Free-Range Kids

Larry Wilmore Asks 'Is It Really Government's Job to Raise Our Kids?'

Libertarian parenting is catching on, haters.

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Kids
Wikimedia Commons

Last night's episode of Comedy Central's Nightly Show featured a lengthy segment and panel discussion on free-range parenting. Host Larry Wilmore mentioned several cases of state-mandated child-safety paranoia that were covered extensively at Reason by Lenore Skenazy, including the Harrell and Meitiv incidents.

I'm pleased to report that Wilmore was outraged by what he viewed as clear overreactions to trivial transgressions. These examples led him to ask the exact right questions:

All of these stories remind me that parenting has changed over the years, and I'm not sure that it's changed for the good. Are we being overprotective? Do we need to give our kids a little space to grow up? And is it really the government's job to raise our kids?

Amen! Wilmore's coverage of the free-range kids issue should serves as proof that fundamentally libertarian parenting ideas are spreading. The desire to let parents raise responsible, curious, independent children is not some fringe belief; it's common sense, and fully compatible with the facts of modern life. We live in the safest times in human history, and our children should enjoy as many freedoms as kids did in bygone eras.

What's standing in the way of this? The government. Local and state laws all over the country treat parents like criminals for letting their kids walk to the park or wait in the car unsupervised. A minor infringement of a silly law rooted in safety hysteria can trigger a visit from Child Protective Services. Dissent from the state's position—that children, regardless of age, should be handled like China dolls—can cause parents to lose their kids or even go to jail. That's why it's so important to insist that the state play no more than a limited role in parenting.

Recently, libertarianism has been maligned—somewhat unfairly, in my view—for promoting unsafe and anti-scientific positions on parenting. The New Republic's Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig even insisted that "to avoid a hellish death spiral of infectious disease and neglect, we would all do well to reject [Rand] Paul and his cohort on the subject of child rearing." To the extent that she's talking about a specific libertarian (Murray Rothbard) and his disciples, and a specific issue (mandatory vaccination), sure. But this neglects the broader array of parenting issues in need of a strong dose of libertarianism.

Because it really isn't the government's job to raise our kids—or shouldn't be, at least.

Watch the Nightly Show clip here.

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  1. No. Not even a little bit. This snowballed from more reasonable situations where, say, a parent was actually endangering the life of a child by shooting apples off his/her head to parents losing custody and being prosecuted for not having the A/C at the right temperature.

    1. Or for training them about stranger danger with a mock abduction.

    1. You have been here long enough…you know hat tips are as common as winning lottery tickets.

      1. As someone who has many hat tips, the key is to email them the story first. They rarely acknowledge anything linked in comments.

        And pick your target. Don’t be sending Ron no pop culture BS.

        1. And send money in the form of Bitcoin.

      2. And yet I must speak. All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good man do nothing!

        1. That’s the spirit Stormy Dragon.

          Do not give in to evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it.

          1. In the absence of light, darkness prevails.

            1. The wicked flee where no man hatippeth.

    1. And Kids in America: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzdHxqwTO-4

      An 80s video, no doubt about it.

  2. Hmm, points for the alt-text and not embeding the auto-play video. But the shot at Rothbard was a bit over the top, since you seem to be legitimizing that communist’s overheated rhetoric.

    So overall… two stars.

    1. Molon Labe

      1. Dare or request?

  3. The government is to hand the kids over to CPS, which has a horrible track record in ensuring that the children placed in their care are in safe, caring environments. Maybe we need a CPS for CPS.

    1. Who will abuse the abusers?

  4. “Larry Wilmore Asks ‘Is It Really Government’s Job to Raise Our Kids?'”

    The word “no” is simply inadequate to convey the strength of my response.

    I’d need 100-point font, bolding, and the word “fuck.”

  5. My son watches all those comedy central “news” shows, and sometimes has me watch a segment he thought was funny. I have to say, Wilmore so far is the best of the bunch. Not nearly as smug or as hard to the left as Colbert or Stewart, or that British guy on HBO who used to be with Stewart.

    1. You mean John Oliver who moved to the US to avoid UK taxes?

      1. Yep, that’s the one.

    2. I tried watching his whole show. He usually has one segment that’s good (IOW not sucking off the state) but then the rest is all ‘1%’, evil corporations, ‘government should’.

      1. by “his whole show” do you mean Wilmore or Oliver?

  6. I do think that parents have positive duties towards their children, including to provide them with food, clothing, and shelter.

    But parents also have certain RIGHTS with respect ot their children, and that is what the current system is sorely lacking.
    The law tends to preemtively take kids away because some parents don’t adhere to a particular modern social norm of what is “good” parenting, rather than only taking them when objective harm has been inflicted. They end up taking kids away just because the parents are considered “bad parents” and not because anything bad has actually happened ot the children involved.
    Family courts are also run according to the “best interests of the child” standard, which fails to recognize that parents also have interests in their child. Maybe sometimes the absolutely optimal thing for the child isn’t the correct decision if it inflicts significant harm on the parents – by taking their children away.

    I think it’s important for society to be able to say “ok, this kid might be marginally better off if we took it and let some upper-middle-class model citizens raise it, but it’s morally wrong to take kids away from people just because we disapprove of their lifestyle or religion, so we’re not going to do that.”

    1. “I think it’s important for society to be able to say “ok, this kid might be marginally better off if we took it and let some upper-middle-class model citizens raise it, but it’s morally wrong to take kids away from people just because we disapprove of their lifestyle or religion, so we’re not going to do that.””

      Wait, are you suggesting that foster homes are “upper-middle-class model citizens”? I can assure you, that is not the case.

      1. I spent several years living in one that was openly a ‘foster-care mill’.

        Don’t get me wrong, there was no overt abuse and we were all fed, clothed, and housed adequately but they were all about the money it brought in and worked hard to ensure that the kids they took in didn’t cost more than they earned.

      2. Some are. Most are not.

      3. Yes, well, that’s the best-case scenario – that the kid gets adopted into a nice upper-middle-class family.

        In reality, the alternative to leaving a child with a less-than-perfect parent, is often to send them to an even worse foster home.

      4. But my point is, EVEN if the child was guarenteed to be better off in a different home, society STILL shouldn’t take that child away, because doing so unjustly harms the PARENT.

        Parent’s have real and legitimate rights to raise their own offspring. Even if they aren’t perfect parents.

    2. I think that we should allow parents to appropriate some portion of their children’s lifetime labor.

      Then the fuckers might start to take more care in raising and educating the little house-apes.

      They’ll also be more likely to stand up to government when CPS wants to get involved.

      1. Parents generally do appropriate some portion of their children’s earnings.
        At some point when they are old and sick their kids take care of them.

        Being old and having well-off children to help support you is MUCH better than not.

  7. Yeah, many of these recent events seem to end with a police officer or CPS agent abducting a child over the fear that the child might be abducted. The mental gymnastics needed to justify this behavior must be strenuous. It’s a wonder these people aren’t constantly exhausted.

  8. Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig even insisted that “to avoid a hellish death spiral of infectious disease and neglect, we would all do well to reject [Rand] Paul and his cohort on the subject of child rearing.” To the extent that she’s talking about a specific libertarian (Murray Rothbard) and his disciples, and a specific issue (mandatory vaccination), sure.

    No, fuck Bruenig and fuck you if you agree with her. Even if one accepts Bruenig’s hyperbole, liberty entails the freedom to be stupid enough to elect to watch your child die from the measles. Period. End stop. This is the Rubicon not to be crossed.

    1. How will The New Republic avoid a hellish death spiral? Right now, it’s not looking too good for them.

    2. So, children are property?

      1. So, parents don’t have any rights with respect to how they raise their kids?

        Quick question: Why do we allow biological fathers visitation rights?

        1. Not willing to actually address the question? I never said parents don’t have rights regarding their children. I asked, basically, what rights do children have regarding their care?

          1. No, you asked if children are property. There’s a big difference between (A) children are property, (B) parents have rights to their kids, and (C) the state gets to take your kids away and give them to someone else if you don’t vaccinate them.

            1. “There’s a big difference between (A) children are property, (B) parents have rights to their kids, and (C) the state gets to take your kids away and give them to someone else if you don’t vaccinate them.”

              Sure. I agree with what you said. My question about children’s rights is directed toward this comment from HM:

              “liberty entails the freedom to be stupid enough to elect to watch your child die from the measles.”

              This strikes me very much like the sort of comments made regarding pets. They are property, not people, and so have no rights. So, if the child does not have the right to have their parents protect them from measles, what rights do they have? Are parents under any obligation to protect their children from harm? If so, under what circumstances?

              1. and by “obligation” it can be moral, or legal, I’m just curious to hear how he thinks. I”m not being judgmental; I’m actually curious.

    3. Funny I don’t recall there being any “hellish death spiral of infectious diseases and neglect” in the country prior to this latest government trend of butting in on child rearing decisions.

      If there had been, the country would have long ago been totally depopulated.

  9. Amen! Wilmore’s coverage of …

    Robby … Reason’s style manual says no “amen”s. “Fuck no”s, sure.

    FYI.

    1. This never would’ve happened when Postrel was in charge.

  10. My favorite thing about Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig is her intellectual honesty. Disagree with her if you must, but she always does her best to fairly represent her opponent’s ideas. What a saint.

    A fine publication like The New Republic is lucky to have her. Maybe her intellectual powerhouse of a husband will write for them, too!

    1. +1 for irony.

    2. Do you think it will work, linking Rand Paul with the human trafficker apologists?

  11. “Hellish death spiral” indeed. Kids able to work for some extra money. Parents able to decide what drugs the government can give their kids. Imagine.

  12. my best friend’s ex-wife makes $65 an hour on the computer . She has been without a job for seven months but last month her check was $13740 just working on the computer for a few hours. try this…………..

    ????? http://www.netpay20.com

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