Friday, 27 November 2009

The madness of teaching kids right from wrong, by Jan Moir

Having managed to offend an impressive number of people with her Stephen Gateley piece, Jan Moir turns to the much safer subject of domestic violence. In The madness of lessons in wife-beating, she proudly asserts that it's terribly silly for schools to be teaching our kids that it's wrong to beat women up. This is a fairly common position on the right, where lecturing people about drugs and banning computer games is somehow compatible with a libertarian position, but talk about something like actual genuine domestic violence and you're the nanny state, which is the worst thing to be. And, like all good conservative pieces, it begins by harking back to the old days with a wistful tear and a made-up story;
Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin. Once upon a time, in a land that now seems far, far away, there lived a mummy and a daddy and their lovely little children.

Back then, the moral responsibility lay with the mother - and yes, even the father! - to bring up their children properly: to teach them right from wrong, to show them how to sit up straight, polish their shoes, say their prayers, be nice to everyone and eat pureed organic carrots without getting it all over their bibs. And so on and so forth.

Some parents did it better than others, of course. Yet in the scramble of life - taking in the cruelties of the playground, the learning curve of adolescence - we just about managed to get by.
If by 'get by' you mean 'survived', then yes, I agree with that, with the exception of the people who didn't and thus aren't around to write shit articles about it. But if by 'get by' you mean 'didn't have worrying levels of domestic violence', then you're on somewhat shakier ground. This is of course pretty standard for traditionalists; the mere fact that you and your parents lived beyond 50 is proof that literally everything was fine. Sure, a few wives got battered to death, but we did win two World Wars and one World Cup!
We did not rear a nation of monsters. We did not try to invade Poland or seize the silk routes. Did we get any thanks for this? No, we did not.
You want thanks for not invading Poland? Fucking hell, they set the bar for achievement pretty low in the Moir household. Still, I'm not sure what Moir thinks not invading Poland has to do with wife-beating. I'd wager that if you did a survey of people in British prisons who'd assaulted women, you'd find that relatively few of them had been directly responsible for Nazi Germany's annexing of Poland in 1939, although I'm willing to be proved wrong on that.
Surely if you insist on lessons to teach small children it is wrong for men to hit women, then you are implying that all men are a potential menace.
Speaking as a man, I'm fairly comfortable that teaching kids that it's wrong to hit women doesn't suggest to them that I personally am a violent psychopath with a pile of unconscious women lying bloodied on my carpet. You know, in the same way that when we teach kids it's wrong to, say, invade Poland, I don't worry that they think I might be Adolf Hitler disguised with a beard and hiding in plain sight. But hey, you're right Moir, let's not teach kids about right and wrong in case it offends men! I admire your hardcore political correctness!

While saying 'it should be left to parents to teach our kids, the majority of them are alright' sounds quite nice in principle, there are a few tiny flaws in it. The main one being that some of these parents are actual wife-beaters, and therefore expecting them to teach their kids that wife-beating is wrong may be a tad ambitious.

Anyway, it wouldn't be a Mail article without a bit of foreigner-baiting, and Moir obliges with some finesse;
One of the real problems to face women in this country is honour crime. Is the Government addressing this properly? No, of course not. They are far too terrified of upsetting any ethnic minority to tackle the issue.
Of course, what better way to deal with domestic violence among ethnic minority cultures than to, er, forbid schools to tell kids that such violence is wrong and leave it up to the parents, whose culture apparently teaches them it's okay? I mean, what could possibly go wrong?! While it's perfectly valid to argue that what we teach in schools is not going to end domestic violence on its own and that more things need to be done, writing off the plan entirely and then pointing the finger at The Ethnics isn't really helping either. Unless the lessons are going to include the phrase "Violence against women is wrong in all circumstances, except if you're Muslim, Hindu or Sikh in which case kill the sinful whores!"; then, you might have something resembling a point. The best part of this is, if the Government were to shelve this 'plan' (which sort of doesn't really exist in the way the Mail portrays it anyway), it wouldn't be long before someone started a rumour that they'd decided not to teach kids domestic violence was wrong in case it offended the Muslims.

Here endeth Jan Moir's lesson in morality for the week; let's leave it up to parents, including the wife-beating, honour-killing ones, to decide whether to teach their children that violence against women is wrong. Huzzah!

Ooh, comment of the day from Johnrs65 in Norfolk;
Why teach children about domestic violence? Those involved already know, those that aren ot involved don't need to be set a bad example.
Yes, those children who've witnessed domestic violence won't do it, and neither will those who didn't. That's why domestic violence has now reached zero! Johnrs65 for Prime Minister!


  1. I've written something about this article in my blog, because when i saw this my blood pressure went up several knotches.

    Yours is brilliant. Don't know if mine is as good, but hey, i cheer myself up by thinking that whatever i write, will never be as disastrously bad as a Jan Moir article. :)

  2. "You want thanks for not invading Poland?"

    Chris Rock anyone? 'I ain;t never been to prison' 'Yeah, but you ain't supposed to go to prison' 'I take care of my kids' 'yeah, but your supposed to take care of your kids'

  3. I'd love to see the stats that says 'Honour Crime' is a bigger problem than Domestic Abuse.

    Domestic Abuse costs the life of two women every week.

  4. @culfy - my thoughts exactly, "What do you want, a cookie?"

    On hearing about this new initiative, I thought "surely no-one could possibly think this is a bad idea".

    The way some people think scares me sometimes.

  5. The way the right go on about "honour killing", I'm convinced they believe that the 'Politically Correct Loony-Left Establishment' don't treat it as a crime or, at the very least, that "preserving honour" is a legitimately recognised defence (akin to "I was sleepwalking").

  6. Having to wade through the backlash over the last couple of days (as it's my job, sigh!) has been depressing. Thanks for cheering me up!

  7. @culfy, yeah I actually thought about referencing the Chris Rock routine at that point, but was concerned about straying off whatever my point was. It was in my head at the time though, hehe.

  8. c64glen: "I'd love to see the stats that says 'Honour Crime' is a bigger problem than Domestic Abuse. Domestic Abuse costs the life of two women every week."

    Small point, but "honour crimes" ARE incidents of domestic abuse and their victims ARE women. Whether a man kills/injures a woman relative or kills/injures his current or ex-partner it's the same problem - he feels it appropriate to use violence to punish or control or assert authority over a woman who disobeys him or makes choices he doesn't like.

    As the Amnesty blog points out:

    "Yes, “honour” killings specific to some ethnic or religious communities in the UK are a serious threat to women and girls (and some men) in the UK, and that’s why Amnesty and others have been pressing for more action to combat them for years. But, domestic violence and murder (femicide) is a massive problem faced by women and girls of all ethnic and religious groups in Britain. Cultural differences aside, when a man beats up or kills his partner he’s often lashing out because of some kind of enraged sense of damaged “honour”. He’s set to lose “face”. He’s being “disrespected”. His wife was going to leave him, was having an affair, was accused of “flirting”, or whatever."


  9. I haven't had a good look round yet, but judging by the Telegraph and the Mail's articles, there seems to be a deliberate approach to misrepresent the Government's new PSHE curriculum, by wilfully failing to join up the dots, and report on it in a piecemeal fashion.

    A few weeks ago the attack was on the lowering of the age at which parents can no longer withdraw their child from SRE lessons.

    Now, there's an attack on the gender rights and domestic violence part of the plan, with no mention that this is part of the same curriculum as sex ed.

    For once, the Government seem to have listened to recommendations (which were built on teacher, parent and youth participation), and from what I can piece together, seem to be planning a very well coordinated approach to PSHE.

    And that "from what I can piece together" is where I have a problem. I think the Government have made a big mistake by not making this more public themselves. There should be a link from the front page of the DCSF website, but there's nothing about PSHE even in the "Hot Topics" section.

    If they have published a summary of their plans, I can't find it. They're playing into the media's hands.

    I guess I'm going to have to email someone.

  10. Ah, having read a bit more in other papers, it seems the Government are making announcements in quite a piecemeal fashion.

  11. Great takedown - am sending this to a few friends.

  12. Great post! I wrote about this 'interesting' position the Mail seems to take last time an article was published on the subject, so it's made my blood boil even more to see they've done it again. And to tie in nicely with the 16 days to end violence against women. Tasteful as ever.

  13. brilliant post and well said.
    the way this has been reported is just awful. the fact is, DV happens and we need to support and educate children who may be affected, and teach and support children to learn that it's a crime, it isn'tacceptable and try to curb it in the future.
    1 in 4 women are affected by DV and sexual assault, 2 women die a week. regardless of race, colour, nationality. it just makes me so angry that the media think they can ignore this!
    and things were better in "the good ole days" - wtf? all it was was hidden or accepted.
    ouf i am mad with jan moir but very happy to have found this blog!

  14. Sorry to come to this late. Great post, very well put together.
    I used to be a local reporter in Basildon where the Women's Aid group were pretty cutting edge. They were going into a variety of organisations and doing training with employees and others about DV and tailoring their programme to meet the needs and understanding of the audience (including local magistrates, council staff, police and others).
    They eventually designed their own programmes for schoolkids - usually 14 - 16 age range - which were brilliantly put together and very relevant.
    But then they got an invite by a primary school headteacher, so they redesigned their programme again for youngsters (using a little alien creature who wanted to understand was relationships were on earth, how they should be equal and what happened when one person wanted to control the other one using a variety of means)
    I interviewed the headteacher who had been in the industry for about two decades. She said it was a fantastic programme which all the children really got involved in and asked great questions about.
    The gist of it was about bullying and control, which is the heart of DV.
    This was all about five or six years ago and at the time I remember saying to the manager of the refuge that it was a great scheme and if only every school in Britain had it.
    Her budget could only go to doing the training ni a few schools a year, but there was always hope that someone in Government would wake up and realise they had a great system being presented by people who had been there, bought the T-shirt and worn it.
    Moir could do with going back to school if only to have it said to her face what a fucking bully she is.

    Carl Eve