burn it down

I’m working on a piece on America’s child marriage problem and it’s taking everything in my power to keep from posting an expletive-laden, ALL CAPS, wall of text screed full of gifs of things burning. For now it suffices to say that if you think Vaughn Ohlman and Let Them Marry is an isolated situation, you’re unfortunately mistaken. Child marriage is legal in all 50 states. Since I’m taking a break for the night before I smash my computer to bits, I want to leave something important to your attention. Ohlman is speaking at the INCH Michigan Home Education Conference that’s being held May 19-21. Please consider contacting them and asking them to disinvite Ohlman and stop Let Them Marry from exhibiting. As long as Ohlman speaks and Let Them Marry has a presence at the convention, young girls are at risk.   You can contact INCH at 517.481.5994, through email, their website, or their Facebook page.   Note: INCH seems to be deleting all posts to their Facebook page about this. The post I left earlier tonight is now gone. My feelings right now:

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The Duggar interview and the need for homeschool oversight

Sibling sexual abuse is not some normal thing that happens in families. Not letting your children play hide and seek lest your teenage son molest his sisters again isn’t normal. A teenage boy repeatedly molesting his young sisters, including one still in the preschool years, isn’t just a thing that most families deal with. Unless you’re Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their friends, that is. Every single one of the Duggar kids, Josh included, deserved better than what they got from their parents and their church and homeschool community. If a teenager starts acting out sexually towards their younger siblings, something is wrong. When the sexual assaults continue after the offending sibling is caught and disciplined, something is seriously wrong. Josh needed help and he never got it. The girls needed to be protected and instead they had to grow up in a home with their abuser, never getting counseling from a licensed therapist. All because the Duggars and their community thought it was no big deal. While Jim Bob and Michelle may think that by describing it as something that happened in a lot of friends’ families, they’ve successfully downplayed the gravity of the situation, what they’re really doing is describing an epidemic of sexual abuse in their church and homeschool circles. Rather than following the law and reporting the sexual assaults to the relevant authorities, all of these parents seem to have simply reassured each other that it’s normal and carried on their merry way as if it were only slightly more serious than a sibling squabble. As this story has unfolded, I’ve become increasingly horrified by the number of people within the Christian and homeschool communities who have expressed similar sentiments to the ones Jim Bob and Michelle expressed in their Fox interview. This should be[…]

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Josh Duggar says he’s sorry. So what?

Josh Duggar is doing damage control. He can’t stop the truth that he’s a serial child molester from getting out, the police reports made sure of that. What he can do is change the focus. Josh doesn’t want you talking about his victims, he doesn’t want you focusing on the five prepubescent children he molested. No, he wants you to talk about how sorry he is. Don’t let him change the focus. Josh Duggar’s apology is not the story. Josh can apologize until he’s blue in the face, but that’s never going to undo the trauma that he put his victims through. Josh, and Jim Bob and Michelle alongside him, have shifted the burden onto the victims, painting Josh as a child who made mistakes, apologized and should be forgiven. They’ve tried to shift the narrative so that it’s just a short hop to viewing Josh as the victim. This isn’t penitence, it’s not repentance, it’s what child molesters do. Rewrite the narrative so that in the end the audience feels sorry for them and forgets about their victims. We’re supposed to give Josh points for confessing and resigning so quickly, while feeling sorry for him that he’s now unemployed with three children and a fourth on the way. Except that Josh didn’t confess quickly, he hid this for over a dozen years, hid it while he became a television star, hid it while he became a rising star in the religious right, hid it while the organization he headed repeatedly attacked LGBT people as child molesters. Josh Duggar would have never become the household name he is if he and his parents hadn’t hidden the secret that he is a serial child molester. Of course he’s going to release a statement apologizing once the police report is all over[…]

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Franklin Graham wants you to think he cares about child exploitation

Franklin Graham wants you to think he cares about child exploitation He doesn’t. Franklin Graham is busy pretending he cares about child exploitation and that’s why he doesn’t want to let gay people adopt. He thinks gay people recruit children. Aside from pointing out the utter absurdity of this idea, I have one thing to say to Franklin Graham. Speak out against the abuse in the church. If you really care about children being harmed, then use your voice and your famous name to do something about the abuse and exploitation of children in evangelical and fundamentalist churches and institutions. Speak out against the way churches protect child molesters while shaming their victims. Speak up for the children. Condemn the Bill Gothards, the Doug Phillipses, the Sovereign Grace Ministries, the Christian colleges that refuse to do anything about sexual harassment and assault and punish the victims. Speak against the system that enables the abuse and looks the other way when it happens. Speak out. Speak against the child abuse. Against the Pearls, the Ezzos, the parenting “experts” who tell parents that the way to create godly children is to beat them into submission. Speak out against the forces in the homeschool world who are fighting tooth and nail against any efforts to protect children from abuse and neglect. Franklin Graham, you need to get your house in order. Instead of cozying up to the human rights-abusing quasi-dictator that is Vladimir Putin, just because he hates gay people as much as you do, take some of that effort and do something about the very serious and very real abuse problem in the church. And as for me? I’m too busy trying to do what you won’t do, working hard to keep any more children from being beaten or starved to death[…]

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Good News! I finally found something a Michael Farris associate is willing to call abuse.

I feel like I’m beating a dead horse on this, but as I keep writing about, I’m having a hard time finding anyone associated with Michael Farris who is willing to actually call anything child abuse. Well, good news boys and girls. Remember that I mentioned the other day about how Michael Farris was at the launch of Trail Life, the scouting alternative that exists because they don’t like that the Boy Scouts don’t kick out gay kids? Well, the head of Trail Life, John Stemberger, is the first person I’ve come across who associates with Farris and is willing to call something abuse.  As I’m sure you were wondering, yes, there is a catch. In Stemberger’s world, affirming a gay child is abuse. Via Right Wing Watch, from Janet Mefferd’s radio show: Mefferd: Absolutely. Now a lot has been reported about how you will handle the issue of sexuality in the Trail Life USA organization. How did it come about that you put together the parameters that you did and how do you reassure parents that the issues that may come up in the Boy Scouts are not going to be the same in Trail Life USA? Stemberger: Well first of all, we’re not going to allow open and avowed homosexuality. It’s really important that we distinguish between a mere same-sex attraction, which by the way 20-25 percent of young boys as they are growing up will experience some sort of gender ambiguity or confusion, or just needing to wonder who they are, needing affirmation, that’s not uncommon at all. But what’s horrible is to have the society and schools and even parents, which is tantamount to abuse in my judgment, saying ‘oh he is special, he must be gay, he must be gender confused, let’s let him explore.’ That[…]

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HSLDA, the Parental Rights Amendment, and Enabling Child Abusers

I’m sick, I’m really sick. When I wrote back in May about what I suspected was a legal strategy by HSLDA to make homeschooling a fundamental right, I said that I hoped I was wrong. I hoped that HSLDA’s end game wasn’t giving parents the right to do almost anything to their children short of killing them. The following was posted on the ParentalRights.org Facebook page on Monday:  Read that again.  The Parental Rights Amendment establishes that courts must give the highest level of protection – strict scrutiny review – anytime a government action would infringe on parents’ rights. Nearly every law or government action held to this level of review in the past has been declared unconstitutional. What this means is that under the Parental Rights Amendment that HSLDA is campaigning for, remember, an amendment that provides no exceptions to strict scrutiny other than for parental action that would end the life of the child, any attempts to legislate what parents may do to their children is subject to a level of scrutiny where, “[n]early every law or government action held to this level of review in the past has been declared unconstitutional.”   Remember, this is an amendment that specifically had to spell out that murdering your child did not fall under strict scrutiny. That sure looks like they know that without exempting actions causing the death of a child from strict scrutiny, even the decision to murder one’s own child would be a protected parental right subject to the virtually insurmountable strict scrutiny requirements. The fact that the amendment says nothing about beating a child within an inch of his or her life being exempted from strict scrutiny means that even horrific levels of child abuse are subjected to a level of scrutiny where, “[n]early every law or[…]

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Of fundamental rights, HSLDA, and homeschooling

I wasn’t planning on writing more about HSLDA but I was talking to my mom today about HSLDA’s refusal to do anything about child abuse and how it made absolutely zero sense to defend abusers. As I moved on to talking about how I feel that they’re using the Romeike family as pawns in their effort to establish homeschooling as a fundamental right, something dawned on me. Notice that phrase “fundamental right”? It’s a phrase they’ve been throwing around an awful lot when talking about the Romeike case. In law, “fundamental right” has a very specific meaning. It refers to those rights that are basic, foundational rights–things like life, liberty, freedom of association, freedom of movement, freedom of religion, the right to marry, and the right to due process. Under US constitutional law, fundamental rights automatically trigger strict scrutiny. That is, for any law restricting a fundamental right to pass constitutional muster, it must be narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling government interest and must be the least restrictive means of achieving that end. Strict scrutiny is a standard that very few laws can meet. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard professors describe strict scrutiny as, “strict in theory, fatal in fact.” If you can get the courts to find something to be a fundamental right, you’re pretty much home free. Very few regulations of fundamental rights can survive the strict scrutiny analysis. So, how does this apply to homeschooling? Right now, homeschooling is protected under parental rights to direct the education of their children. Religious freedom comes into play to some extent (especially if you’re Amish–the courts don’t like to mess with the Amish), but with parental rights it’s still a balancing of the right of the parent with the right of the child and the interest of the[…]

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HSLDA and child abuse

I’ve made no secret that I don’t exactly have the most positive opinion about the Homeschool Legal Defense Association’s brand of religious fundamentalism but I never thought that HSLDA was covering for and protecting child abuse. For all of their scare tactics, and for as much as I think that a legal defense organization is unnecessary in a post-Tim Tebow world, I always assumed that the training-up-the-next-generation-of-culture-warriors aside, it really was just about keeping homeschooling legal. That if they were representing a family, it was because the family was wrongly accused. I found out recently that I was completely wrong. HSLDA is pursuing a course of action that is helping to protect child abusers while doing nothing to protect kids. Blogger Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism, herself a K-12 homeschool graduate, has a series of posts exploring HSLDA and child abuse. It’s a long read but I encourage you to take your time to go read it all, it’s an informative series and it opened my eyes as to just how out there HSLDA really is on this. Seriously, go read it, I’ll wait until you get back. Have you read everything? Good, let’s continue. On Tuesday, HSLDA posted an indirect response to Libby Anne’s series by way of a message posted on their facebook page. Their response is basically a bunch of buzzwords and denials that doesn’t address any of the actual allegations. Libby Anne responds here. I had no idea about what HSLDA was really up to and my memories are filtered through the eyes of a homeschool kid reading the Court Report. I rather suspect that this is news to some of the people reading this as well. It makes me mad because this organization that I thought was there to protect homeschooling has ended up protecting[…]

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