Friday, October 21, 2005

PA: We know better than parents

"Hard cases make bad law", and this seems to me to be just such a situation. Though not perfect parents, it seems the state should have a much, much stronger case before proceeding in this way. Yes, there may be more to this than Fox and Cnn report, and the ACLU is supporting the parents, which is a bad sign. However, the due process issues and prospect of ex post facto judgments scare me.

"Schuylkill County Children and Youth Services believes this child's physical and emotional health is in danger because of the abuse perpetrated by the natural father against other minor children," wrote agency attorney Karen E. Rismiller.
Of course, that was over twenty years ago, and he served his time. If, as part of his conviction he was sentenced to never being a father, so be it. But I doubt that it was. And then there is the problem of allegations:

Roper said the child services agency also raised concerns about the mother's alleged history of drug abuse. A closed hearing on the petition was set for Friday in Pottsville, 75 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

So, why do I find myself in the position of defending (on my blog, anyway) lowlife rapists and whores who are no doubt druggies and wholly incompetent to be parents? Because the contention behind the state's case here seems to be that the parents are bad parents before they have even had a chance to prove they are not. The implication is that children are all wards of the state, loaned to competent parents for a while. Aldus Huxley, anyone? And if this is allowed unchecked, the allegation of abuse or moral failing of any sort will soon be enough to remove any child from any parent until the case can be "worked out".

Once upon a time, in a future not too far away in time or imagination: a police officer pulls up beside a hybrid-electric minivan at a stoplight. After the light turns green, the officer pulls in behind and puts on his lights:

Ma'am, do you know why I pulled you over? I noticed that one of your kids did not seem to be in an approved child restraint seat. I know that that model was on the approved list two years ago, but it is your job as a parent to make sure you check the recall notices. I also see that there is a pen within reach of the infant. That presents a choking hazard. I also notice evidence on the floor of McDonalds fries, a known cause of childhood obesity. Child protective services is on the way. They will take your children into protective custody for a day or two while you work with them to fix these discrepancies. Oh, I see you have an NRA sticker on your car window. Before the children are returned to you, your house will also have to be inspected to ensure all firearms are locked, and any other safety hazards are removed. Remember, these are your children! You have to treasure them and protect them. We are just trying to help you do that. No, you are not being charged with anything at this time, and I am sure there will be no other issues. I'd say you can expect to have them back by the weekend.

Have a nice day!

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