Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Debate with Benzion Chinn postponed

So apparently, when we agreed to talk about whether parents should indoctrinate their children with an Orthodox religious identity, Benzion was looking to talk about Orthodox parents specifically. In other words, while he himself isn't on board with certain Orthodox views, he thinks parents should indoctrinate children into their community, even if people like Benzion think that the community's view is wrong. In his view, I should have aimed to convince that neighbors, the government, or parents of Orthodox suasion that the latter shouldn't indoctrinate their children. But I hadn't agreed to debate whether the neighbors or government should take the kids away; also, of course I can't convince a person of Orthodox belief that his kids shouldn't be indoctrinated. What I had meant to do was convince secret skeptics in the frum community, heterodox people who indoctrinate their kids as Orthodox, people who are "Orthodox" but believe that other views are okay (usually, intellectually inconsistent individuals), and Orthodox people who are reconsidering their beliefs, that Orthodox indoctrination is a problem and they shouldn't engage in it. One of Benzion's commenters hit the nail on the head when she wrote:
So I think he would conclude that any parent who knows that Orthodoxy is just one of many options out there should not raise their children within the Orthodox system for those reasons.

She's right. On Facebook, I shmoozed with Benzion a bit: He also disagrees with certain ideas of Orthodoxy; he accepts its indoctrination as a social institution. In other words, since parents are Orthodox anyways (despite disagreement), they have the right to indoctrinate their kids. I'm not ready to argue against that; I'm just saying that those parents who doubt should expose their kids to other options.

Anyways, it seems we don't have a deep enough disagreement here to debate, so we've decided to postpone it until we (might) find something where we do disagree enough to debate.


  1. Glad I was right! :)

    Based on Benzion's response to your first video, I am not totally sure that he got what you were saying. I am also not sure where/why non-Jews ("neighbors") or the government fit in at all!

    My final word of advice: define your terms clearly in the debate (or in future debates). It sounds a lot like you and Benzion were thinking totally different things when you agreed on a debate topic. I would not have framed your position as well as you did here, but if you had stated that clearly at the beginning of your video, your position would have been clearer.

  2. I am not totally sure that he got what you were saying. I am also not sure where/why non-Jews ("neighbors") or the government fit in at all!
    Yeah, b'emes, he lost me too. He also lost me with the comparison of me to haredim. As for the debate topic, I thought it obvious that "parents" should be taken to mean parents generally, all sorts of parents. Dawkins (brought up by Benzion) hasn't made a habit of trying to convince fundamentalist parents to send their kids to non-fundamentalist schools; his critique of fundamentalist indoctrination of those mentally incapable of making this decision critically is part of a larger critique of religion generally. I follow that path.

    I felt thrown for a loop by Benzion's video, but okay, sof davar.