Man Up*, Mayor Ford


… and give fathers’ hugs the credit due them.

by Davd, July 24, 2012

Mr. Mayor, your “hug-a-thug” political slogan puts the unwelcome outcome before its cause. The point is not to hug-a-thug, but to prevent a child from becoming one.

Every thug began life just as you, Prime Minister Harper, and even the Popes, Queens, Sultans, Imams and Kings, began it: As a foetus, and then a newborn baby. Social influence steers people toward good in some cases, selfishness in too many, and in a few cases steers toward outright evil. Fathers are probably the best single good social influence on boys, arguably on girls also, and deserve credit which that misdirected slogan gives me occasion to emphasize.

Take a look at Professor Gordon Finley’s words: “ … unambiguous research indicates that children of divorce and of out-of-wedlock births are at a much higher risk for a host of negative personal, social, health, work, welfare, and criminal outcomes than children whose fathers are heavily involved in their lives. Additional research shows that fathers are superior to mothers in curbing high-risk sexual and health behaviors in adolescents and young adults. Society thus has a vested interest in preserving fatherhood. The rest of the article is here.

Fathers—not single-mothers’ “sex partners”, but fathers—are a strong influence away from thuggery and toward contributing citizenship. The obvious inference is that strengthening fatherhood would do much more to reduce thuggery than building prisons and hiring cops and guards. Or in a folk-saying that has stood the test of time, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A mother who wants her children “off drugs”, free of STDs, teen pregnancy, and criminal experience; can do more to achieve those worthy goals by sharing their nurture with a father, than by worldly success (nor fashionable attire or location).

The well-known sociological premise which hug-a-thug has spun around backwards, is that hugs from good mentors prevent thugs. More properly for an academic to write, brotherly and fatherly affection, guidance, and mutual support guide children away from callous, perverse, and desperate evildoing.

I do hope someone with better access to the statistics takes this opportunity to put the matter more exactly. Meanwhile, from what we know already: If we want less “thuggery”, giving fatherhood credit where credit is due and too seldom spoken these days, and putting fatherhood ahead of easy divorce for other than grievous fault, has much more promise than building prisons and taxing the public to pay thousands upon thousands of guards.

Easy divorce and less than equal opportunity for father custody, may “liberate women” to have more fun; but all too often by punishing men for no crime (and if any wrongdoing, so little that no woman would be punished for the same.) When people are interdependent, they cannot both have total freedom; and equal freedom is better than female privilege. It’s the boys whose fathers hugged them often, mentored them in adolescence, and took them on outings, who are unlikely to become thugs.


Canning, Dr. Greg, 2012. “Girls behaving badly”.

Dafoe-Whitehead, Barbara, 1993. “Dan Quayle Was Right” Atlantic Monthly, April.

Durant, Will, 1957. The Reformation: A History of European Civilization from Wyclif to Calvin: 1300-1564. NYC: Simon and Schuster.

Finley, Gordon E., 2010. “On Fatherhood.” Men’s News Daily, June 16. Prof. Finley has published considerable research on fatherhood, and this text has more authority than many.



* I’m aware that “man up” is often misused to exhort men to do the bidding of women when doing it goes against the men’s—and often, against humanity’s—best interests. This incident gives me an opportunity to work toward a better use of the phrase.

1. I did not write “prevent crime” because it is also worth remembering that earthly Law is the product of whoever is and was in power, and of two crimes punished equally, one may be much worse than the other. Some crimes may even be good deeds; it was a crime to protect a Jew in Nazi Germany, to be a Roman Catholic under King Henry VIII and not to be under Queen Mary Tudor (Durant, 1957: 555-601), and to be a Christian who refused to worship the Emperor, in the decadence of the Roman Empire. It was once a crime to perform abortions and more lately a crime or dam-near, to try to stop them.


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About Davd

Davd (PhD, 1966) has been a professor, a single father keeping a small commercial herb garden so as to have flexible time for his sons, and editor of _Ecoforestry_. He is a practicing Christian, and in particular an advocate of ecoforestry, self-sufficiency horticulture, and men of all faiths living together "in peace and brotherhood" for the fellowship, the efficiency, and the goodwill that sharing work so often brings.
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