Think of the children

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"Think of the children" argument used in the United States Congress

"Think of the children" (also "What about the children?") is a phrase that became a strategy used when you are in an argument with someone.[1][2][3] Basically in its simplest use it can mean just children's rights, like for example talking about child labor problems.[4][5][6] But when this phrase is used in the middle of an argument, it can be used to try to make people feel emotional when thinking about the needs of children, and then to try and fool people into doing what they want because they might be scared that they do not want to harm children.[1][2][3]

The 2002 book Art, Argument, and Advocacy (2002) said that using this phrase replaced emotion instead of reason in the middle of an argument with someone.[1] Ethicist Jack Marshall wrote in 2005 that the phrase is so popular because it can stop people from behaving rationally especially when they are talking about morals.[2] "Think of the children" was used by censorship supporters to try to defend children from things they thought were dangerous to these young people.[7][8] The book Community, Space and Online Censorship (2009) wrote that calling children just babies in need of protection was a form of focusing too much on the concept of purity.[7] A 2011 article in the Journal for Cultural Research wrote that "Think of the children" was caused by people thinking too hard about telling everyone what to do and the difference between right-and-wrong.[9]

In popular culture[change | change source]

"Think of the children" as a phrase was used in the 1964 Walt Disney Pictures film Mary Poppins; where Mrs. Banks pleaded with her departing nanny not to quit and to asked her to "Think of the children!".[10] Its use was popularized through satire on the television program The Simpsons, beginning in 1996.[11][12] Character Helen Lovejoy pleaded: "Won't somebody please think of the children!"[13][14][15] during loud arguments in the town of Springfield on the TV show.[13][16][17]

Law professor Charles J. Ten Brink in the 2012 Georgia State University Law Review wrote that The Simpsons character Helen Lovejoy's use of "Think of the children" was a good form of parody.[13] The phrase's use was made fun of a lot when people used it in politics.[8] After it became popular on The Simpsons, use of the phrase was called "Lovejoy's Law",[15] the "Helen Lovejoy defence", the "Helen Lovejoy Syndrome",[18] and "think-of-the-children-ism".[19][20]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Meany, John; Kate Shuster (2002). Art, Argument, and Advocacy: Mastering Parliamentary Debate. New York: International Debate Education Association. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-9702130-7-5. OCLC 438996525.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Marshall, Jack (February 16, 2005). "'Think of the Children!': An Ethics Fallacy". Ethics Scoreboard. Alexandria, Virginia: ProEthics, Ltd. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Borschke, Margie (November 2011). "Rethinking the rhetoric of remix". Media International Australia incorporating Culture and Policy. University of Queensland, School of Journalism and Communication. 141: 17 – via InfoTrac.
  4. National Child Labor Committee (1914). "Mr. Coal's Story". The Child Labor Bulletin. Manhattan, New York. 3 (2): 39, 73. ISSN 0360-0823. OCLC 612770438.
  5. Boyce, Sara (2003). "Northern Ireland's Bill of Rights: A Children's Rights Perspective". ChildRIGHT. Children's Legal Centre (183). ISSN 0265-1459. OCLC 749128561.
  6. Perry, Bruce D. (2010). Willems, Jan (ed.). Children's Rights and Human Development. Maastricht Series in Human Rights. Intersentia. p. 498. ISBN 978-9400000322.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Beattie, Scott (2009). Community, Space and Online Censorship. Ashgate. pp. 165–167. ISBN 978-0-7546-7308-8.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Keenan, Edward (October 1, 2014). "Thinking of the children is no laughing matter". The Toronto Star. p. GT4 – via LexisNexis.
  9. Ferreday, Debra (2011). "Reading Disorders: Online Suicide and the Death of Hope". In Coleman, Rebecca; Ferreday, Debra (eds.). Hope and Feminist Theory. Routledge. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-415-61852-6.
  10. Laity, Kathryn A. (2013). "Chapter Nine: 'Won't somebody please think of the children?' The case for Terry Gilliam's Tideland". In Birkenstein, Jeff; Froula, Anna; Randell, Karen (eds.). The Cinema of Terry Gilliam: It's a Mad World. Directors' Cuts. Wallflower Press. pp. 118–119, 128. ISBN 978-0231165341.
  11. Cohen, David X. (1996). "Much Apu About Nothing". The Simpsons (Television episode). 20th Century Fox (published May 5, 1996). Event occurs at 4:23; 5:51; 6:21. Production code: 3F20; Episode no. 151; Season 7: Episode 23. Think of the children!
  12. Cohen, David; Matt Groening; Bill Oakley (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Much Apu About Nothing" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Ten Brink, Charles J. (Spring 2012). "Gayborhoods: Intersections of Land Use Regulation, Sexual Minorities, and the Creative Class". Georgia State University Law Review. Georgia State University. 28: 789 – via LexisNexis.
  14. Shotwell, Mikaela (Winter 2012). "Won't Somebody Please Think of the Children?!". The Journal of Gender, Race & Justice. Iowa City, Iowa: University of Iowa. 15: 141 – via LexisNexis. The Simpsons character Helen Lovejoy popularized this phrase.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Keenan, Edward (April 26, 2014). "'Won't somebody please think of the children!'; The Simpsons has taught us not to trust anyone who stoops to use the corruptibility of children to advance a political argument". The Toronto Star. p. IN2 – via LexisNexis.
  16. Patrick, Jeremy (December 2, 2000). "Don't forget, GLBT people have children, too". Lincoln Journal Star. Nebraska. p. B5 – via LexisNexis.
  17. *Kitrosser, Heidi (May 2011). "Symposium: Presidential Influence Over Administrative Action: Scientific Integrity: The Perils and Promise of White House Administration". Fordham Law Review. Fordham University School of Law. 79: 2395 – via LexisNexis.
  18. Hunt, Carol (January 5, 2014). "Don't use our children as shields to protect status quo; The Helen Lovejoy argument against gay adoption is simply discrimination in a 'caring' guise, writes Carol Hunt". Sunday Independent (Ireland). Independent Newspapers Ireland Limited. p. 27 – via LexisNexis.
  19. *Penny, Laurie (January 17, 2011). "This divorce tax is emotional terrorism". New Statesman – via HighBeam Research.
  20. Bruenig, Elizabeth Stoker (June 30, 2014). "Clutch your pearls and think of the children". First Things. Archived from the original on September 16, 2014. Retrieved May 2, 2015.

Other websites[change | change source]