IN THE NAME OF CHILDREN
Oh, how statists love children. They love them not for the reasons most love children but because children provide such a wonderful opportunity for statists to enlarge their power. Feigning adoration of children, tyrants have always made much political hay by using children as pawns in their rise to power. We are seeing the same thing in America. Statists cynically and shamelessly use children in their deadly political game to increase their dominion over you. They want to educate them, feed them, clothe them, house them, pay for their medical care, protect them at all costs against every possible adversity: there is just no end to the things they want to do for children—all with your money, of course, money forcibly extracted from you, all at the price of your surrendering more of your freedom.
In the name of children, statists have made frightening advances in pushing this country toward tyranny, especially when it comes to the alleged "abuse" of a child. It is frightening because it has been such a successful tactic: it has reduced almost every defender of liberty to a state of stammering confusion, leaving them in full retreat against this statist blitz against your freedom. Until this statist nonsense has been refuted, there will be no stopping the decay of freedom in America.
Many parents, today, have gotten a small glimpse of what it must have been like to live in Nazi Germany. Germans who were part of the underground fighting Hitler often lived in fear of their children, afraid they would make some allegation against them to the authorities. The mere allegation by a child was enough to have the Gestapo sweep down upon these parents, subjecting them to investigation or worse. Today, in this country, parents with a recalcitrant child often live in fear of that child accusing them of some kind of abuse. Just the allegation of child abuse is enough to bring Gestapo-like authorities to the doors of parents so accused. In many states, any malicious person who wants to turn your life into some sort of hell can make a charge, anonymously, of child abuse. Such an anonymous charge requires no evidence, no proof, nothing except the ability to utter an accusation which may be completely baseless. Whatever happened to the right of the accused to face his accuser?
One of the sinister signs of a society heading down the road to totalitarianism is the enactment of laws forbidding a special category of crime: crimes without definition. Such laws, at best, only vaguely suggest what activity has been outlawed. Most laws regarding child "abuse," as they are currently written, are examples of such crimes. The terrifying nature of a crime without definition is that no one has any way of knowing whether he is going to be accused, and perhaps convicted, of such a crime. Since crimes without definition have no definition, it is left to the individual discretion of the person who enforces such a law to decide if you are to be charged with, say, abuse. This places in the hands of the enforcer a terrifying power over you. This means you are helplessly put in the position of having your fate and the fate of your children hinge upon the arbitrary decision of some state enforcer. Your only recourse is to appeal to higher authorities. But such an appeal leaves you essentially in the same position: in the absence of clearly defined law, these authorities are free to decide on the basis of any whim or bad mood of the moment. You just have to hope they like you and will believe you are innocent of wrongdoing.
Imagine what it would be like if we rewrote our laws regarding speed limits on highways in the same manner in which laws regarding "abuse" have been written. Rather than making it illegal to exceed, say, a speed of 60 miles per hour, we would simply make it illegal to go "too fast." Not only would you not know when you might be violating the law, you would be subject to arrest by any police officer who just happens to decide you are going "too fast."
Exactly what is "abuse"? In statist legislation regarding "abuse," there is little definition to this term. Terms defined in such a fuzzy fashion are rubber definitions: they can be stretched to cover almost anything. In the absence of a strict legal definition of "abuse," individuals substitute whatever definition they already have in their heads to give meaning to the term. They, in effect, turn to the dictionary, so let’s do the same.
According to Webster’s dictionary, there are three, related, meanings of the word "abuse" (as a verb) and are as follows: "1 to use wrongly; misuse… 2 to hurt by treating badly; mistreat… 3 to use insulting, coarse, or bad language about or to; revile." Which of the foregoing meanings of "abuse" is intended when statists use the word "abuse"? The answer is: all of the above.
Now let’s consider the meaning of these meanings when applied to, say, child abuse. What does it mean "to use wrongly; misuse" or "to hurt by treating badly; mistreat" when it comes to a child? The meaning of these definitions is so vague that it renders the concept of "abuse" virtually meaningless. What constitutes "hurt"? If you hurt a child’s feelings, is that abuse? If you spank your disobedient child, you are certainly hurting the child. Is this going to be child abuse? If you yell at your child, is this going to be child abuse? What if you ground your child for a week, not letting him out of the house, is this abuse? The answer to all of these questions is: yes. Statists are going to claim all of these instances are a form of child abuse. While a vague definition, as we have in this case, makes the concept of abuse practically meaningless, that is precisely the advantage it offers to statists. The meaning of the term "abuse" can be expanded to eventually cover almost any activity of an adult around a child, thus creating more opportunities for statists to regulate and control you.
Now let’s take a look at the third dictionary definition of abuse: "to use insulting, coarse, or bad language about or to; revile." This definition is a little more specific than the first two definitions. It is vague in the sense that what constitutes "insulting, coarse, or bad language" is open to debate and there are legitimate differences of opinion about whether a given word is "bad language." However, what is very specific and very clear about this sense of the word is that it involves one human activity: speech. Don’t let statists slip this one by you. If "bad language" is a form of abuse, if this is what they seek to outlaw, then it is your freedom of speech that they are talking about restricting. If using curse words around children is going to be a kind of child abuse, then more than half the fathers in this country will be vulnerable to prosecution.
Listen up, you conservatives, the ones among you who are so eager to legislate morality. Here we have statists openly laying siege to your right to freedom of speech. Statists will argue we have already established the precedent for their attack: laws on "obscenity," one of the favorite causes of conservative statists. Statists will argue since we have outlawed, in the name of children, certain kinds of "obscenity" in the media, the most recent and most revolting example being federal legislation regarding the Internet (fortunately, the Supreme Court recently ruled this legislation unconstitutional), why can’t we outlaw the "obscene" language of a parent around a child? In April of 1996, on an Oprah Winfrey show, there was an author of a book preparing the way for this very argument. She was claiming youngsters who are training to participate in the Olympics were being subjected to "abuse" by their parents and coaches. These youngsters were subjected to "abuse" because their coaches frequently berated the kids for, say, not putting forth more effort, and the coaches cursed or called them derogatory names. Think about this carefully. If statists succeed in making this kind of behavior on the part of these coaches illegal, if this kind of behavior is outlawed, the restrictions on your freedom of speech will spread like a wildfire, consuming individual liberty from one end of this country to the other.
Contrary to what most believe, logic rules the world. This does not mean that rationality dominates the life of most individuals: it clearly does not. It means that individuals, over time, are inexorably driven to the logical conclusion of the basic premises they have accepted—and this is precisely the reason why precedents always spread to other areas, a process which can only be stopped by rejecting the basic premise established by a given precedent—and this is why precedents, for better or for worse, are so important. This process cannot be escaped by anyone and it is governed by the syllogism. Those who have studied logic are familiar with the most common classroom example of a syllogism and it goes as follows:
All men are mortal (Major premise)
Socrates is a man (Minor premise)
Socrates is mortal (Conclusion)
Now consider the case of the author on the Oprah Winfrey show. The author’s argument goes as follows:
"Abuse" must be outlawed (Major premise)
Bad language is "abuse" (Minor premise)
Bad language must outlawed (Conclusion)
If you accept this argument, this syllogism, of this author, then these Olympic coaches are guilty of abuse and should be stopped by the state. If you accept this, then this author has managed to successfully set you up for your supporting the abolition of any kind of activity which might be alleged to be "abusive," whether it involves a child or not. Worse yet, you have accepted the idea that freedom of speech may be abridged by the state. Once you have swallowed, intellectually, this much, your freedom of speech will end up being destroyed, little by little, by a succession of laws designed to silence you in one area after another, all in the name of supposedly protecting children from "abuse."
There is federal legislation that outlaws "emotional abuse." This kind of law unlocks, and leaves wide open, the gates through which the abuse police can now enter and terrorize parents even more. There is no definition to "emotional abuse." Such a term can be construed to cover almost any kind of alleged mistreatment of a child. Anything that a parent might do that displeases a child or makes the child unhappy could be alleged to be some form of "emotional abuse."
Predictably, the kinds of "abuse" have multiplied rapidly. We have verbal abuse, sex abuse, elderly abuse, spousal abuse, emotional abuse and the list keeps growing and the definition of "abuse" keeps getting more vague. The word "abuse" has become a statist-rallying cry to justify the passage of all sorts of legislation further constricting individual liberty. Like accusations of witchcraft in medieval times, the mere accusation, in some statist circles, is proof of guilt, especially in cases of the alleged sexual abuse of a child. The denial by the accused is evidence of guilt. The denial by the alleged victim, the child, is evidence of the guilt of the accused. The mere accusation is enough to have the abuse Gestapo descend upon you and your family, turning your life into some hell on earth.
The proper legal status of an adult is clear: his right to life and liberty must remain inviolate. A right is a moral claim to independent action, action that may be taken without anyone’s permission. The source of an individual’s right to life is in his nature as a living being, with volition, who must be free to think and act in order to sustain his life. An adult has the right—the moral claim—to live his life independently. A child cannot claim to have the right—the moral claim—to live his life independently. A child is not capable of living independently. He must rely on his parents for food, shelter, clothing and the like until he is old enough to provide those things for himself. The process of growing up is the process of acquiring the skills and knowledge needed to live independently.
For a child, the right to life is not the same as an adult. For a child, the right to life means: the right to grow up. For an adult, the right to life means: the right to live independently and freely. A child may only take those actions permitted by his parents. An adult has the right to take any action he wants, without anyone’s permission, so long as he doesn’t violate the rights of others. However, today, as an adult, you are no longer fully free to exercise this right in this country. Statists have succeeded, over the years, in gradually changing your legal status from that of an adult to one that is closer to the legal status of a child. Increasingly, you, the adult, must seek permission from your "parents," those statists running our governments, before taking a certain action and the rules from these "parents" forbidding you from doing certain things increase on a daily basis.
This difference between an adult and a child has been implicitly understood by most in this country, but the fact that this understanding has been implicit has created much confusion when it comes to legislation regarding children, resulting in the violation of the rights of adults. Any legislation purportedly designed to protect children that violates the right to life of an adult is wrong.
Statists need confusion in order to succeed. A confused electorate is unable, intellectually, to resist the advances of statism. This is precisely why statists, particularly liberals, like to muddy the waters when they discuss issues, not only with fuzzy definitions (and invalid definitions) but also with half-truths and outright lies. Statists never want you to know what they are really after (your freedom). Until the statist murk which surrounds the proper legal status of a child is swept away, we will continue to see statists trample the rights of adults and, incidentally, of all future adults: children. That being the case, we need to carefully consider the correct legal status of a child and the rights of parents. In order to do this, we need to examine the proper and improper uses of force.
The initiation of force is the act of taking the first step in, of starting, the use of physical action against an individual or his property without his explicit or implicit permission. In a free society, the initiation of force is outlawed.
If someone takes a knife and cuts open your stomach, this is assault and attempted murder. This is the initiation of force. If a surgeon takes a knife and cuts open your stomach to remove a tumor, this is not criminal even though it essentially involves the same physical action: it is done with the patient’s explicit or implicit permission (in emergency situations in which the patient is unable to give explicit consent, the consent is implied) and the purpose of the action is to save the life of the individual. The physician has not initiated force. However, if the patient is conscious and refuses permission, a physician does not have the right to perform surgery without the permission of the patient, even though such surgery might save the life of the patient. A parent, however, has the right to make a child undergo such surgery. Again, implied consent applies here, as will be explained in more detail, even though the child might not want the surgery. The distinction between these two forms of physical action is the permission granted by the individual or the parent who has legal custody over a child too young to make the judgment for himself. One is the initiation of force, the other is not. Force necessarily requires physical action (or its threat), but not all physical action is the initiation of force.
If a police officer, or a private citizen, happens to drive by a burning house and breaks into the home to save the unconscious occupants, is this improper? No, it isn’t. Nor is it the initiation of force. On the surface, it would appear these individuals in this example broke into the home without the owner’s permission. So where is the permission in this example? It is implied—it is assumed the occupants, if they were able to do so, would grant permission to the rescuers to break into their home in order to save their lives. The concept of implied consent is very important, and must be carefully defined in law, since it applies to quite a number of areas, including the rights of parents raising their children.
But let’s get one thing very clear: a child does not possess the right of an adult when it comes to granting or refusing his permission. As noted earlier, a child may only take those actions permitted by his parents. A child does not have the knowledge or the judgment to make certain decisions for himself and it is the right of the parent, until a child reaches adulthood, to decide when a child is old enough to make certain decisions on his own. This being the case, the issue of permission from a child is not applicable to a child when it comes to his parents. Thus, if a parent makes a child, for instance, who doesn’t want to go to school attend school, this is not the initiation of force. Even if the parent administers a spanking, physically punishing the child, this is not the initiation of force. It is not on two grounds. First, the child does not have the right to deny permission to attend school: he isn’t an adult. Second, a child lives by the physical means—food, clothing, shelter, etc.—provided by the parent. These physical means are the property of the parent and the parent has the right to set the terms of their use. This means the parent has the right to set the rules of behavior for their children as long as they live in the parent’s home. A child who refuses to live by those rules is actually initiating force, indirectly, against the parent, by his physical refusal to obey the rules. Hence, a parent popping a child on the behind is the retaliatory use of force, not its initiation. Spanking a child is not abuse. It is the parents’ only ultimate means of enforcing their rights as parents, protecting the child and controlling the use of their own property.
There is also an element of implied consent when it comes to the parents’ right to raise their children as they see fit. The implied consent comes into play in the following manner: if the child were an adult he would agree that his parents were right in, say, making him go to school—in other words, he would give his permission to his parents’ actions if he were old enough to understand and give permission. Most parents have implicitly understood this. How many of us can remember our parents telling us, as kids, "When you grow up, you’ll be glad I made you do this. Someday, you will thank me."—even though you stood there in tears sure you never would be glad your parents made you do whatever they were requiring. But it was mostly true. Most of us who were fortunate enough to have parents who had clear rules and enforced them are grateful we were raised that way.
Now, let’s examine the proper role of the state in protecting a child from the criminal use of force, i.e., the initiation of force.
When it comes to the criminal use of force, a child must be provided the same protection as an adult. The child must be protected against such use of force against his person or property. This includes protecting him from the criminal use of force by a parent. Beating up a child is a crime, spanking a child is not. What is the difference? In the case of a spanking, the child’s ability to physically function in a normal manner is unimpaired. In the case of a beating, the child’s ability to function in a normal manner is impaired. A child quickly recovers from a spanking, but it takes some time for a child to physically recover from a beating. However, if an adult who is not the parent of the child takes it upon himself to spank, without the parents’ permission, the child, then this is the criminal use of force by that adult.
Since a child is not old enough to make certain decisions for himself, it is a parent’s right to forcibly restrain a child from doing certain things (such as, stopping a child who can’t swim from jumping into a pool). If a parent didn’t do this, a child would likely not live long enough to achieve adulthood. However, the parent’s use of force against his own child requires careful definition in the law. The distinction between a beating and a spanking offers the key to the principle that defines the line across which a parent must not cross. If the use of force by a parent is such that it physically impairs a child, meaning: it leaves the child unable to function normally and requires significant time (more than a few minutes) to recover, then it is wrong. This is the criminal use of force by a parent. This is the only kind of parental "abuse" which must be outlawed, except when it comes to sex, so let’s look at this issue.
When it comes to the allegation of an adult’s "sexual abuse" of a child, like other forms of "abuse," the exact meaning of "sexual abuse" is, in most legislation, not really defined, leaving the door open for all sorts of injustices against innocent adults. But, let’s assume, for the moment, that the sexual abuse of children is defined as the act of an adult having sex with a child and/or forcing the child to engage in sexual foreplay, such as fondling a child’s private parts. If this is the definition of sexual abuse, then it should be outlawed in a free society. However, today, what is alarming about the charge of the sexual abuse of a child is the unchecked proliferation of such charges permitted by the lack of adherence, by authorities, to strict rules of evidence which they would be, or should be, required to follow in any other criminal investigation. The rules of evidence regarding the alleged sexual abuse of a child are so loose, that the simple accusation by a child can result in you, the adult, being imprisoned. A wily and evil child (yes, there are evil children, those who willfully and knowingly do wrong) knows, at a fairly early age, that he has the upper hand in dealing with adults, including his parents: a charge of sex abuse by the child can turn the adult’s life into a nightmare.
Unfortunately, there are certain crimes, the commission of which, are very difficult to prove, but the "solution" is not to relax the rules of evidence in the investigation of a crime such as the sexual abuse (as we have defined it) of a child. There are, for instance, allegations of rape which are impossible to prove. The law cannot convict a man of rape only on a woman’s testimony. There must be substantial and convincing, corroborating evidence to support the woman’s testimony in order to convict, if justice is our aim. In the case of an adult’s alleged sexual abuse of a child, the same principle must apply. An adult cannot be convicted of sexual mistreatment of a child based solely on a child’s testimony. A child’s testimony is less reliable than an adult’s testimony. This fact means there will be many cases in which the alleged perpetrator will never be convicted, but this is true in the case of crimes against adults in which there is insufficient evidence to bring formal charges or convict. The rules of evidence must be clearly defined and strictly followed in all criminal cases. We cannot make an exception to this because the alleged victim is a child. It is better to let a hundred guilty go free rather than unjustly convict and imprison a single, innocent individual.
All other forms of parental mistreatment, real or imagined, of a child, as regrettable as it might be, are not the business of the state. There are all sorts of things that a parent might do that many of us would regard as mistreatment of a child. Occasionally, I see children who are being raised by parents who belong to some strict religious sect, recognizable because they require their children to wear clothing that is peculiar to that particular religion. These children always look unhappy, unconfident and somewhat frightened. I feel sorry for such children because I know it will take years for them to recover from having bizarre ideas stuffed into their brains. Indeed, they may never recover from such an upbringing. Nonetheless, the state should not interfere in such cases, as tragic as they might be. A parent has the right to require their children to attend the church of their choice or to raise them as atheists. However, if religious teachings require any kind of activity which brings physical harm, as already defined, to the child, then the state must protect the child from this initiation of force. This includes parents who refuse medical treatment, which they can afford, to their children on the grounds of religious beliefs. The refusal of medical treatment in such a case is no different than a parent refusing to feed the child. By the state acting in such a case, it is not violating the parent’s right to believe whatever they want in the way of religion. However, if a parent is unable to afford a certain medical procedure that is needed to save the child’s life, this is not the initiation of force by the parent and the state must do nothing. In a free society, there will be enough that will contribute to charities to pay for medical treatment in such cases.
There are parents who verbally attack their children in such a manner as to undercut the child’s self-confidence. There are parents who manipulate their children. There are parents who are mean and act in an ugly fashion around their children. All such behavior by a parent is despicable, but it is not and should not be criminal. The state has no right to interfere with the parents’ right to raise their child when it comes to matters of this kind. It is my right as a neighbor to morally condemn the parent, to his face, but it is not my right as a neighbor to try to force the parent, at the point of a gun, to improve his behavior around his children.
And then we have the author of a book appearing on NBC’s Today show, on February 4, 1997, who maintained that the children who are part of a family in which the husband and wife are openly fighting and bickering, who clearly hate each other, are better off if the parents remain married rather than getting a divorce. Not satisfied with simply attempting to persuade such parents to stay together, this author—a statist, through and through—was advocating, in the name of "protecting" children, that it be made mandatory for it to be as difficult as possible for such parents to get a divorce. This author was advocating that such parents be subject to a mandatory "cooling off period" and to mandatory counseling. In other words, this author was maintaining that your neighbor has a right to come to your front door, with gun in hand, to force you to act against your best judgment and to force you into counseling in the case of a marital dispute—to force you to spend some part of your life doing something that is against your wishes. If you grant this much to this author—and to those statists who control our governments—is there any part of your life that they might not control? No, there is not.
As my wife and I were taking our daily four-mile run, I told my wife about this female author on the Today show, and my wife’s response was that the enactment of legislation mandating a "cooling off period" and counseling for such parents would only result in couples not getting married, so they could avoid the penalties of such a law—and this is true: this is exactly what would happen. But what would be the response of statists? Once they realized that such couples were not getting married in order to avoid such regulations, statists would then propose and enact another round of legislation applying mandatory counseling and "cooling off periods" for any couples, married or not, who had children.
Statists, through their laws that rob you of your freedom, block your freedom of action in one area after another and once you figure out how to get around that blockage, they place another legislative roadblock to prevent you from avoiding their original restriction. Statists trap you in a labyrinth, a maze of regulations which keep shutting off your areas of free action, a labyrinth which eventually decays into a trap in which every path you take is marked by a statist sign which says: "No Exit." And once you reach that final sign, you will be in the grip of the total rule of these statists.
Now, consider yet another proposal by yet another little dictator from Missouri: the proposed requirement that you must go through mandatory counseling before you are permitted to get a marriage license, a legislative proposal which was being touted by a Missouri state representative on the March 10, 1997, edition of the Today show. First of all, you should not be required by the state to get a license to get married or for anything else. But to require that you are to be forced, at the point of a government gun, to endure counseling prior to getting a license to get married means you may be denied permission by these statists to get married if you do not satisfy these state-approved counselors that you are fit to get married. It means that your life is not yours to live as you see fit, that you must seek the permission of these statists before you get married or before you do anything else, that they are the rulers of your life. If you concede this much to these statists, then you have no rights. Are you going to concede that your neighbor has the right to force you, at the point of a gun, to satisfy him, through counseling, that you are fit to marry the person of your choice? If you concede this much, you are going to be a slave to these statists. It is no one’s damned business who you marry. Your life is yours. It is up to you to make such a decision. It is not a decision that is to be mandated to you by the state or by anyone else.
In what is one of the most foreboding and ominous developments in this country’s history, we now have a new "No Exit" sign enacted by statists, one which was overwhelmingly supported by Republicans, who are supposed to be your last line of defense against these statist piranhas who seek to strip you of your freedom: the so-called "welfare reform" act of 1996—an act which has reformed nothing, not in any fundamental way, but has only shifted the welfare burden to the states and which has brought us, in the name of children, one of the most staggering and shocking blows to freedom this country has ever witnessed: your loss of your right to trial by jury—and there was not one peep from the press protesting this momentous precedent established by this legislation. In an effort to collect child-support payments from so-called deadbeat parents, most of whom are fathers, this phony "welfare reform" act has authorized that state agencies be empowered with the authority to seize bank accounts and property, suspend licenses (thereby depriving you of a means of earning a living if you are a barber, a physician or a member of any profession which must have a professional license—or, if you must drive a car to get to work) and order genetic testing in order to determine paternity. According to an article in the February 18, 1997, issue of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in discussing legislation pending in the Missouri House: "The reputed father would have no right to a jury trial." (In a bitterly sad irony, this legislation was signed into law on July 1, 1997, only three days before the 4th of July, the day we celebrate the freedoms that had been won by the American Revolution, freedoms that are now being lost through such legislation.) The Post-Dispatch article goes on to quote one Teresa Kaiser, head of the Missouri Division of Child Support Enforcement, who called these new powers "nuclear weapons." She goes on to say: "If the parent has an unwillingness to pay, we’ll have the whole bag of tricks." And indeed she will.
You had better stop and very carefully consider this precedent which has been established by these statists: your very life could depend upon it. This is, indeed, a "nuclear weapon," as this little dictator from Missouri put it, one which has exploded, unnoticed by most, across America’s political landscape, one whose shock waves reverberate with the death knell of your freedom. By now, you should understand the importance of the precedents established by statists: once they have succeeded in establishing a precedent which obliterates your freedom and rights in one area of your life, that precedent is then applied by statists to other areas of your life, seizing even more of your freedom—and this is exactly what is going to happen with the precedent now being established that fathers no longer have the right to trial by jury in the case of paternity disputes. With state authorities now empowered to seize bank accounts and property, suspend licenses and determine paternity through compulsory genetic testing—all accomplished by statists with no right of the accused to trial by jury—these authorities will most surely be successful in extracting payments from such accused fathers for the support of children who may or may not be theirs. This pattern of success will then be used to justify the use of the same tactics in other areas of your life—which means: statists will soon be advocating the suspension of trial by jury for other violations of their laws.
Think about the principle which has been established by this provision of the "welfare reform" act: if your right to trial by jury may be suspended in the case of paternity disputes, it may be suspended in the case of any alleged wrongdoing. This is the logic that will drive future efforts by statists to deprive you of your right to trial by jury in other areas of your life. One of the alleged benefits of suspending jury trials, according to the Post-Dispatch article, is that it "speeds up" the process of collection from deadbeat parents. Why not suspend your right to trial by jury if you are accused of child "abuse," since this would "speed up" the imprisonment of accused child molesters? If you are accused of "sexual harassment," wouldn’t we "speed up" matters if we eliminated your right to trial by jury? What if you are accused of some form of "discrimination," wouldn’t we "speed up" matters if we avoided protracted trials by jury and simply gave some dictatorial bureaucrat the power to decide your fate?
What is going to be speeded up by this precedent in the "welfare reform" act is our descent into the hellhole of tyranny. The suspension, through the "welfare reform" act, of your right to trial by jury in the case of paternity disputes is a threat to your freedom that cannot be overstated. If you no longer possess the right to trial by jury when you are accused of some violation of the law, you are totally and completely in the control of some state authority. Statists need nothing else to establish total power over you and to finally bring this country crashing down into the gory pits of a total dictatorship. If this precedent in the case of paternity disputes is not repealed, it will spread to other areas, eventually bringing the terror of totalitarianism to your life.
Federal legislation requiring televisions sold in the United States to have the so-called V-chip, a device which supposedly will enable parents to block a child’s access to certain programs, is another example of legislation in which statists, under the guise of protecting children, have delivered another blow to freedom—your freedom and, as noted earlier, the freedom of children once they become adults. This legislation violates the right to life, liberty and property of the owners of the companies that manufacture televisions, every store owner who sells televisions and every buyer who doesn’t want a television with a V-chip.
There will be those who will think this insignificant since many of these individuals are businessmen, as if it is okay to violate their rights, but these businessmen are individuals and they have the same individual rights as you. To violate the rights of one is, in principle, to violate the rights of all. If you decide to purchase a television, once this legislation takes effect, you will be forced to pay for the V-chip whether you want it or not. What if you don’t have children and don’t want or need a V-chip in your television? What if you do have children, but don’t want or need a V-chip because you monitor television watching by your children? The statists have an answer for you: tough, you are going to be forced to do what they tell you to do, they are going to dictate to you what you must do.
Requiring a V-chip in a television brings us a step closer to another kind of chip to protect children. Recently, many pet owners have been able to take advantage of some marvelous technology to protect their pets: injecting a small computer chip under the skin of the animal. This computer chip makes it possible for any pet to be identified and returned to the owner if the pet becomes lost and someone later finds it.
To my knowledge, no statist has yet proposed the following but, mark my words, some statist will: why not inject these computer chips under the skin of a child? Think of the advantages, they will argue. It would make it much easier to find missing children. Or, for the squeamish, rather than placing the chip under the skin, the child could simply wear an electronic bracelet, as some convicted criminals do now, which would make it possible to locate a child if he has been kidnapped by some child molester. If we do this for our pets, shouldn’t we at least do the same for our children? Electronic identification, bracelet or chip, would provide a foolproof way to detect them. It is only a matter of time before we begin to hear such arguments from some far-out corner of statism’s adherents. And when you finally hear such arguments, how will you answer them if you do not declare and fight for your right to live your life without seeking the permission of others, without the forcible interference of others, most especially the state? There is no way to answer, unless you assert your right to live your life freely.
Now consider yet another move by statists, all in the name of allegedly protecting children, to gradually restrict freedom of speech even more: the "settlement," in 1997, with the major television networks (with the exception of NBC) to implement a ratings system for their programs. While no actual legislation was enacted requiring the ratings system, federal officials still effectively mandated it.
When you have Clinton and his cohorts pressuring network executives to adopt a ratings system, what is the trump card being used by Clinton and his bullies, what is the unstated threat behind their efforts? Adopt the ratings system "voluntarily" or legislation will be enacted forcing the adoption of such a ratings system. In other words, network executives have adopted the ratings system under duress, under the threat of the use of government force—which means: they are the victims of a statist extortion racket. And this is why NBC will most likely eventually fall in line with the other networks and go along with the ratings system—their lone holdout increases the likelihood of legislation or regulatory edicts from the likes of the Federal Communications Commission which will bring networks under a greater degree of state control. And in this particular case, the threats of legislatively imposing a ratings system were not implicit at all: the networks were openly threatened with the forcible imposition of ratings by none less than a Republican Congress—Republicans, who are supposed to be defenders of our liberty.
But the most appalling—and most ominous—aspect of this grisly spectacle of network executives being bullied by government officials is the ratings system itself: it is yet another step toward eventually having the state control the content of television programming. A ratings system for television programs is really nothing more than a label placed on the program, a label which purportedly provides some indication of the content of the program. Take special note of the fact that ratings are based on the content of programs and their purpose is to keep certain viewers from seeing certain programs.
Now consider the manner in which labels have been used by statists for other products, most notably cigarettes. Over thirty years ago, legislation was enacted forcing cigarette manufacturers to place warning labels on cigarette packages. Today, statists now claim that these labels weren’t enough and now with the tobacco "settlement" it appears the FDA will control the content of cigarettes. This pattern of first mandating labels on some product supposedly dangerous to children or adults and then ending up controlling the content of the product is not unique to cigarettes. It is a pattern that has repeated itself for years with all sorts of products. Food products of virtually every kind were first required to have labels describing the product’s contents, then the FDA began regulating what manufacturers could and could not put in their products. And this pattern will surely repeat itself in the television industry, if statism continues to roll through this country.
The ratings system for the television networks is supposed to protect children from programs statists deem harmful to children, programs which contain behavior which might lead children to imitate and engage in, for instance, violent acts. But once it becomes clear that the ratings are not effective—and they won’t be and statists know they won’t—you will begin to hear cries from statists that we must "do something," and that "doing something" will be for the state to begin to control the content of television programs, to provide "guidelines," to make them "safer" for children. The event which will trigger statists calling for the regulation of the content of television programs will most likely be the next time the epidemic of juvenile crime soars to yet another high. Statists will blame the explosion in juvenile crime on television programs, even though it is statists and their ideas that are the real cause of crime. (Prophetically, I wrote this in 1997. With the Littleton, Colorado, tragedy, statists are now, in 1999, doing precisely want I predicted.)
But most disturbing of all is the precedent the ratings system establishes in the minds of most of the American public. It has reinforced the already established notion that the state has a role in regulating any means of communication and that almost anybody and anything can be controlled by the state if that person or thing presents some supposed "danger" to children. If the state can dictate, as it effectively has, that a ratings system be adopted by television networks, then, in principle, they can dictate anything to the networks, including the content of their programs—this is the idea which has now been accepted, if only implicitly, by most in this country and statists need nothing more to eventually eliminate freedom of speech in this country.
And what about other means of expression? What about radio talk shows? What about magazines? What about newspapers? What about books? Why not have ratings for all of these means of expression? In principle, there is no difference between a book or magazine or newspaper or radio show and a television program—and because there is no difference, the logic of this fact will eventually drive statists to begin to target books, magazines, newspaper articles and radio shows for inclusion in some sort of ratings system for these means of expression. They will be calling for warning labels on books (in some corners of this country, there are already those calling for exactly this) and magazines and there will be calls for legislation making it illegal to sell to children a book or magazine with an undesirable rating.
Then, there will be statist calls for legislation making it illegal for children to possess or read books and magazines with, say, an R rating, a rating which indicates such published works contain sex or violence or some other content statists declare to be undesirable for children. Radio shows which have an undesirable rating will be required to broadcast during off-hours, say after 10 PM, when most children are supposedly in bed—and the argument statists will use for this measure will be the long-established precedent set by television networks, under pressure from government, in which they only broadcast so-called adult programs after certain hours in the evening.
You think this can’t happen in America, that statists will never be able to take it this far? You had better think again. This is the logical, inevitable outcome of the precedents already accepted by a majority in this country today. It is only a matter of time for the logic of these precedents to translate themselves into practical events in the future. And as long as statism continues its virulent growth in this country, it will get worse and worse, until we finally reach the point where warning labels are placed on books and it will be illegal for children to read certain books and radio shows, such as Rush Limbaugh’s, will only be permitted to air in the dead of night thereby limiting the audience for such shows. And since statists will be in charge of deciding which books will be legally off-limits to children, just what books might they select? Any book that opposes their rise to power, any book that promotes a philosophy of reason and freedom, any voice which doesn’t agree with their agenda of regimenting your life—these will be the books statists will attempt to keep children from reading and by the time they reach adulthood all they will have read will be books which promote statism, creating new generations who will be the future storm troopers for statists. And once that happens, we will have authorities kicking in your door, not to search just for drugs or guns, as they do today, but to search for and seize books. And if you want a further indication of just how close we are to this happening, consider one 11-year-old boy.
On July 11, 1997, one of the callers to Rush Limbaugh’s radio talk show was an 11-year-old boy. This youngster was calling to make known his opinions on the subject of smoking and the evils, in particular, of Joe Camel. He approved the banning of ads featuring Joe Camel, banning Joe Camel from appearing on private property (such as a T-shirt or a race car), banning Joe Camel from appearing in any printed material—all the while not realizing or not caring that such acts are major blows to freedom of speech and to individual property rights, that they set the precedent for more things to be banned in the future and for the further destruction of individual freedom in the coming years. But in this respect he was only a chip off of the block, only following the lead of his elders, most of whom apparently support the views he was expressing.
However, this youngster wanted to take matters a step further to take care of the evil of Joe Camel: he thought the police, armed authorities, should search private residences to locate and confiscate any item in the residence that might have an image of Joe Camel on it or in it. While this youngster didn’t specify what these items might be, they could include anything: caps, shirts, magazines, even a book if it contained a picture of Joe Camel. I do not know, for a fact, if this young man’s views are representative of others his age, but I suspect that they are. And if they are, consider the frightening implications: in seven years, this youngster, and others like him, will be able to vote, able to vote for statist politicians who will carry out their views. And by the time this new crop of statist-minded voters arrive on the scene, there will undoubtedly be other things they would like to add to what by then will be a growing list of things forbidden to appear in print or be owned by individuals—all in the name of protecting children.
Today, freedom of speech is under greater threat than at any time in this country’s history. It is a threat that virtually no one seems to recognize. If this freedom is extinguished, America will swiftly fall to totalitarianism. Freedom of expression is under siege by statists from virtually every quarter of this country, involving virtually every issue in politics, and these attacks are coming mostly, although not exclusively, in the name of protecting children.
Consider the more fundamental, and chilling, meaning of the imposed ratings system for television programs and the banning of virtually all advertisements for cigarettes. In both of these cases, statists are really seeking to suppress ideas, ideas that they deem to be harmful to children. In the case of television programming, they wish to forcibly prevent children from watching programs which might give them the wrong idea, such as the idea it is good to smoke, engage in sex at an early age, drink alcohol or commit violent acts—activities which virtually no adult in this country would recommend to youngsters. In the case of the restriction of advertisements for cigarettes, statists have the same goal: they wish to forcibly suppress the expression, through ads, of the idea that it is attractive to smoke, so young people will not get the wrong idea. In both cases—the ratings system and the proposed banning of cigarette advertising—statists are seeking to forcibly forbid the expression of certain ideas and, in doing so, they have established a horrendous precedent: the state may forbid the expression of ideas.
As already noted, logic is always at work: to your advantage if your basic premises are true, but to your detriment if your basic premises are false—and when they are false, logic becomes reality’s avenger, punishing those who hold such premises. And in this instance, logic is going to be a grim reaper of untold misery in the future if this precedent is allowed to stand. After all, statists will reason, if they can forcibly forbid the expression of some ideas that may be harmful to children, then they can forbid the expression of any ideas that they consider to be harmful to children. And this gruesome logic will drive statists to issue calls in the future for the banishment of ads for alcohol, ads for movies which contain unsuitable content, ads for foods containing high amounts of fat or sugar or caffeine, ads for so-called "junk food," ads for radio talk shows or for newsletters, ads for any product or idea which statists declare to be dangerous to children. And they will do this knowing full well that none of it will work, none of it will protect children from cigarettes or anything else. We do not have advertising for cocaine, heroin, marijuana or other illegal drugs, yet their use is at epidemic proportions among the youth of this country, proving that the abolition of advertising accomplishes nothing except the downfall of freedom—and statists know this. Their real goal is the destruction of freedom, not the protection of children. Children are merely a stepping stone for statists in their rise to power.
America is quickly approaching an epochal moment in its history. As you will see in coming chapters, we already have laws on the books that restrict freedom of speech, but these restrictions were imposed by legislative means so subtle and indirect that most didn’t recognize these acts as attacks on free expression until after the fact, until after the legislation was in place. However, if the banishment of all advertising for cigarettes is finally legislated, as it appears it will be, this will be an overt, blatant, open attack on the free expression of certain ideas, a precedent which will sweep through America, silencing individuals in one area after another. America will have finally reached the point where the expression of certain ideas will be criminal, punishable by jail, fines or forfeiture of property. The idea contained in a cigarette advertisement may be offensive, it may be wrong-headed, but it should not be made criminal to express such an idea—yet this is what we are coming to in America: it is going to be against the law to express certain ideas, to advertise and promote the idea that it is good to smoke or good to do something else.
Only politically correct ideas will be allowed to be published and advertised. And what exactly is "politically correct" when it comes to ideas? Since statists control our various governments, it will only be ideas that are approved by statists—which means: those who oppose them will eventually be forbidden to express ideas that do not support the statist agenda of evil.
Still can’t believe this could ever happen in America? Well, consider yet another stratagem by statists to strangle freedom of speech and consider just how close we are to that freedom disappearing—all in the name of children.
Emboldened by their success in mandating the adoption of a ratings system for television networks, but frustrated by the Supreme Court ruling (July 2, 1997) striking down the 1996 Communications Decency Act, statists in the Clinton administration are now going after news organizations who have a presence on the Internet. Organizations such as CNN, The Associated Press, ABC News, MSNBC, and all others like them, are being pressured by White House statists to adopt a ratings system for the content of their news programs. Here we have what is nothing less than an overt, flagrant effort on the part of statists to begin to gain control of the news media. Recall what I stressed earlier: ratings are based on content and their purpose is to keep certain viewers from seeing or reading certain programs. In the case of news, this is an effort by statists to control your access to certain news programs, to keep you from knowing what is happening about certain events, to control the flow of information that comes to you. This was what they had in the former Soviet Union, this is what they now have in communist China and this is what they had in Nazi Germany.
If statists are successful in getting these ratings in place, consider the practical manner in which they will work. Early on, the ratings system for news stories will be "voluntary" (this "voluntary" approach will later be abandoned in favor of a legislated system because of a few renegade news organizations that will refuse to kowtow to statists and not participate in the ratings) and news organizations will police themselves.
But news organizations will know they will have statists, who wield the powers of state, looking over their shoulders, watching everything they are doing, with the not-so-subtle threat: do it our way or else—or else, statists will enact legislation bringing these news organizations under greater control. In order to gain the most favorable rating and not offend statists, news reporters will begin to carefully select the content of their stories, carefully choosing their words in order to get the best rating, one which will give them and their story the widest circulation. Reporters will quickly lose interest in reporting anything that will not get them the best rating and the most exposure. What about a story such as the Paula Jones lawsuit? This would receive an unfavorable rating because it contains sexual content. What if there is another Ruby Ridge or Waco? These stories would receive an unfavorable rating because they contain violence. Reporters will not be primarily interested in reporting the truth (even without ratings, this is not the goal of many reporters today), in reporting news of interest to you, but will be primarily interested in publishing and broadcasting stories which will please statists who control our governments. Once we reach this point, news story after news story will end up being suppressed, stories which statist rulers will find offensive, effectively bringing these news organizations under control of the state. And when statists finally achieve full control of the news media, they will possess the power to control which ideas may or may not be disseminated in the media, to dictate which ideas they deem suitable for your consumption—and once that happens, totalitarianism will quickly rear its ugly face in America.
In a free society, ideas are debated, not mandated; they are the subject of persuasion and education, not regulation. In a free society, it is the parents who control a child’s exposure to ideas; they, not the state, decide which ideas they wish to promote to their own children. But statists are not interested in persuasion or reason: they wish to mandate, to dictate to you what you must think and what you must do. If you do not voluntarily view the television programs or news stories they regard as suitable, they will dictate to you what programs you and your children must watch. If you do not voluntarily quit smoking, they will dictate to you that you must stop smoking. In other words, if you do not think the way they think, then forget about thinking: they will force you into compliance, into compliance with their ideas about how you should live your life.
If you are still unable to make yourself believe that America will ever arrive at the point at which it will be criminal to express certain ideas, you had better think again: it has already happened. Beating the anti-smoking statists to the punch, statists at the FCC issued a hair-raising decree, effective September 1, 1997, dictating television networks must air three hours a week of so-called "educational" shows for children—in other words, networks must now broadcast three hours each week of programs which have a certain content ("educational") which meets the approval of the FCC.
While the FCC edict did not specifically establish a board of censors for these programs, they effectively accomplished the same thing through an indirect, backdoor method: networks must demonstrate to the FCC that they have met this requirement to broadcast these "educational" programs when it comes time to have their licenses renewed. If the FCC decides that the content of the programs has not been "educational," then the FCC has the power to yank the license of the network, effectively bringing the content of these programs under the control of these FCC statists. If a given network is denied renewal of its license on the grounds its programs were not "educational," this means the ideas expressed in these programs were such that they did not fulfill the network’s legal requirement to produce these so-called "educational" programs—which means: the ideas were illegal (i.e., criminal).
Networks, scrambling to protect themselves when it comes time to renew their license, have hired panels of experts to review their scripts in order to ensure that these scripts contain the appropriate "educational" content, making these experts an unofficial, yet de facto, board of censors, making certain the networks comply with the FCC decree. According to an Associated Press story (August 31, 1997), referring to the producer of "Doug," a cartoon show, "Now his scripts must pass muster with a team of Harvard educators who have another concern: Will children learn?" Given the fact the FCC statists have accomplished all of this with such ease, with no visible opposition, statists will be encouraged to move, in the not-too-distant future, to extend their power to control the content (ideas) contained in all children’s programs and then it will eventually extend to all network programs, whether they are for children or not.
Finally, you should watch for the unfolding, in the coming months, of a development that will threaten children as well as adults: the move by statists to redefine the term "media." This move gained new energy in the aftermath of the tragic death of Princess Diana. In CNN’s televised coverage (on September 2, 1997) of the events surrounding Diana’s death, CNN featured a parade of Hollywood celebrities who were calling for legislation to control the press, especially tabloids, and then CNN presented an interview with a columnist with the Daily Variety. This individual, apparently fearing regulation of the media, was attempting to distance himself, a mainstream member of the press, from the tabloids by claiming that tabloids are not really members of the media—and, in making this claim, he fired the first shot in the effort of statists to corrupt, for their evil purposes, yet another term: "media."
Consider what is going to occur with the term "media." In the case of this term, what we are going to see is the same process, in principle, we have seen in the case of the term "abuse," except in reverse: rather than have the application of the term multiply, as it has with "abuse," the use and application of the term "media" is going to shrink. First, we will likely see tabloids removed from the heading of "media." Why? So when statists eventually pass legislation or issue edicts or shut down certain tabloids, they will be able to claim that they have done nothing to regulate the media, since tabloids are not part of the media. Then we will have some other form of communication drop out of the list of things statists will call "media." Perhaps online news organizations or, and this is more likely, radio talk shows will be the next means of communication which will no longer be regarded by statists as "media." Then some other means of communication will fall from the classification of "media" and on and on and on. Eventually, the "media" will only include the outlets of information that are most subservient to statists, those that follow the desires of statists.
You cannot protect the right to life of a child (in the sense in which it applies to a child) by violating the right to life and liberty of an adult, as we are doing today. Unless we reverse the direction of this country, children who are born today will, in 21 years, arrive into legal adulthood only to discover they have grown up to be some sort of serf, to live a life in which they will be forced into a kind of involuntary servitude to pay for the goals of their statist rulers. The mind-boggling irony of this future situation will be that these children will have been delivered into serfdom in the name of "protecting" them as children. As children, they had the "right" to education, food and housing and the "protection" against "abuse," "protection" against the dissemination of "dangerous" ideas and products. As adults, they will discover their right to live their lives as they see fit is not to be protected, but abused, by the state. Is this the future you want for your child?
In a free society, a child is provided the same protection of an adult: protection against the initiation of force. We must not, in the name of "protecting" children, deliver children and yourself, in the process, into the evil of a society in which you do not have the right to live your life as you see fit. If you can only live by permission of statists, you have no rights—and neither will your children when they graduate into adulthood. In the name of protecting children, children are to become the future slaves of statists. For the sake of children, and yourself, don’t let this happen.