Yes” (Yes I am NOT going out)

    Wife things I am going out.

    She was expecting to hear ‘No’ which technically negates the negative of the previous into a positive. I end up following up this with ‘No, I’m not going out’ which is technically a non-sequitor, then then we both understand each other.

    They could have said, “There’s a fine line between respecting their privacy and being a bad parent”, but I think the reaction initiated would be defensive since it tends to strike the reader that the assumption is you are a bad parent if you respect your teen’s privacy; at the end of the day a person wants to feel that they can be a good parent and still have some respect for their teen’s privacy, just not so much that the kids are cooking up crack in the bedroom.

  5. I hope as my son gets older, he realizes that consitutional rights do not extend to the parent-child relationship.

  6. She was expecting to hear ‘No’ which technically negates the negative of the previous into a positive.

    Jim,

    I sympathize. I don’t know where people learned this habit of linguistic thinking. I only know that after years and years of miscommunication, I have adopted the (technically incorrect) majority reply of “no”.

  7. the war on drugs is stupid

    the ONDCP and DEA should be abolished

    however, now you’re just nitpicking, Jacob

  8. technically negates the negative of the previous into a positive.

    I wish I could remember the source for the story about the professor who announced that while a double negative constitutes a positive, a double positive does not constitute a negative, whereupon from the back of the room came forth a mellifluous “Yeah, yeah.”

  9. while a double negative constitutes a positive, a double positive does not constitute a negative..

    The logic of mathematics then?

  10. Language is idiomatic and originates from the common speech. The double negative used to be common in English (read Fieldling and watch the speech patterns), but the 18th Century linguistic establishment tried to impose “logical” regularity on English grammar. It was mostly successful with respect to the double negative, but even today a negatively phrased question is commonly answered negatively to confirm:

    Q: “Didn’t you have an affair, dear?”

    A: “No.”

    Most other languages have no problem with the double negative. [eg French “ne …. pas”]

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