think of the children


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think of the children (often in the imperative)

  1. (often humorous, suggestive of moral panic) Used other than as an idiom: see think,‎ of,‎ the,‎ children.
    • 2002, John Meany, Art, Argument, and Advocacy: Mastering Parliamentary Debate, New York: International Debate Education Association, ISBN 978-0-9702130-7-5, OCLC 438996525, page 65:
      This fallacy is what it sounds like. Speakers routinely try to play on the emotions of the crown in lieu of making real arguments. 'I know this national missile defense plan has its detractors, but won't someone please think of the children'?
    • 2004 July 8, Andrew Kantor, “Won't someone think of the children?”, USA Today, Gannett, retrieved on November 2, 2014:
      Too many people these days are thinking of the children, or at least claiming to think of them. Keeping kids safe and virginal — protected from seeing the 'wrong' things — is the rallying concept so many people use to forward their agendas. Ban this, eliminate that, censor the other thing — it's all done in the name of protecting children. Not, heaven forbid, because anyone wants to force their morality and sensibility on the rest of us. Perish the thought.
    • 2005 February 16, Jack Marshall, “'Think of the Children!': An Ethics Fallacy”[1], Ethics Scoreboard, Alexandria, Virginia: ProEthics, Ltd., retrieved on November 1, 2014, archived from the original on February 22, 2014:
      'Think of the children!' is a tried-and-true debate-stopper, but more often than not one that succeeds because of its ability to inhibit rational thought.
    • 2009, Scott Beattie, Community, Space and Online Censorship, Ashgate, ISBN 978-0-7546-7308-8, pages 165–167:
      Children are simultaneously the victims of predators and vulnerable to exposure to dangerous images. All accompanied by the shrill cry of 'will no one think of the children?'
    • 2011, Rebecca Coleman; Debra Ferreday, “Reading Disorders: Online Suicide and the Death of Hope”, in Hope and Feminist Theory, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-61852-6, page 99:
      Moral panic has become in current media discourse the inevitable outcome of any story involving 'youth': in the blogosphere, 'Won't someone think of the children!' — the imagined battle-cry of the faux-outraged columnist — is in danger of becoming the new Godwin's law'
    • 2011 November 1, Margie Borschke, “Rethinking the rhetoric of remix”, Media International Australia incorporating Culture and Policy, volume 141, University of Queensland, School of Journalism and Communication, page 17: 
      Lessig entreats us to think of the children. It is an appeal to emotion and a rhetorical ploy
    • 2014 January 5, Carol Hunt, “Don't use our children as shields to protect status quo; The Helen Lovejoy argument against gay adoption is simply discrimination in a 'caring' guise, writes Carol Hunt”, Sunday Independent, Independent Newspapers Ireland Limited, page 27:
      The problem with using the 'Won't anyone think of the children' defence when arguing against adoption rights for LGBT couples is that, because there isn't a shred of evidence to support your argument (on the contrary, it discriminates against children already born) -- what you're really saying can be interpreted as: 'Those gays can get married and do whatever it is they like to each other but I wouldn't trust some of them near a child.'

Usage notesEdit

  • Often posed as a rhetorical question: Won't someone please think of the children?


See alsoEdit