In our country the First Amendment protects the free exercise of religion. That’s a real thing, it exists, it is important to a lot of people who have religious beliefs.
And it allows people to act on their beliefs. Exercise means action; they have beliefs and they can live as though those beliefs are true. Even if you disagree. For example, if a doctor believes that abortion is murder, he or she is allowed to not perform abortions. They can decline participating in that operation, because they think it is wrong. You may not think that abortion is murder, but some doctors do, and they are allowed to behave as though it is true.
Nurses, as well. A nurse can say, “I don’t want to be in the operating room where an abortion is being performed,” even if it is his or her job to assist the surgeon in performing operations. The nurse can have a job assisting in operations, handing surgical tools to the doctor, keeping the doctor appraised of the patient’s vitals, and they can do this job every day for thousands of patients, but say, “I don’t want to help with this operation, because I believe that this operation is harmful.”
And there can be a nurse that has a job prepping the surgical room and preparing the tray of tools, and they can say, “I don’t want to prep for abortion, because I believe that abortion is murder. If I help prepare for a murder I am assisting in something that is wrong. I am doing something wrong if I help someone kill a living human.”
Even if you disagree, they are allowed to do that. They can’t be forced to participate in something they actually believe is wrong. Whether it is actually injecting saline and cutting limbs off a fetus, or handing the doctor the scissors and syringe, or preparing the syringe and placing the scissors on a table, they can say “No, I will not be a part of this.” And usually society is accepting of this. They are allowed to decline service in this particular instance because they believe they would be complicit in committing murder. Even if they did the exact same thing yesterday for a different patient, handing the doctor syringes and scissors, it is different this time.
Do they hate the patient? No. I think they are focused on the horror of tearing apart a body with limbs and a heartbeat, and they don’t want to have any part in it. If the patient comes in the next week, will they serve her? Unequivocally, yes. They are perfectly happy to perform an exam on or prescribe medication to a girl that has had or is planning to have an abortion. I imagine it never even crosses their mind. It’s their job to serve patients, and they are happy to do it. I defy anyone to find an example of a doctor or nurse who had a conscientious objection to performing abortion, who also refused to serve patients who had previously obtained an abortion.
Maybe you know where I’m going with this.
Now, if you think that putting people in jail, destroying their businesses, fining employers and forcing reeducation for declining to serve a gay wedding is okay, you’re probably protesting pretty heavily at this point. “But, but, but…” “But, it’s different!” “But it’s hateful.” “But it’s discrimination.” “But you have to serve all customers equally.” “But Christians eat shellfish and have sex on their periods and (insert random Mosaic law here).” “But Jesus said don’t judge!” “But interracial marriage.” “But gay marriage is legal.” “But sometimes homosexuals are bullied.” “But some Christians think it is fine.” “But it doesn’t hurt anyone!” “But they are born that way!”
All of those reasons, all of those protestations, all of those accusations, are completely irrelevant. They do nothing to change this fact:
Many faithful Christians (and Muslims and Jews) believe that acting on homosexual desires is wrong. Period.
That’s not a new thing. It’s not something that Christians made up in response to the laws changing. It’s not a mask for hate. It just is. Many religious individuals think that practicing homosexuality is a sin. And, therefore, they believe that participating in furthering these acts is wrong.
Can you accept that? Can you believe me when I say, “I think gay marriage is wrong.”? Can we agree to disagree on that point? You think it’s fine, I don’t. That has been the way of the world for as long as humans have been able to form opinions, and decent, respectful people can live peacefully with each other even when they disagree on things.
The problem comes when those beliefs are mislabeled as ‘hate’ and turned into a crime. The problem comes when Christians are told they are not allowed to believe that homosexual acts are wrong. If I truly believe it is wrong, being forced to participate in a gay wedding, in any way, is the same as being forced to cut up a fetus. I think it’s wrong, even if you don’t. And society seems to be telling me that I am not allowed to think homosexual marriage is wrong. If I were allowed to think it was wrong, I would be allowed to object to participating. I would be allowed to vote against it, or donate money to traditional marriage causes, or even just say that I think it’s wrong, without the government acting against me in response.
A nurse can say, “I think abortion is wrong, and I don’t want to participate in performing an abortion.” And, right now, the government doesn’t say, “You have to participate. Every day you don’t you will be fined thousands of dollars. And if you keep refusing to participate you will lose your nursing license. And if you continue to refuse you will be put in jail.”
Right now those beliefs, even if you disagree with them, are generally respected. You can think to yourself, “I don’t think abortion is murder, but they do, and I don’t think the government should force someone to do something they think is murder.” Accommodations can be made. Another nurse can fill in. The first nurse isn’t accused of hating the patient. The full force of the ACLU and the judicial system aren’t brought to bear down. No one says that a nurse who refuses to perform an abortion is forcing her religion on the patient. Few people claim that the patient is suffering from discrimination if her Family Practitioner refers her to another clinic to obtain an abortion. People are generally able to recognize the distinction between the girl getting the abortion and the requirement to participate in a procedure some people think is wrong.
Why can’t we do the same for gay marriage?
I have read a lot this year about racism and sexism. It’s kind of a big deal, right? Definitely, if there is inherent, systematic, foundational racism (or sexism) ((or homophobia)) that is keeping certain races or genders (or sexual orientations) from accomplishing everything they could, that’s something that should be dealt with. If you read something exposing racism, and think, “That’s not racism,” then you’re being racist. Or privileged. Because you don’t understand. And I’m not black, so there is no way for me to ever known how it would feel to go to the store and be treated like a black person, or drive my car and be treated like a black person, or attend school and be treated like a black person. Because I’m not black. So I’ll never know. And that means, that as a white person, I have to accept and believe everything that is said by black people about how they are treated, and why. Because if a black person it treated in a way they don’t like, it’s racism.
Can I propose an alternative?
I think that some people are just jerks.
It’s pretty simple, but I’ll try describing what I mean.
I’m a woman. I went to college in fall 2002 with the intention of getting a degree in Biochemistry. I ended up getting a degree in Biochemistry and minored in Physics. Might as well, right? I was already there and it was only a few more classes. Anyway, in the very first week of classes I met with one of the administrators of my University. He was an old, white man. He asked me what I was majoring in, and I said, “Biochemistry.” I remember this conversation very well, and you’ll see why.
“What are going to do with that?”
“I’m going to get married and have kids.”
“No, I mean what are you going to do with your degree?”
Me, slowly, “I’m going to get married, have kids, teach them and raise them to be really smart.”
Him, with perhaps a touch of disdain, “That doesn’t any sense. If you aren’t going to do anything with your degree, why don’t you major in something easy?”
I don’t remember if I responded. But I know the thought that exploded in my mind was, “What a jerk!”
I was shocked. I was majoring in Biochemistry because I thought it would be interesting; that’s what I wanted to study. I had other reasons; if for some reason my husband died or became unable to work, I wanted to be able to support our family. I wanted to have a degree with some value. I thought other majors might get boring. But mostly I had just always loved science and math and knew that Biochemistry would be a good balance of all the topics I had always found fascinating. Maybe I said something like that to him, but it doesn’t really matter because obviously he wasn’t worth giving an explanation to. He was a jerk, and although I remember the conversation clearly, I never let it effect me. I thought, “What a jerk,” then moved on with my life. I got my degree, got married, had children, and now I’m home schooling them. Exactly what I always wanted to do.
You know what I didn’t do? I didn’t change my major because I felt stigmatized and undervalued as a woman. Women were outnumbered in my classes, but I didn’t care. I didn’t think about it much. (I probably would have thought about it more if I hadn’t already been engaged upon arriving at college, but as it was the genders of my classmates was fairly irrelevant to my studies.) I didn’t petition to have this old, privileged, white male fired for his sexist attempt to hold down a woman and keep her from reaching equality with the males, who obviously belong in the ‘hard’ majors.
I didn’t curl up and demand a safe space with bubbles and puppies, so I could recover from the horror of being treated with such disdain. I didn’t protest by refusing to attend class or take my tests until all of the administrative staff had undergone sensitivity training and they instituted quotas for women in administrative positions in the STEM majors. Because obviously I would need women in positions of power in my chosen course in order to have the best chance of obtaining the same success.
I didn’t leave his office thinking, “This University fosters such negative stereotypes of women. This university has such a deep set patriarchal foundation.”
I thought, “This guy is a jerk.” Him. One random person who said one random, stupid thing. Then I moved on with my life. I attributed his behavior to him, not the system, not society. He said something, I didn’t like it, and that was the END of the situation.
This incident illustrates a couple of points. The first, and I think the most important point our current generation should take away and integrate into their minds and lives, is how you should act when someone says something you don’t like. No matter how offensive, no matter how personally insulting, no matter how sexist/racist/phobic it may sound. Tell yourself that person is a jerk, and move on.
The next takeaway has to do with what this all means. Does racism exist? Perhaps. But I think the far more likely scenario is that some people are just jerks. What do I mean by that? Think back over your life. Has anyone ever said anything mean to you? Have you seen people be mean to each other? If you went to high school you probably saw kids be mean to each other all the time. I did. People made fun of each other. Called each other names. Cut each other down. I saw it, and experienced it. My theory is, there are people out there that will be mean to other people. Maybe they think they have a reason. Maybe they say something about the color of someone’s skin, because that’s what they notice. Maybe they say something about a feminine male, because they think it’s funny. Maybe they put down a girl, because she’s a girl. Or maybe they make fun of the smart kid. Or the religious kid. Or the conservative kid. Or the fat kid. Or the zitty kid. Or the short kid. My theory is that it has a whole lot more to do with the person being a jerk than the person to whom they are being a jerk.
Can you see what’s going on here? There are these categories of protected people who think it’s reasonable to ruin an administrators life and grind an entire college campus to a halt because someone called them a mean name, because racism. Isn’t it far more likely that, instead of a culture of racism where everyone around you is subconsciously judging you based on your skin color, that you just happened to run into someone who likes to cut down other people? And because your skin color is obvious, that’s what they mentioned? And if you had, instead, been fat and white they might have said something about your weight instead?
Like I said, I’m not black. So I don’t know what it’s like to walk around, being black. But black people don’t know what it’s like being white, either. It certainly doesn’t mean that we never get insulted. As a kid I wore pants that were too short, had braces and glasses that were far too big for my face. I was also pretty smart. If there is a stereotype of people who get made fun of, I think it’s nerds. So, yeah, people said mean things to me, and I still grew up to be successful, self-sufficient and happy. Do we need to have a national conversation about how nerds are judged by their looks and personality and have to endure constant taunting and stereotypical portrayals in movies and shows and books? Or can we just accept that nerds exist, and sometimes they get made fun of, and it’s something humans just deal with?
And maybe it’s worse than that. Maybe racism means that people look as you askance when you go into a department store. Maybe it means the police are more likely to harass you. Maybe it means you don’t get called in to a job interview. All because of the color of your skin.
Or maybe those things happen to everyone. I get odd looks when I browse in Nordstroms. Why? Because I don’t look like the kind of person that would spend $10,000 on a purse. Racism? No, I’m white, but I still don’t look like ‘that kind’ of person. And I’m sure there are black people that fit into a store like Nordstoms much more easily than I do. And I’m sure that the employees there know what to look for and how to treat people they think will spend money. Maybe if you get funny looks in a department store, it has nothing to do with the color of your skin.
And maybe other people get harassed by the police. I certainly haven’t had many positive experiences with cops. I had a cop approach me while I sat in my car at a playground, because I looked ‘suspicious’. Then he called back-up when I wasn’t cooperative. A white woman in her late 20’s. Maybe when the cops approach a black person it’s because they’re black. Or maybe they approach lots of people in lots of situations, and it has nothing to do with the color of your skin. Or maybe it does. Either way, you can choose to get over it.
Maybe you didn’t get a job because you’re black. Or gay. Or a woman. It’s hard to know, isn’t it? I interviewed for several jobs after college, and I didn’t get any of them. My husband also interviewed for several jobs, and also got many rejections. It happens. Sometimes you don’t get a job because there is someone else who is more qualified. The remedy? Become more qualified. Try again. Make yourself valuable. Companies (as liberals love to remind us, are run by selfish, greedy, rich Republicans) exist to make money. If hiring a specific person will make them money, they will do it. If you are the person that will bring the most money to the company, they will hire you. My husband and I have both been interviewed and found unworthy by many different companies, because they thought someone else would be more valuable. I swear to you, that’s the motivation.
The point is, you don’t know why things are happening to you. You don’t know why people are mean to you, or why you don’t get a job, or why you didn’t get a loan, or why employees look at you a certain way when you’re in a store. But it seems to me that many black people believe that every negative look, or comment, or anything, is because of the color of their skin. But you can’t know that. You can’t know that. And you can’t assume that these micro aggressions you experience only happen to people in your situation, because you are the only one having your experiences! I have thousands of daily experiences, positive, and negative, and no one can know what they’re like because they’re happening to me. So you can’t sit back and say, “All these bad things happened to me because I’m black, and they didn’t happen to you because you’re white,” because A) You don’t know they happened because you’re black and B) you don’t know that they haven’t happened to me.
I keep hearing that we need to talk about it. Why? In my experience, the things we talk about get worse. When my kids are fighting, I can sit down with them and make them talk it out, analyze everything they said and their motivations for saying it. And they just get angrier, at me and each other. Or I can just ignore it, and they stop fighting and a few minutes later forget about it. Instead of having a national conversation, can’t we just let these things naturally dissipate. Instead of talking about it, just ignore it. If you feel like someone is being prejudice against you because of the color of your skin, or sexual orientation, or gender, just ignore them. The more we talk about it, the more frustrated I get. As a kid I thought racism was the most ridiculous thing. I thought different skin color was like different hair color. Noticeable, but irrelevant. Every black person I knew was just like the other people I was around, so why would I think they were any different? But now, after years of hearing about racism, and being accused of racism, and being told that I can’t help being racist, and seeing protests because black people were insulted, now I view things a little differently. I don’t think that black people are inherently worse or less intelligent. The black friends I have are all awesome. (They’re also all conservative, so there’s that.) We have a black president, the richest woman in America is black, and one of my husband’s best friends is, in addition to being literally the most awesome person on earth, black.
But for some reason, things aren’t as straightforward as they were when I was a kid. Because we can’t stop talking about it. Talking about it just highlights the idea that there are differences. If people weren’t going on and on and on about every bad thing that ever happens to black people, then we could all just look at each other as equals. Isn’t that the goal? If we would just stop talking about it, I think it wouldn’t take much more than a generation for people to stop being ‘racist’. But, in my opinion, there really isn’t much racism to begin with. When a nerd gets abused, it’s because someone is a jerk. If a black person gets abused, it’s because of racism. Isn’t there some discontinuity there? Can’t we just say that anytime someone is being a jerk, it’s because they’re a jerk? Instead of labeling it racism/sexism/phobia when the recipient belongs to a certain group?
I think we could all be a lot happier if we just accepted that sometimes bad things happen. You will run into jerks in your life. If you happen to be a woman, you can tell yourself they’re acting that way because you’re a woman, or you can tell yourself they’re being a jerk. If you’re black, you can tell yourself that they’re being mean because you’re black, or you can tell yourself they’re being a jerk. Whatever you are, whatever they say, just get used to it. I don’t think we have any chance of eradicating mean people from the human race. So stop dwelling on it. Stop thinking you’re a special case because someone was mean to you. It happens to everyone.
I spent the first 8 years of my life living on 50 acres of woods, hills and streams in Southern Indiana. We lived right next to a limestone quarry, and could sometimes feel the explosions. There was a pond on our property, where we would try to catch frogs and tadpoles. It was a pretty gross, mucky pond, but we would occasionally swim in it anyway. I know I was usually barefoot. I think I wore shoes when there was snow on the ground, and skipped it the rest of the time. There were trees we would climb, every day. Most of our friends also had several acres, and everywhere we went all our time was spent outside; playing, climbing, hiding, catching small animals, eating various plants, getting scratched and bruised and bumped. And our parents were always inside. When I was nine we moved to a neighborhood in northern Indiana. We still played outside; there were lots of kids in the neighborhood. We weren’t supposed to leave the sub-division, but we could go pretty much anywhere within. We would walk or bike. We played with the neighbors. Again, I remember spending a lot of time outside. I don’t remember adults being around.
I’m 30 years old. My childhood was not that long ago! I think that most of the kids in my generation got to play outside about the same way. I’m the oldest of 6, and all my siblings had about the same freedom. I recently saw this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XDVDyDJ3s0
The title of the article is, “So Incredibly Sad”. Yes, it is. What makes it even more sad, is that the government and nosy busybodies have pushed this onto our children.
I blame the government. Not for everyone, but definitely for my children. I have five, beautiful, happy, healthy, smart children. My sons love Minecraft and would probably say that Minecraft is their favorite thing to do. My oldest daughter loves princess movies. The youngest two aren’t old enough to talk, but the 2 year old picks up my phone every time I set it down, and plays with the iPad every time she finds it on. If she can’t get past the locked screen, she takes hundreds of photos. (Which is wreaking havoc on my iCloud storage, by the way.) If, for some reason, I tell my children they can’t have screen time for a day, they scream like they’ve had a leg cut off.
And I blame the government. Why, you say? Because over the past three years I’ve been investigated by CPS and harassed by police no less than 6 times. Six! I want to send my kids outside to play. We live in a nice neighborhood now, and there is a lovely greenbelt in walking distance. There’s a tree house and a stream (when it rains, which is not often in Texas). There are fields and trees. I want my boys, and eventually my girls, to be able to go play outside. I want them to explore, catch animals, bring home flowers, eat lemongrass, follow the stream and collect dead bugs. But they can’t. They literally can’t. If my children go outside alone and someone calls CPS, I could lose them. I could lose my children for letting them play outside. Is anyone listening? That is wrong Where are the rational people? I played outside as a kid. My parents played outside. Their parents played outside. For the last 10,000 or 10,000,000 years, human children have played outside. And now, suddenly, they can’t. So, yeah, what am I supposed to do with them? I had a cop say that if I couldn’t handle my chores and my children I should hire a babysitter. I can ‘handle’ my children and my chores. I just want to handle my children the way children have always been handled, and that’s suddenly illegal. People think I’m doing something wrong if I want to send my kids outside. That it’s negligent. No, I intentionally choose to send my children outside because I want them to be outside. I want them to be learning and playing naturally, not on the TV/iPad/phone all the time. But TV/iPad/phone it is, because I’m more afraid of the cops stealing my children than I am of their screen time addiction.
Why can’t our kids play outside? That’s how most of human history and most of the world currently live. Why can’t I send my children outside without the fear that my government will take them away from me? The government! The government is in the business of kidnapping kids and claiming that they’re in the right! People are terrified of their children being stolen, not by strangers or pedophiles, but by policemen who will pick up children they see without parents around, then accuse the parents of neglect. Children in their own back yards, children walking home from the playground, even children on the far side of the playground from their parents. When did this happen? How did this happen? How did the government get this kind of power?
When I was younger I broke my wrist. I ran over a ball while riding my bike, the bike tumbled over, and I had to wear a cast for several weeks. My parents weren’t around, I was a few blocks from home. But another adult heard me scream, called my parents, and they came and got me quickly. I still have several scars on my arm from breaking through a plate-glass door. And I might still have a scar on my stomach from catching on a branch while falling out of a tree, but I can’t see it under all the stretch marks. The broken wrist got me a trip to the doctor, the scar inducing cuts got me some gauze and fancy band-aids. You know what those injuries will get you today? A CPS investigation. Accusations of negligent parenting. Where were the parents when this happened! Why didn’t they stop it!
A woman my husband works with just had a CPS investigation against them closed. They were taking their son to some kind of therapy. You know, taking good care of their child, providing him with the extra speech training or whatever that the schools probably said he needed. The therapist reported them to CPS because he had bruises on his legs. A seven year old boy, with bruises on his legs. And the government launched an abuse investigation.
What is wrong with everyone?! In my opinion you’re doing something wrong as a parent if your 7-year-old son doesn’t have bruises on his legs. For heaven’s sake! I am so sick of these adults walking around thinking that they have some kind of duty to report bruises. I know they hide behind laws; they’re required to report bruises because they could be indicative of abuse. Therapists, teachers, coaches, everyone who interacts with your children when you aren’t around. The government mandates that they report back to the government on your children. Without checking with you first. Without asking the child. Without exercising a modicum of common sense and thinking, “Hm, are bruises on a 7 year old boy’s legs normal?” before subjecting the entire family to intrusive, stressful, accusatory, inconvenient proceedings. When we were going through our most recent CPS investigation (which was closed) I contacted our mayor, governor and district representative. They all responded that CPS wasn’t under their jurisdiction. That’s fine, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do anything. Someone makes the laws governing how reports have to be handled and what is required to be reported. Having a kid with bruises doesn’t mean the government has the right to interview your kids outside of your presence and inspect your house and write down the food they see in your refrigerator. Having a child that hurts themselves badly enough to go to the hospital doesn’t mean you are automatically suspicious. It usually means you’re a good parent, because you care enough to take your kid to the hospital. But, no, the hospital has CPS on speed dial.
I’m going to go ahead and say it. Kids get hurt sometimes, and I don’t care. Yeah, my kids come home with bruises, and I DON’T CARE. My kids need band-aids, and I put them on and don’t think about it again. I don’t think, “OH NO! A cut! I should have been watching my child more carefully! I should have taught him to play more safely!” Other, more ‘concerned’ parents say things like, “Your child could fall!” “Your daughter could get hurt.” And I try to respond politely while in my mind I’m thinking, “So WHAT?!” I got hurt as a kid. You got hurt as a kid. Everyone from the dawn of civilization grew up getting bruised and cut and occasionally breaking a bone, and it’s not a big deal! My daughter cracked her skull. Yeah, that sounds scary, but she was fine. It was a broken bone like any other broken bone, it didn’t even need a cast. They just said, “Be really careful not to bump her head for the next few weeks,” took her temperature every few hours, and charged me $23,000. Sometimes kids fall, sometimes kids cut themselves, sometimes kids get bitten by bugs, sometimes kids step on a cactus, sometimes they fall bump their head, and then they heal. Having a kid with bruises doesn’t make you a bad parent. It probably means you’re a parent with kids who play outside instead of spending 30 hours a week on screens.
Guess what. You can love your child with all your heart, and not care that they get scratched and bruised. I wholeheartedly believe that. It’s not callous, it’s freaking common sense. Bruises just aren’t that big a deal. A little blood just isn’t that big a deal. It’s called life. A cracked skull is… kind of a big deal, but like most broken bones it will heal and we’ll all move on. It’s also life. If my kid falls off the playground equipment they learn from it. They learn to play. They learn risk analysis. They learn what it feels like to get hurt. They learn their limits. I think that is a good thing, even though it may involve them getting hurt.
I don’t know how to say this with the intensity that I want to convey. Sometimes kids get hurt and it doesn’t matter. Being a good parent doesn’t mean you never let your child get hurt. Having a hurt child does not mean the government should be able to launch an investigation against you. Parents, not the government, should be able to choose when their children are responsible enough to walk home alone, or escort their younger sibling to the playground, or stay home alone and for how long. The parents.
If a child is home alone and someone calls the cops, the cop’s question for the parents should be, “Are you okay with this?” And if the parents say, “Yes,” then that should be the end of it. CPS should say, “Okay, you’re in the best position to judge the capabilities and maturity and responsibility of your child.” First off, because it’s the truth. And secondly, because anything else gives the government an unholy amount of control over our lives. If the parents aren’t in the best position to judge the capabilities and level of responsibility of their children, then the only other choice is the government. Do people really think the government knows better than I do when my son is old enough to be home alone? Is that right? Think about it! Is it RIGHT that the government can take away your child because you leave them alone for an hour? Is it RIGHT that the government can take away a child over bruises? When did anyone start thinking that the answer to that question is “Yes”?
Is child abuse horrible? Of course it is. Never said it wasn’t. Is negligence horrible? It depends on how you define negligence. It would be horrible if the definition was going days without feeding your children. But if the definition is leaving your children unattended for any amount of time in any circumstances, then no, that isn’t horrible. I don’t think that children should be attended to, stimulated by, guided and taught by adults every waking moment of their lives. I know some people disagree. Some of those people pay nice day care centers and baby sitters and nannies a lot of money to make sure their children are stimulated, guided and protected at all times. Then they think I’m negligent because I don’t want those same things for my children. I should be watching all five of my children every moment of every day, and I’m doing something wrong if I don’t have eyes on them. I should have less kids if I can’t ‘take care of them all’ or if I don’t want to pay the money to have someone else ‘take care of them’ for me. Because I want to let my kids explore. Maybe it’s in the grocery store, where they want to explore the aisle next to the one I’m in. Maybe it’s at the park, where they want to explore behind the clump of bushes where I can’t see them. Maybe it’s our neighborhood, while I’m doing the dishes inside my house. Don’t I get to choose what’s best for my kids? Can we just assume that I care about my kids, I don’t want them to die or get kidnapped, and I’m actually making all my decisions with those things in mind? Maybe I’m not choosing to let my kids play outside because I’m lazy, but I’m choosing to let them play outside because I’ve done the risk analysis and I think that the benefits they will accrue from the freedom I give them outweigh the astronomically small chance that they get kidnapped.
As their mom, I want to be the one to make that choice.
3 weeks ago today my 7 month old daughter woke up from her afternoon nap with a large portion of her head swollen. It was… mushy, not like anything I had felt before, on any of my previous four children. So I immediately called my husband and asked his advice. He said I should try calling our doctor. I hung up and called my mom, a nurse of 30+ years, and described it to her. She also recommended having it looked at. I called my pediatrician, but he was out for the day, so I took her to the emergency room.
A couple of hours and a cat scan later, I was told she had a skull fracture. My husband picked up our four oldest children, and I was transferred with my daughter to the nearest children’s hospital.
(She was, blessedly, fine. No injury to the brain, no side effects. A small crack in the temporal bone that will heal up naturally. We still don’t know how it happened, but the doctors said that with a skull injury the swelling may not occur for several days. We can remember one incident of her falling from a beanbag chair onto tile four days earlier, and can think of nothing else that could have caused such an injury.)
Naturally, because it was a severe injury on a small child, CPS was called. My daughter had to stay overnight in the hospital for observation, but I found out later that the hospital was also waiting for the go ahead from CPS to release me; the hospital would not release us until CPS declared that our home was safe enough for her to return to. Never mind that we’re paying for all that time in the hospital. Never mind that they found the injury to be consistent with an accident and found no other injuries or bruises anywhere on her. While I was in the hospital I received many visits from people trying to determine if my home was safe, the most notable was from a detective and a CPS Special Investigator (separate from the standard CPS investigator who spoke to me). The Detective began his interview by claiming that he was there to determine how the injury had occurred in order to help the doctors best know how to treat my daughter. This is an obvious lie. The medical staff are in the best position to know how to treat my daughter, and they aren’t seeking or taking advice from a detective. He was there to investigate a possible danger to my children, and I can’t express the irony in having him come in and immediately lie to me, while expecting me to be open and honest in return. He also told me he didn’t want me calling my husband (which I did anyway). He requested the phone to speak to my husband and made comments like, “I don’t know if your wife thinks she needs your permission to speak to me,” (because in this world it is inconceivable that a husband and wife would simply be unified and work together against anything that may be threatening their family). The detective also requested that I sign medical release forms for the rest of my children, which I refused to do without talking to my husband, to which he responded, “I can easily get a subpoena for the records.” I don’t know if this is true or not, since medical records are supposed to be confidential and getting a subpoena isn’t supposed to be ‘easy’.
*This conversation was recorded, so the officer’s lie is on record. Not that they would release a copy to me, but I know it exists.
We were told that our big ‘mistake’ was bringing her to the hospital with a head injury and saying we had no idea what caused it. Well, we didn’t have any idea what caused it. She woke up from her nap with swelling on her head and I immediately responded. I had gone through the entire day in my mind, and the previous day, and could think of nothing that had occurred that could have cracked her skull. The doctors didn’t tell us until the following day that swelling from a head injury may not appear for several days. That changes things, right? That makes it a little more reasonable that I might come in and say I don’t know what caused the injury if it could have happened up to a week earlier? It seems like such a statement (we don’t know how it happened) might make sense, instead of being grounds for suspicion.
The following week I was told I had to bring my children into a third party group, “The Center for Child Protection”, where my three verbal children would be interviewed by child psychiatrists, while a detective and CPS agent watched through a one way window. This is in addition to the interviews the CPS agent conducted in our home while I was still at the hospital. My husband was not allowed to attend those interviews either. Upon arrival at the center I was almost immediately separated from my children and kept in a separate room, and not returned to their presence until all the interviews were completed. When I arrived I asked to observe the interviews, and was told no. I said if I couldn’t watch I wanted copies of the interviews afterward, and was told that the recordings would go to the detective, and I could not receive copies unless legal action was taken against us. I insisted on receiving copies, saying that they are my children, it is my responsibility to observe and protect them. When I said I would prefer to not have my children interviewed outside of my purview, the CPS agent responded that if I refused they would get a court order to force the interviews. I tried withholding my signatures on the medical release forms, saying that I would sign the forms once I received copies of the interviews, but she told me that would be viewed as uncooperative and they would go to court to have the medical records released. She kept emphasizing how ‘bad’ it would look for me to be ‘uncooperative’. She also kept saying it was out of her hands. If she told her supervisor that I wasn’t cooperating, her supervisor would be the one to push for legal action and she wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. That’s a bit of telling information there, isn’t it? The woman who interacted with my family, who actually saw my house and spoke with my children, has less control over the situation than the faceless bureaucrat who will push for legal action if they don’t get their way. And I’m supposed to believe that they have my children’s best interests as the motivating factor?
We’re still in the midst of this. My oldest son has to return to the center for his interview this Monday, because they elected to not perform his scheduled interview when I brought all the children in last time. My husband says we need to simply cooperate now, then fight when we’re in a more secure position (once the case is closed). I am sick over the fact that they continue to extract whatever they want from us (signatures, interviews with our children, inspections of our home) by saying they will take us to court any time I indicate any kind of hesitancy. We can lie down and take it, and then they will just do it again to the next person.
I hopeschool, so I also have the added suspicion of how I can possibly deal with being with five children at all times. My case worker seems appalled that I simply take them with me everywhere I go, and keeps asking what I do when I ‘need a break’. Well, my mom did it. Her parents did it. Or maybe not, since 50 years ago people weren’t arrested for leaving children home alone. As my husband put it, this is the result of the feminist perspective that we can’t possibly consider motherhood and childcare a job. My husband works long hours. He doesn’t just decide he ‘needs a break’ and leave work for a couple of hours in the middle of the day. Raising my children is what I do. Which means taking them with me everywhere I go and being with them all day. It would probably be easier to ‘take a break’ if I could send my children outside to play, but I think we know what happens to children found outside alone.
Think on this. What do you think I would do if tomorrow my daughter accidentally fell from her high chair and hit her head? Would I be able to take her to the hospital if I felt the injury merited medical care? Having been threatened with legal action several times due to the severity of this injury, what do you think I would expect to happen should one of my children break a bone or need an emergency room visit in the near future? As their mother I have to protect them from all threats, which means I would need to weigh the possibility of a severe injury against the almost certain possibility of having them taken away from us. So, is all this scrutiny from CPS and the detectives making my children safer?
This is, of course, purely hypthetical. For the record and in writing, of course I would instantly take my child to the best medical care available under any circumstances and irrespective of any other threat. This paragraph is simply something to consider, no government employee should read this and interpret it to mean I would actually make the choice to forgo professional medical care in the face of having my children taken away from their home.
In the end, we’re living in a police state. I thought America, and especially Texas, were free. Instead I find out that taking my child to the hospital with an accidental injury will result in the government deciding it is now up to them to determine if we, the parents, should be allowed to keep our children. The fact is, I care about my children more than CPS does. Weird, right? I love my children, would do anything for them, sacrifice for them on a daily basis, and I think that CPS really doesn’t. When my daughter woke up with an unfamiliar injury I acted immediately. Following the incident my husband and I bought a rug to cover a large portion of the tile in our living room. Huge rugs are expensive. Before we had wanted one for aesthetic reasons, and it wasn’t a priority. After our daughter, presuably, hit her head on the tile, we invested in a rug to minimize the risk of it happening again. We’ve had several talks with our four year old daughter who, understandably, loves her adorable little sister and wants to touch and hold and carry and play with her all the time. We have become much more strict in not allowing her to touch her sister. We’ve discussed other ideas for increasing safety in our home. Because our daughter hurt her head and we really don’t want it to happen again.
And you know what? None of that is the government’s business. It’s not. It just isn’t.
But they think it is. When I mentioned the rug to the CPS agent she got excited, requested a picture (as much as someone who repeatedly threatens legal action ‘requests’ anything), and told me to tell her about any other steps we’re taking because it looks good for our case. So they can determine if the steps we’re taking are good enough. So they can determine if our house is safe enough. So they can determine if our children should be allowed to stay with us. Never mind the fact that abuse rates in the foster care system are about 30%. Or the emotional trauma of being forcibly separated from your parents at all. Of course, I think my case worker would be appalled and say of course they have no intention of taking the children away. They just have to be involved to make sure that we’re improving as parents. (And we have to cooperate, because if we don’t then obviously we have something to hide and then they’ll resort to legal action.) To which I return to, “It’s none of your $@#%& business.” I try every day to be a better parent than I was yesterday, and it’s for me and my children, not to impress some government agency. They are my children. Mine. Mine. (And my husband’s, of course.) And if they are mine, then I should be able to take them to the hospital when they are injured, have the doctors say everything is fine, and move on with my life however I see fit.
I’m writing this because I can’t do nothing. I can’t sit back while they extract cooperation by threatening to ruin our lives if we don’t sign every document and attend every interview they want. I’m writing this because I want a written record stating that I have only complied to these infringements on our privacy due to coercion and threats. The laws need to change. I don’t want others to go through this, and I don’t want to live in fear of what will happen the next time my children are found outside alone or fall and hurt themselves. Parental rights are paramount. Every infringement on parental rights transfers those rights to the government instead.
I recently had an experience with discrimination. I wanted to share it to demonstrate how descrimination should be handled. To show that conservatives are consistent in our beliefs in freedom. To give an example where the shoe is on the other foot, and I acted exactly as I think ‘victimized’ homosexuals should act when someone declines to offer them service,
In some ways it seems a fairly silly thing to even write about. But that’s how I felt about a lot of topics ten years ago, before the world turned upside down and the only value left in America was ‘tolerance’. I went to a business, requested their services, and they turned me away because of my religious beliefs. My feelings were hurt. The end.
Wait a minute! They descriminated against you and you didn’t sue them? Your feelings were hurt! Don’t you know that means you’re entitled to put them out of business and collect a huge payday?
Yes, I know that’s what liberals believe, but as a conservative, I think that businesses have the right to choose who they do or don’t serve. That’s what freedom means. Even if I disagree with their reasoning. Even if I was very hurt by the way they attacked the choices I make and the way I live my life. Even though I think they’re being intolerant. Even though I think they’ve made a poor choice, I respect their freedom to make that choice.
Why can’t we all live this way? We’re constantly being told to be respectful and tolerant of others beliefs, and that’s what I’m actually doing. Why can’t the homosexual lobby?
My story won’t be national news. I’m sure my feelings were just as hurt as the couple that was asked to find another photographer, or the couple that was asked to find another bakery, or the couple that was asked to find another wedding venue. And unlike them, I can’t just walk down the street and find another business that would love to take my money. I’m trying to find a classical homeschooling coop for my children; most classical homeschooling coops are run by evangelical Christians, and most evangelical Christians don’t like Mormons. They’re few and far between, and after being turned away from three different campuses it looks like I may just have to forgo joining a classical coop at all. That will mean big changes for my schooling plans for my children. It will make the next 18 years of my life more difficult. The couple who had to (horror of horrors) find another wedding cake got a $150,000 payday, got to put the people who hurt their feelings out of business, and they still had a cake at their wedding!
So there it is, the solution to having hurt feelings along with a real life example. If someone doesn’t want to serve you; get over it. That’s what I’m doing. Things didn’t go the way I wanted, and I’m acting like an adult and moving on.
Don’t tell me it’s different. My lifestyle was attacked. A trait I was born with and value highly as an intrinsic part of myself (and explicitly protected by the constitution) was described as wrong. They told me that if I was accepted I would have to change my behavior. They said I would have to hide the knowledge of our family’s beliefs from the other students on campus to protect them from getting confused. Then they rejected me anyway. Christians think active homosexuals are sinning; evangelical Christians think that Mormons are sinning. Instead of jumping on the victimization bandwagon and crying ‘hate!’ I’m moving on with the assurance that I think they’re wrong and that they’re simply lacking understanding. Try it sometime.
I know it doesn’t pay as well as a lawsuit, but it’s the right thing to do.