Sunday, May 15, 2011

Looking Out For The Kids.

In 2009, a man in Bakersfield, California bit out his four-year-old son’s eyes. He may have eaten one of them. He was under the influence of PCP at the time.

In 2005, China Arnold put her 28-day-old baby Paris into a microwave oven, and cooked her to death. She’d had an argument with her boyfriend.

New Jersey, February 2010. A 21-year-old man kidnapped his three-month-old daughter from his estranged wife. He wrapped the baby in a sleeping bag, and threw her off a bridge into the freezing waters of the Raritan river.

January 2009: in Melbourne, Arthur Freeman threw his four-year-old daughter Darcy off the Westgate bridge to fall something like sixty metres into the Yarra river. She lived long enough for the ambulancefolk to try to revive her. Freeman had been arguing with his ex-wife, apparently.

I’m not going to go farther into the details of these incidents. You can if you want. I’ve included the necessary links. I’ve had all the horror I can handle for the moment.

This meditation is triggered by page eight of my local newspaper, which featured an article on China Arnold and her dead baby, right next to another article about a man who shot his wife, then his three small children, and then himself. Currently, my kids are in Perth with Natalie, visiting their grandmum. I’m enjoying the solitude, and the ability to sleep as I see fit... but the gap the kids leave is enormous, even if it’s a relief to be on my own for a while.

It’s an increasingly overpopulated world. Nearly seven billion people. I’m old enough to recall when it was four billion. Since I’m not a geriatric yet, it’s pretty obvious we’re breeding at a terrifying rate. And every new human has needs, and — in theory at least — rights. At the very least, every new human being is exactly that: a human being, and if we treat them in any lesser fashion, we demean ourselves. More importantly: the creature that can voluntarily hurt or kill a dependent, defenseless, innocent child is a thing that has at least temporarily given up any possible right to be viewed as a human being.

And yet the horrorshow rolls on. I listed only four incidents, and I deliberately limited myself to the US and Australia. I hate to think what the list might look like if I really did some research, and considered the whole world.

What I’m saying is this: we have to be licensed to drive a car. You need a license to fly a plane. You can’t practice law or medicine without going through all kinds of training and oaths and examinations and licensing. You need a license to wire up a house for electricity. You need qualifications to teach at school. You need certification to handle food in a shop or restaurant. You’re even supposed to have a license to get married.

So how the fuck is it that we collectively don’t have the stones to step up and ask for some kind of goddam evidence that people can be fit parents before we put them in charge of children?

Right about now, there’s a whole bunch of people reading this, collective sucking in wind, getting ready to bleat about human rights and freedoms. Right about now, if I could, I’d slug each and every one of those people in the solar plexus to make them cough, whoop, and shut the fuck up while I ask the obvious counter-question: what about the rights of the kid whose eyes got chewed out? Where were Darcy Freeman’s rights in the last, terrifying, flailing three-and-a-half seconds (‘cos yes, folks, that’s how long it takes to fall sixty metres. It’s high school physics. Check your watch. Count it off. Three and a half seconds. That’s how long Darcy had to think about what was happening to her, before she hit.) of her life?

The state already acts like an extended nanny-system to kids. The state demands the kids participate in an education system which is, quite frankly, fucked up. The state demands all kinds of censorship to ‘protect kids’. Including that idiot Conroy’s Great Internet Clusterfuck — and, of course, the lack of an R-18 classification for computer games. The state insists kids can’t drink or smoke. The state tries to mandate minimum levels of exercise for kids. The state prescribes where and how childbirth is to take place, and under whose observation. Wouldn’t it be nice if, instead of all this shit, the state instead tried to insist that people becoming parents demonstrate reasonably sound judgement in the first place?

When you decide to become a parent, you agree to put your whole world to one side in favour of someone else. You have to, or you’re worse than a fool. A child doesn’t have any choice about being born. The choice - limited as it may be by religious idiocy on birth control — belongs to the parents. Sperm and egg have nothing to say about the whole process. Neither does the foetus.

If you’re not ready to reshape your whole existence so you can nurture a new human being — do not fucking well become a parent. If you find this has happened to you accidentally: either get yourself straight, or admit you fucked up, and allow the kid to be adopted. There are a large number of eager, well-qualified couples desperate to have kids who can offer the child a real life.

And finally: the political group that steps up and says “Yes. We need to impose some kind of education, licensing, and restriction on parenting, and we’re going to do that. We’ll match it with improved support for new parents and their kids, of course,” is going to get my vote. And I don’t give a flying fart in a windstorm for 'the devil in the details’, or ‘the rights of the parents’, or anything similar. Because no kid should ever, ever have to answer a police inquiry with the words "My daddy ate my eyes."