View 735 Thursday, August 02, 2012
I’ve been working on fiction for the last couple of days. I even took a few hours off for social activities. And it’s very hot in Los Angeles.
I have no knowledge of this incident other than various repetitions of the story originally posted in a fundraising appeal by the Home Schooling Defense Association, an organization I am not familiar with. The story is so horrifying that I would have thought it would be all over the news by now, with every major network – and certainly Fox and Newscorp – sending teams of reporters, and the Attorney General of Pennsylvania sending in a team of investigators looking for corroboration leading to changes of kidnapping, assault, perjury, malfeasance in office, and various criminal offenses on the part of both lay and medical bureaucrats in the “Hershey Medical Center—a state-affiliated hospital in Pennsylvania.” I put that in quotes because there are at least two Hersey Medical Centers in Pennsylvania. One is the expected center in Hersey, PA (expected because Hersey has a long history of providing for the residents of Hersey) but I would not have thought that a state-affiliated hospital; and the other a state facility in State College, PA.
The HSLDA story told by its chairman Michael P. Farris, Esq. does not identify which. Of course Mr. Farris is a lawyer and institution chairman, not a reporter; but still, you would think that this would be an important detail.
The story is told in some detail under the title Newborn Seized in Hospital by Police, Social Worker
It is truly horrifying, and as I said, it is a story that one would think would be all over the headlines of every paper in the country. In my search for some details not given in the story – such as where the hospital is, and some of the names of people involved – I found numerous web sites I have never visited before telling the story, but they were all repetitions – some with emotional enhancements – of Mr. Farris’s story, and none told me more than he had.
I first heard of this story in email from a friend and frequent correspondent pointing me to http://www.wnd.com/2012/07/mom-booted-from-hospital-as-baby-snatched/ on the WND website, another with which I have no familiarity.
My problem here is that what is alleged is horrifying and should be told widely: but I can’t find any account of it other than repetitions of the original post in Mr. Farris’ fundraising appeal, and while I have absolutely no evidence that Mr. Farris is not scrupulously correct in his account, it is clear that he was not a witness, and he gives no sources.
If any substantial part of this story is true, then we can expect to see criminal arrests in either Hersey, PA or State College, PA, and some attention paid to the matter, and I can add this to my examples of the workings of the Iron Law of Bureaucracy.
I have now found this: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/03/williamstown_couple_sues_penn.html which establishes that this was the Penn State facility at State College, and gives the names of the parents and the judge who returned their child to their custody, so apparently at least some of this horrifying story is based on facts. Whether the location in State College PA has any bearing I can’t determine, but it wasn’t the town of Hersey. Penn State is much more interested in football than chocolate.
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Alert. The following is an advertisement.
I note that this involves home schooling. The most important thing schools can teach the young in the Unites States is to teach them to read. Most don’t. If your school talks about ‘reading at grade level’ they are not really teaching the kids to read. Find out more at http://www.readingtlc.com/ which is the home ground of Mrs. Pournelle’s reading program. It’s old, it’s hokey, and it just plain works.
Subject: Metformin, B-12 and calcium
Jerry, one of your correspondents reports that the metformin she takes is depleting her B-12 and calcium. I’m very sorry to read that, but I’d like to point out that although metformin certainly can have that effect, it doesn’t always, or even usually. How do I know? Well, I’ve been taking it for about a decade now. As you know, I’ve also been hospitalized twice with ITP, resulting from a dangerously-low platelet count and one of the things your body uses B-12 for is building platelets. On two separate occasions, I’ve asked my hematologist (As chance would have it, I got lucky and was assigned to the head of the department at the West LA VA Hospital.) if this might be a factor and both times he assured me that it wasn’t. Yes, there’s no doubt that it can happen, but I didn’t want all of your readers who are taking metformin to be unduly worried.
I have taken metformin for about ten years myself, and I have had no problems. I do sometimes take a B-100 when I think of it, but that’s not part of my usual witch’s brew. On the gripping hand I do take a broad spectrum of vitamin and mineral supplements, most of them undoubtedly making expensive urine and making my kidneys work a bit harder, but something seems to be keeping m going at my age.
I have taken metformin for more than a decade. I continue to take the recommended dosage, and my sugar is reasonably well under control: I do eat lots of salads, and we walk a mile every other day.
Thinking about Syria
I am preparing a short piece on US interests and options in Syria, and by extension, the Middle East, Arab Spring, Moscow Spring, and the general unrest in the world. I don’t call it an essay because I am not sure I will have any conclusions. The problem with the world is that we no longer have any agreement – anywhere – on just what is legitimacy in government. The US principle is that: All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the latter of which is interpreted as a right to security in their property. To secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the government.
Legitimate government, then, is government by consent of the governed, and all of politics is just a means for discerning what is the consent of the governed.
What happens when the governed do not all consent to the same thing? As for example, if some part of the population is considered unequal and not entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? This was the basis of the principle constitutional crisis of the United States from its beginning, through the Civil War, and into modern times. There is no agreement on just what ‘Created Equal’ means, and particularly when we are also told that among our rights is the right to reject the very notion of a Creator and the right to forbid the majority of the governed from exhibiting religious symbols such as the Ten Commandments at Courthouses, or crèches and menorahs in the public parks, or opening public ceremonies with an Invocation and closing them with some form of Benediction. If we reject the Creator we are thrown upon science to determine what “created equal” means, and science is a weak reed indeed for supporting that proposition. After all, we are shown every night on television men and women doing things few of us aspire to, and very graphically demonstrating that we are not their equals. We see television shows demonstrating that some people appear to be more intelligent than the rest of us. We all grew up on stories about heroes, and our comic books don’t even pretend to equality. What does it mean, equal?
And just who are the governed, and how do we measure their consent? We don’t allow children under age 18 to vote, and when I was young that age was 21, although the age of military service was 18, or 17 with parental consent or with the willing collusion of a recruiting sergeant. There were good reasons for limiting the voting age to 21, and there are still good reasons for not lowering it to, say, 14 which is when young Roman boys were subject to conscription.
In a reasonably homogeneous society it might make sense to take a majority vote and call that ‘consent of the governed’. Give that society enough diversity and the situation changes. If we take a vote among chickens and foxes as to which shall be dinner for the other, the loser is unlikely to believe that this is a valid procedure. The chickens will appeal to the farmer, who will drive away the foxes, and the chickens can now appeal to the good will and self interest of their protector to keep them for their eggs at least until they are beyond egg-laying age.
Similar arguments have been made by Civil Rights groups for centuries. Tennessee had fair elections before and after the Civil War, but it had legal segregation when I was growing up. We were taught the principle of consent of the governed in US history in grade school, and we all – well, all of us in the white classrooms – saw no conflict of principle.
Pass now to the Middle East, where there are racial, tribal, religious, and religious sectarian differences that make the legally segregated South of my youth look like a vary good deal for minority and majority alike. In Syria, an Arab tribe called the Alawi have long been a warrior caste – when the French governed Syria under mandate they recruited soldiers largely from the Alawi minority, and the fierce fighting ability of the Alawites is mentioned in accounts written during the Crusades – and the Alawi have been the traditional governing class. The Alawi are Shiite, and some Shiite scholars consider them heretics; and of course the Sunni majority of Syria consider them heretics because they aren’t Sunni. As to the Sunni, the Saudi royal family has long made alliance with the Wahabi who insist on strict adherence to Islamic law. That includes levying tribute on Christians and Jews.
Much of the support for the Syrian rebels comes from Saudi Arabia, and with that aid come some Wahabi clerics. Al Qaeda is strictly Sunni Muslim.
The Alawi government, being a minority itself, traditionally had more tolerance for Christian, Jews, animists (not many of those in Syria), atheists and general secularism than do either their Wahabi enemies or their Shiite Iranian allies and supporters.
There were similar differences in Egypt, and after Egypt fell to 100,000 demonstrators who convinced the world that the Egyptian Army did not have the consent of the governed, the ancient Christian communities in Egypt were under attack. The Christian have not consented to be persecuted. The Army used to protect them.
There are similar stories in other parts of the world. It is clear that Russia has no concept of what a legitimate government might be. Communism under Gorbachev? When the old line communists tried to overthrow Gorbachev, the result was Yeltsin. Under Yeltsin the corruption increased to spectacular levels, so much so that it horrified the KGB, who promised to end much of the corruption. Enter Putin. What is not seen here is any concept of what would legitimize government in Russia. Return of the Tsar?
The appeal of Monarchy is that the monarch is supposed to protect everyone. The price of monarchy is that there is no pretense of equality.
We can be sure that a majority vote among illiterates will not make for a very effective government. Or will it? And is it legitimate? At one time legitimacy had to do with who had hereditary rights. We have scrapped that in the United States, and we now seem to think that only a plebiscite can legitimize a government. The problem is that a plebiscite may incite the winner to finish off a minority. Particularly in cases such as the Kurds of Iraq, or the Alawi of Syria.
More on this later; for now I leave for lunch, and you can contemplate – just what would legitimize governments in: Iran. Iraq. Egypt. Libya. Tunisia. Morocco. Chad. Arabia. Qatar. Kuwait where American guns restored the Royal Family which spent the First Gulf War in London casinos. Bosnia. Serbia. Croatia. Pakistan. Uzbekistan. I could continue.
And not all that long ago the neocons were talking about the end of history.
I am going to have lunch now.
Sir John Keegan, RIP
Thought you would want to know, since many of his books made it into your recommendation lists over the years:
I have indeed recommended his books over the years. RIP
© 2012, jerrypournelle. All rights reserved.