You don’t have rights over your children, you have responsibilities to them

I think we would all agree that as parents (or if we were parents), that we would act in the best interest of our child(ren) and recognise that we are responsible for a human being who’s not fully capable of making decisions for themselves. We would provide love, care, guidance and above all; safety.

Thankfully, the Wisconsin state Supreme Court agrees that these are the basic tenants of being a decent parent. It turns out that parents are not allowed to neglect their child, they don’t have the right to withhold necessary medical assistance to their child and they do not have the right to get away with homicide through neglect.

Photo: Wis. court upholds convictions of parents who prayed for dying girl instead of going to doctorA mother and father who prayed instead of seeking medical help as their daughter died in front of them were properly convicted of homicide, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.  Read more: (Photo credit and info: Wausau Daily Herald, Butch McCartney, File/ Associated Press.  In this July 2007 file photo, Madeline Kara Neumann, of Weston, Wis., is shown working on chalk art.)

Madeline Kara Neumann (A.K.A. Kara), who died in 2008 after parents refused to take her to a doctor to treat her diabetes instead opting for prayer.

Madeline Kara Neumann (A.K.A. Kara) died in March 2008 in her home from a case of undiagnosed diabetes. Despite gradually growing weaker and even being unable to eat, drink or walk, Neumann’s parents believed that visiting a doctor was akin to worshiping an idol.

She was 11 years old.

Did this not hold any magnitude with her parents? 11 years old. Not yet capable to look after herself independently. Not yet fully capable of understanding of what was happening to her body as she gradually grew weaker and weaker. And certainly not yet capable of making an informed decision of whether she believed a god existed (let alone the Christian god) and by extension whether she wanted her parents to pray for her rather than seek medical assistance.

A child is no more a christian than he’s a member of the postal worker’s union.” – Marcus Brigstocke

The overwhelming majority of the time when I criticise it is critique ideas, conventions and modes of thinking. However, for most of this post I will be criticising actual people. Dale and Leilani Neumann are responsbile for the effective murder of their 11 year-old daughter and are outright despicable people for forcing their child to obey their cult rules. There are only a small number of people for in the world I reserve such distaste and lack of pity for, this for me, is a big deal.

You thought prayer-healing in itself was bad enough, it turns out 31 states in the USA have child-abuse religious exemptions (Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming).

Last week saw me on the upbeat. This week I’m just outright pissed. At least 303 children have died since 1975 after medical care was withheld on religious grounds, according to Rita Swan, director of the Iowa-based advocacy group Children’s Healthcare is a Legal Duty.


That’s 303 children that could have been saved, or at least 303 couples who could’ve been prosecuted.

I have never been more aware of the dangers of believing stupid ideas for terrible reasons and assuming that parents have rights over their children rather than responsibilities to them.


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Weekly Update #011

Today we’d like to wish a Happy 39th Birthday to the brilliant comedian, David Mitchell. One half of the comedy duo; Mitchell and Webb, and star of That Mitchell and Webb Look and The Peep Show.

We’d also like to wish a Happy 48th Anniversary of the firs ever close up photos of another planet by the Mariner 4 spacecraft that flew by Mars in 1965.

Max is only able to publish one post this week with course stuff looming on this Thursday.

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One of the better news stories of the year.

‘We’ did it! For once, this isn’t going to be one of Things Can Only Get Better’s usual world-weary cynical despairing rants at society’s problems. For once, we can publish a celebratory post with limited analysis (much to everyone’s disappointment or relief).

‘Defence’ of Marriage Act (DOMA), that defined Federal benefits for married couples strictly between a ‘man’ and a ‘woman’; struck down!

Proposition 8 in California which banned same-sex marriage; struck down!

The world will live on with Gay Marriage! I recognise this is a clip from (Nash’s beloved country) New Zealand, but it’s still relevant (above).

There is still a hell of a lot to work to be done to progress LGBTQ rights in the USA. A mere 13 states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington) and the District of Columbia permit same-sex marriage. And there is still far too much tolerance for homophobia and homophobic hate crimes.

This is in sharp contrast to the over 30 states banning same-sex marriage with 17 of those states also banning other forms of same-sex union (civil partnerships, etc) in their state constitutions.

A little too many stereotypes for my liking, but still a good video (above). Be careful about banning same sex marriage.

There are those who will complain that this unelected ‘Judicial Activism’. What, the same ‘Judicial Activism’ that ended bans on interracial sex-marriage?

Section 1 of the 14th amendment reads as follows:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Now this is the very same amendment that was cited by the Supreme Court in the case of Loving v. Virginia in 1967, which struck down all state bans on interracial-marriage. Guess what grounds prop 8 was struck down under? Yeah, you’ve guessed it, the 14th amendment. Discriminating on the grounds of race is just as bad and unconstitutional as discriminating on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Yes, there’s still far too much to do to create true equality and further the cause of social justice. But my God, this is a step in the right direction and it is so refreshing to actually publish an upbeat post on this blog.


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Y’all paying attention?

There’s a lot one can fault with the USA’s political and governmental processes, the most glaring being the so called ‘fillibuster’. It grants far far too much power and influence to small groups of legislatures in Federal and State Congresses in their ability to effectively ‘talk down’ proposed legislation. On the other hand, who doesn’t love being an opportunistic hypocrite from time to time with recent events in Texas in mind?

Would you trust a man who brings a gun out in public?

Seems everyone’s ‘favourite’ sitting Republican Governor (Texas), Rick Perry (above), has been attempting to once again curtail reproductive and women’s rights. A bill proposed in the Texas state congress sought to do such a feat:

1. Ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy

– This is simply an attempt to gradually curtail the abortion timescale as far as possible for the sake of curtailing it. 9 in 10 abortions occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in the USA. Most of those late-term abortions are due to complications and mothers becoming aware of disabilities of the child.

2. Require doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospital.

– You may think this is reasonable enough, but not many hospitals in the state of Texas would allow admitting privileges for doctors on these grounds given how often the religious-right would set out to disrupt and harass hospital officials.

3. Limit abortions to surgical centers.

– This would effectively reduce abortion centres in Texas from around 67 (in 2008) to a mere handful. In the second most populous and second largest geographical state in the union this would be an unmitigated disaster.

A brilliant video addressing abortion in the USA (above)

Thankfully though, help was at hand. Wendy Davis, Democratic Texas state Senator from the 10th district embarked upon a heroic 11 hour filibuster. See I can be an opportunistic hypocrite at times. Ms Davis, you’re a hero to the ‘folks’ in Things Can Only Get Better!

Davis, triumphant!

Sadly, ‘pro-life’ Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, a man who recently oversaw Texas’ 500th (and I think his own 250th) execution, has called for a special sitting of the Senate just so the bill can be passed. My feelings to this particular instance can be eloquently explained here.

Not one of Perry’s finest moments (above).

But this constant attack on reproductive and women’s rights goes beyond mere Texas. The fight between pro-choice and ‘pro-life’/anti-choice is seen by those on the latter side of the argument to be a fight between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ and an affront to their god. The thing is, abortion rates are at their lowest rate since Roe vs. Wade in 1973 (from a high of 29.1 abortions per 1000 women aged 15-44 in 1981 to 19.4 abortions per 1000 women aged 15-44 in 2007). And this is primarily because medicine and contraception have progressed and have greater availability. It’s non-profit organisations such as Planned Parenthood have led this charge for sexual health and awareness. This is an organisation which receives much ridicule and criticism from supposedly ‘pro-life’ advocates, despite the actions and campaigns to reduce unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

Here’s the thing ‘pro-life’ supporters. If you oppose abortion and at the same time oppose contraceptives and comprehense sex education then you’re supporting a world where women die at the hands of unprepared and ill-equipped back alley abortion clinics.


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Weekly Update #010

We’d like to wish a Happy 72nd Birthday to Ken Clarke, current Minister without Portfollio. Clarke has held a vast number of Cabinet Positions throughout his long career. He was Health Secretary under Thatcher, Education and Home Secretary and then Chancellor under Major and Justice Secretary under Cameron. Clarke has run for the Conservative party leadership on three occasions; 1997, 2001 and 2005. He is well known for his enjoyment of cigars, Jazz and motor racing and Clarke is one of the longest consecutive serving MPs of all time, first becoming an MP in 1970.

Today also marks the 49th anniversary of Lyndon B. Johnson (Nash’s favourite US President) signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The bill was originally called for by John F. Kennedy back in June 1963. It was only after Kennedy’s assassination did the proposal gain any traction. Once enacted the legislation outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public. Less than 45 years later America was able to celebrate having its very first African-American President, in part thanks to Johnson’s work.

Johnson signing the historic legislation.

Links to the Multiverse

Stuff my Guinea Pig does – Fangirliness and squeeing.

The spirit of ’45: a flawed but powerful message for contemporary politics – Notes from a Broken Society.

‘This Misterie of Fucking’: A sex manual from 1680 – Benjamen Breen, Jezebel.

Revealed: The Tory Taliban’s Toxic Timetable – Labour List.

10 Signs You’re Having Your Quarter Life Crisis – Jessica Misener, Buzzfeed.

Labour history uncut: Labour wins the one to lose in 1929 – Pete Goddard and Atul Hatwal, Labour Uncut.

Why Tenant Blacklisting Is A Recipe For Abuse – Johnny Void, the void.

Nash hasn’t written anything this week. He’s been moving house.

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The Last Post: Chapter Five


Johnson B+W

“The Last Post” is a counter-factual, or “alternate history” scenario. It is published in weekly instalments here on Things Can Only Get Better. It is a work of fiction, of speculation, and of a certain amount of wish fulfilment. All quotes and references are “in-universe”.

Previous chapters are indexed here.

Chapter Five: Negotiation

8th May 2010

Continue reading

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It’s gone off the bullsh*t density detector!

I haven’t had the best weekend already. First the realisation that if I hadn’t cocked up my course I would’ve finished my final school placement on Friday. Then we have Ed Miliband pushing me the closest I have ever come to burning my Labour party membership card. But something topped all of that yesterday.

Now I recognise that there’s little chance of this coming to fruition, but it’s times like this that makes me realise that Cameron still does represent the ‘moderate’ wing of the Conservative party. Turns out that backbench Conservative MPs have drawn up an “Alternative Queen’s Speech“. There are a fair few aspects to this “Alternative Queen’s Speech” which I’ll trawl through:

1. Gay Marriage referendum.

This is a proposal popular with many Conservative backbenchers and is so stupid on so many levels. Simply because the proposal didn’t appear in any major party manifesto many MPs have been clambering for a referendum. I’m just curious where their similar requests are for a referendum on the NHS top-down reorganisation? Must’ve fallen off the cliff with their recent shift to the right.

2. Bring back capital punishment

To a degree, I have already covered this, but I’ll have another crack. First, there’s absolutely no evidence to show that it’d act as a deterrent with many capital punishment states in the USA having higher homicide rates than non-capital punishment states. On a far more philosophical note, I don’t believe in having a judicial system that’s based on revenge. If you deem it appropriate to kill someone simply because they killed someone else, that ain’t “justice” (a term I have my own problems with, though I wont open that kettle of fish now) that’d be revenge.

3. Abolishing the department of Energy and Climate Change

Again, this is stupid on so many levels. Just read this and go sit in a corner with a Dunce hat on.

Dunce hat! NOW!

4. Changing the August bank-holiday to ‘Margaret Thatcher day’

If we haven’t set up a bank holiday for Churchill, with the long list of favourable historical revisionism and cherry-picking by modern “historians”on his premiership, then why should Thatcher get get a look-in? And then why not Attlee, my own personal favourite post-war Prime Minister?

Yes, the proposed measures will probably not pass, but it doesn’t mean I’m not worried. And yes, I have taken a rather broad stroke at this news story. But, the new 2010 intake of Conservative MPs have established a reputation for independence from the frontbench and being a tad more right-wing than the Cabinet. My worry is the possible chance of a Conservative majority come 2015 with the recent shift to the right.

Sometimes I despair for humanity.


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