“How can you believe such things?” a concerned parent asked me. She had read that I believed girls should not be educated and that I abused children. Of course I don’t believe such things.
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This is a modern phenomena that I have been forced to understand. People today seem to trust the writings of self-proclaimed victims, and this concerned parent did with my daughter’s blog. Cynthia is an excellent writer (I taught her myself) who made these claims after I sent her to college (which I fully supported) to become a journalist (as she was already trained in undercover videography). She also claimed I beat my children every night, though she couldn’t come up with any evidence of anything close to her claim.
This is the life of the accused: You live with a hanging cloud above you that reminds everyone that you could be the unbelievable. And, unfortunately, people believe it. Like this parent.
It didn’t take long to convince her otherwise. The evidence is overwhelming that I am a strong advocate for the exact opposite of that which I’ve been accused. Let me specifically address these two accusations.
I Believe Girls Should Be Educated
I have never been taken more out of context than when I write about patriarchy. I’m a father of 16 children, a homeschool leader, and a conservative Christian. So, I guess I fit a stereotype: I’m a stiff-necked Pharisee who thinks women should stay in the kitchen and not in college.
My daughter made this claim as a 22-year-old student at the University of Colorado. You’d think the truth was rather obvious. And I’m one of the most well-known debate coaches who have elevated countless numbers of girls to championship level which escorted them into the highest of higher education. Check out the photo above which I took in 2012: I was the leader of the largest homeschool debate tournament in history, and there are plenty of girls in the mix.
As ridiculous as it appears, some still believe the accusation.
More so, I have even been a vocal critic of the patriarchy movement. My 5th most frequented blog post is where I came out in protest of nonsense like the under-education of girls (read Patriarchy Has Got to Go). I remember this article well, because I was one of the first homeschool leaders to publicly criticize the ideology (virtually all of us complained about it privately).
Perhaps you have no idea about patriarchy, and you don’t have to. It was an idea that was promoted by a few loud leaders and it fizzed out quickly when applied. My point is this:
To make the fallacious claim that I advocated the very thing that I openly criticized is the epitome of misrepresentation and deception.
My advice to the parent who so easily fell for the fabrication: Do not hold onto quips that pique your prejudices. To do so is to be played, used, manipulated. In this case, the defaming article against my family was clearly trying very, very hard to make us out to be mindless, submissive, patriarchal, unbelievable. The evidence was and is easy to prove otherwise.
I Envy the Loving Parent, not the Abusive
To her credit, this concerned parent conceded that, yes, I do believe in the education of girls. But she pivoted to another accusation “out there,” that of abuse. Again, she quoted an article written against me (from a blogger who does not know me nor anyone in my family, no doubt) — and, again, it involved context that turned a lie into a truth:
“I envy the abusive parent whose kids never lip off, or the hot-tempered boss whose employees just do as they say, or the fire-breathing pastor who beats their congregation up from the pulpit.”
This was a little tougher. Because, in fact, this was lifted from my very blog, a post I had written called Responding to Heartache. Reading this quote (taken out of context) makes it sound like I envied abuse, hot-tempers and beatings.
Good grief, must I even stand and explain this one?
Anyone who knows me, has ever met my children, or even spends a short few minutes in my home will know this to be a flat-out lie. These words were lifted like a jewel thief from the article where I openly criticized and condemned such abuse, hot-temper and beatings.
In other words, my entire article said the exact opposite of what was being attributed to me.
Like I said, this is the life of those of us who have the cloud of social shaming above us. We’ve been accused of the unbelievable. Once the finger is pointed at us, we spend the rest of our days in defense mode. And we wonder why people do not let the obvious truth guide them.
They Smear to Stop the Truth
When debaters get caught taking an author out of context, they typically lose the round. Sometimes they are disciplined at the tournament. Context in any debate — competitive, religious, political, personal — is the most important aspect to any legitimate argument.
People take others out of context in order to deceive. It makes easy mud to sling, setting the opponent up to be easily torn down, a straw man ready to light afire. It is meant to disparage and defame, to bring down the accused with falsities and fabrications. It sometimes works, which is a shame. And extremely destructive.
It sometimes takes a heart of steel to put pen to paper and write about difficult, controversial, harmful beliefs. I’ve done this many times, and I’m very proud of the positions I’ve taken. I believe in the impacts that I have made in the lives of others — and several of my other children have done the same (more evidence here and here).
The truth is most obvious: We are a family of educated men and women, boys and girls, who love and nurture one another to the great world ahead of us.
Such smears hinder the message that Wendy and I have in our family. Love in the House: Filling Your Home with the Greatest Commandment. It is a simple yet foundational message of love. To say otherwise is to smear and lie.
It is somewhat easy for our family to prove the straw man false. We are public, social, and friendly. We have a strong network of friends and community. I pity the family who doesn’t have such evidence, which is one reason I’m now writing against social smearing.