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  • NOT SO GOOD

    Filed at 4:57 pm under by dcobranchi

    These are the kinds of ‘grafs that ruin a blogger’s day:

    MIAMI — The parents of a baby who died after being fed a raw food diet have been given suspended sentences and probation, for child neglect convictions involving their remaining children.

    …If another judge approves reunification of the family, the parents will have to agree to make regular visits to a pediatrician and a nutritionist. They’d also have to take a parenting course. And they couldn’t home-school their kids.

    Because, you know, we have to have those g-school teachers watching out for their our kids.

    *Yes, it’s horrible that this family lost their baby. Homeschooling had nothing to do with it.

    12 Responses to “NOT SO GOOD”


    Comment by
    Sam Hull
    December 22nd, 2005
    at 7:04 pm

    I certainly agree with the point about homeschooling. In this instance however, I have to wonder whether these parents should get a second chance with their children at all. How and what do you feed a child that lives to six months weighing seven pounds? Both my boys weighed more than that at birth.
    If your diet of choice for your children makes them unhealthy and kills one, then perhaps parenting isn’t a good target goal. And if their decisions are so poor in something so simple as diet and health, I’d worry for kids homeschooled by those parents.


    Comment by
    COD
    December 22nd, 2005
    at 7:20 pm

    In the case of criminal child neglect, I don’t have any problem with them losing the right to home educate. In fact, I wouldn’t have any problem with them losing the ability the procreate either.


    Comment by
    Lioness
    December 23rd, 2005
    at 10:47 am

    Two words:

    “Criminal” “Negligance”


    Comment by
    Tad
    December 23rd, 2005
    at 10:58 am

    “Is it a right or a duty in society to take care of their infant members in opposition to the will of the parent? How far does this right and duty extend? –to guard the life of the infant, his property, his instruction, his morals? The Roman father was supreme in all these: we draw a line, but where? –public sentiment does not seem to have traced it precisely…” Thomas Jefferson

    There are homeschoolers who choose not to vacinate. If one of those children should die of a disease that could have been prevented by a vacination, would we “have any problem with the parents losing the ability the procreate”? How would such a situation be any different than this one? Any situation where a child dies is tragic, and stupidity is often fatal, but those are the risks we must live with in a free society.

    I feel sorry for this family. Yes, they made some poor choices, and we’re probably not aware of all of the details, but it seems they were trying to do the job right. Raw uncooked vegetables actually are more nutricious than the processed, homogenized, fat and preservative laden crap most of us eat that has had the nutrients cooked, pounded and ground out of it, then put back in (in an artificial form) so they call it “enriched.” Its not like they were sacrificing their children to Molech; it’s closer to, but still not the same as, losing a child in a car accident because the baby wasn’t in a car seat. And their diet probably wasn’t as stupid as, say, only eating food from McDonald’s.

    It’s more like they had an incomplete picture of what to include in their children’s diet. How many of us know which vegetable combinations make up a complete protein? What about the vitamin content of various veggies? Their error was in failing to obtain the information they needed to support their choices (or perhaps in not trusting the information they had). How many of us have not committed the same error on some other issue? What damage was caused? I submit to you that the bulk of the general elections and other political decisions in my lifetime have been decided by a majority that had committed the exact same sin.

    And it is a government elected thus that would deprive this family (and others) of their rights.


    Comment by
    COD
    December 23rd, 2005
    at 11:54 am

    Ignorance is no excuse Tad.


    Comment by
    Cindy
    December 23rd, 2005
    at 12:44 pm

    Of course they can’t be allowed to homeschool!

    Those kids need the nutritious school lunches! (pizza, hot dogs, popcorn chicken, mystery meat, soda, chocolate milk…)

    The parents would already have to agree to make “regular visits to a pediatrician and a nutritionist” presumably to ensure that the kids are receiving adequate nutrition.

    How does public school further that aim?


    Comment by
    Tad
    December 23rd, 2005
    at 9:37 pm

    I’m not making excuses for them, Chris. I am merely pointing out that we are quick to point the finger of blame and say these folks are bad or stupid or whatever, should have their rights curtained because they made mistakes or because the made a choice that differed from what one of us might make, etc., while claiming the right to make choices outside of the mainstream. There are those folks out there who would claim that the decision to homeschool or to not vacinate is “criminal negligence” and would attempt to deprive us of our rights for any mishap that happens to occur.

    Those people made a choice, the consequence of which was the loss of a child. No excuse can erase that consequence. But this isn’t the first child to die because of a parental mistake, nor will it be the last. Do we take away the parent’s rights everytime a parent errs? If we do, then who gets to decide what constitutes an error? Unless we are prepared to accept where the “majority” draws Jefferson’s line, and accept that we might be on the other side of it, it is hazardous to condemn these parents because they made a choice that differs from what we would have made.

    So, my question is: Where do we draw Jefferson’s line? What are the appropraite limits to the State’s Parens Patriae power?


    Comment by
    Sam Hull
    December 24th, 2005
    at 1:03 am

    As parents we all make mistakes. This is fact. Some mistakes can result in an extreme situation that involves the death of a child.
    These parents did not make a simple mistake. As the article states, the six month old victim weighed seven pounds. They have four older children all of whom are undernourished. To allow a bad decision to go so long that you sicken five children and kill one of those five is not merely a bad decision.
    It’s a granted that we are missing a lot of the story. But based on what I have heard, these parents were criminally negligent.
    As far as vitamin content of vegetables, that information is ridiculously easy to find. One would imagine that someone making such a singular dietary choice as a raw diet would have that information. To not have studied this decision makes the situation even worse and more preventable.
    I’m honestly not sure what the answer here is. But I certainly believe that in this instance, the right to parent should be re-earned somehow by these parents. For a child to die of malnutrition takes ignoring a lot of warning signs, or just being so ignorant that you miss them.


    Comment by
    Ulrike
    December 24th, 2005
    at 1:37 pm

    Certainly, there is a question of how stupid a person can be before it becomes criminal. Mainstream stupidity is much better tolerated than other forms (e.g., a parent who continues to send her child to school to be abused daily by students and adminstrators is not prosecuted, but one who stands by and watches her spouse commit similar acts is).

    If this infant did indeed weigh about the same at 6 months as she did at birth, the parents should have clued in that something was wrong, no matter what they were feeding her. That does qualify as criminal stupidity in my mind.

    I’m sure the judge’s logic was, “If they’re too stupid to FEED their kids, how are they going to TEACH them?” The irony is, there’s no guarantee that they’ll learn what they need to know at school, either.


    Comment by
    Tad
    December 24th, 2005
    at 5:11 pm

    Sam, the jury voted to acquit on the manslaughter charge; they were exonerated of the “criminal” allegations. Placing the children in foster care and all the rest looks more like a juvenile court action than a criminal proceding. Whole different standard of proof, and a whole different set of rules. I’ve seen juvinile courts in California make findings and take children from their parents based on evidence that no criminal court would even admit. There is an enormous difference between “Beyond a reasonable doubt, and to a moral certainty,” and “a preponderance of the evidence;” especially when “opinion” evidence is given “prima facie” weight (as it is in many juvenile courts). It completely reverses the presumption of innocences usually afforded.

    To be clear, if the reports are accurate, these folks are probably dumber than gravel. But Ulrike’s point is also valid: The majority (or the mainstream if you will) isn’t any better.


    Comment by
    Lioness
    December 24th, 2005
    at 6:55 pm

    Tad, I spent a long time before I even concieved my children studying up on proper infant, toddler, and preschooler diets. I expect any prospective parent to do the same, especially when it becomes clear that their children are seriously undernourished. If they’re not going to make the effort to get the facts on basic nutrition, I do question if they would make the effort to do at adequate job of home educating.

    Not every parent is cut out to home educate.


    Comment by
    Tad
    December 25th, 2005
    at 11:24 pm

    Lioness, I think most of us are like you in that we are very concerned about the decisions we make as parents and we do our best, but not every human being is cut out to be a parent. Or at least some folks would reach that conclusion. Clearly some are better at it than others, and these people in Florida are not shining examples of competence. It would be wonderful if your expectation was realistic, but the fact is that many parents make decisions based on rumor, folk-lore, religious beliefs, and sometimes just plain laziness. Some people have a deeply inbedded distrust for doctors, lawyers, and any authority and will not accept information coming from the government or the press, etc. Their beliefs are deep and they defy reason, and any attempt to reason with them will fail. To some extent we all choose which information we believe and which we do not. Even if we all choose to beleive the “correct” data, not everyone has the ability to reason based on that data and draw “correct” conclusions. Even those who have top notch reasoning skills will err if they do not have all of the necessary data. Galeleo was convicted of Heresy for arguing that the Earth was not the center of the universe, and it took another almost 300 years before the Catholic Church accepted the idea. One need only look at the contentious religious debates to see this principle in action. Or better yet, the debates over education reform!

    I am not defending the Florida family as responsible, or even sane, but I refuse to call them irresponsible or insane. What I am sayying is that such a position is not that different from the position many of us take in choosing to homeschool or choosing not to vaccinate, and so on.

    I have a neighbor who thinks my wife and I are throughoughly nuts for making the educational choices we’ve made, yet we believe we’ve made the best choices from the information we consider reliable and competent. (Anybody else have a similar experience?) My neighbor thinks his information-and his judgment-is better, that his decisions would be better than mine. He judges me by his standards and finds me lacking; you jugde the family in Florida by your standards, and find them lacking. I would not be so judged, so I will abide the counsel of Matthew 7, and not presume to judge; I will cast no stone. Rather, I think it better to offer compassion to this family. They need helpful friends, not condemning neighbors. And someone who tries to see life through their eyes will stand a much better chance of strengthening their ability to parent than the official “services” of a social worker or the orders of a judge.

    An extreme case like this presents, in stark relief, a question we grapple with here all the time. Where do we draw the line between the rights of the family and the duty of the state to step in? In this case, the family made a decision, regarding diet, that not only risked the lives of their children, but resulted in the death of one of them. Should we therefore enact laws that prescribe the diet we all feed our children? The extreme Libertarian position (and that of ancient Rome) says that this is a liberty interest of the parents and the state should not step in, the equally extreme opposing view says that the children are the creatures of the state, and the state has a right, even a duty, to oversee all aspects of the raising of the child. (Some have proposed in the past that all children should be taken from their parents at birth and raised totally by the state; that those who nuture children should be specially trained and qualified, and that the child’s education should include indoctrination in the ideals defined by the state!)

    I assume that most of the readers of this blog usually lean more toward the Libertarian view. But on this issue, when the question is life or death of a child, it seems we lean a little less Libertarian and a bit more Socialist. So, what rule do we use to define where the liberty interest ends and the state’s duty to protect begins? What restrictions are we willing to accept to our parenting decisions in order to protect the children of other families? Is this the responsibility of government? Or is it the responsibility of the neighborhood? Could a caring neighbor, taking the time to befriend this family have averted this tradegy? If we are to allow this to be the responsibility of government and allow the line to be drawn by “majority” vote, are we prepared to accept the possibility that our views may differ from that “majority?” (I put “majority” in quotes because the real majority often stays home on election day. Where I live, the mayor was elected by less than 15% of the registered voters.) Is the majority competent to draw the line? If not, then whom? Our elected representatives? How do we ensure that the line drawn is truly based on parenting ability and not on a political agenda or on erroneous “conventional wisdom?”