What I hear when I hear “parental choice” and “unmask the kids”

Image credit: Dan Herrick for NY Post

It’s a parent’s choice to send their child to school carrying a sharp little knife

Let me tell you what I hear when a parent uses the term “parental choice” with respect to masking their children, or when I read about how making kids wear face masks during a global pandemic is somehow child abuse.

I hear a parent who is telling their kid that it’s OK to take a small knife into school and use it to stab and slash other kids. I hear someone saying that the knifings are acceptable because most of the cuts will be no worse than a paper cut and most of the stabbings will be no worse than a pinprick. I hear someone saying that it’s not a problem that some kids are going to get cut bad enough to need a bandage or even a trip to the ER for stitches. I hear someone saying that the really rare deaths (say, 3 deaths in every 10,000 cuts) from a damaged carotid artery are acceptable because they’re so rare, even less common than kids dying in a car accident. It’s a small knife, after all, so cuts that bad will be few and far between, so little Johnny or Mary can go ahead and slash away.

Worse, I hear someone saying that any adult who wants to take Johnny and Mary’s knives away is being unfair. I hear someone saying that it’s wrong for teachers, school administrators, and others to try and stop Johnny from slashing up the other kids and adults in school. I hear someone saying that taking away Mary’s knives is child abuse.  I hear someone saying that Johnny has a right to not just carry that knife, but to slash other people up. I hear someone saying that stabbing and slashing people with knives is an acceptable part of life. I hear someone who is pro-knife attack.

Worst of all, I hear parents saying that they wouldn’t stop Johnny or Mary from bring their knives to school even if the parents saw the knife as the kid went out the door to school. I hear someone who is afraid to make Johnny mad because he’ll get mad and throw a tantrum. I hear someone who wants to be Mary’s friend, rather than her parent. I hear a parent who is perfectly OK with random people getting slashed up just so long as the parent get to the gym or work on time. I hear someone who doesn’t want to be inconvenienced. I hear someone who can’t be bothered.

I hear someone who wouldn’t have told their partner they had HIV before having unprotected sex.

I hear someone who won’t accept responsibility if their kid shoots up a school with an unsecured gun they swiped from home.

What I don’t hear is “parental choice.” Because in a pandemic, advocating for “parental choice” and being anti-mask and anti-vaccine means being pro-infection, pro-disease, pro-pandemic, pro-kids and teachers and administrators getting sick and dying unnecessarily.

If you’re not willing to mask your kids before they go to school, then what you’re doing is no better than handing them sharp little knives and telling them to have fun slicing up anyone they come across. The idea of handing out little knives to kids should strike every parent as horrific and irresponsible. And you know what? It is.

And that’s what I hear every time I hear “parental choice.”

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