Whose Kids Are They Anyway?

Mike Gallagher

5/23/2008 7:19:29 AM - Mike Gallagher

I'm not sure that I have ever been so relieved to see a headline. "Court Rules Removal of Children From FLDS Compound was Illegal."

Halleluiah. A court finally got one right.

The mass abduction of hundreds of children who lived at the "Yearning for Zion" ranch in Eldorado, Texas was just the beginning of predictably disgraceful behavior by the state's Child Protective Services agency. CPS is an agency that frequently runs amok in many states, an out-of-control organization that regularly tramples on the rights of adults accused of abusing children. The horror stories of parents humiliated by the storm trooper tactics of this bunch of state bureaucrats are lengthy.

I certainly understand that CPS has an unenviable task. It is extraordinarily difficult to weed out fact from fiction, particularly in a culture where more and more children are perfectly capable of spinning tall tales in order to exact revenge upon a strict parent.

But the mantra of "protecting our children" shouldn't give a state agency the ability to shred the constitutional rights of each and every adult who comes into CPS's crosshairs.

I've been repeatedly saying that the story of the FDLS child abuse "investigation" stinks to high heaven to anyone who would listen, particularly my radio audience. Nothing about the case seemed right: the supposed cry for help from a mysterious 16 year old girl who repeatedly called an agency hotline to complain of sexual abuse; the Gestapo-like tactics authorities used to raid the religious compound as a result of those phone calls, including the use of a tank and semi-automatic weapons as terrified children were stripped from their mothers' arms and spirited away; the appalling conditions these children have been held in, including published reports of toddlers crying for their missing mothers to rock them to sleep while CPS workers, refusing to have physical contact with the children, simply observed and took notes; the attempts by mothers and fathers to at least visit their sons and daughters being held by the state by traveling all over the Southeast to meet with them, only to be told that the children "haven't been assigned a case worker yet" and therefore were turned away; and the disturbing memos by mental health professionals who observed the children and determined that they were perfectly healthy, well-adjusted, polite children who should never have been taken from their home in the first place. One mental health worker wrote that she "has never been more ashamed of my country" by witnessing what the state of Texas has done to these children and their parents.

And the mystery 16 year old who started it all? Turns out it was a mentally disturbed woman from Colorado who had a history of pretending to be an underage child phoning the authorities. So the original allegation of abuse was bogus. The mechanism that the state used to terrify this group of parents and children was a total fabrication.

There is obviously a peculiarity about the FLDS group. They have largely isolated themselves from the world, believing in bizarre concepts like men having numerous spiritual wives and following the teachings of the jailed "prophet" Warren Jeffs.

But when the day comes that the government comes breaking down the doors and tries to make children permanent foster or adoptive children because of the peculiar religious beliefs of a particular group, our nation is in big, big trouble.

I've said it many times before, and I'll say it again: if any underage child has been abused or harmed by an adult at the YFZ Ranch, then by all means, arrest them. Heck, arrest anybody! Up to now, the only single person who has been arrested is the troubled Colorado woman who made the phony phone call in the first place. Meanwhile, a man named Dale Barlow, a member of the sect who lives in Arizona, was splashed all over the news media as the "suspect" in the "abuse" of the "16 year old victim."

His status? Authorities recently announced that they have no case against the man, that there will be no charges filed against him.

I hope the state -- and possibly the news media -- is prepared for the lawsuit that this wrongly accused man might be filing in the future. Remember Richard Jewell, who was smeared by authorities who thought he was the Atlanta Olympics bomber?

Everything about this story is rotten. It's the textbook example of a zealous government destroying the United States Constitution in order to grandstand and pretend that they are only interested in protecting the children.

So finally, a bit of sanity arrives by way of the Texas 3rd District Court of Appeals ruling that the state had absolutely no business taking over 460 children from their parents. The three-justice panel said that to use the pretense that future harm may or may not befall these children hardly constitutes a process where all of them were to be abducted from their home and turned into foster children, never to see their birth mothers again.

It's time to try and put the pieces back together again. Enough damage has been done already. The children need to be reunited with their parents. Again, if the state can make the case that any child was abused, it should arrest the suspected perpetrators.

I only hope that this fiasco will be a wake-up call to legislators and citizens about the way an agency like Child Protective Services can spin out of control and ruin people's lives right under our collective noses.

My hunch is that the heavy-handed authorities in this story never imagined that anyone would be concerned about how they treated an odd group of polygamists. But oddballs have rights, too. If we sit around and watch the state abuse these FLDS people, how long before they come after Baptists? Or Catholics?

Already, the state of California has made no secret of its intention to outlaw homeschooling. It's fairly obvious that state-funded and heavily-unionized teachers don't take too kindly to loving parents who choose to educate their children at home. So could the homeschooling community in America become the next group the government goes after?

You bet your life it could.

Recently, someone shared a quote that seemed to perfectly fit what the government has been trying to do to the FLDS community in West Texas. It may very well have been spoken by one of the numerous bureaucrats who have attempted to justify this tale of the state taking all of these children from their mothers and fathers. It was written in 1925 and it said that the government can pull off pretty much anything as long as it's done under the guise of protecting the children.

Astute history students probably recognize the quote.

It was written by Adolph HItler in 'Mein Kampf.'