Skepticism

Whose freedom?

For awhile now, I’ve been rolling some ideas around in my brain about liberty and parenting and religion and education, and, while it has by no means coagulated into anything solidly coherent, I think it’s time to let others roll it around and play with it.

 

A few months back, I got involved in a discussion with a couple of our more libertarian commenters (whom I love dearly, of course) on the topic of education.  They argued that in an ideal system, a child’s education should be determined entirely by the parents, and that adequate education for all would be provided by the market.  We sparred mostly about the effectiveness of the market structure in this enterprise, but something was hitting me on a deeper level that I hadn’t really gotten a handle on until recently.

 

We were looking at the children’s education as a function of the parents’ freedom.  At what point does a parent’s right to raise their child as they see fit (or, as some argue, their freedom to not pay taxes) infringe upon that child’s right to live a healthy life, relatively untainted by abuse?  Don’t we owe it to all our kids to give them as equal a shot as is possible at success?  That seems sort of intuitive to me.  Being a grey area kind of person, I don’t expect to be able to draw a clean line here, but maybe some of you will offer your thoughts.  Do we go with Dawkins’ assertion that any kind of religious indoctrination is tantamount to child abuse?  

 

I was finally prompted to write this when I saw an article about a boy whose family belonged to a cult being found dead in a suitcase (sorry I didn’t include the link…the link tool is not working…will add later).  Obviously this is an extreme case that (I hope) we can all agree on, but what about more subtle situations?  What about the FLDS kids who are raised to believe that their way of life is normal and healthy?  Do we have a right to tell them otherwise?

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56 Comments

  1. While it is unfortunate, sometimes the answer has to be no we don’t. It’s the price we pay for living in a free society. All we can do is set standards for all kids to me, and then the tricky part. Keep our eyes open. Watch for the signs that any individual is being mistreated. And then have the courage to say something.

  2. Children are still largely treated as property of their parents. They have very few rights of their own, except against neglect and abuse. And as we’ve seen, those rights are superseded by the parents’ right to practice their religion.

    In other news, the Church of Give Back Your Allowance Or The Teddy Bear Gets It In The Brain is now open for worship.

  3. This sort of dilemma is always hard for me. Having grown up in california, I have a strong sense of freedom, but I also have a hard time being sympathetic when a person whines about their lack of freedom to harm others, as is the case with that little boy.
    I do think, however, that minimal education requirements should NOT be left up to the parents. If they were, then there would easily be a snowballing effect as one ignorant family refuses to educate their children, who then likely refuse to educate their children, etc… No one wins and many lose. While the optimist in me says “People are basically good”, the more realistic side of me says “people are basically lazy”. The vast majority of humans always want to be right and will always take the easy way out. If we let the masses decide what their children learn from start to finish, we are denying these children any sort of future academic freedom.
    We have minimum education requirements for homeschooling. I think these should be left in place. Take those out and you allow ignorance to propagate.

  4. Free market education only leads to education going back into the domain of the wealthy. More to this specific point, however, I couldn’t possibly be more against the idea of a parent’s “right” to raise children however they like. The entire concept is sickening to me. Having sex doesn’t magically make you qualified to raise a child. Parents don’t somehow know best just because. That’s just insanity.

  5. Hmm… This is a tricky one.
    1. I absolutely despise that parents indoctrinate their beliefs on children; there are no religious children, only children with religious parents.
    2. I am also very opposed to the government setting limits to what people are allowed to do. (For those of you that are curious, I’m an individualist).

    I think the only answer I can have right now, is that there should be a very close eye kept on what constitutes child abuse, and that there should be no leniency because of religion. (I’m also a militant atheist. ;))

    Of course, whenever religion is involved, eyes are closed. Wasn’t it Dawkins that said something about religion and apartheid? :)

    About education in general though, there should be a lower limit to what children should learn in school, but if they want more they should have it.

  6. This is what I was getting at, but I think you say it better, when I was saying in that previous thread that I am not convinced that more choices or niche schools for everyone is a good thing. I was realizing that regardless of whether or not I agreed with some of the hard-core libertarians on the “facts”, I had different values that would still lead us to different conclusions.

    For example, I have some ethical problems with a solution (free market or not) that would lead more hard-core madrases. The children also have rights, and parents can shelter their world view enough that they “effectively” have no choices when they do get older.

    Freedom to parent however you want can come in conflict with a child’s freedom to grow into their own person.

  7. I’ve always figured a libertarian ideology is a problem that could easily be solved if we could just master time travel. Just let the libertarian spend a month as a minor or factory worker in the 19th century. That should clear up the problem in most cases.

    If we look at periods and places where there was no public education the vast majority of working class people didn’t get educated. It isn’t merely a question of fairness to the child. There are externalities of education that benefit society as a whole. Carl Sagan’s father was a garment worker. Without public education there is a good chance the world would have lost out on his genius.

    It is a benefit not only to the child but to society at large to educate children well. This is especially true if you want a functioning democracy. While we may wish to give the parents the right to teach the child what they want, we shouldn’t give them the right to deny them education. For instance, a parent shouldn’t be able to choose not to teach their daughters math and science.

    A child is not the property of the parents. A child is an individual and a future member of society at large. The education of a child must thus meet not only the desires of the parents. The child’s own rights should not be forgotten, nor should the rights of the society at larger the child will one day join.

  8. My one issue about saying that religion is child abuse is we are in the minority. If we allow a law like this to pass, I can easily seeing a Christian who says, its Child Abuse to deny any child Jesus’ love. In a perfect world I would say let the kid grow up without any interference of religion until they were 18 (just to take the USA accepted age of adult) and let them decide what they want to do from then on. I do acknowledge this as a pragmatic argument.

  9. So, from the exorcism article Justice David Medina says, ‘that finding the church liable “would have an unconstitutional ‘chilling effect’ by compelling the church to abandon core principles of its religious beliefs.” Would he say the same thing in the case of the toddler being starved to death since “core principles of religious beliefs” (in this case, doing whatever the cult leaders tell you to do) are involved? Where is the line drawn for this guy? Way to tread on basic human rights and dignity. This stuff sickens me…

    The First Amendment guards religious liberty; it does not sanction intentional abuse in religion’s name” -Thomas Jefferson, from the exorcism article.

  10. The idea that a child’s education should “determined entirely by the parents” is preposterous in a free society. It is hypocritical to believe in the freedom of the individual and allow a parent to withhold certain rights from their kids, such as the right to an appropriate education.

    There are certain basic skills that are needed to be a functioning member in today’s society. A proper education in the sciences, and arts, is one of them. How is a regular parent supposed to be able to provide such education on their own? Very, very few parents are equipped to do that.

    The point here is that this discussion is not about parent’s rights, but about children’s rights. RD is right, any sort of indoctrination, not only religious ones, is tantamount to child abuse.

    Anything that inhibits free thinking is a violation of a basic human right, in my humble opinion. And that includes parents who don’t want their kids to get a regular education, and want to substitute their religious/cultural dogma’s for it.

  11. As someone who has taught math and science at a private Jewish high school for nearly 5 years, I can assure you that parents should not be left in charge of their children’s education. In the short time I’ve been there, I’ve seen way too many bright and intelligent students throw their lives away because their parents didn’t want them going to college to pursue “secular studies.” The saddest part is that the students are probably just going to take their parents’ attitude and pay it forward to their future children.

  12. “The First Amendment guards religious liberty; it does not sanction intentional abuse in religion’s name” -Thomas Jefferson, from the exorcism article.

    I think this is Texas Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson’s words, not US founding father Thomas Jefferson.

    And to contribute a little to the thread, I think that children should be taken to boarding schools and instructed. Then again, I have deep seated issues related to my parents so I may not be the best person to judge.

  13. Children are vulnerable and in a civilized society we legislate certain minimum standards of care. I’ve spent the past twenty one years investigating child abuse and interfering in the private lives of my fellow citizens. I have some libertarian tendencies and I try to only be as intrusive or intervene at a level commiserate with the level of risk and/or harm to the child. If minimum standards are maintained and no injuries are inflicted then parent as you see fit. Government involvement beyond that point smells Orwellian to me. The freedom to raise a child without religion is a commiserate right to raising a child with religion it seems to me. Especially considering that government involvement in the ideology, religion and or personal philosophies (or the lack of) of its citizens has never turned out well and tends to end up in places like re-education camps.

    And if parents/society collectively decide to have the state mandate and be the general organizer of education then thats fine with me. We can choose to restrict and modify our “freedoms” within the general framework of the Constitution (at least in the US) . I personally never want to see the government any more involved in parenting than it currently is.

  14. I’m all for protecting children from harm, including from their parents.

    But there is a built in assumption here, and that is that if we give the government more power to manage people’s lives, that it will do so both benevolently and wisely.

    While history does show us that if you give people the freedom to victimize others, they will do so, it also shows us that a government with too much power uses it to enforce the whims of those individuals in power.

    People who extol the virtues of government intervention always seem to assume that this intervention will be done only in the ways that they like, that their own personal standards will be the rule of the land.

    First of all, this will not, in fact, be the case. People you don’t like will get a say too. Protesilaus nailed it when he pointed out that once you have the government policing religion, your views on religion will get policed too, starting the moment people who disagree with you get into power. They’ll be more than happy to hit you over the head with the hammer you so lovingly constructed.

    Second of all, people are never as enlightened as they think they are. You may think your personal ethical code is all that and a side of toast, but it really isn’t. No matter who you are, you have biases and prejudices. The moment you think you do not and that all the government has to do to make things rosy is do things your way, you are off the rails.

  15. (cont.)

    It is very easy to say that my right to swing my arms around ends where your nose begins. But what about if I wave my arms one millimeter from your nose? Is that okay? How about two? Five? Precisely how many millimeters away do I have to be in order to be within my rights. That’s not so simple a question to answer.

    But that is precisely the question that governments and societies have to constantly answer. Where is the line? When do personal freedoms trump responsibility to others and vice versa?

    Frankly, most of the comments in this thread have been pretty simplistic, as if somehow the lines are stark and clear. They aren’t.

  16. TheCzech:
    But there is a built in assumption here, and that is that if we give the government more power to manage people’s lives, that it will do so both benevolently and wisely.

    The thing about governments is you need them to be democracies where you can hold your leaders accountable. It doesn’t make them perfect (insert example of last election whose results you didn’t like), but “The Wisdom of the Crowds” is right more often than it is wrong. So that is where we should place our bets.

  17. See… the problem with democracies is that the nation ruled by it’s people has an idiot for a king. the “Wisdom of Crowds” is shown best in riots, I think. The democratic method is rule by a popularity contest, an asinine idea if ever I have heard of one. I know it’s not popular to say it, but the average person has no fucking business deciding on leaders or the law.

    It’s just too bad the goddamned political parties have hijacked the words so I can’t declare myself a Republican. Instead I’ll have to just say that I strongly favor the Republic.

  18. I find people often see the libertarian arguments in extremely simple terms, which isn’t exactly fair. Saying that parents are in charge of their childrens’ education doesn’t mean parents must personally teach their children – they can still send them to school. It’s just that whether they go to school, and which school they go to is up to the parents.

    The argument is also not “it is better for children to be educated poorly”, the argument is “children will probably be educated better if schools are privatized.” I think it’s a mistake to assume that if you don’t force parents to send their kids to school, then they won’t. I think the vast, vast majority will send their kids to school, and a private school system has far more incentive to offer effective education. Certainly the public system isn’t the best imaginable school – there’s room for improvement.

    If I can use a slightly morbid example – imagine a guy drowning in a lake. Now someone else walks by. Assume this person is a trained lifeguard, but off duty. Rescuing the drowning person would pose no major risk, but for whatever reason, the lifeguard just decides not to jump in and save him, she’s busy, whatever. Do you think the lifeguard should be arrested for her inaction? If you say no, you might be a libertarian. Morally, of course, she SHOULD save the guy, but the question is should she be arrested?

    Same with parenting – of course parents SHOULD educate (and feed and clothe) their children, but can we punish them if they don’t? For me, this is almost a moot point. I believe that given absolute freedom, 99.9% of parents will do just fine with their kids, and the 0.1% that won’t, wouldn’t anyways in a system that punishes bad parents. The government simply isn’t that efficient.

  19. The Wisdom of the Crowds” is right more often than it is wrong. So that is where we should place our bets.

    I have no problem with you placing that bet for yourself, but you aren’t allowed to place my bets for me.

  20. Yeah, see the problem with that is that people don’t have absolute freedom. Never have, never will. The world is full of poor people, who are only going to get poorer as each successive generation has less money to pay for the schooling of their children. You can’t gloss over that, it IS what will happen with wholly private education.

    Also, you’re damned right that lifeguard should be arrested. “Depraved Indifference,” I believe is the phrase.

  21. “Wisdom of Crowds” is shown best in riots

    No it is shown worst in riots. There is an article over on wiki that discusses where wisdom of the crowd goes right and where it goes wrong.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wisdom_of_Crowds

    And to clarify when I say democracies I’m using the more popular definition where you elect leaders and can replace them if they screw up.

    The basic argument can be summed up best by Mr Churchill, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

  22. “Wisdom of Crowds” is shown best in riots

    No it is shown worst in riots. There is an article over on wiki that discusses where wisdom of the crowd goes right and where it goes wrong.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wisdom_of_Crowds

    And to clarify when I say democracies I’m using the more popular definition where you elect leaders and can replace them if they screw up.

    The basic argument can be summed up best by Mr Churchill, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

    As for the argument about not being allowed to place bets for other people. Unless you are planning to go live as a solitary hunter gatherer, your bets are almost always going to other peoples too.

  23. There is not going to be any easy answer to this. I can see from your standpoint as an atheist minority that it is wrong to “indoctrinate” children into religion, but is this not ultimately rooted on the fact that you think many religious statements are false. But one man’s “indoctrination” is another man’s “instruction”. Religious people think these statements are true and are passing on those truths to their children, just as they pass on truth when they teach them 2+2 = 4. You wish to teach children to think freely, I assume that would mean that they shouldn’t simply accept 2+2=4 but test it to see if it is true. But at its core religious parents are the same, believing in the reality of God working in history, they assume the child will explore that reality and confirm what their parents told them was true. Does it actually happen this way? Probably not as ideally as I just presented, I’m sure a lot of it is indoctrination. But then again, for most children simple math is also indoctrination, its not like many ever actually question the validity of these statements. But just because most children don’t really learn good scientific skepticism in first grade math does not imply we should wait until their 18 to teach them 2+2. Just as you would assume it was unfair for a child not to learn about science and art, a religious parent will assume it is unfair for a child not to learn about God, a reality to them that is just as real as geology. The reason there is no easy answer is because people disagree on what is true, even in experimental reality. Indeed, go visit a 6-day creationist site and their rhetoric is identical to a skeptic site, just reversed. They assume the public schools “indoctrinate” children into evolution, when only they have the truth of Young Earth Science. Now one could say that evolution has the advantage of the consensus of the scientific community but I’m not sure we want to let head counts determine truths, as atheism is the vast minority in this country. I think we are just going to have accept the tension and walk a tight line. The comments here assume that parents teaching their children is always somehow related to selfish motives of the parents or there rights. I think most parents teach their children because they love their children. They want their children to live happy healthy lives, learn to read, learn to have friends, and in the case of religious parents, learn to pray to God. Assuming parents don’t have that right simply moves the goal posts and assumes someone else does, and who would that be I ask you? The majority? The state? And yet, you don’t have to look very hard before you find numerous examples of children who are disadvantaged or even abused because of the instruction or lack their of from their parents. This is why we are just going to have to find some balance or constantly reevaluate that balance as we continue to progress as a society.

  24. AgnosticOracle: “The thing about governments is you need them to be democracies where you can hold your leaders accountable. It doesn’t make them perfect (insert example of last election whose results you didn’t like), but “The Wisdom of the Crowds” is right more often than it is wrong. So that is where we should place our bets.”

    Ah, but democracy is a tyranny. In a pure democracy, the majority always rules. There is no freedom of religion, only the religion of the majority. There is no freedom of speech, only the right to say what the majority finds acceptable.

    That’s why we don’t live in a democracy. We live in a democratic republic with a constitution guaranteeing individual rights.

    I personally don’t give a crap whether the majority is right most of the time or not. I can say without fear of contradiction that the majority is right sometimes and wrong sometimes. Any system which does not recognize that is wrong.

  25. Ah, but democracy is a tyranny. In a pure democracy, the majority always rules. There is no freedom of religion, only the religion of the majority. There is no freedom of speech, only the right to say what the majority finds acceptable.

    That’s why we don’t live in a democracy. We live in a democratic republic with a constitution guaranteeing individual rights.

    I have usually heard this described as the difference between a democracy and a liberal democracy. And without the Bill of Rights and some other constitutional protections, we would not have been a liberal democracy. Of course, we always struggle with the balance between rights of the individual and a majority rule.

    Of course, people disagree on what is a right and cannot be simply trumped by majority rule. The different views on eminent domain highlight this well.

  26. A child is not the property of the parents.

    I have a lot of mixed feelings about this. I think the original post sort of godwinned itself by somehow comparing home education to cultists stuffing kids in suitcases.

    But getting to: A child is not the property of the parents. In family court, we see what happens when the judge uses “best interests of the child”. Mainly, it provides the judge a way to make pretty arbitary rulings that serve the judges agenda and that in many ways are unconstitutional infringements of the parent’s rights.

    “In the best interest of the child” has been used to suppress religious indoctrination, but it has also been used to give the child to the parent that WILL take the kid to court.

    “In the best interest of the child” has been used to shutdown the speech of a parent who wanted to present his child with alternatives to religion.

    A child may not be the property of the parents, but I think it’s very risky to jump from there to saying that the court, thinking of the children, and in the name of society needs to micromanage or usurp parents.

    Hell, the opposite logical extreme of suitcase stuffing parents is to take the kids away from Mom and Dad as soon as babby is born. It is almost certainly the case that neither Mom or Dad are actually fit to care for a child, since neither have usually been schooled as a pediatrician or childhood educator, and since it is almost certainly the case they have been ruined by “abusive” child rearing techniques (spanking, junk food, …) in their past.

    I think a lot of home schooling is rubbish, but that can be moderated with standards and testing. I’m also pretty sure these days that a lot of public school teaching is rubbish as well.

    Any of you folks remember Alvin Toffler? We’re in a situation of ad-hocracy. The home schoolers are getting more organized and now apparently have visiting teachers and all sorts of support and infrastructure. That may evolve into what is essentially small, private, mobile schools. That could be a very nice thing if nurtured.

    Public schools seem to have been swallowed up by the bureaucracy and intended to create factory workers and teach kids of the virtues of zero tolerance policies and powerful faceless bureaucrats you can’t talk to or appear to.

    I think our society needs rather less of that.

    A child is not the property of the parents, but I do think we need to respect that in almost every case, the people who really have the child’s best interests at heart and will fight for the kid ARE the parents, and not the civic worker or bureaucrat.

  27. For the sake of argument … I think that the parent is responsible for creating a culture for their child. I believe that the schools are responsible for the morality (that is to say, civic ambition, civic justice, and courage to be and act within a society). I believe that the child is responsible for their own emotions and intellect.

    Of course, each of these has an effect on the other. For example, schools cannot impart morality without also imparting either emotional or intellectual information. It is when we *expect* other entities to do something that isn’t their responsibility that we start seeing problems!

    Of course, in many countries the family also acts as the educating unit, rather than a specialized worker taking that job.

    Vote yes on your local education referendums.

  28. Hmmmmm…this may be OT, but has anyone else read Walter Jon Williams’ “Incarnation Day”?

    It’s a shortstory in which children *do* belong to their parents until they (the children) are incarnated at age 18…they’re virtual until then.

    It’s a good story. One of the questions Williams asks (or perhaps answers) is, what does it do to a society when you give parents the power of life and death over a child…and the child gets to live with this knowledge until he lives the house.

  29. I usually think of democracies and their policies in terms of ecosystems and biological analogues and metaphors. Free peoples-including people free to educate their children as they see fit-work for the same reasons evolution works and biodiversity is important-people near to their life problems are almost always in a better position, in terms of the length of the feedback loop, to make better choices for themselves and their dependents, sans IDiot designers, just as lineages as organisms adopt to selection pressures without any organizing authority. The the resulting diversity of memes/genes fills the niches, presents alternatives, and creates a system that is both resilient and efficient. Letting people be is generally good for the “species.”

    At the same time, a little game theory shows that much of what “works” about being human is a result of having vested interests in each other-phenomenon like kin selection and indirect reciprocal altruism with punishment, all point towards our success as a species, or a nation, or whatever depending on having either statistically common or enforced expectations of each other.

    Simply put, a world where we let people drive their offspring, or their workers, or their citizens, or, to a degree, themselves, is not a world with the arrow pointing towards “better,” for ourselves, our children, our business partners, or the other beings we recognize as being capable of suffering equal to our own.

    So, it’s a balancing act-a society that gets better must find some balance/blend/fractal interface that acknowledges that leaving people be produces solutions, resilience, efficiency, and happiness, and that leaving them to rocket off into the void or plunge into the depths drags us all along.

    It is not easy. It is not clean. And it is not a thing or a place-it is a dynamic process, driven by science, by legislation and judgement, by economics, by the evolving ethical atmosphere, and depends, as it alway has and always will, on earnest research, honest and moderate legislators, elected by an informed populace, and equal portions compassion and justice.

  30. Rystefn: “Also, you’re damned right that lifeguard should be arrested. “Depraved Indifference,” I believe is the phrase.”

    ———

    And I believe that, as usual, you are talking directly out of your ass. Depraved indifference requires that the defendants conduct creates the situation. It does not apply here.

    The education of children is a difficul problem. Sure, parents may not know best. But the state doesn’t know best, either, especially if that state is Kansas.

    The wisdom of crowds only works if everyone makes their own decisions, so that would be back to having parents make the decisions about education, not a centralized state.

    And all this ignores the very real fact that parent-child bonding is important and valuable to individuals and to children. So what’s left?

    I think that the role of education has to change in our society. Education should be ubiquitous, ongoing, constant, and interwoven into everything else. Not a special thing that happens in a special place that children are forced into.

    We can’t have a meaningful conversation about the rights of children while we are simultaneously assuming that they will be forced to attend a school whether they want to or not.

  31. Seth? Really? You’re a lawyer now, too?

    What about Melissa Ann Rowland? Refusing a Cesarean resulting in the death of one of her twin children. What was she charged with? Depraved Indifference. She didn’t create the situation, she merely refused to help. She refused to help when there was a risk to herself. How is it less depraved when there’s none?

    I know you feel the need to make personal insults every time I disagree with you. I’m pretty sure it’s because you know you can’t actually argue against what I say. It’s getting tiresome. Whether or not a specific act in the real-world qualifies as depraved indifference as far as legalities are concerned depends on where it happened and the judgment of the DA, judge, and jury at that place and time. However, here, we’re not talking about the real world, and what DOES happen. We’re talking about what we think SHOULD happen, in which case all the legal definitions you might like to throw around, even if you were a lawyer, STILL don’t apply, and the only way I could be talking out of my ass, as you put it, is if I didn’t honestly believe that the act of shrugging and walking away from a drowning person should be considered depraved indifference.

    If you’re so confident in your ability to read my mind, let’s go fucking get Randi’s million dollars. Otherwise, shut your fucking pie-hole, I’m not in the mood for your shit.

  32. “I know you feel the need to make personal insults every time I disagree with you.”

    —————

    Really? I guess that makes you the mind reader.

    However, what you believe is not at issue. This is a not a question of whether someone is morally in the wrong, it is a question of whether they should be arrested. To answer that question, the relevant issue is not what you believe is depraved indifference, but rather what the legal definition of depraved indifference is. The very fact that you are unclear about the role of your personal opinion versus the legal definition of depraved indifference vis-a-vis the appropriateness of applying the police power of the state is in fact why I say that you are talking out of your ass.

    Moving on, I think that the role of education has to change in our society. Education should be ubiquitous, ongoing, constant, and interwoven into everything else. Not a special thing that happens in a special place that children are forced into.

    We can’t have a meaningful conversation about the rights of children while we are simultaneously assuming that they will be forced to attend a school whether they want to or not.

  33. No, no. The question was not “Does the law say that person is to be arrested.” The questions was “do you think the lifeguard should be arrested.”It wasn’t about what the law is, but what we all think it should be. Even it it WAS about what the law already says, that could easily fall under the realm of depraved indifference as currently written and enforced in some places (because the law IS different in some places, you know). I don’t know where you are to speak to your local law, but for you to sit here and say that it NEVER counts as depraved indifference ANYWHERE, and then to proclaim that depraved indifference is defined by a criterion which is clearly untrue (the accused must have created the situation) shows that you are the one talking out of your ass, not me. The fact that you didn’t even try to address my points shows that you haven’t a leg to stand on in this, and you know it. The fact that you continually turn to personal insult shows that you do, in fact, feel some need to do so. If deductive reasoning makes me psychic, give me the million.

    …but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t. It just makes me smarter than you.

  34. wow…great discussion so far. sorry i haven’t been more involved, but i’m on the road and haven’t had regular access.

    i like what you have to say, but let’s lose the personal attacks, shall we? i wouldn’t want to have to sic rebecca on your asses, as much as you all might enjoy that ;)

    so try to play nice, will you?

  35. The fact that you didn’t even try to address my points shows that you haven’t a leg to stand on in this, and you know it.

    ————

    Actually, I did. I stated pretty clearly what my beef with your position is. I have a leg to stand on, and have in fact stood on it. Stating that I haven’t addressed your point does not magically makes my arguments go away. To be blunt, if you close your eyes, I’m still here.

    I stand by my statement:
    1. To the best of my knowledge, the lifeguards acts are not commonly thought of as depraved indifference under the law. If you think that they are, you are mistaken, and the easy confidence with which you spouted this nonsense qualifies as ass-speak.

    2. If you think that the question “Should person A be arrested for act B” is equivalent to the question “Should Act B be considered a crime”, you are likewise mistaken. They are not the same question. Furthermore, your answer was not appropriate for question B but was appropriate for question A, that is, you implied that an existing legal term–depraved indifference–applied in the here and now to act B, an interpretation that you have supported again in your comment above. In that case, you are wrong. Depraved Indifference does not cover the acts of people who are completely blameless in establishing the situation leading to a death. I have a law review article to stand on: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/cji/2-PenalLaw/125/125-25(4).pdf rather than a leg.

    Based on your statements, I do not see any evidence that you have done any research of any kind to determine what may or may not be considered depraved indifference. The fact that you think that the basic, bedrock legal definition is clearly wrong is the reason that I think you are talking out of your ass. It is in fact the case that the definition of depraved indifference requires that some act of the defendant places someone else in peril of their life.

    You seem to be of the opinion that a woman who refuses to have a medical procedure concerning her uterus is not creating a situation for the occupants of that uterus. Obviously, she is committing an act (refusing a medical procedure) regarding another act (choosing to carry to term), meaning she is acting in the context of a situation that she is an active participant in. A passerby is, by definition, not an active participant in the situation they are passing by. If that was your primary point, consider it addressed.

    Third, you are talking out of your ass when you refer to the phrase “talking out of your ass” as a personal insult. It is neither personal nor an insult to use colorful language to express the opinion that someone else is commonly mistaken on a points of fact. It is perhaps impolite, but it is not a personal insult.

    Perhaps your inability to recognize a personal insult is related to your inability to realize that your points are being addressed, and both of them are related to this delusion you have that you are an intelligent and capable debater.

  36. But back to the point at hand, really:

    Can we have a meaningful discussion about children’s rights at the same time that we are discussing what kind of eduction they will be forced to endure? Doesn’t this cause some sort of conflict with anyone else?

  37. Actually, I did.

    Really? You showed your legal credentials? You responded the the Rowland case? I must have missed that post.

    1. To the best of my knowledge, the lifeguards acts are not commonly thought of as depraved indifference under the law. If you think that they are, you are mistaken, and the easy confidence with which you spouted this nonsense qualifies as ass-speak.

    Really? Because I provided a specific case of someone choosing to avoid personal risk and thereby allowing someone to die which was considered depraved indifference under the law. ow, then, can allowing someone to die without personal risk be less depraved?

    If you think that the question “Should person A be arrested for act B” is equivalent to the question “Should Act B be considered a crime”, you are likewise mistaken.

    Really? I am? They very much can be equivalent, and this case, they are. The question was about our personal opinions. Go back and reread the post in question. Remember the bit where he said that if you don’t think the person should be arrested, you might be a libertarian? Was he saying that libertarians are more likely to understand the law, or that libertarians are more likely to have that kind of ethical system?

    Furthermore, your answer was not appropriate for question B but was appropriate for question A,

    I’ll call that you being unfamiliar with my style of speech, and give you the benefit of the doubt. I use the same kind of phraseology in support of my opinion that drinking and driving falls into the category of attempted murder, which it is not legally considered, but I very much believe it should be.

    Depraved Indifference does not cover the acts of people who are completely blameless in establishing the situation leading to a death.

    Define blameless… Again, I refer you to the Rowland case. She didn’t cause the medical problems endangering the children, and put them at risk only by an action which had the valid and stated purpose of limiting her own personal risk. I think that’s a lot closer to blameless than seeing a drowning person and just walking away, and I can’t be alone in that. Yet, Rowland was charged with – that’s right – depraved indifference. Point to a law review article all you like, at best, it defends that that is the definition used IN ONE PLACE. The fact that I can point to an actual case which contradicts the definition you are saying shows that once again you fail to comprehend that which I’ve already pointed out once (and you ignored, of course, since you cannot refute such a simple and obvious fact): laws are different in different places.

    Based on your statements, I do not see any evidence that you have done any research of any kind to determine what may or may not be considered depraved indifference.

    No evidence? Dude, I gave you a specific case. Come on, now… Are you even reading what I post? I gave you a specific case, using the person’s name and everything, of one thing which IS considered depraved indifference and you say I did no research to determine what may or may not be considered depraved indifference? Seriously? That’s either a flagrant lie, or clear evidence that you’re just ignoring what I have to say.

    It is in fact the case that the definition of depraved indifference requires that some act of the defendant places someone else in peril of their life.

    Like the act of looking at a dying person and walking away? How about the act of avoiding personal danger rather than risking one’s own safety to save another?

    she is committing an act (refusing a medical procedure) regarding another act (choosing to carry to term), meaning she is acting in the context of a situation that she is an active participant in.

    Wait… what happened to “Depraved Indifference does not cover the acts of people who are completely blameless in establishing the situation leading to a death” The birth wasn’t the situation leading to the death, medical complications were… Move the goalpost much? Within the same post, no less. Nicely done.

    If that was your primary point, consider it addressed.

    LoL. Yes, you addressed it by changing the presented definition. Pick one and stick with it.

    Third, you are talking out of your ass when you refer to the phrase “talking out of your ass” as a personal insult.

    Oh, this should be good.

    It is neither personal nor an insult

    Dude, I nearly fell out of my chair. Seriously. You’re really trying to say it’s not personal to direct a statement at me specifically? Really? And that it’s not an insult to say that most of what I say is bullshit? You can try to back up and retroactively rewrite it as much as you like, but it IS an insult, and was intended as one. You’re not going to fool anyone with that particular brand of bullshit. Nice try, though. Really. it’s just so brazen that many people would let you blow right by with it, even though no one would buy it. Well played.

    Perhaps your inability to recognize a personal insult is related to your inability to realize that your points are being addressed,

    My points were not being addressed, they were being dodged. Now you’re tried to address them with moving goalposts, flagrant falsehoods, and backpedaling. See what I did there? I recognized it when you did it, though it was a very poor showing. You were not doing it before, you were ignoring my statements and repeating yourself.

    both of them are related to this delusion you have that you are an intelligent and capable debater.

    This is just too much… I’ve said many times here that I am not a debater. Debate is nothing more than mental masturbation, and I prefer the physical kind.

    Of course, now you’re going to claim that calling me delusional isn’t an insult, aren’t you? Is it a diagnosis? Are you a psychologist as well as a lawyer now? Kindly fill in some other possibility. I’m interested to see if it will be as creative as your claim that statements directed specifically at my person are not personal.

  38. Like the act of looking at a dying person and walking away? How about the act of avoiding personal danger rather than risking one’s own safety to save another?

    ———–

    No. Being a passerby does not make one legally responsible for the situation one is passing by. However, being a parent does make one responsible for children. That’s sort of my original point. Its also why the two cases don’t map, in one, the person is not involved and cannot be argued to have done anything to create the situation, in the second, the person DID do something (refuse a medical procedure) that led directly to the dangerous situation (vaginal birth). Its not really hard to understand the difference. We could argue that it isn’t appropriate in either case, of course, but you haven’t made anything approaching a coherent argument that the former is depraved indifference legally.

    And no, saying that you are mistaken on a point of fact is not an insult, and it is not personal. I am not commenting on your person, I am commenting on your statements. There is nothing for me to “get away with.” It is not a personal insult to claim that someone else is “talking out of their ass”. The character of the person is not at issue, merely the quality of their
    commentary.
    Saying that you are laboring under the “delusion that you are an intelligent and capable debater” is not an insult, per se, nor is it a direct claim that you are delusional. It was a response to your continual false declarations that I am not addressing points and the bizarre that you are therefore superior to me in some way.

    I suppose that you could consider that an insult, although next to rhetoric like “shut your fucking pie-hole” its a fairly mild rebuke.

  39. Point to a law review article all you like, at best, it defends that that is the definition used IN ONE PLACE.

    ——–

    Actually, that article discussed several jurisdictions in historical context. Not one. But thanks for bothering to read the abstract before continuing to comment on the topic.

    I apologize for implying you did no research, however. You did one tiny piece of extremely shoddy research, getting the facts of the case wrong (she claimed not to have refused the C-Section at all originally), but you did at least do that. My bad.

    By the way, the thing you are doing is called “debating”. When you make a nitpicky argument that my language changes slightly from paragraph 1 to paragraph 2, and that therefore I’ve “moved the goalposts”, you are engaged in debate.

  40. I use the same kind of phraseology in support of my opinion that drinking and driving falls into the category of attempted murder, which it is not legally considered,
    ——————

    You know what’s not exactly ironic but is that thing that people think is ironic but is really something else?

    You guessed it. In NY, drunk driving that results in a death can be considered DEPRAVED INDIFFERENCE. http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/crimprof_blog/2007/01/crimprof_michae.html

    and here a man who jumped in, but FAILED to save a little girls life, is charged with depraved indifference homicide: http://www.theeffectivetruth.info/homicide.html

  41. “This is yet another outright lie”

    —————–

    A lie? Lets examine this. You have made, in at least three separate posts, the statement that I did not address your points.

    The first time you did so, I had addressed one of your two points: you claimed that your opinion was at issue, I responded. In the second case, you continued the same misrepresentation of that discussion. In this most recent comment, you claim that all I have to bring to the discussion are lies. Yet, the very post that you are quoting from contains responses to points you have made, so this claim of yours is in fact false.

    This is a pattern, you continually (that is, in the majority of posts) make the claim that I am not addressing your points. This claim is demonstrably false. This constitutes a continual false declaration that I am not addressing points.

  42. Ah, so it’s it not a lie, merely a fundamental misunderstanding of the English language.

    ContinualPronunciation:
    \k?n-?tin-yü-?l, -y?l\
    Function:
    adjective
    Etymology:
    Middle English, from Anglo-French continuel, from Latin continuus continuous
    Date:
    14th century
    Meaning: continuing indefinitely in time without interruption

    This, however: “In this most recent comment, you claim that all I have to bring to the discussion are lies.” is a flagrant lie, and you can’t weasel out of it. I made an if-then statement, not an accusation… or are you going to fall back on further claims of piss-poor understanding of the English language? Either way, I am well and truly done with you. Perhaps another day, IF you manage to show a modicum of understanding, THEN, I might enter another discussion with you.

    Note, that wasn’t a statement on my part that you show a modicum of understanding, I know that confused you before.

  43. I made an if-then statement, not an accusation… or are you going to fall back on further claims of piss-poor understanding of the English language?

    ————–

    If you had said “if you are going to use fabrications” or even “if you insist on using fabrications” than you would have a point, but you said “If you can only argue using fabrications”.

    This is clearly an accusation that I have, up to this point, only argued using fabrications, despite the fact that the post you are commenting on contained other arguments. To point out that you did so is hardly a flagrant lie.

    As for continual, in every comment in this thread that you have directed to me, up till the last one, you stated that I do not address your points–in the first case as a matter of habit, and in further posts in the specific. I consider this to be a case of continuity, but I am open to some other word to describe the precise nature of the false claim that you made in every post.

  44. And now that that is taken care of, the point I originally wanted to make was that the school system itself seems to be a problem. It seems like there should be a way to integrate children into modern life more, but I have no idea how.

  45. As a side note, my use of continual was actually spot on:

    Main Entry:
    con·tin·u·al Listen to the pronunciation of continual
    Pronunciation:
    \k?n-?tin-yü-?l, -y?l\
    Function:
    adjective
    Etymology:
    Middle English, from Anglo-French continuel, from Latin continuus continuous
    Date:
    14th century

    1 : continuing indefinitely in time without interruption
    2 : recurring in steady usually rapid succession

    Apparently, this is even from the same site at meriam webster. Shame on you, Rystefn.

  46. Wait a sec – (I don’t mean any ill-will, just a little confused) What about Melissa Ann Rowland? Refusing a Cesarean resulting in the death of one of her twin children. What was she charged with? Depraved Indifference. She didn’t create the situation, she merely refused to help. ”

    What do you mean she didn’tcreate the situation? Unless she was raped (and since she didn’t get an abortion),she certainly was half-responsible for creating the situation…

    If not getting a c-section saved her life (as opposed to her thinking that the chances of dying from a c-section were higher and that’s why she decided not to get one…but even then,it’s kind of hazy to me) , though, well, why the heck would she be charged with anything?

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