Bal­anc­ing the needs of chil­dren with re­quire­ments of due process

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Editorial - Colin Burke Port au Port

Rus­sell Wanger­sky ob­jected in his June 18 col­umn to U.S. At­tor­ney Jeff Ses­sions hav­ing quoted Scrip­ture to jus­tify “sep­a­rat­ing chil­dren from their par­ents and lock­ing them up in de­ten­tion camps.”

It seems that Mr. Ses­sions said, in that con­text, “I would cite you to the Apos­tle Paul and his clear and wise com­mand in Ro­mans 13, to obey the laws of the gov­ern­ment be­cause God has or­dained them for the pur­pose of or­der.”

Mr. Wanger­sky him­self wrote in re­ply: “Govern­ments set so­cial di­rec­tions for ev­ery­one, not just those who be­long to a par­tic­u­lar sect or faith.”

That seems to me to be ex­actly what St. Paul said in dif­fer­ent words. If that is what one be­lieves, it hardly seems to mat­ter whether one quotes the Apos­tle Paul or the colum­nist, Rus­sell, as best ex­press­ing one’s own opin­ion.

Maybe, for all I know of the mat­ter, Mr. Ses­sions was in this case cit­ing Scrip­ture to jus­tify the ac­tions of gov­ern­ment against the opin­ion of some­one who had cited other Scrip­ture in op­po­si­tion to what gov­ern­ment was do­ing, since an ap­peal to au­thor­ity must ap­peal to an au­thor­ity which is ac­knowl­edged. But even Mr. Wanger­sky’s ob­ser­va­tion about the pur­pose of gov­ern­ment could be used to “jus­tify ac­tions that could not oth­er­wise be jus­ti­fied,” as Mr. Wanger­sky says ap­peals to Scrip­ture have been used.

The sort of self-con­tra­dic­tion which ob­jects to “quot­ing Scrip­ture” even when it ex­presses ideas to which one ad­heres when one can state them in one’s own words, was ev­i­dent again in Mr. Wanger­sky’s col­umn of June 19 con­demn­ing with­out any pos­si­bil­ity of pal­li­a­tion at all the United States gov­ern­ment’s de­tain­ing chil­dren in sep­a­ra­tion from their par­ents who are charged (ap­par­ently af­ter be­ing caught in the act, which can jus­tify re­fusal of bail de­spite the pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence un­til guilt is proved) with il­le­gally en­ter­ing that coun­try.

At least, that con­tra­dic­tion is ev­i­dent when one re­calls that the colum­nist who will not hear of bal­anc­ing the needs of chil­dren with the re­quire­ments of due process of law and na­tional in­ter­est had ear­lier writ­ten, in sup­port of per­mit­ting abor­tion, that so­ci­ety must bal­ance the right of chil­dren to be born with the right of women not have chil­dren.

Mr. Wanger­sky also wrote touch­ingly in that col­umn about the ex­pres­sion in chil­dren’s eyes when be­ing sep­a­rated from a par­ent on be­ing brought to school. That prompted me to won­der whether he had ever seen a child’s re­sponse to be­ing told that some adults kill ba­bies, or, per­haps, even to be­ing told that the child’s par­ents some­times “have sex” just “for fun.” But, of course, sex ed­u­ca­tion in the schools to which par­ents now bring their chil­dren prob­a­bly is meant al­most specif­i­cally to spare the par­ents that par­tic­u­lar experience.

Mr. Wanger­sky in this in­stance seems there­fore al­most a clas­sic example of men who “Com­pound for sins they are in­clined to/By damn­ing those they have no mind to.”

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