You can't enforce a moral compass. Individuals either have one or they don't.
But apparently, the Parliament of France didn't get that memo, as it prepares to push for a ban on child beauty pageants.
Advocates for the move claim that an outright ban on the pageants will curb the overt sexualization of children. They claim that those pageants promote hyper-sexualization, especially of young girls.
It's a tough argument to refute.
Anyone who has spent fifteen minutes watching Toddlers & Tiaras — a television series that documents the child contestants of beauty pageants, as well as their families — would likely agree that pageants place an emphasis on the beauty of underaged girls, thus sexualizing them.
When that conclusion is reached, it can be carried one point farther: child beauty pageants play some role in promoting pedophilia.
It's an old argument, and not necessarily based on rock-solid evidence.
While the lives showcased in Toddlers & Tiaras certainly raise an eyebrow — and are worthy of public rebuke — it seems unfair to assess an entire group of individuals based on a single, very public, televised face.
Especially given television's nature to sensationalize for better ratings.
And even if Toddlers & Tiaras is a genuine portrait of the child beauty pageant lifestyle, the contestants, and the families who are involved, there is still a flaw in France's decision to legislate against beauty pageants.
That flaw is not difficult to spot.
Banning beauty pageants is a half-measure. It fails to address the root issue, which is the sexualization and, ultimately, sexual predation of children.
Put simply, legislators in France could potentially be treating a symptom of a problem, rather than the cause.
While that wouldn't ordinarily be disconcerting, it will be if people begin to think the problem is solved when that reality is a far time off.
You wouldn't treat the cough and disregard everything else if you had pneumonia.
If the lawmakers of France genuinely want to curb the sexualization and victimization of French children, perhaps they ought to target the individuals that outright prowl on children, rather than enacting half-measures in the hope that fewer fancy dresses will result in fewer sexual assaults.