The following was written by Adele. I'm posting it here, with her permission, to help to widen the debate about the (IMO crucial) point she raises:
The imaginary target group problem
As I see it, our biggest problem with this review is going to be that any defense of ourselves will be automatically moot on the grounds that it's not *us* they're concerned about anyway.
So we can show them how great HE is, how normal HE families are, how caring and dedicated HE parents are etc And we can tell them how discriminated against we feel.
And it won't matter.
Because their counter argument will amount to "We have no truck with home educators. It's people who *pretend to be* home educators we are concerned with".
It's near genius; the people they claim to be concerned about can't defend themselves because they don't actually exist and, even if they did exist, they'd have no defense, as they'd have to be guilty in order to fit under the heading of the people they claim to be concerned about. And because they can say that *we* are *not* the people they claim to be concerned about, *our* defenses won't mean
We prove our innocence, they counter that they have always accepted it, and it's the not the innocent they're concerned with; the people they are concerned with are the guilty. Thus no defense is possible. By making it about people who use HE as a cover for all sorts of unpleasant things, they create a set up where HEers cannot defend
themselves as the fact that we're *really* HEers means we fall outside of this category.
So it becomes impossible to address their concerns, except by arguing that they have no evidence to suggest the existence of the people they're worried about. And this has limited potential because just one or two cases are enough for them to claim *the possibility* that there *could be* more (and prop up the dubious conclusions they draw from this). And, even if we could prove there were *no* cases, they could then counter that they're just trying to ensure that it stays that way.
So... How do we fight this? I think making it clear that this is what they are doing, and that we know that this is what they are doing and can see the flaws in their arguments, is a good starting point. Not sure where to go from there.