Your kids: one reason libertarianism matters

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.

Or something.

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.

And today’s courts not only don’t care, they endorse the behavior.

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?

Not strangers, unless you are talking about cops, it’s their families.

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.

About Rick Horowitz:
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.
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  1. Posted June 12, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    This post brings back fond memories of my own, playing with the other kids in the neighborhood “after the street lights came on” (which, as I recall, was supposed to be when we were supposed to come home, but evidently my aunt wasn’t too strict about the rule, or would let us keep playing so long as we checked in).

  2. Posted June 12, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    And that summary paragraphs brings to mind some even more tragic statistics. Children are being murdered in the most heinous ways by the step fathers and boyfriends of their mothers. I can cite two heartbreaking cases in recent memory, one of which left me quite shaken when I read the court opinion about it. (1) 2 year old Samantha murdered by her mother’s boyfriend. Here’s the Indiana Supreme Court opinion. The description of her injuries is horrific; the ER doctor said it was the worst case he’d seen in 20 years.

    And right here in my own backyard, four-year old Emma Thompson was murdered by her mother’s boyfriend. Sadly, the mother was a NURSE and even helped cover up the crime. Outrageous.

  3. Amberlee Harder
    Posted June 12, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    I’m one of those busy bodies, actually the one who started that thread 🙂 These children weren’t 9, or 1o. They are about 6 and 3….too young to be out by a busy road at that late hour. It was an area completely out of site from their parents supervision. I personally don’t want them to be taken from the home!! I just want to make sure they are safe from the danger and from what I’ve been seeing, their parents don’t seem to be playing the “parent” role. What would you do if you thought two young boys could be in serious danger because of their parents apparent neglect? Would you just watch the young kids each time you see them and say “gosh, I hope they don’t get hit by a car or taken by a stranger!” I don’t know the parents nor their circumstances. It could be a number of things and that really is none of my business! My conscience kicks in though and I feel that motherly instinct kick in and want to make sure that these boys are safe. What I should do first and foremost is take a little walk on over to this house and see if I can talk nicely to the parents about my concern and where I’ve seen the boys wandering. Calling the police or CPS may not be the best first step but if it continues and I see these boys in dangerous situations, is it really okay to turn a blind eye and act as if these kids are okay because their parents just parent differently than I? What if I was at a busy train station and I happened to see a 1 yr old walking around with no supervision. Should I keep walking and just say to myself, “Gosh, you know…his/her parents really don’t parent the same way I do but oh well, it’s their kid….who cares!”???

    • Posted June 12, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

      Your sensible comment reminds me of another element of the neighborhood of my youth as I remember it, with perhaps my own ideals projected upon those distant memories — the sense that neighbors watched out for each other and each others kids. Libertarianism properly understood isn’t contrary to that.

  4. Posted June 12, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    If you really believe, after looking at the situation, that the kids are in some desperate danger, and you’re not just reacting because that’s not how you would raise your kids, you might try talking to the parents about it.

    For all you know, the kids wandered off without their parents permission. (My sister and I used to do that a lot.)

    Calling the police, or CPS, is a great big step. CPS doesn’t just pop over and say, “hi, we want to give you some information you may not know about.” I’m aware of a case right now where a child was taken from a loving home for no other reason than that her mother happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, when the child was visiting mom. (The child doesn’t live with mom.) Now the guardian who was taking care of the child — the guardian who was NOT present in the wrong place at the wrong time — is fighting to get the child back from CPS and back into the loving home she’s known for a good part of her life.

    So far, CPS won’t even let them see the girl.

    I’ll bet you no small amount of money that little girl is wondering what happened. She’s wondering what SHE did wrong and why she can’t go home.

    You haven’t said one word that convinces me that the parents are neglecting their children. You HAVE convinced me that YOU think they are neglecting their children. That’s not the same thing.

    Try talking to the parents.

  5. Amberlee Harder
    Posted June 13, 2011 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    If I didn’t see them all the time wandering up and down the ally where they are clearly out of their parents view, I would wonder if maybe this was the case. I haven’t said anything thus far because I haven’t seen them in any real major danger. Now that these kids seem to be wandering farther away and into a more dangerous situation (dark and by a busy street), this really concerns me. All of the flags I’ve seen so far are pointing to parents who really have no idea what their kids are up to and if they do, they really don’t have a clue as to the danger their kids are really in. That’s unfortunate that CPS is overstepping their bounds in so many situations. I’m sure there are many cases of them not really doing a good assessment of the situation and taking kids away from parents who really do care and love their children. That’s terrible and should NEVER happen! So sad that we live in a world where this can happen! Is CPS the same everywhere you go? Government run I’m guessing?

  6. Posted June 13, 2011 at 4:44 am | Permalink

    What major danger do you mean? Did you look at the links above? Realistically, the childred are safest out of reach of their parents. The chances of getting taken by a stranger are much, much less than the chances of them being abused at the home.

  7. GreginOz
    Posted June 14, 2011 at 1:19 am | Permalink

    Agree with article! I will however note that the difference between our halcyon childhood & that of kids today is far more about the failure of the education system (or do I mean success?), that kids today have NO IDEA how to navigate a system designed for sheeple morons…because that is what they are trained to be.

  8. Dave
    Posted June 17, 2011 at 11:50 am | Permalink

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