Friday, November 11, 2011

Sympathy for the Devil?

Martyrs to Intrusive Government or Racist Abusers?

Do you have sympathy for the Devil? You may remember that in New Jersey, just about two years prior, this Mommy Racist and Daddy Racist tried to get a ShopRite to make a birthday cake that read "Happy Birthday Adolf Hitler". The store refused and the goobers had to go elsewhere. A Wal-Mart agreed to their request. Go figure. At the time the only controversy was over the right to freedom of expression and the right to refuse service.
However these parents appear to be neo-Nazis (though they deny it) and white supremacists who have given all of their children Nazi inspired names-Adolf Hitler, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation, and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie. The incident with the cake evidently placed them on the radar screen of local child protective services. They lost their children. And so far they haven't gotten them back.

The 5-year-old boy, named for the infamous Nazi leader, and his two sisters were taken by New Jersey child welfare officials in 2009.An appeals court ruled last year that Heath and Deborah Campbell should not regain custody of the children, citing the parents' disabilities and the risk of serious injury to their children.
A family court previously found that there was evidence the children had been abused or neglected, but the details were not released because of a gag order.The Campbells, who picketed outside of a child services office in Flemington on Tuesday, have repeatedly spoken out, claiming the children were taken because of their names and nothing more.
"The judge and [the Division of Youth and Family Services] told us that there was no evidence of abuse and that it was the names!" Heath Campbell told NBC 10 News in Philadelphia. "They were taken over the children's names."
It appears that someone is lying here but because of the gag order and family privacy it's not easy for an outsider to determine which party (the state or the parents) is telling the truth. Obviously anyone who abuses children shouldn't be around them and ought to be locked up ASAP. The Penn State tragedy brings that home in a very real way. So if there's actual abuse or neglect then the state is absolutely doing the right thing by removing the children from the home. I think we'd have 100% agreement on that.

On the other hand what if the state is doing an end-run around the concept of abuse or neglect in a physical or sexual manner, and making the claim that merely giving children those names and presumably teaching them hatred is in and of itself abuse or neglect? We know that sometimes states can be rather presumptuous and hasty in deciding to remove children from their home based on rather flimsy evidence or just plain and simple dislike of the parents' lifestyle.

There are many people who grew up in homes that had political, religious or racial beliefs that were far outside the mainstream. That's not enough to take someone's children away from them.  If I want to teach my child to hate someone based on the color of their skin or their religion or heritage, that's an immoral decision, but it's one that a parent gets to make with impunity. It's not the state's business.

I don't have a good take on this incident one way or the other.

1) Abuse allegations aside, have these parents proven to be unfit?
2) Should the state be able to veto certain names for children?
3) Do we have the proper balance between protecting children and familial independence?
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