Does reading to your children somehow give them an unfair advantage over less fortunate children?
A British philosopher is making that claim, and it’s causing ripple waves across the globe.
A story on the website of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s website asks: “Is having a loving family an unfair advantage?”
It raises the question: “Should parents snuggling up for one last story before lights out be even a little concerned about the advantage they might be conferring?”
“I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally,” British academic Adam Swift told ABC’s Joe Gelonesi.
“Evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don’t – the difference in their life chances – is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t,” Swift said.
In his article, Gelonesi added: “This devilish twist of evidence surely leads to a further conclusion that perhaps – in the interests of leveling the playing field – bedtime stories should also be restricted.”
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Swift is a professor of political theory at the University of Warwick in the U.K., and the co-author of “Family Values: The Ethics of Parent-Child Relationships.” He was educated at Harvard University and Oxford University in the 1980s.
American radio host Rush Limbaugh reacted to Swift’s ideas Tuesday, blasting him as “One wacko, one lunatic, one extreme leftist who is obsessed with this perverted definition of fairness and equality and who is determining that parents who can read to their kids at night are giving them an unfair advantage.”
“All of this is rooted in the idea that nobody should be any different – we should all be the same, we should all turn out the same,” Limbaugh continued.
“But, of course, we’re not all the same. Every damn one of us is unique. We are not like anybody else, by design and by definition. We all have different talents, characteristics, abilities, albatrosses, liabilities, differing levels of ambition. We have differing degrees of health, genetic codes … Nobody’s the same. And these people are obsessed, nevertheless, with enforcing uniformity on everyone, under this misguided notion of fairness and equality. It’s a bastardization of the word and definition of equality and fairness as well.”
Limbaugh concluded: “As liberals, the answer is not to help the kids who are not in good families. They become the lowest-common denominator. They become the baseline. Everybody must be made to be like them in order for everything to be fair and equal. The natural tendency of the left is to punish success, to punish achievement, to punish anything that they believe gives an unfair advantage.”