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Germany Seizes Children in Homeschool Raid (hslda.org)
35 points by thejteam 1509 days ago | hide | past | web | 121 comments | favorite



I'm surprised to see HN jumping to support the right of parents to raise children in ideologically-driven information vacuums.

Censorship by parents is censorship, too. Learning to think critically and being presented with information which may challenge your parents' religious beliefs are basic freedom of speech and freedom of information principles. I would call them human rights.

Let human beings decide for themselves whether to disregard science, believe in God, believe the Bible is literally true, etc. I'd rather have a little state overreach than fundamentalists whose beliefs have solidified before they were ever even exposed to ideas that didn't fit their parents' version of reality. That's bad for politics, bad for science, and unfair to the children.

Everyone has a right to at least be presented with the scientific view of the world. They don't have to believe it, and their parents can certainly offer alternative views at home. But in my mind a child is a person with at least some rights which supersede those of her parents. Education has got to be one of them.


> Censorship by parents is censorship, too. Learning to think critically and being presented with information which may challenge your parents' religious beliefs are basic freedom of speech and freedom of information principles. I would call them human rights.

I totally disagree with you here. The problem is that the state tends to create information vacuums that are harder to detect and compensate for.

> Let human beings decide for themselves whether to disregard science, believe in God, believe the Bible is literally true, etc.

Does that go for "let humans decide for themselves whether to accept homosexuality as normal for some people?" If so, would you agree that the state must remain neutral on that issue? And if so, then would you agree that expressing hostility to gay rights can never be harassment or bullying in the eyes of the state?

Now if you aren't prepared to go there, then isn't the argument over who gets to make these decisions, whether culture must arise from the grass roots of a culture or whether it should be imposed by an arguably benevolant state?

I would argue that if anything a vacuum that goes against the prevailing attitudes is easier for people to question as they grow up. A vacuum which does nothing but reinforce prevailing cultural attitudes is much harder to rethink. It is easier for someone to question whether their parents were right about gay rights in the current climate if their parents were opposed than it is to question the state, when nobody else does.


>Does that go for "let humans decide for themselves whether to accept homosexuality as normal for some people?" If so, would you agree that the state must remain neutral on that issue? And if so, then would you agree that expressing hostility to gay rights can never be harassment or bullying in the eyes of the state?

The issue is not with taking a position, it's with suppressing opposition to that position. My school encouraged tolerance for the LGBT community in its promotion of diversity, but I could stand up in a school-sponsored Debate extracurricular and oppose gay marriage. I could write a persuasive paper against gay marriage and submit it to my English teacher. I could campaign against gay rights in the Republican club. If I were the editor, I could run a front-page school newspaper article opposing the administration's decision. I'd probably lose a lot of friends that way, but the school couldn't stop or punish me. This is one of the strengths of public education.

Nobody, however, gets to bully or harass individuals for any reason, including their homosexuality. As with parents and children, your rights end and the other person's rights begin.


> The issue is not with taking a position, it's with suppressing opposition to that position.

If that is the case, then allowing parents to teach opposing viewpoints should be a good thing, right? Saying parents can't teach such viewpoints would be suppressing opposition, right?

> I could write a persuasive paper against gay marriage. I could campaign against gay rights in the Republican club.

If you wore a T-shirt that said "Aristotle said the fundamental union of society is between man and woman and he was right" would that get you in trouble I wonder? Would that be seen as bullying? Should it be seen as bullying?

One problem I am seeing today is that there is a trend towards seeing such things as bullying today and therefore schools end up in the position of imposing cultural ideals, and that I think runs right up against the suppression of opposition that I think you are saying is not ok.


>If that is the case, then allowing parents to teach opposing viewpoints should be a good thing, right? Saying parents can't teach such viewpoints would be suppressing opposition, right?

Earlier in this thread I explicitly supported parents' rights to say whatever the want at home. My objection is to preventing their children from hearing what the school has to say.

>If you wore a T-shirt that said "Aristotle said the fundamental union of society is between man and woman and he was right" would that get you in trouble I wonder? Would that be seen as bullying? Should it be seen as bullying?

No, no, and no. It would lose you the respect of your liberal and/or LGBTQ peers, but the school can't stop you unless it stops all controversial or political speech on clothing (which is a Time, Place, and Manner restriction).

I've not heard of students opposition to gay rights in general getting them in trouble for bullying, although it sounds like something that could happen. That would be an inappropriate restriction of free speech. I have heard assholes defending the right to personally bully specific gay kids with derogatory language directed specifically to them, threats, physical violence, etc. That shouldn't and doesn't fly.


> No, no, and no. It would lose you the respect of your liberal and/or LGBTQ peers, but the school can't stop you unless it stops all controversial or political speech on clothing (which is a Time, Place, and Manner restriction).

What about the argument that it creates a hostile learning environment for GLBT folks and therefore denies them their right to an equal opportunity for education? What about the argument that such a T-shirt amounts to reinforcing discrimination regarding gender roles? In other words, to what extent does this put schools in a circumstance where if they tolerate the t-shirt they get sueed by one group under Title VII and if they don't tolerate it they get sued by another group under Section 1983?

The problem as I see it is that both sides end up with colorable arguments.

Moreover suppose the school decides to teach Aristotelian social theory and starts out at the married household level. Is this discrimination? Is this a one-way street?

Aristotelian social theory basically states that men and women come together in procreative unions which form households and these form the basic mechanisms of cultural transmission and development. Households come together to create communities. Therefore instead of the Lockean two-level contract (individuals and states) you have three (people and households, households and state). Aristotelian theory thus supports localism and local culture in ways that the theories of folks like Locke, Hobbes, and Hume do not.


>In other words, to what extent does this put schools in a circumstance where if they tolerate the t-shirt they get sueed by one group under Title VII and if they don't tolerate it they get sued by another group under Section 1983?

Good question. I don't think that would pass for discrimination in the courts, but avoiding the lawsuit is an excellent reason for a school to disallow political speech in its dress code and enforce that uniformly (no pun intended).

>Moreover suppose the school decides to teach Aristotelian social theory and starts out at the married household level. Is this discrimination? Is this a one-way street?

My English summer reading one year was the first five books of the Tanakh. Lots of slavery, genocide, passing around women like property, etc. We also read the first chapter of Mein Kampf in German, and excerpts from the Communist Manifesto in History. Teaching ideas is not the same as preaching them.

The courts are never going to rule against presenting what Aristotle thought in philosophy class. That's absurd. If the school decided to preach about the proper unit of family, people would be understandably pissed (including Christians who would rather that authority came from God than Aristotle), but teaching what Aristotle wrote about the proper unit of family as "this is what Aristotle wrote" is pretty cut and dried.


> Good question. I don't think that would pass for discrimination in the courts, but avoiding the lawsuit is an excellent reason for a school to disallow political speech in its dress code and enforce that uniformly (no pun intended).

How far does this go? Imagine a T-shirt which is intentionally provocative and offensive. Something like:

    Free Speech
    "Kill the niggers... We intend to do our part..."
    -- Brandenburg v. Ohio 1969
Now the offensive quote is from footnote 1 of the Supreme Court's majority opinion describing the speech at issue. It is some of the most vile speech one could imagine but it is protected due to extending precedents aimed at reining in McCarthy-era abuses. Or suppose it included a picture of a burning cross instead? (Cross burning has also been held in certain contexts to be free speech on the same basis.)

Now if you are a black student you might be pardoned for assuming this is glorifying KKK activities and their rein of terror. It very well might create an unwelcoming educational atmosphere for minority kids and thus run afoul with the civil rights act. On the other hand what does this say about the rule of law?

> The courts are never going to rule against presenting what Aristotle thought in philosophy class.

I would have thought his Politics would be more appropriate for social studies. "This is the way societies work." Interestingly it is hard to understand modern sociology or anthropology without having a general understanding of Aristotle's approach here.


Simple. "Kill the niggers" advocates indiscriminate violence, which you are never under any circumstances allowed to do in a school.

A more appropriate analogy would be "The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a violation of states' rights and should be repealed." That was said in one of my classes. No one got suspended.


Right but the T-shirt is saying, in effect, "The Supreme Court said this was free speech." It is arguably only expounding how far the boundaries of free speech go.

This is an interesting question because it gets to the heart of the question of how far free speech goes in school. I have trouble imagining a court holding that summarizing and quoting from a Supreme Court opinion is not free speech and protected (and the hypothetical T-shirt clearly does this), but I am also pretty sure the Southern Poverty Law Center would sue in a second if the school didn't take action.

This is an example of a hypothetical where significant legal arguments could mean both that the school must act and also that the school must not act. It's even possible a school could be sued and lose on both sides.

BTW, the states rights argument regarding the Civil Rights Act is more complex and it has to do with unconstitutional efforts to ensure ratification (refusing to seat Senators from non-ratifying states). My view however is that these could have been raised early on and weren't. I think latches doctrine needs to apply at some point. Otherwise we get to nitpick everything in history all the time. The Equal Protection Clause should be included as a restriction of states' rights. (On States' Rights issues I generally agree with Sandra Day O'Connor.)


Looks like we've hit max depth.

It doesn't. That's an obvious biological fact. But depending on context, one could infer that it's part of an argument that homosexuality is unnatural and therefore wrong. If I told you that the love you feel is an abomination, that we should teach our children to be disgusted by people like you, I'm guessing you wouldn't be excited to strike up further conversation.

It's (in my mind) a horrible thing to say, but we still have the right to say it.


I don't think max depth exists; just hit "link" to reply.

Yeah, it's probably aggressive to wear it on a t-shirt. But I don't see the purpose in protecting flagrantly abusive speech.


Well, it all depends on who gets to define what is abusive, doesn't it?

One justification for allowing unreasonable speech is that in theory it provides a high enough ceiling that all reasonable speech is allowed.

Not that that stops extremists in the US from making their number one speech suppression priority about their political opponents' core political speech.


Well we disallow physical violence but we allow psychological violence, so it seems inconsistent since there's a demonstrated link between psychological violence and physical pain. I think if we can work out a definition of physical assault we can work out psychological assault.


Does that mean that some political ideas, like "at some point it will be necessary to overthrow the government"[1] or "someday we should exterminate the blacks and expel the Jews"[2] can be banned from public discourse?

If so, who gets to make these decisions? Isn't it reasonable to conclude that many hot-button issues today, like whether circumcision violates human rights, constitute psychological violence against, among others, Jews and Muslims?

If we end up saying this must protect minority groups, then I think we'd certainly have to say that advocating banning kosher slaughter or circumcision would constitute, particularly in the context of history (which Jews are usually very much aware) continuing psychological violence.

But if we go this route doesn't that basically give the state a way to say "hey we don't like that idea so you can't discuss it?" I think that would destroy what little democracy we have left.

[1] Yates v. United States, holding that the First Amendment protected abstract advocacy for overthrow of the government.

[2] Brandenburg v. Ohio, holding that the line in Yates above extended to protecting abstract advocacy of other violent ends, in that case genocide and expulsion of disliked ethnic and racial groups.


Most G8 nations 1) limit hate speech, particularly by limiting genocide advocacy; 2) don't have terrible abuses of hate speech laws; 3) don't have ridiculous abuses of terrorism laws to limit what amounts to hate speech, e.g. proselytizing about jihad; 4) have better functioning democracies than the two party system of the US where the parties are very ideologically close to each other; 5) have greater freedom of the press.

Try talking extensively about your desire to establish an Islamic Caliphate by eliminating the Christians. You will go to a very, very dark place. Having hate speech laws in place means there's a proper process for dealing with this stuff.

But mostly, I just think that "sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me" is a fallacy.


Do you think Yates v. United States was wrongly decided?

Now, if the US government showed during the McCarthy era that they would target unpopular ideas, like Communism, as beyond the bounds of democracy, doesn't the "intended and likely to cause imminent lawless action" law in Brandenburg follow?

What I am saying is that in the US, we do have an extensive history of abuse of restrictions on political speech. Whether other countries can be trusted, or not, to fairly enforce such rules (and I think there is some dispute on this btw), the US has shown a propensity to insist that political ideologies like Communism cannot exist.

I say there is some doubt for two reasons. The first is that the NSDAP experienced the strongest growth, percentage-wise, during the years when they were banned. The second has to do with the Jyllands-Posten controversy. This controversy erupted because Denmark was willing to enforce hate speech laws against anti-Jewish speech but not anti-Islamic speech. I don't think the outrage experienced at feeling like Muslims were less protected by the law than Jews is entirely unreasonable there. Of course Jews are both a religious and ethnic group, so if you protect their ethnicity, you protect their religion.

So I think there are two issues, and the first is that protected and unprotected categories often unevenly overlap leading to unequal protection necessarily, and the second is that removal of certain ideas from public discourse moves it from areas where public rebuttal is possible into only private conversations. In no country that I am aware of, is it a crime to advocate genocide one on one (rather it is limited to publicly advocating such).

> But mostly, I just think that "sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me" is a fallacy.

But our country showed, in trying to ban Communism from our public policy discourse, that this more or less ensures that the political process which depends on our nation on the people being able to discuss appropriate directions for government ends up getting short-circuited.

In essence, I think our government has shown they cannot be trusted with such.


So in the US, how do you propose to deal with the fact that a Muslim will get punished under terrorism laws for advocating we kill Christians, but a Christian will not get punished for advocating we kill Muslims?

I mean, the 1st amendment is what it is; anything decided in accordance with it is constitutional. I'm just saying I don't really care for free speech when it comes to hate speech (e.g. genocide advocacy). I'm fine with people talking about alternative political ideologies like communism; discriminating against those is distinct from hate speech. Proposing that we burn all communists on principle? Sure, that's hate speech.

But, if you're saying the US government simply can't be trusted to enforce hate speech laws fairly with respect to different ethnicities, well, they can't really be trusted to enforce any laws fairly at this juncture.

I'm more just speaking in general: I believe placing limits on genocide advocacy is good for society (and the same for other comparably violent kinds of speech).


> So in the US, how do you propose to deal with the fact that a Muslim will get punished under terrorism laws for advocating we kill Christians, but a Christian will not get punished for advocating we kill Muslims?

Well, it is worse than that, unfortunately. I think the answer is to strengthen first amendment protections rather than erode them. We have fewer problems I think than we tend to see in Europe in this regard, but with Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, I think we have a real problem.

That problem is that now first amendment rights depend in part on who you are talking to. If you tell the KKK, "we will need to kill black Muslims" that's different from telling Hamas, "You are right, we need to kill white Christians." The difference is that fully domestic terrorism is protected while foreign organizations are not. I think Holder v. HLP should have come out the other way because I do not think that is just.

> I believe placing limits on genocide advocacy is good for society (and the same for other comparably violent kinds of speech).

But surely "Someday the workers must rise up and forcibly take control of the government" qualifies if anything does, right? So distributing Marxist literature would certainly be outside of the protections of the 1st Amendment. That is exactly what was at issue in Yates and what the court said there was that there was a difference between saying that something would be desirable, and trying to make that same thing happen through tangible steps of preparation. It's one thing to say "the 2nd Amendment protects a right to rebel." It is something very different to add "and that is why I am training my private army." The rules which protect the Communists protect the NRA and I think more voices are generally good for discussion.


Oh, when I say limiting violent speech, I just mean with respect to one of the classes identified under existing anti-discrimination laws (e.g. the laws about employment), i.e. the same classes that you would commit genocide against. The government is not such a protected class. At least some of the non-US G8 countries with hate speech laws don't limit violent speech against the government, as far as I know, and I do understand why being allowed to talk about overthrowing the government is important.

Minimally though, I still don't understand why we need to allow people to advocate genocide. It's pretty clear what genocide is, and it's pretty clear that it is never good. In some countries, if I remember correctly, this is the only form of hate speech that is forbidden.

Like, I get that the argument is that it's a slippery slope, but many other countries have demonstrated there's a workable middle ground (Canada, UK, France, etc.). If you read the hate speech laws for each country on Wikipedia you'll see that in some cases they are quite narrowly defined, and I'd be perfectly happy with those.


So, suppose the secular humanists get their way and we remove religion as a class but ethnicity and race are.

Would that mean that advocating violence against Jews would be a problem but against Atheists would be ok? But at that point, do we have a problem where people are not equally protected under the laws?

This may seem manufactured, as a hypothetical and it is, but one can come up with plenty of cases where such would not. For example, if one advocates killing anyone with a felony drug record, this would hit blacks much harder than whites. One could effectively advocate genocide by attacking proxy issues like this just as one can effectively discriminate in such a way (why the EEOC has generally held that blanket policies of not hiring convicted felons are racially discriminatory).

But if you go to such analogies, I think you have a problem.

I don't think that hate speech bans are compatible with equal protection under the laws.


> I don't think that hate speech bans are compatible with equal protection under the laws.

Ok, so I'll agree with this, but only because most / all laws work this way. I believe that in those instances some protection is still better than no protection, e.g. protection against murder is good despite the alleged ethnic prejudice in the acquittal of George Zimmerman.

I mean, even though it's unfair and far from ideal, you're not losing anything if it's illegal to advocate genocide against Jews but not against Atheists, are you? What's the advantage of it being shitty for everyone?


At a very practical level, society needs heterosexual unions (however brief) to survive, but it doesn't need homosexual ones. Why does stating this basic fact lose me the respect of my liberal and queer peers? It's about as accurate and offensive as a t-shirt that says, "We are the descendants of apes, not Adam and Eve."


People can respect or not what they want. If culture flows from the grass roots this is a part of it. The question is what role the state has to play in this.

Either the state must enforce respect for whatever groups should be respected (you? gay rights advocates?) or they must remain neutral. I don't really see a viable third way. If the state must remain neutral (and hence same with public schools) then the state has no reason to say people must respect you for your political views any more than the other side.


The issue is to separate respect for opinions from respect for human beings.

I don't have to hold you in high regard or accept out your company, but I do have to be civil. You don't get to harass or beat the crap out of someone because "the state should remain neutral."


Is a T-shirt which states we should move back towards traditional marriage as the retirement safety net one which is harassment? What if one has a T-shirt advocating banning sperm banks or IVF?

My problem is that if the state does not remain neutral on political issues then we have no semblance of democracy.


You're completely misunderstanding the motivation for many homeschoolers like myself. I am an atheist and an engineer. My local homeschooling groups have literally hundreds of families like mine, in which one or both parents have advanced degrees.

We see the writing on the wall.

The public schools -- even the "good" ones -- are hopelessly stuck training children for an economic model that is already dead. Sending your kids to the typical school is actively harming their economic future.

Everything about school is built around the factory model. It is precisely the opposite of how to train someone for success in the 21st century, where the only way to win is to do things for which there are no simple instructions.

I'm going to give my kid a better scientific education than the public schools have ever provided. In fact, I dispute that they have ever really done so. They teach facts that were discovered by science, but they don't actually teach science. If they did, they would soon collapse under the weight of their own contradictions:

    "why are we studying this?"
    "because it will help you later."
    "show me the evidence."
    "go to the principal's office."
Science is deeply anti-authoritarian. It doesn't matter who you are, it matters whether you have better evidence and better arguments. School actively opposes that kind of thinking.


I support homeschoolers like you. I know several kids who are homeschooled under similar philosophies, and they're the smartest people I've ever met. They take AP and college classes early, sometimes even as young teens, and are encouraged to do independent reading and think for themselves.

The article in question, though, is about parents who kept their children out of school over religious objections to the curriculum. That, I oppose vehemently.


Then you should oppose Germany's law, because it would take my kid away too. It makes no distinction. It doesn't set an educational standard -- it simply demands obedience.


Then Germany's law is bad and needs revision to set an educational standard instead of demanding obedience. Parents still don't have a right to isolate their children from information they don't like.


Personally I think, in the US, Yoder v. Wisconsin (holding the Amish had a right to see to education in line with their religion) was one of the greatest decisions of the Supreme Court, right up there with Brown v. Board. In doing so, the court affirmed that the Amish religious way of life is deserving of protection and the state may not use the education system to destroy that, even if that means that children raised in such households will have fewer career opportunities.

Our country is pluralistic. That means that we must afford those we disagree with a right to exist as cultural groups. Religion is a deep part of culture and it is closely tied to a way of life.


I'd rather have a little state overreach than fundamentalists whose beliefs have solidified before they were ever even exposed to ideas that didn't fit their parents' version of reality.

And I wouldn't.


Given your opposition to ideologically-driven information vacuums I take it you don't support the public school system?


I support biology, chemistry, and physics classes. You have a right to be taught what is known in these areas, how we got there, and what it means about our world. Consider human evolution (bio), carbon dating (bio/chem), origin and expansion of the universe (physics). The history portion of chemistry presented us with the scientific process and the story of how we formulated, experimentally tested, and refined our models of matter, often proving the Church wrong in its blind acceptance of ancient philosophers' conjectures. This is a way of thinking to which every person deserves exposure, and some parents aren't comfortable with it.

In physics, we used telescope measurements to calculate the rate of expansion and age of the universe. Results were not consistent with some parents' readings of Genesis.

I'll buy brainwashing in subjective areas like history, current events, economics, and literary analysis but not in science. The public school system is problematic, but it at least allows access to books and websites which are screened only for sexuality, not for reality.


I'll buy brainwashing in subjective areas like history, current events, economics, and literary analysis but not in science.

Wow. I think the most important thing to teach children is to be open to ideas. The universe may be billions of years old or a couple of seconds old with initial conditions that indicate a different history. Humans may be intelligent actors in a computer simulation equivalent in some other universe that we have no way of perceiving. We may all just exist in the imagination of some being we could never understand. Science is just a tool to make sense of what we can but it is not the be all and end all.

If anyone is going to brainwash my kids, I would hope that it is me and not some government with their own objectives and emergent quirks.

An accurate as possible representation of history, current events, philosophy and economics is just as important as a solid introduction to the state of scientific discoveries/methods/theories is to a young mind.


I was conceding to fleitz that there's room in those subject areas for a particular interpretation to be pushed over others. I had a great and very academic APUSH teacher with a PhD and we often joked about the hilariously pro-America bias in our textbook. These things should still be taught, objectively and well like you say, but in these areas I wouldn't dismiss outright the claim that the state often has a bias.

My physics and chemistry teachers were very clear that they were teaching us a process and where it's led us for now, not the be all end all truth. We laughed at ancient chemistry (fire comes from phlogiston, an element with sometimes negative mass) and then discussed the possibility that what we're taught now could be just as hilarious in another hundred years. My physics teacher was well-versed in the current frontiers of particle physics and encouraged us to understand uncertainty. The lesson wasn't "the universe is x years old," the lesson was "hey look, we can use these measurements and some provably sound mathematical tools to come up with a number which, if certain pretty good assumptions hold true, is the age of the universe. If someone disproves the assumptions or the data, then our number is wrong, but that's really exciting because it will lead us to new understanding."

I guess what I'm really supporting here is the scientific mindset. Some people who value faith feel very threatened by that, don't want their children going anywhere near it, and hold them out of school. I think the children deserve to learn about it anyway, and decide on their own what to accept.


So pot has been scientifically proven to have no medicinal value?

I remember them telling me this in science class, so apparently science is full of BS too.


I remember them telling me this in health class, which was pretty obviously full of shit. Even by the guidelines handed out in English class for evaluating sources, it wasn't the slightest bit credible. We found the teacher on CCAP pleading out to THC possession 15 years ago.

My chemistry teacher, introducing organic chemistry, told us about an O-Chem final in college and how "no amount of mind-altering substances in the world could make that okay. Believe me, I tried." We discussed alcohol literacy - understanding "proof" in chemical terms. We also did the equations for freebasing cocaine, and talked (in broad strokes) about making meth.


You're actually surprised to see HN folks coming to the defense of parents/individual rights and against statist intervention into every aspect of a person's life?

I think it's pretty clear that you leftists believe that the state really "owns" the children. That's a sad thing to see here on HN.


You'll get a lot more out of a discussion if you don't argue with a caricature of your interlocutor's opinions. I'd love to go on about about libertarian ties to right-wing, Christianist movements, which themselves are inextricable from white supremacy and a hostility towards women, but it's unfair to assume that you, personally, hold any such beliefs.

So let's talk about children, and the state.

The state believes that parents do not own their children. This is relatively uncontroversial, if you want somebody to be able to protect children from the depredations of shitty parents. Kids are fragile and easily influenced, and they can't make adult decisions. They're defenseless, particularly against their parents.

Generally education is considered critical to a child's welfare, and for good reason. Basic literacy and arithmetic are important if you're to have citizenry capable of participating in a democracy.

Put it all together and perhaps you see why a society might be just a wee bit concerned about how parents treat their children, including whether and how they educate them.


> The state believes that parents do not own their children.

I think the fundamental problem here is that some people believe that children simply must be owned by somebody so when you say "parents do not own their children" their mind automatically inserts "...instead, the state does."

Of course children are not owned at all. Neither parents nor the state owns them.

If parents abuse their children, it is the responsibility of the state to intervene; just as if a homeless man mugs you, it is the responsibility of the state to intervene. If somebody abuses their elderly parents, it is again the responsibility of the state to intervene (yet nobody thinks that implies that the state owns the elderly...). What do we pay them for, if not to provide protection from other dangerous members of society?


You hit the nail on the head. I was trying to understand Rick James's position, and it occurred to me that if you thought of parents as having the right to total and complete control over everything about their child (as some conservatives do) - what we're calling ownership - then the thought of transferring that right to the state is indeed pretty disgusting.

Commenters are articulating this pretty well, though. Children have their own rights, and the state enforces them. Even a "ward of the state" is not owned by the state, the state is just the entity which is currently responsible for meeting his needs.


And I think it's pretty clear that you libertarians believe you own your children. We're coming at this from extremely different perspectives, but realize that the thought that parents own their children is as disgusting to me as the thought of the state owning children is to you.

To (some of) us, children are people. They are not owned. They have rights. The state is the only available instrument to protect the rights of the weak against the strong.


What about the rights of the children? The parents do not own them either, and society has sometimes a duty to protect children from their parents.


The Home School Legal Defense Association helped kill American ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Killing US ratification of this treaty, which would have helped extend rights that the US pioneered to people overseas, was absolutely abhorrent. The UN treaty was essentially based on existing American law, was ratified by 130+ nations and had no potential impact on American education. You may remember that Bob Dole was wheeled onto the Senate floor to urge ratification. Homeschool advocates opposition was based on disinformation ("the UN is going to take your kids") I would take anything they have to say with a grain of salt.


Yes I don't completely buy their argument. This appeals to Americans quite a bit because there is significant homeschooling compared to other "Western Countries" (Just a hunch, I couldn't find much unbiased data on this).

It seems _sometimes_ the reason, with one case in my own circle of friends, is the bad quality of local public schools.

However I think large number of cases are related to religious education.

I believe that is the intended goal of the German law. To not let parent teach children about God's miracles and water can be turned into wine if you pray hard enough, or how dinosaurs went clubbing with Adam and Eve and stuff like that.

We are battling crazies in Southern states who are pushing this crap even into the public schools. So I believe in this country these German families will find many sympathetic years.

Now, the question I don't know is, how bad is the quality of schools in Germany. Are gangs, bullying, racism pervasive? I can see an argument made in that case, otherwise, sorry, I'll side with the majority of Germans (presumably as a democracy they could have overturned this law many years ago).


>Are gangs, bullying, racism pervasive?

Being German, there are no gangs like American gangs, there is some bullying (nothing rampant) and racism depends on the area you're in - my school had some problems with Turkish and Armenian kids hating each other, but no fights ever.

Edit: There are a few "problem"-schools which have huge problems with kids from all kinds of backgrounds - the Rütli-school, for example. But I highly doubt the kids of OP's link went ot that school, they're white.


To protect yourself from being inconvenienced by a Christian, you advocate state creation and control of culture, like most "progressives" you are actually an outrageous totalitarian.


I think there is something much larger at stake though.

The question as you put it, I think, is whether culture should be allowed to arise from the grass roots or whether it should be formed by the state in public schools.

You put it in one way but what about when it comes down to cultural values? We have extended the definition of bullying so far as to cover stated ideological opinions in the US, and therefore we use public school (as I think you are advocating btw) to destroy the diversity and pluralism that has traditionally underscored our society. But what if Indian immigrants want to teach that there is value in the caste system? Must the state use public schools to try to stamp out such a view?

I am btw a large proponent of homeschooling because I think it represents a way for parents to take control of passing culture on to the next generation and that this helps encourage a tolerant and pluralistic society. If Indians want to teach that the caste system is a noble part of India's heritage, bully for them. If Catholics want to teach that radical individualism is harmful, and that marriage is extremely important because it supports the key relationships that hold society together, particularly between parents, grandparents, and children, bully for them.

Accepting and encouraging such diversity is important for our nation. Encouraging culture at the grass roots, I think, is universally important, and it is worth noting that public schools have been, since the time of Lycurgus, an institution intended to destroy that role, and foster the primary loyalty not to one's parents or family but to the state. While this may have worked in ancient Sparta on that scale without destroying the local nature of culture, it cannot scale to the level of a modern country.

I can't help but think about this in relation to the responses I get every time I suggest that the US should try to implement a Canada-style state-by-state single payer system for health care. A few on the right get upset at any notion of single payer, apparently believing that "private sector" is a magical incantation of great power, but the big objections I get are from the left. "But we can't let Alabama run their own health care system! That would be a disaster!" is one typical response. It is as if the role of the government in a democratic country is there to save people from democracy and that, paraphrasing Orwell (in "Animal Farm"), that people are free to make decisions as long as it is decisions that those in power like. But what if families should take responsibility for raising children? What if the general problems of state government belong properly to the residents of that state (aside from things which clearly violate the Constitution, including the Equal Protection Clause, of course)?

I don't understand this hostility towards localism.


Local, to the extent of the family.

If I have kids, to what extent are they 'mine'?

That's the question here.

So far, in America, the answer has been "you can't abuse them physically, fail to provide food and clothes, or make them work" (although there's actually a lot of leeway with that last one).

Other than that, go nuts!

Teach them that UFOs are real, that democracy is evil, to resist the hand of the man, or that money doesn't matter. Or any other radicalism. You made them, they're yours.

Obviously, a stance like that won't please everyone. You're making a decision about an appreciable portion of a kid's life, and since most kids aren't going to get themselves declared emancipated minors, leaving it up to the parents may not appear to be a decision in favor of freedom. But I think it is. Until kids are old enough, they've got to be treated like someone's responsibility, and I don't want to live in a world where the weirdness of parents has no chance to hop generations.

My parents were weirdos, weird enough that, when I flunked multiple classes in 9th grade, they let me try college, where I got straight A's my first semester. At the moment I work 3 months a year from a beach in South America. Had the system not given my parents the freedom to do seemingly irrational things in my interest, I have no idea where I'd have ended up, because the system was wrong and my parents were right.


> So far, in America, the answer has been "you can't abuse them physically, fail to provide food and clothes, or make them work" (although there's actually a lot of leeway with that last one).

As far as the last one, I think the leeway extends through employing them in the family business.

> My parents were weirdos, weird enough that, when I flunked multiple classes in 9th grade, they let me try college, where I got straight A's my first semester. At the moment I work 3 months a year from a beach in South America. Had the system not given my parents the freedom to do seemingly irrational things in my interest, I have no idea where I'd have ended up, because the system was wrong and my parents were right.

Totally support you there. I would go further though and say there is room for many different right answers. I am comfortable with the Amish being exempt from mandatory education laws since Yoder v. Wisconsin. Part of the wonder of life is that there are many different possibilities many of which may be valid to some extent.


Thank you for a good reply, it was a well thought out post.

> I don't understand this hostility towards localism.

I wonder if tolerance for diversity should also include tolerating other countries making their own laws, in this case Germany. It is a democratic country, apparently the majority don't mind this ban on homeschooling. Now yes, I am speaking from a far away perception. Anyone from Germany please help us out here. Is this this seen as such an egregious abuse of power people's power is just not enough to overturn it or is this what most would agree with?

> The question as you put it, I think, is whether culture should be allowed to arise from the grass roots or whether it should be formed by the state in public schools.

I think you might have slightly misread my comment though. It wasn't my intention to say that this law (making homeschooling illegal) should be enacted here in US. I recognize that it probably wouldn't pass and it might not be right.

According to stats I found on some .gov site (after 3 seconds of searching) is that about 3% of students in 2007 were home-schooled in US. The number was rising. So it might be higher now. Some states only let parent who have a masters degree or higher to home school their children, that is an interesting approach.

My original point was more about saying how some countries might choose to make it illegal and I agree with that. Given public schools are safe and decent and provide a good baseline of education. Lack of emphasis on individualism and cultural expression is just well not part of their culture.

Now going back to US or I guess discussing home schooling in general. It seems some things are complimentary -- say one can teach their child to do math in a better way, more efficient, and more intuitive. In general (with exception, I agree) that is complimentary with what they maybe learning in school.

Others are not, like maybe the example with creationism, or how we teach history -- "telling them American Indians were exterminated using bio terrorism by the US government" vs implying that the settlers came to this lush, empty continent, like a God's promised land, with a few native inhabitants who strangely chose to live in mosquito infested swaps or the most absolute dry and inhospitable canyons. There is a propaganda and mentality shaping going on. But it is both ways. Because teaching kids about how great the caste system is or about how the earth is 5000 years old is also borderline on child abuse in my book. I don't usually subscribe to all cultures are just as good. There are fucked up beliefs and fucked up societal conventions. So I imagine that would be the argument against it ( I am not really sharply for one or the other in US, I haven't made my mind yet).

> But what if families should take responsibility for raising children?

But what if they are crippling them should they be allowed? Putting them in a compound and telling them about trumpets on the hill or how there are lizard aliens living among us, instead of learning about integrals and derivatives. Can't you see how perhaps other countries' citizens might agree with having the government step in.

> It is as if the role of the government in a democratic country is there to save people from democracy

I guess it is inevitable that we'd end up discussing generalized political stuff. But alright, we are already in it. The role of the government in the democratic society, ideally, the way I see is to work for the people. People want protection from foreign invaders, they make their taxes into tanks, they want to drive everywhere, they make taxes into roads, they want healthcare, they turn taxes into subsidized pills and doctors' visits. I also don't understand the big obsession in this country with "let the states do it" vs "let the federal government do it". Does it really matter that much. If Alabama can do it, let it do it, if it is easier on the federal level, let's do it there. The reality is -- it hasn't happened. We are stuck with a broken piece of shit health care system.


> It is a democratic country, apparently the majority don't mind this ban on homeschooling. Now yes, I am speaking from a far away perception. Anyone from Germany please help us out here. Is this this seen as such an egregious abuse of power people's power is just not enough to overturn it or is this what most would agree with?

In Germany, no-one cares about homeschooling. Other than some neo-nazis, religious cults, and some Christians who believe their children's minds would be poisoned if they were exposed to regular children, that is.

In Germany, this is seen as religious wing-nuts not getting their way, nothing more.


Errr, rather obviously the state cares a lot about it as well.


I suspected that much. Thank you for explaining.


> I wonder if tolerance for diversity should also include tolerating other countries making their own laws, in this case Germany. It is a democratic country, apparently the majority don't mind this ban on homeschooling. Now yes, I am speaking from a far away perception. Anyone from Germany please help us out here. Is this this seen as such an egregious abuse of power people's power is just not enough to overturn it or is this what most would agree with?

This leads to two fundamentally separable questions in my view. The first is, "do we have a right to criticize across cultural barriers like this?" The second is "Even if we do, is this our problem or a problem for the German people?" The answers I would give are "yes, as long as we contextualize, and it is a problem for the Germans not for us."

So yes, I think they do deserve respect, and as much as I think Germany is wrong here, I don't think this is a case where asylum should be granted. There are many times we can and should say "not our problem." Unfortunately that isn't the way policy seems to work.

> But what if they are crippling them should they be allowed?

Out of curiosity, what do you think of the Supreme Court (unanimously) granting the Amish an exemption from mandatory education laws on the basis that such would destroy their religious way of life in Yoder v. Wisconsin?

The most interesting part of Yoder, IMO, is Douglass' concurrence in part and concurrence in judgement where he complains bitterly about the fact that one whose education is cut short because of such religious reasons will have fewer career opportunities available. In the end even he agreed that the religious exemption must be granted however.

Regarding your points on health care reform, I can understand that. Discussing the views you bring up will lead to long posts far off topic, but suffice it to say that the big issue is a state-by-state single payer would have to be funded through money currently flowing to Medicare. The states can't set up systems if they only have a free hand in regulating a minority of the health care market. There is no doubt that our system is broken though. The larger issue is that there is a question of centralization vs local control and I wonder what motivates people to feel like everything must be centralized to prevent people from endorsing policies they see as bad.


That was a sad day for American politics. Not only would ratification have had no impact on US education, including homeschooling, it would have had basically no impact on anything domestically. Everything the treaty required we already do.

Where it would have affected Americans is when they travel to other countries that also ratified the treaty. Since the US did not ratify, those countries do not have to extend to visiting Americans with disabilities the same rights they have to extent to visitors from countries that did ratify the treaty.


But one argument against marijuana decriminalization of drugs is that it violates international treaties we are a party to. One real problem with treaties of this sort is that they remove public policy decisions from political discourse.


If it was based on existing US law then nobody in the US lost out on anything by failure to ratify. The treaty presumably would apply in other other countries that ratify it. Also, the danger is less what it would do now versus how the treaty could be interpreted in the future.

Also, while HSLDA mobilized their members against the treaty they hardly have the political clout to kill a treaty in the Senate. At most they gave a few Senators who were on the fence reason to delay consideration.


Nobody is disputing the facts here, so there is no grain of salt to take.


How much of that page is in fact "fact"?

They call Germany's team that picked up the kids a "SWAT" team, even though Germany doesn't have a SWAT team, Germany has GSG9 which is solely used for anti-terror operations. I also wouldn't call a team that includes social workers a SWAT-team.

This sentence alone shows that this article was only written to rile up emotions:

>At 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 29, 2013, in what has been called a “brutal and vicious act,”

Who has called it an act like that? The HSLDA itself, no-one else.

I also can't find anything on this in German news, so there are no secondary sources, so no way to verify their claims yet.

tl;dr: There are no facts yet.

Edit: Just remembered, there's also the SEK, the Spezialeinsatzkommando, which are the German state police's special police to handle barricaded suspects - may have been in use here, but again, I'd highly doubt they'd be accompanied by social workers.


Germany has GSG9 which is solely used for anti-terror operations.

This isn't strictly true since the GSG9 can and occasionally has been deployed in what are pretty much domestic criminal cases.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GSG9#Publicly_known_missions http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gladbeck_hostage_crisis#18_Augu...

Not that it changes the absence of other sources. I couldn't find anything about it in German either - at least, not anything that wasn't a year old and from advocacy sites as well. Nor do I think it's terribly likely BPOL unit showed up somewhere to handle a Jugendamt case.


I would conjecture that the reason for overwhelming force here is a reasonable guess that people who don't recognize the government's authority to enforce laws might attempt armed resistance, especially where their children are concerned. Swift and overwhelming force lowers the risk of anyone (government or citizen) actually getting violent.

That doesn't necessarily justify the trauma of getting raided, but it would make sense if that's why they did it.


Absent any evidence of abuse, true neglect (homeschooling doesn't count, regardless of Germany's laws on the matter), or other violation of a worthwhile law, this can only be considered further evidence of consolidation of power in the hands of the State and governmental overreach.


The best part is that even in the US, after a family of homeschoolers sought and obtained asylum from Germany here, our own Department of Justice appealed the court decision and asked to have them deported, making excuses about how the goal of the mandatory public schooling is so laudable (tolerance etc).

Other fun facts to point out:

* the German government is officially going to "look for possibilities to bring the religious convictions of the family into line with the unalterable school attendance requirement"

* the laws that eliminated the homeschooling option literally date back to the Hitler regime.


the laws that eliminated the homeschooling option literally date back to the Hitler regime.

It goes further back. The Prussian regime was basically the founder of our current institutionalized public education system in the west as we know it today.


Yes, but from what I understand you could still get a couple of loopholes and exemptions in the pre-Hitler Youth era.


> the laws that eliminated the homeschooling option literally date back to the Hitler regime

So does the Autobahn. Clearly, it should be torn down and replaced with gravel roads.


> So does the Autobahn, clearly it should be torn down and replaced with gravel roads.

Except Hitler's plan for controlling the country didn't hinge on providing fast roads.


Actually it did as the roads where of significant military value. (Not that it is relevant to this discussion or most of today's users, just an interesting side note.)


And if it was, would you recommend tearing them down?

That was the point, if this is the main argument against home schooling then it is obvious there isn't just much to go on.


No. I think my point (badly made) was that there seems to be a clear difference between infrastructure and one's right to parent as they see fit.


Oh comma yes obviously.


I can understand the State Department's point of view. All Germans are entitled to live and work throughout the EEA (EU plus Switzerland, Norway and Lichtenstein). Most of Western Europe is okay with homeschooling. I know it can be done in Austria.


Notice the bit about the children's passports being seized?

I don't think that nice theory is going to play out well in the real world.

As for the asylum case, Romeike v. Holder, the government appeal succeeded and its now in the hands of the circuit's Federal appeals court.


What nice theory? Passports are state property. I can't read the article, in China. But you can travel without a passport within the Schengen area. If they can get unsupervised access to their kids they should fuck off with them elsewhere in the EU. There will be neither public nor legal support for homeschooling in Germany and I doubt they'd win if they got to the European Court of Human Rights either. If they stay in Germany they lose their kids or their religion. Flight is their best option.


The nice theory is that "All Germans are entitled to live and work throughout the EEA (EU plus Switzerland, Norway and Lichtenstein)", which fails hard when your passports are seized.

Sounds like we're violently agreeing; still, I wonder why they haven't taken this step prior to now.


In the EU, you don't need to have your passport to travel to other countries; a national ID card will do.


I find it it interesting that you seem to think it is adequate for you to judge these things 'regardless of German law'. This is a democratically legitimized law that is backed by the vast majority of citizens and has been found to be conforming to the constitution by the Bundesverfassungsgericht, the remarkably potically independent Supreme Court. Just as the US doesn't welcome foreign commentary on laws like 'stand your ground' or 'National Security Letters', other democratic souvereign countries have the right to give themselves laws that conform with the opinions or the majority of its citizens.

Here is the rationale: Germany provides high quality free public education to everyone. That education is obligatory for children under 15 and it is neglect of parents to deny their children their right to profit from this education. I think this is a good thing and so does the vast majority of German citizens. You don't have to agree.


other democratic souvereign countries have the right to give themselves laws that conform with the opinions or the majority of its citizens

Who has denied that? Nobody. That doesn't mean we can't or shouldn't criticize what we find wrong.


And would not everything you've said be true of, say, this bit of legislation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enabling_Act_of_1933 with the Reichsrat (which I'll admit I first heard of today) substituting for the Bundesverfassungsgericht?

Really, now, I think you don't understand our concepts of e.g. natural law (e.g. the right to effective self-defense), and that some things, no matter how consecrated by much beloved process, can nonetheless be utterly illegitimate.


Part of the US system is protection from tyranny of the majority. Prop 8 in California banned gay marriage. It was passed by a 52% majority of the people, but struck down in court.

That said, I think that everyone should attend a school. Even (especially) if you don't agree with the curriculum, it's best to let children learn it. It's better to disagree with something you know rather than something you don't know.

Homeschooling is much more work than sending a child to public school. For example, my youngest sister had a bad infection for several months during winter and spring that affected her mood causing her to have trouble in school.

She attended a traditional public school for several months, but the atmosphere was not working. She transfered to a different public school in our district that only meets 4 times a week, and focuses on the core classes, but that still didn't work.

In the end, my family pulled her out of school for the remaining three months and taught her at home. She able to get ahead, and enrolled in a program for children that had various issues with a traditional school. The program starts in 7th grade (~13yo) with 8th grade curriculum, then continues in 8th grade, reviewing the 8th grade curriculum for another year, so that they are prepared for high school. Despite failing most classes in 6th grade, she received straight A's in this program with 8th grade work, and is now a year ahead in math.

Having home-school as an option gives an incentive for schools to improve, and allows people the flexibility to make the best choices for schooling their children. Some may abuse that, but I think it should be offered.

For reference, for high-school aged students, these are the options in my area:

- Traditional high school (5 days/wk, with Math/Science/Language/History, and electives - Art, Music, etc). You can take advanced classes, such as AP for college credit.

- Public Charter School (4 days/wk - no Wednesday - Math/Science/Language/History only. Must submit proof of doing art/PE/etc independently)

- Non-traditional high school (1 day required, teachers available during the rest of the week - requires much work at home)

- Home-School link (1 day w/ teachers to coordinate lessons, work done at home.)

- "Running-Start" - attend community college classes for free, earn both high school and college credit.

- Private school (religious - don't know any details)

- Full Home-school (still required to pass some state exams, must get GED to count as high school).

Additionally, sports and music programs were offered only at the traditional high schools, but students living in the district attending any of these options, including private school, could participate.

I think all of these are valid options, and I knew people in all of these programs that also participated in other activities, like sports. I think that traditional high school, or the more focused charter school are the best options for most, but not for everyone.

Most of the neglectful parents, I would think, sent their children to public school. They certainly would not take the time to teach their children on their own, or pay to send them to private school. They wouldn't apply to enter them in to another one of the programs. The worst case scenario is an incompetent parent that still insists on home-schooling. I can live with parents that have objections to the curriculum pulling their students out.

Of course, I know the German school system is much different than the US system. In the US, however, I think that home school needs to be an option.


Thank you for the informative reply! I just wanted to add a few points I missed in my earlier post: * there are schools run by private initiatives (usually non-for profits) that provide different atmosphere and focus For instance, Montessori schools focus more on personal creativity. There is regulation in place though to guarantee that every school teaches a the basic curriculum independent of the individual world view of the people who run it.

* Many schools are morning schools from 8am-1pm. This means that parents do have opportunity to set priorities and provide personal education in addition to the school offering. However, they cannot take away from the standard curriculum.


So where do you draw the line for "worthwhile" laws? Almost any modern state has systems in place to protect children, its most vulnerable citizens. Even from their parents, if need be. Which, in Germany, includes providing sufficient education and socialization to each child.

I understand that a lot of people (especially those with some religious beliefs that contradict curricula) disagree with that and consider this a slippery slope, but then again, almost every intrusion into the rights of a parent could be judged that way. So just let 'em do whatever they will, parental instinct will prevail?


You're essentially saying we have no way of judging whether the law is good or not.

But there are at least two large bodies of scientific literature that shed light on this question. The first is the psychological evidence that sending men with guns to drag children away from a family where they are safe and loved is hugely damaging. So much so that it is highly unlikely to be worth it, even if you think homeschooling is bad.

The second is the evidence that home-schooled students do not underperform other children by any measurable standards, and are frequently found to outperform. This includes both academics and general success/happiness later in life. They are also no more likely to engage in anti-social behaviors. Which begs the question: what is the state's compelling interest, if there is zero evidence for damage to the children or to society at large?

Obviously it's not really about protecting children. Because if it was, you would write a law laying out standards for what constitutes sufficiently good education, and then let anyone try to meet those standards. Instead the law imposes a monopoly.


Well, not quite. You have to send your kids to an accredited school. That doesn't mean that they have to be state-owned. There are plenty of private boarding schools and especially Waldorf education is hugely popular. Some evangelical sects tried establishing their own schools.

The states have a much easier task checking whether those schools are doing their job well, then checking on every mom and pop. Never mind the socialization requirement, which probably would mean involving the CPAs as well etc. It's not just about ideology, but about feasability as well. The homeschooling crowd is a very, very small minority in Germany.

And about the studies, well, let's assume they're actually okay and not on the level of the (multitude) of "homeopathy works" studies. That still would make them US studies, right? So whether that's applicable to Germany is an open question, the school system works quite differently here (and I'm not aware of any metal detectors). I'm reminded a bit about the gun control debate...

This might be the result of me going through said school system, but if you show me two donkeys, one being the big bad statist schools and the other homeschooled kids, I know where I'd pin the tail of "likely indoctrination".


When Germany gave jurisdiction power to US MPs and special laws around US military bases (in the public streets outside the bases too), I didn't hear the same outcry.

They have a culture they want to preserve, they know that the US is exporting its culture very bullishly (in Hollywood movies and TV shows for the most part) and they are, like many western european countries, afraid of the negative side effects of the US culture (mostly around guns, violence and extreme religion, but also individualism in general).


In the sick mind of the German socialist, abuse is homeschooling, where children can't be indoctrinated by the state. Good to know that Hitler started that nice tradition.


Don't forget his party was the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei; the only part you probably don't know is Arbeiter -> Worker's.


Yeah, and North Korea's regime is a democracy, according to its name (Democratic People's Republic of Korea).


But it says something that back then they at minimum felt they had to pay lip service to socialism and workers, despite e.g. their oppression of actual members of a socialist party.

And for quite some time into WWII they tried to deliver both guns and butter, one of the many reasons they failed was a delay in gearing up for total war.


As a natural extension of a welfare state paradigm, children are property of the state and parents are merely temporarily assigned guardians.

In Germany and Norway, children are taken from their families on a decision of a social worker, no court is needed. All it takes is a teacher's report stating that a kid is "sad".

Google "Jugendamt" to read the horror stories. A classic scenario involves forbidding a divorced foreign parent to speak in their non-German language with their kid, ever.


"Authorities even took the children’s passports, making it impossible for the family to escape ... "

Now that's low. How is that even legal?


Well, it escalated for a long time. The law in Germany is, that children have to go to some school public or private. In this case, the family refused to send the children to any school, and it escalated to a point where the government appointed a guardian for the children. Then the family left Germany and apparently returned now. So as far as I understand the legal argument: the parents have no longer the right to take the children out of Germany and therefore the passports were taken to prevent this.


Passports are state property, they don't belong to you. Besides, they're the state's children, they're just letting the biological parents mind them. Should they be found deficient, better parents can be found.


What if they were the state's children? What I'm saying here is that often one encounters the opinion that children are their parents' property, that they can do with them as they well please, and that isn't true either.

There are such things as abusive parents, and there are such things as crazy cults. One notices that there was that other German couple, whose name eludes me, who cited religious motives for homeschooling. That is never a good sign. I'm a practicing Catholic, and if a German gives that reason for homeschooling they are using the Lord's name in vain.

Public opinion in Germany (and in France) is that society has a duty to provide some oversight, and that that is provided by schools. By the way, public education in Germany is generally decent.

All these arguments aside, there is also the child's right to a decent education, and the parents have no right at all to deprive the child of that.


I am Not a Fan(tm) of homeschooling and support bans of it, but forbidding them to leave is going to far.

In Plato's dialog Crito, Socrates lays out his justification for respecting the rule of law. One of his arguments in to Crito is that, while not under arrest, any Athenian remains free to leave Athens with his family and posessions.

Personally, I think Plato was sort of a hack (Plato has Crito offer only token objections) and disagree with Socrates decision to stay... BUT if the rule of law is to be respected, it seems clear to me that the freedom to opt-out must remain intact. If Germany wants to prevent these people from leaving then they should properly detain them. If they find themselves unwilling or unable to do that, then these people should be free to leave the country.


There are also German laws that place restrictions on whether and when your retail business can be open on Sundays. Or what you can say about the Nazis. Plenty of US laws are heatedly discussed here as well, often enough.

Fact is, it's not likely you can arrive at sensible conclusions about them without context or on the basis of some advocacy piece or, for that matter, Plato.


The point of the reference to Plato is that in his writings Socrates establishes a bare minimum that we should expect from a legal system if we are to respect it. Being able to leave isn't sufficient, however it is necessary.

When states start revoking passports to restrict the movement of people under their jurisdiction, they fall short of something that we should respect.


No, I got it and I don't think there is anything particularly wrong with the point itself, per se.

The basis of the point, though, is one report from an advocacy source - and here we are talking about the moral philosophy of law and statism and the Prussians and Plato. Meanwhile nobody's actually found and referenced another report of any kind. Maybe from German media. Maybe a publicly available court document. Anything.

This sort of anti-pattern makes me think that stuff like this should be mercilessly flagged off the site. If you're particularly keen on talking about it, write it up, as soberly as you can, put up some links and post that. Linking the advocacy post itself is near-guaranteed to generate almost exclusively heat at the expense of light.


Well if this straight up didn't happen, then there is nothing here to discuss.


It seems reasonable to ask what it is that actually happened before the Prussians and Plato are deployed, that is all.


What do you mean "they're the state's children"?


That was hyperbole, sarcasm or cynicism depending on how charitable one feels like being. There's no Schnelling point between children are their parents and children are the state's. The trend is definitely towards the state. That's the entire point of things like Child Protection Services, declaring people unfit parents, etc.

But what I said was bitter libertarian snark influenced by reading homeschooling/unschooling stuff and the tiny children's rights movement.


He's being sarcastic; suggesting an Orwellian view.


I think he's being sarcastic.


It's German law? Every developed democracy probably has a few that you might find disagreeable or outright immoral. If you're going to get righteously indignant about every single one of them you probably won't have much time to do anything else.


I think this is a case where the OP's link left out information -

I'd wager the kids' parents have said before this happened that they'd take the kids to another country like the US. Taking their passports prevents this kind of fleeing.


OP's link is a link to a US homeschooling advocacy organization. So you're right, the problem is the link itself - not a particularly constructive thing to post on HN.


The right to determine where children do or do not travel lies with their legal guardians, which in this case are no longer their parents. The actual legal guardian is in possession of the passports.


The majority of comments from the illustrious Hacker News crowd seem to indicate we are disturbingly at ease with the Persecution of homeschoolers.

I feel as long as students are making the grade on standardized tests, there shouldn't be an issue.

This works out perfect for both parties. Whatever aspect of public schools the parent takes exception to can be avoided and the kid still get's an eduction.

By forcing parents to send their children to public schools you are in effect giving the perception of indoctrination.


They don't force children to be sent to public schools - private schools are specifically protected by the German constitution.


Is it safe to assume they cost money and/or are regulated by the state?


Probably both, yes.


This is disgusting.

Which is the best country in the world to raise children? It needs to be safe, have little government interference, have exposure to "the real world", a culture of hard work, an open culture that is receptive to a multitude of ideas about the world, have challenging problems, multi-lingual, etc. Any ideas?


Meanwhile, here in Florida (USA), we have a state sponsored virtual school system that doesn't require a single step inside of a school building. Maybe that's one thing we get right here.


At least it's an ethos.


Just another example of socialist statism run amok. You would think with German's recent past, the authorities would be wary of snatching kids from their parents and putting them who knows where.


Indeed. Every time someone jokes "It sounded better in the original German" I think of cases like these and think "It still does".


You are aware that one of the reasons we do this is to take away parents ability to indoctrinate their children in a nationalist ideology?

In German _public_ schools, children learn about the Holocaust, the Wars, the STASI multiple times over the course of their education, with progressing depth of discussion as they grow older. How many other states educate their resident children on the bad parts of their history this thorroughly?

Sorry, but your views from afar are quite skewed.


I'm sure it's skewed from your viewpoint, but that doesn't automatically mean it's invalid.

In this case, my most general principle is that the ends do not justify the means.

More specifically, the danger I see is in the totalitarian method, where the state requires that "You must believe this", be it National Socialism in the '30s and '40s, or after that Communism (till ~1990) or Social Democracy. As long as the state uses this method, and the people are sufficiently comfortable with it, what the state is insisting that you believe is obviously subject to change.

"How many other states educate their resident children on the bad parts of their history this thorroughly?"

How many states feel they have a burning need to educate their children on the bad parts of their history? Which of the ones that didn't murder millions of their own people?

Then there are the results: Do any states need to self-extinguish? With a fertility rate of 1.41, you're just about at the "lowest low" threshold of 1.3 from which societies don't recover. By the end of the next century this discussion will be irrelevant, because there won't be any Germans left to discuss it with....




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