Monday, March 18, 2013

To Speak of the Woe that Is Teen Pregnancy

An excellent read from Heather MacDonald from City Journal. 

I remember a few years ago when Bill Cosby gave some very common sense advice to teenagers. It was so sensible that people started screeching racism and I think he had to go underground for a while.

Basically, all he said was: finish high school. Don't get pregnant during high school, but if you do get pregnant, finish high school. If you get pregnant, marry the father and finish high school.

MacDonald's piece is very well written, but this particular nugget struck me as the essence of the issue-and not just with respect to teen pregnancy. She identifies a feature of modern life-the lack of shame amongst our populations, and the fact that shaming is no longer socially acceptable. People have no shame.

She talks about what happened when Michael Bloomberg tried to take on the issue of teenage pregnancy-the results, "predictable", even for someone with as much liberal nanny-state street cred as Bloomberg.

"The backlash illustrates two defining features of contemporary poverty discourse. First is the stigma against stigma. Accusing someone of being stigmatizing is almost as powerful a means of silencing him as calling him a racist. For millennia, humans relied on social disapproval to reduce behavior that produced disproportionate costs to individuals and the community."

"Now, however, one cannot point out the bad consequences of actions that generate multigenerational poverty, because that would be “judgmental.” Even abstract statements of fact, like those in the Bloomberg ad campaign, are now reviled as insensitive, even when not directed at any particular individual."