Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Big Brother…? Big Mother, Big Father.

Many of you may know the story by now of the couple in Holland Township, New Jersey, who had opted to transgress monotony in their childrens' names by giving them controversial, albeit unique aliases. The article was first run nationally back in December 2008 and I had initially found it posted under the 'Weird News' section on MSNBC.com; however, it was only a matter of hours before "weird news" became headline news as public outcry catapulted the story into the limelight. Adolph Hitler was alive and well (in name that is) in the body of a three year old son of New Jersey. Adolph Hitler Campbell, who was turning three, was denied his name on a birthday cake by a local grocer because they'd found the material offensive and reserved their right to refuse service on such grounds. What was more shocking (surprisingly in retrospect) is that the Campbell parents had two other children—daughters with equally ire-invoking connotations: JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell. Within days the Campbells' had received excessive hate mail, including death threats and had been publicly rebuked by the grocer and public alike, labeled "racists" (I wonder why) and dragged thru the press for their parental judgment.

Case in point, after all, who in a sane frame of mind names their child any of the aforementioned names and then derides people as intolerant in the press for not seeing passed the name to find (fair argument) healthy children who apparently do have friends that are of mixed races (no confirmation on the Jewish heritage of said friends, though).

"A name's a name," said Heath Campbell (Adolph's father) in the media, which was later followed by his explanation that he wanted his son to have that name, because "no one else in the world would have that name."

True. Then again, it's unlikely that anyone in the world would have the name New Jersey Heathson Campbell, as well… so the name does call to wonder.

Fast-forward one month, nearly coinciding with Barack Obama's inauguration into office, the Campbell's found themselves robbed of their three children, taken into state custody without an immediate explanation as to why. The 'why', apparently, was due to an allegation of abuse brought forward by a neighbor… one neighbor, with no witness, evidence nor support for her claim; however, after one baseless abuse allegation, the kids were taken into "protective" custody and tossed into the system. Pragmatism can't stand to see it was for any other reason short of the names themselves. We dream of so much more; but can only expect less.

The reason I bring this up and the reason I mention this now is because the Internet headlines are again being swamped in the dereliction of common sense, causing an impetuous and questionable decision made at the government level that appears to exacerbate the ballooning view that we have truly arrived at a new level of Socialism (Did you know that in Sweden it is required that all child names be registered with the tax bureau, who then retains the authority to deny parents' rights to name their children whatever they decide?).

A Minnesota family has recently found themselves under the microscope of public scrutiny for their decision to bypass chemotherapy for their 13-year old boy, Daniel (Hauser), who suffers from Hodgkins Lymphoma. Citing their religious values as standing contradictory to the treatment of chemotherapy and like medicines, they have ingrained these philosophies deep into their 13-year old's mind, so that he himself has denied the treatment. Both parents and son have denied the treatment that could potentially save Daniel's life (which medical professionals deem is very limited should he not receive proper treatment) and decided to seek alternative forms of medicine for him that are congruent with their religious practices. However, Brown District Judge John Rodenberg ruled last Friday that the Hausers were being "medically negligent" toward their child in not seeking chemotherapy treatment and issued a court-ordered X-ray of Daniel's chest and to seek an oncologist to continue treatment by a Tuesday deadline (today).

Today in court, Anthony Hauser was present in court; however, his wife and son were absent. When asked where they were, he'd mentioned that she'd said she was leaving and that he did not know where they had gone. A warrant has successively been issued for Colleen Hauser's arrest.

This is yet another example of government encroachment into the lives of private citizens, and whether or not sometimes a firmer parental hand is needed in dealing with the public, and whether our freedoms are too "free" for people to make the "right" decisions.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Herein lay my fear of the Obama Administration. I still shall not pass judgment on him, his policies, or his Administration itself before the eighteen month benchmark I'd allotted him to find some firm hold and stalwart signs of pushback; however, it is the social restrictions posed by the very ideas of 'Big Government' itself that leer ominously and dangerously beneath the intensive, eye-grabbing issues of the economy, automotive crisis, dwindling social security funds, depleted state budgets and persistent wars. That with liberals, social consciousness becomes so embedded in their philosophies that it mutates into an overt form of societal parenting and righteousness that contends, if not surpasses the likes of the "moral right" that we've seen for the past fifteen years. The "Newton's Cradle" is in full swing, as I'd so terrifyingly mentioned in my letter to the President on my myspace blog, and each of these cases seem as forbearers to an approaching State control that could culminate partially, if not fully in something not too distant from the Swedish "Naming Law".

Just where exactly are our rights retained, I ask? Are we empowered to our liberty and freedom by the government itself, or by the Supreme Law of the Land—The Constitution? For its words, which are, granted, "interpreted" differently by different people; do remain firm in their lexicon that when speech or religion are at play, the government has no say. We have understandably deviated from these absolutes in numerous amendments and Supreme Court cases in the past: 1919 Schenk gave us a clause restricting free speech that posed a 'clear and present danger', such as 'shouting fire in a crowded theater', or the 1878 Reynolds case, which purported that human sacrifice as a religious ritual was not defensible against charges of murder, because to grant such exemptions would be "to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself." These are extraordinary circumstances, which people often will undertake just to test the limits of the First Amendment and are not the norms we are faced with, per say, in everyday society.

Medicine and religion have long had a torrid love affair and I believe is the true wonder of the 'Chicken or the Egg' question. Everyday people are faced with stifling, uncomfortable decisions that force them to measure their faith and lay it bare before their consciences. Terry Schiavo, in more recent memory, is one of these cases and in it the courts ultimately ruled with the husband, because he was sole proprietor of Terry's guardianship by law, which is all our courts can ever truly rule on. Yet, somehow in the course of five years we have forgotten the application of judicial review as a fundamental form of deciding an issue and "morally conscious" judges persist to assert their own personal beliefs into their decisions, sometimes without regard for the rule of law, itself, which they've chosen to uphold in its highest form.

I do not say this lightly, nor without the understanding that I may myself one day be thrust into a situation that'll force me to lay bare my own convictions, to examine them and perhaps even second guess myself on a very personal issue… the rule of law is more important than any one life, because it protects the rights and freedoms of all lives.

In 'The Blues Brothers', there is an infamous scene where Jake and Elwood Blues encounter an army of Nazis gathering on a bridge in a small Illinois town; which, for you history buffs, elicits an awesome depiction of the National Socialist Party of America v. The Village of Skokie, whose 1977 Supreme Court ruling upheld an Illinois Supreme Court ruling that even "unpopular views" were still protected by the First Amendment when the political party aligned with the Third Reich and dressed to the nines in Nazi uniform decided to hold their peaceful rally in the small Illinois town of Skokie.

So… swastika-laden, goose-stepping American Nazi Party is permitted to hold a rally in a rural and peaceful town in Illinois; however, a New Jersey family is chastised and robbed of their children because their names have Nazi connotations…?

Terry Schiavo's husband had the right to remove her feeding tube, ultimately ending her life; however, Anthony and Colleen Hauser are not afforded the same rights to deny treatment for their child because it's sacrilege to their beliefs…?

I'm sensing double standards here.

Or how about this, the government exerts its energies on solving this financial crisis and the judges and officials who are meant to uphold the rule of law quit acting like Society's parents and working their jobs based upon either moral, or scientific grounds…?

In the articles revolving around the Daniel Hauser case, the people interviewed throughout them cite ethics as their defense for pursuing this case deep into the court systems and America's psyche. However, the ethics of a judge are neither religious, nor scientific, but should in fact be transcendent above the mind and heart and ruled based upon the finite, tangible, and known. And ethics!?!? These are just a few snippets from an article about the Daniel Hauser case (article here) :

"If chemotherapy is ordered and the family refuses, the judge said, Daniel will be placed in temporary custody. It was unclear how the medicine would be administered if the boy fights it."

"Caplan said the medical community recognized a person's right to refuse treatments — but those rights didn't extend to incompetent people or children. Still, he said: "It is hard to treat someone who won't cooperate." Restraints could be used."

"Officials at some Minnesota hospitals that treat cancer in children described several methods they would try to break through the boy's resistance.

Dr. Steven Miles, a professor of medicine and bioethics at the University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics, said a hospital may assign a companion to a child, or administer a sedative to relieve anxiety."

Forced administration of chemotherapy, state custody, restraints, breaking resistance, sedatives… a 13-year old boy (all there upstairs, educated, or not); nobody could spin these terms as "ethical" to me using every word in the language. Forced anything is, by definition, unethical; yet the hospitals "Board of Ethics" deemed dragging the parents and kid into court was the right thing to do.

I just can't agree with this and never will agree with the state assuming parental control or management for any situation short of excessive physical abuse or any sliver of sexual encroachment. The parents are the parents and their children are their children and therefore their right (within appropriate means, I don't need any ridiculous backlash likening this argument to support for murdering your child, or leaving them in a dumpster; these are obviously entirely separate issues and such arguments are affinitive to what I'd mentioned earlier about people testing the boundaries solely for the reason of testing them). How long will we sit back and allow the State to dictate our lives, rights and freedoms? This is an issue for all people, because all this is one more sign of how restrictive even our "free" government, "of, for and by the people" can be. And even when the majority has spoken, such as Newsvine's poll: "Should parents be allowed to refuse cancer treatments for their sick children?" In which 61% of over 13,000 voters agree with the Minnesota court's decision; I remind you that our laws are established "to protect the rights of the minority from the tyranny of the majority" and that there is nothing that can trump the Constitution itself, short of amending it. (Newsvine poll: Should parents be allowed to refuse cancer treatments for their sick children?)

So please, read up on this because these cases have been steamrolling the last few months and I believe we're only at the beginning of this struggle between religion, science and the courts, and should you disagree with me... that's fine; I'm expecting a healthy bit of opposition to my views on this one and welcome the counter argument, because you never know, perhaps you'll allow me to see something I've yet to see and then I'll be humbled, red-faced and smiling. Alls I know is that should things continue along this path, to my good friend Eric Mendoza: you may have to rethink your son's name, because the way things are shaping up right now SARG Mendoza, or Super Awesome Rad Guy… will probably be denied by the taxman.


*A crucial turn has taken to the story of Daniel Hauser in that it has now been reported that his father has publicly switched sides and now supports continuing chemotherapy for his son in an attempt to save his son's life. That being the case, Colleen Hauser will now undoubtedly be pursued as a kidnapper and I can no longer support her in her beliefs since this is a decision for two parents to make together. It is my belief that if there is a difference in opinion between parents, the court has the responsibility to error on the side of life (abortion debate excluded) and therefore I wish Anthony Hauser the best of luck in retrieving and saving his son.

None of this weakens my resolve in the above arguments, as I had made them under the pretenses that both parents still supported alternative medicines. I will continue to support them in situations where 100% of guardianship agrees one way or another.


  1. I think this was your most well-written, well-founded, well-everything. And you didn't curse once...just saying. And Lord knows I like to find at least one thing to argue. Alls I can say to this is this: I love you. Well said. I'm tweeting this (lame) and you can't stop me.

  2. Great piece of writing but I fail to understand that if a person is suffering from a disease then how can he/she be denied medical attention just because of faith or belief. Really astionishing to me.

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  3. Tom, it's less a matter of being denied treatment, I'd say, but more an issue of refusing treatment. The delineation between these two sides fades nearly completely when dealing with a child, I confess... it creates a flawed ethical dilemma in which both sides are justified and therein lies the problem. How does one rule if both sides have sound arguments? Which makes it a matter of personal politics v. pragmatic law, in which case it is in my most fervent personal opinion that government should have a very limited say over the choices of citizens and parents. In America (due to pragmatic law), faith must be respected (within reasonable means) because that is a core tenant to our way of life. To support this, I direct you to look into the Supreme Court Ruling on the Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. Hialeah... in which the High Court overturned its ban on ritualistic animal sacrifice in support of Santeria practices amongst Caribbean migrants in Florida. Eitherway, admittedly, this situation sucks entirely.