Monday, April 04, 2005

My Last Words (Hopefully) On Jetseta Gage

I’ve gotten an abundance of comments on this post.

When I wrote that, I was pretty steamed. Although I see their behavior as negligent and directly leading to the little girl’s death, I’m not really advocating any legal action against Jetseta's mom and grandmother.

Well - no jail time or flogging or anything, but maybe a couple of hours in a town meeting with some citizens scolding, shaming and asking them some hard questions about how they let their little girl down.

Seriously, I do have a problem with the press casting these two women into victims of the system, patriarchy, the wage gap, the Iowa Sex Offender’s registry running on it’s paltry half million dollar annual budget... oh hell - fill in the blank.

In the final analysis it was not DHS nor the Sex Offender's Registry web site's webmaster, nor anyone else who was responsible for Jetseta’s well being. It was her family. Unfortunately for Jetseta, by all appearances her "family" is a tribe of selfish, dysfunctional louts. Despite all of the media coverage, Jetseta’s death is their loss, leading to their suffering. And, if they have a whit of character, integrity and self respect, this will lead to a realization that this horror was their responsibility.

In the long term, one of the things we can do to reduce these tragedies and countless other social ills, is to heavily stigmatize behavior that puts their kids at risk. We do this all the time with relatively trivial things like bike helmet laws and the like. But on the real biggie, we stay silent. Research shows that being raised by a single mother is a prime indicator of risk to a child. By normalizing "single motherhood", we have done a great disservice to children.

As a libertarian, I'm a pretty open minded guy. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll - it’s up to the individual to enjoy and (and if they cross the line and infringe on someone else’s rights) take the consequences.

But when it comes to kids... well, I tend to draw a pretty strong line. When you have children, you geometrically increase the odds that thoughtless behavior on your part will cause tangible harm to another - in this case relatively helpless - person. Like it or not rock and rollers, when it comes to parenting nothing but personal responsibility will do. Granted, society has a role in supporting parental responsibility, but it cannot replace it.

And, however compassionate and well intentioned social de-stigmatization of illegitimate births may be, it has exacerbated the problem. Unmarried women who are utterly unprepared to meet the demands of raising a child feel empowered to demand services, sympathy and money from the rest of us.

And what about the biological fathers, you ask...? Well that's why we hairless apes came up with the whole institution of marriage thing. Sure, dad's have always walked out on their families. But, there was stigma attached to that as well.

Look, instead of me carrying on and on with this. Go read this piece (from someone much more eloquent than me). Even though Jane's piece is about gay marriage, the theme is the same.


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