June 20, 2011

"The New York Times celebrates fatherhood by cruelly invading a 3-year-old's privacy."

Opines James Taranto.
When G. is old enough, Carol plans to tell him that "Uncle George" is actually his father. Fine, but will she also tell him that caring for G. causes George "a profound despair," that George doesn't "feel paternal toward" G. and "certainly" doesn't "want to be the child's parent"?

Because G. will find these things out in due course. This isn't the 1950s anymore, when to find old newspaper stories one had to spend hours going through library stacks or microfilm reels. Unless the New York Times goes out of business and its website is shut down, this story will live forever on the Internet.

That means that as soon as G. can punch his name and his parents' names into Google, he will be able to read the cruel things his father said about him when he was 3. So, by the way, will his school friends--and enemies. That's why we left the names out of this column. We don't want him to find out from us.
Every minute on the internet there must be a whole lot of kids discovering the kinds of things about what their parents think that in bygone decades they'd have never learned. But not every kid is going to find stuff that was written up in the New York Times. At least G. will have the pleasure of reading it in a carefully written style piece intended to flatter him and his parents. Pity the kids who find out how they looked to their parents when they run across Mommy's First Post Partum Depression Blog.

Oh, my lord! Cooking up a name for a blog you wouldn't want the child to discover, I experience a flood of ideas for blogs by parents that would be horrible for a child (and his friends and enemies) to discover. The photoblog showing the inside of every diaper ever changed accompanied by one poetic sentence about the mother's emotions the moment of the change. And I presume somebody has already done a blog like that. It could be very artistic... and utterly blind to the life of... emphemera on the internet.

39 comments:

A. Shmendrik said...

At the sweet diaper cafe...

m stone said...

At least G. will have the pleasure of reading it in a carefully written style piece intended to flatter him and his parents.

I can no longer tell when Ann is serious.

Alex said...

Ask yourself why Althouse cares about this shit?

Shouting Thomas said...

Althouse, you haven't run a bit on what I think is a very important story, the suicide of Thomas J. Ball

His suicide note was published in full by a New Hampshire newspaper.

Ball was a Vietnam War veteran who fought a running war for years with New Hampshire Child Protective Services after they deprived him of his children, even though he was acquitted in court of child abuse.

Ball committed suicide by self-immolation to protest this treatment.

I won't attempt to characterize this story to you, because I know that you are well able to understand and present the issues fairly.

Renee said...

The whole story reminds me of the breakdown I see in my neighborhood, but we're poorer, much younger, less educated, not white, and men are called dad not sperm donor. Fortunately the kids have social workers advocating for their best interests. These clan belong on Jerry Springer.

MadisonMan said...

I looked up my parents on the internet. My mom only has a link in a person-finder service, and also for a donation to the UW Libraries in 1999. My Dad has a lot more links, mostly relating to his work in his field. Publications, that sort of thing, like his thesis. As far as I can tell, they never talked about me to the Press.

Almost Ali said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PatCA said...

It continues to astonish me what personal information people will reveal to the general public.

Is "Mom" trolling for a reality show?

rhhardin said...

John and Ken talking to their newsbabe about Bristol Palin and the controversy.

John: When does ovulation start again?

Newsbabe: When you stop nursing. Although there are some mistakes. ahem. Let's just say it happens.

John: You got pregnant while you were nursing?

Newsbabe: Yes.

Ken: You only have two kids, right?

Newsbabe: I know.

Ken: You really wanted them close together.

Newsbabe: No, I didn't.

Ken: I hope they're not listening.

Newsbabe: I do too.

Ken: All right, we'll move on.

MadisonMan said...

I clicked through to the article. That poor woman. Surrounded by people she can't be with, a reclusive brother, a near-marriage, no father figure.

I hope for the best for her son, but my expectations for him are pretty low. If he does succeed, it'll defintely be in spite of his family surroundings, not because of them.

I'm feeling judgemental today.

Scott M said...

I'm feeling judgemental today.

There are mountains of evidence to back you up, MM.

Fred4Pres said...

Good luck kid. You'll need it.

Dan in Philly said...

If the fact of the article are accurate, this kid's friends and enemies looking up old newsstories are the least of his problems. I could go on and on about how evil divorce/child outside of marriage is, but you allready know all about it.

Just call this how single parenthood is bad, part 432,944,902. Oh and Murphy, you were wrong and Danforth was right.

dave in boca said...

I wonder if this is the first sign of childless crone Jill Abramson's influence on the Grayest Lady of All.

Salamandyr said...

So what was the reason for printing this tomfoolery on Father's Day?

G Joubert said...

Shouting Thomas:

The guy had issues.

In his own words: "While putting my four year old daughter to bed, she began licking my hand. After giving her three verbal warnings I slapped her. She got a cut lip."

Like I say, in his own words, presumably the most self-serving words he could muster.

If he didn't want her licking his hand while tucking her in for the night, there were a innumerable other better ways to stop it than slapping a four-year old across the face, cutting her lip. He lost me right there. Sorry.

bagoh20 said...

I don't think it would bother me all that much if I found out I was not wanted when born. They didn't know me, and it's a bad statement about them not me. What people think of me only matters if they know me and I respect their opinion.

Maguro said...

What a depressing article. This is what NYT subscribers want to read on Father's Day?

kwood said...

Pity the kids who find out how they looked to their parents when they run across Mommy's First Post Partum Depression Blog.

So, so true. Wish more of the Diaper Diva's would think twice about this sort of thing.

Scott M said...

So what was the reason for printing this tomfoolery on Father's Day?

They looked across the length and breadth of the land, saw fathers in general doing a pretty good job (despite what the entertainment/advertising media would have one believe), saw marriages lasting longer, and decided it was time to shake things up. Plus, they had not reached their gay story quota for the month yet, so this piece served many purposes.

Buried in the back, near the classifieds for used baltimization kits, was yet another study concluding that kids with fathers in the home are less prone to drugs, do better in school, etc, etc.

t-man said...

This is precisely why I scrapped my first and only blog: "My Kids Are Losers."

t-man said...

As they approach the teenage years, though, I might start up a new blog, with covert photography, called "You Can't Hide Those Zits."

Shouting Thomas said...

The guy had issues.

No doubt about that.

The question is whether the State of New Hampshire had the right to deprive him of his children, when it clearly had no legal justification to do do.

I'd suggest you read on.

Peter Hoh said...

There's a friend of a friend who has a mommy blog that shares way too much info, in my opinion.

Anywhoo, how about "Just Passing Through" for the name of the diaper blog.

SunnyJ said...

Not much of crier anymore. Cried for Thomas Ball, his kids, his wife and all of us.

The Second Set of Books is what shadow government is all about. These books exist in areas and are at the mercy of zealot political appointees drunk with the power that administrative rules allow them. In their fifedoms you can have stoires like the walking weapons in the ATF/DOJ. Where supervisors tell those reporting the abuse, "...you can always go be a secruity guard in Maricopa County for $30,000 a yr or do what your told here for $100,000 a yr plus benefits". People sell out others liberty for much less than this...and is why public unions and high dollar wages/benefits are so corrupting for governance.

Thanks S Thomas for sharing this very timely story. G Joubert, my dad was an unreliable drunk for most of his life...and I got a few backhands for sure. He was my dad and I learned some good things there too. I'm OK with the fact that "he lost me right there" for you...it's not ok that he was lost to his children and this was done by a statists set of second books and not the law.

G Joubert said...

Well, I read on. I want to feel sympathy for the guy, I really do. But, as I said, he lost me when he slapped the four-year old girl across the face, drawing blood. If that hadn't done it, then his leaving the memory and legacy for his children to live with for the rest of their lives as the father who self-immolated on the courthouse steps would've. This is a sad story, for everyone involved, but I'm having trouble finding the state 50.1%+ at fault here.

edutcher said...

Taranto nails it.

The Gray Lady prints this sludge for the sole reason of advancing the militant homosexual, and, by extension, Lefty, agenda and doesn't give a damn about what it might do to the kid over the years.

Pure Uncle Saul, no heart, no morality, no conscience, no nothing but the agenda.

And we're supposed to believe the agenda is greater than anything and everything else.

As did Walter Duranty when he painted the Stalin purges in pastels.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

MadisonMan said...

I looked up my parents on the internet.

Did you check YouPorn? I mean, ya never know, do ya?

Suburbanbanshee said...

And yet some people deny that Internet handles or pseudonymous essays possess any civic virtue.

Shouting Thomas said...

Joubert, I think you're missing the point.

There's no doubt that the guy was pushed over the edge. You're probably right to chide him for what he did to the girl.

But, he was never convicted of anything. His marriage and his family were destroyed, and his children wer taken away from him by the state, without any semblance of due process.

I'm not arguing the Ball was a really admirable fellow. I'm arguing that, even in issues of family law and child custody, the state doesn't have the right to treat men in the way that it treated Ball.

The policies and procedures which were used to deprive Ball of his family and children were not codified by any legislative body. Police departments and public agencies accomplished his disenfranchisement from his family by fiat, based on rules they had no business inventing.

I've got quite a bit more sympathy for Ball. And, I can see easily how the same fate can befall just about any man going through a bitter divorce. And, if my children were taken from me by a bureaucrat who had no legal authority to do so, I'd probably lose it, too.

You're getting much too caught up in your aversion to a single action this man admitted to committing, although he was never convicted of anything.

The issue here is whether the State of New Hampshire has the right to drive a man out of his family, to destroy his marriage and to impoverish him without every convicting him of any crime.

Henry said...

So what was the reason for printing this tomfoolery on Father's Day?

This is where sports journalists step in. Sports journalists have the best stories about fathers. I'm really enjoying Bill Simmons' new Grantland site these days. Scroll about halfway down and you'll get to the father's day stories.

Carol_Herman said...

Not really. The mom got the sperm donation with a turkey bulb baster, arrangement. (But it was done in Mexico. Because she was 45. And, the first few times didn't work.)

The kid's adorable!

Why the downside. The dad, so far, is introduced as his uncle. There's only a friendship between the mom and her donor.

And, when I read the article what I realized is that MONEY makes the difference.

This is not a poor people's story!

And, then, I added ... lots of people had sperm donations. (Like adoptions, they wanted to keep this a secret.) IF the woman was married ... not only did the fertility specialist get her to conceive. He wasn't even the doctor at delivery!

Married women just opted to go to regular obstetricians. And, the birth certificate shows the husband as the dad.

Do secrets matter?

Lots of men THINK the kids their wives have are theirs. But even when some of the kids are ... she can still birth one or two that are not.

What difference does it make if the kids come out healthy?

This particular article talks about a MOBY. Mother old. Baby young.

And, nobody forces you to read the story.

Methadras said...

The great societal evolution experiment continues... right into that giant concrete wall of reality. We are breeding our own doom.

G Joubert said...

Shouting Thomas:

I meant it when I said I want to be sympathetic. I'm a little jaded by the facts. For the first 15 years of my law practice I did a lot of domestic relations work, until I finally had enough and said "no mas, no mas." I'm sure I'm not the only lawyer who comments here who's done significant family law work, and I'm betting all will agree with me that what happened to Mr. Ball from a legal standpoint is quite familiar and not that unusual. It seems to me what's different here is how Mr. Ball handled it. Yes, the system is in some ways rigged against men/fathers, and is everywhere in the US I know of. To a point that it's a given. I had clients who wanted to fight it straight-up on that basis. I always told them the same thing: get over it. These waters are navigable, but not that way. If you want your kids back and your family back intact, you have to play the game. Save the passion for to fight the system for lobbying legislators. And that'll take years and years to bear fruit. Meanwhile, for your kids' sake, for your family's sake, you've got to play the game. My guess is that Mr. Ball did not get competent legal advice early on (or if he did, he didn't follow it), and he descended into a quixotic father rights obsession. I've seen a few other men who also did that, and it always turned out badly.

John Lynch said...

This is all a campaign to make any type of family OK.

It's not OK!

SunnyJ said...

G Joubet, you prove the point that T Ball was making. There you stand, rationalizing a system that acts to separate father from child, outside the rule of law...as "playing the game". Where do you or the state find the establishment clause for "the game"? Who impacts that? Who writes that? People justifying their jobs, currying political appointment, lobbying for power? Reaching into a home and separating parent from child better be more than the policy de jour...it better be the law or better left as is. I am a survivor of child abuse and I know many more like me, and I don't know anyone that found anything better in a foster home or out on the street, except for the most extreme cases...which this surely was not. Survivors are true optomists, always thinking things will be better. I appreciate the role you played in the process. I don't appreciate the process.

Shouting Thomas said...

I am a survivor of child abuse and I know many more like me, and I don't know anyone that found anything better in a foster home or out on the street...

Yes, this is the problem.

I've had experience with this, too.

No matter how bad the problems at home seem to the self-deputized authorities, it's always better for the kid to be with his father.

Valentine Smith said...

Shouting Thomas thanks for the link. Sad, sad story and actually an interesting counterpoint to the Times article on the lonely old woman seeking an infant and child companion. Reminds me of the other end of the class spectrum where the ghetto teen wants a live doll with which to play while grammy raises it.

SunnyJ, Monsieur Joubert sees Ball's situation in the only way possible for him. That is, of course, as a lawyer. To remove the emotional distance from Ball would call for him to assume an essentially discrepant identity, which in effect would annihilate all order and meaning for him. We all view the world through certain modes of thinking and those modes stave off madness at worst and dark nights of the soul at best. There is great comfort in certainty and repitition, and lawyers' are drilled in a manner as concrete as soldiers.

Which of course Mister Ball actually was! And obviously after playing the lawyer game for as long as he could, and not having the arcane gnosis, Ball had had enough of his own annihilation of self and assumed his real identity—soldier. And sacrificed himself in a way few could comprehend.

That child's speck of blood had me as well. I took comfort in the knowledge that this madman Ball was nothing like me, the wretch.

But then again, I haven't set foot into Kafka's world since I was 22. And I got out intact. Mostly.

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