Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Breathtakingly crass propaganda by picture

This Comment is Free article, The Dark Side of Home Schooling by Katherine Stewart, claims that:

Several decades ago, political activists on the religious right began to put together an "ideology machine". Home schooling was a big part of the plan. The idea was to breed and "train up" an army of culture warriors. We now are faced with the consequences of their actions, some of which are quite disturbing.

According to the Department of Education, the home schooling student population doubled in between 1999 and 2007, to 1.5 million students, and there is reason to think the growth has continued. Though families opt to home school for many different reasons, a large part of the growth has come from Christian fundamentalist sects. Children in that first wave are now old enough to talk about their experiences. In many cases, what they have to say is quite alarming.

The article mainly consists of quotes from people who have posted at a website aimed at those who are unhappy with their home schooling. We hear that some of them have suffered from "depression, distrust of authority, and issues around sexuality." It concludes that "Families should be allowed to pursue sensible homeschooling options, but current arrangements have allowed some families to replace education with fundamentalist indoctrination." In other words it is a run-of-the-mill article that uses the spectre of every Guardian reader's favourite villains to protect the class interest of teachers at US state schools.

However, the picture the Guardian chose to illustrate the piece was out of the ordinary.

Commenter JohnCan45 says,

The accompanying photo of a shuttered home in Cleveland... reason? Perhaps the editor just mixed up a picture from this week's big story, but maybe they didn't. And that would be pretty cheap.
Seriously, that is the picture chosen to illustrate this article about home schooling. Go look at it now - it may change later. It shows a picture of a white clapboard house with the windows boarded up. And in case you didn't get what that meant, the caption says, "A house in Cleveland, Ohio. Photograph: Timothy A Clary/AFP".

It does not appear to depict the white clapboard house in Cleveland, Ohio with the windows boarded up in which three women were imprisoned, raped and brutalised for a decade and in which a child was born as a result of one of these rapes and lived her life in captivity. Oh, but, wait! The little girl was "home schooled". In other words, she received whatever scraps of knowledge about the outside world that her mother and the other enslaved women could give her in the same prison "home" in which she lived her whole life. That's your connection, there.

What estimate the Guardian makes of its readers can be judged by its evident belief that a smear by association of such crudity would work on them. The degree to which this estimate is correct can be judged by the readers' comments.

UPDATE: Commenter WDO has pointed out that, as predicted, the picture of "A house in Cleveland" has gone down the memory hole to be replaced by a picture of "a 1950s family at home."