Here’s the thing. I don’t like a lot of the things you do. I can pretty much guarantee that. You let your kids play outside too long. You let them jump on the trampoline and scream for hours — usually from around 5:30, when I get home (if I’m lucky), until around 9 or 9:30 — and worse than that, they bring their friends over.
Another thing: you have weird beliefs that make absolutely no sense at all to me, which maybe I wouldn’t mind, if I were willing to mind my own business, except that you come knocking on my door when I’m trying to take a nap so you can tell me about it.
To make matters worse, you teach these weird beliefs to your kids, and if their teachers — who also do all sorts of things I don’t like — don’t bring those things up in class, the kids are sure to try to start some club to do it.
In the line at the grocery store, you hold the rest of us up forever. I mean, really, you didn’t know you were going to need some form of money until after the clerk rang everything up and had it almost all bagged? Why couldn’t you have the money ready before then, instead of waiting to start counting it when the clerk put out his or her hand? And we might not have minded the wait as much if it weren’t for all the pennies.
But what bothers me more than that is you also don’t eat right. And I don’t mean just that you eat foods that are bad for you — although I couldn’t help notice what you were buying when you held me up in that line — watching you eat at a restaurant makes my stomach turn. You talk with your mouth full, which sometimes causes you to spray chewed-up food, instead of swallowing it. I mean, you’re a pig.
Speaking of being a pig, you dress funny. Who the heck told you I — or anyone else — wanted to see a 250-pound woman in Spandex with the words “YOU KNOW YOU WANT IT” emblazoned across the very ample ass? I assure you, not only do I not want it. I don’t even want to see it. Think of what it does to the children.
The children. That’s the most important thing. It’s not just, as I said above, that you let them play outside and bother me. But there are all kinds of other ways you teach them things and do things around them that I just totally disapprove of. Because I’m better than you. I’m smarter than you. I know more than you.
Aren’t you glad there’s at least still a shred of libertarianism left in America?
I was reminded of this while reading a discussion — I’m ashamed to say it included relatives of mine — on Facebook yesterday. The conversation involved an apparent dislike for the fact that some kids were outside, unattended. If you accept the statements made, the kids were playing near a busy street at 9:30 at night. I’ve no real idea what that means: where they playing “chicken” with the cars coming down the road? Does “near” mean “closer to that street than they were to the inside of their house, where I think they belonged at that hour?”
A chorus arose: “Call the police! Call CPS!” The intertwining melody of some: “I hope they take their children away. They don’t deserve to have children!”
At one point, one of the busybodies admitted, “I want to call the police, but I don’t really think there is anything they can do.” Another noted that it was not yet “curfew” and suggested calling the police if they were still out after curfew.
Well, what do you know. If you’re able to recognize that the police probably couldn’t do anything and that it was legal, even in a town that is anti-freedom enough to have a law about when people can be outside, then you should be able to recognize that this is apparently a difference of opinion between you and other people as to how children should be raised.
I popped into the conversation and pointed out my own mom’s ignorance and malfeasance for having allowed us to play outside when we were kids (and there was a street right in front of our house!), sometimes, although not often, even after it was dark. In fact, I distinctly remember that it was always more fun to play “hide-and-seek” after dark; it made hiding in plain sight a little easier.
Someone agreed with me, apparently having had a similarly-bad mother, and added that we didn’t even have cell phones then. My sister argued against me reminding me that one time when we played outside unattended, she got hurt and needed stitches (I told you my mom was a bad person!), adding,
You never had children being snatched by strangers, or shot at by rival gangs. The child molesters didn’t live in the neighborhood, they were in jail, other children didn’t rape and murder younger ones. It’s not the same place we knew.
Another busybody joined that chorus: the world was different then.
You got me. The world was different then. One difference was that we had actual news programs at night, instead of infomercials for law enforcement, trumpeting all the latest crimes to scare the crap out of us and ensure we won’t try to cut funding for “public safety,” despite the fact that the biggest threat to public safety comes from the police. Nobody is safe from the police. Not even other police.
So you got me, busybodies, there is a difference. The difference is people with attitudes like those of the people urging that the police and CPS be called would have been laughed off by the police. But today, the cops are all about control.
You’re wrong about the crime, though. You know who the biggest threat to children is?
A story about child abduction noted that in 2002, 800,000 children were reported abducted. As the story points out, though:
It’s true that 797,500 people under 18 were reported missing in a one-year period, according to a 2002 study. But of those cases, 203,900 were family abductions, 58,200 were nonfamily abductions, and only 115 were “stereotypical kidnappings,” defined in one study as “a nonfamily abduction perpetrated by a slight acquaintance or stranger in which a child is detained overnight, transported at least 50 miles, held for ransom or abducted with the intent to keep the child permanently, or killed.”
And child abductions did occur in the old days — they weren’t so different as people would like to believe. Take the story of Charles Hatcher, for example:
Upon his release for a child abduction conviction in the mid-1960′s, Hatcher began a crime spree of abductions, molestations, and murders involving young children. Along the way, he was arrested many times but always avoided serious punishment, once being forced only to stay in a mental hospital for one year after the attempted murder of a boy, and on another occasion he was only held briefly because of his deteriorated mental state after sodomising another boy.
According to a legend in Huntsville, Alabama, there was a rash of child abductions in the 1960s there, as well.
Oh, noes! My momma was letting me go outside and play in the mid-sixties!
“Well, there you have it,” says one of the busybodies on Facebook. “Parents weren’t aware of the dangers back then as they are now, they weren’t expected to be as careful.” She went on in a follow-up comment to point out that we didn’t used to know smoking causes cancer, but now we know better, so people are expected to be more careful.
Although in discussing the children playing outside, she was a strong advocate for calling the cops — “and if it continues, call every time you see it” — she didn’t mention if she also calls the cops every time she sees someone smoking.
Because they’re expected to be more careful.
I could go on about the inanity of the comments in that discussion. Without a doubt those “ladies” did not approve of how the other family was raising their children.
This, my friends, is just one more reason why libertarianism matters: you each get the right to scar, or not scar, your children in whichever way you see fit.
At least for now.
Rick is a criminal defense attorney with an office in Fresno, California. He also writes Probable Cause: The Legal Blog with the Really Low Standard of Review.