Nanny State Mission Creep: Parental Rights

May 15, 2013

By: Kelly Diamond, Publisher

Government wants to push parents to the sidelines – not for harming their children, but for not complying with the state-prescribed notions of child rearing.

Is it possible that we are moving toward “socialized parenting”, where the state arbitrarily decides what is best for ALL children?

nanny state mission creep parental rights“We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it’s everybody’s responsibility, and not just the households’, then we start making better investments.” ~ Melissa Harris-Perry (MSNBC Lean Forward Promotion)

These words in isolation of anything else, could easily be dismissed as being “misunderstood” or “misconstrued”.  But they are not isolated.  They are connected.  The stories linked by the sentiments of these words should scare ANYONE who has children. 

The staunch fiscal conservative will glean some sort of expansion of the welfare state from that statement.  The social conservative will glean some sort of government control over beliefs and values.  The liberal should also be concerned, because while they MAY want the subsidies for children, and while their intentions might be to keep the public forum secularly pure, the civil liberties required as payment for these things are expensive. 

Consider for a moment the parents who simply had the gall to seek a second opinion about their baby’s condition… only to have their child confiscated by Child Protective Services!  The doctor who offered the first opinion was the member of this noble “community” who basically narked on these parents to CPS, giving them the impression that the child was somehow being put in harm’s way. 

Taking the word of the doctor over the parents, CPS took the child first, asked questions later.  The Nikolayevs had to PROVE to the courts that they were NOT severely neglecting their son.  Let me rephrase: CPS didn’t have to prove the Nikolayevs were neglecting their son… the Nikolayevs had to prove they WEREN’T.  There isn’t even a vestige of the whole “innocent until proven guilty” sentiment!  Not even a little lip service.  

The parents are reunited with their son… conditional that the state may spy on them.   The Nikolayevs were not deemed “fit” to take custody of their son.  Rather, they were given a court mandate and social workers will be visiting on occasion to ensure the safety of their child.  The punishment for seeking a second opinion, and NOT giving their child an unnecessary surgical procedure, is a lifetime supply of government surveillance.  Actually, that sound like the punishment for simply residing in the United States!  But they get regular and scheduled visits from the state specifically to look for something wrong in the home.

This has nothing to do with welfare or the imposition of one belief or another.  This IS “community” upbringing.  THIS is the community Harris-Perry speaks of.  We can project all the utopian ideals upon her statement, but in practice, it railroads parental rights.  This “community” is really just the state, and the state rides roughshod over the citizenry at every turn in the name of safety and civility, law and order. 

Is this just conjecture?  Well, consider the German couple Uwe and Hannelore Romeike.  They removed their children from public school and began homeschooling their children in 2006.  In Germany, it is illegal to homeschool… or more accurately put, it is illegal NOT to allow the government to educate your child.  They were fined close to $10,000 and at one point had their children forcibly taken from them. 

They were reunited with their children in 2010, and immediately fled to the United States.  A federal court in Tennessee granted them asylum as he believed this couple had a “reasonable fear of persecution for their beliefs”. 

Enter Eric Holder and the Justice Department.  Holder sided with the German government.  He believes the government is justified in using force to make parents comply with government sanctioned schools.  The Romeikes are still fighting to keep asylum here in the US.

As mentioned in the last post: not feeding a starving man has a moral distinction from preventing a starving man from eating.  In the case of the Romeikes, the US is guilty of the latter.  We are not obliged to go to Germany to free the families of the oppressive policies of the German government.  We ARE obliged to open our borders to those seeking to flee that oppression.

In both situations, the fashion in which “community upbringing” manifests itself is terrifying for any parent to imagine much less experience.  That the “community” can be justified in interfering, then justified in taking the children from their parents’ custody, is sickening.  That anyone would advocate or defend state force be used upon parents, making them conform to a certain government-approved child rearing regime drips with totalitarianism!

I am a huge proponent of mutual aid.  I believe in helping those who need it, in a way which is both feasible for me and useful to them.  But the words “community” and “state” are NOT interchangeable on ANY level.  The former will always be voluntary association.  The latter is forced association.  This act of linguistic fraud should be obvious to any liberty loving individual.   This is not parents taking turns watching the kids play in the street.  This is introducing a third party and legitimizing their interference and forcible acts under the guise of “community”. 

While these are examples of basic parental rights being trampled, something else is happening here.  Sentiments like the ones shared by Harris-Perry provide a certain absolution for parents.  No longer are parents responsible for their children’s education.  No longer are parents responsible for their children’s health.  With responsibility comes authority, and that’s all but stripped away from the parents.  The state wishes to cripple the parents, assume an overriding supremacy in each household, but offers no indemnification for the parents.  Rather, it punishes them.  Not for actually HARMING a child, but for not complying with the state-defined parameters. 

What’s even more disturbing is that we would allow our system to get congested with victimless – and actually LOVING – acts such as these… while real acts of abuse and neglect are taking place!  This trivializes the sad reality of REAL acts of child abuse, neglect and depraved indifference.  It would seem that the state’s priority is to flex its might and keep us in line, more than it is to keep us safe and protect us from real harm.

Parenting is one of our last remaining forms of peaceful activism: that we could bring a new generation into this world with the courage to challenge and defy the status quo, and the intellect to be self sufficient and self governing.  Regardless of political persuasion, there should be common ground in the defense for parental rights.

6 thoughts on “Nanny State Mission Creep: Parental Rights”

  1. Dear Kelly, (may I call you Kelly ?)
    Let’s start from the bottom. I am not, as you mentionned, “an agent of the state.” I’m just a civil servant, like 100,000 other teachers in Québec.
    If I didn’t mentionned the Romeike family, it’s because I did not see the importance of it. Where I live, it is permitted to parents to home-school their kids.
    The Nikolayev story is something else. I agree with you that this situation is totally unacceptable. Where I differ from you is when the Social Services intervened. When you have the initials “m.d.” after your name, people tend to see you as a kind of demi-god. I really would like to know what this doctor said to social services, because their reaction was swift and vicious. That the Nikolayevs had to prove their worth as parents is an unfortunate sign of the times. In my career I have seen adults that were unfit to be parents. Social services had to watch these people to make sure they would raise their kids well. In more extreme cases, kids were removed from their families for their protection and sent to foster homes. You can imagine that their first reaction in any supposed child negligence case is check the parents first.
    I am a little bit confused about the comment where you are very angry about the implication of teachers in your children’s moral instruction. What are you implying ? Like you mentionned at the beginning of your mail, teachers teach and educate. But what is teaching ? If you check the dictionnary, teaching is the act of giving information to someone. What is educating ? It is to develop mentally and/or morally a person. The acts of teaching and educating have been my daily lot for 36 years. If by my demeanor, my rules, my values, my opinions, I have been able to help my students become better persons, I would be (and am !) a very happy man.
    I would like to conclude this little note with this: your tirade against the state and its control of education is unwarranted. As far as I know, there are school boards in the US. There are elected officials that represent the parents. If you have grievances, why don’t you manifest yourself when your schoolboard holds public meetings. This is direct democracy. Isn’t it the American way ?
    Michel Leduc

    1. Kelly Diamond

      Civil Servant? Are you really going to try and parse words and engage me in the Semantic Two-Step? You work for the government. Everyone who works for the government is an agent of the state. You not preferring the title doesn’t make you any less of a state agent.

      The Romeike story was one of the examples I laid out for the overall pattern of state behavior I was making: that Harris-Perry was advocating that the “community” participate in the upbringing of other people’s children. The community she speaks of is the state. Much like your preference for “civil servant” over “state agent”, her preference is for “community” over “state”. This is a thinly veiled linguistic manipulation. Nothing more.

      The broader point of the article was to point out that state intrusion (or community intervention, if you please) is ultimately a usurpation of parental rights, with greeting card verbiage. The Romeikes are a very relevant example for this very reason. You could neither explain it away or justify it… but it is a perfect example of state dictates riding roughshod on parental rights.

      A state agent is not there to give moral guidance to my child. If that moral guidance is offered in the form of theology, it would be off sides. The way in which institutional instructors “guide” children is through either a punishment or reward based system. That example alone offends my sensibilities as a parent. “I’ll give you something if you be good” So then when I get my kids home, I say to be good, and they ask me “What will you give me?” Unacceptable. “Be bad, and we’ll either shame or punish you.” So fear based guidance is the way to go? That only encourages them to lie to protect themselves and their property.

      THIS is every public school in the United States. At any given time, you will see one of these two methods being employed. And they are corrupt to their very core. “Time outs”??? Immoral. But they are used. Shunning a small child, isolating them, or sequestering them in some way because they did something we don’t like? That is cruel. It’s bullying.

      I’ve seen and experienced public school “moral guidance”. It’s anything BUT moral. I’ve had deans tell me I have NO rights as a child or student. I’ve had teachers threaten my parents with calls to the police or CPS because they “over excused me” from class… even though my grades were fine and I showed no signs of distress. (Schools get paid for my attendance, as it turns out, so it’s a money issue not the child’s welfare that is at issue here.)

      Again, the fact that you feel entitled to project or impose your morals on other people’s children is the very reason I would keep my children out of public schools. Because your mentality and sense of authority is common-place in state agents as a whole, but especially amongst teachers because they first believe themselves and their careers to be noble. Police officers are the same way, only they’re armed. But it’s the same pomp.

      My tirade against the state is QUITE warranted. Voting is legitimizing the illusion of choice. I have no REAL say in public education. I get to pick from a sorry lot which one of the hapless bureaucrats will run my district? THAT is supposed to be some sort of a solution? Am I meant to be consoled by this pathetic reality? You do realize that I am forced to send my child to the schools assigned to us by where we live. I don’t have a choice WHICH public school. I barely have a choice IF public school. So I can’t pick which public school. I’m forced to pay taxes for that school I don’t want which then disables me from sending my child to a private school. Between the theft of tax dollars for services I don’t want (due to the poor administration and quality of that service) and the forced monopoly assumed by the state with regard to education, I think I am well within reason to fly off the handle on the state. The state of Texas alone spends $12,000 per year per student. The poorer areas spend upwards of $25,000 per year per student. A decent private school costs somewhere around $7,000 per year per student. Private schools produce better results… for less money. Homeschooling is free! And statistically produces better results than public schools.

      I don’t identify with an “American way”. There is no America vs Quebec vs Germany… There is only the private citizen vs the state… wherever you go.

      Be well,

      1. Dear Kelly,
        I’ll try to make this short. First, if you want to call me an “agent of the state”, so be it. By this comment you are calling me a Communist agent, a spy, a snitch, whatever. Honestly I don’t care. It doesn’t bother me that you have no respect for my comments and also my person. I’m just disappointed. I thought GMW was a place were opinions and discussions could be carried out in earnest, but also with respect. You sound like GW Bush after 9-11:”or you’re with us, or you’re against us”.
        If I can give you a suggestion, why don’t you write a “Libertarian Manifesto” where you can solve all the world’s problems. That’s something I’d like to read !
        Please understand that if I do not read you site anymore, it’s not because of the articles published;many are interesting. Even though some were a little bit outlandish, I am mature enough to analyse them and to keep the best of them. In your case, it’s your ill-concealed anger that worries me. In your replies, you show a level of agressiveness that is really worrisome. Because of that I’d rather stay away. It’s unfortunate to say, but I’m not sure if it would be possible to discuss with you about ANYTHING; your hatred of some things seems viceral.
        This being said,
        May God bless you,
        Michel Leduc

        1. Kelly Diamond

          I never called you a Communist agent, a spy, or a snitch. I called you a state agent because you work for the state, are licensed by it to carry out your job, and are paid by it. I’m using the working definition of the word “agent” which is: 1. a person or business authorized to act on another’s behalf; 2. a person or thing that acts or has the power to act. You are acting on behalf and in accordance with the state. You have a curriculum dictated to you by the state. You have a protocol for how to address children who demonstrate problems or don’t comply. You are an agent of the state. You happen to enforce educational edicts, while police officers enforce social edicts.

          You chose to perceive this as a pejorative personal attack, when in fact it is simply a factual depiction of the occupation of “public school teacher”. Just as I call taxation theft. I call vehicular citations extortion. I call bail ransom. Those are accurate. It isn’t incorrect, they just offend your sensibilities. Public servant is rather incorrect in that the definition of servant is: one in service of another. Service is defined as an act of helpful activity; help; aid. I find that to be an inaccurate depiction of what government employees do. They don’t help in their government capacities. They could help someone as a private citizen, but their government employ doesn’t contribute to their helpfulness in society. In fact, they are a drain on society. They are funded by stolen funds. Their services are forced upon us.

          Sadly, you don’t dispute my points on the merits, but choose to take offense. I have in no way disrespected you or your comments. You have tried to dismiss my comments and have regarded my observations as either “C-” or hyperbolic. I’ve taken the time to address ever single one of your observations head on. You could not do me the same courtesy, and now you are alleging that I am disrespectful. If I can be thick skinned enough to endure your condescending attitude toward my staunch defense of parental rights, I think you could stand to toughen up a bit to those who may not be as inclined to trivialize the state’s overreaching activities.

          A libertarian manifesto? Why would I do that? I’m an anarchist. I have no desire to control or rule over anyone in any way. The manifesto is simply to live and let live. I would suggest you look into the Non-Aggression Principle. I think it will help you understand the violent and subversive nature of the state in contrast to what I stand for.

          It is rather telling that you would take more time to project baseless allegations of anger issues onto me than refute my contentions on the merits… all while lamenting that GWP was supposed to be a place of open and earnest discussion. You failed to meet that burden, not me. An earnest discussion requires we put the ad hominem away. It also requires that we be intellectually, factually and linguistically honest.

          I’m not one of your students. And if you have a problem regarding those who disagree with you as intellectual equals, then it will hinder our ability to carry on any productive discourse.

  2. After reading your columm, I was, to say the least, dismayed. To understand the issues at hand, I went to check the information you have offered. I came back disappointed. After listening to Melissa Harris Perry’s comment ONCE, it was clear to me that her remarks were about education, but also about parents’ giving up on their role as parents. It is a situation all too common today: both parents work to make ends meet and regularly sacrifice their responsibilities as parents. My remark is not mean; it is simply the situation that many high-school teachers have to face. Not only do we have to give instruction, which is the giving of knowledge, we also have to give education, which is the communication of values. How do I know this ? I am there and I’m seeing this every day. After 36 years in the teaching domain, I am so sad to replace troubled students’ parents. If the community can help its kids, who are we to complain ?

    The Nikolayev family situation is literally another can of worms. IF the newspaper article I have read is factual, the Nikolayevs are loving parents of a sick child. It is implied that the parents have seen more than one doctor because of their child’s health. It is implied that the medical personnel at the hospital where the Nikolayevs went proceded in actions on their child that were considered dangerous by another doctor. Because of the resident doctor’s diagnosis i.e. an open-heart procedure for a heart murmur, they decided to seek a second opinion. The fact that they left the hospital without proper clearance was not a good idea. Nonetheless, does that justifies a police raid on their house the next day ? In my neck of the woods (Quebec, Canada), when a complaint is filed to social services, a social worker is sent to evaluate the situation. If the parents object or are visibly aggressive, then the police is called in. In the Nikolayev case, it seems it was the other way around: police first, social workers after.

    Before blaming the social services, I wonder: what did the hospital say to them to cause the police to intervene the way it did ? There’s nothing to prove that the Nikolayevs are bad parents. There’s nothing to prove that their child was in immediate danger. I wonder: could it be possible that the hospital called the social services because they could not operate on the child ? I’m quite certain that open-heart surgery on a child must be very lucrative…

    If I had to grade you on your text, you would get a C-. First, your analysis of Melissa Harris Perry’s comment is flawed because you do not take into account the complete statement. You limit yourself to what you want to read and understand, not the whole capsule. As for the Nikolayev family, their plight is genuine. However, the analysis of their situation would indicate that a malevolent individual or group sought to take their child to operate on him for reasons that have no relation with the Hyppocratic oath, but more for the monetary oath.

    1. Kelly Diamond

      Actually, I know exactly what context Harris-Perry was speaking. As a teacher your only responsibility is to educate and teach: either facts or critical thinking skills… neither of which public schools offer on any competitive level. You could be one of those Jaime Escalante exceptions, which would be awesome, but EVEN if her only reference was to education, the fact of the matter is: kids don’t have a choice.

      The state assumes a virtual monopoly over education, forcing the kids to take what they get. The entire pedagogical structure and curriculum is out of touch with how children really learn and the real world. Teachers are factually deficient. Essentially, the state IMPOSES this “community upbringing”. I never asked for it. I don’t want it. But I have to pay for it. And if I don’t send my children to these “community learning centers” I could be sent to jail. (A friend of mine was threatened with actual jail time by a state agent because his daughter did NOT want to go to school and felt threatened by the staff. THIS is the public school system you defend. You don’t get to cherry pick the nice people and the well-intended. And the reality is: in the cost benefit analysis of public schooling, the costs FAR outweigh the benefits on EVERY level.)

      As a parent of two children, I RESENT ANY teacher who intrudes on the moral instruction of my children. A teacher has absolutely NO say in how my child is reared. Of course, it is because teachers take it upon themselves to be so meddlesome, that I prefer to homeschool since statistically, my children stand a better chance at EVERYTHING with me as their instructor over some cookie cutter state agent.

      The Nikolayev story is simply another example of community upbringing: when people who are NOT parents of children decide to meddle in the rearing of another family’s children. You spend a great deal of time trying to find a way to either trivialize the state intrusion or dismiss it as a rare occurrence. The reality is, you have a doctor who called CPS — regardless of whether his motive was money or the well-being of the child — and the state defaulted to the doctor’s recommendation over the parents’ natural right to make health decisions for their children.

      What you also failed to address was the fact that EVEN THOUGH there is no evidence of them being neglectful parents, they still don’t have full custody of their child. The state reserved the right to send social workers to their house to check in on them. All for disagreeing with a doctor’s recommendation? It isn’t as though it was just “much ado about nothing” and everyone just had a hearty laugh over the misunderstanding. These parents are STILL under scrutiny and no admission of wrong-doing has been made by anyone!

      WORSE YET, and still another point you ignored, was that the Nikolayevs had to PROVE they were NOT bad parents. Typically, in most developed nations, the burden of proof (of wrong doing) is on the ACCUSER. Neither the state NOR the doctor had to prove the Nikolayevs were bad parents. The Nikolayevs had to prove they were NOT.

      I noticed you completely dismissed the Romeike family… I assume it’s because you are a public school teacher and you either feel threatened by the act of homeschooling OR you feel you are more qualified to instruct children than their own parents? Either way, you have the force of the state on your side to ensure your monopoly over the minds of the young, so you’re safe. It’s the parents who aren’t safe. It’s their children who are being used as political fodder.

      It’s the repeated patterns of the state meddling where there is NO HARM DONE that indicate to me that “community upbringing” is not the same as asking your neighbor to watch your kid while you run errands. It’s the fact that “community” is supplanting the word “state” to soften the intrusions of that tyrannical entity.

      As a public school teacher, you are an agent of the state. While your heart might be in the right place, your grade of my article was a sad reminder of the grading standards of public instructors: I don’t see things as you do, I don’t give the state the benefit of the doubt, and so my analysis is lacking. It’s not lacking. I stand by it 100%. I simply disagree with YOUR analysis. In ANY context… and especially education (or in the public setting INDOCTRINATION)… the community or the state has NO business interfering in the upbringing of children. I prefer to keep parenting a PRIVATE institution. My children are MINE… not OURS.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment! All the best :)

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