Really Bad Candy Cane

original post

I have no idea how I stumbled onto this story. I do not follow home-birthing pages. I never heard of this blogger before.

But this fascinating.

Here’s the original post. Lisa had a baby at home. This isn’t her first rodeo and she knows all about stuff, except she was remarking about the umbilical cord and the candy cane coloring.  Baby seems fine, she says.

Dr. Amy Tuteur, who I have discovered blogs as The Skeptical OB (love the name) and who the back-to-nature, Jesus-totes-wants-me-to-have-my-baby-in-a-swimming-pool crowd seem to hate, which sort of recommends her in my opinion, wrote the above post on her Facebook page.

Now, I ask you this.  Is what she said mean and hateful and horrible?

I think not.

A few hours later, there was this.

first followup

At this point, Dr. Tuteur is getting peeved, and it’s quite understandable. It would have been very simple at that point, since the mother went to the hospital anyway, to get the baby checked. But the mother thinks she’s a damn doctor so she doesn’t bother.

But still, notice that Dr. Tuteur has obscured the woman’s last name.  I wouldn’t have chosen to do that at this point. This young woman was endangering her child’s life and at this point, she knew it was possible that her baby could be in danger.  With the first post, you could tell she didn’t know and asked.

cautionary post

By the next day, Dr. Tuteur tells her readers to dial it back. And she’s right. Lisa knew what the danger was and that’s enough.  Plenty could and should be said publicly, but bombarding her with PMs and stuff doesn’t help.

father message

And another 24 hours later, the father chimes in. The kid was seen by a doc and everything is fine.  That’s great, says Dr. Tuteur.  Crisis averted, or really, it appears was nonexistent. Right?

And Dr. Tuteur has done everything possible to caution her readers to lay off this couple. They took the kid to a doctor. All is well.

Right?

Wrong.

infection

The large type is a screen shot that the mother posted in some birthing group.

Here’s the rest.

infection 2

Oh, so now she admits there was, in fact, a problem.

In other words, Dr. Tuteur was right. She was right. That’s because she is a retired OB doc. She knew what she was looking at.

But, does Lisa Dumbass HomeBirthing Expert Extraordinaire say, “You know, I was peeved with Dr. Tuteur and I don’t especially like her, but she was right.”  Does she do that?

Of course not.

Instead, she is going to teach everyone.  She’s the fucking teacher, sharing the information like she fucking invented it.

Instead, she is “grateful” for the “support” she got from other brain-dead ignoramuses who thought that everything was lovely and Dr. Tuteur is a moron.  She’s not “grateful” to the one person with some actual knowledge and experience who said, “You know what? This is a dangerous situation. I can’t diagnose via Facebook but you need to see a doc.”

Instead, she calls Dr. Tuteur a “malicious shock jock blogger.”   I suppose that is something like a “tabloid blogger.”  She also says that she, poor thing, has been having postpartum depression because Dr. Tuteur said mean things.  Really.

Read it for yourself.

No, seriously, go over there and read it.

Dr. Tuteur is my new hero.

 

 

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Banned

 

banned books week
click image to link to source

This week is Banned Books Week.  This is a subject near and dear to my liberal, free-spirited heart and Nicole has chosen to talk about it so I am delighted to join in the conversation.

Banned Books Week is an annual event sponsored by the American Library Association to do a couple of things: make us aware of books that have been banned in the past, for various reasons, and in doing so, spark an interest in and conversation about the idea of censorship.

I despise censorship. I want to be upfront about that from the start. You know how Nicole and Joe love, love, love the Second Amendment?  Well, that’s how I am about the First one.

I was raised by a very religious mother who, fortunately for me, was pretty liberal when it came to reading material. I couldn’t wear slacks, and I couldn’t go to movies, but she didn’t really pay much attention to what I read. And I was a book worm.

When I was about 11, my grandfather gave me a book.  It was a large one-volume collection of the works of Mark Twain. It has really thin pages, sort of like a Bible. I loved it. I still love it, because I still have it. I was going to take a photo of it, but we’re remodeling and my books are stored away in boxes for the moment.

Anyway, I am quite sure that my grandfather never read the book. I know for certain my mother never did. They just saw “Mark Twain” and thought Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer and that was as far as they thought.

Those novels, of course, were included in the book, but so was a story called The Mysterious Stranger. If you are unfamiliar with the work, please click on the link and scroll down to the several quoted paragraphs toward the end of the piece.

mysterious stranger

My grandfather and my mother totally forgot (or didn’t know) that Mark Twain was a cynic and an atheist.

And I read every word of that book, more than once. Please imagine a child of about 11, taught that the Bible is totally true and Jesus is totally real, reading that quote from The Mysterious Stranger after being totally invested in the story. It had a profound impact on me. I’ve never forgotten my horror and it’s been about 55 years.

My point here is this: Just because a child has the intellectual capability of reading adult literature, just because she can read the words and understand what is being said, does not mean that the child has the emotional capability of processing the information without some sort of guidance. It wasn’t that Twain was wrong.  I am an atheist (now) and share his views.  The problem was that I was young and I really needed to be able to talk with some adult about the issues raised and I couldn’t.

I didn’t tell my mother about the story.  I knew what would happen if I did. She would have taken the book away from me.  I didn’t want censorship, but I certainly needed conversation and a bit of guidance.

Keep that little anecdote in mind as we continue.

I think I’ve written about this before, but hell, I’m old, and I can repeat myself if I want. When we lived in Alaska, I volunteered at our local library.  Here it is.

library

I was not only a volunteer librarian, but I also was the treasurer. I served in that capacity for much of the time we lived there (about 9 years). So I know a little about how libraries work and how they are funded and how to manage one, albeit a teensy one.

library funding

In Alaska, our little library was funded several ways. Our primary funding was via a state grant, given to us by the legislature every year. We were never exactly sure how much we would get.  It all depended on how much the legislature approved and how many libraries applied for funding.

We were required, as a condition of receiving the funding, to raise a comparable amount from the community. During the time I was there, we experimented with several ideas for fund-raising (our least-favorite thing to do), and came up with a sweepstakes, which has remained in place ever since. They, in fact, are getting ready for it right now.  We sold tickets for $100 a pop, and the ticket served as entry to the party (held at the local community club, complete with food) and the subsequent drawing. Multiple prizes were given away, mostly cash.

The third thing we got in terms of funding was E-Rate. That is a federal program which allowed us to have telephone and internet service at very reduced prices. This facilitated offering computer access to the public.

So, the library was (and still is) funded by community donations, by state grants and by federal dollars.

But nobody told us what books to buy or what to offer and what to do about any of that.

The contents of our library were determined entirely by the library’s board, and I was on that board, so I know how the decisions were made.

Libraries are finite. They are not Amazon. They can’t have every book that has ever been printed in them. Shelf space in a library is valuable space and none of us were ever cavalier about the decision to place a book on the shelf or to remove it.

We used to weed books (and that’s what we called it – “weeding”) about twice a year.  We got boxes, divided the library up in sections and began working. We had come up with criteria to help us make decisions, involving how often the book had been checked out (circulation), whether or not it was considered a classic (subjective, but we had to start someplace), and whether or not we had lots of books on the same subject (repetitiveness). A book that just sat on the shelf doing nothing got removed.

And once all the books that were weeded were in the boxes, we all went through the boxes and pulled out those we didn’t agree with tossing. And then we argued about it, politely.

In the end, a whole pile of books left the library to be donated, were sold for really cheap, or went to the dump.

Every now and then, we got a complaint.  It didn’t happen often, but it did happen.  We actually had a form, if I remember correctly, that people could fill out if they wanted to complain about something, and that included the inclusion (or exclusion) of any book on our shelves. Typically, a complaint would come from a parent who thought that a particular book in the children’s section wasn’t appropriate for one reason or another.

When that happened, we would discuss the issue in the board meeting.  Most of us were very pro-free speech and loathe to do any censoring of any sort (a very common feeling among librarians in general), but we did agree that there should be fairly obvious areas for picture books, for children’s books and for young adult books, so that parents could easily determine which shelves their children were browsing. And what generally happened was that we’d agree to move a particular book from the children’s area to the young adult area.

Our reasoning centered around the issue I raised earlier with my little story about Mark Twain and The Mysterious Stranger.

When I was in the twelfth grade, the principal of the school, Mrs. Polly McKay, called me into her office to have a chat. It seems that the school librarian had reported to Mrs. McKay that I had checked out East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

Mrs. McKay felt that the book was too mature for my tender years.

I remember being astonished.

I asked her to please explain to me why, if the book was too mature for me, and I was in the twelfth grade, what the book was doing in the library at all.

She had no answer.

Libraries have to make choices about what to put on their shelves and what to either never buy or remove.  It’s a problem that is perennial and thorny.

libraries
click image to link to source

Here’s another kind of twitchy problem. Somebody in our little community donated the entirety of the Left Behind series to our library.  You wanna see a really shitty series of books?  Get volume one of that series and start reading. I give you about ten minutes. Awful.

And it wasn’t one book. It was a bunch of books. Sixteen of them.  That’s a lot of shelf space for shitty books.

But if we refused them, we’d be accused of religious discrimination. We knew that. We’d also have hurt the feelings of somebody in a very small community.  We had no desire to do that.

So we tolerated them for a while.  They, naturally, due to sheer shittiness, did not circulate worth a damn, and after a year or so, they began to disappear. I hope they are all gone now.

My point here is that nobody made these decisions for us. We met as a board of directors, we got input from the community, and we took a vote.  It was always difficult and we tried very hard to err on the side of free speech.

And the state government, those folks that gave us our grant, and the federal government that furnished us with the E-Rate credit on our telephone and internet access had zero input into any of this. Absolutely none.

album banned books
click image to link to source

From Nicole’s Blessed Little Homestead Facebook page.

Notice that she insists that “the government” bans books. And then she puts up pictures of books that at one time, some place, were banned. The implication is that all book banning is done by the US government. She doesn’t explicitly say that, but she is certainly implying it.

The US government has not banned a book in decades.

And then she tells us to read banned books, because anarchy.

How about reading, period?  How about reading banned books because they contain often-controversial subject matter?  How about making sure that if you allow children to read that sort of stuff, you also provide them with guidance and a bit of conversation?  How about providing children with age-appropriate books, and teaching them to read in the first place (doubtful at the Blessed Little Property)?

Canterbury TalesIf you’re going to complain about literature being banned, and in doing so, you’re going to use hashtags, spell the name correctly.

There are zillions of books in print. It’s not possible for anyone to read all of them. I know, because I have made a valiant effort to do just that and have failed miserably.

And not every book that has been banned should be given a glance or any valuable time to be read at all.

Here’s an example.

Elders of Zion

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a book I’ve never read, except for excerpts. I have no intention of ever reading it.  If you really can’t bear it and want to read it, Google it and you can find a copy online. I am 67 years old. Why would I want to waste my time, as little as I have remaining, to read a piece of shit like that when beautiful books like The Jewel in the Crown (my current Audible book) are out there beckoning to me?  Why would I waste time with a complete fraud of a book that has led to so much anti-Semitic hatred and violence?

Should the book be banned?  I do not think so.  However, I doubt I’d vote to give it library space if I were still sitting on the library board.

challenged books
click image to link to source

Here’s a list of books that were “challenged” (meaning that some library got a complaint about the book) in 2015. Notice how often the reason given is “unsuited for age group”?  That’s exactly what I was talking about in my Twain story. It’s a very subjective issue and a thorny one. And it’s difficult to know what to do about it, if anything at all. One solution involves making sure that parents realize what subject matter is involved in books their children check out.  Does that mean putting a warning sticker on the front?  (That would increase circulation, I bet!)  I don’t know, but I do know that the issues are real and all sides have reasonable concerns.

Just like we had to do at the library, you have to make these kinds of decisions at your house.  What books are you going to spend time reading? Which ones are worth bothering with?  Which ones will you buy in hard copy form and store?  Which ones will you read and discard?  You can’t eat at every restaurant in the world, and you can’t read all the books.

Choose carefully. Choose wisely.

The government does not care what or how you choose.

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Identity Crisis

obtaining ss number
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It’s almost circular, isn’t it?  You need  a birth certificate to prove your age and citizenship, but you need a US passport to prove your identity. However, you need a birth certificate to get the US passport.

Somebody brought up the case of Alecia Faith Pennington in a comment the other day, and that set me wondering. I hadn’t heard an update on Faith’s situation (that’s the name she goes by) in a long time and I was curious to see how her case is progressing.

And that sent me down the rabbit trail.

Here’s some background for those who might not know what I’m talking about.

Faith Pennington is the daughter of Lisa Pennington.  At least, that’s how I think of her primarily.  I was aware of Lisa long before Faith flew the coop, because Lisa is a blogger.  (Warning: the blog is filled with clickbait. Lisa is quite clearly trying to make money off it.)

She had written a piece several years ago slamming gays which I found pretty offensive, so I wrote her a note to explain my dismay to her. She does not allow negative comments of any sort on her blog, so I knew it wouldn’t be approved, but it really wasn’t for public consumption. It was for her. I made it very short and to the point because I knew she would hit delete as soon as she recognized it as negative.

I noticed at some point that her husband, James, is a graduate of Liberty University’s law school, which is pretty much the worst law school in America. But he can’t use the excuse that he doesn’t know that no ID severely restricts what people can and cannot do in this country.

In short, they are right-wing conservative Christian homeschoolers who live out in the boonies and completely isolate their numerous children.

So I knew who they were, sort of, in a kind of detached “oh, yeah, another one of those” way.

And then Faith left home and made a video.

And the video went viral. Way, way beyond Naugler viral. Really viral.

Faith had decided to leave home and go live with her grandmother.  Well, here. You’ve seen Faith’s side of it. Let’s read Lisa’s.  Note: this is a PDF of the post Lisa made on her horrid little blog, playing her victimy whiny violin and begging for sympathy because her grown daughter decided to leave home.  She took the original one down, but the internet is forever.

She calls it “The Hardest Post I Ever Wrote.”  Bless her little heart. One of her children essentially gave her the finger and moved out.  And that’s the hardest thing she’s ever dealt with.

She also manages to insult the hell out of her own mother by calling her “a godless woman who has been giving her [Faith] foolish counsel and encouraging her to deceive us and get out.” Her argument seems to center around Faith refusing to come home.

Why should Faith go home? Really? Why should she?  “Home” means living out in the middle of nowhere, used as a babysitter for all the younger siblings, with no social life and no autonomy and no driver’s license (and no access to a car even if you had a license) and no job and no access to the internet.  “Home” means giving up her adulthood to the control of her parents. But the Penningtons were willing to give her “everything she wanted” (meaning: her rightful identity and the paperwork to prove it, something she should have had as her birthright) provided she would “come home” and be their willing, controlled slave once again.

I say that Faith was lucky to have grandparents who were willing to help her out.

And that’s where I left Faith. She had no ID of any sort, and no way to get any that anyone could see. She was basically invisible.  She was also resolved.  Other news outlets were reporting on the story, including this one that gives more details. 

Her father made his own video (removed now) where he made the whole controversy about how she is basically a bratty teenager who wanted her driver’s license. Just the sort of thing one would expect from these sort of folks. And then it all sort of went silent.

I kind of forgot about her, until she was mentioned in the comments here.

So, imagine my delight to discover this.

I know. It’s half-an-hour in length, but it’s worth listening to it. Faith has come a long, long way.

What astonished me the most, I think, is that a Republican state legislator in Texas came to her aid. That’s just wonderful and welcome and I am thrilled.  And the Texas legislature did, in fact, pass legislation that makes it a crime to deny your adult children their identification.  Texas did this.  Regressive, backward, goofy Texas. The state I would be happy to see leave the union. They did this.  Good for them.

Faith, according to her Facebook page, has her delayed birth certificate, is awaiting her passport to arrive in the mail, and will be able to use those two documents to finally get a Social Security number so she can get a job, go to school, and be a real person.

But notice this. The video that Faith made and put on YouTube was released on February 9, 2015.   That’s nineteen months ago.

It has been more than a year and a half and Faith still doesn’t have all her documents.  Let that sink in.

For more than a year and a half, Faith Pennington, who is an adult US citizen, has been unable to get a job, or go to school, or travel outside the United States. She literally can’t do much of anything. And it’s entirely a situation that her parents caused because they have engaged in something that now has a name.

It’s called identification abuse.

Homeschoolers Anonymous article about Faith

Lots more Homeschoolers Anonymous pieces on identification abuse

Coalition For Responsible Home Education article about identification abuse

The Washington Post article about Faith

PDF report of a survey of homeschool alumni about identification abuse

In Texas, denying these documents to an adult child is a crime. It ought to be a crime everywhere, and that includes Kentucky.  Forcing an adult child to waste two years of her life, put it all on hold, because you happen to be a control-freak asshole ought to be a criminal offense.

Faith was lucky because her video went so viral that she got the attention of people with the power to do something about her situation.

What about those who didn’t make a video?

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