Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Trial by Franz KAFKA

The term "Kafkaesque" is often used to describe existential, ridiculous and surreal personal encounters with government bureaucracy and they derive mostly from the selection of titles written by Franz KAFKA (1883-1924). These include such classics as "The Metamorphosis", "The Castle" and posthumously "The Trial".

KAFKA was a Jew, uniquely placed to comment on the queasy state of seeping antisemitism which grew to official policy under the Nazi's. Much of what he wrote described the worst fears of a totalitarian state. His popular novel "The Trial" was one of his many unfinished works at his death and was not published until 13 years later - right after the Nazi's took power. Such timing lead it to be incorrectly considered a satire on the absurdity of the Third Reich's absolute disregard for natural justice, despite a veneer of law.

Here is a critical synopsis of the book.
The Trial is a fascinating, truly terrifying performance but leaves an impression of incompleteness, of narrative threads calling out for repair.

The novel begins with one of the most famous openings in modern literature. It is the rising bank manager Joseph K.'s thirtieth birthday, and two sinister-looking men claiming to have court authorization to arrest him rudely accost him in his bed that morning. Someone must surely have falsely accused him of a crime. The two warders examine his clothes with a view to carting off what they can. Our protagonist K. wonders what authority these warders represent. The shock is immense, for as we are told: "He lived in a country with a legal constitution, there was universal peace, all the laws were in force; who dared seize him in his own dwelling?"

K. is told that he is free to proceed to work that day but must await a summons. Sure enough he is called to attend his first interrogation, the process of formally and systematically questioning a suspect in order to elicit incriminating responses. This odd affair takes place in a courtroom found in a maze of poorly ventilated, nondescript, disorientating office cubicles. We quickly learn that in this system, there is no due process of law, no rights whatsoever that an accused can rely upon, and that the process can be interminable. Kafka is offering us an exaggerated account of Austro-Hungarian criminal procedure -- no right to remain silent, etc. -- but also a grim prophecy of a situation in which the courts will be accountable to no citizen and will rule as arbitrarily as they wish.

K.'s uncle turns up at the bank to advise him to consult the eminent lawyer Huld ("Grace" in German). Growing ever-more desperate, our once-respectable hero dutifully attends before the lawyer, who claims to have important connections to the court, but who we immediately suspect will be unlikely to affect the outcome of these rigged proceedings.

The Trial is in important respects a symbolic account of the manner in which ordinary citizens will find their lives shattered by a totalitarian legal system which will rule by brute force under a veneer of legal rules. Kafka conveys the sheer horror and bewilderment of ordinary, apolitical citizens, who realize too late that a new regime has targeted them for punishment not for what they have done, but for who they are.

Perhaps the most tragic aspect of Kafka's chilling depiction of the ease in which a totalitarian regime can use the judicial machinery and a large bureaucracy to strip citizens of their rights is the way in which citizens respond with a mixture of fear and gullibility. Somehow, they think, there must be a reason for the laying of charges against their fellow citizens. In any event, there is no point in getting involved. No one in The Trial comes to Joseph K.'s aid in any meaningful manner, including the lawyers he encounters. K. himself, when he encounters others who have been charged with unknown offences, fails to make common cause with to join with in purposes and aims. And so a desolate end awaits the protagonist and by implication anyone else singled out by the sinister forces of the emerging totalitarian state.
To anyone who has been involved with Family Court, this sounds vaguely familiar.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Designing Women - Swedish Feminism

A play on words I know. The U.S sitcom that featured 3 menopausal women and a gay assistant was never something I really could stomach but channel surfed through. Yet, it struck me as another example of the feminist revolution that such a program could even exist let alone thrive for 3-4 seasons (I'm actually not sure how long it lasted, and if you care look it up).

Yet here we see the results of that ideology (here is Google English translation from Swedish):

"Swedish parents keep 2-year-old's gender secret"
Pop's parents, both 24, made a decision when their baby was born to keep Pop’s sex a secret. If anyone enquires, Pop’s parents simply say they don’t disclose this information. They say their decision was rooted in the feminist philosophy that gender is a social construction.

“We want Pop to grow up more freely and avoid being forced into a specific gender mould from the outset,” Pop’s mother said. “It's cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead.” The child's parents said so long as they keep Pop’s gender a secret, he or she will be able to avoid preconceived notions of how people should be treated if male or female.

“Ignoring children's natures simply doesn’t work,” says Susan Pinker, a psychologist and newspaper columnist from Toronto, Canada, who wrote the book "The Sexual Paradox", which focuses on sex differences in the workplace.

But Swedish gender equality consultant Kristina Henkel says Pop’s parents' experiment might have positive results. “If the parents are doing this because they want to create a discussion with other adults about why gender is important, then I think they can make a point of it,” Henkel says in a telephone interview with The Local. Henkel also says a child's sex can deeply affect how they are treated growing up, and distract them from simply being a human being. She says that without these gender stereotypes, children can build character as individuals, not hindered by preconceived notions of what they should be as males or females. “I think that can make these kids stronger,” Henkel says.

Anna Nordenström, a paediatric endocrinologist at Karolinska Institutet, says it’s hard to know what effects the parents' decision will have on Pop. “It will affect the child, but it’s hard to say if it will hurt the child,” says Nordenström, who studies hormonal influences on gender development. “I don’t know what they are trying to achieve. It’s going to make the child different, make them very special.”
Oh yes, very "special"!

The article then goes on to mention the sad case of "Brenda", who we now know was David REIMER of Winnipeg, MB who unfortunately had his penis loped off during a botched circumcision in 1965. On the advice of an American Psychologist John Money, he received genital reconstruction, estrogen treatments and was raised as a girl based on the predominate theory at the time that gender was indeed a "social construct" and that genetic heredity was virtually irrelevant. At 14 years he was told about the "accident" and rebelled. He recovered his genetic "heritage" by having the treatments reversed but was tormented by the experience and after a series of unhappy romantic involvements and failed marriage, he took his own life at age 38 in 2003. Yes, how "special" he felt to be de-gendered and used a human guinea-pig for a political ideololgy.

The article closed with this spine tingling quote:
"Pop's parents have a second child on the way and have no plans to change what they see as a winning formula. "
Given the recent case in Winnipeg MB of a child being removed by Child Protection Services (CPS) from her mother and step-father due to their "White Supremacist/Nazi" sympathy's after their 8yr old daughter came to school with swastika drawn on her palms, I wonder if there is any plans by the equivalent Swedish Child Services "Storm-Troopers" to visit "Pop's" parents?

To further castigate the Swede's about how far astray their social policy had gone, there was another story about a decision by the Swedish health authorities. A women with two daughters had twice had abortions after findng out about the gender of the foetus underwent tests for foetal abnormalities, but also wanted to know the gender of the most recent child. The Hospital Board ruled that gender-based abortion is not illegal according to current law and can not therefore be stopped. And who says that women everywhere are not using abortions as means of birth-control? What do you think would happen in Canada?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fathers Day Collection

Perhaps I'm wrong and maybe it's the economy, but this year I seem to sense a "Rising Tide" of awareness at how "Fatherhood" is generally mistreated.

To wit:

Ottawa Citizen June 23, 2009 - SOUNDOFF Blog
"Fatherhood can be a thankless job" by Paul NATHANSON

Nathanson recounts his relationship with his father:
From my perspective as a boy and young man, he seemed overly judgmental. ... And his standard for honourable manhood, which he applied to himself no less than to me, did seem unattainable. Worse, it seemed to me, his notion of manhood focused heavily on duty and sacrifice. Worse still, perhaps, he expected me to learn skills that didn't interest me.
He also realized years later that his personal accomplishments were in part due to his fathers relentless expectations.
Dad lived long enough to see me take my place in the world. I knew that he respected me as a scholar. One day, in the middle of some argument, he suddenly turned to me and said, "Paul, you're a learned man." Okay, I was much too old by then for those words to give me a sense of self-confidence. But we both realized immediately that this was a moment of profound fulfillment; a father had symbolically conferred manhood on his son.
And he encapsulates why fathering is still important but different than mothering.
Fathers, unlike mothers, must require their children to earn love -- respect, which is a form of love -- in order to leave home mature enough to give and receive it as adults. And fathers, unlike mothers, cannot measure their effectiveness adequately in terms of immediate emotional gratification. Moreover, they often resent having to meet expectations or endure constant testing. In short, fathering is inherently more complicated, more ambiguous, and more perilous (though not, of course, more important) than mothering. It requires a massive cultural effort to promote fathering and not merely to bribe or threaten fathers into providing material resources.
Nathanson calls for public debate on the important issue of respecting and valuing fatherhood in today's society.
I'm dismayed to find that our society seems hell-bent on undermining the culture of fatherhood. My research indicates that every person and every group, to have a healthy identity, must be able to make at least one contribution to society that is distinctive, necessary, and publicly valued. Boys must know that society will indeed need them, and [at present], they don't.

[Boys are being told in popular society they are only assistant mothers, and]
now learn directly or indirectly, that there will be no room for them as men in family life and that they will therefore have no moral stake as men in the future of society.

If that isn't an ominous sign, what is?

Paul Nathanson is a research associate at McGill University 's Faculty of Religious Studies and co-author alongside Katherine Young of the books Spreading Misandry and Legalizing Misandry.

Ottawa Citizen June 19, 2009 - Columnist David WARREN
In praise of patriarchs

Here are some relevant excerpts.
This is my first “father’s day” without a father; my own father died last November. It is no big issue, really: he was one of many billion fathers, as the world goes on; and besides, no one ever took father’s day very seriously. It isn’t a real holiday: nobody gets off work because of it. The celebration of it is equally throwaway. We “give dad a tie,” or some workshop bauble, as we might (with ideological hesitation these days) give mom something for the kitchen.

I am fortunate still to enjoy the love of my children, or think I do. But I am vividly aware of so many fathers who do not — whether through their own fault, or from the fact that their children were turned against them by a calculating mother, working the family law system. [Yet, we] have a society in North America that is, thanks to the triumph of feminism, progressively shedding the masculine qualities that any society needs to survive. Women themselves are progressively “freed” from masculine protection at many levels; men, raised to be wimps, progressively abandon all sense of duty. I would further argue that dealing with the fallout from the feminist revolution is the most important domestic “issue” in North American society today — for its effects spread thickly across every other domestic issue. And this necessarily requires an attack on the very premise of feminism: its demonization of “patriarchy.”

If fathers cannot be paternal, we have no men.
Toronto SUN, June 16, 2009 by Joanne RICHARD
A girl's first hero - How dads inspire and support a daughter's development

These two Italian-named female psychotherapists seem to be repeating tired cliche's about fathers relationships with their daughter's - but I'll take whatever I can get.
"Behind every great woman, you will find her dad" -- that's if he was an engaged, present, involved dad, says Dr. Mary Jo Rapini.

Studies show that dads give girls 90% of their self-esteem before the age of 12, she says. "What this means is that girls that grow up without a dad in the home, or one who abandoned them, are always going to be a little bit less confident and sure of themselves than peers who grow up with a dad in the home."

The best thing a father can do for his daughter is to love her mother so that she will witness what to expect from the men in her life, and what she should not have to put up with, adds Dr. Venus Nicolino
Robert FRANKLIN at also picks up on this article, and ties up the loose ends thus:
For decades now feminism has trumpeted the notion that "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle."

Women, according to this orthodoxy, are strong and men are unnecessary to their happiness and success. To that end they've championed the single-mother family and fought tooth and nail against every effort to ameliorate the radical inequalities of family court. Any initiative that seeks to enhance children's connection to their fathers is reflexively opposed by NOW and other feminist organizations.

It turns out that, to be that strong, confident woman, it is precisely a man that she needs in her life growing up. The very thing girls need to grow up to become the feminist ideal is the very thing that feminist groups most adamantly oppose - a father in her life.

TV Ontario June 21, 2009
The Changing Role of Father: Involved Dads and Their Positive Impact on Education

In the 21st century, the role of ‘father’ has changed. According to the Canadian Father Involvement Initiative (CFII) - a non-profit organization based in Carleton Place, ON there were 4.2 million fathers in Canada in the 2001 census. CFII has compiled clear evidence that school-aged children of involved fathers demonstrate the following attributes:

-They are better academic achievers
-They are more likely to get As
-They have better quantitative and verbal skills
-They have higher grade point averages, receive superior grades, or perform a year above their expected age level on academic tests
-They demonstrate more cognitive competence on standardized intellectual assessments
-They are more likely to enjoy school, have better attitudes toward school, participate in extracurricular activities, and graduate.

Advice for dads who truly want to be more involved with their children: “Just do it,”

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

MP Velacott introduces PMB-C422 "Equal Shared Parenting" Bill

Yesterday (June 15) Saskatchewan Conservative MP, Maurice Vellacott introduced his Equal Shared Parenting Bill PMB-C422 into Parliament. Here were his introductory remarks:
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to be introducing a Private Member’s Bill today which would direct courts in regard to divorce, to make equal shared parenting the presumptive arrangement in the best interests of the child, except in proven cases of abuse or neglect.

Over 10 years ago, a Joint House-Senate committee presented to Parliament a report entitled “For the Sake of the Children.” That report urged Parliament to amend the Divorce Act to make equal shared parenting the normative determination by courts dealing with situations of divorce involving children.

This non-partisan recommendation from that Joint House-Senate was based on compelling research made available to the committee members. Over the past ten years, the best research has continued to demonstrate the far superior outcomes for children, in general, when both parents – mom AND dad – are actively involved in their children's lives, even if the parents divorce or separate.Polling from the past two years demonstrates overwhelming support from Canadians for equal shared parenting.

There is, in fact, slightly more support among women than men for equal parenting. This strong support from almost 80% of Canadians exists across the country, with the strongest regional support coming from Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

Canadians claiming to be Liberal and Bloc supporters, expressed the strongest endorsement for equal shared parenting, at 80.6% among Liberals and 82.9% among Bloc Quebecois supporters. A variety of countries, such as Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Australia, and various U.S. states, have implemented equal parenting, joint custody or shared parenting presumptive legislation, which has resulted in lowered court costs, less conflict and improved social outcomes for the children of divorce.

This bill is one of the most a-political, non-partisan pieces of legislation introduced in this current Parliament. I look forward to strong support for this important piece of legislation from all Members of Parliament who are committed to the best interests of our Canadian children.
I suggest we send Mr. Vellacott a congratulatory email. As well perhaps Mr. Rob Nicholson, Justice Minister, for endorsing the bill and asking that the government endorse it. Here is his email.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Grim news

These recent news story's should indicate that existing "familiy policies" are creating a crisis for many in our society. Consider:

Neighbours shocked as remains of three babies found in London, Ont., home

Natalie Alcoba, National Post - Published: Tuesday, June 09, 2009LONDON -- When investigators were first alerted to the boxes of bloody clothing in the basement of a southwestern Ontario home, they believed they were looking at the decomposed remains of a baby. On Tuesday, police said forensic testing determined that the remains were in fact that of three children. They said further investigation is needed to determine the babies' gender and ages -- and how they died.Jennifer Sinn, 32, has been charged with three counts each of concealing the body of a child and offering an indignity to a dead human body.

Frenchwoman on trial for 'freezer baby' murders
Agence France-Presse - Published: Tuesday, June 09, 2009
TOURS, France -- A Frenchwoman who confessed to killing three of her newborn babies, hiding two of them in the freezer of her expat home in South Korea, broke down in tears at the opening of her trial Tuesday.In a case that has gripped France, Veronique Courjault, 41, faces life in jail after admitting smothering two baby boys born secretly in Seoul in 2002 and 2003, and a third child born in France in 1999.

Agence France-Presse - Published: Wednesday, June 10, 2009
A veteran Los Angeles Police Department detective appeared in court yesterday after being charged with murdering the wife of an ex-boyfriend 23 years ago, officials said. Stephanie Lazarus, 49, a seasoned LAPD detective with several high-profile cases under her belt, is alleged to have beaten and shot dead her rival, Sherri Rasmussen, in February, 1986. She also left bite marks on the body. The crime had remained unsolved until cold case officers re-examined files from the original investigation into the killing of the 29-year-old hospital nursing director, three months after her marriage to John Ruetten.

Mike McIntyre, National Post - Published: Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The Crown is seeking up to 17 years in prison for a former Winnipeg police officer who spent days carefully plotting the violent home invasion and rape of his terminally ill former wife. Sentencing began yesterday for the 53-year-old, who cannot be named under a court order to protect the identity of the victim. He has pleaded guilty to break, enter to commit aggravated sexual assault.An agreed statement of facts tendered in court reveals details about the July, 2008, attack, which came after the man had already been arrested five previous times since 2006 for breaching a protection order the victim obtained against him.

Graeme Hamilton, National Post - Published: Wednesday, June 10, 2009
For nearly two years, the parents of Cedrika Provencher have suffered the anguish of not knowing what happened to their nine-year-old daughter, who vanished on a summer evening while playing near her Trois-Rivieres, Que., home. The massive police search, the ubiquitous "Missing" posters and the promise of a $100,000 reward have all led nowhere. Now, as the police investigation continues, the family is taking the unusual step of enlisting a prominent lawyer to act as an independent investigator. Guy Bertrand yesterday appealed for anyone with knowledge of the missing girl's fate to come forward, dangling a $170,000 "good-deed bonus." The family's hope is that the nightmare of uncertainty will end. The hitch is that even if Mr. Bertrand identifies Cedrika's abductor, he says he will be bound by professional secrecy law and will not provide the information to police.

Sam Cooper And Jack Keating - National Post Published: Thursday, June 11, 2009
Parents in a British Columbia community are rattled after police issued an unusual warning that an Asian child will be kidnapped from an elementary school in the next few weeks. Families in Richmond, B. C., whose population is more than 50% Asian, are now largely in a state of panic, fearful that the child to be abducted is their own. The alert asks parents to be vigilant in guarding their children. "That kind of warning would make anyone who had an Asian child, or any child for that matter, extremely anxious and overprotective," said Dr. Sam Ozersky, a Toronto psychiatrist. "It would be extremely provocative in terms of generating anxiety and fear."Dr. Mike Webster, a psychologist who consults with police forces around the world on kidnapping negotiations, said the unusual warning must have been justified by credible information.Police shed little light on the threat, saying they received the information on the possible kidnapping Tuesday afternoon.

These are all beyond shocking and disturbing.

  • How is it possible that a 32yr old women would become pregnant three times and no one is aware or asks about the absence of the children? (friends, family - boyfriend) Does "my body - my choice" become "don't ask - don't tell"? What kind of psychopathology describes these women - given that the fair sex has accredited themselves with a richer emotional spectrum to "inferior" men, which I guess accounts for their higher rates of mental illness including depression?
  • Are women so bent on having children, and society so set on accommodating them - that we never consider it possible they are unsuitable for having or raising children until it is too late? This applies to Octomom as well as Veronique Courjault.
  • That a "cold-case" murder suspect would be a LAPD officer is bad enough but is it not obvious that "crimes of passion" are just as likely for women to commit as men? Remember Lisa NOWAK, former NASA 2006 Shuttle Discovery mission specialist who attempted to murder a rival for the affections of another officer. Police and military are able to use skills acquired "on the job" to help intimidate spouses.
  • Parental or Stranger Abductions? Which is worse? Do single mothers find themselves involved with unsavoury men out of desperation? Does this not put their children at greater risk? Are they held to account to the father of their child if it turns out badly? Recently a Toronto women called police to report a "stranger abduction" of her daughter. The police found the man and it was revealed it was her husband. She was charged with "mischief".

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Abortion on demand: empowerment -- or bamboozlement -- of women?

Once again, Barabra KAY is bang on in her June 10 article "The abortion issue we're ignoring", in highlighting growing research about the medical risks surrounding induced abortion.

  • Approximately 100,000 induced abortions (IA) are performed annually in Canada (30 per 100 live births), about a million in the U. S. - a significant percentage of them repeats (46% in the U.S.)
  • Extreme Preterm Births (XPT) under 28 weeks are 10 times as likely as fullterm to be diagnosed with autism, cerebral palsy and epilepsy.
  • Women who have had an IA had 1) 34% higher relative odds of a Very Preterm (VPT) birth compared to women with no prior IAs; and 2) Women with more than one prior IA had an 82% higher relative odds of a VPT birth.
  • In a Journal of Reproductive Medicine report, Dr. Byron Calhoun et al estimated there were 1,096 annual excess cases of Cerebral Palsy in U. S. newborns under 3.5 lbs directly traced to a prior IA "that has never been challenged by a letter to the editor". (Mrs. KAY concludes that based on 10-1 population ratio, a similar number of damaged children in Canada would be 100)
Mrs. KAY then asks the next obvious questions.
I were the mother of a post-IA, PTB infant or toddler with autism or cerebral palsy, and had not been informed as a matter of regulatory course of IA's risk for a future PTB, I'd be angry.
As an "ice-breaker", we might also ask why, uniquely amongst surgical interventions, suction abortion -- the most common method in use by abortion clinics -- has never been animal-tested, a clear violation of the Nuremberg Code for research ethics in human experimentation.
These are issues that effect men who wish to be "fathers by choice" as they are often told they are imposing their will on women, and that she has control of her body (but perhaps not enough self-control to use birth control) . Yet there is a double standard when a women wishes to have a child and wants more than a willing sperm donor. Men typically are not given a choice to parent then, but just the "opportunity" to pay child support - enforced by MEP.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Deadbeat Politicians

Last week the Justice sponsored a press conference to announce a "new, improved" deadbeat dad rat line - just in time for Fathers Day. I was disguisted by it. This response in the Calgary Herald captures my distemper perfectly.

'Deadbeat dad' site overreaches

By Peter Bowal,

For The Calgary Herald

June 8, 2009

Last week Justice Minister Alison Redford was merry as a grig when she rolled out a new power tool just in time for Father's Day. An enhanced government website seeks Albertans to turn in child and spousal support defaulters.

The website supplements a suite of other maintenance enforcement measures, including mandatory court hearings, intercepting wages and bank accounts, liening and seizing assets, attacking credit records, and withholding drivers' licences and vehicle registrations. Federal payments such as tax refunds, EI benefits and Canada Pension can be diverted to satisfy maintenance debts. The government possesses extraordinary powers to search government records across Canada and to obtain payment in many other countries, in pursuit of its debtor quarry. A considerable staff for surveillance and investigations is employed to provide 24-hour multilingual service, even texting capability, in the cause.

Modelled as a hybrid of the RCMP Most Wanted list and Child Find, the website contains a photo, birth date, height, weight, other physical traits, and last known occupation, employer and address of its targets. These subjects all owe at least six months of arrears, and are now in hiding and suspected of depriving former partners and children of income to live on. The worst few enjoy special shaming in a gallery of their own.

With the Maintenance Enforcement bureaucracy managing 48,000 files, including almost 64,000 children, who would object to harsher methods to flush out these contemptible absconders and get them to pay their debts?After all, better they pay for their children than the rest of us pay for their children.

While I don't support these shirkers, this government website is not the answer. It does not deal with the related problem of custodial parents denying access to their children.

This website will not be more effective. Who will volunteer to find and scroll through this website? The people who most care about the arrears already know that papa is gone.

We are told that, since 2000, Albertans have helped locate more than 200 defaulting debtors. I would guess most of these helpful Albertans were claimants, their families and friends.

The government's Maintenance Enforcement Program is itself a dubious exercise of public authority. Spousal and child support are largely viewed as private debts. The government does not help to collect other private debts.

It is rare to train the full force of government power on defaulters of a civil obligation, where the charter does not apply. The minister called the website "aggressive action." It is an unprecedented violation of individual privacy, designed to stir mob instincts. What is next, a government website to shame bankrupt individuals and companies, tax debtors, or those who are losing their homes to foreclosure? Debtors' prisons and bounty hunters anyone?

We don't have equivalent government websites on the worst violent criminals.

No two maintenance cases are the same, but some defaulters may not be the monsters portrayed. Only for the government Maintenance Enforcement Program is every case black and white.

Maintenance remains a highly sensitive matter to many people living in the real world. Claimants have government assistance to make and enforce their claims, but defendants rarely can tap into similar assistance. Only maintenance is rigorously enforced. Access to children, which is also backed up by court order and is often the underlying emotional reason for withholding maintenance, is not enforced in like manner. Will the province also set up a website to shame those who deny lawful child access?

Men are increasingly disenfranchised by affiliation law. Their control over reproduction, adoption and visitation are subordinate to the mother's will, but their support obligations rank supreme.

We removed the notion of fault from family breakup law, but we will never expunge it in real life. De facto custody usually goes to the mother. Spousal and child support proceedings are still often seen as one-sided, even punitive. Her own financial support, and her use of child support may be perceived as manipulative. Debtors distinguish between the child and the ex-spouse and, if money is short, they would pay child support first.

Once maintenance orders are made, they are difficult and expensive to amend in court. With interest and penalties accumulating, many debtors see no alternative except to flee. Some of these men suffer addictions, health problems, loss of work and some start new families that they try to support. None of these nuances of human experience will be reflected on the website. This is not an excuse for irresponsible fathers, and there are too many of those, but life plays out in many shades of grey that the Help Us Find website cannot appreciate. In other contexts, we would cut the debtor some slack. General Motors comes to mind. Every government has itself messed up badly on some decisions, with no corresponding personal liability.

All 147 of the individuals targeted by this website are men, another sensitivity at play in maintenance obligations. In any other scenario, this would be seen as a sexist initiative. By comparison, a government enforcement program targeted to one specific ethnic or religious group would invite outrage.

"At the end of the day, it's about the well-being and quality of life of the child," concludes Redford . "Children deserve love, attention and financial support --divorce and separation do not change that. Paying child and spousal support on time, and in full, leads to stronger, happier homes and safer communities."

It is a stretch that this website will itself divert more timely money into the accounts of needy Alberta children. Rigorously enforcing access rights will produce more maintenance money. The website will not itself lead to the "stronger, happier homes and safer communities" promised by the minister, because the public bullying will cancel any gains. Rather, keeping loving parents together, raising their own children, is the best hope in the long term for this promise. That power tool has not yet been invented.

Peter Bowal is a Professor of law at the University of Calgary .

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Cost of Family Breakdown-Marriage benefits us all

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Lowering the bar - Legal Humour

This blog features Legal Humour.

This really hit the spot after reporting the case of a woman -Janine Sugawara - seeking damages from Pepsico General Foods division for "misrepresentation" as she bought "Capt'n Crunch Crunchberry" cereal and was "*shocked and dismayed" that it contained no fruit!   Apparently the blow-up image on the cover that clearly showed the "Crunchberry to be fluorescent hued cereal" or the content listing which made no mention of any fruit, reconstituted or otherwise - was insufficient to inform her of the unreasonableness of her conjecture.  Furthermore, a quick check on the Internet provides no legitimate reference to any fruit called "crunchberry's".  

The judge threw the case out of court, reminding her that this was pretty much the same result she had received from her previous tort, that "Frootloops" did not contain "Froot".

*[Editor: Sorry that was my quote as such lack of guile always reminds me of Claude RAINS line in classic film "Casablanca".]

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Injustice in Motion

Dave FLOOK of created this moving video. It is - of course - a tribute to the pain of trying to fight for your kids, but being told you cannot - and to boot you are a bad parent for not suceeding.  A double standard if there ever was one.    I do love the soundtrack of "Don't give Up" with Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush ["So" May 1986]

In this proud land we grew up strong
We were wanted all along
I was taught to fight, taught to win
I never thought I could fail

No fight left or so it seems
I am a man whose dreams have all deserted
I've changed my face, I've changed my name
But no one wants you when you lose

Don't give up
'cos you have friends
Don't give up
You're not beaten yet
Don't give up
I know you can make it good

Though I saw it all around
Never thought I could be affected
Thought that we'd be the last to go
It is so strange the way things turn

Drove the night toward my home
The place that I was born, on the lakeside
As daylight broke, I saw the earth
The trees had burned down to the ground

Don't give up
You still have us
Don't give up
We don't need much of anything
Don't give up
'cause somewhere there's a place
Where we belong

Rest your head
You worry too much
It's going to be alright
When times get rough
You can fall back on us
Don't give up
Please don't give up

'got to walk out of here
I can't take anymore
Going to stand on that bridge
Keep my eyes down below
Whatever may come
And whatever may go
That river's flowing
That river's flowing

Moved on to another town
Tried hard to settle down
For every job, so many men
So many men no-one needs

Don't give up
'cause you have friends
Don't give up
You're not the only one
Don't give up
No reason to be ashamed
Don't give up
You still have us
Don't give up now
We're proud of who you are
Don't give up
You know it's never been easy
Don't give up
'cause I believe there's the a place
There's a place where we belong