The State of Idaho engages in indoctrination...  

Posted by Jessica in , ,

or does it? I am reading Deborah Stone's, Policy Paradox-The Art of Political Decision Making, and her chapter on facts has really resonated with me. In this chapter, Stone critiques Charles Lindblom who believes that government indoctrination cannot occur unless the government is a totalitarian one. Stone argues that indoctrination can occur if the information being given is intentionally manipulative and robs people of their capacity to think independently. Lest you think I will argue that Idahoans don't have the ability to think independently, let me finish.

Stone states that we are strongly influenced by peers, co-workers, family, and other groups of which we are part. She states that the "drive to conformity is as strong as the drive to select the best means to an end." I am not stating that Idahoans are stupid, and can't think for themselves, I am simply stating that they/we are human. Stone goes on to say that "in our various social and political roles, we act largely according to prior attitudes and beliefs rather than new information."

Indoctrination, Stone argues, can occur outside the framework of a centralized and/or unilateral government. She states that this occurs in our schools which teach students about
"obedience to authority, about social stratification according to ascriptive ability characteristics, and about discipline, orderliness, and the subordination of self to central schedules." WOW! Stone then states that indoctrination can also occur through ordinary government-citizen contact. That 'street-level bureaucrats' "give out moral and political lessons, along with rewards and punishments." Stay with me here...

Stone states that "government social service organizations have some very potent weapons with which to prod client behavior in the right directions." This includes the power to reduce welfare payments/benefits, removing children from families, or placing children back into families, the power to institutionalize and release, judges have the power to jail, etc...
She then cites the example of a Texas judge that "berated a bilingual Hispanic mother for speaking only Spanish so her daughter would become bilingual: 'You're abusing that child and you're relegating her to the position of housemaid. Now get this straight. You start speaking English to this child because if she doesn't do good in school, then I can remove her because it's not in her best interest to be ignorant.'"

With this in mind, Stone states that when this type of intimidation is carried out by a "government official in a state with a large Mexican and Mexican-American population
and a law making English the only official language, it surely belongs near the indoctrination end..."

With no similar statements from an Idaho judge (that I know of), and a smaller population of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in this state, could it still be argued that Idaho, having recently passed a law to make English the official language of state business, practices indoctrination?


That's a really interesting observation. I'm not sure where I stand on the official language issue.

The official language issue is just stupid. The legislature didn't really accomplish a whole lot, but spent time on this worthless pile of crap.

This does more harm than good and further widens the chasm between the reality of life and the whacko world many legislators live in.

How do you really feel, Jessica? :)

Is there no value to everyone speaking the same language?

Haha. I don't think there is any value to that. In a globalized world and economy, there is a lot more value to having more people who are bilingual, trilingual, etc...

I think more harm than good was done with this. The law only affects state business and it was just a waste of money and very divisive.

I don't know the particulars of this new law, nor what it effects, so for now I'll take your word for it's uselessness.

But shouldn't there be some official way to help immigrants (including non-latinos) learn English? Often times that is the only thing standing in the way of economic prosperity for them.

I think how I wrote the question in my last comment didn't convey what I was trying to say. I should have written, is there no value to everyone speaking a common language? I did not mean to imply that everyone should speak only English.

I am bilingual. I speak spanish in addition to my native english. I personally note the huge difference in social interaction before latinos discover I speak spanish and after they find out. Before they know I speak their language there is a huge unseen barrier between us. I'm sure other people notice this in their interaction with latinos as well. But after they find out I speak spanish everything changes. The barrier is gone as well as their obvious discomfort and uneasiness. All of this simply because we can communicate through a common language.

As beneficial as bilingualism has been for me, I think it would benefit immigrants even more.

Should there be official ways of providing ESL (English as a second language education)? YES. This is an area I know very little about. Is there any federal funding that goes towards programs that offer that help? State funding? I think there is a benefit to knowing English and in this country, it is essential to get ahead, but there must be ways for people to learn English before we expect them to speak it.

Interesting. I'm taking a course this term where we read that book, too!

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