Saturday, May 24, 2008

CNN, MSNBC and Glaringly Ignorant Commentary by Experts

CNN Legal Expert Commentary way off the mark. How bad is that when just a mom knows more about child welfare law and exposes media endorsed experts flunking the entrance exam? These commentators don't know jack about child welfare law, and to be publicly spouting their windy opinions makes one wonder what orifice the noxious content is being expelled from.

This refers to the ignorant legal expert commentary on the MSNBC broadcast yesterday when CPS was preparing to file it's Petition in the Texas Supreme Court. This forgettable expert, whoever he was, couldn't answer the anchor's questions because he clearly did not understand the relevant law. It was embarrassing. But CNN didn't do much better on the air, or online.

Sunny Hostin is a legal analyst on CNN's "American Morning." She asks

Isn't this a polygamist ranch we are talking about? Under Texas law, it's illegal to be married to more than one person. Weren't all of these children living on a ranch purchased in 2003 and built by Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the group, who was convicted last year in Utah of being an accomplice to rape?

So? Show me the law that gives the state the authority to remove a child because there has been a crime committed in the community. It doesn't exist, Sunny. Child welfare laws have been designed to protect the integrity of the family from state intrusion, and intrusion is only permitted when a child's life or limb has been harmed or at immediate, identifiable risk of serious harm. THAT's what reasonable efforts is all about.

Weren't there 20 girls living at the ranch who had become pregnant between the ages of 13 and 17 and "spiritually married" to old men picked for them by Jeffs or his followers? Yes there were.

No, there weren't. At least not according to the unfolding testimony by the caseworkers. Not according to the statements made by the residents of that community. Not according to any evidence collected by the state. Not at YFZ ranch, at least. In fact, there are only 5 mothers under 18. Show me the law that says the state can remove all the children from a community because a girl gets pregnant under 18. As for polygamy, come on, Sunny. That is a legal term of art and nobody has produced marriage licenses proving polygamy. As for what kind of bed hopping goes on in the privacy of one's home, who cares, except the participants and gossiping voyeurs? If pre-marital, extra-marital, intra-marital or plural-marital sex is occurring, it's none of anybody's business as long as the children are not participating or watching. And CPS has not proved their claims of forced sex on children or by children.

And if you live on this ranch, don't you believe in polygamy, arranged marriages between young girls and old men, and that Jeffs is a prophet? I would think so.

Again, so what? Beliefs are not actionable in this country (especially under the freedom of religion clause). That's why they can't arrest many NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association) members. Only actions are actionable. Since the emerging evidence shows that many of the victims of this raid and many of the members of this community don't practice plural marriage, didn't get married under 18, don't marry off their daughters under 18, it seems that CPS's broad brush actually doesn't cover many of the residents of that community. Bottom line, a lot of baseless accusations have taken root in your analysis, and you haven't the demonstrated wit to verify the accuracy of any of them.

And if you are a young girl that lives on this ranch, isn't it true you will also be "spiritually married" to an old man chosen for you? Yes to that too. And isn't this dangerous for the children? What do you think?

I think I'd like to see the supporting evidence for inevitable marriage of a nubile girl to an old man. And, assuming arguendo, that does happen, I'd like to see the evidence of harm to any existing child from another family. I'll wait while you prove these Olympic sized leaps to your conclusions. Frankly, I think you took a shortcut, catapulting past logic and reason on your way to your emotionally charged conclusions.

There are some fundamental problems with the court's opinion. The court states that because not all FLDS families are polygamous or allow their female children to marry as minors, the entire ranch community does not subscribe to polygamy. Wrong.

Wrong? Fair enough. Where does the evidence refuting this erroneous judgment exist? Where is the evidence to support CPS claims? Certainly not in the court record transmitted to the appellate court for appeal. I'm sure the appellate court looked for it, because they state they didn't find it. CPS gathered this evidence and created this record. Where is it? Do YOU have it? Or are we just supposed to believe it because CPS said so?

The court even reasoned that under Texas law, "it is not sexual assault to have consensual intercourse with a minor spouse to whom one is legally married" and that Texas law "allows minor to marry -- as young as age 16 with parental consent and younger than 16 if pursuant to court order." Wrong again. The polygamists are not "legally married" to anyone since it is illegal to marry more than one person. They are "spiritually married" and abusing young girls.

I covered this one in my Marriage Conundrum blog.

Finally, the court also states there "was no evidence that .... the female children who had not reached puberty, were victims of sexual or other physical abuse or in danger of being victims if sexual or other physical abuse."

What IS your problem with the appeals court requiring EVIDENCE to sustain CPS agency action, Sunny? The law, both state and federal, and the rules of court, mandates credible EVIDENCE, not hearsay speculations emotionally recited under oath. Otherwise we may as well be in Nazi Germany. The Nazi's removed children of entire communities* in occupied countries under Hitler's edict in exactly the same manner as Texas CPS has done, and redistributed the seized children to approved Nazi homes to be raised based on the assumption that their parents were racially inferior and therefore unfit.

Oh, I get it. The Department should wait until the kids are actually abused before doing anything. It's almost as if the Department can't win: If they act, they are overzealous; if they don't act, they are not doing the job entrusted to them -- protecting our children.

If this epiphany weren't so sarcastic, I'd say there was hope for you, Sunny. The fact is, YES, wait until the children are abused. Why? Because nobody can predict abuse or neglect with any degree of accuracy. I may have missed new findings about prognostication, but I don't think so. Because the statistics indicate children are more likely to NOT be abused than to be abused. Because foster care is not safer than the family home. Statistically, children are more likely to be harmed in foster care than in their own home. Because children and parents share a fundamental human right to family association, due process and equal protection under the law. The fact is, Sunny that while CPS's mandate is to protect children, their demonstrable agenda is to maximize federal funding and to keep all of those 25+ service providers who derive their livelihood from the removal of a single into foster care safely employed.

Child protection isn't about imposing your beliefs on other parents. If it were, you'd be a really scary busybody. As it is, you're just one of the well-intentioned but ignorant masses who are easily duped by CPS hysteria and propaganda and the salesmanship of a few sensational authors. Disengage the emotional hysteria for a moment, engage your brain, Sunny, and show me the law, show me the proof.

The entire Nazi & CPS article may be viewed on AFAC membership pages (annual membership fee $5.00) or purchased from the AFAC public document pages.

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Leave the emotions, propaganda and rhetoric at the door. This blogger is only interested in intelligent, logical, well-thought out, factually based comments which are on-topic, indicating the writer has an open mind and a mature ability to reason.