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Typewritten pleas by five congressmen to "think of the children", in different fonts and pitch sizes
"Think of the children" argument used in the United States Congress

"Think of the children" (or "What about the children?") is a phrase which evolved into a rhetorical tactic.<ref name="meany" /><ref name="jackmarshall" /><ref name="borschke2011" /> Literally, it refers to children's rights (as in discussions of child labor);<ref name="nationalchild" /><ref name="boyce2003" /><ref name="perry2010" /> in debate the plea for pity, used as an appeal to emotion, is a logical fallacy.<ref name="meany" /><ref name="jackmarshall" /><ref name="borschke2011" />

Art, Argument, and Advocacy (2002) argued that the appeal substitutes emotion for reason in debate.<ref name="meany" /> Ethicist Jack Marshall wrote in 2005 that the phrase's popularity stems from its capacity to stunt rationality, particularly discourse on morals.<ref name="jackmarshall" /> "Think of the children" has been invoked by censorship proponents to shield children from perceived danger.<ref name="beattie2009" /><ref name="keenangt4" /> Community, Space and Online Censorship (2009) noted that classifying children in an infantile manner, as innocents in need of protection, is a form of obsession over the concept of purity.<ref name="beattie2009" /> A 2011 article in the Journal for Cultural Research observed that the phrase grew out of a moral panic.<ref name="coleman2011" />

It was an exhortation in the 1964 Walt Disney Pictures film Mary Poppins, when the character of Mrs. Banks pleaded with her departing nanny not to quit and to "think of the children!".<ref name="kathrynlaity" /> The phrase was popularized as a satiric reference on the animated television program The Simpsons in 1996,<ref name="cohen1996" /><ref name="cohen2005" /> when character Helen Lovejoy pleaded "Won't somebody please think of the children!"<ref name="tenbrink2012" /><ref name="shotwell2012" /><ref name="keenanin2" /> during a contentious debate by citizens of the fictional town of Springfield.<ref name="tenbrink2012" /><ref name="patrick2000" /><ref name="kitrosser2011" />

In the 2012 Georgia State University Law Review, Charles J. Ten Brink called Lovejoy's use of "Think of the children" a successful parody.<ref name="tenbrink2012" /> The appeal's subsequent use in society was often the subject of mockery.<ref name="keenangt4" /> After its popularization on The Simpsons, the phrase has been called "Lovejoy's Law",<ref name="keenanin2" /> the "Helen Lovejoy defence", the "Helen Lovejoy Syndrome",<ref name="hunt2014" /> and "think-of-the-children-ism".<ref name="penny2011" /><ref name="bruenig" />


Think of the children sections
Intro  Background  Child advocacy  Debate tactic  Popularization  See also  Notes   References   Further reading  External links  

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Typewritten pleas by five congressmen to "think of the children", in different fonts and pitch sizes
"Think of the children" argument used in the United States Congress

"Think of the children" (or "What about the children?") is a phrase which evolved into a rhetorical tactic.<ref name="meany" /><ref name="jackmarshall" /><ref name="borschke2011" /> Literally, it refers to children's rights (as in discussions of child labor);<ref name="nationalchild" /><ref name="boyce2003" /><ref name="perry2010" /> in debate the plea for pity, used as an appeal to emotion, is a logical fallacy.<ref name="meany" /><ref name="jackmarshall" /><ref name="borschke2011" />

Art, Argument, and Advocacy (2002) argued that the appeal substitutes emotion for reason in debate.<ref name="meany" /> Ethicist Jack Marshall wrote in 2005 that the phrase's popularity stems from its capacity to stunt rationality, particularly discourse on morals.<ref name="jackmarshall" /> "Think of the children" has been invoked by censorship proponents to shield children from perceived danger.<ref name="beattie2009" /><ref name="keenangt4" /> Community, Space and Online Censorship (2009) noted that classifying children in an infantile manner, as innocents in need of protection, is a form of obsession over the concept of purity.<ref name="beattie2009" /> A 2011 article in the Journal for Cultural Research observed that the phrase grew out of a moral panic.<ref name="coleman2011" />

It was an exhortation in the 1964 Walt Disney Pictures film Mary Poppins, when the character of Mrs. Banks pleaded with her departing nanny not to quit and to "think of the children!".<ref name="kathrynlaity" /> The phrase was popularized as a satiric reference on the animated television program The Simpsons in 1996,<ref name="cohen1996" /><ref name="cohen2005" /> when character Helen Lovejoy pleaded "Won't somebody please think of the children!"<ref name="tenbrink2012" /><ref name="shotwell2012" /><ref name="keenanin2" /> during a contentious debate by citizens of the fictional town of Springfield.<ref name="tenbrink2012" /><ref name="patrick2000" /><ref name="kitrosser2011" />

In the 2012 Georgia State University Law Review, Charles J. Ten Brink called Lovejoy's use of "Think of the children" a successful parody.<ref name="tenbrink2012" /> The appeal's subsequent use in society was often the subject of mockery.<ref name="keenangt4" /> After its popularization on The Simpsons, the phrase has been called "Lovejoy's Law",<ref name="keenanin2" /> the "Helen Lovejoy defence", the "Helen Lovejoy Syndrome",<ref name="hunt2014" /> and "think-of-the-children-ism".<ref name="penny2011" /><ref name="bruenig" />


Think of the children sections
Intro  Background  Child advocacy  Debate tactic  Popularization  See also  Notes   References   Further reading  External links  

PREVIOUS: IntroNEXT: Background
<<>>