Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Instapundit Update

I emailed Glenn Reynolds about his second Thomas Ball post, because I know something of the agency and court involved. He used it as an update, which is why we got comments that seemed out-of-place under the "Cheap Prescriptions" post. It was the only spot available to anonymous, so be charitable about his seemingly going off-topic. No choice.

Anyway, here's the quote that caused the controversy:
An email from famed blogger/blog commenter* Assistant Village Idiot:

Assistant Village Idiot here. People who have a hair across their ass in general about the family court system are trying to keep the Thomas Ball story alive as if he is some kind of victim. In his efforts to have unsupervised visits with his daughter, he was told to have his visits supervised by Monadnock Family Services. He refused because he blames them for his problems.

I deal with that agency all the time, though not the children’s services – I have for 30 years. They are entirely reasonable people who make adjustments and accommodations for people who don’t like them or are suspicious of them all the time. Hell, they are a mental health center, so most of their clients are difficult and suspicious. They are not some Orwellian controlling agency. Ball decided that being pissy and proving that he was right about one incident ten years ago was more important than seeing his daughter. He’s no victim.

Family courts may indeed be prejudiced against fathers – I hear that, but I don’t know. I’ve certainly dealt with many cases of NH courts ruling in favor of fathers in custody disputes, though, and I don’t see a massive trend here. It pays to remember that MFS cannot tell its side of the story because of confidentiality, and that some pathological people hide by trying to tie themselves to legitimate causes. Wolves hide in sheep’s clothing, because it doesn’t do any good to hide in wolves’ clothing, does it?
I stick by that, but let me give full disclosure of my prejudices for context.

Most of us only ever get one side of any family court (or divorce, or heck, any) story, and really, there may be three or four sides. I do sometimes get more than one side. The events over the years which brought our fifth son to us show some pretty strong examples of anti-male bias by a family court judge. So I know it happens, and I know it's bad.

But for many situations, there is one party that is wrong, and another that is far worse. So when someone is painting themselves as an innocent, a victim who contributed little to the whole mess, I get immediately suspicious.

Here's my prejudice: growing up under the shadow of a parent's suicide is hard on a child, even if the events are not advertised and well-known. Children blame themselves. They are sensitive to ostracisms that are mostly imaginary. It is a terrible burden to lay on your own child. When you make that exponentially worse by making it public and dramatic, so that your kids have to either move or be a pariah, so they have to keep explaining all their lives what the hell was up with your Dad to do that, it is hellish. If you were depressed, I have mixed sorrow with my anger, because in the throes of depression people do dumb stuff because it hurts so bad. But if your "depression," as revealed in your suicide note, was not clinical depression but narcissistic injury because you couldn't get everyone else to admit it was all their fault, you have lost my sympathy. Feeling bad and depression are not synonymous.

You do that to your kids and I have a hard time believing you love them. What you loved was the appearance of a nice family, and the approbation you got for yourself. Trying to hide behind a legitimate cause only makes me more disapproving, because now you are delegitimising people with real grievances.

* "Famed" is nice, but a bit thick. Identifying me as a blog commenter as much as a blogger is accurate, though. I may be better at the former than the latter, actually.


Donna B. said...

It's probably just my reading a bit of what I wanted to into Ball's tome, but much of what he said about the way that courts, police, quasi-authorities, etc., actually function fit exactly my experiences and perceptions, whether it's family court, criminal court, or traffic court.

His actions and his stated solutions are absolutely unacceptable. I think it is a mistake to make him a poster dude for father's rights or parental rights.

I don't write much about my past, not in detail anyway, on the internet but I certainly agree that suicide is hard on every one left behind, especially children. Possibly the only thing worse is someone who holds the threat of suicide over their family's collective head for years and years, punctuated by credible* attempts ever so often.

*always making sure help for the overdose is at hand. For example, taking an identifiable number of identifiable pills in a hospital's ER parking lot.

Carl said...

My thoughts here.

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