Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage. These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that. Even though there are many more which I can’t include. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as “unceasing,” “grudging,” and “vengeful destruction.”
Before I start on this first story, I want to rant a bit. In our judicial systems, which mostly are hand-me-downs from British common law (Louisiana, I think has some Napoleonic influence), we generally do not consider fully acceptable witnesses, because “children lie.” Well, yes, children do lie; some more than others; but why do they lie? Well, we don’t let them handle guns on their own (mostly), we don’t let them have sharp objects (mostly), we may let them have boxing or self defense or martial arts lessons, but they are pretty well vastly outweighed by and less strong than adults. We don’t let them handle large sums of money (such as one might need to hire an attorney). What defensive weapon do they have, except lying?
However, by and large, and particularly if they are under the age of seven or eight, they tell some kinds of lies, and they don’t tell other kinds of lies. They may tell fantasy lies (“There’s a fairy in the garden.”) They may tell very simple lies (“I didn’t do it.” “I don’t know.” “Not me.”) They do NOT make up possible but elaborate stories, in which cause and effect and adult motives hold together. They may be sharp as tacks, but they do not have the experience to do that.
And that is why, in this case in Tacoma, WA, I absolutely believe the child who was burned by a firework gun in the hands of his father. Dad says he was trying to teach the child a gun safety lesson, and there was an accident. Son says Dad was grilling him about the whereabouts of his mother, he (son) was refusing to answer, and “He (Dad) shooted me.”
Though the story says nothing about the parents being separated or divorced and Mom having a restraining order or being in a DV shelter, why else would Dad be demanding to know where she was? And, if not that, how could a six-year-old come up with such a circumstantial lie? Well, at least someone on the spot believed the child. Dad has been charged with third degree child assault. Megaera, I hope you can keep track of this case and make sure justice is done.
On another news item, we probably could all rant. In fact, we frequently do when we comment that someone, usually a Republican, seems not to grasp the Constitution. Actually, that is throwing roses at it. Here’s the title:
The survey in question is from the Annenberg Public Policy Center. It was conducted between August 9th to the 13th of this year. The sample size was 1,013 adults.in the U.S. Probably the most frightening single result was that
53 percent think that people who are here illegally do not have any rights under the Constitution. That incorrect belief is especially strong among self-identified political conservatives – 67 percent think it is accurate, compared with 48 percent of moderates and 46 percent of liberals.
Forty-six per cent of liberals? Good heavens!
The three branches of government? Only 26% could name all three (in 2011, 38% could). But 33% could not identify ANY branch of government.
Well, it’s no wonder so many Americans don’t seem to grasp the Constitution. They don’t know anything about what is in it. It’s not really reasonable to expect people to grasp something they know nothing about.
There’s been some discussion about making voting in the U.S. compulsory, and some nations do have compulsory voting. How do those nations handle the issue of civics education? I think maybe we had better find out. But we don’t need to find out every detail to realize we need to do better. Annenberg has joined with 30 other groups to form the Civics Renewal Network to offer free, high-quaity educational materials on line. Which is great. But all the materials in the world cannot help if they don’t get used.
Alecto, here’s a project for you. Come up with a coordinated, national civics education program (that’s the easy part), and then get every Federal and State legislator behind it so it can get passed and put into effect. Oh, and don’t forget the territories.
In this final incident for today, the mills of justice sseem to be grinding. At least, the perpetrators have pled no contest and been sentenced to 20 years in prison. Probably not enough, but closer than many sentences we have been hearing about lately, especially when the victim was a child.
Rachel Jean Stevens, 29, and Kayla Ann Jones, 26, were each sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for beating the boy so severely that he suffered two strokes….
Investigators found the boy had been locked in a room and bound with duct tape over his eyes, and he told police that Stevens, his mother, and her girlfriend, Jones, had beaten him with a belt.
Police also said Stevens hit her son’s hand with a hammer and that Jones kicked him in the genitals until he bled.
As so often happens, though it beggars the imagination of normal people, there were two other children in the home who were completely physically unharmed. All three chidren are in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Tisiphone, maybe you could put on your Eumenides hat and give them some love and strength.
The Furies and I will be back.
Cross posted to Care2 here.