‘I’ve seen the village:’ the most anti-communitarian bumper sticker I’ve ever seen

I couldn't find the sticker, but I found a similar T-shirt...

Sometimes, at a red light, I have time to whip out my phone and get a shot of a bumper sticker or something in front of me that I want to share. Over the weekend, I’m sorry to say, I never got the chance. I wish I could have.

I found myself in traffic behind an SUV with a large variety of bumper stickers on it, positing the kinds of juxtapositions of attitudes that leave me scratching my head. There was a Romney/Ryan sticker, which is pretty generic. Then there were the Confederate flag stickers, combined with a couple of different Christian symbols.

And I found myself wondering for the thousandth time at least why those particular things go together in some people’s minds.

Then there was the below sticker, which starkly displays one of the unpleasant characteristics of modern political argument: the assumption that if your adversary hold attitude A, he also embraces completely unrelated attitude B.

My own answer to the question, apparently posed by this website, would be “no.” First, I couldn’t be any more opposed to abortion on demand than I am already. And second — well, clinical killing makes my blood run cold more than gun violence does. I’ve written in the past that if I were to be executed and were given a choice — two things not likely to happen (I hope), but bear with me — I would opt for firing squad. That would not be nearly as horrifying to me as lethal injection, the most cold-blooded manner of killing humanity has ever devised, because it is so clean and clinical and dispassionate (and also because it perverts procedures that should be about saving lives).

Finally, there was the bumper sticker I really want to write about. Unfortunately, although I was able to find the abortion sticker online, I can’t find this one — although I’ve found some similar ones. (Fortunately, after I wrote this, alert reader Scout found the one at right, which I think is the one I saw. If not, it’s very close.)

It had far too many words jammed into way to small a space (maybe 6-8 inches wide by 4 or 5 deep). And even though, at an intersection, I managed to get within about 10 feet, I only got to see the biggest words. There were as follows: Near the top, it said “I’ve seen the village.” Near the bottom, with a bunch of tiny words in between, it said “Homeschool.”

Since nothing else on the sticker was legible at a pretty close distance, one is left to assume that to its author, and to the person who chose to put this on the back of his or her vehicle, the words I quote were sufficient as a message. (The similar stickers and T-shirts I’ve found simply say, “I homeschool because… I’ve seen the village and I don’t want it raising my children!”)

And of course, in their minimalist way, those few words speak volumes.

Hemingway has been quoted as saying the key to great writing is knowing what to leave out. And that’s where the power lies here. The village is not described. The speaker doesn’t bother to tell us what his objection is to the village. We are left to assume that the objection is something fundamental, something that lies on a lowest-common-denominator sort of plain. Something you could tell at a glance, and know you don’t want to have anything to do with it.

There’s an implication of “‘Nuff said.” You, the reader, are supposed to know exactly what the sticker’s writer means. And of course, if you are “right-minded,” you are expected to respond with some family-friendly version of “Damn’ straight.”

There is an assumption here that certain things are just to be understood, things that fully explain why this African proverb is being so categorically rejected. One is invited to speculate that this parent only had to walk into a public classroom once, and then walked out knowing he didn’t want his children being a part of that.

We all know what that sounds like, don’t we?

But aside from the assumption to which we are invited to leap, the thing that really gets me is the extent to which this utterly and absolutely rejects the very notion of a community, a place where we share our lives and share some responsibility for the environment in which all of our children grow up. In other words, another way to read it is that the parent didn’t even bother checking out the public school, but simply looked around at society — at all of us reading the bumper sticker — and rejected us all.

I’m very, very accustomed to the fact that in this world, in this village, the libertarian messages — those that reinforce I, me, mine -outnumber the communitarian ones a million to one. In fact, “It takes a village to raise a child” is just about the only communitarian message that nearly everyone has heard. (Probably the only one better known would be “We’re all in this together.” Which, as you’ll recall, I was pleased to hear Bill Clinton say in his speech at the Democratic Convention in Charlotte last month. It’s one of those truisms we don’t hear nearly often enough.)

So that puts this sticker in a very special category. Most statements in support of radical individualism tend to ignore that such a thing as a community even exists. This is the only sticker I think I’ve ever seen that specifically says, I’ve seen the community, and I am categorically, absolutely rejecting it.

So it was my very first truly anti-communitarian bumper sticker, to the best of my recollection.

... but this isn't the bumper sticker I wanted to talk to you about.

93 thoughts on “‘I’ve seen the village:’ the most anti-communitarian bumper sticker I’ve ever seen

  1. Brad

    Oh, by the way, before someone starts yelling at me about the wrong thing… I’ve got nothing against homeschooling. People can have all sorts of legitimate reasons why they do that.

    What I have a problem with is the reason that THIS person gave…

    1. Rachel Propes

      I respect your fear of the breakdown of community with ideas you seem to perceive. I don’t think you’ve got it right, though. Painting opinions with broad strokes is always the sloppiest… We all grew up seeing homeschoolers on the fringes of society, an odd crowd of unsocialized youngsters we doubted could ever survive outside of their own homes. With the immense growth of homeschooling and the reasons why people homeschool, that has changed. Homeschooling parents do not reject their communities. Most homeschooling families around the country are incredibly active not only in their church communities, as you would expect, but also in sports and community activities like scouts, 4-H, etc. Homeschooling has become so vast in numbers that the homeschool community is a community itself. Cities with community centers offer Homeschool P.E. classes during the day and find them full. More often than not, I have come to learn in past years that it wasn’t the parent that rejected the “village” school that brought them to try and choose homeschooling, but the opposite. Schools are crammed full and over-stressed to put it mildly. If you add in a child with certain kinds of learning issues, disabilities, illnesses, etc. it is like an implosion. Our children are being REJECTED by the “village” and sent away, told to look elsewhere for education. Tell me it isn’t true and I will tell you my tale. Then I will tell you dozens more and that is only the beginning. Once we are rejected, we find ourselves free and we put our other children in homeschooling as well. Our children are safe, extremely well-educated, kind, decent and generous people. And so our population continues to grow and we are our own village within the village. We try to reach out and spread kindness and understanding and hopefully bring some of that back to the greater village. Don’t you see? It has nothing to do with selfishness.

  2. Doug Ross

    “a community, a place where we share our lives and share some responsibility for the environment in which all of our children grow up. ”

    And there’s the crux of the argument against communitarianism. Share means to participate equally. We don’t have that in our communities, especially in our schools. In our communities some give a lot, some give a little, and some don’t give anything back. We are expected (actually legally required) to “share” regardless of what the other participants do.

    Do you really think a parent who makes the decision to homeschool “didn’t even bother checking out the public school”? While there may be challenges in terms of social skills, what other downsides are there to homeschooling? While we sent our three kids thru 13 years of public schools in Richland 2, I can see the advantages to homeschooling if you have the time and energy to do it. Some of those “villagers” include bullies, drug users, racists, etc. Some of those village parents will freak out if you bring a Christmas cookie into the classroom. If you as a parent have strong religious beliefs, why would you want to have your kids exposed to an environment that rejects those beliefs?

    The village concept is pie-in-the-sky idealism divorced from reality. There are people who excel and people who do not. Any community experience that doesn’t demand equal participation isn’t a village.

  3. Juan Caruso

    People can have all sorts of legitimate reasons why they do that [homeschooling].

    Brad, your wording harkens back to ‘legitimate rape’. Whatever could make homeschooling legitimate in your communitarian mind?

    “Communitarianism was supposed to be a third way, neither liberal nor conservative, that charted a new course for philosophy and politics. But as this primer suggests, it has become a collection of meaningless terms, used as new bottles into which the old wine of liberalism and conservatism is poured. Community means one thing if you are a conservative and another if you are a liberal–the same with civil society, and even bowling. Call it politics as usual.” – Frank Zakaria, “The ABCs of Communitarianism”, Slate.com, July 26, 1996

  4. Steve Gordy

    Your comment about the multiple bumper stickers espousing a variety of positions reminds me that on a recent trip to Columbia, I spotted two flagpoles just outside Batesburg-Leesville. One flew the Tea Party’s “Don’t Tread on Me” banner, the other the Confederate battle flag. I suppose you could say it was a state’s rights advocate, but that’s another kettle of fish.

  5. Karen McLeod

    And those homeschooling for this reason, think their children won’t be influenced by friends,music,TV, and internet?

  6. Mark Stewart

    Why varnish the truth? Modern homeschooling is about parental fears – fears of the unknown, the other, society, religious tolerance, racial harmony etc. It’s a delusional belief that one is silo-ing virtue. Call it what it is.

  7. bud

    I just had an interesting thought. I think this is on-topic with the spirit of communitarinism in that it relates to government mandates. Seems to me the whole broad issue of reproductive fertility is a legitimate grounds for this type of discussion. It has been argued that it is a matter of religious freedom for the Catholic Church to opt out of the provision to pay for birth control. Not sure why that would be outside the scope of communitarianism since it is in the public interest to ensure unwanted pregnancies are prevented. That is especially true given the staggering burden of overpopulation.

    In a related matter should it also be a religious issue if some church wants to opt out of provisions to provide fertility treatments? If so in what medical procedures would we draw the line between good communitarian policy and where religion should rule? Not sure how you can square communitarianism with religious freedom. The two seem utterly incompatable.

  8. Brad

    Yes, Scout, I think that’s the very bumper sticker that I saw.

    And Steve — thanks for mentioning the snake flag, because that was one of the stickers, and I forgot to mention it.

    And THAT was the one, even more than the TWO Confederate flag stickers, that seemed to me most jarring amid the various expressions of Christian belief. What on Earth is “Christian” about identifying yourself as a rattlesnake, and warning the world “Don’t Tread on Me”?

    I need to go back and add that to the post…

  9. Kathryn Fenner

    Mark, I worked with some juveniles who really needed more hands on attention and freedom from negative peers than the public schools could give them and their parents could not afford private schooling. Online high school, at home, allowed them to graduate on this side of the fence.

  10. Doug Ross


    “Why varnish the truth? Modern homeschooling is about parental fears – fears of the unknown, the other, society, religious tolerance, racial harmony etc.”

    Mark – are you saying the public schools display religious tolerance and racial harmony? Neither of those concepts is on display in the public schools my kids have attended. In fact, a local elementary school had ONE PARENT who objected to some other parents wearing t-shirts from our church when they provided free donuts to parents at the school. No sermonizing was going on, no “recruiting”. Just a small “community” of church members looking to do a good deed. That’s the type of religious tolerance that we have in public schools today.

    As for racial harmony, stop by a high school lunchroom in a mixed race school and tell me how many mixed groups of whites/blacks you see sitting together.

  11. Doug Ross

    Oh, and to be clear, that one parent who complained to the district office was able to force the district to go to the pastor at our church to tell him to get our members to stop wearing church t-shirts when serving the donuts.

  12. Doug Ross


    How are public schools doing on preventing the internet, friends, music, etc. from influencing students?

    Regardless of the type of school, it comes down to parenting. You think there are a lot of home schooled kids hanging out at Five Points on Friday night? Or should we applaud those kids for getting right into the middle of the “real world”.

  13. Karen McLeod

    Yes, Doug, it does. And that what makes home schooling for that reason such an dysfunctional choice. If you parent well at home, your child will probably do fine in school or at home. If you parent poorly, your child is unlikely to succeed in either place.

  14. Brad

    And I have to say, I wonder what sort of teacher, and parent, a person who has both Christian symbols and a “Don’t Tread on Me” snake flag on his car would be.

    I think that confused person would be the sort of teacher whose class I’d want to transfer out of on the first day.

    Of course, if that was my parent, and that was the only class I was allowed to attend, I’d really be out of luck, on multiple levels…

  15. Brad

    Y’all ever transfer out of a class on the first day? I did, once.

    Actually, my wife and I did. We decided to take an upper-level English class together (shortly after we met, while students at Memphis State), an elective in American literature.

    The professor had a really maddening speech tick: She would add an “-a” or “-uh” sound at the end of words ending in a consonant — like Lawrence Welk or vaudeville performer trying to sound Italian. And it wasn’t subtle — she really punched the sound, making it louder than the rest of what she was saying. She didn’t have an accent or anything. It was just an odd personal idiosyncrasy.

    That, and she had a bizarre fixation on Walt Whitman. Yes, it’s a good thing for an American lit prof to be into Whitman, but we could tell immediately that she took it WAY beyond what you’d expect. She was like the guy in one of my history classes who would always raise his hand and ask a question (or worse, deliver an opinion) having to do with some esoteric point about American Indians — which never had ANYTHING to do with the topic at hand. Only with her, it was Walt Whitman.

    I particularly remember one thing she said during that one class. It went like this… she said it with great relish and excitement, and like she expected us to be just as thrilled: “And I’m very pleased to tell you that Mr. Walt Whitman-AH! will be with us this semester-UH!”

    And I’m like, Really? You going to personally dig him up and drag him in here?

    I wouldn’t have put it past her. She was like a literary stalker.

    We switched to a class taught by a guy who had a wider-ranging appreciation of American literature. Bonus: When he was growing up, his family had employed a maid who once worked for the Fitzgeralds, and would tell him stories about Scott and Zelda. The stories were entertaining, and he told them as by-the-way light entertainment, not as some sort of personal obsession…

  16. bud

    While it is true that good parenting is important it is also no guarantee of a good outcome by the child. And it is certainly no panacea the way Doug proclaims. Just parent well and all will be right with the world. In a world as diverse and dangerous as ours there is nothing that will make a child’s life turn out the way it’s suppossed to. Just so a show about Amish kids who have abandoned that way of life. The result is a bunch of kids who turned into drunks. No guarantees my friend. Luck really does come into play.

  17. Doug Ross


    So basically you are opposed to people doing what they think is best for themselves and their families unless they choose to buy into communitarianism (i.e. government) programs.

    I went to public schools. My wife went to public schools. Both our extended families went to public schools. All our nieces and nephews go to public schools. Public schools are what they are – a mixed bag of good and bad teachers, good and bad kids, and good and bad parents.

    I like a nice big yard where the dogs can run around. I like not having neighbors right on top of us (been there, done that). I like having a pond across the street. I like driving into a neighborhood where the residents all keep their yards in nice condition. I like the fact that I can leave my house, drive into town and go to the post office, library, and grab some lunch and still be back home in 15 minutes.

    For some reason you think everyone else needs to accept your version of the world as the only way to live. Why is that? Do you need validation for the choices you’ve made? Does it bother you when others make different choices and appear to be very happy?

    I’m not asking you to change your lifestyle to match mine, why are you so concerned when others make personal choices that have no impact on you? How does a parent choosing to home school impact you in any way? The parents are still paying taxes for those who want to send their kids to public school. Who is harmed?

  18. Doug Ross


    Have you been a good parent or a lucky parent? More of one or the other?

    When you were making choices on raising your children did you do what you thought was best or what you thought society thought was best?

  19. bud

    My biggest problem with the communitarian philosophy is that it’s central tenant is based on the use of force to compel people to do (or not do) something. Folks should have the freedom to choose the activities they feel are important to them. Having a government entity make those decisions is abhorent to every fiber in my being.

  20. Doug Ross

    And Brad, I’d be interested on hearing your opinion on whether communitarianism is about shared contributions or not. Is the only way to enforce communitarianism through taxes?

  21. Brad

    Doug: “So basically you are opposed to people doing what they think is best for themselves and their families unless they choose to buy into communitarianism (i.e. government) programs.”

    Nothing I’ve written said, implied, hinted, or meant that.

    Bud: “My biggest problem with the communitarian philosophy is that it’s central tenant is based on the use of force to compel people to do (or not do) something.”

    To repeat myself… Nothing I’ve written said, implied, hinted, or meant that.

    Do you guys have to work at misunderstanding me to this extent, or do I really not write clearly? None of this is as complicated as you want to make it.

    This is a pretty straightforward point I’m making: A person has to be really, truly antisocial, to despise society SO much, to think it is SO horrible, that they really, truly believe that all they have to say to make you understand the statement that they are trying to make is, “I’ve seen the village.”

    Now, I’ll probably get a lecture from Doug on how this person is not obliged to explain his choices to me, to which I will reply, Doug, I never asked this person to explain himself to me. He went WAY out of his way to do so. He pushes his explanations in my face, by putting tacky stickers all over his vehicle. And he believes that “I’ve seen the village” is a complete, fully explanatory statement to make me understand this personal decision that he is insisting I pay attention to.

    And THAT is what is wrong, and THAT is what the post is about.

  22. bud

    Have you been a good parent or a lucky parent? More of one or the other?

    I’ve made my share of mistakes but I damn sure tried to do a good job. But what if one of my mistakes had made a big difference? Would that still count as bad parenting? All I’m saying is life is full of difficult choices and sometimes we choose wrong. Even if we’re trying to do our best.

  23. bud

    Nothing I’ve written said, implied, hinted, or meant that.

    Sorry Brad but a whole lot of what you write most certainly does imply just exactly that. Otherwise you’d be at the head of the line endorsing the end of Blue Laws and the legalization of Marijuana.

  24. Brad

    If the community wants to legalize dope, it should do that. If the community wants to have Blue Laws, it should. Both are things that should fall within the reach of community standards.

    Only if a compelling national interest is clearly involved should there be any overriding federal consideration. For instance, drug trafficking could be tangled up in national security issues, thereby creating a compelling national interest. Otherwise not.

    Just spitballing here…

  25. Brad

    By the way, in hunting for that bumper sticker (which Scout managed to find when I couldn’t), I ran across a real head-scratcher. Check out this one, which says, “Homeschool,” and then under that, “because it builds a village to raise a child.”


    OK, that one could actually be construed as PRO-community, if I understand it correctly. That is, if the intent is to say, “By homeschooling, I’m raising a kid to be a great citizen who will help build the community.”

    Nice, if that’s what it means. But it’s rather obliquely worded, so I’m not sure…

  26. bud

    Sigh. It’s such a simple point to understand and I guess you either get it or you don’t. If the community sets standards that are enforceable by law then those standards become a restriction of freedom. Sometimes those restrictions serve an important community safety goal. An example of this would be to limit drunk driving. But once you start to make other rationales (such as a vague desire to provide the community with a day of rest from commerce) to restrict freedoms then communitarianism becomes a draconian and unwelcome part of the community. Clearly Blue laws serve no safety goal but rather serve only to cross the line into a sort of majority-based tyranny. Do we really want more tyranny in the world? I say not just no but HELL NO!

  27. Juan Caruso

    Just a guess, Brad, but your “head-scratcher” appears a rejection of Obama’s “you didn’t build that” speech by some self-reliant, hardworking conservatives who have divorce themselves from the declining standards of public education in the 3Rs, as well as the abundant cultural propaganda that supplants history and science these days (e.g. global warming).

  28. Jesse S.

    Reading Brad’s post I thought he was pretty clear.

    If the city of Cayce’s water treatment plant blew up, would you put a bumper sticker on your car saying, “I’ve seen the swamp water in Cayce. I drink Dasani!”?

  29. Scout

    My issue with the bumper sticker is similar to Karen’s. If people who home school for this reason have a problem with the village, where exactly do they think their kids are gonna live and work and interact after they graduate from the home? Sounds like glorified denial. Do they think if they go la, la, la and stick their fingers in their ears, they will never have to deal with the village they hate. Their kids will learn to deal with and navigate the evil village with their guidance a lot better if they are at least exposed to it.

    There are reasons to homeschool that I would respect. But this one doesn’t make much sense.

    When I was looking for the bumper sticker, I had to read a lot of annoying ones. The unschooling ones are far more annoying to me.

    I have dropped out of a class on the first day. It was some kind of ethics/philosophy course where you were going to have to take a position on a controversial topic and orally argue your position. If I could have written my position, I’d have been fine – not so much with the public speaking.

  30. Burl Burlingame

    Oddly, I was just thinking about homeschooling the other day. I met a family in which the kids are home schooled, and the first thing I asked was how their peer socialization skills are progressing.
    “Oh, we get the kids in social settings all the time!” chirped the mother.
    Such as?
    “Every Sunday, they attend Bible class with other home-schooled kids! That’s all they need!”

    The response, cheerful and well-meaning as it was, gave me the willies. It would be like growing up in a cave guarded by trolls.

    I suspect homeschooling is primarily aimed at KEEPING a rounded education from kids, and to create a tribal social view of the larger society.


    Oh, BTW, speaking of mixed messages, I saw a pickup the other day with two bumper stickers. One read HONK IF YOU LOVE JESUS, and the other read SHOW YOUR TITS!


  31. Brad

    I love that bumper sticker, Scout! That’s what tends to be missing in all this — a sense of humor.

    As for those “mixed messages,” maybe this was a member of a sort of Christian/fertility cult. You know, like us Catholics…

    Once, years ago, I was thinking that were I not a Judeo-Christian kind of guy — starting out Protestant, becoming Catholic, sort of wishing that we’d stayed Jewish the way the church was before St. Paul — that the kind of religion in which I’d be most comfortable would be a fertility cult.

    But then I thought: Hey, I’m in one! I’ve been satisfied ever since…

  32. Kathryn Fenner

    I know of several homeschooled kids who do get a very varied experience. Their parents are very well-educated and feel that they can offer their children a richer experience. The kids volunteer at social service agencies, go to museums and the like, and generally have a Montessori experience. Far from the Luddite, hermit approach this bumper sticker advocates.

  33. Brad

    Aw, gee, Bud, hasn’t somebody already had that talk with you?

    Seriously, it’s a religious sect that concerns itself chiefly with promoting reproduction, of plants, animals and/or humans. We’re talking mainly pagan things here, often involving worship of a fertility god or goddess such as Aphrodite.

    Here’s a dictionary definition. You might also want to explore these Britannica entries.

    I was sort of being facetious about Catholicism being a fertility cult, but sort of not, since we’re about promoting the continuum of life, celebrating and honoring the reproductive process, and opposing interference in that process, particularly violent interference.

    We just don’t get to have the orgies like the pagan fertility cults. Those folks knew how to party.

  34. bud

    Ok. I guess this is one more reason to dislike Catholicism. The last thing we need is an organization promoting reproduction. In a world filled with 7 billion souls there just is not practical need for that. If we returned to the 2% annual population growth rate that existed in the 1950s the weight of humanity would exceed that of the earth in about 450 years. Don’t need to go there. Indeed we need to have more not less interference in the human reproductive process. But I will acknowledge violent interference is not a good thing.

  35. Steven Davis II

    @Burl – “I suspect homeschooling is primarily aimed at KEEPING a rounded education from kids, and to create a tribal social view of the larger society.”

    Really??? Obviously you haven’t done much research on home schooling. For example, there are players on a local high school football team that are home schooled, also in the high school band.

    People outside your comfort zone aren’t as closed minded as you want them to be.

  36. Steven Davis II

    @Burl again – As an example, the top academic graduate from USC-Aiken a few years ago was home schooled. It’s not exactly just Riten and Rithmatic until you graduate from the 6th grade then put behind a mule on the back 40.

  37. Steven Davis II

    @Burl for a 3rd time – “One read HONK IF YOU LOVE JESUS, and the other read SHOW YOUR TITS!”

    I hope your were a courteous Islander and did both.

  38. Steven Davis II

    ” If we returned to the 2% annual population growth rate that existed in the 1950s the weight of humanity would exceed that of the earth in about 450 years.”

    bud, do you really think man will still be around in 450 years? The way we’re going at it we’ll be lucky to survive the next 100 years.

    Or if we keep getting fatter, we’ll surpass the weight of the earth in another five years. It’s scary looking at pictures of grade school kids 20 years ago and compare them to the same age kids today. Kids shouldn’t weigh 100 pounds until middle school, now we have kindergarten kids who weight that much.

  39. Steven Davis II

    @Burl – I believe they just have to live within the school district. The same goes for any extra-curricular activities available at the school.

    I’ve heard that its not uncommon for these “home schoolers” to have several “teachers”. If Dad Jones is better at math than Mom Johnson than several home schoolers might go sit at Dad Jones’ dining room table for math class.

  40. Doug Ross


    They can also participate in band, drama, and other activities. You know, the activities that their parents tax dollars pay for.

  41. Doug Ross

    From AndrewSullivan.com today:

    ” According to the (CNN) survey, just four in 10 registered voters believe the government should promote traditional values, down from 53% in 2010 and 57% in 2008.

    “Between 1993, when CNN began asking that question, and last year, a majority of respondents have always said that the government should promote traditional values. Now, for the first time, more than half say the government should not favor any particular set of values,” adds Holland.

    CNN also sees an increase in skepticism of government intervention in general:

    Six in 10 say the government is doing too much that should be left to individuals and businesses.

    So it looks like there might be a boom market for the “I’ve seen the village” bumper stickers.

    That’s the thing that baffles me… how some people can completely ignore the reality going on around them. Most people think there is too much government. It’s obvious. The view that government needs to do more is actually the minority position.

  42. Kathryn Fenner

    So, Doug, since I don’t have any kids and pay even more taxes because of it, can I play in the band?

  43. Brad

    One, this is about the whole community being denigrated, not government.

    But since you want to talk government… Two, who is talking about “government doing more?” We’re talking here NOT about government doing something new and additional. We’re talking about that core function of government on the state level, public education. Rejecting that isn’t rejecting new governmental functions; it’s a radical position against a function CONSERVATIVES have honored from time immemorial.

  44. Steven Davis II

    @Kathryn – How do you pay more property tax because you don’t have kids?

    I guess if you meet the qualifications, sure you can be in the band. Are you willing to go back to high school or be home schooled?

  45. Doug Ross


    No, I’m not. That’s what liberals do. I conflate the village with all things non-government. Too many people define the village as the accumulated tax dollars spent on other people. My “village” is very well defined: family, friends, co-workers, church members, charities I support.

  46. Doug Ross


    If you aren’t asking the government to do more, then why do you want to raise sales taxes to pay for other people’s bus service? Is that not “more”? Are you satisfied that current funding for schools is sufficient or do you think there should be “more” spending?

  47. Doug Ross


    Not sure I understand your question. Do you think you should be allowed to participate in high school activities? Or should they be limited to the high school age children of taxpayers?

    Is there any valid reason to prevent homeschool kids from participating in the extra-curricular activities of their local school or do you have to buy into the full program to have access?

  48. Kathryn Fenner

    I’m facetiously suggesting that your standard that the “parents’ tax dollars” pay for things, therefore….means that either nonparents shouldn’t have to pay taxes or that we should get something, too, since an educated populace in general doesn’t seem to be enough for you.

  49. Jennifer Fitz


    I’m not sure I buy your line of reasoning. Because the conclusion seems to be, “Whatever the community values, it must be right.” And that just doesn’t line up.

    Surely somewhere, sometime, there has existed a community whose values were ones you wouldn’t want your children immersed in, day in and day out? That it might be preferable to homeschool (were it a choice) than to send your children to learn those values?

    –> The owner of the sticker may well have misjudged the community. Perhaps the village isn’t so bad, and the parent’s concern is misguided. But I think you have to make your argument on those grounds (“Village is just fine, thank you”), and not on the grounds that it is always and everywhere wrong to reject the values of the community.

    That said, I can appreciate the sting. The sticker is, after all, an apparent rejection of *your* values. OTOH, probably this person is not such a good fit for the PTA anyhow.


    [FYI for those who wonder, my family homeschools not out of terror of mixing with Brad’s grandchildren, but because we want to hog all the library books.]

  50. Doug Ross

    No, I am suggesting that all taxpayers should have access to all the government services available to them. There is no reason to deny access. There is no burden on the schools to allow homeschooled kids to participate in extracurricular activities.

  51. Brad

    Jennifer, I sort of doubt that you have a sticker like that.

    As I said above, people can have all sorts of good reasons to homeschool, or put their kids in private school. Set aside the issue of homeschooling altogether, in fact, because “I’ve seen the village” is a statement independent of that. Since it is not specific as to what the problem is, it tells us the person hates everything about the village. And we are supposed to know EXACTLY what the person means, since, once again, he or she does not elaborate. It’s a case of, “Well, LOOK at it! I ask you, would you want YOUR kids raised by THAT village?”

    That’s the problem here — the nonspecific and therefore comprehensive denigration of the community.

  52. Jennifer Fitz

    Ah, gotcha. That makes more sense. I’m sure it’s obvious to the anti-villager what the problem is, but you’re right, the rest of have no idea.

    And no, I own no such sticker. The best we’ve managed for car-decorating is one Backpacker (store) sticker. But I am appreciative of all the people who give me a head’s up on what I can expect. Spares me all kinds of trouble.

  53. Scout

    Really Doug, you are not conflating the village with the government here:

    ” Six in 10 say the government is doing too much that should be left to individuals and businesses.

    So it looks like there might be a boom market for the “I’ve seen the village” bumper stickers.”

    If you define the village as everything non-government then why do you imply that that 60% who think government is doing too much would also like the “I’ve seen the village” bumper stickers? Seems like that 60% would like your supposed village.

  54. Burl Burlingame

    In MY day, kids, participating in school sports was an earned privilege, not a community right. You had to do things like maintain a high-enough grade-point average.

    Also, if parents are banding together to teach each others’ kids in home-schooling classes, aren’t they, by default, creating the social memes of their own “village”?

    These parents who are so great at teaching math — do they continue doing it when their own kids “graduate”?

    As I said above, it’s tribal behavior. And will not prepare children for adulthood in a cosmopolitan community.

  55. Doug Ross


    Scratching my head at your logic.

    If 60% of the people think the remaining 40% are not people they want to associate with, then it would make sense to avoid that 40% whenever it is possible.

    Do you hang out at Tea Party meetings? They’re only 10% of the population. Yet you’ve seen their “village” and don’t want to live there.

    Public schools are a mix of all types. If you have a choice to avoid the types you don’t want influencing your kids, there’s nothing wrong with that.

  56. Steven Davis II

    @Burl – It’s still the same today, students have to maintain a certain GPA and also not have more than X-many days of absence during the last grading period.

  57. Brad

    Near as I can tell, they’re in exactly the same location. The only place I’ve seen either one is on the grounds on the north side of the State House…

  58. Brad

    Burl, as to your question…

    There was a policy when I was in the newsroom. Of course, I left the newsroom at the start of 1994. There was at least one reporter on whose car I used to notice a political sticker, years after that. So I don’t know what sort of rules were in force at that point.

    I was governed by an annual statement I had to sign for Knight Ridder as a manager. It included both noninvolvement in politics as well as any sort of relationship that was unethical on business grounds — such as accepting gifts from vendors — or harmed the business in some other way. I think it had that stuff because it was signed by non-journalist managers as well as editors.

    As editorial page editor, I didn’t have any particular policy for my folks (I’ve never been much of one for written policies; I believe more in judgment), but it wasn’t necessary. First, my folks were paid to express opinion. Second, no one exhibited any interest in putting stickers on their cars or overtly supporting candidates in their private lives — they got all of that out of their system at work. Everyone knew what they thought. When you have an outlet for expressing your opinion fully and at length, with (over time at least) almost unlimited opportunity for expressing nuance, a bumper sticker is a pitiable, inadequate thing. As an editorialist, I’ve always tended to hold in contempt ideas that can be expressed on a bumper sticker. Even on something as “simple” as support for a candidate, the important thing was the REASONS for that support, not the mere fact of supporting candidate X.

  59. Brad

    To elaborate… to my knowledge, folks in the newsroom tend to be quite puritanical about noninvolvement. Some take it to a point that I consider to be excessive.

    For instance, one senior editor does not vote. He does that so that even in his own mind and for his own purposes as a citizen, he doesn’t choose between candidates. He believes this keeps him pure.

    I honor his sense of principle, but I think it entirely wrongheaded.

    First, I don’t believe any human being can be entirely “objective.” Someone who pretends he is fools himself. Far better, I believe, to confront one’s opinions, delve into them, analyze them, and challenge oneself. In the course of doing so, you are forced to think harder about the candidates and the issues, and you come to understand them better — making you a better journalist, one better able to explain to readers what’s going on.

    The very BEST thing, I believe, is to go beyond that and STATE your opinion. Put it out there for readers to see, and examine. THEN do your reporting, and let the reader judge your fairness in full knowledge of what you really think. (In any case, a reader will accuse you of really being for this candidate or position or that one, so why not give him the gift of knowing where you REALLY stand.)

    This fosters a kind of fairness and honesty that is vastly superior to the faux “objectivity” that news people tend to worship. It’s a matter of leveling, first with yourself, and then with readers. Then, what you have to tell them has more value.

    I came to this conclusion after many years of serving in newsrooms, and it led to my bid for a place on the editorial board, where I believed I could be a better journalist.

    After I made that move, I found that the truth was more dramatic than what I had imagined. After a few years of going daily through the discernment process required to come up with opinions that I was willing to submit to thousands of people to peruse and judge and argue with, I found that my own understanding of issues was much, much deeper than it had been when I was an editor in news. I began to see my thinking as an “objective” editor as terribly shallow and inadequate. And I had thought, back then, that I was a pretty smart guy.

    But a person who avoids conclusions and opinions never really fully wrestles with an issue, and never understands it as completely as he can when he not only has to come up with opinions, but bare them to a critical world.

    It makes a huge difference.

  60. Kathryn Fenner

    The Tea Party isn’t a village; it’s an enclave. A village is a random collection of people, not a self-selected homogeneous group of ideologues.

    A neighborhood in a city can be a village. A gated community, not so much. Five Points is a village; the Village at Sandhills is a shopping mall.

    Cue snarky remarks about violence and gangs….

  61. Steven Davis II

    Kathryn – Okay, that’s the description you have for an organization that assembled for a couple hours one day. What do you call what the Occupy movements did for weeks?

    So if what you’re saying, violence and gangs are just a part of living in a village, not so for things like gated communities. Maybe that’s why Mayor Benjamin and [the chief] insist that there isn’t a gang problem in Columbia.

  62. Burl Burlingame

    Brad — then it’s interesting that you don’t care for the “Daily Show” and “Colbert” takes on the day’s news. I sense you don’t like it because the end result is less than serious. But I submit to you, sir, that such comedy only works if it’s on-target, and that their writers have to understand the broader issues raised by current events.


    “my family homeschools not out of terror of mixing with Brad’s grandchildren, but because we want to hog all the library books.”

    Would that be a public library?

  63. `Kathryn Braun Fenner

    I am saying there is crime everywhere, but more of it where poorer people are. There is plenty of domestic violence, for one thing, in gated communities.

  64. Doug Ross


    Why do you think the Mayor lives about as far away from downtown as you can and still be in Richland County? Guess he’s seen the village and decided to live elsewhere.

  65. Scout


    I am scratching my head at your logic.

    How did the 60% that think government is doing too much become the same group that “think the remaining 40% are not people they want to associate with?”

    What does one idea have to do with the other?

    You are conflating two different things.

    You say, “..then it would make sense to avoid that 40% whenever it is possible.”

    Yes, that is true, but what on earth does it have to do with government doing too much.

    The people who want to avoid “the village” do not seem to imply their reasons have anything to do with the government doing too much, so why is your 60% who don’t like government relevant here?

  66. Steven Davis II

    @Doug – Exactly, he used to live on Park Street, but as soon as he had the funds he ran away from the panhandlers and the gang activity along that street. Does where he lives now even sit within the City of Columbia?

  67. Doug Ross


    My friends who live in Wood Creek have Elgin as the town in their addresses.

    According to Google maps, the middle of Wood Creek is 17.5 miles to Five Points and only 13.5 miles to the middle of Blythewood. Guess the mayor likes being closer to the safer areas of the county.

    Why don’t people chastise the mayor for seeking a better environment for his family? It’s a choice based on a number of factors just as the choice to homeschool is.

  68. Steven Davis II

    @Doug – One would think that as a requirement for running for a city office (especially mayor or city council) would be being a resident of that city.

  69. Kathryn Fenner

    I don’t think much of the mayor’s living there or the fact that the city annexed it and has to police it!

  70. Doug Ross


    You’d be willing to give up all those property taxes on the $400K-$2M+ homes and multiple high value cars in Wood Creek? I bet they pay a lot more in than they get in return.

    In fact, I checked the property tax bill for one of the top end houses on the market in Wood Creek. Listed at $2.87M, last year’s tax bill on the property was $40,418.94. Whew! For that, I hope they get a personal police officer stopping by every afternoon.

  71. Steven Davis II

    @Doug – Even for that amount, I’d be surprised if they ever see a city of Columbia police car in their neighborhood… Richland County Sheriff’s Department maybe.

    From my experience, they do get the triple-rate water rate over what inner-Columbia residents pay. One of the reasons why you see so many personal wells drilled out there for watering the lawns.

  72. Mark Stewart

    It is more striking that people would pay to live on some of the worst land in the entire region.

    There is a reason why something like only 5 families had to be relocated to make way for Camp Jackson. At least it’s mind-boggling to me. To each his own…

  73. Doug Ross


    I pay 1/20 of what that Wood Creek homeowner pays and we don’t see a police car in our neighborhood of over 200 homes more than once or twice a month. And we don’t even have a gated entrance…

  74. Doug Ross


    What makes the land the worst? Have you been to Wood Creek? Not sure how you could have anything better than what they have in terms of green spaces, ponds, well spaced houses, amenities.

  75. Steven Davis II

    @Mark – How large as Columbia back then? Were there reasons for people to move out of Columbia back then like there is today?

  76. Kathryn Fenner

    Northeast Richland county is sandy scrublands, just like the boonies of south Aiken, where some enterprising land developers figured out how New Jersey transplants back in the early 90s could rollover their primary residence gains of half a million or so in a town where a horse farm with a mansion was only $200k….put a golf course and a gate on it. Thus Woodside was born….you can space houses widely, which greatly contributes to sprawl and the need for all these wider roads that are so expensive, when the land is cheap. Add ponds and a golf course while you’re at it. Irrigate the heck out of it and blast it with chemicals. Who needs an environment when you have amenities?

  77. Doug Ross


    Don’t try to convince me… convince the tens of thousands of people who have moved into those developments over the past two decades. It’s what most people seem to want these days.

    If our local government had had the guts to push for some type of impact fees, it never would have exploded in the way it did.

  78. Bette

    I belong to a community, not the one you think I should belong to. Not the one Hillary Clinton thinks my children should belong to. I belong to a community of responsible adults who are raising responsible children. My children use the internet, listen to rock music, participate in community events, including public community events but they are schooled at home. This article is why my children do not belong to the community you think they should belong to. There are so many things wrong with this article. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/10/15/girls-12-and-14-arrested-in-death-bullied-florida-girl-police-say/
    And your worried about homeschool kids community exposure? Really?
    I know what my kids are doing at home, with friends, on the internet, in out of home classes.

  79. Katherine

    You missed the point.

    I was a public school kid. I rarely saw my parents. Any of their life lessons or learning by example was lost on me, except for the college education that was obviously a given: everyone in my family got degrees and went somewhere, so naturally, I did too.
    So, in school, I was put in a stale, peer-only environment with teachers who had no emotional currency in the students. Introverts do not do well in this artificial “village” where people do not care, unlike the utopian concept you so lovingly declare is status quo.

    I met my husband, a product of homeschool, while I was struggling to ditch my childish slang so interviews would go better. His brothers were still in high school homeschool, yet were more well-spoken and polite than any college kid I knew. They could have out-interviewed anyone who was flushed through the system like toilet water, and they did, after they finished their 4.0 masters.

    I will not shelter my kids, but I will be there to discuss and support by homeschooling. I will not send them to that mess for more reasons beyond the poor, unloving “village” we call school. One-on-one teaching, spending time with them, showing them the real world at their pace, and knowing that I can do better than the steady march of emotionally stale teachers I had to struggle by, alone.

    Yes, I went to public school. I met the “village”. I hated it, because it hated me.

  80. Martha

    !st Sorry but have to type fast but need to say something to this! Might not be perfection! Is this for real? That bumper sticker simply means that they will raise the kids not the village & nothing wrong with that. It in no way states they will have nothing to do with the community (village) Just that the village wont be the ones raising them! Homeschool is very much in the village so to speak & by the way these kids are smart as can be as they are learning in the correct way not expected to know way to much to fast & only learning one way! For my oldest I did for a lil bit to get him back on track as the schools let him fall he went back 2 years ahead of the rest! I now just took my 9yr old out of school who is a fully functional but has Autism Highly intelligent but 2 different schools from 1st to 3rd grade he has had over 60 black eyes, Bloody noses, bruised ribs etc… I was begged to let him back this year & they would do right by him it wont happen again! He was told to kill himself, they would be happy to find out he was dead, that he was useless & a waste of space! And all he wanted was a friend! He wanted to DIE! He was beat badly on the bus nothing was done I pulled him out end of story! The kids in the Homeschool community are very excepting & loving to him & all he is soaring now. So maybe you should really read before stating!


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