Showing posts with label Men's Rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Men's Rights. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: The Jason Patric Situation

We've discussed some of the issues around child custody and parental rights before. If you are a man and you impregnate a woman, whether you are married to her or not, there is the strong possibility that the state will force you to, if not act as an actual on site father to your child, to at least pay some of your income to the mother for child support. The amount you pay can depend on a number of factors including how good your lawyers are, what the child has become accustomed to, how rich you are, how much of your income or wealth is legal and easily estimated and identified by child support auditors, how easy you are to locate, which judge you get, how aggressively the mother of your child wishes to pursue child support and how aggressively you wish to pursue joint or sole custody. And if you're married and your wife is playing house with other men, well generally you're also responsible for financially supporting any resulting children even if you don't find out about it until years after the fact. Deal with it. We hear a lot about how too many men refuse to support their kids, to "man up" and marry the mothers of their children or prefer to run around impregnating various women who apparently had the bad luck to slip and fall on the man's you know what. Some people even argue that the rise in single motherhood and/or out of wedlock births is mostly men's fault.

Well maybe. But if there's one thing I know for sure it's that it takes two to tango. The recent story below the fold about the actor Jason Patric and his struggle with one time girlfriend/friend with benefits/paramour/booty call Danielle Schreiber to be included in their son's life was fascinating to me. It reminded me of some of our previous discussions as well as the unacknowledged dangers inherent in alternate family units and new reproductive technologies.

LOS ANGELES — He is a movie star who shot to fame on a motorcycle in “The Lost Boys.” She is a California massage therapist from a prominent East Coast family. Four years ago, with his sperm, her eggs and the wonder of in vitro fertilization, they produced a child. From there, the tale gets very, very messy. For the last two years, Jason Patric and Danielle Schreiber have been waging what has become one of the highest-profile custody fights in the country — one that scrambles a gender stereotype, raises the question of who should be considered a legal parent and challenges state laws that try to bring order to the Wild West of nonanonymous sperm donations. 
Ms. Schreiber, an American civilization graduate of Brown University who runs a Rolfing massage practice in Los Angeles, met Mr. Patric in 2002 when he went to her as a massage client and the two became a couple, dating off and on for a decade.  She had long wanted to be a mother, according to a family member. But pregnancy attempts with Mr. Patric did not go well. “I even had a surgery to increase our chances,” he said in an interview last week. They decided in 2009 (at a time when they were not romantically involved but still friendly) to pursue artificial insemination. Along came Gus, named after Ms. Schreiber’s paternal grandfather.  
The baby eventually helped rekindle a romance between Ms. Schreiber and Mr. Patric, although they never formally moved in together. For the next two years, Mr. Patric said that he played a parental role (“I took him to get circumcised when he was 8 days old”) and that Gus, now 4, referred to him as “Dada” in videos and messages. “Thank you for teaching me to pee in the toilet, watch airplanes, learn Beatles songs. I love you Dada, Gus,” read a card that was written by Ms. Schreiber, given to Mr. Patric and later presented as evidence in court.  Then, in June 2012, the couple broke up for good. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Patric filed a paternity suit for shared custody. According to both sides, there was legal mediation, during which time Gus continued to see Mr. Patric. But then, according to court filings, Ms. Schreiber abruptly started to withhold visits....
Now I know of some men who are pretty crappy fathers. I also know of some women who are horrible mothers. It's just part of life. I have friends of both genders who occasionally vent about how much they hate their ex. I can sympathize. However absent some clear proof of threat, violence or unfitness, I don't think either parent should be able to unilaterally exclude the other parent from their child's life. I don't think that the child's relationship with their parent should be hostage to how the other parent feels. Again, obviously this idea of mine doesn't apply to child molesters, drunks, substance abusers, rapists, abusers, other criminals, etc. I can count the women I truly hate in this world on the fingers of one hand and still have most fingers left. Fortunately I do not have children with them. But if I did I would have to find a way, even if only for the child's sake to be (temporarily) civil, and allow the child to have a relationship with his or her mother. It's not my right to interfere with that. In my view it's almost sinful. That goes for either gender. I am suspicious of Schreiber's restraining order, coming as it did in a custody dispute.

So I think it's a little unfair and hypocritical for society to castigate men for shirking fatherly responsibilities and then turn around and try to prevent a man from doing just that. But maybe Patric should never have agreed to donate his sperm. Maybe he should have insisted on marrying this woman and/or doing things the old way. So maybe he's just out of luck. I certainly don't think that we should use this case to tear down anonymity for egg/sperm donors or allow such anonymous donors to show up out of the blue years later and start demanding parental rights. But to focus on the in vitro aspect of this case as Schreiber's partisans would like to do misses the point that this child, however he was conceived, was the product of two people who had an ongoing relationship with one another.

If we say that Patric has no parental rights because he was unmarried and/or used the wrong sort of technology to become a biological father then it seems we'd have to make other changes. Should we also say that no unmarried man has the right to demand fatherly rights AND that no unmarried woman has the right to demand child support? Somehow I think that second part would get more people's attention. Not married to the father? Sorry lady, no child support for your child. Better luck next time. Most people, and certainly not just unmarried mothers, would see that rule as horribly unfair to the child. Well isn't it horribly unfair to a child to prevent him or her from having a relationship with the father?


Thursday, May 2, 2013

You Deserve Rape: Free Speech or Harassment?

How far do you think the First Amendment protections on free speech should stretch? In a famous Supreme Court case which then restricted the ability of anti-war citizens to distribute anti-war literature, the Court said that a person could not falsely yell fire in a crowded theater. I think the example was a good one although the actual case opinion was in my view horribly incorrect.

"The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. [...] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent." LINK

This standard was fortunately later modified in the 1969 Brandenburg decision which allowed that free speech could not be restricted unless, among other reasons, it incited or was likely to incite imminent lawless action. I'm guessing this would for example include such things as standing up in a courtroom where your loved one was about to be sentenced and yelling out to your numerous friends and family "Let's burn this muyerfuyer down and kill that judge!!". That's probably going to get you removed from the courtroom and arrested. There are some other instances in which free speech protections do not apply: threats, lies, copyright infringement, parental rights over children, and a few other circumstances which don't much interest me for purposes of this post. Of course my blog partners Old Guru and The Janitor can easily give chapter and verse on exactly where free speech is and is not limited legally. It's what they do. But I'm not only interested on where the legal line currently is but rather where do you think it should be?

In Arizona there may be another test case, not necessarily legally, but culturally and politically of where we think free speech ends and harassment begins. At the University of Arizona a student protested Take Back the Night rallies and designation of April as sexual assault awareness month by holding a sign that read "You deserve rape".
A student holding a sign that read “You deserve rape” ignited outrage across campus Tuesday, on the same day of a sexual assault awareness event, but administrators declined requests to remove him or his sign. 
Dean Saxton — also known as Brother Dean Samuel — regularly preaches on the UA Mall in front of Heritage Hill and the Administration building. On Tuesday, his sermon drew the attention of onlookers, several of whom either personally confronted him or complained to the Dean of Students Office. 
The Dean of Students Office received stacks of written complaints, emails and multiple phone calls regarding Saxton’s sermon about women, said Kendal Washington White, interim dean of students. Saxton has never directly threatened anyone in particular, and his language has been general enough that he isn’t targeting a particular person, White said. However, a university attorney was contacted to discuss the situation. “We find it to be vulgar and vile,” White said. “However, it is protected speech. He has yet to, at this point, violate the student code of conduct.”
Saxton, a junior studying classics and religious studies, said his sermon was meant to convey that “if you dress like a whore, act like a whore, you’re probably going to get raped.”  “I think that girls that dress and act like it,” Saxton said, “they should realize that they do have partial responsibility, because I believe that they’re pretty much asking for it.”
I think this is a classic case of "I disapprove or what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it."  I tend to think that the best remedy for bad speech is good the public sphere. That last is important. I don't hold that there is any free speech right to come to a blog and insult people, visit someone's home and curse out the owner or even for the government to insist that a private organization accept an individual member who has previously stated his or her fervent opposition to the group's goals. And often once a parent tells a child that "this conversation is over", well that's the end of that. Usually in my household that particular phrase was a warning signal that this was my final chance to sit down and be quiet before more convincing methods were used. Obviously in a private workplace, someone carrying that same sign Saxton is carrying likely would be fired immediately, forcibly escorted from the premises and possibly sued. So those are all exceptions to "free speech" with which I'm fine.

But in the public sphere where the government is able, willing and eager to use coercive methods that are simply not available to blog moderators, company managers or strict parents, I think we need to be very careful about suggesting that some ideas can't be expressed or worse yet, must be punished after the fact if anyone dares to express them.

The country is full of people who have repugnant ideas. Whether we like it or not, they have the right to express them. Although I might well enjoy forcing certain people to shut up  , whatever political coalition gives me the power to take that action and play censor may be fleeting. So in the not too distant future I might be forced to give up my free speech rights by "bad guys" who find my ideas repugnant. That's not acceptable. Even folks who are in the same general political spectrum as I am can often have surprisingly and to my way of thinking, ridiculously different ideas about topics. They may think that banning this or that idea is a small price to pay for harmony. So it goes.

Saxton's speech may well be hateful and may make people uncomfortable. But that's exactly the sort of speech the First Amendment was designed to protect. Unless Saxton makes a particularized threat to someone or otherwise disrupts class I don't see where the university has or should have the power to prevent him from expressing his opinion. One man's free speech is another woman's hostile environment. In the public sphere I think protecting the right to free speech is more valuable than supposed completing claims like freedom from hate speech or hostile environments. Anything stating someone deserves sexual assault is wrong, obviously. But saying "You deserve rape" in a general sense is different from saying you're going to rape a particular person. One is free speech, albeit ugly, while the other is an actionable threat which should see someone locked up. Of course Saxton's message is not directed at my gender. So maybe I can afford to be rather blase about it. Though in truth I'd feel the same way if he started carrying around a sign endorsing theories of racial inferiority. What if the message is directed at you? What if you are a woman who is wearing a skirt that is too short, heels that are too high or a top that's too tight or too revealing for Saxton's preference. Does your opinion change? Does Saxton deserve a punch in the mouth?


1) Is this free speech?

2) Should the student code of conduct change to make things like this actionable?

3) Should public schools or universities have exemptions from First Amendment protections in order to provide safe environments?

4) Should hate speech lack First Amendment protection?

5) Should Saxton be expelled?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Catherine Kieu and Domestic Violence: Double Standards

Driving into work this morning unfortunately there was nothing on the sports stations I was interested in listening to so I decided to check out the talk show host Mildred Gaddis. She splits her show between political sections and relationship sections, with the latter coming second. I was running very late this morning so I caught her show in the relationship segment. She, and most of her female callers were laughing at something. Most of the male callers didn't think whatever they were talking about was funny at all and that, (paraphrasing one) "the woman should spend life under the jail". I was intrigued but still didn't know what they were talking about. And I was getting closer to work. There were a few commercial breaks. Finally, after one woman caller said "the man deserved it", another woman caller said "it's too bad the garbage disposal didn't work better" and another woman caller said that "she allowed him to call 911, how bad could she be?" and yet another claimed "men need to learn how to act" ,all of which was met with roaring laughter by Gaddis, it started to click for me. They were talking about the beginning trial of alleged (although it's conceded she did it) genital mutilator Catherine Kieu , who in a fit of jealous rage, poisoned her estranged husband, chopped off his penis and threw it in the garbage disposal.

Remember this story?
SANTA ANA, Calif. - A Garden Grove man tearfully testified Wednesday that his estranged wife "murdered him" the night she allegedly laced his food with a sleep drug and tied him to his bed before castrating him and tossing his penis into a garbage disposal.
Catherine Kieu, 50, is accused of slashing off her the victim's penis with a kitchen knife on July 11, 2011.
"She murdered me that night," he testified Wednesday afternoon.
According to the prosecution, Kieu was furious that her estranged husband was dating a former girlfriend, so she drugged him by lacing his meal with Ambien, and when he passed out, tied him up, castrated him and tossed his penis into the garbage disposal.
Catherine Kieu's attorney countered that his client suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and did not have the required mental state to be convicted of the charges she faces -- aggravated mayhem and torture, with a sentence-enhancing knife-use allegation.
If convicted, she faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole....

As I mentioned, I was way behind schedule this morning due to an unfortunate series of events so I did not have the interest or opportunity to check all of the various reactions over the past two years to this crime. But as far as I know the victim has to this day not been invited to the White House to discuss any Violence Against Men Act nor has any Senator or Congressman/woman adopted him as a cause celebre in the struggle against domestic violence. No one with mainstream media access has angrily pointed to his case as an example of the need to teach women not to mutilate. I do remember that when this story first broke, some women, just like the women I listened to on the radio this morning, thought that cutting off a man's penis and throwing it down the garbage disposal while he bleeds out was quite humorous. In fact one claimed that if she were Maria Shriver, that's what she would have done to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Ok. Well we're all adults. Sometimes we may find things that are horribly inappropriate funny. Everyone has a different sense of humor after all. But see I'm a bit confused. We're constantly bombarded with messages that there's no excuse for violence against women, rape (of women) is never funny, dongle jokes aren't funny, fat jokes aren't funny, stop blaming the victim, blah, blah, blah. 
Fair enough. But violence against anyone should be deplored, not just that against women. 
And when some of the same people that would howl the loudest if someone made a joke about male on female domestic violence yuk it up over a woman permanently mutilating her estranged husband, it sends a mixed message at best. At worse it shows that some people are some horrible hypocrites.  Domestic violence against men is much more common than people realize.

If we're going to teach people that domestic violence is wrong it has to go both ways.  No matter how angry (justifiably or not) someone may become because their partner isn't doing what they want or is cheating on them or whatever, there must be a firm no hands rule enforced equally regardless of gender. Violence, particularly horrific violence that changes someone for life, isn't funny. Kieu is someone who should be locked up for life. Her victim is someone who deserves sympathy, not mockery. Your spouse, significant other or provider of thy nookie is "yours" only in the sense that they want to be. You don't own them. You can't punish them as if they were children or dispose of them as if they were property. When people forget that, male or female, they get into trouble. The fact that Gaddis ,and many but not all of her listeners, thought this story was funny and that the man somehow deserved it, says something not very good about gender relations. I can't imagine too many male media personalities making fun of a maimed female victim and keeping their jobs.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Kansas: Who's Your Daddy???

What does it mean to be a father?

A male person whose sperm unites with an egg, resulting in the conception of a child.
A man who adopts a child.
A man who raises a child.

Ideally I think the first and third definitions of that word should be found in the same man. But for better or worse times have changed. Most children born to women under thirty are being raised in single parent (primarily mother only) homes. Women who are lesbian or bisexual are marrying each other and bearing children or, in states where such marriages are not recognized, living together cobbling together piecemeal, such legal recognition as they can get.

I generally don't care about such changes though I'm not completely convinced they're good for the children involved or for society as a whole. I'm somewhat conservative socially. But it's not my life and the kids involved aren't mine so whatever the adults want to do in pursuit of their own happiness is more or less just dandy with me, provided they and their kids keep their hands out of my wallet and do not try to tell me what to think.

Of course, biology being what it is, it isn't possible for anyone in a gay male couple to bear children or for anyone in a lesbian couple to sire children. Those actions must be taken with the help of others, i.e. often surrogate mothers or sperm donors. Presumably, unless you happen to be a polygamist looking to deepen his bench, two's company and three's a crowd. The surrogate/donor is usually not asked to be a part of the gay/lesbian couple's life or the child's life. The surrogate/donor might be asked to sign a document giving away rights. Everyone's different of course but many state laws do not recognize more than one mother and one father nor do they accept "gender neutral" roles for father and mother.

So far so good, right? Well not so fast. In Kansas, this brave new world hit a speed bump when the happy lesbian couple depicted above broke up. The woman who wasn't the biological mother of a three year old girl came down with an undisclosed illness that prevented her from working and thus providing support to this girl (they have others). So the couple did what thousands of people do and applied for assistance from the State of Kansas. And the State of Kansas did what many states do and looked for the nearest man to shake down for support. In this case that turned out to be one William Marotta, the man who was the sperm donor.
A lesbian couple who found a sperm donor on Craigslist three years ago never meant the man to be any more than just that, and they are supporting his fight against the state’s request he pay child support.
“We’re kind of at a loss,” Topekan Angela Bauer, 40, said Saturday, speaking on behalf of her and her former partner, Jennifer Schreiner. “We are going to support him in whatever action he wants to go forward with.”The Kansas Department for Children and Families has filed a child support claim against Topekan William Marotta, who provided sperm used to artificially inseminate Schreiner. Bauer and Schreiner, 34, placed an ad for a sperm donor on Craigslist in March 2009.
Marotta responded, agreeing to relinquish all parental rights, including financial responsibility to the child.After the couple filed for assistance earlier this year, the state welfare agency demanded they provide the donor’s name so it could collect child support. The state has that authority, court documents state, because the insemination wasn’t performed by a licensed physician, thus making the contract void.
Without the donor’s name, the department told the women, it wouldn’t provide health benefits to their now 3-year-old girl — something Bauer no longer can provide because a diagnosis has left her incapable of working and in and out of rehabilitation since March.“This was a wonderful opportunity with a guy with an admirable, giving character who wanted nothing more than to help us have a child,” she said. “I feel like the state of Kansas has made a mess out of the situation.”

Marotta, needless to say, wasn't overly ecstatic about the state trying to take money from him for child support. He may have tried to do the right thing but he didn't dot the i's and cross the t's. As far as Kansas is concerned, the music has stopped and he has no chair. The law is the law. Inspector Javert or Stannis Baratheon would understand but Marotta does not.
In the long run, I think this will be a good thing, but I'm the one getting squashed," Marotta said. "I can't even believe it's gone this far at this point, and there's not a damn thing I can do about it."Though his attorneys, Benoit Swinnen and Hannah Schroller, are charging him reduced rates, Marotta said he expects the legal fees to eventually be more than he can afford. He is predominantly a mechanic but said he is currently working in a different field. He and his wife, Kimberly, have no biological children but care for foster children."I've already paid more than 10 percent of my yearly salary, and I don't know many folks who are willing to give up more than 10 percent of their yearly income," he said.
The state contends the agreement between Marotta and the women is not valid because Kansas law requires a licensed physician to perform artificial insemination.
"Speaking generally, all individuals who apply for taxpayer-funded benefits through DCF are asked to cooperate with child support enforcement efforts," Angela de Rocha, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department for Children and Families, said in a statement. "If a sperm donor makes his contribution through a licensed physician and a child is conceived, the donor is held harmless under state statue. In cases where the parties do not go through a physician or a clinic, there remains the question of who actually is the father of a child or children.
This is a mess. Marotta never intended to be a father to the child and from what I can tell has not been. I don't think the law is designed for this unique situation. But I also know that once this is adjudicated, the state and/or Marotta's employer won't care about anything other than making sure an exact amount of money is extracted from Marotta's paycheck at least once or twice a month for the next fifteen years or so. I think that Bauer, the woman who can't work because of her medical issue, is the person the state should be going after. I don't think too many women who needed child support from a man would be overly sympathetic were that man to claim some sort of disability and resulting inability to work. More importantly I know the state wouldn't be too understanding. In fact the state might even do something as unfriendly as garnishing wages or other income or even put the man in jail until he remembered other funds he had. So why should this case be any different? This raises other questions.
Kansas does not recognize gay marriages. In its zeal to take money from someone it sees as a "deadbeat dad", could it be on the verge of unintentionally recognizing gay/polygamous marriages? Kansas is saying that someone who is not legally married to the women and isn't acting as a father, nevertheless has responsibilities that would normally accrue to a father or ex-husband. Interesting. As two people of the same gender can't create life, are pro-gay marriage partisans willing to help update child support laws so that it would be crystal clear that sperm donors only agree to use of their sperm and freely divest themselves from any fatherly financial responsibilities?  But wait there's more!

Why wouldn't such new laws also be available to heterosexual men and women? This brings up the "choice for men" debate. Should a heterosexual man be able to stipulate to a heterosexual woman that he is only interested in sex? If a woman decides to carry any pregnancy to term, the donor would have no legal or financial responsibility. If a man can say that to a lesbian couple he's assisting, why couldn't he say that to a heterosexual woman he's seeing? Should we rework the entire child support system to make marriage (gay or straight) the only structure in which child support will be ordered and enforced?

Perhaps this Kansas situation is an excellent argument FOR gay marriage. If the women were legally married there would be less chance of an outsider being held responsible for child support. If Kansas prevails here, I imagine that there will soon be fewer or lower quality sperm donors to be found. But if you're trolling for baby daddies on Craigslist, quality is probably not your highest goal. Anyway go ahead, play Solomon.


What's the right thing to do here?

Should sperm donation always be anonymous?

Should the man pay child support?

Should a man be able to donate sperm and forever avoid fatherly responsibilities?

Should the non-biological mother pay child support?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gender Quotas for US Elected Offices?

There will be 20 women in the US Senate in 2013. This is a record. But if you're anxious to smash the patriarchy and make everything "equal" this isn't anywhere near good enough. Thus some people wonder if the time hasn't come to dust off Title IX. Instead of applying it to college or high school sports or ridiculously threatening to expand its jurisdiction to the scientific classroom, some think the US should have political gender quotas for elected seats. Some people would want women to be guaranteed at least 30% representation in elected bodies while others demand 50% representation in the US Senate.  Each state would have to have one man and one woman as its Senator. 

It is a source of constant amusement to me that Harrison Bergeron, a dystopic satire by a left-leaning writer, has instead become a virtual guidebook for some earnest current left-wingers (and a bete noire for right-wingers) who really are obsessed with trying to enforce equality of results no matter what. 

You don't have to be a fervent racist or chauvinist to understand that people aren't the same and have different interests. Looking at the state of the world today I wouldn't argue that men are better at leadership but they definitely seem to be more interested in leadership. Should we pretend that the gender that is literally awash in testosterone and aggression and gets certain (ahem) benefits from the other gender for seeking, holding and expressing status and power would not then on average show greater interest in obtaining formal leadership positions? Every single American man who's been elected to office in the past ninety two years has had to appeal to women voters. What we see is what the electorate, men and women, want. Maybe the electorate is wrong, bigoted, behind the times, etc. Maybe. But ultimately power resides in the people.

It may well be a feminist truism that men and women are roughly identical and interchangeable and thus any societal differences are solely an example of invidious discrimination. But just believing something doesn't make it so. We still have a legal and constitutional system that would, I hope, make it difficult for gender quotas to be used. I don't think that such quotas could be reconciled with equal protection concerns or the right to freedom of association. How can we tell voters that their choice will be limited by gender? 

And enforcement would be unpleasant if not impossible. Let's say that a insurgent political movement led by a honest, hardworking charismatic man arises and defeats the moribund ineffective Democratic (woman) Senator. But as the state's Republican Senator, who's not up for re-election this year is a man, that would mean that the state would then be sending two men to the Senate. No good. All those votes for the new guy were thus meaningless. Are we going to tell the rising star that sorry, he can't serve in the US Senate because he has an outie instead of an innie? Does that sound remotely American?

Bad policy arises from bad ideas. There are two bad ideas here. The first is that you can only or best be politically represented by someone who shares your immutable physical traits. If everyone felt that way then we'd not have the President we have nor would a decent politician like Steve Cohen ever have served. What matters is not so much what you look like but what you do. 
The second bad idea is that men and women are interchangeable and ought to be doing the exact same things in the same proportion. That's never been and never will be the case in human society. Men and women are of equal value but they are rather obviously not identical. And women can be just as mean, greedy, short-sighted, ignorant and bigoted as men. There is certainly no guarantee that having more women making or executing law will produce better results. Would you enjoy a President Palin? Michele Bachmann as head of HHS? Is it better for South Carolina pro-choice women that right wing pro-life Nikki Haley is governor instead of a right wing pro-life man? There is no law preventing interested women from running for office.
There is no law preventing political parties and interest groups from encouraging women candidates, donating to women candidates or even leaning on male potential candidates to sit an election out because the party wants more women to run. 
There is no law preventing current women (or men) elected officials from identifying and mentoring potential women candidates. 

Right now, if you've got the guts, intelligence and the heart to do it you can run for political office. There should not be a federal law preventing you from doing so because of your gender. Period. Gender quotas are the political equivalent of giving everyone in a sports event a trophy. It's a silly idea and debases the challenge. This idea also shows a nasty hostility to the voter's choice.

I believe in equality of opportunity. I don't believe in legally requiring equality of results. I think our system can occasionally get away with a small thumb on the scale where there is historical or ongoing discrimination. But quotas go way beyond that. There is a tension between freedom and equality just as there is between freedom and safety. The US body politic has mostly tended towards freedom. Our constitution is set up that way. However there are some powerful currents that tend toward equality and safety at the expense of freedom. 

The voters must be able to choose the best woman or man for a particular job without being prevented from doing so by a particular interest group that decides it doesn't like current gender (or any other kind of) political demographics. Black people are roughly 13% of the population and have no Senate seats. Jewish people are about 3% of the population and have eleven Senate seats. Hispanic people are about 15% of the population and have three Senate seats. Left-handed redheaded bisexual agnostics are 2% of the population and on and on and on. If you go down the path of political quotas, pack a lunch because it's gonna be a long haul.


1) Do you think there will ever be proportional gender representation in Congress and the Senate?

2) Do quotas have any place in American politics? Do you think they're legal?

3) Have you ever read Harrison Bergeron?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cleveland Bus Driver Uppercuts Girl

Last night many of us watched Vice-President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan launch verbal bombs at each other (and then heartily congratulate each other and their families after the debate). Nobody used profanity, nobody insulted anyone's mother, and nobody made bloody threats about what they were going to do to the other person.

However on the Cleveland bus system recently a different sort of debate took place, one that evidently started with profanity and threats and escalated to violence. I don't know what started this fracas as the video starts in the middle of an angry tirade from a teen girl young woman against the bus driver (a grown man). It is difficult to even make out much of what she's saying. But she clearly threatens the driver who responds that he will have his daughter or granddaughter handle her. Often times, especially in areas that are EXTREMELY touchy about personal honor and disrespect (any inner city) a mutual exchange of insults and threats would have been enough and both parties, honor having been upheld, could go about their business. I've seen that more times than I care to recall.  For whatever reason though this young lady decided to get physical with the man. And then... well just watch the video.


Now I am not a person who automatically thinks that a man never has reason to hit a woman. There are violent, brutish women out there. Domestic abuse can be a two way street. Self-defense is a human right.

Would I have handled it this way? The fact that the man got up and walked towards the teen woman would seem to indicate that self-defense was not really the case. But on the other hand if you let someone hit you once, they'll hit you again. And if you start a fight, well you never know the capacity or the mindset of the other person. That girl woman is probably comparable to that bus driver in terms of size or strength as I am to Clay Matthews, Ray Lewis, Mike Tyson or Vitali Klitschko. And if I walked up to them talking stuff and then hit them and they retaliated I suspect that once it appeared on various tube sites that people would fall out laughing. I would NEVER hear the end of it from blog partners, other friends or ESPECIALLY relatives. That's why you would never see me do such a remarkably stupid thing. Don't let your mouth write a check your behind can't cash. It's too late for the teen's woman's friends to talk about "that's a female" after she stepped in the ring. People talk a lot about "equality". To steal a line from Inigo Montoya, "People keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means".

I am a traditionalist in some aspects. Men-women relations is definitely one. Men should not hit women but neither should women hit men. Basically everyone should keep their hands to themselves. This is also why I am not a fan of public transit.  People just can't act right. No home training. =)


1) Was the bus driver justified? Should he be arrested? Fired?

2) Does the girl have a lawsuit against the City of Cleveland?

3) Should there be police or security guards on buses?

4) Why on earth would that teen hit a grown man?

5) Is this evidence of something wrong in gender relations or just something wrong with a teen girl?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Father Daughter Dances: Gender Discrimination??

I am for the most part on the progressive side of the spectrum. But there are a few places, often involving what are referred to as "social" issues, where I am not. In fact there are some areas where I think self-styled progressives are full of it. This story out of Rhode Island is one such instance.

Father-daughter dances and mother-son ballgames -- those cherished hallmarks of Americana -- have been banned in a Rhode Island school district after they were targeted by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU, the self-proclaimed guardian of the nation's liberty, says such events violate the state's gender-discrimination law. The organization challenged their existence following a complaint from a single mom who said her daughter was prevented from attending a father-daughter dance in the Cranston Public Schools district.
The story has created a furor both online as well as in Cranston, a community located south of Providence and considered one of the safest places in America.
"[Parent-teacher organizations] remain free to hold family dances and other events, but the time has long since passed for public school resources to encourage stereotyping from the days of Ozzie and Harriet. Not every girl today is interested in growing up to be Cinderella -- not even in Cranston. In fact, one of them might make a great major league baseball player someday.

For my money it appears that some people who would make a fuss over a father daughter dance aren't so much trying to prevent "gender discrimination" as they are trying to impose their framework of gender relations upon everyone else. Just for the record I am against "gender discrimination" but I don't think father-daughter or for that matter mother-son activities fall under that rubric. And if they do according to Rhode Island law then the law is stupid and needs to be either ignored or better yet changed. It's little things like this that make people on the bubble withdraw from public society and only engage in their own private social networks. I mean this is ridiculous. A state is actually saying that a father-daughter dance is "gender discrimination". Why would I want my kids to attend public schools if public schools are going to have to submit to that sort of foolishness? I would pull them out to a private school and start agitating 24-7 to reduce teacher pay and school funding. Were I an ACLU member (and I happen to be) I would question making donations.
Not everything is for everybody. If a young girl doesn't have a father in her home or in her life but would still like to attend a father-daughter dance the proper response should be to have an uncle, cousin, grandfather, older brother, in-law or properly vetted family friend or priest stand in to escort the child. The correct response is not to shut down the entire project because someone in the ACLU apparently has issues with traditional gender roles or heterosexuality itself. Maybe these little girls are being trained for future oppression by having a school sponsored dance with Daddy. Oh the horror, the horror!!!!! Are we going to shut down proms because not everyone could get a date?
Sometimes people who are pro gay marriage wonder why opponents even care. Well things like this are part of the reason. The idea that gender is or ought to be irrelevant in almost every instance is an article of faith for a vocal section of the left. This underlying idea is what leads some to enthusiastically support gay marriage but it also leads to some people having barely disguised hostility to cultural artifacts of gender distinction like father-daughter dances. I mean who sits around thinking that we need to stamp out father-daughter dances because otherwise we'll never have any female major league baseball players? Somebody explain to me how that works because I'm not seeing the connection. Whatever happened to if you don't like or can't participate in an activity, don't do it? Right? If you don't like gay marriage, don't marry someone of the same sex. If you don't like abortion, don't have one. If you don't like opposite gender family to the state and get them shut down because they offend your delicate sensibilities.
The US is the midst of a transition, really a decline, in which for women under thirty most births occur outside of marriage. I don't think this is good for men, women, or children or society as a whole. I may write more about that at a later time. With so many single mothers, there will be many more daughters who may not grow up with their father. That's unfortunate. Good paternal relations can head off a host of problems down the line. But for those daughters who do live with their father or at least have a relationship with him, let's not prevent them from enjoying a happy and harmless little tradition like a father-daughter dance. What's wrong with some common sense?


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Preglimony: A Really Bad Idea??

If a child is born and its parents do not live together the state may intervene to determine which parent should get custody (usually this is the woman) and which parent must pay child support (usually this is the man). There is a lot of bias in the above two determinations. Additionally if a child is born and the man and woman are married, but the husband later discovers his wife was letting another mule kick in her stall, so to speak, and the child is not his it doesn't really matter. Generally speaking a child born within marriage is presumed to be the husband's child and he is responsible for the child's support. So the man pays. Again this seems really unfair and certainly isn't how I would have designed our society's culture and laws but hey I just got here. The overriding rule seems to be that the man pays.

Until relatively recently one could at least say that a man would be paying to support an actual child-that is a human being that was born and had actually exited his mother's body. Because it was only then that science could safely perform the paternity tests and the mother and any number of men could go on The Maury Povich Show and make fools of themselves.

But science is always expanding the realm of what is possible and has advanced to the point that we can learn quite a lot of things, including paternity, about the child before it is born.

For people who do things the right way, i.e. are married and/or committed to each other before children are created, this is no big deal. But for people that aren't married, aren't committed to each other or are in situations in which the man has very good reason to doubt the woman's fidelity, this could be a very big deal. However gender politics being what they are, one law professor thinks that the new science should be used to shake men down for child support money before the child is born. How will "preglimony" make a difference in the child's life while the "child" is still in the womb?

Rather than focusing on the relationship between the man and a hypothetical child, the new technology invites us to change the way we think about the relationship between unmarried lovers who conceive. Both partners had a role in the conception; it’s only fair that they should both take responsibility for its economic consequences.
Former spouses are often required to pay alimony; former cohabiting partners may have to pay palimony; why not ask men who conceive with a woman to whom they are not married to pay “preglimony”? Alternatively, we might simply encourage preglimony through the tax code, by allowing pregnancy-support payments to be deductible (which is how alimony is treated).
The most frequent objection I hear to this idea is that it will give men a say over abortion.  A woman’s right to choose is sometimes eclipsed by an abusive partner who pressures her into terminating or continuing a pregnancy against her will, and preglimony could exacerbate this dynamic. 
And how workable would this be? If there is a miscarriage does the father get his money back? And how would the proper level of support be determined? If a negligent father does not pay child support and his ex and children lack decent housing, food or clothing that is an easy metric for a court to use. But in pregnancy the child is inside the woman's body and literally has all of its needs provided for by its mother. The father could be a millionaire or lack two nickels to rub together. That child will still have the same gestation period. The court can't measure the well being of the unborn child whose mother is not getting preglimony vs. one whose mother is. So giving money for "preglimony" seems a tad on the greedy side to me. The unborn child will never see that money, not one penny. 
And then of course there's the elephant in the room. Abortion
If the woman chooses to have an abortion, as is her right, does the father get the money back? Can he sue the mother for breach of contract? Theoretically if a custodial parent is not spending the money on the child or has placed the child in an unsafe environment then the non custodial parent can try to get the child removed and take custody away. This is impossible during pregnancy. More importantly does preglimony mean that the fetus is actually a human being that is deserving of rights and protection? I mean it appears to be logically inconsistent to argue on one hand that the unborn child is not legally protected. The argument is that the mother's right to bodily integrity trumps other considerations and thus the child may be killed by the mother for any reason at all. Yet in the very next breath the professor turns around and claims that the unborn child deserves protection and support because after all the mother didn't create it by herself and women children deserve the financial support of men.
I am, to say the least, not a feminist, and arguments like this are why. Again the only consistent theme seems to be that the woman chooses and the man pays.

Modern women have for whatever reason increasingly decided to have children outside of marriage. More than half of children born to women under 30 are born out of wedlock. Yet many women appear to still want marriage's financial protections. Well the solution is simple. Get married before you have children. Because if you're going to tell me that a fetus is a child and needs financial support from its father I'm going to agree that the fetus is a child and whatever financial support it needs before birth is dwarfed by the need it has for its mother not to kill it. 

What's your take?

Does preglimony make sense in a changing world?

Should we think of pregnancy as something that the woman should be compensated for?

Should married men ever have to pay for children that aren't biologically theirs?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Desmond Hatchett-30 children and counting

You have probably heard about this Knoxville, Tennessee man of profound potency and vast virility, Desmond Hatchett, who at the time of this writing has acknowledged 30 children by 11 different women. This may be a county or even state record. Just three years ago he only had 21 children so obviously Mr. Hatchett is something of a crosscut saw that some women like to have buried in their wood. Unfortunately for Mr. Hatchett, unlike other noted men such as Clint Eastwood (seven children by five different women) or Ted Nugent (eight children by four different women) Mr. Hatchett has apparently no marketable skills other than his good good loving. He makes minimum wage. He's 33 years old and only earning minimum wage which is $7.25/hr.

There's a saying that you can't get blood from a stone, though you can apparently get some other bodily fluids. So Hatchett recently went to court to try to get the state to reduce the child support payments. State law allows the state to take up to 50% of a non-custodial parent's income for child support but since Hatchett doesn't earn much money in the first place his children don't receive very much assistance-one child's mother is paid just $1.49/month.
Just where is Octodad? That's perhaps the most pressing question -- among the many -- pertaining to Desmond Hatchett, a Knoxville, Tenn., man who reportedly has so many children that he's struggling to keep up with child-support payments.
Hatchett, nicknamed Octodad by various media outlets, gained considerable notoriety last week after WREG in Memphis posted a story and video describing his struggles to keep up with child-support payments for his 30 children.
To say the story went viral would be an understatement. It was republished, reposted, tweeted, shared and commented on thousands and thousands of times. We wrote about it as well on Friday. That story alone was shared more than 26,000 times.
One of the most common questions among readers who have called, e-mailed and commented on the story is this: If Hatchett is having trouble paying child support for these children, who is paying for them? Tennessee taxpayers?
Now in my opinion he is a sad excuse for a man. And of course most of the media or blog coverage of this situation also promoted that opinion. Some people even called for castration or vasectomy.  That's good for a chuckle and allows people to vent their frustrations with this situation. That's fine. I did the same above. But if we can be serious for just a moment we should realize that unless Hatchett forcibly raped a woman or slept with an underage girl (which is rape of a different sort) it takes two, or in Hatchett's case, 12 to tango. The women's names, photos and situations have not been released but I'm sure that they're all upstanding citizens with great jobs who are not on any sort of public assistance. In any event they are just as responsible as Hatchett for their children. If he's a reprobate and a clown, then so are they. We can't demand that Hatchett be more responsible than the women he's running around with. Can we?  But neither Hatchett nor the mothers of his children have broken any laws. One would wonder why a man would want to impregnate so many different women that he can't support or why so many women would want to be impregnated by such a man but I wonder about a lot of things that I'll never figure out.
The moral of this story is that you can't fix stupid. You can't take more than 50% of someone's income. You can't prevent someone from having children they can't afford. You can't stop someone from valuing short term pleasures more highly than the long term costs of bringing another human being into this world. All you can do is show people the costs of stupid behavior and try to change their incentives. That's what freedom means.
1) Should the state be able to take more than 50% of your income for child support?
2) What would happen if we just got rid of all assistance to unmarried women or children born out of wedlock?
3) Should the state be able to force sterilization on irresponsible men or women? 
4) How did people's lives become so empty that someone like Hatchett is considered a good catch by so many women? Why wasn't anyone using protection?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Brooklyn False Rape Charges: Darrell Dula

Imagine that you (or a man you love) were wrongly accused of raping someone. You're arrested, fingerprinted and thrown into jail to await formal charges. Now in the 24 hours while you're familiarizing yourself with jailhouse protocol over telephone usage, how to avoid unwanted advances, which gang it would be proper for someone of your race and ethnicity to join, when not to look into another prisoner's eyes, the importance of responding promptly to guard commands and other important orientation action items, the victim admits to the police and prosecutors that she made it all up and actually signs a document stating so. 
Well that's lucky for you yes? You won't have to stay a minute more in jail and perhaps you can see about getting everything expunged from your record. No harm no foul. These things happen and maybe you and the arresting officers can have a beer summit at the White House some day.
But wait, now imagine that the prosecutor decides to go ahead with charges anyway because either they think the supposed victim is lying or because they don't like you very much or maybe they figure they need to keep their conviction rates high and you look like an easy win. And in addition they don't tell you or your attorney that the victim lied. And they keep you in jail for a year...
Such things couldn't happen in this country could they?

But sadly of course they do.
A Brooklyn man spent nearly a year behind bars on charges he raped an Orthodox Jewish woman — even though she recanted her accusation a day after making it.
Darrell Dula, 25, was released Tuesday and will likely have the case against him dropped after being in jail since June 28, 2011.
“I feel good. Thank God,” Dula told the Daily News Tuesday night as he played with his 3-year-old son for the first time in a year in front of his Crown Heights home.“I’m glad to be home with my family,” he said. “I’m still in shock. I’m traumatized. It wasn’t a good experience. They took me away on my son’s birthday. It was heartbreaking.”
The stunning turn of events came after Brooklyn prosecutors turned over a newly discovered statement that Dula’s 22-year-old accuser made to cops in which she says he never raped her. The alleged victim made a complaint to police on March 31, 2010, accusing Dula and his pal Damien Crooks, 32, of being part of a crew who raped, beat and pimped her out since age 13.
A day later, the woman told detectives she was a hooker for five years and made up the rape allegation, records show.
“I once again asked [her] if she was raped,” a detective wrote in a police report after the interview. “She told me ‘no’ and stated to me, ‘Can’t a ho change her ways?’
The woman also signed a recantation, but the case proceeded and in spring 2011, a grand jury voted to indict Dula, Crooks and two others who were allegedly part of the crew.
And of course the prosecutor who directly handled the case, Abbie Greenberger,  is now blaming her bosses for the situation. I guess that makes sense. No one wants to be the scapegoat. I understand and feel the same way. Of course when I mess up no one spends a year in jail....

Greenberger said she found inconsistencies in the 22-year-old accuser’s account, but couldn’t convince her boss there was a problem.
“When I brought the inconsistencies to Lauren Hersh (chief of the sex-trafficking unit at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office), I was told that I didn’t do my job right and that I’m trying to dismiss the case and that I should work harder,” Greenberger told the Daily News.
See the problem here believe it or not isn't just that the victim lied, although that is bad enough and she ought to face the same criminal penalties that the man faced. No the REAL problem (and perhaps Old Guru and/or The Janitor can weigh in on this) is that the prosecutor did not disclose this information to the defense attorney and/or judge. I'm no lawyer but I kind of thought that the prosecutor had a duty to do justice, not just win a conviction. Maybe not.

Now why did the prosecutor continue with this farce? Could it have been that the District Attorney has gotten a little too cozy with certain elements within the local Orthodox Jewish community? Could the DA have believed the so-called victim was telling the truth before she recanted? Could the DA have believed this fellow was better off in jail, regardless of whether or not he actually committed this crime? Could the DA have been responding to a feminist constituency that doesn't always seem to understand that women are no more moral than men and are just as capable of mendacity?
I don't know. All I know is that I would like to have believed that if I were wrongfully accused and the police and prosecutors knew that then they would take the necessary steps to stop the machinery of justice from moving forward and throw that bad boy in reverse, to right before the time when they told me "You're under arrest". But honestly I knew that was an unreal expectation even before I read this story. All it takes is being in the wrong place at the wrong time and your life can suddenly change. I don't have tens of thousands of dollars sitting around for bail or attorneys.
How do we fix this?
My ideas are pretty simple. 
  • Hold prosecutors and police personally and criminally responsible when they lie or hide evidence. They do a necessary if often unpleasant job. But they should not be above the law or get a free pass for this sort of thing.
  • When someone lies about rape and it can be proven as a lie, send them to prison for the same amount of time that the assailant would have served. 
  • Stop with the fiction that women never lie about things. They do. The entire point of the adversarial justice system is to hopefully let the truth come out and in such a way that someone is not convicted of a crime without evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. This requires a defense attorney that is going to get after the accuser.
  • Stop hiding the victim's (or in this case liar's) name from the public. Perhaps if more people had been aware of who this woman was someone might have come forward earlier. Rape is a horrible crime and should be punished most severely. But in order to do that we must ensure we're punishing the right people. That's why we need as much transparency as possible within the system.
What are your thoughts?