Thursday, January 06, 2005

Unlimited Reproduction?

Judge Marilyn O'Connor is at it again. For the second time in as many years, this family court judge has ordered a drug addicted mother to cease bearing additional children until she cleans up her act. The question is, can the American legal system withstand such sudden injection of common sense?
The 31-year-old mother, identified in court papers only as Judgette W., lost custody of her children, ranging in age from eight months to 12 years, in child-neglect hearings dating back to 2000. Six are in foster care and one lives with an aunt.

The youngest child, Victoria, and two others tested positive for cocaine at birth, and all seven "were removed from her care because she could not and did not take care of them," Judge O'Connor said in a December 22 decision made public yesterday [January 4].
Judgette W., incidentally, is not being coerced into abortions or sterilizations, she is being threatened with contempt of court and jail time if she becomes pregnant again. According to the court papers, Judgette W. is also a prostitute. Judge O'Connor took pains to explain her reasoning:
"Because every child born deserves a mother and a father, or at the very least a mother or a father, this court is once again taking this unusual step of ordering this biological mother to conceive no more children until she reclaims her children from foster care or other caretakers," O'Connor wrote.
One might think this line of argument to be rationally (and morally) unassailable, but of course, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) disagrees with the judge. In the NYCLU's view, Judge O'Connor's decision is unacceptable because it "tramples on a fundamental right - the right to procreate."

"There is no question the circumstances of this case are deeply troubling," said the group's executive director, Donna Lieberman. "But ordering a woman under threat of jail not to have any more babies ... puts the court squarely in the bedroom. And that's no place for the government."

True enough. Certainly Americans do not want a government that intrudes into its citizens personal lives, nor attempts to dictate the very private decisions regarding whether or not one should have a family or how large a family. Such a government would end up as a tryanny, not matter how well intentioned its policies. However, in the case of Judgette W., the government is not the intruding party. Judgette made her personal life and reproductive decisions the business of the government by engaging in irresponsible and illegal behavior that placed her children in danger. Once her children were found to be at risk, the state had every right to intercede on their behalf - it being the proper duty of the state to protect its citizens. Thus, Judgette imposed significant costs and burdens on the state and its agencies, costs that the taxpayers must assume. Since Judgette's history of reproductive choices, combined with her general lifestyle choices, had created the need for state intervention and since that history and her current behavior indicated that, left unchecked, she would continue to threaten the health and well-being of future offspring and increase the financial and custodial burden on the state, the state was well within its rights to insist that she cease behavior that would perpetuate that situation.

Had Judgette managed her affairs better, she could have had as many or as few children as she wanted - so long as the conditions in which she raised those children did not invite state intervention. To argue, as the NYCLU does, that a person has the unlimited right to procreate no matter what burden that procreation places on society, or what risk it poses to future offspring, defies reason.

The NYCLU, however, specializes in using the law to defy reason. In a brief filed in the appeal of Judge O'Connor's previous order barring a couple of drug addicts from having additional children, the NYCLU argues:
The burden is on the proponent of the infringement (here, the judge) to justify it. However, Judge O'Connon failed to establish in her decision that saving money is a "compelling state interest" or that prohibiting Stephanie and Rodney [a drug addicted couple who faced a similar order from the judge in March 2004] from having more children until they can prove that they, as opposed to "society," can support the children is narrowly tailored to acheive that compelling state interest. Without having established that her order passes strict scruitiny analysis - or even recognizing the fundamental nature of the right to procreate - Judge O'Connor's order not to procreate fails the constitutional test and must be deemed to violate Stephanie's and Rodney's right to privacy under both the federal and state constitutions.
Actually, saving money can, I think, be justified as a compelling state interest. The state has only such money at its command (excluding Washington's profligate tendency to borrow). Every additional cost that the state has to assume means that money must be taken away from some other program, or that the state must borrow, which in the long term means the same thing. If Rodney and Stephanie continue to add to the foster care rolls every year, along with Judgette and those like them, then the money available for foster care must be increasingly spread out among ever more children, with the result that the quality of care will suffer. Or, alternately, additional funds must be appropriated to foster care, funds taken away from other programs. There exists a limit to the amount of money available to government, every unnecessary expense (ignoring the inevitable waste and corruption) deducts from the funds available to dispense to worthy goals. Every additional child in foster care, especially those born cocaine-addited and requiring significant medical care, means a reduction in services elsewhere - perhaps to welfare programs funding AIDS or cancer treatment, or care of the indigent elderly. If preventing such needless costs doesn't constitute a "compelling interest" one can't imagine what does.

Of course, the NYCLU can't resist employing the mandatory leftist tactic - the race card:
Furthermore, the ban, if replicated, will disproportionately impact the poor and persons of color, who make up the largest share of individuals in front of the Family Court. Nationally, children raised in poverty are more likely than other children to be reported to child protective services and to be placed in substitute care. Indeed, poverty level is the most accurate predictor of foster care placement and the duration of time a child spends there. As a result, the child welfare system is marked by significant race and class disparities. The statistics locally are similar: although in 2000, only 14% of Monroe County [New York] is African American, black children made up nearly 50% of children in foster care. Through this ban, the court has attempted to engage in a kind of eugenics that this country no longer tolerates.
Poverty may well be the greatest predictor of whether a child find himself in the foster care system. But what is the greatest predictor of poverty? Lousy decisions - including the decision to have more children than one can afford to raise, or having children out of wedlock, or having children when one is addicted to drugs, or having children when one is a prostitute. These are the decisions that place one at the highest risk of poverty and place children in the most danger. But the NYCLU doesn't want to mitigate such bad decisions even when they directly harm children and burden the state. One could argue, in fact, that the NYCLU engages in a racist eugenics policy of its own. By preventing any state action that would mitigate the reasons people fall into poverty (or remain mired there), groups like the NYCLU is ensuring that the population of impoverished people increases. If African Americans (or other groups) are disproportionately represented there, then groups like the NYCLU could be construed as manipulating policy to increase the numbers of African Americans born into poverty, and working to keep them in poverty. Why groups like the NYCLU might want to do so is anyone's guess. But it is not in the interest of the people they claim to represent (whose lives will only grow worse under the burden of mor children), the children who result from such unhappy procreation (who will face of life of poverty and physical impairment) and society in general, whose resources and fabric will be strained.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) underscores the perception that left-leaning organizations actually want to increase the number of people (particularly minorities) living in poverty through its aggressive opposition to even private efforts to limit the number of children born to crack addicts. In California, a privately funded and operated program called CRACK (Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity) offers female drug addicts $200 to get sterilized. There is no government involement in this program, yet the ACLU has mounted a militant public relations campaign against it. Why?
The ACLU of Southern California and numerous medical and drug treatment professionals oppose this incentive program because it uses financial coercion to induce female drug addicts to surrender control over their reproductive choices at a time when they are not able to offer truly informed consent. Further, this unsound and coercive proposal diverts scarce support and funding from accessible treatment and maintenance programs to keep women drug-free.

A $200 payment to a drug addict in exchange for her sterilization is a demeaning alternative to women in a vulnerable situation. Desperate addicts use desperate means to support their habits. CRACK's sterilization incentive, designed as it is to give drug addicts money that will most likely be used to support their habit, is like offering a woman payment for sex to finance her next fix. The underlying problems fueling substance abuse are not addressed.
Notice that the ACLU first argues against this program because it "diverts scarce support and funding from accessible treatment and maintenance programs to keep women drug-free." Yet its sister organization, the NYCLU, says that there is no "compelling state interest" in saving state money - money that would presumably be spent on such programs. Worse, the ACLU, which likes to position itself as a defender of one's right to choose, including presumably a woman's right to use drugs, now condemns her right to accept a cash payment from a private source - and the private source's right to make such an offer. So much for freedom of choice. The ACLU goes on - almost incoherently - to argue that offering the cash payment constitutes "financial coercion" to get the woman to take birth control or be sterilized and that this is improper because the drug addicted woman cannot make a rational decision because of her addiction.

The ACLU is arguing that a drug addict cannot make any decision because his or her mind is impaired. Thus there can be no informed consent. But if that's true about accepting a cash payment for birth control or sterilization, then it must also be true about other decisions. If a drug addict decides - without financial compensation - to get an abortion, say, how can we be sure that she has truly offered informed consent. Will the ACLU be haunting abortion clinics, suing to prevent drug addicts from freely choosing abortions? (Don't hold your breath.) What about cooperation in government rehabilitation programs? Since a drug dealer can't offer informed consent due to their condition, should they be permitted to check themselves into rehab? After all, their mental state is impaired. If a private program offered cash drug addicts in exchange for their willing admission into rehabilitation, that would be improper too, under the ACLU's reasoning, since it would be financial coercion and lack of imformed consent. The ACLU's reasoning is so perverse, it defies comprehension.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

More Consequences of Open Borders

If you want to see a concrete example of the detrimental effects of leaving the nation's borders open to mass migrations from the third world, nothing serves as well as the shocking account of MS-13, better known as La Mara Salvatrucha, an El Salvadoran gang that has taken root in Boston. According to the Boston Herald, the gang has hundreds members including many "alleged rapists and machete-wielding robbers." But the preying on the good citizens of Boston is hardly the only reason for concern. MS-13 has other, potentially more worrisome allies:
In recent months, intelligence officials in Washington have warned national law enforcement agencies that al-Qaeda terrorists have been spotted with members of MS-13 in El Salvador, prompting concerns the gang may be smuggling Islamic fundamentalist terrorists into the country. Law enforcement officials have long believed that MS-13 controls alien smuggling routes along Mexico.
The al-Qaeda connection has apparently prompted increased concern from the local Boston police and federal authorities, especially since Boston has served as a focal point for Islamic terrorist networks in the US: two of the hijacked planes on September 11th, departed from Boston's Logan Airport, and Raed Hijazi, "an al-Qaeda operative charged with training the suicide bombers in the attack on the USS Cole, lived and worked" in Boston while residing in the US.
The theory that Salvadoran criminals manage to smuggle people over the border was bolstered this month when two Boston men described as MS-13 leaders were spotted on the North Shore days before Christmas - a year after they were deported by Boston Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators for gang-related crimes.
One of the two men, Elmer ``Tiger'' Tejada, 24, who had been deported after being convicted of a slew of crimes, including attempted murder charges for hurling a machete at Chelsea cops, was busted in Lynn on New Year's Day. Tejada is described as ``an original MS-13 member'' from East Boston, sources said.
A manhunt has been launched for the second fugitive, who is in the country illegally, Boston police said.
Bostonians - and all Americans - need to ask why the US government deliberately tolerates this mass-penetration of the southern border, permitting violent criminals to take up residence in American cities and harm US citizens. It is high time that victims of crime committed by illegal aliens filed suit against the federal government and the Bush administration for failing to secure the border and enforce US immigration law. If the US is no longer willing to defend its borders, American society will crumble, morphing into an unrecognizable patchwork of chaos and crime.

Aside from the potential threat to national security, what else has the US government bestowed on its citizens through its negligent refusal to protect the border?
Among the most notorious local crimes attributed to MS-13 was the gang rape of two deaf girls, one 14, the other 17, in a Somerville park in 2002. Three MS-13 gang members were charged in the brutal rapes, during which one victim was knocked from her wheelchair before the assault.
And for this, Americans pay hefty income taxes to the federal government.

Arab Press Criticism Spurs Increased Muslim Aid

Apparently responding to some surprisingly harsh criticism from the Arab press, Saudi Arabia today announced that it would thriple the $10 million in aid pledged by the Kingdom to the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunamis, upping its current donation to $30 million. Riyadh's additional pledge comes one day after the New York Times [registration required] (January 4) reported that, on Monday, a Kuwaiti newspaper, Al Qabas, ran a front page editorial questioning the Kuwaiti government's miniscule donation of $2 million. The article noted that Kuwait, like most Gulf states, is currently enjoying increased revenues as a result of the rising cost of oil and will post a $10 billion budget surplus this year.
"We have to give them more; we are rich," Waleed al-Nusef, the editor-in-chief Al Qabas, said in a telephone interview. "The price of oil doubled so we have no excuse."
Until today, most Islamic countries had made only paltry contributions to aid efforts, even as Western nations tripped over each other in an apparent competition become top donor. Australia currently holds that title, having pledged almost $700 million in aid.

According to the New York Times, the editors at Al-Qabas also questioned the manner in which some Muslim charities had responded to the crisis.
In Kuwait, some charities drew fire by advertising that they were collecting money for Muslim victims. Indonesia, the hardest-hit country is the most populous nation.

"I don't know why only Muslims, when disasters do not differentiate between religions in choosing their victims." Muhammad Mousaed al-Saleh, a columnist wrote in Al Qabas. The daily paper published a religious ruling, saying donating to non-Muslims is permissible."
It is unfortunate that the paper needed to publish such a ruling in order to assure its readers that giving aid to stricken non-Muslims is acceptable - and the fact that they felt it a necessity underscores the enormous philosophical chasm separating Islamic moral parochialism and Western moral universalism. Nevertheless, the fact that an Arab newspaper had the courage to question their government's response to the crisis, and that that criticism seems to have produced an effect, represents a salutary development. A free press is essential for driving reform. If such is emerging - however fitfully - in the Muslim world, so much the better.

In a side note, the New York Times also noted that many Islamic clerics were exploiting the tsunami tragedy to promote their twisted religious beliefs...
The view that wanton behavior provoked the was the subject of Friday sermons in Saudia Arabia and of other religious commentaries.

"Asia's earthquake, which hit the beaches of prostitution, tourism, immorality and nudity," one commentator said on an Islamic religious Web site, "is a sign that God is warning mankind from persisting in injustice and immorality before he destroys the ground beneath them."

Walid Tabtabai, a member of the Kuwaiti Parliament, said the earthquake was a message.

"We believe that what occurs in terms of disasters and afflictions is a test for believers and punishment for the unjust," he wrote in a column in the newspaper Al Watan.
Unforunately, this sort of nonsense isn't confined to the Islamic world. Many Christians in the West believe exactly the same thing. Recall that the fires were still burning at the fallen WTC when the Rev. Jerry Falwell accused "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America," for bringing the attack upon America. Rev. Falwell, sensing that he'd gone to far, at least apologized. Don't expect any apologies from the Islamic clerics currently delighting in the deaths of so many infidels.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Paris Rings in the New Year

Some denizens of the "City of Lights" celebrated the dawn of 2005 by burning 333 cars thoughout the city and its suburbs. The U.K.'s Independent describes this as a "15 year tradition" carried out by "disaffected youths in poor French suburbs." Exactly which segments of French youth are "disaffected"? The article notes obliquely that the vehicle-torching youths comprise "multi-racial gangs." Translated from the leftist code in which the Independent reports news, this means the car-burning gangs were composed of the immigrants (or their children) from the Middle East or Africa, mostly Muslims.

AFP reported that French police had detained more than 270 people in connection with the fires, and noted that 19 officers were "slightly injured" presumably while detaining these individuals. AFP said that "in nearly all cases, the automobile arsons occured in "what the government considers to be 'difficult' areas on the outskirts of Paris, the eastern city of Strasbourg and its suburbs." AFP also noted that France was "the only country in Europe where torching cars has become a New Year's custom."

Always eager to show exactly where leftist thought has brought Europe, the Independent noted that "Michel Wieviorka, a sociologist who has studied the violence, believes that the arson is a protest against the conspicuous consumption in wealthier areas over the holidays." Mr. Wieviorka characterized the arsons as "response from victims of social exclusion to our society of consumption," according to AFP.

Of course. The vandals who set hundreds of cars ablaze in an annual rituals aren't simply thugs prone to violence and mayhem ... they are oppressed victims of France's "social exclusion"! You can bet that "social exclusion" in this case means racism, but Mr. Wieviorka doesn't dare use that term because that would signal that the "disaffected youth" weren't native French. And, at all costs (and the costs are getting pretty high), no one in the French left wants to do that. If you name the source of the problem, you see, you might actually have to deal with it.

Three Cheers for Tilly (and for Science class)

Amid all the horror stories from last week's Indian Ocean tsunamis, which to date have killed an estimated 150,000 people, comes this report of a precocious ten year old British girl on holiday with her parents in Thailand.

Tilly Smith, from Oxshott, Surrey, was holidaying with her parents and seven-year-old sister on Maikhao beach in Phuket, Thailand, when the tide rushed out.

As the other tourists watched in amazement, the water began to bubble and the boats on the horizon started to violently bob up and down.

Tilly, who had studied tsunamis in a geography class two weeks earlier, quickly realised they were in danger.

She told her mother they had to get off the beach immediately and warned that it could be a tsunami.

According to the Telegraph, Tilly's parents quickly warned the hotel staff and the beach was cleared before the waves hit, saving the lives of dozens. Tilly continued to display the good sense she showed on that beach when speaking to the press, calmly explaining how she had known to be worried.

In an interview with the Sun, Tilly gave the credit to her geography teacher, Andrew Kearney, at Oxshott's Danes Hill Prep School.

She said "Last term Mr Kearney taught us about earthquakes and how they can cause tsunamis.

"I was on the beach and the water started to go funny. There were bubbles and the tide went out all of a sudden.

"I recognised what was happening and had a feeling there was going to be a tsunami. I told mummy."

The value of understanding science has rarely been better displayed. It can literally save your life. If you know how the world works, you'll be better able to respond wisely when confronted with natural phenomena. This applies not only for individuals, but for societies as well. Those societies that encourage science and critical thinking will fare better than those that don't. Too bad so many US school districts are trying to replace science with pseudo-religious nonsense, or mandating politically-correct, mulitculturalist curricula instead of demanding that students take rigorous courses on mathmatics, science and reading comprehension.