The Aldrich Alert
Gary Aldrich

A Publication of the Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty

NYT Summer Silliness

August 25, 2002

by Gary Aldrich - Volume 2, Issue 40

This article appeared on on August 21, 2002.

You can tell it’s summer by what The New York Times considers to be serious news. But lurking behind the seemingly ridiculous material they treat as “news” is a radical political agenda sure to have “real” men and women running for the Rolaids.

I’m speaking of the decision by Times editors to include wedding announcements of same-sex “unions” in their social pages just like any other wedding announcement. Henceforth, expect to see a photo of the smiling “Gride” + “Broom” or (Bride + Groom?) in thoughtful contemplation with the usual biographical information to follow. The New York Times’ editors suggest that these kinds of unions are common these days – even though only one state has passed laws that allow a legal union between same sex couples – so it’s just “progress” to give them space on the same page as the other smiling couples.

Gay and lesbian rights groups are rejoicing, I’m sure, to be receiving this “equal” treatment. They have been critical of the Times and other major newspapers because of their inconsistency in policy: they accept gay personal ads but won’t print announcements for “lifelong commitment.” Don’t they have just as much “right” to appear in the social pages?

But if we want to talk about “rights” and commitment, let’s look a little further. How about the 18 year legally binding financial commitment of a father to support a child, regardless of the fact that legally, the woman could have ended the pregnancy at any time – including on the day the child was to be born – and the man would have absolutely no legal right to stop her. How “equal” is this treatment?

But The New York Times has a political agenda and does not care at all about a “real” man’s rights. The proof of this is the news story they ran on August 20, 2002, which announced the midnight roundup of 69 “deadbeat” dads in 29 states by federal agents working with the Department of Health and Human Services. What crime did these men commit that caused some to be arrested and locked up in jail for four days before receiving a hearing? Simply stated, they “flouted state court orders.”

Now I happen to believe that every man has an obligation to provide support for his own children, but in the cases cited in The New York Times, no effort is made to tell his side of the story. Numerous fathers’ rights groups have sprung up around the nation because the deck is so stacked against a divorced father that he stands a good chance of never seeing his own child again if the woman decides he should not. Deny visitation, and the father has to go through a long, drawn out and expensive legal process to bring the mother to court, but nobody can find a single case where visitation was denied to Dad and as a result, Mom went straight to the pokey!

There is no justification to paint dads as “deadbeats” any more than there is justification to paint women as revengeful and vindictive, and yet, whose ox is getting gored here? It’s the women who get the presumption of innocence and the country’s largest newspaper to showcase their cause. It’s the men who get the cuffs and the jail time.

Question: When he did pay child support, did she spend the money on bingo and Cheetos? Did she give some of the child support to her new boyfriend for cigarettes? I cannot deny that there are legitimate cases of abandonment by men who have made lifelong commitments in marriage, have fathered children and have then run off, refusing to take responsibility for their actions. These are the true deadbeats, but are these the exception or the rule? Who knows what’s really behind these cases because The New York Times has no intention of looking into these questions. Nor will they ever ask if the mother refused to allow court-ordered visitation because she was still nursing a grudge over real or perceived “sins” of the father.

What federal agency enforces a father’s visitation rights?

We could go round and round and play the blame game in these messy relational situations that the Times so easily pins on the father, but even apart from all that, this illustrious paper fails to point out yet another absurdity in this whole “deadbeat dad” roundup. The use, or I should say misuse, of the federal system to enforce child support payments is ridiculous and nothing more than pure pandering by Congress to a radical political group that seems more interested in punishing men – for everything! – instead of looking out for the best interests of the children.

Where is my proof of that? Simple! After years of working on this “national crisis,” and by extension, smearing men everywhere, the best our almighty federal government could do is to cite a mere 69 men for alleged failure to pay child support – hardly a national crisis.

But seriously, where is the evidence of a massive “walk-out” on the part of men with respect to their responsibilities? The answer is, there is no such evidence.

And, how could this federal “strike farce” ever be in the best interest of the children? “Dad’s” employer is unlikely to appreciate his absence from work or the resulting bad publicity. And, now the kids have an unemployed jailbird for a father. Swell.

I spent a lot of time in the federal court system, and I think I can anticipate what the overworked federal judges think of this colossal waste of judicial resources! Since we’re so adamant about being consistent, why not haul all those who have ignored speeding tickets or parking tickets into federal court? Why stop with alleged “deadbeat dads?” Why not federal indictments for vendors who sell cigarettes to minors, then fail to show up for court? How about all those neighbors with barking dogs who have thumbed their noses at the citation they received for a noise violation? Let’s have our federal agents rounding up all these criminals! Eventually, we’ll be able to totally do away with state and local law enforcement because everything will be left to the feds.

Meanwhile, the majority of fathers step up to the plate each and every day and pay their child support payments, knowing all the while that “Mom” has the power – she has custody 95% of the time and with that custody comes the privilege of watching her children grow on a day to day basis, something that cannot be measured in dollars. She gets the ultimate reward – the kids – and he gets the bills while gays and lesbians celebrate “lifelong commitment.”

It must be true. I read it in The New York Times.