Metal Yarmulke
Saturday, August 28, 2004
 

Bias? Naaaaaahhhhhh.



Email exchange I had recently with Charles Kravetz, president of the extraordinarily biased (yes, even for the mainstream media, and even for the Boston area) New England Cable "News."

He accuses me of being "angry," "self-righteous," and "biased" because I disagree with his biased reporting...and he's damned condescending about it, too. Yet he's under the delusion that he's actually having some sort of "dialogue" with me (though he doesn't use that exact word, to be fair).

Money quote, for those with limited tolerance for reading through MSM shite:

"You really need to stop listening exclusively to those who would paint everyone in the media (except FOX) as close-minded, cynical and uninterested in your views. I am interested, despite our differences."

Emails are separated by rows of asterisks.

******

From: Reginleif
Sent: Sunday, August 15, 2004 1:20 PM
To: TVBlog
Subject: "Seeds of Peace"

I note that once more, NECN is flogging the tired concept of the "Seeds of Peace" camp, at which Israeli and Palestinian youngsters meet, play games, and supposedly learn to "co-exist in harmony."

These hold-hands-and-sing-"Kumbaya"-style projects are based on the supposition that two warring peoples will stop warring if they come to "understand each other" sufficiently.

Perhaps it's never occurred to the head-in-the-clouds sorts who run them that people war because they understand each other all too well. It's been long observed that few wars as as vicious as civil wars, and that hatred within actual families is more powerful than hatred of those who aren't related to one.

Golda Meir said 30 years ago, "There will be peace in the Middle East when the Arabs begin to love their children more than they hate Jews." How prophetic she was. And how willfully ignorant of this simple widsom the rest of the world, especially the media, remains.

-- R.S., Everett

******

Subject: RE: "Seeds of Peace"
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 10:11:04 -0400
Thread-Topic: "Seeds of Peace"
Thread-Index: AcSC7E9D2CgvsAGZRQ6VnJk+c2F0KwArhTAw
From: "Charles Kravetz"
To: "Reginleif"

Dear R.S. Thanks for writing NECN. Hatred is learned. So is love and tolerance. That is, as much as anything, the lessons of Seeds of Peace. Apparently you have a better idea for peace in the Middle East. Perhaps you should act on that. All our best. NECN

******

To: "Charles Kravetz"
From: Reginleif
Subject: RE: "Seeds of Peace"
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 13:08:27 -0400

Goodness. What a snarky email. Defensive much?

And NECN wonders why people criticize it for bias and watch FOX News instead.

"Telling it like it is"....what a joke.

[What follows the delimiter below in each of my emails, in case anyone was unclear, is a .sig line.]
--

...people who have self-righteousness like some people have bad breath.

— P.J. O'Rourke, description of a World Council of Churches delegation to a rally in Washington

******

Subject: RE: "Seeds of Peace"
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 13:08:27 -0400
Thread-Topic: "Seeds of Peace"
Thread-Index: AcSDp/7n5MuNLkSjT5KHjtj8bj6+ZQACqwFQ
From: "Charles Kravetz"
To: "Reginleif"

R.S. Surely you have greater self awareness than your email suggests. Defensive? Snarky? Check out your own email. FOX News plays to your own biases. That's why you think it's "fair and balanced." As to P.J. O'Rourke's quote at the end of your email, I have rarely come across a more self-righteous critique than yours. We'll continue to tell it like it is. NECN

******

To: "Charles Kravetz"
From: Reginleif
Subject: RE: "Seeds of Peace"
Date: Monday, August 16, 2004 (1:33 PM EDT)

Goodness, such projection. And condescension as well.

NECN plays to the biases of elitist liberal Northeasterners. As you are one of them, you consider yourself to be "telling it like it is," and FOX to be "biased."

As for your critique of my critique, NECN and other mainstream media (particularly the odious Boston Globe) have perfected the art of self-righteousness, especially wherever President Bush, Israel, terrorism, and any other controversial subjects are involved. You believe yourselves to hold the only correct beliefs, and that anyone who differs with you is (1) deluded, (2) stupid, or (3) evil.

The "Kumbaya" approach to seeking peace in the Middle East has led to the deliberate deaths of hundreds of Jews. These deaths seem to receive less priority in the mainstream media than do the killings of Palestinians intent on murder, the occasional and unintentional killing of an unarmed Palestinian civilian (I count rocks as arms), and even the "humiliation" of Arabs at checkpoints that were purposely set up to keep them from blowing up more Jews.

I consider myself to be much more justified in getting self-righteous over the above than I consider you to be justified in getting self-righteous over having your idiotically idealistic, and utterly lethal, worldview challenged.

Apparently you and the other "gatekeepers" in the media are still not accustomed to the fact that the "masses" are no longer passively receiving your Wisdom From On High, but seeking out alternative sources of information. To you, we are not your customers or consumers; we are your sheep.

But hey, keep on telling it like it isn't. After all, there are plenty of other fools who will keep on watching. Those of us with a clue will be elsewhere on the dial, or, more likely, on the Internet, getting real news.

--

A few years ago I simply got tired of pretending that I could have a serious discussion with those people. I changed my registration to Republican and I take great pride in letting that fact be known whenever I get dragged into some discussion at government or academic meetings. I usually get looks like I just dropped cat turds into my white wine. And I love every minute of it.

— Scott in East Bay, describing San Francisco hippies on LGF

******
[I can't find the original of this email; here, I've copied the quoted material from my reply to it.]

"I consider myself to be much more justified in getting self-righteous over the above than I consider you to be justified in getting self-righteous over having your idiotically idealistic, and utterly lethal, worldview challenged"

R.S. At least you are willing to admit that you are self-righteous. Now if you could get rid of some of that anger, you might be able to see that yours is not the only way to look at Israel, the Middle East, or anything else. Our story on "Seeds of Peace" takes no position on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, the wall, Sharon, Arafat, who is right or wrong, or even how to resolve this age old conflict. In truth, you have no idea what I think or believe about this matter because it is not germaine to my job or that of NECN. If you want a particular spin on this, go to the "No Spin Zone" of FOX NewsChannel and they will tell you what you want to hear. 

******

To: "Charles Kravetz"
From: Reginleif
Subject: RE: "Seeds of Peace"

You know, I really have to wonder why the president of a large regional cable channel, who presumably has better things to do with his time, is so invested in trying to change the mind of someone who not only has no media connections and therefore no influence, but whom he is highly unlikely ever to woo back as a viewer.

I guess I struck a nerve.

--

The average democrat voter is ... a senile social security recipient who thinks she's voting for FDR, a welfare recipient who thinks the World Court is the show that comes on between 'Judge Joe Brown' and 'Divorce Court,' or a stoned-out hippie-dippie activist who thinks all OBL needs is to get laid/stoned/hugged and he'd be all right.

Issues ... and even the correct spelling ... of national sovereignty are well beyond the grasp of 80-90% of the democrat voting bloc.

— V the K, on littlegreenfootballs.com

****

Subject: RE: "Seeds of Peace"
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 17:44:04 -0400
Thread-Topic: "Seeds of Peace"
Thread-Index: AcSD0CCYE9ubKaPKRr+hOKN3yv/cOAACTduQ
From: "Charles Kravetz"
To: "Reginleif"

R.S. I am fully aware that I am "highly unlikely" to woo you back. That's not the point. I find this interchange interesting which is the only reason I continue it. Sometimes, there is nothing I should better do than converse with my viewers, even if I take issue with their positions. You are wrong about one thing. As a viewer, you DO have influence and your opinion matters, despite your apparent lack of "media connections." You really need to stop listening exclusively to those who would paint everyone in the media (except FOX) as close-minded, cynical and uninterested in your views. I am interested, despite our differences. I wish you the best. 
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Thursday, August 26, 2004
 

"Kids for Kerry"



"We cannot vote yet, but we should have a voice today! That is why we have created KidsForKerry.org.  We have learned our ABCs and we believe that John Kerry represents our best hope for a peaceful and hopeful future."

(Anyone else nauseated yet?)

No, you can't vote yet...and unless you're an older teen who's actually working a job and paying taxes, I really don't care what you think. Or, more accurately, what your idiot liberal parents think. Clue: "it's for da chyyyylllldrruuuun" doesn't cut any ice with me. Those "social services" Mummy and Daddy are yammering for come straight out of my all-too-scanty paycheck. If they want you to learn something in school, perhaps they should teach you to read and not use the TV as a babysitter. And if they want other people's kydz to do the same, perhaps they should STFU about "social responsibility" and start advocating for personal responsibility.

Incidentally, Vice-President Cheney does NOT need a "time-out." Maybe this is news to you, given how Mummy and Daddy cater to you, but there are things adults are allowed to do that children are NOT. Such as use curse words. Or stay up past eight or nine o'clock. Or attend weddings or go out to nice restaurants (though I wouldn't have a problem with you doing so if your doting pahruntz taught you how to behave properly in such places). At least that's how it was, once upon a time.

And children who crossed the line did not get some wussy touchy-feely "time-out." They got a spanking. In case you don't know what that is because your Mummy and Daddy can't be bothered to discipline you, that means you were put over their lap and they smacked your little butt until you cried. Too bad there isn't more of that today. Perhaps I'd see fewer of you running around supermarkets and other public places screeching like chimpanzees while your dimwitted parents chanted, "Sierra and Hunter, stop that, or I will give you a time-out," to no avail.

Most adults with common sense, UNLIKE your pahruntz, do not want Kerry in the White House. They do not want a president who will conduct a "sensitive and thoughtful war." They want a grown-up in that job who knows that life isn't fair, and that because not everyone in the world has been taught to play nice and share and all that stuff you learned in kindergarten, sometimes you need to stand up and fight for what you want and what you need.

As a friend of mine put it, "Blaaaaaaargh! Why is it that the most revolting aspect of any politician is his supporters?"

Back in 1992, Wyche Fowler, then Democrat Senator from Georgia, rebuffed a bunch of "student activists" who wanted to meet with him with, "Students don't vote. Do you expect me to come in here and kiss your ass?"

Shortly thereafter Fowler ceased to be the Democrat Senator from Georgia. It's safe to say that the remark wasn't very diplomatic of him. But these days, when ten-year-olds are taken seriously as "education activists," I find his attitude refreshing.

Note in the article I just linked to in the above paragraph that the li'l lobbyist refers to her mother as her "personal chaperone." I'm not sure which bugs me more: that Mrs. Thorpe encourages and permits her young daughter to aggrandize herself and diminish her mother in that way, or that the CSM reporter never really questions the mother's insistence that it's the girl herself who truly wants to live a hectic and admittedly "not normal" lifestyle.

Lily Thorpe is an annoying child all on her own, no doubt. But I've seen far too many yupbreeders, especially here in the Boston area, who overschedule and overpressure their offspring so that they, the parents, can live vicariously through the kids' hyperachievements. 
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Sunday, July 25, 2004
 

Leila S. Sales of Newton, Mass. MUST DIE.



Actual letter from last Thursday's Boston Globe. It convinces me more than ever that a pre-frontal lobotomy greatly increases one's chances of them printing one's letter.

OK, Boston, let's stop being whiny ingrates and start getting excited about this Democratic national convention, shall we?

Yeah, Leila. I'm sure all those "whiny ingrates" who own restaurants and shops in Boston and are losing tons of business due to the DNC just need to be slapped upside the head with an inflatable donkey. What nerve, putting their own livelihood ahead of the Democratic Party!

Especially Joseph Pasquale.



I mean, it's only fair that the City of Boston is harassing him to take down his banner, as opposed to all the other shopkeepers they're not enforcing the "security" rule with! After all, who cares about terrorists? We need to combat this plague of...mean-spiritedness in our nation!

And as for the rest of us...well, such babies we are. I mean, why don't we all just jump on Rte. 128 or the Green Line, like you do? After all, we might actually live much closer to I-93 and U.S. Route 1, both of which are being shut down, and to the Orange Line, which will experience major delays due to North Station being closed for the week ... but what difference does our convenience, or the fact that we pay taxes to maintain these roads, make? The Democrats are in town!!!! All bow down!!!

I mean, we all know this is going to be fantastic for our economy.

Right, because politicians always make a point of paying with their own money for everything they get.

The Globe itself ran an article earlier this year in which Los Angeles businesspeople told the reporter that they'd lost money during the 2000 DNC convention at the local Staples Center:
[C]ity officials...projected millions in revenue from rented hotel rooms, bar tabs, restaurant checks and tips, and hours of positive media coverage that would spotlight a once-blighted but revitalized downtown LA and draw tourists...Delegates did fill thousands of hotel rooms. But they left bar stools and restaurant tables mostly empty, instead wining and dining at dozens of corporate-sponsored shindigs where they didn't have to shell out their own cash. And the positive stories about Los Angeles's convention success never were written, with coverage instead centering on clashes between hundreds of protesters and police.

Then, of course, there's all the money the DNC is going to cost us. But who cares? When "democracy" is at stake, we'd all better empty our pockets and subsidize it!

And I hope we are all aware of Celebrate Boston's efforts to make the convention fun for all of us.

Except for individuals like Leila who probably have Bubba Clinton's My Lie Life on their coffee tables (autographed, perhaps), the most fun anyone can have during the DNC would necessitate being as far away from it as logistically possible.

Unless, maybe, you're well-heeled enough to afford the services of one of the many <*cough*> professionals descending upon Boston this weekend. (How many of them will it take just to satisfy our ex-president? Why ... it'll take a village!)

Furthermore, we should recognize the work of organizations such as the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Conventions to make this not just any event but a noteworthy socially responsible event.

Yeah, I was really worried about whether the DNC was going to be "socially responsible." Thanks for taking a load off my mind. (And "load" is a great choice of word here, I think.)

Incidentally, Leila, do you think it's "socially responsible" to cause thousands of automobiles to idle in traffic due to road closures, causing massive emissions of carbon monoxide? Especially when taking the MBTA this week won't get people there any faster, because of the aforementioned station closure, and because the T is going to be searching bags randomly?

Oh, and when (not if) the same types of searches happen at the RNC in Manhattan next month, will you and your Dem friends decry that as "socially irresponsible"? Enquiring minds want to know.

We ought to join with these organizations in thinking of the convention as an opportunity for innovation as opposed to a cumbersome duty that we've been saddled with.

An opportunity for what, exactly? Other than for the practice of better security measures, I can't think of a single one. Except the opportunity to convince the voters of Boston to throw Tom Menino out of the mayor's office on his lumpy, semi-literate ass.

But even if you don't buy any of that,

Which I don't.

and you still think this convention is more hassle than it's worth,

Which it is.

then can I please get some Boston pride here?

The Yankees suck. Screw you. Get the fuck out of the left-hand lane with your goddamned Volvo doing 55 mph. How's that for authentic Boston pride?

And how lucky the Democratic candidate is, like us, a Bostonian!

Lucky, my conniving bagel-scarfing neocon ass. Now all us normal folks will have to endure even more ribbing from our friends and relatives elsewhere — especially those who have escaped the People's Republik for good — that Massachusetts is the East Coast repository of peace creeps, gun-grabbers, those who like to grab their ankles and chant "Please tax us even MORE!", and other assorted nanny-state control freaks.

We could have ended up holding this convention for a politician from North Carolina or Vermont.

Not that I like either John Edwards or Howard Dean, but exactly why are those bad things in your opinion, Leila? Don't you BoBos loooooooove Vermont, home of Mumia apologists Ben & Jerry? And is North Carolina just too déclassé for your oh-so-refined Nawtheastun tastes?

I feel enormously privileged that Boston has been entrusted with this convention.

Consider updating your Clozaril prescription? Anyone who entrusts the City of Boston to run so much as a hamburger stand is a damn fool.

So come on, let's get excited.

Leila, please get cancer and die screaming. I promise you, that would make me very excited. I might even whip out my vibrator to celebrate your demise. 
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Monday, May 24, 2004
 

One woman's critique of domestic-violence programs



I found the essay below on a "men's rights" website that, IMHO, is pretty misogynistic — one of the "regulars" actually has a tagline that says "Real women want to be pregnant." That's why I didn't include the link. If you really want to know which site, email me. But the article is worth forwarding, I think.

I think this is really fucked up, myself. Some might strongly disagree with the writer, and with me, that a relationship is not automatically down the tubes if there's ever violence. I think such a decision is highly personal, and that there is no one cookie-cutter approach to it.

In Ms. Moore's case, the incident that started the entire chain of events was an anomaly in a long and mostly stable relationship. I think she was perfectly sane, not to mention within her rights, to interpret it as she did. I should mention, though, that if she had decided to leave her husband, I wouldn't have had an issue with it. It was her decision to make and no one else's.

It also seems from her detective work (see the
Barnstable Patriot article below) that there's a lot more wrong with DSS than the unnecessary breaking up of families to the detriment of the kids. Not only does abuse — physical, psychological, and sexual — go on in many foster homes to a much greater degree than in the homes from which the children placed in them came, but the financial corruption behind many "child protection" agencies looks to be horrendous.

I personally know a woman, very politically progressive and feminist, who, when trying to seek help because her then-husband is an abusive alcoholic and drug addict, was frustrated because while the radical directors and therapists at her local battered women's shelter were pressuring her to leave him, the people at Al-Anon and in her religious community were pressuring her to "save the marriage."

(I consider 12-step groups more "religious" than "spiritual," myself, and often quite reactionary in how they instruct their members to deal with their lives, but that's an entirely different discussion. If they work for you personally, I won't tell you to abandon them; my beef is with their near-monopoly of the alcohol- and drug-abuse treatment industry, and with courts and employers compelling people to attend them.)

It'd be nice if help in dealing with domestic violence
with no agenda whatsoever were attached, but I suppose that'd be asking too much, given how politically fraught the entire subject is, and given human nature.

Moore's Website appears to be defunct, but here's a four-year-old local article on Justice for Families.


*****

Inside A 'Batterers Program' for 'Abused' Women
July 29, 2003
by Nev Moore

Women Violating Women

When Hillary Clinton says it takes a "village" to raise a child, does this mean that snooping, nosey, prying and gossipy people will be surrounding all of us -- snoopers who are employees of the state with the power of police?

This woman wonders. I was forced by DSS to attend a "support group" for abused women, against my will. Or else I would never see my daughter again. That is what they told me. I was required to report every week to the Independence House, Hyannis, although it's supposedly for women who seek their help. It's run primarily by volunteers who are not counselors, therapists, or psychologists. They are all former battered women. Yet my DSS "service plan" stated that I had to attend for "treatment."

The meetings were held behind closed doors. I can't possibly express how much I hated and resented being in that room. The women were, in general, obsessive, neurotic, and vengeful. At the beginning of each meeting they went around the room and each woman was supposed to say a "brag" for the week. I did not want to participate in this childish game.

The first week I was there, one woman's "brag for the week" was that she'd had an abortion. Her DSS worker had suggested that she talk about it. Regardless of whether you are pro-choice or pro-life, most people would agree this is a sad, intimate and private act, certainly not a "brag of the week" in a roomful of strangers.

There was a volunteer facilitator and a confidentiality notice was read at the start of each meeting. It said that women did not have to talk if they didn't want to. Whatever you said in the room was strictly confidential and would not leave the room.

It Was Repulsive

I found it repulsive. And yet this is where I was ordered to go for "treatment" to "raise my self-esteem." Some women had been away from their ex's for six to eight years, yet continued to go to the meetings. It was like their victim hood was an all encompassing identity. They were addicted to being a "victim" so people would feel sorry for them.

Many said that although their husbands never actually abused or controlled them, they didn't always agree with them. So that was abusive. Many other women said, "I never knew I was being abused until I came to Independence House." [Hmmm...]

One woman who was not being abused, but I guess was just lonely, would often talk for the entire two hours. She was very loud and aggressive, constantly interrupting others. She told us that she was taking night courses, and her (male) teacher had asked her to stop interrupting and dominating the classroom. She proudly told us that she called him at his home and informed him in no uncertain terms that he had verbally abused her. It was easy to understand why she was lonely. The support group was like a social club for her, where she had a hostage audience.

There were other women who were, as my teenagers say, right off-the-loop. They were so intense and obsessive that they frightened me. Some would rock on the floor and wail, or curl into a fetal position and cry loudly throughout the meeting. One wanted to go to court and get a court order to have her ex sterilized so that he could never have children with another woman. Another (divorced from her ex) wanted to know where his P.O. box was.

The women got all excited, jumping up and down, and yelling out: "Follow him," "Watch him," and "Pay someone to follow him." I believe if men do this it's called "stalking.' I felt like I was trapped in the piranha tank at feeding time. On other nights, the group would be in depression mode, weeping and wailing. I don't mean to sound harsh and unsympathetic, but I did not want to be held hostage in a room listening to other peoples' problems. It was depressing and distasteful. At times when I was bored to the point I thought I was going to start crying, I would take out my wallet and make out my grocery list on a scrap of paper. The facilitator told me that wasn't allowed because I might be taking notes on what the women were saying. This is an accurate insight to the paranoia, negativity, and suspiciousness that pervades Independence House.

Making Money.

I realized that I never heard a facilitator encourage a woman to heal and move on with her life. They encouraged women to stay stuck in the victim mentality. I realized that, if women move on, they would no longer be clients. Each woman is worth many dollars to DSS and to Independence House. The more clients -- the more funding dollars.

Every week I received calls from our DSS supervisor, Larry Vadeboncoeur, chastising me for my "attitude" at the support group. He told me in a meeting at DSS that I would not get my child back until my attitude changed and I "processed my issues" and "did my stuff." What "stuff" was never identified, even after repeated requests from me for clarification. After all, I don't have a degree in psychology, so I don't understand these professional terms, like "client needs to do her stuff."

When I told Mr. Vadeboncoeur what went on in the meetings and that they were terribly depressing and distasteful, he snapped, "That is not what goes on at Independence House!" I didn't "share much" in the meetings because I felt nothing in common with the group. I said that I was forced to be there against my will and they needed to remove the word "Independence" from their title and stop handing out mugs that said: "Independence: the Freedom to make your own choices."

When I couldn't stand the breast-beating victim dance any more, I would offer small pieces of input. My feeling is that, if the guy was that bad, then good riddance to bad rubbish. By sitting in these groups forever, rehashing abuse, real or perceived, a woman keeps the wounds open and allows the man to still have power over her.

Each week I continued to get chastised by the DSS supervisor, Larry Vadeboncoeur, for my poor attitude and "not accepting the message." I was, much later, to read in my DSS file that, if they forced me to attend those meetings, I would "relate to" and "form a bond" with the women there. (Translation: accept the indoctrination and embrace my victimhood.)

It Was 'Confidential'

I began to wonder how what I was saying behind closed doors at a confidential support group in Hyannis was finding its way to a DSS supervisor in an office in Yarmouth. On two occasions I spoke with one of the directors at Independence House, Natalie Dupres. I told her that DSS was using the fact that I did not want to attend her meetings to keep my child from coming home. Ms. Dupres assured me that they never called or spoke to DSS. She said, even with a release from a client, they could only verify attendance and participation. They would "never disclose the content of what is discussed in a support group." She added, "You know what DSS is like," inferring that DSS was making it up. The only problem with this was that DSS was repeating, verbatim, what I actually was saying behind closed doors, including things that I deliberately fed into the group discussion just to see if they made their way back to me. They did. Ms. Dupres was never actually present in the support group meetings, which means that the group facilitators had been instructed to report back what I said in meetings.

The fact that I did not want to be there, and found the meetings boring and repulsive just increased my resentment and antagonism. But, with our child held hostage, I would have done anything that anyone ordered me to do.

Eventually, Independence House decided that they did not want me there informing the other women that they were primarily funded by DSS and that what the women said in the group could be reported back to DSS and used against them. At that point DSS decided that I had "processed my issues" as far as I was going to. So I was released from my enforced obligation to attend. The funding they received because I was attending was not worth having their little secrets exposed.

Our weekly schedule of mandated "tasks" for my husband and me included individual counseling for each of us, "angry man" classes for my husband, parenting classes at Independence House, random urine screens and three AA meetings a week for my husband, a weekly supervised visit at the DSS office, plus court days and meetings at the DSS office.

More Families In DSS . . . More $$ For Everyone
Unhealthy relationship between DSS and domestic violence Industry

Two thirds of the funding to Independence House in Hyannis comes from DSS, channeled through the state Department of Public Health, while the other comes from private and corporate donations.

Therefore, Independence House is dependent on DSS for survival, and, therefore, beholden to DSS as the hand that feeds them. They quickly learned from their mentors, who are pros at it, that if you pad your client roster by coercing unwilling clients, you fight your way to a better position on the "funders" food chain.

Last year the Dept. of Public Health cut $350,000 of funding to Independence House due to complaints by women. Senator Henri Rauschenbach got it reinstated. The relationship between DSS and Independence House (and its sister organizations around the state) is unhealthy and symbiotic.

Because DSS has allowed the battered women's "advocates" to trade in their rusty VW buses for new Lexuses (that is literally true for some women who work at Independence House), greed has replaced integrity and an honest desire to help other women. They work together to dramatically increase their client statistics. When the support groups report women's conversations back to DSS, this information is used to charge the mothers with neglect, for "allowing" their children to be exposed to "domestic violence."

In court, DSS claims the women have "poor judgment" when it goes to court to terminate their parental rights. The proof? The fact that the women attended the battered women's center for services -- even though they were ordered to go by DSS. As further "proof" DSS will use the restraining orders that they forced the women to get.

Although I was coerced to attend by DSS, some of the women come voluntarily for help. The battered women's groups basically pimp clients for DSS in return for money. They are patronizing and condescending to their clients (not to mention deceptive). Women are coerced into accepting their cultish indoctrination via the use of threats, intimidation and fear of losing their children. In fact, they employ all the methods and behaviors that are considered abuse and control if committed by the women's husbands or boyfriends.

Independence House and its sister organizations provide DSS with additional clients. The women's groups get more money, and DSS gets more state and federal money. They both are artificially inflating their numbers. They inflate the domestic violence statistics this way and through the use of coerced restraining orders. By artificially inflating the domestic violence statistics they are able to create political hysteria -- leading to more funding.

Women are ordered to leave their husbands, even in the complete absence of real domestic violence or abuse. They are ordered to never let the fathers see their children, or DSS will charge the woman with neglect, again. Women are ordered to leave their homes and to sever contact with their mates. They then discover that, in order to get shelter, housing, food stamps, Medicaid, or cash benefits, they must claim to be victims of domestic violence to get a priority. Women are told they must do this to keep their children or to get them back if DSS already has them. The "Freedom to make your own choices" means the choices they want you to make. The choices that will benefit them financially.

How Did We End Up In DSS?
Government intervention turns to harassment

Thirteen months after my husband drank too much one night and with no problems of any kind after that incident, the social worker, Kathy Marciante, and Sue Ash, the domestic violence "expert," showed up while I was working in my garden in May 1997.

I was very surprised to see them as I had not seen or heard from any DSS social worker in a couple of months, so I didn't even think that we were still involved with DSS. The two women, in deadly serious tones, told me that I had to pack a few things in a bag, and that I and my children would have to go with them to an "undisclosed location."

After the shock wore off, I believe I burst out laughing. I felt as if I had just slipped into a "B" spy movie. The two women would not elaborate on their request, but kept adamantly insisting that I leave my home with them. They informed me that I would not be able to contact anybody or allow anyone to know where I was. I kept asking them why they were here, but I didn't get an answer. They said that if I didn't go with them, they would have to consult with their legal department about removing the children. My 16-year old son told them that they were ludicrous and there was absolutely no reason for them to be there. He also told them that our daughter was very close to us and clingy, and that it would deeply traumatize her to take her away from us and her home.

By this time the little one was home from school. She was very frightened and hid behind me. Eventually, I became angry and ordered them off my property, suggesting that they go down to a well-known crack neighborhood where they were needed.

Our daughter was too frightened to go to school the next day. We sat her down and told her that we loved her and would never, ever allow anyone to take her away. The following day they snatched her from her classroom. It was weeks before we saw her again.

It was four months before we were able to get a hearing before a judge in Barnstable Juvenile Court. We had 29 continuances before our case was heard. It was 13 months before our daughter returned to her home.

A Year of Snooping

It had all started the previous spring after my husband spent a night of drinking with a buddy and assaulted me outside of our home. A passerby called 911 on their car phone. Our children weren't present or involved, one being away on a trip; and the youngest, our seven-year-old daughter, was asleep in her bedroom at the upstairs back of our large, old captain's house. It is the practice of the police now to call DSS whenever they are called to a house where underage children reside.

Neither of us minimized or denied the seriousness of the incident, and we immediately took steps to ensure that this would never happen again. I made it clear to my husband that I would not accept a chaotic lifestyle, and he could not remain in the home if he chose to continue drinking. Of his own accord, he entered counseling and became active in AA. He stopped consorting with drinking friends and has not set foot in a bar since that night. I was clear about what I wanted for myself and quite in charge of my own life.

When the young, ditsy (there truly is no other adjective I can use) social worker from DSS showed up, we allowed her in and were civil. I explained clearly that as two intelligent, mature adults we were quite capable of managing our own lives, marriage, and problems. If I needed help, I knew how to dial 911. For several months she kept pushing me to attend "Independence House." Over and over, I explained in simple language that I did not feel myself to be a battered woman, and I adamantly did not want to go to Independence House.

I am not weak, dependent, nor in need of their services. I was hardly the profile of a dependent, beaten-down, battered woman being controlled by her domineering husband. I explained that my husband didn't control me, didn't control my money, and I was free to come and go as I pleased, have whatever friends I chose, and could say or do what I wished. [She wrote down that I was a textbook case of a battered woman "in denial."]

"Protecting My Abuser"

I explained to her that I had the life of my dreams, was happy and fulfilled, and that, outside of that isolated incident, my husband treated me like a princess. I told her, not that it was any of her business, my husband and I loved each other and were committed to our marriage. [She wrote that I was "protecting my abuser."] She would complain about her ex-husband (not that I had any interest in hearing) and condescendingly say to me, "I know how you feel. My husband was abusive, too." I would look at her like she had two heads and tell her that I never said any such thing. I do not feel that way. When I told her that my husband was very sweet to me and we had a great time together, she gave me a "service plan" on which one of the tasks was to go to Independence House for treatment to help me "lower my denial." [When I told her I was happy and fulfilled in life, she wrote down that I needed treatment to raise my self-esteem. Anyone who knows me will get a good guffaw from that one!]

If I said I didn't want to go to Independence House, she reported that as a sign that my husband was controlling and isolating me. She would tell me that we could meet away from my house where I could speak freely, if I could get away without fear of repercussions. I looked at her like she had three heads. No matter how many times I, or the children, would tell her that we were fine, there was no violence or abuse, we weren't afraid of my husband, and there was no cause for her to be involved with us, it made no difference. She would continue to write down that the whole family was "in denial," and we were protecting my husband out of fear.

I attempted to use logic by pointing out to her that our house is on the main street of a quaint, little historical village, across the street from the court house, the fire station, the sheriff's office, a few doors down from a Senator's office, and surrounded by antique shops and lawyers' offices. There is a thrift shop attached to our house and a realty office. We are highly visible in the community and well liked. No one had ever seen or heard anything amiss. There were no police calls to the house, not so much as a noise complaint. I pointed out that this was not a location where disruption would go unnoticed. It would be impossible to hide. [So she wrote down that there was "ongoing domestic violence."] It was about this time that I began to feel like Alice going down the rabbit hole.

At that time I was unaware that all the considerable funding to "combat domestic violence" was channeled through DSS. To the tune of $13 million a year. The DSS worker brought a "domestic violence expert," Sue Ash, to my home a couple of times. (What are the qualifications to be a "domestic violence expert"?) I reiterated my story, over and over. I felt like I was being subjected to an inquisition, and was down to reciting name, rank, and serial number. They insisted that I meet them for coffee at a diner. [Maybe I'd crack.] The expert also met Tommy and me together. The social worker dropped me and my daughter off at our house. I believed at this point that I had done everything I could possibly do to make DSS happy, without knowing why I should have to do so. My children had never been abused or neglected by any stretch of the imagination, so why was my life being micro-managed by strangers?

Harassment Starts Again

After a few weeks the social worker and supervisor started harassing me again, this time claiming that they had lost their copy of the restraining order and the court couldn't find it in their files either. I had lost all patience at this point and told them that it wasn't my problem and to stop harassing me. They continued to threaten to take the children unless I got another restraining order. Later on, in court hearings and in the DSS case file, they claimed that I had gone into the court building and just pretended to get the restraining order. My husband and I went over to court together to get another one. The judge this time was a village resident, Judge Gerald O'Neil. When we told the judge that we wanted a restraining order against my husband, he quipped that he'd never had a husband and wife come together to get a restraining order.

We said that we were being forced to get it by DSS even though there was no violence in our home, and that neither the children nor I were in fear. Judge O'Neil said that he didn't like DSS dictating to him in his court room, but if not getting the order would put our family at risk with DSS, then he would issue it. We got a restraining order for one year.

But it didn't stop them from taking our children. The fact that I had applied for a restraining order helped them. That's why they wanted it.

Nev Moore is President of Justice for Families, a group she founded to help parents who have problems with the DSS. They can be reached at (508) 362-6921 or P.O. Box 141, Barnstable, MA 02630.

********************

And here are some comments on the story from the website where I found it.

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Sickening. The socialistic nature of these programs demands that the program be justified, and even self-perpetuating. Victimology.

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Hmmm...Seems like it is no longer safe for a woman to be with a man, a man to be with a woman, children to be safe with either. . .sounds like Germany a few decades ago.

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I contacted Nev a few month back. First off, no I['m] not "in the know" or someone special. I read this same story a few months back and wanted to offer her my empathy and tell her that what she went through was terrible. I got a letter back from her thanking me and telling me she couldn't talk about all the stuff, as DSS litigation or some such thing was preventing her. (hmmm, I think I still have the letter, I'll have to look). Anyways ... visit her site and see related stories. I lived in Massachusetts before the Army and what she says is true. DSS is a nightmare. Nev has organized parents from around the state to fight it. She is leading a crusade against DSS and their bullshit. I have read some of the stories and .... guys ... it makes even divorce court look tame. I am gonna look for a link to it tonight, and if I find it, I'll post it. It's a bit long, but it's freaking heartbreaking.

Nev is fighting for parents against a corrupt system.

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Many states, the People's Republic of California wherein I reside not least among them, give their functionaries enormous power.

Problem is, for the most part these people cannot even be sued, fired or held accountable in any way for what they do. That, sadly, is a matter of law. I would suggest that it might also be a good definition of "tyranny". The horror story above is sadly rather common. 
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Tuesday, May 11, 2004
 

Academia Nuts



I just got this notice of events in Boston (never mind that the page header says "Events in Washington," or that some of the events actually happen in cyberspace or on television) from The Teaching Company. In my more solvent days, I ordered a few videos and CDs from them, respectively on the English language and on prehistoric humans in Eurasia.

I had just made a mental note to keep an eye out in the library for Cultural Intermediaries: Jewish Intellectuals in Early Modern Italy by David B. Ruderman when I noticed that John Esposito, who has just released The Islamic World: Past and Present, is also a Teaching Company professor. Charles Johnson has aptly described Esposito as "an apologist for militant Islam."

The Teaching Company's events page also breathlessly describes the "beauty" of the current exhibit on Islamic calligraphy at Boston's Sackler Museum. As the Sackler is affiliated with Harvard, I doubt we'll learn which Qu'ranic verses are immortalized in said calligraphy, such as the one deeming a woman's testimony to count half as much as a man's in court, or the ones about killing infidels.

Unable to resist, I just emailed their customer service department and asked, "Just wondering...do you carry any books on Islam by Bernard Lewis or Daniel Pipes?

"Thought not." 

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Monday, May 10, 2004
 

This judge deserves a medal.



ROCHESTER, New York (AP) — A couple has been ordered not to conceive any more children until the ones they already have are no longer in foster care.

...Monroe County Family Court Judge Marilyn O'Connor ruled March 31 that both parents "should not have yet another child which must be cared for at public expense."

"The facts of this case and the reality of parenthood cry out for family planning education," she ruled. "This court believes the constitutional right to have children is overcome when society must bear the financial and everyday burden of care."

The judge is not forcing contraception on the couple nor is she requiring the mother to get an abortion should she become pregnant. The couple may choose to be sterilized at no cost to them, O'Connor ruled.

If the couple violates O'Connor's ruling, they could be jailed for contempt of court.

...Neither parent attended the proceeding or secured legal representation. The mother waived her right to a lawyer, and the father never showed up in court.

The mother was found to have neglected her four children, ages 1, 2, 4 and 5. All three children who were tested for cocaine tested positive, according to court papers. Both parents had a history of drug abuse. It was not immediately clear if the father had other children.

A case worker testified that the parents ignored an order to get mental health treatment and attend parenting classes after the 1-year-old was born.

The mother was still in the hospital after giving birth to her fourth child in March 2003 when authorities took the infant, according to court papers. Investigators said the mother was unprepared to care for the infant.


Basic common sense on Judge O'Connor's part, right? I guess not to some people...

A civil liberties advocate said the court ruling unsealed Friday was "blatantly unconstitutional."

..."I don't know of any precedent that would permit a judge to do this," Anna Schissel, staff attorney for the Reproductive Rights Project of the New York Civil Liberties Union, told the Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester. "And even if there were a precedent, it would be blatantly unconstitutional because it violates the United States Constitution and the New York Constitution."


This is why I will never write another check to the ACLU.

"Reproductive Rights Project," eh? Well, I support reproductive rights. As far as I'm concerned, though, they don't include the "right" to inflict serious physical, developmental, and psychiatric problems on your kids because you're too stupid, lazy, or ignorant to slip on a condom or use a diaphragm when you fuck, you won't get an abortion for whatever reason, and you can't be bothered to take care of the kids once you've given birth.

Libertarian though I am, I consider the cost to taxpayers to come in at a distant second. And it's a considerable cost: not just for the kids' medical care and foster parents, but quite likely either for continued care when they're adults with IQs under 80, and/or for the services of the juvenile and later the adult correctional systems.

As the saying goes, "Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose." It should be a no-brainer that if you're intending to reproduce, your right to take drugs ends at your fetus's bloodstream. 
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Saturday, March 06, 2004
 

Getting back to the issue of looks...



The attitude that "attractive people = good, unattractive people = bad" is a current in the blogosphere that's especially bothered me for some time.

Oh, I really don't care about male bloggers who post "cheesecake" photos. Those, usually, aren't serious-minded posts. What I'm talking about is the meme that if someone, especially a woman, is "unattractive" (read: not considered attractive by current conventional standards), what she has to say isn't worth listening to.

This attitude is on widest display whenever some dumb-ass lefties who don't happen to look like supermodels "strip for peace" or whatever the cause du jour is. But I was especially disappointed when Kimberly Swygert — and I'm not trying to single Kimberly out for criticism, because she really does do an excellent education blog — wrote an entire post based on this logic back in January. (You can see my response near the bottom of the comments.)

What I found especially ironic, and sad, is that the post in question appeared immediately after one on bullying.

I've been overweight since I was seven and a half, and as a kid I wore thick glasses and braces. I got called a lot of names. It's bad enough when adults defend the deliberate and often amazing cruelty of children toward other children with the old excuse, "Kids will be kids," or the "sticks and stones" doggerel. But it's even worse when adults contribute to these sorts of attitudes. Especially adults who are actively working to make education a better experience for children.

A few days later, while perusing this alt.support.childfree thread, I discovered this site. I looked at the faces on BeautyCheck before I even read the a.s.c thread, and I myself didn't see very much difference between the "attractive" and "unattractive" ones. So I wasn't surprised that the a.s.c commenters by and large didn't, either.

The commenters also point out that many people, women as well as men, who have been famed for their looks had irregular/asymmetric features. Sometimes the irregularity gives their face a compelling appearance. And sometimes, as in the case of the historical Cleopatra, personal charm overrides the physical aspect.

Style and aesthetics, as Virginia Postrel points out, are far from unimportant...but people will always disagree on what looks good. The blogosphere has no problem excoriating elitist liberals who sneer at Middle American fashion or tastes, but it seems to have a blind spot when it comes to realizing that tastes in human appearance vary widely, too.

The "left-wing women in general and feminists in particular are ugly dykes" meme is quite nasty, and should be beneath the collective dignity of the anti-P.C. blogosphere. Its denizens are capable of, and for the most part engage in, far more intelligent discourse. 
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Some thoughts about "nature"



I just posted a version of this on the Findlaw board. I'd gone there to comment on David L.Hudson, Jr.'s excellent piece, "Silencing Student Speech — and Even Artwork — in the P ost-Columbine Era," when I noticed that a vigorous debate over gay marriage was in progress.

Has anyone else noticed a certain, well, toggle switch in the religious-conservative arguments against gay marriage arguments? Those who think that gay marriage will destroy "the fabric of society" or whatever are quite fond of citing "nature" as the basis of their beliefs. When gay-marriage proponents, however, point out that homosexuality is actually quite common in the animal kingdom, the response is to harrumph, "Well, we're better than the animals."

I, myself, would tend to agree with Katharine Hepburn's character in The African Queen that "Nature...is what we were put on this earth to rise above." However, if a person wants to indulge his or her nature and it harms no one else, I don't have an objection to it. And I really don't see the marriage of two men or two women in the category of "harming others." Including any children those two people may choose to have with members of the opposite sex, or adopt.

There is a new book out, Homosexuality and Civilization by Louis Crompton, which is the product of three decades of research. Crompton's findings are that the Judeo-Christian abhorrence of same-sex behavior and marriage are, historically speaking, an anomaly, not the rule, among humanity. Anti-homosexual sentiment has largely been exported by the West in recent centuries.

Of course, Crompton is both gay and an academic, both of which open him up to criticism from certain, um, factions. (Not that I myself don't think that many academics aren't bright enough to come in from the rain, but I try to judge what the individual professor is saying on its own merits, and the evidence s/he presents, before I buy or dismiss the argument.)

On an unrelated note, does anyone else find it interesting that when evolutionary biology, or evolutionary psychology, is brought into the argument, many of those who champion it are people who, if they heard the word "evolution" in any other context, would start yelling, "Evolution isn't a fact! It's just a theory!"? Funny, but when people refer to Einsteinian theory, everyone seems to understand that the word "theory" means something different in scientific usage than it does in common usage.

Evolutionary bio and psych do NOT mean that modern-day humans have absolutely no control over our actions. Conservatives (and libertarians) are correct to insist upon laws that discourage people from letting their natural drives harm others. Such laws include those against murder, given that the propensity for violence certainly arose in pre-human — heck, pre-primate — nature as a survival trait.

However, I notice that when it comes to certain topics — mainly, those regarding how the sexes interact — the same conservatives seem to think we have no control over our behavior. "Men prefer young and beautiful women. And people in general prefer attractive people. So 'looks discrimination' is nothing but whining from ugly losers and old hags." When's the last time you heard shallow women who only want to date rich, "successful" men defended in these terms?

(Interestingly, it seems the men who complain the most about such women are the men with the most stringent standards for what their mates should look like. Quite aside from the "pot, kettle, black" issue, it stands to reason that no woman is going to spend hours every day on her looks, whether they're at the gym or her vanity table, unless she expects to get a return on the investment of all that time.)

More seriously, there are no small number of people out there who think that the strength of the male sex drive means that men have no control over it. So we still hear the argument that unless all heterosexual women agree to "save it for marriage," all heterosexual men will choose to live like playboys, and Marriage And Children As We Know Them will disappear. I haven't seen this borne out by the reality around me — and I live in a notoriously liberal part of the country. (A variation on this argument is that women who pick up married men in bars are responsible for the shattering of those men's marriage vows. Well, it's certainly sleazy behavior, but they who took the vows are they who are responsible for upholding them, IMHO.)

Even less lovely is the argument, still heard in certain Neanderthal circles, that rape is brought about by the actions of women, and the men who commit it are helpless to control themselves. And here, I am not referring here to rape cases in which the question of whether there was consent or not is truly unclear, but to those in which any unbiased observer of even average intelligence can discern that the woman was unwilling. 
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Something to offend everyone. Flame me at reginleif[at]comcast[dot]net.

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