Sometimes I feel like it is time for normal people in the US to just drop out of the general society. This week has brought 3 stories that make me wonder if now is perhaps the time to do just that, and whether our country is really starting to be taken over by the loonies. 2 are criminal law stories, the other is an educational/political story.
In the last couple of generations, the only people who have dropped out of society in large numbers have been hippies and Christian fundamentalists (alright, I'm sure that there are other groups that have as well, these come to mind as the 2 largest and most well-known groups). Christian fundamentalists have jumped back into society in very strong numbers, and now I'm wondering if it's not time for those of us who are not Christian fundamentalist to drop out.
In Utah, an 8 year old boy was arrested after telling his mother that his 14 year old female babysitter (for once, a female pedophile - you don't see that happen much!) dared him to touch her breast. When the mother told the police, the DA FILED CHARGES AGAINST HIM!!!! That's right, they filed charges against him for lewd conduct!!! What kind of a nutty society does that? The police said that he was a "willing participant!"
What does this mean? Well,if he's a willing participant, then how can it be lewd conduct, unless he's somehow a victim of it? If he's not a victim, what is exactly is lewd about it? What kind of fundamentalist idiots (I'm just guessing because it involves sex and Utah) would consider charging an 8 year old on these facts? Does this mean that in every child molestation where the victim doesn't resist, the victim is actually a co-participant, and therefore a defendant?
What kind of a society will this make? Will this make us better, or worse? For me, it says that perhaps it's time to retreat behind my liberal walls away from conservative society that condones such idiocy. You don't go to the "authorities" to resolve disputes anymore, since the authorities will mess them up worse than they were before you went to them. The authorities are the problem. What parent will every bring their kids to the police complaining about something happening to them if they think their kid may be arrested.
Of course, I wrote last week about the case of the teenager charged with murder and serving in CYA until he's 25 (incidentally, his mother finally spoke publicly about why the judge and DA screwed up so badly on this one, read it here), and here's another one.
An 11 year old girl was arrested, jailed for 5 days, and charged with felony assault (facing 5 years in the California Youth Authority) for throwing a rock at a boy. Apparently, while in her yard with her younger siblings, a few boys came by and threw water balloons and rocks at her, striking her in the face a couple of times. She threw a rock back, hit him in the face, cutting him (not terribly, mind you, he'll be just fine, and probably will think twice before picking on some girl again). The police came, spoke with him and his friends, and arrested the girl and hauled her away. This happened in Fresno, in rural central California. The girl is from a poor hispanic family, and the family charges that she is being treated this way in part because poor hispanics are far easier to mistreat than rich white people (no debate from me there, I saw far worse growing up, and no one arrested, but maybe that's due more to changing times, but I still think Beverly Hills youth get a greater pass).
Again, this makes me want to scream. Of course, the mayor of Fresno applauds this, it's just so easy to want to get tough with them violent out of control teens and poor folk swamping our country, but please! What is going on here. What is happening to our society when no one says enough, and the mayor applauds the police for doing this. How about saying to the parents of both kids - "hey, control your kids." But, it is so seductive to moralize, to talk about evil, to gleefully punish and lock up, to sermonize that evil must be met by harsh measures, with no sympathy for those who would fall off the path of the righteous.
This last part is not law related, so if you get tired of me talking about non-law related things, skip it, but.....
The final straw that makes me think it's just time to retreat into my own little world of normal people who believe in simple things like, say, science, is our own president's little comment that he thinks that evolution and intelligent design deserve equal play in the schools, that we should teach both, show both sides of the issue. This is so crazy on so many levels, that it would require a book to say them all, but I'll try just a few.
First of all, intelligent design isn't a theory, it's about poking holes in another theory - evolution. Now, poking holes in theories is something that I'm rather fond of, it's sort of my profession, but I don't substitute my profession for actually proving something. I'm just trying to create a reasonable doubt about that theory, not trying to substitute it for what may be the truth, or may not be quite believable as the truth. All intelligent design people try to do is create doubt about evolution - fine enough - but just so that they can substitute their completely non-scientific theory - that it's all bible based - in it's place. That's not teaching science.
Bush also says that people should hear both sides, and I certainly don't disagree with that - but NOT IN A SCIENCE CLASS!!! Debate the issue in civics classes, raise the issue that there are missing pieces of the evolution theory in the science class, but what are you saying? Well, we can't prove beyond all doubt that this is the way that things happened, so we're going to teach you about Genesis right now in your biology class for the next 6 weeks. ARRRRHHHHHHHHH!!!!! What kind of a nutty country do I live in?
Bush says local schools should be able to teach whatever they want. Well, didn't he push No Child Left Behind so that there would be national standards? Let's face it, no evolution, no biology, no organic chemistry, pretty much none of the advances that we've had for the last, oh, century or so. Is that progress? Is that going to help us compete with the Chinese and the Indians in getting good jobs?
So, at times like this, I really feel it is time to get together with normal people the country over, and form our own school districts, our own police forces, our own institutions, so that we can push all this wackiness out of our lives. It really does drive me crazy.