Saturday, February 12, 2005

Treating Children Like Adults

On Monday, jury deliberations in the trial of Christopher Pittman, of South Carolina, will begin. He is on trial for the murders of his grandparents, which he committed when he was twelve years old. He is being tried as an adult, and could be sentenced to life in prison, if convicted. His defense is that he was not responsible because of Zoloft. I have big problem with this situation. I have a child who is twelve, a child who had a bad reaction to Zoloft. He has Aspergers Syndrome, and was prescribed Zoloft to help regulate his mood. We were warned by our doctor to watch him CLOSELY, and if he became more agitated, more prone to anger, or unable to sleep, to stop giving him the medication. So after just after a couple of weeks, it was very apparent to his teachers, and myself, that this was happening, and we stopped the Zoloft, and tried another medication, Depakote. It worked beautifully. So I have personal experience with the good and the bad of a drugged child.

But back to young Christopher Pittman. I don't know if a bad reaction to his meds is a defense for murder. But I do know that murder is an adult action, and a twelve year old is not an adult. If a twelve year old can be held responsible for his or her behaviour by the same standard as an adult, then they should have the whole adult package. Let's let them vote. If they can commit murder as an adult, then they can certainly make an adult decision on who they want to vote for. If they meet the physical standards, let them join the armed forces. We could also get rid of all those pesky child labor laws - if they want to work eight hours a day, let them. Also, if they can with an adult's judgement, commit a murder, they can surely be adult enough to consent to sexual relations. So why are there so many people in prison for sex with twelve year olds? Because a twelve year old is not able to make an adult decision about sex. Or voting. Or career choices. Or killing.

If an adult commits a murder, or any other crime, then yes, they're responsible. Responsibility is what separates a child from an adult. In any other situation, like work, driving, voting, sexual consent, drinking, no one would consider a person under the age of sixteen an adult. And there are some responsible adults than can be held accountable for this crime. His parents who were not acting responsibly for him - they left him in the care of an abusive grandparent. Teachers who failed to watch for that abuse and report it. The doctor who prescribed him a drug known to have adverse effects, and failed to monitor his health. But in this case, the responsible adults have decided that a twelve year old has the blame.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Creepy Puppet Show

Most of my friends consider me rather fearless. Reckless actually. I'm the mom who sometimes puts a snake in the cookie jar, because hey, that's hillarious. But I have to admit, I have a little phobia. Puppets. Not to be confused with Muppets, who taught me how to read. No, I get the willies big time when there's puppets around. Especially marionettes. And those ultra creepy ventroliquist dolls.

So, you might be able to understand my horror at the "free" Iraqi elections this weekend. I know, they haven't counted the votes yet, but is there really any doubt about which group of individuals is going to control Iraq? That's right. The Puppets.

If I'm wrong, then I will totally apologize for insinuating that maybe these weren't entirely honest elections. However, I have a history book. So I have seen a trend. Unfortunately, my government hasn't noticed the success rate of the puppet governments. It's not very high. See, any government gets its authority from the consent of the governed. (Props to Jefferson). And I've heard so many people on the right and left cry that we just can't leave Iraq now. We have to see this through. We have to guide them through the process of democracy. Maybe that's exactly what we shouldn't be doing. We certainly owe them, big time. And we should continue to rebuild, and funnel cash into their infrastructure, that we ruined. Usually (always), people don't feel free unless they take that freedom for themselves. Even if we force the greatest, most benevolent government on them, it will still be forced. Some people love the puppet show. I think it's creepy.

UPDATE: I'm wrong, and I am totally apologizing. It appears that our puppets are not leading in the Iraqi elections. The Shi'ite Islamist groups are leading. And I'm sure that our government didn't rig the elections so that our puppets would lose power to groups that could possibly (probably) align themselves with Iran (also ruled by Shi'ites). So these elections must have been honest. And I'm sure this whole democracy in Iraq thing is going to work out great for us.