This week, shortly after being tapped to host the Oscars, Hollywood star Kevin Hart found himself on the wrong side of the woke social-justice warriors. His great sin: Years ago, he tweeted jokes referencing homosexuality. More egregiously, in 2010, he did a comedy bit in which he discussed not wanting his son, then five years old, to be gay. “One of my biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay,” Hart stated. “That’s a fear. Keep in mind, I’m not homophobic. . . . Be happy. Do what you want to do. But me, as a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will.”
The left-wing media machine immediately went to DEFCON 1: Hart was clearly a brutal homophobe. Never mind that no one had any evidence of Hart actually discriminating against gay people. Never mind that Hart is a comedian who makes things called jokes for a living. He sinned. He had to pay the price.
So, naturally, Hart both apologized and stepped down from the Oscars.
Now, there’s been a lot written about the puritanism of social media these days — the willingness to destroy people’s lives and reputations based on statements made years ago in jest, without nasty intent. But there’s a deeper problem many on the radical left have with Hart’s statements: He is imposing his own values on his child. This is a no-no. Parenting from a traditional values-based perspective is a threat to children, according to these radicals. And it’s oppressive to even parent from the perspective of trying to alleviate the possibility of future emotional and mental hardship — hardships that are far more likely if you are homosexual, to take the Hart example, for reasons both societal and personal. To say that you’d prefer your child to grow up attracted to members of the opposite sex, prepared for marriage and biological child-bearing and -rearing, learning and growing in your life with someone of the opposite sex, being a father joined to a mother, or a mother joined to a father — this is supposedly cruelty.
What’s more, trying to guide your child toward a happy life of heterosexuality is in and of itself a form of hate. As Brandi Miller, a columnist for the Huffington Post, writes: “The outrage over this is reasonable. In a society where LGBTQ youth are 120 percent more likely to be homeless, have higher rates of mental illness and risk of suicide, statements like Hart’s are not neutral in the present day — nor were they in the past.” The idea here is that the suffering of LGBTQ people is caused by the mere expression of preemptive preference for heterosexuality over homosexuality in one’s own child, before actual manifestation of sexual orientation. That’s absurd.
But it’s reflective of a broader view about parenting among certain members of the radical Left: Parents must never impose rules or values on children. The best parenting is no parenting at all. The most extreme version of this insanity manifests in stories about parents who have decided to raise their children with a “gender-neutral” approach, as though children are not born with a gender but have that gender imposed on them by society. According to this logic, sexual orientation is entirely biological, and parental attempts to guide sexual development in their children is repressive in the extreme — but sex itself is non-biological and must be left to develop on its own. This is illogical, but at least consistent: Parents, as the building block of a heteronormative, cisgender society, should surrender their authority.
Unfortunately, none of this makes for healthy child-rearing. Parents are the ones who are closest to their children and the best situated to raise them, and they have the most stake in doing so. Children require not only unconditional love from their parents, but rules and standards. Those rules and standards, learned over time and through history, help children grow and flourish. Parents don’t let children make their own decisions about nutrition, dress, health, or education. If they do, they’re bad parents. To suggest that parents should abandon their children to the whims of a society hell-bent on tearing down real, valuable standards and boundaries is to abandon children to the wolves.
Now, that doesn’t mean that parents should mistreat children who turn out to be gay or transgender. That would be a horrifying problem. But Hart suggested nothing of the sort — and he’s been excoriated anyway. His critics suggest that parents should, from birth, treat their children as though there were no preferences to be encouraged. That is an abdication of the role of parenting itself. Parents get things wrong. But a society that encourages parents to throw up their hands and let children run free through the obstacle course of life — and a society that punishes parents for parenting — is a society that is encouraging the failure of the next generation.