Provoking Thought: Child Support Division

It’s nice when someone else goes on a rant, so I don’t have to!

A story by Mike Straw in last week’s (30 December 2012) issue went for the laugh in the tagline. A reader — Wayne, in the U.S. military and deployed to Afghanistan — thought Mike should have gone more for “thought-provoking.” Let’s start with the story:

Deadbeat Dope

Corey Curtis, 44, of Racine, Wisc., pleaded no contest to one count each of felony bail jumping, and failure to pay child support — over $90,000 for his nine kids from six women. Judge Tim Boyle had a dilemma. “This has come up before,” he said at the sentencing. “It’s too bad the court doesn’t have the authority to sterilize.” Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Sommers pointed out that a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling found that a judge may, as a condition of a person’s probation, order the defendant not to have another child unless he can show he can support that child. “I will make that a condition of the probation,” Boyle said immediately, sentencing Curtis to serve three years’ probation. “He is not to procreate until he can show he can provide for them,” Boyle said, and added that he must also provide for all nine of his current children. His defense attorney objected, saying that condition of probation was not recommended in Curtis’ “pre-sentencing investigation” report. “I’m not following the PSI,” the Judge said as a smile spread across his face. (MS/Racine Journal-Times) …Obliviots not being allowed to breed? A dream come true!

Headline: Deadbeat dad sentenced to probation, ordered not to procreate

“I hoped to see a better tagline on this story,” Wayne said. He continues:

The Federal Supreme Court (Roe v Wade) says the government cannot interfere with a woman’s reproductive rights. If an unemployed single mother repeatedly gets pregnant by strangers, does drugs, smokes, and drinks heavily in each pregnancy and burdens the state with a dozen drug-addicted, brain damaged children she can’t support, the government cannot stop her from having more wards of the state the taxpayer has to support.

Yet the [Wisconsin] State Supreme Court ruled no man can have a child unless he proves to the government first he can support them. There’s a blanket assumption men can support kids, but again, children are a privilege the government grants a man and can be taken away at any time. Can we simply make all men with incomes under $40k go to the government to apply for a review and permit?

And why just men? This clearly violates the Equal Protection Clause of 14th amendment, yet it passed a State Supreme court. An easy test is this: What if the Court ruled “All Blacks/Latinos can’t have kids until they prove to the government they can support them.” (fun caveat: “unless they have sex with a Caucasian.”)

What happens if he uses birth control and it fails? Or the new “girlfriend” lies about her birth control? Can she go to jail for his violation? Should he get six-sigma defect certifications from Trojan with each box, and video his application, get a notary signed document that the girl attests she’s on birth control, and use all that to show he did his best? Does he have to save all old condoms forever, in case an old girlfriend comes out of the woodwork? Is the judge saying, “You cannot have vaginal sex, and can only fool around with girls who pass a polygraph stating they can be trusted not to trick you?”

What happened to Gay Rights, Blue laws (unenforced sodomy laws for BJ’s and the like) and “keep the government out of my bedroom”? What if this state has anti-sodomy laws? Is he then banned from all sex?

Having children you can’t support is wrong. So is a country with unequal justice systems that steals fundamental rights and only punishes one class of citizen.

Please don’t get me wrong; I support equality. What I came to realize, however, is people don’t want equality — they want the benefits of what they have, plus the benefits of the other group, without any drawbacks. There are many examples of sex, race, religion, sexual preference (I don’t support gay marriage, I do support gay marriage equality), or any time one group eyes another.

What About That, Mr. Publisher?

I’ll bet most people laughed at the tagline (fulfilling True’s Primary Mission: Entertainment). And obviously at least one person was provoked enough to really think about the issue raised (fulfilling True’s Secondary Mission). Success!

I might have been as much “up in arms” (minus Wayne’s battle rifle) had this been a government decree on the general male population, but it wasn’t — and I don’t think it’s really heading down the slippery slope, even. Mr. Curtis (from the story) wasn’t just walking down the street and hauled into court: he was facing felony charges. The judge could have sent him to prison (not just jail), but gave him probation instead.

With probation, there can be terms and conditions. And it’s in that context that the restriction was applied. Felons can end up losing any manner of rights — even Constitutional rights, such as the right to vote. And, apparently in some states, even the right to procreate. And I have no doubt this has been applied to both sexes.

But still, thought-provoking indeed. And I’m glad to know of yet another military reader out there in the sandbox being entertained — and provoked — by This is True.

- - -

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44 Comments on “Provoking Thought: Child Support Division

  1. Why do I get the feeling that “Wayne” can relate to the subject of your article better than the rest of us?

    That seems to assume some facts not in evidence. -rc

  2. I may be wrong, but Roe v Wade specifically addressed abortion, the right of a woman to NOT have to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. It did not address prohibiting a woman from getting pregnant to begin with. And, I do believe there have been cases where a judge has directed a female to not get pregnant. Interesting article.

  3. I’m having trouble grasping Wayne’s parenthetical expression: “(I don’t support gay marriage, I do support gay marriage equality)”.

    Presuming that Wayne is not gay, what difference does it make whether he supports gay marriage or not, especially if he does support gay marriage equality?

    Is he trying to say that he doesn’t support it, but if it exists, then he supports its equality (with straight marriage)?

    It does sound contradictory, and I’m not sure exactly what he’s saying there. -rc

  4. What might be interesting is if this “caught on” as a common condition of probation. Anyone convicted of a felony could be required to not reproduce while on probation without regard to gender, race, color, creed or religion. Equality!

  5. Judges have added not procreating as a condition of probation, instead of jail time, for women too. Everyone has a right to procreate, however we may also choose not to, as a condition of avoiding unfavorable circumstances.

    These people will not be punished for having children, they will simply receive the full punishment for previous criminal behavior, should they continue having children they do not care for!

    If they decide not to procreate for a specified period of time, they are offered the option to avoid further punishment for previous criminal behavior. It’s an incentive, not a mandate.

    They’ll not be killed, or forced to terminate, however they will face the full consequences of prior poor choices, instead of being allowed to avoid some of it. Seems like a pretty good deal, and an attempt by a judge to connect choices, behavior, and consequences. We need more of it.

    See here for a recent story about a woman with a similar choice.

    The second comment also links to an article. -rc

  6. Six women agreed to have babies from this guy. Surely there is more than one “obliviot” in the story?

    Indeed so! -rc

  7. The problem with articles where people are saying that judges are infringing on rights is that the infringements are always optional. Cases where people are forced to stand outside a store holding an “I’m a shoplifter” sign, or road cleaning crews wearing “I’m a drunk driver” shirts. The perpetrator can always choose to go to jail for the original crime instead of suffering through the indignities of the probation restrictions.

    And Re: Maurizio, UK: I disagree. Six women agreed to have sex with him, but didn’t necessarily make a conscious decision to have babies with this guy. Maybe they didn’t use birth control (definitely a case of oblivyitis), or maybe it failed; I don’t know. And while they did make a decision to carry the pregnancy to term, aborting a pregnancy isn’t an easy decision for some people and can be quite difficult in some locations in the USA.

  8. Louisiana used to have a policy that if a woman had one illegitimate child, she got welfare. If she had another one, she was declared an unfit mother, both chidren were taken away from her, and she got no benefits.

    Was that the 1950s, or…? -rc

  9. I vaguely recall a case in NYC a while back where a woman was required to get Norplant implants as a condition for receiving additional child welfare payments.

    If you can’t feed ’em, don’t breed ’em. Pretty simple.

  10. I don’t see a problem with a judge imposing such restrictions on someone who has been convicted of a crime — but only if the restriction is actually connected with the crime. On the other hand, people who would expand such restrictions to law-abiding citizens (whether you agree with what they do or not) are in need of some instruction. We live in a country where we are free from being controlled by wackos with no authority to impose their wills on us — at least theoretically. There is a big difference between being sentenced by a judge when guilty of a crime and being restricted for no good reason when you have broken no law.

    Just to be clear, this was in fact a felony criminal case related to his not paying child support. -rc

  11. As a Mom owed 12 plus years in unpaid Child Support I was glad to see the courts being tough on a Dead Beat Dad.

  12. While a woman can only get pregnant and carry to term once every nine months, a man may be able to get an alarming number of women pregnant in that same span of time. While there may be some fairness issues to consider, there is a tangible reality in the potential number of dependents involved to be considered despite the stupidity of both sexes when it comes to multiple partners.

  13. Wayne’s reaction is great to read. I was thinking along those same lines when I read the story, but I did enjoy the tagline. I like your response to him, but one thing that does concern me is the idea that: ‘Well, it’s okay, because it only gets applied to felons’. You see, if we start to accept it because ‘it only applies to felons’ or ‘it only applies to terrorists’, then it is just a matter of slapping a label on a person to take away their fundamental rights. Thanks for sharing this with us!

    So, felons — as adjudged in a court — should never lose any rights? I’m not sure I can agree: one right is the right to move about freely. There are people we don’t want moving around freely among us. We’ve done a pretty good job of ensuring the label “felon” is not significantly abused. -rc

  14. If only everyone could be temporarily sterilized at the earliest age possible. Reverse the sterilization only when the person has a stable work history, a healthy bank account, and good credit. You know, the things it takes to qualify for a long-term major financial obligation like buying a home or having a child.

    Some would qualify, have a child or ten, and then lose the ability to support their offspring. But at least all parents would start out responsibly.

    This idea is politically and legally impractical. But from a moral standpoint, I think the right of a child to adequate support trumps a would-be parent’s right to breed.

    So the only able parents have X years on the job, $Y in the bank, and a Z minimum credit rating? How did humanity ever survive, let alone thrive, before corporations, banks, and credit rating agencies? Maybe things need to be simpler, rather than more complex. -rc

  15. David in AZ — So, according to you, the government can interfere in people’s private lives for the sake of some child that, when the adult was sterilized, did not even exist? That’s like saying that, because some people murder with their bare hands, everyone should have their hands cut off at birth, to be reinstalled only when they have proven that they’re not murderers? The rights of a nonexistant entity, like a nonconcieved child, do not trump the rights of real, living people. Biologically, reproduction is the main purpose for life. If an organism is made unable to reproduce, it is, from an evolutionary standpoint, worthless.

  16. “So the only able parents have X years on the job, $Y in the bank, and a Z minimum credit rating? How did humanity ever survive, let alone thrive, before corporations, banks, and credit rating agencies? Maybe things need to be simpler, rather than more complex. -rc”

    Hmm… The same might be said about one of the most basic of human necessities, shelter and food. Even renting a hovel requires a certain credit rating, based upon time on the job and money in the bank. I remember not being able to find an apartment simply for bad credit, even though my job paid very well and I could easily afford it. It’s only in our current society that someone without a job or money in the bank (and subsequently, no credit) can still eat. Humanity was not always so.

    No, I’m not saying that David holds a valid point (nor does he), but he does provide food for thought.

  17. Dennis of Colorado Springs posted a question about the comment of “I don’t support gay marriage, I do support gay marriage equality.”

    Perhaps I simply read the passage in question differently, but it doesn’t seem contradictory to me, merely specific. I do not have to believe in or actively support gay marriage to support its equality.

    For demonstration, let’s visualize an imaginary person. This person does not actively support gay marriage. They do not donate time or resources to further its goals. When asked on the street whether they believes gay people should have the right to marry just like anyone else, this person says yes. And when asked to vote on such measures, they vote that there is no difference between heterosexual or homosexual marriage. Do these actions seem mutually exclusive?

    I must close this by stating that I am no mind reader, and that I don’t pretend to know what Wayne had in mind when writing. All my post is intended to do is offer a possible explanation.

    To answer your question: yes, in that what they are doing constitutes “support” in my mind. “Support” as in marching the streets and donating money to the cause? No, definitely not that kind of “support.” I “support” the Constitution, but that doesn’t mean financial aid — though I certainly understand some being that strict on the definition. -rc

  18. Dennis of Colorado Springs posted a question about the comment of “I don’t support gay marriage, I do support gay marriage equality.”

    My thoughts are: Again I visualize an imaginary person. This person would NOT vote in favor of allowing gay marriages and would not tell people he is in favor of gay marriages. However, this person strongly believes that all people should be equal under the law. So if they lived in a state/country which had laws that made gay marriage legal, then he would feel bound to support that a gay couple in that jurisdiction desires to be treated equally under the law.

    So I don’t think the thoughts are contradictory. In the same way I see the people trying to deport Piers Morgan as valuing the 2nd Amendment over the 1st Amendment. If they believed in both equally then they would not like what Piers said/did but they would realize that is a price they have to pay to uphold Free Speech.

  19. Every right we have is balanced with responsibility. Some things have tests up front — you need a license to drive, a background check to own a gun, etc. Once you pass these simple requirements you’re assumed to be responsible. But everyone who reads TIT knows that there’s a sizable fraction who aren’t fit to exercise those rights.

    When the courts prove that you haven’t been using your rights responsibly, then it makes sense for a judge to limit those rights. Making it part of due process makes sure that it’s not applied without oversight and provides a way to appeal when it’s applied incorrectly.

    There’s lots of times when our systems are broken, but this is one that they got right.

    Still, if it were practical I’d love to see a simple test before people could have children. It would have questions like, “If I’m running into the store for five minutes, it’s okay to leave the baby in the car. True or False?” It would be easy to make the test — just look at past TIT columns.

  20. “It’s only in our current society that someone without a job or money in the bank (and subsequently, no credit) can still eat. Humanity was not always so.” (Mike from Dallas)

    Hmm, unless you’re looking at a very general concept of jobs and money in the bank, I disagree with this statement. Throughout human history, most people have NOT in fact had access to banks (people in many countries today still don’t), and the idea of credit (at least the idea we have in our country of a credit score based on your debt and past payment choices, etc) is fairly new. Most people throughout history have had some sort of work, but not necessarily an official job of the kind we have today, and yet they’ve carried on just fine.

    “Still, if it were practical I’d love to see a simple test before people could have children. It would have questions like, “If I’m running into the store for five minutes, it’s okay to leave the baby in the car. True or False?” It would be easy to make the test — just look at past TIT columns.” Philo from Irvine, CA)

    Hmm. I think it would be harder to make than you think. Some things are clearly okay or not, but many depend on circumstances, and some of the cases of “poor judgement” are more circumstantial than they appear hearing about them from the outside, and parenting (like many jobs) is something you learn on the run rather than knowing beforehand. Not that there aren’t people who make horrible choices as parents and it would be nice to be able to protect their children from their mistakes.

  21. On that parenthetical, I personally read it as Wayne stating that “marriage” as an institution should not be extended to gay marriage, but that he supports civil unions (or equivalent alternatives) with legislation requiring fully equal treatment with marriage under the law. I personally disagree, due to the observation that “separate but equal institutions” tend to work poorly — but I can at least see the point.

    It is a bit controversial that the man in question is legally forbidden from having children until such time as he proves he can support them; on the other hand, I agree that in this case, as a condition of probation without a specified length of time, it seems just barely reasonable as legal precedent. Banning a woman from having children for “13 years”, as mentioned in one of the articles, seems materially different, and I would hope that a sensible judicial system would not take the former as authorizing the latter.

  22. Randy’s comment containing “should never lose any rights?” about felons losing rights brings up a question. What is a right? If a right can be lost it would be better characterized as a privilege. So we have the privilege of moving around freely if not convicted of certain crimes. Perhaps the term ‘right’ is bandied about too casually. While drowning there is no ‘right to life’. Perhaps a ‘right’ is situational. As long as one does not cross a societies rules, one can enjoy the rights that that society grants, making an absolute right a polite fiction.

  23. Tom From Maryland, there are certain natural rights, or human rights, that each and every one of us is granted, solely due to our ability to reason. The chief are these: life, liberty and bodily autonomy. These are never “privileges”. But our country functions under the political philosophy of “social contract”, which simply means that we agree to curtail certain of our freedoms in return for protection for our other rights — without that contract, there wold be no political order and every individual would only be bound by their own consciences and personal power. But that political contract, understanding, or agreement to be governed still doesn’t render any of our natural or civil rights into “privileges”, because we agree to be governed by various civil laws, we don’t allow any of those rights to be curbed without our consent as citizens.

    Stop being a sophist — sure, everyone has a “right” to life, but the concept of “situational rights” don’t exist simply because some circumstances don’t promote the sustaining of life, nor does it render that right into a “polite fiction”. So if you happen to be drowning, the water is not being tyrannical or depriving you of your natural rights simply because it’s adhering to its own natural properties (or laws) by not providing you with sufficient oxygen to breathe underwater, nor does that natural lack of oxygen render your right to exist a “privilege” that can be taken away by an earthly government or king. Really, now.

    When someone is found guilty of depriving another person of their rights, such as property or life, under that social contract we reserve the power to deprive them of their liberty, as well as as some other civil rights, in varying degrees, without being termed “tyrants”. Read Hobbes’ “Leviathan” if you want to see a vivid picture of a world with unlimited natural rights based solely on self-interest, but without political order and law. The phrase “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” aptly applies to life under that state of nature.

  24. The judge gave him the opportunity to prove he can support “another child”; this presupposes that he must, first, show support for the previous nine offspring, then, second, show that he can still support the additional offspring. This wisely forces him to show and make available support for his first nine before he can entertain the thought of possibly producing another. For the mothers of the nine children this will get them the child support they so desperately need, or, stop him from producing more unsupported children.

  25. Philo in Irvine California made the point I was desperately hoping someone would. Looking at modern society and the way children are being raised, I am not so certain automatically being able to breed as many children as possible really is a right. We have to have a license to own a gun (a constitutional right), have to have a license to drive a car, cannot purchase cigarettes or vote until we’re 18, drink when we’re 21, etc. There are a lot of things people take for granted as having the “right” to do that they must first pass some sort of fitness to achieve (even if said “fitness” is simply reaching a certain age). Is it really so unreasonable to ask that people take the time before they start popping out babies to ensure they will be good parents and able to adequately care for the child? After all: 100 percent of all criminals were born to parents. That should tell us something….

    Good stuff, but I didn’t have to get a license to buy a gun. I did have to go through a background check. (Some places do require a license, though, such as Illinois.) -rc

  26. I think a lot of people are misunderstanding a lot of different things here. Wayne’s point was that, via Roe v. Wade, a woman now has a choice if she wants to have a baby. Men have no choice in that matter, and yet, if a man and woman (specifically the felon in this case and any woman) have sex and (possibly) decide to choose to have a child together, he might not be able to “have” that child unless he can prove to the court he can pay for it? That doesn’t even make sense because what are the criteria to determine if he can afford the baby and if the woman is already pregnant, will the court force her to abort? Will they terminate the felon’s parental rights? That actually assists the felon in not facing the consequences of his actions. The other thing, related to Roe, is that the right found by the court was privacy. They stated the government can only invade the privacy of your decisions and actions when the state can prove a compelling interest. The state can probably prove a compelling interest in stopping the man from having kids, but not in denying a potential future sex partner the possibility of having a child, albeit with this man.

    Additionally, some courts have found that orders forcing women on birth control and also from having children violated rights previously found by the Supreme Court. If those cases had been appealed, the sentences very possibly would have been overturned. One case, where a woman was malnourishing her children through a specific diet aimed towards adults, was sentenced to jail and told she couldn’t have any more children because she insisted on feeding her children the diet. The appeals court overturned that portion of the sentence because it violated her rights and you cannot force her to be on birth control or abort (you can’t force most of the mentally ill to take their meds either). I wish I remembered the case name, but it was one we studied in criminal law my 1st year of law school.

    And lastly, Wayne’s stated belief about gay marriage actually does make sense, if what he meant was gay marriage equivalence. For a person who believes that religious institutions shouldn’t be forced to perform gay marriages if they violate the tenets of the faith, having a state-recognized equivalent makes sense. It is a matter of remembering that in the process of gay marriage recognition, there are some 1st amendment issues to be figured out. Not sure if that is what he meant, but in the legal world it does make sense that way.

  27. The point is that this idiot is reusing to take RESPONSIBILITY for his actions (with multiple women). The judge is helping him by not allowing him to take on more responsibility.

    Maybe it’s about time responsibility is required. I wish my ex wife was forced to take responsibility, she owes me excessive child support.

  28. At one time the county hospital I worked at offered free tubal ligations for women with a second child and no “visible” means of support. The NAACP fought and won a case forcing us to stop and accusing us of genocide. Now 50% of intercity pregnancies are aborted each year. You and I support the ones who survive by the kindness of their mothers in order to live a life of poverty and misery. I still find it hard to believe that an outfit trying to help a group would do such a stupid thing to them. It seems they want to keep them poor and miserable.

  29. TG in New Mexico says, “Biologically, reproduction is the main purpose for life. If an organism is made unable to reproduce, it is, from an evolutionary standpoint, worthless.”

    However, reproduction involves more than popping out a baby. It involves feeding that baby until it can feed itself and continue the cycle. In this case, I’d suggest that Mr Curtis has already proven himself an evolutionary failure as he has not contributed to the continuing care of his offspring. Without support from our society, his children would probably have starved long since. I suggest that from an evolutionary standpoint Mr Curtis has proven himself worthless already.

  30. “And lastly, Wayne’s stated belief about gay marriage actually does make sense, if what he meant was gay marriage equivalence.”

    This is the way I read it as well — that a person doesn’t support allowing gays the ability marry, but does support something like a civil union which gives equal legal rights.

  31. Bob in New Jersey makes an excellent point. And not just from an evolutionary standpoint. This guy is not a productive member of society. In fact, he’s a RE-productive menace who compounds the problem by not supporting the results of that character. He’s a burden on the courts, and even on the bond providers by jumping bail. Let’s face it, this guy has no socially redeeming value. I mean, by Supreme Court definition, he is Legally Obscene!

    (Obviously, I’m having some fun with this one.)

  32. Meredith, Los Angeles, Thank you. You make my point for me by showing how what are called rights are actually privileges or entitlements created by a society and can be withdrawn in whole or in part.

    You enumerate ‘certain natural rights, or human rights, that each and every one of us is granted’ without mentioning the grantor. Irrespective of the agency that does the granting, these rights can and are restricted or taken away entirely by the society of which we are a part.

    I would speculate that natural rights, or human rights if you prefer — I prefer the term absolute rights — if they do exist, would exist across cultural, geographical, and temporal boundaries. They would be impervious to the acts of Kings or Parliaments.

  33. “I “support” the Constitution, but that doesn’t mean financial aid….-rc”

    What, Randy? You’ve stopped paying federal taxes? ;-p

    Heh! I just wish I was a member of the “2%” so I could pay more, since that would mean…. -rc

  34. Tom from Maryland, actually, I haven’t. Please read the second para of the Declaration of Independence to find out who the “grantor” is. You should refrain from claiming natural rights derive from “society” or some “agency” — they don’t (the term “natural” should be a big clue as to how we come to have them). The political philosophy is that man is born with these natural rights solely due to his innate ability to reason, so they do not come from an earthly authority. Even though Jefferson claimed they are “self-evident” (and therefore need no proof that they existed) he made sure to remind George III, who thought he reigned over us by Divine right, that that same “Creator” also endowed us with them.

    These natural rights are inalienable — in other words, no earthly agency, be it government, king, or pope, has the right to suppress them or try to remove them. If they do, it is your duty to rebel against such tyranny. Sound familiar? FYI, there’s no such thing as an “inalienable privilege”. Wayne stated that “children are a privilege that the government grants a man and can be taken away at any time” — which is so off base that if Jefferson were alive he would never stop slapping him.

    If you insist on calling all of our natural rights “absolute” then you’re still not correct, since we agree to enter into a social contract, where we consent to subject some of these rights to restrictions. For example, we reserve the natural right to defend our person and property against physical attack or enslavement, but also allow restrictions to be placed on some of the weapons we can use to defend ourselves. The right to pursue happiness is enumerated in the Declaration, yet we agree to the restrictions of a legal drinking age and deeming some drugs to be illegal.

    However, letting a court restrict someone from having sex because he might father more children than he can support is very subjective and sets an extremely dangerous precedent — it’s based on someone else’s idea of what it takes to “provide” and their idea of what makes a financially successful household, not to mention taking away the rights of any woman who associates with Curtis in the future to have a child. It may seem a really easy “fix” (sorry) to say that Curtis should be not be allowed to have another child, but it isn’t — particularly since Curtis won’t be the one carrying any offspring. Care to tell me how it could be enforced without doing away with the right to privacy of everyone else involved?

  35. @Meredith, The court did not restrict him from having sex, merely fathering children. And the judgement is not punishing him for having children. The punishment is for the crimes he has already committed — non-payment of child support. The judge was lenient in offering probation. I suspect that it’s because letting Mr. Curtis work and pay something to his debt is better than having him sit in a jail cell. Mr. Curtis can reject the terms of his probation and go to jail if he so chooses. Of course in jail, he’s unlikely to father more children, but he cannot support the children he already has.

    We have the inalienable right to have children. But once we have the children, the parents have a responsibility to those children. If you abandon them or neglect them, you have violated the law and the rules of civilized society.

  36. Philo, since you can’t “merely father” children without having sex first, he certainly was restricted. As Wayne pointed out, what if Curtis’ birth control failed through no fault of his own? What if his partner’s birth control failed, or she lied about being on it? Or what if Curtis’s religion prohibited him from using birth control? Does the state now have the ability to dictate how you follow your religion? See, it’s not as easy as it first appears.

    Of course in a perfect world we should be responsible for the children we have, and if Curtis has violated the law in not providing child support, his finances should be garnished and he should pay for those violations or else do jail time. (And yes, I know that deadbeat parents have a lot of ways to hide $$.) But in attempting to punish one irresponsible man by taking away a basic natural right, you establish a precedent and leave the door open for all sorts of government interference in your own private life.

    Would you really want to live in a society where the state determines how many children you can afford, and forcibly aborts or removes any “extras” it decides you can’t care for? I suggest you visit China if you want to see firsthand what state-enforced “family planning” looks like. It’s ironic that the judge wished he had the right to sentence Curtis to be sterilized — from the early 1900’s until the 40’s, when the notion of eugenics was fashionable, most states actually had the power of compulsory sterilization, and they abused it up to the hilt. People were sterilized for being blind, deaf, epileptic, handicapped, racial minorities or just because they refused to conform to society’s notion of acceptable behavior. Even after people saw what Nazi Germany did with the idea, forced sterilization still occurred — the last was in Oregon in 1981. There are still suits for compensation that are currently pending.

    So, in your zeal to punish one miscreant, be very, very careful what you wish for.

  37. I believe the case made about a civil marriage vs. church marriage seems to be the point made. Churches do have a right to decide who their members are, and what services they will provide. I realize I’ve always assumed that all gay marriages were civil ones, although it is also obvious to me that there must be some churches that can and will provide such to gay men and women. I think the core issue is the various states’ opposition to recognize the validity of (a)any gay marriage. I wish I could figure out a way to stop irresponsible people from having kids but I think attempts will open a Pandora’s box…Peace, all. Love each other.

  38. Dear Meredith, The courts restrict the sexual activity of criminals all the time. Prisons only allow conjugal visits under selected conditions and many prisons do not allow them at all. Yes, almost all prisons explicitly forbid sexual activity outside of conjugal visits. His probation does restrict his rights. It’s supposed to — it is a punishment. It’s much less of a punishment than prison, but it is still punishment. However, he has many ways to express himself sexually that are unlikely to father a child. I can give you a list if you need it. His options are much greater than if he was in prison. If the state has the authority to completely take away a right as punishment, then they surely have the authority to restrict that right in lesser ways, especially when the criminal consents to these restrictions to avoid a more serious punishment. According to WDJT television, his repsonse included “So, if that’s what he feels one of my conditions should be then I’m going to abide by it.”

    In addition, this punishment is not an absolute. After three years with no violations, he is off probation and can father more children. If he is able to show that he can support a new child he can father more children earlier. Presumably, this would include him paying off his previous child support bills and being current on them. I think that most people would be happy if he were able to support his children.

    As for the slippery slope argument, I don’t think that is applicable. This is a case with a convicted felon with a repeated pattern of behavior. There are nine children and six mothers that are victims of his neglect. This is more serious than your average child-support case. Further checking shows that he also has convictions for passing bad checks, criminal damage, and burglary. This is not an average citizen, this is a repeat criminal. Nobody is suggesting that we limit the rights of responsible citizens. With a slope that slippery, you could argue that capital punishment leads to soldiers randomly shooting people in the street.

    This punishment has been reviewed by the state supreme court. Ohio’s supreme court rejected a similar punishment because it did not cover the possibility of the probationer being able to support his children and a new child. This punishment explicitly allows for the possibility of reform and it has an explicit end date.

    Let’s look at this another way. When you are on probation, the court does this to prevent the person from committing more crimes. Fathering a child when it has been proven that he cannot support his existing children is committing another crime. It adds at least one and possibly two to his victim list. Arguing against this provision is like arguing that you can’t make “not stealing” a part of a thief’s probation. What’s more, having another child not only adds a new victim, it further damages his existing victims because any money garnished from his wages has to be split ten ways instead of nine.

    I understand that you are concerned for Mr. Curtis’ rights, but if the government is authorized to take away the rights to life and liberty, sometimes it can take away the right to pursue happiness.

  39. Terms are put on probation and parole all the time. For example, restrictions on alcohol use and court-ordered attendance at A.A. meetings are often part of the conditions for probation.

    Mr. Curtis must now test clean for procreation or risk losing his liberty and going to a place where his opportunities will be far more limited. I’d even be willing to buy him a box of condoms. A few dollars in prevention might save him $90,000 worth of cure.

  40. I confess to the crime of ignorance. How can you enforce this individual’s sentence? I’m not a student of the law enough to follow how such a thing can be enforced, especially in light of what Wayne mentions about the partner’s choices (or lack thereof) of birth control. The sentencing does not appear to prohibit the act of vaginal intercourse (something else that would appear on the surface to be difficult to enforce), so how would one enforce this?

    Is it as easy as a woman saying, “I’m mad you didn’t fulfil me sexually, so I’m going to the cops and telling them you [bleep]ed me without a condom and I am concerned I might become pregnant”?

    It’s easily enforced — the same way other probation conditions are enforced, like “You may not drink/use drugs” or “You may not possess a firearm” or “You may not go within 200 yards of your victim”: by watching for violations. When they violate, they go to jail, period. (No second chances if I was in charge.) -rc

  41. I just thought about an interesting ramification of the probation. Fathers are not registered until the birth, so what happens if he has sex during his probation, but the child is not born until after his probation ends? If it’s ruled one way, then he can have unprotected sex for eight and a half months during his probation. If it’s ruled the other way, he could be brought to jail after his probation has officially ended. Quite a conundrum.

  42. One has to wonder, just how far liberties should go.

    On one hand, making procreation a regulated right will rile pretty much everyone. On the other, the costs of welfare for all the kids from unwell families tend to add up. What’s worse, those kids adsorb the idea from their parents — do nothing, breed extensively and you`ll be supported by government.

    On the third hand, cutting off all the welfare, while being the most rational idea, would seem like very cruel move by majority.

    So… what is the right question in this conundrum?

    I’m very tempted to resort to “A Modest Proposal” here.

  43. In keeping with Alice’s theme, I also have to address the sociological implications of sexually transmitted diseases. And point out that children are, by far, the most prevalent form of STD in human history.

    You had to? -rc


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