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Hypocrisy Breeds Weird Bedfellows

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, February 28, 2001.

The Amalgamated Federation of Crappy Parents, the nation's largest and most effective subliminal lobby group, has temporarily allied itself with Far Right Christian yahoos. Here in Colorado, a bill presented by a Republican proposes that divorce not be granted a couple with children unless they undergo mandatory counseling for a year, paid for by both. In a conciliatory mood, in obvious cases of abuse this is not required. The man who proposed it characterizes himself as perplexed and surprised at the national attention. If so, the man is an idiot. If, as is more likely, an otherwise nondescript nonentity hoped to call attention to himself and his devotion to Family Values and his concern for Our Children, he is still an idiot, only vastly more hypocritical. Fortunately for him, like cats hit with a shovel the knee jerk professional liberals are out in force protecting their alleged turf. In short, a battle of PC values versus the patriarchal nitwits who somehow are always at the bottom of it all.

Divorce is a problem, no doubt, but the problem is not the procedure and pain that accompanies it but that we allow marriage to be so easy. Most marriages simply suck, most children unwanted. There is nothing worse than for young people to get married based on mythical assumptions from their parents, accumulate debt, regret, and children, and be forced to endure each other till the worms feed. The children absorb all the resentment, the hostility, the agony and because crappy marriages by definition allow no meaningful discussion, and the children process this in various ways, none particularly good, with the net result the horror continues.

The feminist objection to the bill is correct on some obvious points. You cannot MAKE people seek counsel; that desire must emerge from them both. Essentially, that never happens. The sad truth is most marriages fall apart because one of the partners becomes physically unattractive to the other, due either to sloth, alcohol, or those five children in their three year marriage. Because they married too young, without fully formed personalities, incomes, or sense, they are forced out of a sense of guilt to stay together, for the alleged sake of the children but really because they don't have a financial choice. That made sense in the forties, because you made your bed, you lie in it like a good soldier. In the sixties, the tense, hostile home environments propelled a middle class boomer generation towards the free love envisioned by Emma Goldman and other anarchists and progressives in our past. When their kids grew up as uneducated, drug-addicted morons with doper giggles and no marketable skills beyond selling drugs, or they in turn revolted into lockstep Yuppies, the see-saw of generational confusion and rebellion against the folks got muddled and now, conforming to American inability to correctly posit arguments because the available solutions won't do, the stick-it-out theory is back.

The goober patriarchs love it because they can seem to be concerned about the children, whereas they assume that a patched together marriage forces someone to stay home with the kids, that it will just about always be the woman, and that this is good. They may or may not be correct. They want to bring back Harriet Nelson, an icon that never existed in real life. They want women to raise children and themselves living lives of masculine supremacy. Why a marriage of hostility is better for the children than single parenthood is somehow not addressed.

The argument should be that marriage ought to be restricted to those who want children, to make financial sacrifice for them, to devote the time and effort to them. Hetero or gay, government has no damned business legalizing or even noticing shared emotions but it DOES have an obligation to make sure that the utterly innocent are brought into life wanted and nurtured because it costs everyone cash and blood when they are not. If you remove the unwanted children from this nation, the abortion debate and the crime debate statistically vanish.

What percentage of divorces occur after a ridiculously short time? If you are only married for three years, isn't that an admission you didn't know what the hell you were doing, that your judgement stinks? And hardly any abusive spouses become abusive after marriage: the signs, the incidents and often the police records were there for years. Absolving that spouse of nothing, how come the other didn't notice? How come there are children? I agree, you can't just say so long and walk away. You have to live with your mistakes, and yes, the children were mistakes. But abuse runs in families, and you have a responsibility and a burden to end it in yours. Sorry, but you do. It's not like the information isn't out there.

How about this for a solution. Write this down. Dark Cloud's law. No marriage certificate unless the parties sign separately a document compelling both to financially sacrifice for their issue, and have the ability to do so. The government will give no tax advantage to childless couples: they will be taxed the same as single adults. What is unfair about that? The first child, however, generates substantial tax benefits: perhaps one hundred percent write off of medical, day care, and schooling. The second child, fifty percent. But every child beyond that is an expense that must be fully absorbed by the parents. They have the option of not having children beyond one or two. In other words, benefit the children, not the adults.

And divorce should be easy and rare, because after the difficult marriage process, the children received financial commitments in writing, and in the age of computers parents can be tracked. That should be the bill before the Legislature, not this ludicrous pander to ancient powers.