Re: DSM: Re: Slavery, Education, Political Philosophy, Caring, Human Rights, Effecting Change

Scott David Gray (
Sun, 06 Feb 2000 09:58:41 -0500

Hi Alan,

     I return to fundamental political principals (you can tell which person in
this group is NOT a parent himself, I guess).

     A person always has the full complement of rights.
     However, the person may not be able to make her/his will known, and s/he
may not even be aware of the nature of the choices. Under those instances, it
is the obligation of those looking out for her/him to do make seems like the
most reasonable choice, given those things already known about the person, which
does not unnecessarily close off her/his freedom to re-choose later.
     It is acceptable for a religious family to assume, for example, that an
infant (until she makes it plain otherwise) is practicing the same religion that
the parents are and to baptize or circumcise as appropriate. This is akin to
the legal authority that we give some adults over another, when the other adult
is unable to make her/his will known. Consider the theoretical question of
"what would s/he want us to do?"
     A parent doesn't need to "dole out rights" but can instead "yield power of
attourney when no longer neccesary."


Alan Klein wrote:

> Scott,
> Thank you for an eloquent, thoughtful message. I find myself in a great
> internal quandary, however. As someone who has been a staff member and
> co-founder of a democratic school I am in total agreement with what you say
> in the passage I quote below. I have often used such reasoning myself in
> discussing the fundamental nature of the change that needs to take place,
> from my point of view.
> As a parent of grown and growing people, however, I find myself being
> absolutely sure that when they were babies I did (and do) indeed believe
> that I "(knew) better for" them than they did. My belief in their absolute
> equality as human beings certainly shaped how I interacted with them and I
> was usually accused of "letting" them do too much and make too many
> decisions for themselves, but at some fundamental level I was in charge. At
> some point that balance changes, of course, but it is clear to me that there
> is a shift.
> If this is so, then are we back to doling out rights, or at least doling out
> the age and/or stage at which those rights take force? For me, it's almost
> as unanswerable a human conundrum as the "when does life begin" debate.
> Thanks again for your (as ever) thoughtful and straightforward addition to
> this discussion.
> ~Alan Klein
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Scott David Gray <>
> > Is it ever possible to reform things a "piece at a
> > time?" I think not, when the fundamental question is such a
> > fundamental one. The difference between the educationists and
> > those who prefer a Sudbury type approach, is that one group
> > thinks that we should debate when/where to DOLE OUT rights to
> > children, while the other recognizes rights as INTRINSIC and
> > argues that they can only be TAKEN AWAY with cause. Either
> > you believe that individuals have certain basic rights, or you
> > don't. For as long as people believe that group A (adults)
> > know better for group B (children) the minutia of how their
> > lives should be run than group B does itself, there will be no
> > lasting change to the modern educationist policies.

-- Scott David Gray
Phone: 508/650-9639
ICQ: 27291292

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