Bil Browning

Kids as Activists: Good Idea or Bad? [Open Thread]

Filed By Bil Browning | December 06, 2011 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: ethical dilemma, Michele Bachmann

By now you've probably seen the video of the eight year old boy telling Michelle Bachmann, "My mommy's gay but she doesn't need any fixing." If not, it's below, but let's talk for a moment about the ethics behind using your child as a prop for your own activism.

Various outlets have had different takes on the video. Joe Jervis calls it, "The greatest thing you'll see this year." On the other hand, Dan Savage says, "As a gay parent, I'm really not comfortable with this. Even if that eight-year-old kid wanted to do it, even if confronting Michele Bachmann was the kid's idea, even if the kid was excited about being in a YouTube video... this just isn't cool."

The video is entitled "Activist Elijah With Michelle Bachmann." At eight years old, this kid is not an activist; he's a kid. He doesn't seem to eager to talk to the Congresswoman either; his mom is obviously coaxing him to call her out on her rampant homophobia.

When I led the fight for Indianapolis' non-discrimination ordinance, our daughter popped off a quick one-liner to a city councilor that changed his vote from "No" to "Yes." It came naturally to her and without having to prod her into becoming an "activist" by telling her "Don't you have something to say?" Children's words can be powerful statements, but not if they're run through an adult filter first.

Using kids to make a political point is despicable. I hate it when the religious right tries that crap; I can't justify it in my head. I'm curious to know what readers think. Good technique or reprehensible? "Greatest thing you'll see" or "this just isn't cool?" Let us know in the comments section.


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