children's civil rights
emaltz at camden.rutgers.edu
Wed Apr 23 13:43:45 PDT 2008
If we were constructing language from scratch, we could define
anything as a "civil right." But we are not starting from
scratch. in most contexts, when we speak about civil rights, we are
talking about either the right of a person to make a choice free from
interference by the state (First Amendment) or to have his choice
supercede the choice of others (for example, in the employment
Here the state is asserting something quite different--that it is the
state whose decision matters, rather than that of the underage child
or the parent.
At 04:28 PM 4/23/2008, Hamilton02 at aol.com wrote:
>The categories that are being blurred here are not the difference
>between civil rights and not. There is a repeated error in this
>thread. Sexual abuse is not sex for children and is not the
>opposite of consensual sex -- it's an expression of violence by
>adults against children who cannot defend themselves. It's not a
>near-crime that could have been obviated if only the child consented
>and/or enjoyed it; it's a serious crime.
>As a descriptive matter, I think that "emerging civil rights" is a
>far better descriptor of the increasingly better treatment of
>children under the law of abuse than any other available
>category. We are in the midst of a transition from property to
>personhood, and the farther children have been permitted to evolve
>from property and laborers-at-will to being persons who have rights
>against sexual and physical assault by adults, the more they have
>been able to demand governments protect them.
>Tinker may have been wrong in the sense that children's civil rights
>should not include such a right. But all rights are matters of
>constitutional line-drawing -- here the issue is whether the child's
>right to be free of violence is to be balanced against the parents'
>right to control the child. This bodily integrity right is a
>foundational right, surely prior to rights to food, shelter, and
>other social welfare argued for by others.
>In a message dated 4/23/2008 1:25:16 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
>emaltz at camden.rutgers.edu writes:
>Discussing the efforts to prevent the sexual
>abuse of children as vindicating the "civil
>rights" of children strikes me as fundamentally
>misleading. We would not describe efforts to
>protect people generally from physical harm as a
>vindication of civil rights, and in principle the
>protection of children is no different. Indeed,
>to the extent that child sexual abuse is viewed
>differently, it is because children are being
>denied something which in adults some view as
>more akin to a civil right--the right to engage
>in consensual sexual activity. I am not arguing
>that "consent" from children--however that term
>is defined--should be deemed effective, but
>simply noting that the right to be free from
>abuse is of an entirely different genre.
>Moreover, discussing the prevention of sexual
>abuse with civil rights generally invites the
>conflation of this issue with questions such as
>those raised in Morse v. Frederick--a decision
>whose only flaw was that it did not overrule the
>pernicious doctrine of Tinker v. Des Moines.
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