Who’s Judging?

A few months ago, I wrote about the parents in New Jersey who had named their son Adolf Hitler (and their two daughters other Nazi-esque names).  They made headlines because a local Shop-Rite refused to write “Happy Birthday Adolf Hitler” on his birthday cake.

Now they’ve made news again.  Authorities in the state have removed the three children from their parent’s home, for reasons unknown.  Jonathan Chait at TNR wrote about it this morning, calling out Michael Tomasky at the Guardian for claiming this was okay, based on the parent’s bizarre ideas/naming culture.  Chait:

The principle that parents should be allowed to keep their own children ought to trump all other considerations except the most extreme forms of abuse. That was the principle behind the Clinton administration’s returning Elian Gonzales to Cuba, which prompted one of the great spasms of righ-wing insanity, and may have cost Al Gore Florida. I’m also troubled about the state making judgments about a family’s political beliefs, however repugnant they may be.

According to some of the comments on Chait’s post, however, the children were removed for reasons not relating to their names or their parent’s beliefs.  Other comments have pointed out that it’s a fine line to draw between what constitutes abuse and what does not.

It reminds me, in particular, of the autism/vaccination belief.  Do adults have the right to subject children to potentially life-threatening, life-altering situations and conditions that they might not just disagree with, but be hurt by?  Not to mention the community of children that interact with the child(ren) in question.

Everyday, children live in households with parents who have repugnant or unpopular political/religious/personal beliefs — most of the time, children either adopt those beliefs or rebel.  Unfortunately, if little Adolf and his sisters were taken from their parents based on that alone, we’ve unleashed a can of worms.  Only a few years ago, it was considered uncouth to be “unpatriotic” and anti-George Bush.  Imagine if children had been taken from the homes of parents who were against the invasion of Iraq?

More news will be forthcoming, I imagine.


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