Monday, July 17, 2006

Grand Forks County Fair

This last Saturday, after the temperature cooled down to livable", my friends and I headed for the local county fair.

For those of you who live in actual civilization and not the middle of nowhere, a county fair is a random occurrence where people sell overpriced foods to raise money, any nut-job can put up a booth, and various homemade items go on display. There are also rigged games and a few not so thrilling rides. The whole event is so very lame, but with the right attitude (or lots of alcohol barring the right attitude), it can be an enjoyable day.

Anyway, there were the usual suspects: people touting snake oil (Mangosteen: we may not have an American studies, but look at the anecdotal evidence!) 4-H stands (The judges may not know art, but can recognize the Olson's kid!) and barnyard animals (yes, that means cows, chickens, ducks, pigs and goats.) Do not misunderstand me, I did my share of 4-H projects in my youth, and I rather like the some of the arts, but it is so...kitschy.

However, two stands stuck out in my mind. One was the "pro-life" stand and the other was the "Family Law Reform Initiative".

First and foremost, I was amused at the Orwellian language. The "Family Law Reform Initiative" is about the worst thing for families I have ever seen. "Pro-life" is anything but: they care about fetid, and that is about it.

I didn't get to have a friendly debate with the nice people, my friends were doing that "Please oh please do not do the feminism thing" on me, and since this was supposed to be fun for everyone, I consented. However, I still did manage to get a few shots.

First, the pro-life stand was actually ambiguous. With hope that I found some kindred, (or at least semi-kindred) sprits in this city, I went up expectantly with the "PROTECT LIFE" booth and asked "So, you guys are what, anti-war, anti-death penalty, what?"

Nice lady, glaring at me: "No, this is for abortion. More people die in that".

"Uh-huh" I say, crestfallen and nonplussed with the argument.

"I had a miscarriage. This is what my baby boy looked like" she continues, showing a little plastic baby-looking thing in a disembodied womb.

Recognizing that this was going nowhere fast, I said "Can I take these?" gesturing at the brochures.

"Of course" she said, brightening. "We've even got a banner you can win".

"No thank you," I said, seeing the homemade banner of Mary and the baby Jesus. "I'm agnostic, it really isn't valuable to me."

Glaring lady comes back. "I see".

I look down and see "Abortion causes breast cancer" handout. "You're going to want to pull this one" I said. "There is no link between abortion and breast cancer. That myth has been debunked".

"Well, that depends at what study you look at" said another random lady, popping in from nowhere.

"Yes," I said. "There are peer-reviewed studies that use the scientific method, and then there are false psuedo-science with a clear political bias".

At this point, my friend sees me and pulls me away, but not before I grab the rest of the brochures.

The stuff, oh man, that gets another blogpost all it's own.

The "Family Law Reform Initiative" I didn't even get a chance to look at. My friends cut me off at the pass, saying that I didn't have the money to get fixed up in the hospital after the guy took a swing at me (and they didn't have the money to bail me out if I returned).

The family law reform initiative is something thought up by the fathers' rights activists and are trying to pass shady legislation with irritating slogans like "Children need both parents". They irritate me to no end because children also need child support payments, something that these men are disintrested in supplying. I've met the man in charge, so to speak, and I've never met a more bitter, entitled example of a "human" being. 4, 5, and 6 are my favorite for the sheer assholishness of them (but this is another blogpost altogether).

I tell you, some days there is not enough alchol in the world to drown this away.

15 Comments:

At 9:38 PM, Anonymous Rob said...

Cassandra, I've got to say that I take issue with the way you talk about father's rights issues.

I don't know about the Family Law Initiative group, but I have heard that they're shady. I think that if you read the Shared Parenting Initiative (available here) you'd see that it doesn't have anything to do with denying child support payments. The only thing it says with regard to child support is that it should not exceed the actual costs of raising the child.

I think that's reasonable, don't you?

As for the rest of the initiative, it is simply a protection against the court always defaulting custody of children to the mother. Fathers like me don't like being told that we're just the "other parent."

If you're interested in this, I'll actually be working the NDSPI booth at the North Dakota State Fair. You should stop by and we'll talk about it more. You also maybe interested in reading this column I wrote on the issues surrounding fatherhood today and the shared parenting initiative.

Anyway, please don't assume that we're just a bunch of scorned ex-husbands out to take revenge on our ex-wives. That's not what it is about. We just want to have equal status when it comes to our children.

 
At 10:57 PM, Anonymous Teddy said...

Rob, are you literate? Serious question. This Shared Parenting Initiative doesn't come up in her blogpost. The Family Law Reform Initiative does, and here's what it says, just in case you haven't read it:

"In joint and equal physical and legal parenting/custody, neither parent shall be obligated to pay child support to the other."

Heading you off, it goes on to limit non-equal custodial parents' payments to half the cost of raising the kid.

And no, it isn't reasonable. That doesn't cover college, as the kid is 18 and is expected to figure out loans, scholarships, etc. all by themselves.

And notably, the rest of the thing says that if Dad hit Mom and Mom got a restraining order ("Order for Protection"), Dad can't be denied custody. Which is psychologically dangerous. My dad didn't hit my little sister, he hit me and my mom and my little brother. My little sister is the most messed up, and I've met other people with similar experiences.

Long story short, even if a kid hasn't been hit by dad (or mom, reasonably) doesn't mean they haven't been hurt.

Notably, why don't the courts ask kids about their parents? I recognize possible "parental alienation", and young children that can't really make that kind of long-term decision, but I've got two teenage siblings the court has systematically denied from testifying in court. Seriously, they wanted to, but the judge wouldn't let them.

You're bad people, man.

TRH

 
At 8:22 AM, Anonymous Rob said...

Teddy, if you'd bother to read my comment in any depth you'd realize that I drew a distinction between the Family Law Initiative and the Shared Parenting Initiative.

Further, if you read the Shared Parenting Initiative it does not require the non-custodial parent to only pay 50% of child care. It requires the non-custodial parent to pay no more than what the actual costs of raising the child are.

Also, changing the system so that fathers are included more in their children's lives is not a bad thing. I'm sorry that your father was apparently abusive (as I collect from your comment), but that should not be something the majority of good fathers should be held accountable for.

The current system does not emphasize the importance of fathers nearly enough. We just want to tweak it so that the importance of mothers and fathers are equally recognized.

I'm sorry that you feel the need to insult me and call me "bad people" just because I hold opinions contrary to your own. I don't think that's a very constructive way of getting your own point of view across.

 
At 1:25 PM, Anonymous Teddy said...

Under the system being put to vote, a father who hit his wife would have court-ordered time with his kids. Why not just ask the kids, "are you afraid of your father, and if so, why?" If they answer the question that they are, bam, they don't have to spend time with dad until they want to. Those good fathers you speak of (and from what I hear, they do occasionally happen) don't scare their kids. They get a divorce because they don't get along with mom, but in those instances, outside of parental alienation, mom and dad usually manage to whip out a workable custody/visitation agreement on their own. If the courts need to intervene, we don't need a law saying everybody gets equal visitation, we need inquiry into both parents and a case-by-case scenario.

See, what people keep messing up is that parents think their children love them, plain and simple, just do. It's earned, see, and when a child doesn't want to spend time with a parent, there are probably some serious issues going on there that need to be identified and worked on. No kid should be forced to be with both parents.

Regarding the importance of fathers, I'd like to make three distinctions. Father, Dad, and Sperm Donor. Sperm Donor, well, you can figure that out. Dad holds his kid at birth, amazed and awed etc. Father is there for his kids, teaches them how to be not only productive and contributing members of adult society, but how to be human beings, capable of compassion and love and self-control and interest. Fathers have rights because they fulfill the responsibilities of father.

There are no inalienable rights. I have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness because I pay my taxes on time so that the US government keeps warlords from overtaking North Dakota (and you know they would, too, right after they took Idaho) and pushing me into a life of slavery. That's my responsibility, so I get the right. Dads fulfill the responsibility of sticking by mom for 9 months, 9 months full of all kinds of unpleasantness, so Dad has the right to hold his kid when s/he is born.

Fathers raise the kids well, do all that fatherly stuff and we'll talk about rights of the father. Hell, even guys who get a divorce can still be a father. But not if you hit you wife, hell no if you hit your kids.

Regarding constructive, well, I had an abusive father.

TRH

 
At 2:04 PM, Blogger Noumena said...

Rob -
Teddy, if you'd bother to read my comment in any depth you'd realize that I drew a distinction between the Family Law Initiative and the Shared Parenting Initiative.

At this point, you've de facto affirmed that neither of your comments has anything at all to do with the content of either Cassandra's post or Teddy's comment. The Shared Parenting Initiative could give everyone a kitten and cure cancer and that still wouldn't invalidate the criticisms of the Family Law Reform Initiative. Your first comment came off as quite hostile to Cassandra's point; maybe that was unintentional, but if you did mean to criticise her, you're going after a strawfeminist instead.

Additionally, as she said she was going to talk about the FLRI in more depth in another post, it probably would have been appropriate to save your comments for that. The bulk of this post was about abortion.

Teddy -
There are no inalienable rights.

This is an extremely strong statement -- much stronger than you need to make your point. It's also a pretty tenuous one. If you ignore the business about a creator, our system of laws is based on the work of folks like John Locke and Voltaire (most directly), Rousseau (less directly), and Immanuel Kant (still less directly). Each of these philosophers argues that, by virtue of being human, we have certain rights which are absolutely inalienable. Locke identified these as rights to life, liberty, and property, and argued that the state could only justifiably infringe on these to settle disputes, such as when one person is trying to steal from or kill another.

In short, you can keep these rights inalienable, and still argue that the state should be allowed to deny a crappy father custody of his children.

 
At 3:32 PM, Blogger Goddess Cassandra said...

Okay, I made a comment about this before, but apparently blogger ate it.

Rob-
I have not read the Shared Parenting Initiative, but I will look it up and research it, and include it in my next post about the family law reform initiative. I'd like to talk to you at the fair, but I live in GF: I may not be able to make it all the way to Minot for the fair.

I really don't know what the SPI is about, and I didn't say anything about the fathers' rights movement in general, this just particular subset and this subset is a bunch of bitter divorcees. Read the text of their initiative if you think I'm exaggerating. What I've seen with FRAs and MRAs is not pleasant, but I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

Teddy-
Parental Alienation Syndrome is total bullshit. It has no basis in rational science.

 
At 8:31 PM, Anonymous rob said...

a father who hit his wife would have court-ordered time with his kids.

Actually, Teddy, that isn't true at all. From the text of the initiative you refuse to read:

Parents have a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody and control of their children. Acknowledging the long established legal tenet that fit parents act in the best interest of their children, no parent shall be denied custody of a child without first having been declared unfit, utilizing the clear and convincing evidentiary standard.

Under this law abusive fathers would be declared unfit parents by the court, just as they are now. Nothing would change about that.


Fathers raise the kids well, do all that fatherly stuff and we'll talk about rights of the father. Hell, even guys who get a divorce can still be a father. But not if you hit you wife, hell no if you hit your kids.


I think you're letting your personal experiences cloud your judgment. Whatever your prejudices, the fact is that most fathers, divorced or not, are not abusive and have every right to time with their children.

At this point, you've de facto affirmed that neither of your comments has anything at all to do with the content of either Cassandra's post or Teddy's comment. The Shared Parenting Initiative could give everyone a kitten and cure cancer and that still wouldn't invalidate the criticisms of the Family Law Reform Initiative. Your first comment came off as quite hostile to Cassandra's point; maybe that was unintentional, but if you did mean to criticise her, you're going after a strawfeminist instead.

First: Teddy responded to my comment.

Second, Cassandra brought up familiy law. I conceded that the group she spoke of was shady, but went on to defend the group I'm invovled with. I think that this was perfectly germane to her post. Cassandra has open comments here, I assumed this was an invitation to engage in a dialogue about these issues. Father's rights is something I am very concerned about, and since Cassandra's post discussed a father's rights group I felt it was appropriate to throw in my two cents.

If Cassandra feels I'm off-topic with this she can delete my comments if she wishes.

As for sounding hostile, that certainly wasn't my intent. Reviewing my first comment, I fail to see where I sound hostile at all. I disagree with Cassandra to some extent, but that is hardly an act of hostility. Again, I assumed the open comments here were an invitation by Cassandra for honest discussion, not an invitation to be a sycophant to her positions.

In short, you can keep these rights inalienable, and still argue that the state should be allowed to deny a crappy father custody of his children.

To expand on noumena's excellent point here, note that the Constition allows for the denial of "life, liberty and process" as long as "due process of law" takes place before said denial. This is why we can imprison criminals and take away rights like free association, free speech and voting.

(On a related note, one wonders how the "right to choose" can co-exist with the 5th amendemtns requirement that life not be denied without due process. Certainly a fetus in the womb is a growing and living thing, and aborting it kills it, but perhaps that's a topic best left discussed after the father's rights stuff).

I have not read the Shared Parenting Initiative, but I will look it up and research it, and include it in my next post about the family law reform initiative. I'd like to talk to you at the fair, but I live in GF: I may not be able to make it all the way to Minot for the fair.

If you do I'll be at the booth. Otherwise, if you'd like to discuss this matter my contact info is available on my blog. You'll see there that I am quite conservative, politically. I see, according to your profile, that you are a self-described liberal. I don't think we should let left-right politics cloud the issues surrounding father's rights, however. To me it is not a Demcorats vs. Republicans thing.

I like forward to engaging you on this topic as it is both an interesting one and an important one to society at large. I think a lot of our ills in society could be cured, or at least made better, by a family law system that is more inclusive of fathers.

On a totally unrelated note, I'm quite fascinated by some of your essays on this site, though obviously I disagree with many of your opinions. You are an excellent writer. If you ever want to post some of this to a larger audience (my readers are from a wide spectrum of political views) I'd be happy to give you access to post at my site. You could cross-post from here or whatever.

Granted, the discussions in my comment section get a little heated (Teddy's invective in the comments to this post seems like a pat on the head compared to some of what I get at my own blog), but we're talking politics over the internet. What do you expect?

Let me know if you're interested.

 
At 9:02 AM, Anonymous belok said...

http://www.swiss.ai.mit.edu/%7Erauch/nvp/consistent/hentoff_rights.html

Check out the above article by a jewish atheist civil libertarian prolifer -- according to him people like the lady at the pro-life booth you spoke with are like the people fighting for civil rights -- great read!

 
At 7:49 PM, Blogger Goddess Cassandra said...

You and I seem to have a very different definition of "great", belok.

The pro-life movement is not about securing ANYBODY's Rights, and therefore is not comparably to abolitionists. If anything, they are upholding slavery: they are forcing women to do nine monthes of unpaid, grueling labor. That is slavery: unchosen, unpaid labor.

And the lady at the booth was even worse: not only was she trying to punish women, she was using dishonest scare tactics (which are NEVER a good idea) to do so.

Abolitionists my ass.

 
At 9:01 AM, Anonymous Belok said...

How about this: Your rights to privicy, free speech and religous belief are all dependent on you first being alive, correct? i.e. If you are not a living person, you have no rights.

If the state ignores the right to life what should follow (the freedoms and the pursuit to happyness art) don't really mean anything -- if one group of our society is without these rights, it is fair to say they are an allusion for the rest of us. You never want a governmet deciding when life begins or were it ends, or else you a get a mid-1930s germany on your hands -- not cool.

So, the prolifers are fighting exacly this: the right of a person concieved to be born, so that he or she may exercise all other rights -- you and I are not truely free until abortion is illegal just like blacks in the north were not truely free until blacks in the south were free.

Your arguement is that the women is forced into labor -- this can be used to argue for killing a two week old baby because wakeing up in the middle of the night to feed a crying baby is a cake walk compared to pregnancy. If it is justifyable to kill a person two weeks after they are concieved, why is it not justifyable to kills them two weeks after they are born? Also, pregnancy is not slavery -- for one, the child is innocent and the state is trying to protect the rights of the innocent. Regardless of how the baby got there -- or wether the mother will keep him/her after their born, doesn't change teh fact the person is innocent.

Try to keep an open mind -- try to understand were the prolifers are coming from.

Thanks! Bye!

 
At 9:06 AM, Anonymous Belok said...

please forgive me, I meant to saypregancy is a cake walk compared to waking up in teh middle of the night to feed a crying baby.

Also, I meant to say illusion instead of allusion :)

I am not as good a writer as you are -- Peace!

 
At 7:11 PM, Blogger Goddess Cassandra said...

belok:

If your not alive, the rights of the country do not apply to you. That is somewhat of a "Duh" thing here.

A fetus is not a human being, nor is a zygote or an embroyo. To say that a zygote is the equivilent of a human is to minimize the work a female does to create life. There is more than mighty sperm magic to create life.

The women is a human being, undenibly. To ignore her rights is anti-civil liberities.

Furthermore, a mother does not HAVE to feed a crying baby in the middle of the night, anymore than a sperm-donor does. There's adoption, there's other people that are capable of taking care of babies. It is not a single person's life or health at risk.

 
At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Belok said...

This is cool, I am sure you would agree these are important issues that need to be discussed logically before one decideds which side of the issue they are going to take.

When does some one become a human being? How do you know a fetus is not a human being?

I never said zygotes were human. Or alive for that matter. Zygotes do not eat consume oxygen, grow, or have a complete set of genes. A fetus has all of these things in common with a living creature. Now, the question is, is this creature a human being?

When the zygotes meet, you have a single cell that contains the genetic makeup of a human being -- you can scientificaly determine the gender, hair color, etc, as if the material came from an adult. So genetically the fetus is a human being. Now, after the cell has multiplied, say to be comprised of 16 or so cells, microscope movie images have shown that 3 to 4 of these cells start to twitch -- this is believed to be the first muscle cells of the heart!

So when does a fetus become human? Of course I think it's at conception but what are the options? If you go by viabilty, this is like around 20-24 weeks after conception (when there is a chance the baby can be born and with aid live). Funny thing is science might get to the point when viability is at or soon after conception. Hwat about implantation? When about when the chord is cut? Each of my children cried before cutting the ubilical chord. Or does one become a human being when they can think rationally and comunicate? Or the age at which they remember things? That would be 2-3 years old for most people. If you have a series of events, wouldn't you logically pick the earliest when you can be sure that "before this time there was nothing -- after this time there was something"? You think killing people is wrong, don't you? If you think it doesn't matter in the case of abortion because the fetus hasn't done anything productive or human like yet, what is your definition of that? How solid is it?

I have thought about all of this, but would like to hear your opinions (because I think I used to think the way you do).

Lastly, for completness sake, you could, if you wanted to see the truth, look at pictures of an aborted 7week old:

http://www.priestsforlife.org/resources/photosbyage/index.htm

 
At 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Belok is getting his zygotes mixed up with his gametes -- the egg and sperm are gametes and they meet to form a zygote.

 
At 1:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

** If anything, they are upholding **slavery: they are forcing women **to do nine monthes of unpaid, **grueling labor. That is slavery: **unchosen, unpaid labor.

It's not forced or unchosen. The woman (unless she was raped) made a choice. Besides, what's 9 months compared with the 18 years of forced labor a man would have to endure for a woman's choice?

 

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