Quebec introduced a mandatory course last year for students on ethics and religious culture, exposing them to various world religions as well as aboriginal spirituality. As could be expected, there were Christian parents who objected to this and actually went to court to protect what they thought was their religious freedom, the freedom from having their kids exposed to anything other than their Christian beliefs. They felt such exposure infringed upon their freedom to indoctrinate their kids, and thankfully the Superior Court dismissed their case. The be all, end all quote on this issue, which we should get great mileage from here in the US, comes from Sébastien Lebel-Grenier, a law professor at Université de Sherbrooke…
“What parents were demanding was the right to ignorance, the right to protect their children from being exposed to the existence of other religions,” he said. “This right to ignorance is certainly not protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Freedom of religion does not protect the right not to know what is going on in our universe.”
The right to ignorance shouldn’t be protected anywhere, in my opinion. Ignorance is not a vice which anyone can claim a right to indulge in for unlike other vices like alcohol or smoking, there’s no way to limit the harms from such an indulgence to just the indulger. In a nutshell, how can you expect anyone to act correctly if they’re ignorant as to how? It’s absurd. Ignorance of the most basic facts of reality could result in unknown harm for its effect could permeate into many different actions and decisions. It’s comparable to cancer in how, if left alone, it will metastasize and corrupt everything it can.
Now even if it were possible to manage your ignorance indulgence so that it doesn’t adversely affect anyone but yourself, the right to choose such an indulgence can’t be given to a minor. There exists laws prohibiting minors from drinking alcohol and engaging in sex because it’s believed that they lack the maturity and understanding to make responsible decisions concerning such indulgences. So how, where such laws exist, can there be an exemption for indulging in a an activity which has arguably far more dire consequences associated with it? Furthermore, just as it’s criminal for parents to allow their children to indulge in alcohol, so too should it be to indulge their desires for ignorance.
So I feel there’s a lesson to be learned here from Quebec, that the right to ignorance should not be protected, and I’ll add that it most certainly shouldn’t be something children are exposed to.