I want to live in a world where you can go for a test drive with people interested in buying your truck without getting kidnapped.
I want to live in a world where a teenage girl can accept a ride from a friend’s father without winding up a captive for ten years.
I want to live in a world where you can send your children to kindergarten without worrying that they will be shot.
But we don’t live in such a world, because we are far more concerned with rights than we are with public safety.
Now I am a fierce advocate for freedom of speech, and without freedom society disintegrates into tyranny.
But I also believe in the right to life, and when someone has consistently demonstrated that they do not value life, public safety should come first.
Take the way we deal with the mentally ill. When family members are scared of what a mentally ill person will do, they have no recourse, because it’s very difficult to commit someone to hospital. Most mentally ill people aren’t violent, of course, but when family members become scared, where can they turn? We must do a better job of helping these people and their families so that things like the Newtown tragedy won’t happen.
But what about those who are just plain evil, like Ariel Castro, who held three women captive for a decade? What can be done about monsters like that?
How about coming down hard the first time someone is violent? This guy did not take three women out of the blue; he decided to turn his ex-wife black and blue first. He broke her nose, dislocated her shoulder, and shoved her down stairs. She met the man she would marry at one of her many trips to the Emergency Room. Perhaps if we treated domestic violence more seriously this guy would have either been locked up or on a watch list.
Yet in reading his story something else strikes me. Apparently he came from a very rough childhood. That does not in any way excuse what he did; most people who grow up in rough childhoods grow into wonderful adults. Nevertheless, I have yet to read a story of a horrific murderer or sexual offender who came from a healthy background.
So I have to ask: what are we doing to protect children? I have several friends who are foster parents, and what I have witnessed has made me completely lose faith in our system. I have seen toddlers come into care who are already violent. They’re confused, and they’re angry, and they can be mean. And yet they are also just little children who want to be cuddled. In foster care they begin to flourish.
But I have seen judges, again and again, send these kids back to parents who messed them up in the first place, despite Children’s Aid pleas to give these kids a chance. Parents’ rights, even if they have starved their kids, caused permanent health damage, and allowed their kids to be sexually abused, apparently come first.
If I ran the world, parents who messed up their kids would lose them–fast. No going in and out of the system for years before being placed up for adoption; they’d go up early, when they’re two, and when a lot of love can make such a big difference. If I ran the world, men who were violent against women would be punished severely–and put on a permanent watch list so that when someone went missing, their house would be searched automatically. If I ran the world, people who were violent would not get multiple chances. We would say, “the safety of a 14-year-old girl matters more than the rights of a 40-year-old abuser.”
Because the innocent deserve better. And we, as a society, have failed them.
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