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August 15, 2005

Hasten the Day!

This man and these people just about deserve each other. Let's all pray for the day their twain shall meet.

Posted by john at August 15, 2005 04:38 PM

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Kevin Q | August 15, 2005 05:34 PM

If ever there was a website where the "twain" shall meet, this is the one. I'm grabbin' me some popcorn...

K

M.M. Fletcher [TypeKey Profile Page] | August 15, 2005 05:37 PM

The childfree people annoy the hell out of me, but the fundie loonies who say that I should be pumping out kid after kid for the glory of God are truly scary. Any group that sees me or any other woman as a uterus on legs (and to hell with what multiple pregnancies do to a woman's health -- that's all part of God's glory, I suppose) needs to be kept far, far away from civilized society.

Dean | August 15, 2005 06:00 PM

I don't think we need worry about the fundies retaking the world. Even people who blindly support the Republicans will balk at their birth control being taken away. The people referenced in the article aren't anything but mildly pathetic, longing for days gone by. Their time will never return, but that won't stop them from pining.

The childfree people are another matter. They are irritatingly selfish, babbling on and on and on about how superior they are to other people, but that isn't all. There are a substantial number of them who hate children as a class (it's curious, isn't it: if there were a newsgroup called alt.support.jew_free, how tolerant would we be?) Many of them will claim otherwise, but just spend a bit of time in the newsgroup John referenced and you'll see what I mean.

As first world societies have fewer and fewer children per woman (it seems that men don't matter in this equation), people without children will have a larger and larger voice. Things have already changed in Canada, where there is no longer a tax break for dependent children. There is for dependent adults, but not for children.

I guess the reason that I disagree with M. M. is that I can see a time when the CF people will have real influence, whereas I think that the time of the deeply fundamentalist Christians is largely past.

Sue | August 15, 2005 06:02 PM

We're not having kids and spend a fair amount of time hanging around with other people who don't have kids, both virtually (though not at the group John linked to) and in person. I've noticed a dramatic difference between online childfree people and "real life" childfree people. Just like so many other people you encounter online, there's a lot of rabid childfree types out there. And just like a lof of any other group you might encounter, they're not necessarily indicative of what the majority is like. Baby-hating, rabid CF people are to the childfree as Fred Phelps is to Christianity.

Ed Trimnell | August 15, 2005 06:29 PM

I was raised as a Catholic during the 1970s and 1980s. (I assume you know their position on birth control.) I went to school with some kids who had as many as 15 siblings--all because they believed that birth control was evil.

On the other hand, as a childless person myself, I find the "childfree" crowd completely incomprehensible. It is one thing to say that the commitment of having children doesn't fit your life circumstances. It is another thing to have an active dislike of children.

I have read that even in prehistoric times, children were protected by members of their tribe who didn't happen to be their parents. Leonard Shlain's book, "Time, Sex & Power" even suggests that homosexuals (who were uniformly childless in prehistoric times) may have contributed from an evolutionary standpoint by providing extra protection for other people's children.

The point is that a generally protective and favorable disposition toward children seems to be hard-wired in us as human beings. Although I don't endorse Hillary Clinton's entire agenda, the notion that "it takes a village" is correct in some respects.

From a wider perspective, people having kids is sort of what makes the world go around. Starting in 2006, there will be more people leaving the French workforce than entering it, because birthrates are so low in France. This doesn't mean that everyone should go out and have a dozen kids, but we would clearly be in trouble as a nation and a species if everyone took the childfree folks' advice.

Jim Winter | August 15, 2005 06:45 PM

I much prefer the child free crowd because they're not reproducing. I can kill them and be assured the world is a better place.

Laurie | August 15, 2005 08:01 PM

I'm a childfree-by-choice person, and I'm a little disturbed by a couple of the comments above. Do I really deserve to die because I don't want children?

I agree that the Quiverfull people are nuts -- the childfree group I chat on has talked about them more times than I can count -- and I agree that some childfree folks can take things too far in a backlash against the kid-centric pressure people face all the time. But please don't paint all childfree folks with one brush.

My life and my work don't allow me to give a kid the attention he or she would deserve, and I'm simply not very maternal. A cat and a significant other are all the love and support I could possibly need.

Bruce Adelsohn | August 15, 2005 08:06 PM

I've tried hard to understand the rabid childfree (as opposed to an "agnostic" sort, who aren't having children but at worst put up with those who have). I just can't do it. For one thing, how do they justify any relationship with their parents? Or do they all shun their families?

But yes, I'm with Kevin: let's get the group and the preacher together in an all-out cage match, no holds barred and only one side survives.

We can call it "evolution in action." :-D

Scott | August 15, 2005 08:20 PM

I'm not "child free" really, though I don't have kids (I also don't have a female partner with which to make them, under the counterfactual possibility that I wanted to).

I don't like children. I don't like being around them. But here's why I'm different from a racist/bigot/whatever. When children grow up into adolescents and adults, I don't have an a priori discomfort with them. This is fundamentally different from saying, "Well, if a Jew converted to Christianity I wouldn't mind them any more." And I hope Dean can understand this.

Obviously, I don't mind that other people have kids. I don't even mind reading about Athena here. Not only does John keep any bad moments he has with his daughter more or less to himself, but even if he did share, I could skip them. I don't like sitting next to kids in movie theaters, though I don't advocate that they be prevented from entry. It's more that I'd rather that when things do go bad with a kid, the parent does take the noise-maker out of the room, and failing that courtesy on their part that somebody else take the trouble to fetch an usher to remind the parent to do so.

So, yeah... it's similar to a streak of intolerance to a class of humans. I don't dislike children. I dislike being around children. But, for what it's worth, I also recognize that that is my own, semi-personal problem. I'm happy that other people like to have and raise kids, 'cause (after all) that's where the fascinating (and loathesome) creatures called teen-agers come from.

Steve Eley | August 15, 2005 09:20 PM

You're right, both sides are loony. But I actually consider the childfree people a little loonier: anyone who voluntarily spends that much of their free time complaining about people they don't like has no sense of personal priorities. At least the "full quiver" people are engaging in a recreational activity with people they like.

As to which is more dangerous, though, I'd have to say it's the quiverfolk. "God's will" did not engineer the human reproductive system for a modern industrial economy. Families that big aren't sustainable today; most of the new people they're creating will end up with sharply limited educational and job opportunities, and simply feeding them drains the resources of the community. And that's just on the small scale of these indivudal nuts. If they achieved their greater purpose, if God really desired large-scale overpopulation, it wouldn't have so many nasty consequences.

Anonymous | August 15, 2005 10:56 PM

I know very few child free people (off of the internet) who hate children. I like my 4-year old niece. I think she's a nice person and enjoy spending time with her occasionally. I don't hate kids. Just ask John Scalzi. A couple of months ago I talked to him at a party, and he kept talking about his daughter, who I'm sure is a wonderful person, just a truly top notch human being, seriously, but she is a total stranger to me. Since I am in favor of parents being excited about thier children, I was very polite and smiled and nodded and everything. Just ask him.

All we want is to not be hated or pitied or called selfish for choosing not to have one of our own. If you wonder why we often prefer to hang out with other child free people, it's not to complain about kids. It's not even to avoid kids. It's mainly to avoid the sort of contempt and attacks expressed here-- from parents.

Lucy Kemnitzer | August 16, 2005 01:06 AM

I don't like the term "childfree," because it is not neutral like "childless." I know that the people who use it claim the opposite, but in actual use, that's how it turns out.

That being said: it's stupid to make it an issue from either side. There's only one reason to have children: and that's because you want them. There's only one reason to deliberately not have children: and that's because you'd rather not. That "rather not" can cover a lot of ground and it's none of my business unless we're getting to know each other and you feel like telling me about yourself.

I do have friends who are without children, and they are generally friends to my children as well. Which is how it worked for me and my parents' friends.

John Scalzi | August 16, 2005 06:04 AM

Anonymous:

"Since I am in favor of parents being excited about thier children, I was very polite and smiled and nodded and everything. Just ask him."

I don't recall anyone being antagonistic about my kid, so I suppose this is true.

Before I had kids and people talked about theirs, I listened to them discuss it in the same manner I did of any hobby that I didn't partake of personally, like skydiving or beadwork. Once you conceptualize it that way, it's usually easy to handle.

Spencer | August 16, 2005 08:08 AM

Didn't we do this be fruitful and multiply thing with less then good results?

http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~rbear/modest.html

WizarDru | August 16, 2005 08:50 AM

The Quiver-Full people aren't dangerous, IMHO, at least not more than any other hard-line fundementalist. They're just focused on having kids. I personally think it's incredibly irresponsible to have 14 or 15 kids, but that's their legal right.

The 'childfree' newsgroup that John linked to, however, chills me to the bone. These aren't people who 'dislike' children; these are people who dehumanize mothers and children, referring to them as cows and cattle. They appear to twist every story to their agenda: there's a sizable thread there discussing how the Greek plane crash was flawed because it highlighted how many children were on board...and then proceeds to suggest it might have the children's fault, and that it was "one way to CULL THE HERD."

Or how about the gleeful post of how a 15 year-old honor student got killed while riding a jet-ski; their reaction? "Good Riddance!"

The most ironic part: they all seem to be sure they have better parenting skills than all the parents of the children who irritate them so.

Yeah, a Texas cage-match between the two of them? Comedy Gold.

Tor | August 16, 2005 09:03 AM

Well, to play devil's advocate a little - if the person on the the plane behind me is furiously beading, or reading about sky diving, it really doesn't affect me at all. However, my toddler is likely looking over the back of the seat, repeatedly, because one time he found his grandparents there. If they show up there again, he doesn't want to miss it - even though I've explained to him that they aren't on the plane. :) I do my best to minimize the effects of toddlerhood on the people around me, but he, well, he isn't very subtle.

To an extent, I can rationalize any annoyance he causes by thinking, 'it takes a village, dude, and this is the price you pay for the continuance of the human race, on a very small scale.' That being said, we wouldn't sit in first class, I bring tons of things to keep him occupied, and he understands the concept of an 'inside voice' and an 'outside voice.' In short, I do what I can, but I'm not going to pull a B.A. Baracus and put tranqs in his milk either.

Of course, traveling for business, if I were forced to sit next to either a quiverfull or a childfree person, who was determined to explain their position to me, I would find that pretty f'ing annoying.

I have an Aunt and Uncle who decided never to have kids - and never, as far as I can tell, really understood what all the fuss is about. I don't consider them selfish (because of that, anyway) - they made the decision that was right for them, and more power to them. But I think there is a difference between the position expressed by my Aunt and Uncle, as well as several commentators here (not for me, no thanks) - and actively saying that children are a bane or a burden on society. The childfree Google group seemed to be almost gloating when people with children suffered misfortune. I think that's wrong.

Childless/childfree people should hang out together - you don't want to hear a detailed explaination of how my son put two fingers up his nose, and the hijinks that ensued. It's boring to you, or at least it would have been to me before I had children. My life, to a large extent, revolves around my children. Sure, I could talk about how obscene it is for Rush to volunteer to mediate between McNabb and T.O., but my heart isn't really in it. I want to brag about how many fingers my son can put in his nose.

The quiverfull people, sure, we could share nose-finger stories, but their criticism of our family planning choices would be just as annoying. So, I guess my point is, zealots who want to intrude on my life, or gloat over misfortunes that I experience, are both annoying - a pox on both their houses.

I guess that wasn't very devil's advocate-y after all.

Lauren McLaughlin | August 16, 2005 10:38 AM

Today's non-legalistic debate about lifestyle choices is tomorrow's enforced fertility legislation. Think I'm joking? Mandatory pregnancy is now the law in Italy.

mythago | August 16, 2005 10:41 AM

The irony is the online-childfree people who can't STFU about their cats. (Though what really annoys me about such groups is that they're so often transparently sexist.)

The people referenced in the article aren't anything but mildly pathetic, longing for days gone by.

They're not 'dangerous' in the sense of having an impact on national politics. They are certainly a threat, and evil, in their influence on a small scale, on the lives of people who are deeply religious and might think them correct.

FWIW, religious Jews don't believe the "be fruitful and multiply" commandment is binding on women, since childbirth is potentially fatal--only on men.

John N. | August 16, 2005 10:52 AM

My parents practiced "natural family planning" in the 1960's, as me and my six siblings can attest (heh).

My wife and I adopted a much more sensible approach (for us at least) - just days after our second child was born, one of us made sure no further pregnancies would occur. (snip snip)

It provides me no end of pleasure that our decision will piss off the quiverfull crowd.


It also pleases me greatly, for some reason, to know that our choices piss off the militant anti-kid crowds.

Naturally, if you are (a) a large family but *not* a member of the quiverfull-crowd, or (b) childless but *not* anti-kid, I'd be happy to learn that our choices did not piss you off. Of course, I already assume that *normal* people would not be pissed off at the choices of other normal people.

Justin Anderson | August 16, 2005 01:39 PM

What I don't understand about the vehemently "childfree" is the bizarre universe they seem to inhabit which seems to only intersect mine on the internet. Look, I've got no kids and I'm certainly no fan of crying babies in restaurants and movie theaters, but in the universe I live in, I very rarely encounter them. Usually when a kid starts acting up, in my experience, a parent will take them outside. The horror and gnashing of teeth just seems way out of proportion to the size of the problem. If you want to spend your time bitching about a problem, why not pick one that actually is a day-to-day annoyance? Set up alt.support.red-light-runnerfree and I'll be the first to sign up.

Laurie,

The trouble here is that it seems that so many of the people identifying themselves as "childfree" are so clearly insane. I went to alt.support.childfree to find a supporting post for the complaints I reference in the previous paragraph, but in the very first thread I looked at, I found this gem from one Terry Lomax:

You're lucky you're a girl. Single dudes are under MUCH more pressure to marry. Society expects all men to marry and be walking wallets for the wives (or non-walking wallets after dying and leaving a fat "life insurance" policy).

Society lets women do whatever they want, but they try to force men to serve in the military, and if we survive that, then marry and impregnate women and take care of the sproggen.

See, the words are (almost) all in English and they form proper sentences and all, but I just can't parse anything meaningful from them. I understand that the extremists in any group can sometimes unjustifiably give a bad odor to the group as a whole, but at some point, if you don't want to be painted with the same brush, you probably need to take a few steps away from the lunatics in your midst.

Jennifer | August 16, 2005 04:29 PM

I actually sort of like the word "childfree." Admittedly, "free" would not have been the word I would have chosen exactly, but I like that there's a term out there that states, "No, I don't have children, and I'm perfectly fine with that." As opposed to "childless," which most people assume is temporary ("You'll change your miiiiiiiind!").

I don't hate kids, most of the "OMG some kid did this" rants bore me, and even I think some of that crap spewed is nasty. But I get looped in with those people because I think I'd be a crappy mother, and then get badmouthed too. Whee.

I just want a world in which if someone asks if I have kids and I say no, that person can be relied on to quietly drop the subject instead of immediately asking why not or "when" I am having children or insisting I'd make a wonderful mom (especially love it when this comes from people who don't know me at all- I guess owning a uterus guarantees that I won't go Susan Smith? Oh, wait...), or poo-poohing any fears I have with "It's different when it's your own!" Really, that's all I ask. I don't care if you have kids or not- just don't harangue me into having some so they can play with yours, please.

And y'all talk about childfree people feeling superior- sure, some do. But so do a lot of parents too.

Erbo [TypeKey Profile Page] | August 16, 2005 05:10 PM

Okay, what would Mohler and his ilk say about me? When I met my future wife, I knew she had had a hysterectomy and couldn't have children (due to uterine cancer some years before we met; she had been pregnant twice before that, but both pregnancies ended in miscarriage), but I married her anyway. Neither of us feel competent to be a parent, anyhow; our cats are about all we can handle. But does this somehow render our marriage "invalid"? And what does this say about their attitudes towards women who have had to undergo hysterectomies through no fault of their own? Are they supposed to go through life alone because they can't have kids?

mythago | August 16, 2005 05:45 PM

But does this somehow render our marriage "invalid"?

In his eyes? No doubt. Besides, people like you give ammo to the queers.

I just want a world in which if someone asks if I have kids and I say no, that person can be relied on to quietly drop the subject

Move, or hang out with better friends. Where I live, nobody gives a hoot either way.

Melissa | August 16, 2005 06:43 PM

I am childfree/childless by choice. I do like children, though. I just am not that maternal and know I would do a poor job being a parent. It would not be fair to have a child if I could not raise it properly, therefore I have made a committment to never having one.

If that makes me a horrible person, so be it.

I think the thing to keep in mind is that EVERY group has a part that makes them look stupid and/or awful. Like Christians have fundies/Leviticans, the childfree have the childhaters. Don't judge the whole group by the crazy fringe assholes.

Katie | August 16, 2005 09:55 PM

It is one thing to say that the commitment of having children doesn't fit your life circumstances. It is another thing to have an active dislike of children.

I totally agree. People like that annoy the hell out of me. The livejournal "childfree" community is the most hateful group of people I've ever seen in my life. If you don't want kids, don't have them! But why devote such energy to hating on children? Hate the parents for not keeping their kids in line if you have to hate SOMEBODY.

I know a woman who does not want kids, yet goes to Disney movies and has the gall to bitch about all the screaming kids there. HELLO?

abi | August 17, 2005 01:53 AM

Slightly peripheral comment: the "quiverfull" article made me giggle because in some portions of Britain, "go forth and multiply" is a euphemism for "eff off."

Non-peripherally, as a parent, I feel I'm doing something for society as well as for my own delight. The kids that currently make a fuss on the bus may someday be caring for the woman who tuts at them, when they are older and she is old. Alternatively, they may not be caring for her, if she and her ilk have taught them by example that we don't need to tolerate smelly and obnoxious people.

This is different than feeling that she should have a passel of brats of her own. Couldn't give a rat's behind about that.

Mark Ensley | August 17, 2005 02:15 AM

No kids here, but I tend to like them. Yes, they can sometimes be a pain in the ass, but sometimes so can I.

I like and approve of my friends' kids, and since I tend to hang with smart folks, I'm actually in favor of my smart friends making children because we need more smartly-raised kids out there.

In general, kids tend to like me as well since I don't treat them like kids but like people. When a kid comes up to me I'm more likely to say something like, "Hello, what's that you have there?" rather than, "Oooooh! Whooose got sumthing in his little hands! Whooo does!" Kids seem to appreciate it.

I may or may not have kids in the future, depends on where the ol' life path goes. I'm fine either way. If so, I'll try and be a great dad. If not, I'll be "cool uncle Mark" to several kids of friends and relatives.

The "childfree" crowd is just another example of folks who turn their petty annoyance into a reason to feel superior and bolster up their stupid little lives. The only things which even come close to the meaning which kids give one's life is serious art, science, or faith, something which demands utter sacrifice and commitment. Although, for most having kids is much more likely to provide a tangible result...

Mark Ensley | August 17, 2005 02:25 AM

One more thing, I also try to remember and encourage my inner child. Being around kids helps me do this!

I wonder how many of the "childfree" folks also do so?

Anyone who actively remembers what they were like as a kid can't ever get that annoyed by kids.

abi | August 17, 2005 03:44 AM

Absolute favourite quote from the FAQ:

What it all boils down to for me is that I don't tend to like interacting with people who think that the world revolves around them. Since the vast majority of young children don't yet have the cognitive skills to realize that this isn't the case, I'd rather not have anything to do with them. (Jennie D-O'C)

While I understand what she means, I do wonder what she does about the adults in the group who think the world revolves - or should revolve - around them, with no developmental excuse for that opinion.

mythago | August 17, 2005 05:44 PM

Knowing the person who made that comment, it's especially ironic.

Adolph | August 19, 2005 10:29 AM

{To Quote the Quiverfull: "As I did that, over and over and over, I found the same things: that God was the Creator of life, that God knew who He wanted to create, He knew what we were going to look like, He had a plan for every person--that it was all His business," she recalled. "It was not what I wanted to find in the Scripture, but that's what I kept encountering."

"It is the devil who hates the idea of large families unless, of course, the offspring can be raised up to be God-hating adults, i.e., Islam, or children raised up in broken homes with no Godly heritage," wrote Philip (Flip) Benham, national director of Operation Save America, an anti-abortion group."}

I was most concerned with apparent conflict in the "quiverfull" loonies basic arguement that God blesses people with children...unless of course you are Muslim or Agnostic- then you have children because the Devil wants more people like you. RRRR...RR! Makes me want to bite...

stouthunter | August 25, 2005 05:35 AM

I'm one of those evil child free people,

Let's see so far this month I:

Taught CPR to some teenagers.

Reported two cases of child abuse and three cases of elder abuse at work.

Splinted the broken leg of a child riding a bike in the street because mommy was to busy with Oprah to watch the child.

Bandaged the physical wounds and began the psychological care of teenager who cuts herself because mommy is to busy with her fling of the week and her meth addiction to care.

Yup I'm one real son of bitch that ought to be killed. Tell them the truth johhny. You have a hard on for the child free because you got spanked trolling them. I've done more for children in 3 weeks than you've done for children in your whole life. The hater is in your mirror scalzi, not on sites meant to rant and vent.

John Scalzi | August 25, 2005 08:11 AM

Stouthunter:

They spanked me for trolling them? Naturally, I recall it differently, as in they ran about in their tight, angry circles for a while as I laughed at their monkey-like exertions. But of course perspectives may differ.

By your description, it sounds is if you are some sort of EMT or other medical type, and basically you want extra "good human" credit for doing your job, even when it happens to require you to tend to those icky, icky children. Well, fine: Golly, Stouthunter, I'm sure glad you're doing what you're supposed to do, and not running an age check before you decide to do it. That's real white of you. Surely you deserve a cookie.

"The hater is in your mirror scalzi, not on sites meant to rant and vent."

Leaving aside the logical fallacy that suggests that I should be castigated for the same category of action (i.e. ranting and venting) that you would allow other to perform without comment, this is still just about the stupidest thing I've seen someone write. The childfree newsgroup is daily jam-packed with spittle-laden posts about kids having the gall to be kids around the pathologically child-adverse (or gleeful posts about something terrible happening to them). Meanwhile, I make the occasional snarky comment about the above, and I'm the one who's hating.

For that chunk of bullshit alone, Stouthunter, you deserve to be taped into the seat of a schoolbus filled with children singing along to the latest "Kidz Bop" CD for the rest of your natural life.

I sincerely hope you're better at your job than you are at arguing. You know, for the kids' sake.

Irene | August 25, 2005 09:49 AM

I'm childfree by choice and I belong to both childfree and childfree hardcore on livejournal. It seems odd that no one has noticed that these communities are for ranting and getting issues off of their chests. We're frustrated about people who can't respect our choices in life. Also, posts are usually made when some one is angry. Spending time on this community is no different then spending time on a parenting community.
Remembering what you were like as a kid can easily help you get frustrated. Many of the rants are about bad parenting. Also, we're not planning to murder small children. They are many good discussions that include abortion and sterilization.

TheDeej | August 25, 2005 10:34 AM

The trouble with using the phrease childless is it implies that our lives are somewhat diminished without having a child. I assure you my life is far from diminished..

As for the agrument of "you were once a child too" yeah,I know. I didn't like children much then either. Much of my childhood is blocked out of my mind anyway.

Whenever I am called selfish all I do is quote Oscar Wilde, "Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes them to live. And unselfishness is letting other people's lives alone, not interfering with them."

So if someone believes their life would be better with a child, all the more power to them. Just make sure you have the means and ability to take care of it as well as use discipline.

TheDeej | August 25, 2005 10:35 AM

The trouble with using the phrase childless is it implies that our lives are somewhat diminished without having a child. I assure you my life is far from diminished..

As for the agrument of "you were once a child too" yeah,I know. I didn't like children much then either. Much of my childhood is blocked out of my mind anyway.

Whenever I am called selfish all I do is quote Oscar Wilde, "Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes them to live. And unselfishness is letting other people's lives alone, not interfering with them."

So if someone believes their life would be better with a child, all the more power to them. Just make sure you have the means and ability to take care of it as well as use discipline.

John Scalzi | August 25, 2005 01:00 PM

Irene:

"Also, we're not planning to murder small children."

Good, because I suspect LJ entries are admissible in court.

"It seems odd that no one has noticed that these communities are for ranting and getting issues off of their chests."

You're joking, right? It's abundantly clear they're designed for ranting. What you should probably know is that to those people who do not choose to get worked up about being childfree, a goodly number of the posts appear to be from people who are wildly bugfuck insane. Catharsis is one thing, but these people are binge cycle, not the purge cycle.

Now, this makes you no different from other groups with people really committed to their particular predominant lifestyle choice -- the only real difference between many of the posters at some of the "childfree" sites and many of the posters at, say, FreeRepublic.com is that they choose to get bugfuck insane about liberals instead of kids -- but it doesn't make many of these posts less whacko to the outside eye.

As I've noted any number of times, I don't think not having children -- or even not liking children -- is a crime, or even really notable in itself. And you don't have to be childfree to find bad parents contemptible (trust me). Nor would I say that all the people who frequent or post to childfree posts are foamingly unhinged.

But some of all y'all are, and I don't mind suggesting that they should be locked in a room with these idiotic "full quiver" people and left in there until walls are spattered with meat. Because I think people that out there about children -- in either direction -- deserve each other more than the rest of us deserve them.

Irene | August 25, 2005 02:08 PM

Sorry I can't address the person who wrote the last comment, my computer is having issues today.

"You're joking, right? It's abundantly clear they're designed for ranting."
I said that because it seems that most of the people here read childfree and act like that all the time. Many of the things that usually happened fairly recently so of course they're going to "get bugfuck insane."

John Scalzi | August 25, 2005 02:27 PM

I'm not sure I follow what you're saying in that last comment, Irene. Could you restate it? Elsewise I must assume my reading comprehension suddenly took a header.

John Scalzi | August 25, 2005 11:20 PM

uhhhh... I accidentally deleted four posts here, including one of my own. My sincere apologies to Irene and Stouthunter, who were the other posters affected. Please feel free to repost if you like.

[some lame-ass childfree dweeb] | August 25, 2005 11:48 PM

[deleted for extremely boring use of profanity]

John Scalzi | August 26, 2005 12:05 PM

Note to members of cf_hardcore or other childfree types who might wander by: Do at least try to be interesting when you drop your angry, angry comments. I grade on creativity. You may find my entry on how to write hate mail instructive. Please do be aware that I'm primarily looking to be entertained by you, so please don't disappoint. Unamusing comments may be deleted for their total lameosity (see above).

If you actually want to leave reasonable comments, that's fine, too.

Storuthunter | August 26, 2005 01:06 PM

No need to re post John. Except maybe the remark about having been on a bus full of screaming children and many of them are alive because of it. You are being reasonable by explaining the oops (pun fully intended CF people). In a more calm tone try this from my point of view. I've been in my field for over 25 years. When you've worked your hardest on a sick child only to him or her die it's tough. When you knew the child or the parents, the death was 100 % preventable with just a modicum of alertness it's worse. And to get called a hater by someone simply because I rant about this lack of care on a child free board (were I belong because I chose to not have children for many reasons) it's a real hot button.

The second point - read the messages on these boards rather than being hung up on the words.
The rants come from anger at poor care and uncorrected behaviors that often lead to injured children. Behavior is the issue, not the age. Acceptance of the responsibility of parenting is the other issue.

You're a writer. Writers by nature do research. One board where you can do some sans getting flamed for being a parent is http://p221.ezboard.com/btanglewood30694.
It's not a place I frequent but it's a place where you can hear both sides. I choose to rant and vent. They discuss.

One last snark: My main job is in health care yes. But all the EMT related things came not from a job but as a volunteer. No pay, just duty and responsibility. I do it not as a job but because I believe in community involvement. I don't have to do it, I could sit on my butt and take like many others. I could quit and never have to see an abused or injured child again. But I keep doing it because I can and do make differences in lives of both children and adults. Heck one kid I know even became a volunteer EMT. Not many of the parents who rant about the child free can say that!

John Scalzi | August 26, 2005 01:31 PM

Stouthunter:

Thanks for taking things down a notch.

You and I, I rather suspect, are of the same mind when it comes to bad parenting: Bad parents make for bad kids, and the number of parents who seem unable or unwilling to tend to their children is appalling -- and the number of those parents who get offended when it gets pointed out is equally appalling. Indeed, I've claimed common cause with the childfree on this matter here, where after some pro forma snark I say: "I will give the childfree folks credit for harping on one very important truth, which is that becoming a parent often turns people in assholes."

(For the record, I was an asshole before I was a parent.)

Parents who are trying to raise their children well, and to make them respectful of adults and their surroundings, are just as annoyed with the bad parents as non-parents are, I think -- and we're aware that the actions of these bad parents reflect on us as well. When I see non-parenting adults tense up when we're out with my daughter I know it's because they've had to deal with some other hellion whose parents were not paying attention (now, mind you, children have minds of their own and sometimes go off the leash no matter how good of a parent you are -- but a good parent, I think, does everything to make sure that when that happens it doesn't become someone else's problem).

So yeah: Bad parents suck. I try not to be one. And I can sympathize with unparents who complain about them, even if (in my point of view) they get a little carried away with it.

Also, to be clear: Snark aside, good EMTs are a treasure, and I do sincerely applaud your commitment to the role, particularly on a volunteer basis. One of my dearest friends (to whom I co-dedicated my most recent book) was a volunteer EMT for years, so I know something of the commitment it requires. Good on you for doing it, and good on you for choosing to be a role model.

Anonymous | August 28, 2005 03:16 PM

The second point - read the messages on these boards rather than being hung up on the words.
The rants come from anger at poor care and uncorrected behaviors that often lead to injured children.

That is so... not true. At all. Some of the recent comments on cf_harcore focus on wanting to kill a small infant because it's body-hugging a cat, wondering if the "risk of suffocation" warning on plastic bags can be put to practical use on neighborhood children, ubridled glee at punching a 14 year old boy in the face at a wedding, various ways to injure or poison children who are climbing on a fence, and a poster announcing (to much applause) that they helped to get a single parent fired from her job because she was having difficulty meeting her schedule due to child care issues.

None of this seriously has anything to do with the behavior of children or bad parenting, it has to do with the disturbed mental state of the cf_hardcore and childfree groups as a whole (some of whom have Child Protective Services on speedial, but not because they care about children at all. It's just a way to take revenge on children and families in toto). Most of the group's members unabashedly and vocally despise children of any age, and if you peruse the boards you will find post after post announcing "today I got to frighten/harass/strike a child!"

This is sick and unnatural behavior, indicative of living in a plasticized western imitation of society, and these particular inhabitants are so violently disassociated from their own humanity that they have come to view a normal biological function (pregnancy) as "hosting a parasite" and the gravid female body as "disgusting" and "grossly deformed".

I'd recommend shock treatment, but I take solace in the fact that most are on Prozac and are committed to not breeding. More humans of this stripe we do not need.

John Scalzi | August 28, 2005 03:25 PM

Anonymous writes:

"if you peruse the boards you will find post after post announcing 'today I got to frighten/harass/strike a child!'"

This would be the "wildly bugfuck insane" constituentcy I mentioned earlier.

Emilia Liz | September 2, 2005 01:38 PM

Mr. Scalzi, I hope you don't think that everybody with a "quiverful" mentality is like the Mohler jerk on the first link you posted. Some simply have come to the conclusion, for religious, personal or whatever reasons, that they want to have as many children as they are capable of having. They don't necessarily condemn people who don't share that view or practise it.

I personally have no problem with people being as "quiverful" as they wish if a.) they can financially afford the children they bear, b.) if they raise them to be responsible human beings, and c.) if they meet their emotional needs. I doubt many of the deliberately quiverful advocates would encourage a crack-addicted woman dependent on state welfare to have as many children as her body could pump out.

I know some quiverful families have been attacked - one example, the Duggars (15 - soon to be 16 - kids) in Arkansas. Not all of their attackers were childfree, mind you, though the family was routinely blasted on some of the childfree sites. The irony? From all first-hand accounts, the Duggar children are polite and well-behaved. It struck me that the childfree might actually like them if they met them!

katitrast | September 14, 2005 04:43 PM

hey ya'll! glad you're having fun. I'm a qf mom, and i'm not irresponsible, and my kids are WAY less obnoxious than those of families with only a few....but that's not my point. I'm writing because there seems to be some misconception here that qf families base their decision of anything atheist or agnostice, or even nominal "christians" could possible understand. Until you fully submit to your creator, you will NEVER understand, and will continue to be baffled and annoyed...sorry.

Emilia Liz | September 20, 2005 03:46 PM

I know some members of the quiverful crowd can sound extreme, but to my knowledge none of them have ever jumped with joy over the death of a childless individual or one who had decided to limit him- or herself to one or two children. That's quite unlike the childfree sites whose members are crowing over the death of Laci Peterson. Goodness, it's hard to imagine how anybody outside a mental institution could find Laci's murder humourous. Well, to each his or her own.

Katitrast, I hope you didn't misunderstand my post. I am sure your children are well-behaved and pleasant to be around, so as far as I'm concerned, have all the kids you want. In some ways I'm happy the quiverful people, most of whom seem to be concerned with good behaviour in their offspring, are having the number of children they do. The world needs more people like that! And I'd rather people like Katitrast or the Duggars reproduced than the childfree militants, who I think have done society a favour by removing themselves from the gene pool...

Emilia Liz | September 26, 2005 01:27 PM

I don't know if this has much to do with the existing discussion, but sometimes it strikes me that the supposed war between parents and the childfree is a minor schoolyard rumble compared to the battles of epic proportions being fought by parents with differing viewpoints. Example include spankers versus anti-spankers, early toilet trainers versus late ones, and so on and so forth. Would you ever care to write about that, Mr. Scalzi?

Emilia Liz | October 14, 2005 04:50 PM

I just am a little bit puzzled about some of the hardcore childfree types. If they dislike children so much, why do they spend so much time obsessing about them on their websites? In general, when I don't like something or someone, I try to avoid it/him/her and don't exactly relish engaging in lengthy conversations on said topic. To use an example, I don't like jazz. But there's an easy way to deal with that: I don't listen to the local jazz station; I decline invitations to jazz festivals; I've even left a bookstore after a few minutes when I couldn't stand the background music (I figured it was the store who was losing money, not me). I can't fathom why I'd waste time on an anti-jazz site on the Internet when I could be looking at much more interesting stuff.

Granted, I probably dislike bratty children (and not all children are bratty) as much as any childfree hardcore poster. But I'd rather spend my time discussing a more delectable topic.

Michael | December 26, 2005 09:20 PM

What a fascinating subject. I have found that those who had difficulty with their own childhood reflect that in their attitude toward children as adults. On the other hand those who continue to seek knowledge, as if through the open minded eye of a child, contribute to the greatness, and to the wonders we find in science. Children are the eyes of God. It is through them that we will find peace on earth and the answers to the universe.

Rebecca Adams | August 12, 2006 08:20 PM

I am a happily CF person, but I do have one major problem with many of the online CF boards, one in particular that shall remain nameless. The same people who vilify parents for being overly obsessed with their children drone on and on about their pets as if THEY were the center of the universe. More disturbingly, there is often 10 times more outrage about an animal being hurt or killed than if the same is done to a child (or any other human being). I remember one charming person remarking that they'd rather hit a kid accidently with a car than an animal! I mean, I'm not fond of kids, but come on. I feel this sort of attitude will only make the relationship between parents and non-childed people even more difficult and strained.

Mary | January 10, 2007 03:03 PM

I am surprised at all the hate aimed at people who prefer not to have children. I knew long before I was married that I never wanted to be pregnant or be a mother. I do not hate children. My husband has worked in education for over 30 years and is very good with small children. We have never regretted not being parents.

It seems like people talk more about the problems thay have with their kids than the joy of parenthood.

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