Why Everyone is Wrong on Title IX
I really meant to be at the debate in Santa Barbara on Tuesday night between Phyllis Schlafly and Anita Perez Ferguson, but it just didn't happen. So I called around and asked questions, read the paper the next morning, and ascertained that for the umpteenth time the same arguments on Title IX with reflections on the usefulness of law as a means of enforcing/changing gender roles had occupied center front of the debate. I was kind of glad I missed it at that point. These arguments go like this:
Feminist - "If public money is spent on sports it has to be equally proportioned between males and females." This treats males and females as if they were on opposing teams instead of enforcing the original principle, so long ignored, of the larger American vision that we are individuals and should be treated as such. Since the Founders also flubbed that one it is hard for me to apportion too much blame on this one.
Anti-Feminist - "Public money spent on sports should be apportioned as it has always been; Mostly to males because males are better at sports." Men have a right to preferential treatment because they stole it fair and square. It is a sanctified American tradition that needs to be continued. This is the argument of Right by Conquest applied internally.
Both arguments assume public money should be spent on sports. Both arguments assume that somehow competitive sports are a positive benefit that justifies their cost.
Both arguments are silly.
This is how things REALLY ought to be - to recycle a phrase from a confessed drug addict.
No competitive sports should be paid for through public funding of any kind. Schools are for educating individuals, helping each child discover and optimize their inherent strengths. Public schools should not be a farm team system for professional sports. Professional teams are a profit-making concern and should pay their own way. The need to find talent may motivate them to fund after school sports programs.
Baseball, football and basketball are not what America is about. Neither is golf.
All students do not benefit from participation in competitive sports and focusing on such activities asserts values that have nothing to do with education. Unfortunately except for a very few exceptional individuals the direction of professional sports has been bad for the values of America. The ranks of professional athletes hold nearly as many felons, rapists, wife abusers, and bad credit risks as we find in Congress. Both groups are erroneously held up as models for public behavior.
We now live in a free country where cities can steal land to build sports stadiums and no one blinks. It is a very wrong picture.
The original issue was fitness for children.
Physical fitness is essential to individual health and well-being. We all want our children to have positive experiences and optimize their health. But the families of students should provide those activities that they think best support their own children. These programs could be direct tax credits, either individually or through employers thus reducing the money controlled by government.
Presumably, providing such programs would be a cooperative effort with the many organizations, mostly nonprofits, already providing such activities for students after school. If local schools and the parents who should have input there feel they need physical fitness on campus during school time those activities should help each student become more fit instead of pouring money into programs that focus attention and resources on a few athletically gifted students of either gender.
The mistake perpetuated by feminists was their failure to recognize that the present system takes control from parents and delivers it into the hands of bureaucrats. Feminism must be about individualism because the State has never been anything but hostile to the rights of women.
The mistake of Libertarians and small government Republicans was one of inconsistency. If individual freedom of choice and markets are the answer then why did they fail to make this point when Title IX was originally proposed? Title IX is a clunky add-on to a failed system meant to redress generations of preferential treatment for males now long gone from the educational system. But punishing young boys for the crimes and omissions of their elder counter parts only creates more generations of resentment. The answer is probably because most Libertarians and small government Republicans are male and they like football, basketball and baseball just the way they are, thank you very much. Southern slave owners had a similar problem.
But those mistakes are in the past. It is time to do the right thing, fix the problem, and move forward together.
Phyllis should go home to Missouri and act as a model for a housewife who does not speak unless spoken to. That is the gender role she says she favors; let her try it for herself. This debate might well be an attempt by Phyllis Schlafly to find new ground from which to oppose the real issue, that being the long awaited ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment so she can go on making a profit by attacking the rights other women struggled to create for her. The Eagle Forum is cheesy but it has given her visibility and benefits beyond measure.
Contrary to what the overwhelming majority of Americans believe men and women are not equal under law and this has rankled and lies at the foundation of the bitterness expressed by the Women's Movement.
The truth is always in what you do, not in what you say. While Americans had ratified equality in their hearts and actions the law does not reflect that and when the question is posed at the Supreme Court we already know that our Constitution will not support equality.
The failure to ratify the ERA, find solutions to such issues as domestic violence, the sexual abuse of children, and the fiasco of no fault divorce, another extreme outrage to the concept of individual accountability, has driven women out of all political parties in growing numbers. Women know there is a problem but do not know where to go for a solution.
Democrats demand women carry the bags in elections but have consistently failed to do anything to forward a real agenda for social justice, preferring to create more customers for government largess whose dependence will reinforce their power. Republicans demand women carry the bags and pull the wagon, too.
The most recent Democrat justification is, amazingly, expressed in Joe Conasons's new book, Big Lies. It is that they, Democrats in Congress, steal less than Republicans. Nice to know he is honest enough to acknowledge what is usually an unspoken verity of government activity. I would like to see that one on a bumper sticker.
It is time women wised up. It is time Libertarians and small government Republicans saw that they have common ground with the one group who can make freedom a reality in our lifetimes.