Among those who didn’t bother to learn the facts about the North Carolina custody case I blogged about yesterday was Dr. Alan Keyes, who wrote about the case on his blog. There, Dr. Keyes refers to this case as an instance of “the imposition of socialist tyranny” and “the enslavement of conscience.” He goes on to attack Judge Magnum’s decision as “ideological” and “dishonest,” and proof of “such deficiency in his own education as to raise serious doubts about his qualifications to make judgments about anyone else’s. (In the U.S. lawyers get a doctorate when they graduate from law school, right?)”
Yes, Dr. Keyes, a legal degree is called a Juris Doctor, and one of the things that qualifies a person for a Juris Doctor is that we must learn to read decisions before we spout off about them. Evidently this is not something they taught you at Harvard. Also helpful is to learn a degree of skepticism toward news reports—that we might learn the true facts rather than assuming the truth of a one-sided story that spins a legal decision in the way one party wishes it to be portrayed. When we actually look at the judge’s decision we see that not only was the subject of education only one among many matters relevant to the judge’s decision—and one somewhat outweighed by the disturbing nature of the religious cult which the mother joined—but also that the father and the mother disagreed over the education of the children (does the father have no right to a say in the education of his children?) and that it was the mother who was the plaintiff, seeking to deprive the father of custodial, visitation, and decision-making authority, not the other way around, as Dr. Keyes assumes. Indeed, when we actually read the decision, we see that it was a balanced and reasonable decision, in a very sad state of circumstances.
Now, just to be clear, I believe that home schooling is a viable alternative; that the right of a parent to choose home schooling is a constitutional right that ought not to be violated (except, obviously, if the child is being abused); that the progressive notions of “socialization” and so forth that are used to justify a government monopoly on schooling are false and harmful—indeed, I believe government schools ought to be abolished. But this case is not an example of abuse or government tyranny in the least. This is an example of a judge sympathetically and reasonably weighing the evidence presented to him and making an apparently wise and sensible decision based on the best interests of the children. One does not advance the cause of liberty by blasting everything in sight with righteous fits of anger; nor does not promote freedom by railing about tyranny when the government is protecting individual rights. For Dr. Keyes to speak of “indignation,” “humiliation,” “implacable anger,” and revolutionary violence (!) when speaking of this decision demonstrates either that he has no intellectual control over his emotions, or that he is simply a demagogue, seeking to raise the tempers of his audience without giving them the true facts.
Between these two choices, I express no opinion. You see, I only have a Juris Doctor degree—not a Harvard Ph.D. in government—so I prefer to remain silent, where I don’t know the facts.