JUDGES RUN WILD
by Ned Holstein
August 13, 2004
A non-custodial mother in Virgina named Tamara Silvius has just been
sentenced to 10 days in jail for -- smoking in the presence of her two children.
Worse still, a higher court judge upheld the ruling.
Can you imagine a judge telling a MARRIED mom that she would be jailed for
smoking in the presence of her children? Whether we frown on smoking or not, it
is a legal activity. It seems that only for divorced people, particularly
non-custodial parents, does the state claim the right to dictate what can and
cannot be done in the privacy of the home.
What ever happened to the right to privacy, the concept that there is a zone of
privacy in one's life the state cannot enter? This concept, after all, is the
basis for the right to abortion. Do you suddenly lose your constitutional rights
once you get divorced? And where does this stop? Should we jail non-custodial
parents who give their children junk food? Or who let their children watch too
much tv? Or who don't make them do their homework?
The puffed-up arrogance of many family court judges is born of their unfettered
control over our lives. The mentality of the Virginia judge is the same
mentality that has caused judges in many states to rule that divorced parents,
but not married parents, can be forced to pay for college; that divorced
parents, but not married parents, can be forced to pay for health insurance;
that divorced parents, but not married parents, can be forced to spend a
state-dictated amount of money on raising their children; that divorced parents,
but not married parents, can be regulated in the amount of time they spend with
their children; that divorced parents, but not married parents, can be forced on
pain of incarceration to remain in a job they hate; and that divorced parents,
but not married parents, can be ordered to say or not say certain things to
Since time immemorial, PARENTS have been entrusted with the authority to decide
what is best for their children, not the STATE, even when the parents make
foolish choices. The reason for this is not that parents are infallible, but
because the state, no matter how many social workers and judges it may hire,
cannot do as good a job as PARENTS will usually do. No judge is going to work
three jobs so a crippled child can afford special care. No social worker is
going to be there when the child cries in the night. The PARENTS are the ones
who love the children more than anyone else in the world, not the STATE. That is
why since the beginning of time, PARENTS have been left to make decisions for
their children, and the state has backed off from intruding on that right
unless there is obvious, gross, and irreversible harm being done to the
Unless, of course, you are a non-custodial parent, in which case the STATE,
through its courts, has claimed the right to micromanage your relationship with
As a doctor, I believe that secondhand smoke is mildly bad for a child. And I
also believe that it is no business of the state.
FREE TAMARA SILVIUS!
Ned Holstein, MD, MS
Fathers and Families
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