Skepticism

Skepchick Quickies, 9.9

Jen

Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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  1. I talked to my mom a couple days ago about Oz getting his own show. She agrees with me that Oprah puts a lot of crap on her show (any thinking person who saw her support The Secret must have started to have second thoughts on the content of her shows), and that Oz doesn’t stand up to some of the people who come on the show selling crap, but she thinks that his show will be more accurate and that he will stick to real experts and issues. I think she got this idea because he often presents the opposite viewpoint to the woo on the show, but I’m not sure he’s not just grudgingly pretending to be the token skeptic. So far, the topics he’s going to be discussing on the show don’t seem that far out (there was a recent study about Vitamin D deficiency in kids, right?) and he could take the right stance on immunization… He does already have an XM radio show which could be used to predict what he will do, although I haven’t listened to it. What do you guys think? Will he be better than Oprah like my mom thinks or will it just be Woo Hour?

  2. @infinitemonkey, well, *my* homeschooled kids have parents who are atheists (my kids are not), relatives who are Catholic, Episcopalian, Muslim, agnostic, “spiritual” and “not religious”, homeschooled friends who are Muslim (the largest group of religious homeschoolers we personally know), homeschooled friends who are “not religious” (which would be most of our friends) and they’ve met homeschoolers who are Wiccan, Jewish and Born Again Christian.

    You’re right. No difference whatsoever!

  3. Re: Homeschooling

    The father has a say in his child’s education just as much as the mother does. The father DID NOT agree with how the mother wanted to do homeschooling. The judge had to make a decision one way or another. Both parent’s wishes had to be taken into consideration, and in the end, the father one. This isn’t unusual in custody cases.

    I don’t have a problem with the decision.

  4. @Didac: Basically. The father wanted the right to have his child educated. He won. I agree with it. SOMEONE had to win. Sometimes custody cases go this way. The mother could have just as easily won with a different judge. I’m glad this judge had common sense, tbh.

  5. As a Sherlock Holmes fan, this news about a giant rat immediately reminded me of a line from Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire”:

    Holmes: Matilda Briggs was not the name of a young woman, Watson, . . . It was a ship which is associated with the giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared.

    Fortunately for humanity, Holmes says nothing about the giant rat of Papua New Guinea. So, I can still sleep soundly… for now.

  6. @infinitemonkey: I’ve known several mothers who have homeschooled. I know an atheist mother who homeschooled her child until he reached 5th grade. He ended up being skipped to 6th grade because he was way ahead of everyone else.

    Not all homeschooling is the same.

    I do think we lack consistency with homeschooling rules and regulations in this country, though. But of course, we lack consistency with education in general.

  7. @marilove: Exactly. I’m not crazy about the idea of a child being forced to public school by the courts, but when you realize the task in front of the judge was to make a ruling on what would be best for the child, and the quality of education the mother intended to provide was suspect, the decision seems more reasonable.

  8. @ShannonCC: @marilove: I think you’re missing my point. I think there is harm being done, or not prevented, to the child’s social health in this case. However, aside from attacking the religion in and of itself, how could we realistically draw a line here versus other homeschooling?

    I don’t like it, and I’d like to say snatch the kid up and out of that house. However, how can it be justified in this case, and not effect all other homeshooling?

  9. @Jen: I often find it interesting how custody issues are often portrayed in the media. The classic example is when a non custodial parent takes off with a child. This is a case of custodial interference which is often described in the press as a kidnapping. I think not. And in this case there was a dispute about education between divorced parents and someone had to sort it out. Many states and court systems require these things to be worked out in binding mediation and a judge is never even involved.

  10. @infinitemonkey: Homeschooling is about education, not religion. It should be seperate. As long as the child is being educated properly (that’s why I mention we lack consistency in homeschooling), then anything additional (religious studies included) shouldn’t really matter. Basically, they should be seperate.

    HOWEVER, this isn’t really about homeschooling. It is about parental and custody rights. The father didn’t agree with how the mother was raising his child.

  11. @James Fox: I’d imagine it would depend on the case.

    http://www.azfamily.com/news/local/stories/surprise-news-082609-amber-alert-xaver-garcia.11a0736d3.html

    How would you NOT consider that kidnapping?

    According to police, the little boy’s mother told them she awoke at about 11 p.m. to find Michael Garcia standing over her with a knife. The mother, Garcia’s ex-girlfriend, fought back, but he took the child by force. Police issued an Amber Alert at about 4:30 Wednesday morning.

    Garcia, 20, had no custody or visitation rights. Police said that while Garcia has a history of domestic violence — the boy’s mother has a restraining order against him — he has never hurt Xavier.

    I don’t care if he is the father, he kidnapped that child.

  12. As has been stated, it’s about the father’s right to a say in his child’s education. It’s only indirectly about homeschooling.

    Frankly, I think it should be illegal to involve children in religion. We “protect” kids from cigarettes and alcohol, but we don’t protect them from religious indoctrination, which (if behavior is any indication) seems to kill far more brain cells.

  13. @Austin: While I don’t agree with most religions, I think it’s pretty ridiculous to consider it illegal to raise your child as you see fit.

    Talk about infringing on someone’s rights. Do you REALLY want that to happen? What if it was the other way around? What if it was illegal to raise your child as an atheist? Something tells me you’d suddenly have an issue with that.

  14. @James Fox: Ugh, as I’m doing some googling and researching, it seems the laws regarding parental kidnapping (a term used often in legal documents) are pretty shaky and not taken seriously most of the time. DEPRESSING!

    And while certain legal definitions may not mentioning kidnapping, if you take a child illegally and without permission, you are kidnapping that child. Honestly I think by NOT referring to it as kidnapping and instead making it out to be a “custodial interference” is pretty irresponsible and likely one reason why such cases aren’t taken seriously.

  15. @marilove: I think the laws allow some leeway for consideration of the circumstances. For instance, I have a protective (restraining) order against my ex. If he takes our child, it’s not custodial intereference, it’s a violation of the order and means automatic 6 months in jail and a hefty fine. And I have a fantastic lawyer who would take it much further.

  16. @infinitemonkey, sorry my knee jerk reaction was, um, knee jerk. I feel like I’ve been fighting the “all homeschoolers are fundamentalist Christians who brainwash their kids” stereotype a lot lately and that’s what I thought you were saying.

    Someone commented that the child *was* being educated as far as the judge was concerned? In that case it was either anti-religion or anti-homeschooling. Because if the child was happy and doing well and the judge agreed the child was being well educated, then why force them to stop homeschooling just because the non-custodial parent didn’t agree? Why does he get *his* way if everything else is equal? Because school is the known, and homeschooling is the “other”. What if the non-custodial parent wanted the child homeschooled and the custodial parent insisted on school? I doubt that would have been taken seriously at all. But school is the default, so it’s easier to justify forcing a child into that.

    For the record – yes, non-custodial parents have rights too, but the custodial parent has to deal with the day in, day out details. They get more of the work, more of the responsibility. So I do see why most judges would give more weight to their opinions. In this case, now that they have to go to school, it’s the mother who has to change her whole life to fit the school’s schedule.

  17. To me, the most telling passage was buried on page 2 of the story:

    “…Amanda told a counselor she was distressed by her father’s refusal to accept her religious beliefs and that “his choice to spend eternity away from her proves that he does not love her as much as he says he does.””

    That’s deeply sad, and it reveals what’s going on in that home. Who do you suppose gave Amanda that idea?

  18. @ekimbrough: I think this is the sticking point. As mentioned, the case is really about the rights of a non-custodial parent to make choices regarding his children (because, in a great majority of these cases, it’s a father trying to have a say in how his children are raised). The fact is, however, his ex-wife has used religion to turn his daughter against him. While I don’t agree with the stated reasoning of the judge’s order, that the father’s rights to influence his daughter are being tampered with by the mother is fairly clear.

    Bet she still cashes his child support checks, even as she tells his daughter that he doesn’t love her.

  19. @ekimbrough: @marilove:

    You two said what I was going to say. It’s not that the court is ordering against the wishes of her parents. It’s that the court is ordering her to go in line with her fathers wishes.

    And ekimbrough is completely right about where the idea is coming from. She is being taught by her custodial mother that her father doesn’t love her because of disagreements between her mother and father. It’s abominable when parents bring their children into their disputes with each other.

  20. @Tiki_Idyll: Exactly. Cases like these are complex. It’s not black and white.

    I still agree with the Judge’s decision.

    The mother can still give her child a religious education, but at least now the father still has a say in how she is raised. And I don’t care if he doesn’t have primary custody, he’s still the father. I’m a feminist, but I very much believe that both parents should be involved if at all possible (not that it’s always possible or advisable).

  21. @Ekimbrough: I picked out the same thing you did straight off, that the child doubts her fathers’ love. But also this:
    “..the attorney said,
    adding the mother had earlier agreed to allow the court to decide the child’s educational future.
    “There have been three counselors for this child and all have recommended public school.”

    The mother agreed. Three counselors say public school. What’s so hard about that?

  22. I have to say that the homeschooler article had my head spinning when I first read it. At one point is said the child’s education was up to standards (whatever those happen to be is another matter.) In another case, it was religious brainwashing. What the hell was the judge trying to decide between! It makes sense after reading the comments here that it was a case of parental control and custody. Then it’s the mother’s wishes vs the father’s wishes. But the judge still needs to decide “what’s best for the child” which is determined by what education is actually going on in the home. If the education is sound, then how is this different than the religious upbringing of many children, homeschooled or not?

    Also, I have to say, for completely irrational reasons, my stomach actually turns when I hear the phrase, “but he’s the father!” If I had a dime for every time I heard that…

    No, I’m not jaded ;-)

  23. @marilove: I’m a reasonable person: prove that teaching kids to be atheists – hell, let’s lose the fancy language and say “teaching kids facts instead of lies” – is harmful to them and I’ll go along with outlawing it.

    And yes, I *do* believe the state has a right – even a responsibility – to interfere in how a child is being raised; so do many other people, since we already do it in many ways. Children are citizens and deserve the same protections as – and in some cases even more than – any other citizen. I fully support protecting children from their parents when the need arises, and that (in my opinion) includes mental abuse.

  24. @Mark Hall:
    The fact is, however, his ex-wife has used religion to turn his daughter against him. While I don’t agree with the stated reasoning of the judge’s order, that the father’s rights to influence his daughter are being tampered with by the mother is fairly clear.

    I think you have found the core of this case. And, all cynicism aside, the courts take it very seriously when they are presented with an accusation that one parent is trying to turn the child against the other.

  25. I think it’s naive to trivialize parental kidnapping as “just” custodial interference. It can be just as traumatizing as a “real” kidnapping to both the child and the custodial parent. My brother has a pre-teen stepson who was allowed to stay home alone after school for 10-15 minutes each day to teach him responsibility. One day his father and paternal grandmother showed up and took him. Imagine coming home to find that your child or stepchild is missing. Imagine how that boy felt to be torn between his parents. It turns out that the incident didn’t count as a “real” kidnapping because the father left a note. Now my brother and sister-in-law only get to see my nephew about once a week. It’s really not a trivial matter.

  26. @mxracer652:

    PS, the only “rights” we have are listed in the constitution.

    I agree with @James K, that this is not correct. The US Constitution is based on an enumeration of the Powers of the Government. It is explicitly not an enumeration of the Rights of the People.

    The Bill of Rights recognizes, but does not create, certain specific rights. The rights are presumed to be pre-existing.

    I am a Hedge

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