Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country
of West Texas
Tuesday, October 8, 2002
By Smokey Briggs
Just what is
Well, Madelyne Toogood is facing felony battery charges and her daughter
is in foster care.
Toogood is the woman who was caught by a mall security camera slapping
her 4-year-old daughter. With that tape the hitting-your-child-is-evil crowd
found the perfect vehicle for advancing their message that rearing a screaming,
ill-mannered, timeout-ignoring, day care monster is just fine while the slightest
swat on the fanny constitutes child abuse.
The tape is bad. The mother is obviously out of control. You cannot condone
what she did.
I do not.
She was obviously angry.
You do not hit children or animals when you are angry. Physical punishment
should be driven by reason, not emotion.
From what I have heard, the child was not injured.
If the child was not injured, and I mean injury past minor bruises and
reddened skin, then there was no abuse.
That is where the line between punishment and abuse should be drawn.
It is the only logical place to draw it.
To draw it anywhere else invites the judgment of the state, of individual
bureaucrats more concerned with covering their own fannies or advancing their
own agenda than protecting children, into the relationship between parent
Such intrusion does far more harm than good.
The judgment of the state changes with the decades and the ebb and flow
of political power. I don't want the neo-puritans of the religious right
telling me how to raise my children any more than I want the liberal non-parents
who oppose all corporal punishment.
Next year, the puritans may be the controlling force in American culture.
Frankly, I consider the treatment of children by most of the time-out-day-care-never-spank-the-kid
crowd far more abusive than anything caught on tape in that parking lot.
As far as I am concerned parents who do not care enough about their children's'
behavior to correct it at all are guilty of far worse abuse.
I would throw into that same category parents who plop their kids in front
of a television night after night; parents who do not teach their children
to read; parents who put their careers and wealth over time with their children;
and parents who do not pay attention to their children's education.
But, nobody died and made me king and my personal views of what constitutes
child abuse are not law.
If they were, half of America would be up on charges.
If the child was not injured, then there was no abuse.
To classify actions that do not result in physical injury as abuse requires
that the state make a determination on a case-by-case basis on any incident
involving corporal punishment.
That is an invitation to self-righteous social workers to substitute their
own vision of child abuse for a rational definition that does not endanger
the parent's right and duty to rear a child.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Smokey Briggs is the editor and publisher of the
Pecos Enterprise whose column appears on Tuesday. He can be e-mailed at:
The Democrats are guilty and N.J. Supreme Court helped commit the
The National Democratic Party continues to display amazing disregard for
the law when it suits it.
The current election law silliness in New Jersey is the latest example
and the New Jersey Supreme Court has proven that when faced with a choice
between the law and the Democratic Party's interests, it will choose the
party over the law.
Things were looking bad for Sen. Robert Torricelli, one of the New Jersey's
senators, and a democrat. Nine months ago it looked like he would be an easy
candidate to be re-elected to the Senate.
Scandal and a rebuke from the Senate concerning his ethics turned an easy
race into a dogfight with the Republican challenger moving ahead in the polls.
Have Torricelli withdraw and put in a new candidate _ the pick of the
Democrats was former New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg.
According to New Jersey election law, it was too late to add a new candidate
to the ballot.
Election laws in all 50 states require that candidates sign up for the
election some time before the actual election. New Jersey law allows for
a political party to replace a candidate up to 51 days before the election.
The Democrats missed the deadline by 15 days.
The deadline is there so that the ballots can be made and distributed
by the election date. Overseas voters and mail-in voters have to have the
ballots mailed well before the actual election day.
It is simply a matter of logistics.
It is also a matter of law.
The New Jersey Supreme Court overruled two lower courts that followed
this law to give the Democrats a better shot at retaining their majority
in the Senate.
That a political party would resort to breaking the law to retain power
is not surprising.
That a state supreme court would aide such lawlessness in the name of
party solidarity is depressing.
Such actions do not bode well for the rule of law in this country _ something
we should all jealously protect whether the law in a given situation benefits
us or not. In the long run its all that protects us from mob rule.
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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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