Some of the reasons why I am voting No
Some of the ideological reasons why am voting no and asking others to do so, tomorrow.
Everyone must be aware by now that the Supreme Court decided that the government illegally used public funding to push for a certain vote in the upcoming referendum. That doesn't surprise me, nor the fact that despite this they still consider running the referendum, even if the vote may have been prejudiced and compromised by that government action. I am well used to the disdain the powers-that-be have for the voting public.
However, even websites advocating a Yes vote that are not run by the government don't always tell it straight, and find a way to equivocate.
In the FAQs on one children's rights website, we are told this referendum will not lead to forced adoptions. Reading on it states that children can only be adopted by foster families after a period of 3 years of neglect etc by the birth family. In such cases the State would have the right to intervene and make an order for the children be adopted by the foster families, should they so wish. So this particular website chooses to interpret 'forced adoption' as meaning the foster families are not forced to adopt children, whereas I think for most people, we assume it to mean that parents might find their children taken from them and placed for adoption even if this is against the wishes of the said parents. Thus a Yes vote WILL facilitate 'forced adoptions'.
Another section of the same FAQs says that the UN Charter on children's rights will not be incorporated into the Constitution, which is true. However, when the courts have to decide what those rights are, as one commentator noted, it is highly probable they will refer to the same UN Charter on children's rights as a guide. Thus it will, in effect, become a highly significant document if there is a Yes vote.
One big problem with this referendum is the many and mixed motives of those behind it. I believe there are many who genuinely believe it is the best thing for children and have children's interests at heart. The problem is there are also many who are unfortunately wedded to antiquated Marxist dialectic ideology and see everything in these terms. In this scenario the parents become the 'oppressor' and the children the 'oppressed', to be liberated by Marxists ideologues from their parents. We can find shades of this flawed thinking in another children's campaign website in their policy statement ".... committed and to an Ireland where children are recognized and respected as full individuals within society..."
Now while that sounds very laudable, there is little accompanying explanation of what it means in practice. It is hardly a Constitutional issue, as children here are explicitly recognized as having imprescriptible rights, and even to have that protection extended before birth, something their counterparts in other European (and worldwide) countries would be extremely grateful for, were people willing to listen to their opinions. So children already have all the normal rights every citizen of the Irish state has, as well as extra recognition as children. The only exception is of course children born here after 2004, where the government encouraged another Yes vote, this time to strip those children of automatic citizenship which the Constitution had guaranteed them up to that date. One wonders why an amendment to overturn that amendment is not being included in the current referendum if the intention is really to enshrine children's rights.
So what is the change? I believe it is in the key phrase "... as full individuals..." What does that mean? Since children already have full status as citizens under our Constitution, it can only mean an attempt to place them on a more equal footing with adults, in the sense of being totally free to make their own decisions and choices in life. I can only briefly outline what is flawed in this thinking here:
I am all for children being able to grow and flourish into fulfilled adults, and for parents who provide as best they can the means and opportunities for them to do so. I believe parents should do their best to support children in their chosen career path, study, talents and so on. Yes, choice is important. But it is not a virtue in itself, without reference to what it is that we choose. And there are some important caveats.
Children are not adults. They do not have the life experience of adults. While there is no doubt adults can be manipulated and misled, children are much more vulnerable in this regard. They need the guidance of adults - primarily their parents - as to what the best choices to make are, and the discipline of their parents to support them through the many temptations of life. I'm sure if asked many children would far rather stay in bed and not go to school in the morning, not bother with exams, spend all day on the Xbox, eat only chocolate and pizza, smoke, drink alcohol and never go to bed. At least, until they are grown up enough to realize the serious consequences of those choices and when perhaps it is too late.
Adults - again, primarily parents - have the duty of ensuring that while children are encouraged and supported in growing in the manner most likely to benefit them for when they are adults. They sometimes have to oblige their children to do things those children don't want to do - homework, sleep, proper diet etc., - using encouragement, love and sanctions such as no TV etc., to try and ensure children do what is best for themselves.
Placing children on a more equal footing with adults in this regard is deeply flawed and is NOT in the best interests of the child. In fact it is directly opposed to it. A focus on children's right to make whatever choices they wish without a stronger stated acknowledgement of their parents' right to make important decisions on their behalf with the best interest of the child at heart, is flawed.
But it does fit into Marxist dialectic thinking and leave children far more vulnerable to being moulded by pressures and forces outside the family - ironically, including commercial pressures.