Of course, the local media covering the incident has a very Orwellian headline: North Augusta Mother Charged With Unlawful Conduct Towards A Child
In short, a working class mother left her child in the park to play and gave her a cell phone in case she needed her. Normally she would have let her surf the Internet at the McDonald’s she works at, but their laptop was stolen from their home. The mother works a minimum wage job and thus is unable to afford daycare for her child.
At some point, a woman at the park confronted the child and asked where her mother was, to which the child replied “At work.”
Having been successfully brainwashed to believe that any sort of freedom is tantamount to abuse, the “concerned” mother contacted the police about the matter, as if letting your child play on a playground is akin to beating them or leaving them outside in the middle of a snowstorm.
I can already envision the excuses people will make for the person who called the police and the police officers who arrested the mother for “abandoning” her child. All I can say is that their initial response is what a rational person does as a last resort. When you hear a child tell you they are playing alone because their mother is at work, your first impulse should not be to call the police. An ordinary but meddling woman would have had the child call her mother and have her pick her up; or if she wished to be a Good Samaritan, the woman could have offered to drive the child to her mother’s work or spoken to the mother herself. Or, even better, she could have offered to watch her so she wouldn’t be unsupervised.
Instead, this woman chose to call the police because a parent did something that almost all parents did decades ago and my parents did with me: let their children play unsupervised.
To those who accuse libertarians of being anti-social, I would say take the log out of your own eye before you remove our speck of dust. We don’t call the police whenever we see something we don’t like. A truly “social” society helps those in need, not ruin their lives.
As for the police, I can only speculate what motivated them to arrest this mother and put her in jail. Malice and contempt and power-tripping, perhaps.
If this sounds harsh, put yourself in their situation. What would you do if you were called to the scene and discovered a child unsupervised in a park full of other children whose mother is unable to afford childcare and recently had her home broken into and their property stolen?
A morally upright and empathetic police officer would have had compassion on both of them. Such an officer would speak to the mother sympathetically and try to find out how to help her out so her child is in less danger, if there was any danger to begin with. Or, they would offer to pay for a laptop to replace the one stolen so the child could stay near her mother.
In other words, anyone with a shred of moral decency would have approached the situation thinking “how can I help this poor woman?”
With both the woman who reported her to the police and the police themselves, the mentality was “how can we get this mother arrested?” Neither party attempted to help this mother.
Excuses there may be, but there was no legitimate excuse for what happened.
It takes a certain kind of moral indifference to use violence to forcibly separate a child from their mother and throw the mother in a jail cell, knowing the agony and distress it will cause both of them, and more so when it is evident the parent has done nothing to deserve it; it is the same moral indifference of slave owners who sold children apart from their families at auctions.
I would add that the child was completely and entirely unharmed. The sole justification for the arrest was that she was unsupervised. Look at the charge: Unlawful conduct towards a child. This is the description of a sex offender, not a working parent who can’t afford childcare. Because of some paranoid busy-body and self-appointed East Stasi woman, the little girl is now in the custody of Department of Social Services rather than with her mother. Only a fool thinks a child is safer in the hands of the State than left unsupervised in a park.
The only qualms anybody could have against the mother’s parenting decisions is purely hypothetical. Something could have happened to the girl. Yes, and something could have happened to her if she were riding her bike to the nearest grocery store across the street. Paranoia from knee-jerk reactive people does not in any way circumvent the rights of parents to let their children go out without being constantly handled.
And if we’re going to get into arguments about bad parenting, I see bad parenting all day long. I think parents who let their children watch the Disney Channel or play on electronic devices all day long to the point where they are incapable of engaging in a civilized conversation are bad parents, but I’m not going to call the police because it’s not a violation of anyone’s rights, particularly mine. I think parents who let their children watch certain films or dress in a certain way are bad parents, but again it is not my place legally to decide this. I decide what is right for my (hypothetical) children as they do theirs.
This story confirms what I’ve written on before. You are only as free as the people whom you live around allow you to be. If you have neighbors who leave you alone in a legal sense, you enjoy plenty of freedom. If your neighbors are meddling, anti-social jackasses who call uniformed men with guns whenever they see anything possibly amiss, such as children riding on bikes without a helmet, you have to be extra precautious.
The message is very clear: According to the State, you do not have a natural right to raise your children. You have the “privilege” of raising your children and whenever the State disagrees with your parenting decisions they have the right to take your child away from you and keep them until they decide otherwise. There is no due process. They consider themselves gods, who giveth and taketh away as they see fit.