The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Poisonous Parenting: Best Protected

This entry is part 25 of 26 in the series poisonous parenting

I realize I should probably let it go. After all, there are some people you’re just never gonna reach.

Let me explain it this way. When I first came to D.C. to work in politics, and to work specifically on gay rights issues, I was told and came to understand that people fall into three categories when you’re working for social change:

1. The people who are on your side.

2. The people who aren’t on your side, but could be if they’re persuaded.

3. The people who are not on your side and never will be.

The first group you need to talk to in order to keep them informed and motivated. The second group you need to talk to in order to make your case and move them to your side. Talking to the third group is a waste of time and energy better spent shoring up support in the first group and winning support in the second group.

Some people are unreachable. The problem is they say things that must not go unchallenged.

It goes without saying that Pope Ratzinger is unreachable. But, when he starts talking about “gender theory,” he goes and says stuff that must not go unchallenged.

The pope, who has strongly condemned gay unions in the past, appears to be increasing the severity and frequency of his attacks. His support for the anti-gay marriage rally comes on the heels of being criticized for saying that mankind needed to be saved from gender confusion. Many gay leaders believed his words justified “gay bashing.”

Last Monday, speaking to the Vatican’s central administration, the pope attacked what he described as “gender” theories which “lead towards the self emancipation of man from creation and the creator,” and said there were important distinctions between men and women that need to be “respected.”

“The tropical forests do deserve our protection; but man, as a creature, does not deserve any less,” he said.

Gay rights activists interpreted the remarks as anti-gay and anti-transgender.

“What keeps the pope awake at night is the idea that human beings might be able to seek out their own sexual identity to have a happy life,” Franco Grillini, of the Italian association Gaynet, told UK-based daily the Guardian.

Nevermind the inherent gender complementarianism of his statement, and how it basically serves to keep women “in their place” (politically disenfranchised and economically disempowered).

It’s no coincidence that the political forces opposed to same-sex marriage or marriage equality also oppose gender equality and advocate returning to more strictly enforced gender roles. The Institute for Progressive Christianity recently published a paper titled “The KIngdom of God and the Witness of Gay Marriage,” which includes among it’s premises:

1. Gay marriages demonstrate the possibility and desirability of gender equality in any marriage by modeling a relationship where the parties to the marriage do not distribute roles and responsibilities based on gender. This modeling supports the positive transformation of the curse of gender conflict, and subsequent patriarchal domination pronounced at the Fall from Paradise into gender egalitarianism .

2. Gay marriage’s ascendancy and resilience in society participates in a fundamental shift of the culture’s understanding of marriage. That is, marriage is being transformed from a utilitarian arraignment grounded in the idea that women are sexual property to an egalitarian life journey with a partner who one chooses to develop and share mutual love, affection, respect, and support.

… One of the most obvious issues to which gay marriage speaks is gender equality. One of the strongest and most relied upon objections to gay marriage from the Right is that it violates the concept of gender complementarity. Gender complementarity is the metaphysical claim that men’s and women’s social functions in the world are determined dichotomously by their biological sex, such that where men are convex women are concave.

… Undergirding the concept of gender complementarity is the assumption that men are metaphysically meant to rule over women (ideally in the spirit of love, of course) and women are metaphysically meant to serve men.

… Thus, from the gender complementarian perspective, those who act as though women and men gain equal spiritual, emotional, psychological, and existential satisfaction and dignity from leading and serving, and are meant to experience both of these sides of the human psyche, are disordered, as are those who advocate this notion of equality and balance.

The possibility of gay marriage invites heterosexuals to view their intimate partners (or potential intimate partners) not through a lens of gendered otherness primarily —that is through the lens of gender complementarity— but through the lens of sameness, that is through the lens of sharing a common human dignity, as it was in the beginning.

Nevermind that this comes from a man who — at least until recently — apparently condoned the trial and conviction of Galileo; or that as with Galileo, the church might find itself on the wrong side of history again with same-sex marriage. (My guess, though, is that the church will take twice as long — thus, about 800 years — as it did with Galileo.)

Ivereigh says, “Galileo was condemned, at the time, because he was held to subvert the God-ordained nature of things.” But the Church reversed course on the faithful scientist when “It turned out that putting the Earth at the center of the universe was not God’s plan at all.”

But it’s striking how the homosexual orientation appears in church teaching as “intrinsically disordered” — in other words, as contrary to the way God arranged the universe — in the same way as the Copernican view appeared in the seventeenth century.

Ivereigh seems to be saying that someday “evidence” will prove man just misunderstood the Godly order of the universe… or maybe not. What do you think? Before you jump in, check out full post and be sure to read the comments, which are packed with well argued opposing views and surprising observations.

Put that together with the above, and it makes you wonder just who the pontiff thinks needs protection. Certainly not our families, since the policies he advocates would leave our families vulnerable to discrimination and worse.

Jordan Lawrence, senior counsel of the right wing Alliance Defense Fund, is unreachable. But, as in this CNN.Com column about the Warren pick, he says things that must not go unchallenged.

The collective experience and wisdom of every major civilization from the dawn of time agrees that societies function best and children are best protected when marriage is defined as between one man and one woman. Warren and those who agree with him want all nations to experience these benefits of marriage when it is rightly defined and consistently practiced.

Lawrence has a law degree, so perhaps he’s not in the same league as Sherri Shepherd of “The View,” who apparently thinks that Jesus predates every other civilization. But he doesn’t seem to know much about “every major civilization.” Either that or the books he’s read leave out an awful lot of information. Like the history of same-sex unions in Western culture.

Civil unions between male couples existed around 600 years ago in medieval Europe, a historian now says.

Historical evidence, including legal documents and gravesites, can be interpreted as supporting the prevalence of homosexual relationships hundreds of years ago, said Allan Tulchin of Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.

If accurate, the results indicate socially sanctioned same-sex unions are nothing new, nor were they taboo in the past.

“Western family structures have been much more varied than many people today seem to realize,” Tulchin writes in the September issue of the Journal of Modern History. “And Western legal systems have in the past made provisions for a variety of household structures.”

For example, he found legal contracts from late medieval France that referred to the term “affrèrement,” roughly translated as brotherment. Similar contracts existed elsewhere in Mediterranean Europe, Tulchin said.

Not only has Western culture, in its past, found ways to fix same-sex relationships into socio-cultural context, but almost every other culture has done so too.

Of course, it’s a reality that reaches far beyond just Western culture. As William Naphy wrote in the conclusion of Born to Be Gay: A History of Homosexuality.

…[H]omosexuality is clearly a very real characteristic of the human species taken as a whole. The presence of gay people is, in other words, a natural part of humanity — it is a normal feature of the human condition. Most societies throughout history have accepted this with varying degrees of toleration, albeit with similarly varying degree of disapproval. Most cultures have found a way to construct some sexual interaction between members of the same sex in a way that allows for some scope of sexual activity and real emotional bonding.

And to those for whom the grand sweep of history (all 6,000 years of it) comes to a dead stop at the stories they’ve been told about Sodom and Gomorrah, in a book that opens by describing, in a chapter entitled “Before Sodom and Gomorrah (Pre-1300 BCE),” rock paintings done by Africa’s San people thousands of years ago some of which depict same-sex activity between men, Naphy closes with this.

The reality, though, is that the vast majority of cultures have accepted that same-sex attraction is simply a facet of the human condition. Christianity, on the other hand, has chose to construct sex, sexual acts and sexuality in a manner wholly at odds with the pattern which has been adopted by almost all other human cultures throughout recorded history. In other words,in the context of human history and culture, it is the (Judeo) Christian response to homosexuality that is abnormal and unnatural.

The “The collective experience and wisdom of every major civilization from the dawn” actually runs counter to Ratzinger and Lawrence. The reality is that it’s only Western Christianity that’s been downright queer about the issue, having always been (to borrow a line from E.M. Forrester) “disinclined to accept human nature.” Thus, it produces tortured creatures like Ted Haggard, doomed to a lifetime of “struggle” against himself, because it has nothing better to offer.

But something else in Lawrence’s comment sparked this post, because — like others of his strip — he brings the issue back around to children. That’s no surprise, because once they’re done with marriage, they’re coming after our families next. It doesn’t even matter to them that they’re wrong.

Poor Dick Cheney. He was sure we’d find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We searched and searched, but he refused to give up.

Now he’s discovering what it’s like to be on the other end of such obtuse certainty. The conservative jihad has turned from Saddam to Sodom. Moralists are denouncing Cheney’s pregnant daughter, Mary, for disclosing that she and her lesbian partner will raise the baby together. The moralists are confident that having two mommies is bad for kids. And no evidence to the contrary can dissuade them.

The 30-year search for proof that gay parents are destructive looks a lot like the hunt for WMD. The American Psychological Association has compiled abstracts of 67 studies. Some are plainly biased, and only the latest two or three have avoided the methodological flaws of earlier investigations. But after 67 tries, you’d expect the harm of gay parenting to show up somewhere. Yet in study after study, on measure after measure, kids turn out the same.

One study found that straight parents “made a greater effort to provide an opposite-sex role model for their children,” but it doesn’t say whether this affected the kids. Another says children raised by lesbian couples “were more likely to explore same-sex relationships,” but it doesn’t say they turned out gay. Other studies say they seldom do.

That’s it. That’s the evidence against gay parenthood. On the other hand, three studies say lesbians share child care more equally than straight couples do. Others conclude that lesbians are more satisfied with their relationships, that they show more “parenting awareness skills,” that nonbiological lesbian moms “played a more active role in daily caretaking than did most fathers,” and that their kids are less domineering and experience “greater warmth and interaction with their mother.”

But who needs studies when you can ask actual people? Well, theoretically, anyway.

You could ask Amari Copeland, but he couldn’t answer because he was just five-weeks-old when he was beaten to death by his mother’s boyfriend.

A 20-year-old has been charged with murder in the beating death of his girlfriend’s 5-week-old boy earlier this month.

Five-week-old Amari Copeland was found unresponsive at the couple’s Westside home on Dec. 20. The baby had a skull fracture, went into cardiac arrest and died at a hospital.

The medical examiner determined the child had a skull fracture and said the cause of death was blunt force trauma.

According to JonPaul Harms’ arrest report, he admitted during questioning that he hit the baby five times with his closed fist. Investigators say Harms told them, “The infant would not stop crying.”

In addition to murder, Harms was also charged with violation of community control and driving without a license. He was being held without bond in the Duval County jail.

The aptly named Mr. Harms may not be a shining example of parenthood. And not just because he wasn’t parent. Or at least not Amari’s parent. On the other hand he is demonstrably heterosexual, and since his girlfriend is obviously fertile.

So they meet the minimum tab-b-goes-into-slot-a requirement in both the pontiff’s book and Lawrence’s. In fact, if she’ll still have him, Harms could marry his girlfriend. Even if he’s convicted and sent to prison, they can still marry. And if he’s allowed conjugal visits, they could have a child together. If they do, let’s hope this one doesn’t cry.

Because as long as you’re heterosexual there’s no crime you can commit that heinous enough to cause you to lose the right to marry.

But, even if he’d lived long enough to learn to talk, would Amari Copeland say he was “best protected” in his situation?

You couldn’t ask Prisma Ortiz Ruiz. Well, you could have. But she couldn’t have answered. She was four months old when she was killed in 2006, but she would have been about two-years-old in 2008, when someone finally reported her missing.

Garland police said someone finally reported a baby girl’s disappearance two years after her parents allegedly dumped her lifeless body near Joe Pool Lake.

Police received a tip about 4-month-old Prisma Ortizruiz’s death in August. A caller said the baby was last seen two years earlier.

Investigators determined her parents, 28-year-old Selvin Alfredo Ortiz and 30-year-old Sonia Ruiz, are responsible.

Ortiz allegedly killed the baby sometime in August 2006 inside an apartment in the 1400 block of Forest Lane. The couple then dumped their daughter’s body near Joe Pool Lake, police said.

Cora Jean Lockhart couldn’t have answered either, if you’d asked her if she was “best protected” by her mom and her mom’s boyfriend. She was only thirty-six days old when her mother’s boyfriend killed her.

Steven Zorn is accused of killing an infant who was not only his girlfriend’s daughter, but also his niece.

That and several disturbing details of the death came to light during the prosecution’s opening trial statement. A jury trial began Tuesday to weigh a first-degree murder charge against Mr. Zorn for the death of 36-day-old Cora Jean Lockhart one year ago today.

…Buchanan County Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Scroggins began his case by telling the jurors that Mr. Zorn started dating Suzan Lockhart when she was pregnant by his half-brother, David Petty. Cora Jean was born Dec. 2, and by then Mr. Zorn lived with Ms. Lockhart and her two other small children.

Mr. Scroggins covered in detail the injuries Cora Jean sustained — “multiple blunt force injuries.”

“She was beaten to death,” Mr. Scroggins said. “She had 35 fractures.”

Cora Jean reportedly awoke at about 3 a.m. the day she died. Mr. Zorn told police that he got up to care for her, and her mother went back to sleep, Mr. Scroggins said.

Mr. Zorn initially told police he fed Cora Jean and put her back to sleep.

But Mr. Scroggins said a later videotaped interview includes him saying he pushed her chest to stop her hiccups, became frustrated, hit her, later shook her, sat on her after forgetting he’d rested her on a recliner, and then crushed her with his knees when he forgot he’d put her on the floor. Mr. Zorn also reportedly said he punched her in the vaginal area because she urinated on him while he was changing her diaper.

Zorn meets the minimum qualifications set forth by Ratzinger and Lawrence. He’s demonstrably heterosexual, because he has a girlfriend who also happens to be his niece. (So, clearly he values family.) She could be his wife too, if she wants. Because not even pleading guilty to killing a one-month-oldcan cause you to lose the right to marry. That is, if you’re heterosexual.

Aside from his tendencies towards violence and skipping court, Lawrence makes better parent material than we do. Because he’s heterosexual, and swears off assault, burglary, and some of his other passtimes, he’ll still be heterosexual, and if he finds a willing mate of the opposite sex he also has the possibility of procreation. And the Maryland Court of appeals says that the possibility is all you need. (Thus the elderly who are past their procreative prime, and the infertile retain the right to “companionate marriage,” so long a they are heterosexual.)

If you ask our kids — well, Parker will do all the talking, because he’s six and Dylan is only one year old — you’ll hear a lot, because he’ll tell you a lot once he gets warmed up. He’ll tell you about his favorite toy, or his newest friend, or what he did and where he went over the weekend. He might want to show you his room, or one of his toys in the basement. H might tell you want he wants for his birthday or for Christmas. Like I said, he’ll tell you a lot.

But Cora Jean Lockhart can’t tell you whether she was “best kept” by her heterosexual mom and mom’s heterosexual boyfriend.

You could ask Elijah Archuleta. He was two-years-old, and might have told you something, before he was scalded to death by his mom’s boyfriend.

Isela Reyes-Talamantes and her boyfriend, John Vigil, are charged with first degree murder and child abuse resulting in death in the case of Reyes-Talamantes’ son, Elijah Archuleta.

Police believe Vigil burned the toddler by holding him under a faucet as it poured hot water into the bath-tub.

Archuleta died at about 11 p.m. on Nov. 7 after police were called to Saint Anthony Central Hospital on a report of child with severe burns. He had burns over 75 percent of his body, according to a police report.

According to prosecutors, Reyes-Talamantes didn’t learn about the burning until Vigil came with the children to pick her up from work that afternoon.

Authorities say Reyes-Talamantes gave two accounts of what happened. In one, she and Vigil ran errands and stopped at a restaurant before taking Elijah to the hospital when he began choking, up to 10 hours after he was burned. In the other, they took the boy to the hospital shortly after he was burned.

Police and prosecutors allege the 10 hour timeframe story is indeed what happened.

It fell to his four-year-old sister to explain in an interview with police how he came to the state in which they found him.

Police say graphic autopsy pictures of a boy scalded in a bathtub last November poke holes in the defense of his mother and her boyfriend, both charged in the 2-year-old’s murder.

The pictures show skin on the forehead and chin had fallen off of Elijah Arculeta’s face.

Archuleta was pronounced dead at St. Anthony’s Hospital on Nov. 7. A judge ruled Monday his mother, 23-year-old Isela Reyes-Talamantes, and her boyfriend 24-year-old John Vigil, will stand trial on first-degree murder charges in the boy’s death later this year.

…Monday, Denver Police Det. Michael Martinez testified about an interview conducted with the 4-year-old sister of the boy, the day after his death.

“Elijah got a fire,” Martinez said the girl told police.

When investigators asked who gave the boy the fire, she told them:

“John John,” referring to John Vigil, Reyes-Talamantes’ live-in boyfriend.

She added: “John John got fire on Elijah in the bathtub.”

While Martinez spoke, the girl’s mother got teary-eyed and began to cry.

The girl told police her mother said Elijah was dying and would need to go to the hospital.

You could ask his sister whether her brother was “best protected” in that apartment, where his mother’s boyfriend scalded him to death, and where his mother arrived home sometime after 1:20 p.m. and “noticed the boy’s hands and face were burned,” though a later autopsy showed that “chunks of skin had fallen off the boy’s forehead, chin and left shoulder, leaving blood vessels and veins exposed.”

But you can’t ask Elijah if he was “best protected” by the heterosexual parent and “male figure” who waited until after 10:00 p.m. that night to take him to the doctor.

With two kids, we take turns with bath time, the hubby and I each in charge of one kid’s bath. Parker’s big enough now that he doesn’t need to be bathed so much as supervised to make sure that he doesn’t just play in the water, and that soap comes into contact with his body at some point.

But I still check the temperature of the water before either of them goes into the tub. I run the water over the back of my hand and check the temperature. If it’s just right for me, I turn up the cold water a bit, because I never want to put them in water that’s too hot.

But the hubby and I don’t fit the model that supposedly “best protects” children, because we’re gay. We can never fit that model, and that — according to Ratzinger and Lawrence — disqualifies us for parenthood and marriage.

On the other hand, Vigil and Reyes-Talamantes could still marry each other even if they’re convicted, and even if they’re sent to prisons that are miles away from each other. After all, they’re heterosexual, and if they can manage to stop (a) scalding the skin off their kids and (b) waiting half the day to take the kid to the hospital when they do scald the skin off their kids, they’ll still be heterosexual and procreation would still be in the realm of possibility.

Basically, if you’re heterosexual you can become good parents if you aren’t already. But if you’re gay, it doesn’t matter if your kids endure tepid baths and have all their skin intact. You can’t be gay and be good, so you can’t be gay and be good parents. And since that’s the main reason for marriage….

You could ask three-year-old Carson Hanson. He could have told you something, perhaps, before punched him in the stomach hard enough to kill him.

Only a punch to the stomach could have caused the death of a 3-year-old Licking County boy, jurors were told at the start of a murder trial yesterday.

Corey S. Flugga, 22, the boy’s stepfather, was arrested June 23, two days after paramedics were called to his Newark home on a report of an unresponsive boy. The child, Carson Hanson, was taken to Licking Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Assistant Licking County Prosecutor Dan Huston began his opening statement by telling jurors that Flugga was the only one with Carson during the time of his death who could possibly have hit him hard enough to kill him.

“This is not a case where the child fell. This is not a case where someone else did it,” Huston said. “The defendant, by his own admission, was the only supervising adult around Carson at the time.”

One of Huston’s first witnesses, Licking County Deputy Coroner C. Jeff Lee, described at length Carson’s autopsy and said the pattern of injury was a “textbook” example of a punch to the stomach.

Lee said the boy had lost more than 20 percent of his blood because of internal bleeding after the soft tissue in the abdominal wall was crushed against the spine. He refused any other explanation on cross-examination.

The story goes that Flugga was upset with Carson for defecating in his pants and punched him in the stomach hard enough to cause internal bleeding, called his brother in law and invented a story to cover his tracks, and went outside several times to play with his one-year-old son instead of calling 911.

Goodness knows that last bit of potty training before they “get it” is nerve-wracking. picture me donning latex gloves and spreading a ripped-open garbage bag for Parker to stand on while I cleaned him up and changed him, and you get the picture. It’s part of being a parent, or step-parent to a young child.

Of course, Flugga’s already married. And, because he’s heterosexual, nothing he does can ever, ever cause him to lose that right. I’ve never laid a hand on my kids to strike either of them, but… well, by now you get the idea.

You could ask Natalie Pickle. She was 3 1/2 years old — and could already count to 10 in Spanish and 15 in Englishwhen she was beaten to death.

Natalie Pickle’s death was due to brain swelling and bruising that resulted from a severe beating, an attorney representing the girl’s mother told the Daily Globe on Friday.

The 3 1/2-year-old girl suffered the injuries that led to her death Nov. 19 in Dodge City. She was airlifted to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita for treatment and died the next day.

Natalie’s mother, Amanda Perry, was at work Nov. 19 and had left her children in the care of her boyfriend at the time, said Wichita attorney Chris McHugh. McHugh is representing Perry in a child in need of care case concerning her younger daughter, Alexis Cunningham, who is Perry’s biological child with her boyfriend.Perry received a call at work saying that something was wrong with Natalie, and she needed to go to the hospital, McHugh said. The girl was later airlifted to St. Francis Hospital in Wichita.

The boyfriend told Perry at the hospital that he had heard a thump, went into another room and found Natalie semiconscious on the floor, McHugh said. The boyfriend gave police the same account of events.

McHugh said the boyfriend had told authorities that he had called 911 fairly quickly to report what had happened.

But the physician who treated Natalie in Wichita contradicted the boyfriend’s version of events during a court hearing earlier this week. McHugh said the physician testified that Natalie’s injuries could not have come from an accidental fall — unless the fall was from a five-story building.

McHugh said the physician testified that the injuries were the result of a severe beating.

Parker has been learning Spanish for a while now, though if you ask him to demonstrate his Spanish-speaking ability, he will probably have a sudden bout of shyness. Still, you can ask him. You can’t ask Natalie Pickle. She can’t tell you wether she was “best protected” by living in a home where, at the very least, she had some model of heterosexuality to influence her.

Not ideal, perhaps, because the mom and the boyfriend weren’t married, but they could marry. They could actually even marry if the boyfriend is convicted of Natalie’s murder. And, if he never beats another child to death, he’ll be better suited to parenting than the hubby and me, because he’s heterosexual. All he has to do is stop abusing. We’ve never laid a hand on our kids to strike them, but …

You could ask Tamera Wooden. At four-years-old, she could probably have told you a lot about her home, her family, and her life. That is, until she died of starvation and water deprivation.

Tamera Wooden, the 4-year-old girl found dead in her mother’s apartment over the weekend, died of deprivation of food and water – an unusual scenario for a child her age, even among cases of child fatalities that lead to criminal charges, officials said.

“This is kind of rare, from my experience,” said Officer Chris Amos, a police spokesman. “Usually when it happens, they’re infants.”

…Police found Tamera dead Sunday afternoon in her home in the 300 block of E. Little Creek Road. They began searching for her after her mother called them about 3 p.m. to report her daughter missing, police said.

They declined to release further details.

The state medical examiner’s office concluded Tuesday that Tamera died from “deprivation of food and water,” said Donna Price, an office spokeswoman.

The girl’s mother, Jathiya Khabeer Wooden, 26, and her boyfriend, Troy Allen Edwards, 29, remained in the Norfolk City Jail without bail on murder and felony neglect charges after their arraignment Tuesday in Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 25, according to court records.

Details on how Tamera died were eventually forthcoming.

Four-year-old Tamera Wooden tried to escape.

As punishment for wetting the bed, Tamera had been forced into a corner, imprisoned by a heavy piece of furniture. It left her just enough room to stand. Tamera spent almost 24 hours there.

This version of the events leading to Tamera’s death came to light Monday after one of the people charged with killing her appeared in court. Troy Edwards, 29, the boyfriend of Tamera’s mother, Jathiya Wooden, pleaded guilty to murder and child neglect charges and is scheduled to be sentenced in March. His statement to police was disclosed in court.

Edwards told investigators that when Tamera asked her mother if she could go to the bathroom, the woman swore and told her to shut up, to stop trying to get away from the corner. Tamera tried to push the heavy furniture herself, extending one small leg from her cell. Her mother jabbed her repeatedly with an umbrella so big it could be used as a cane, Edwards said.

Tamera spent the night and the next morning in that corner, according to Edwards’ account. By 2:30 p.m. the next day, Tamera was dead, still in the corner, he said. An autopsy showed Tamera had been severely dehydrated and malnourished and suffered from multiple injuries all over her body.

The boyfriend came home from work around 4:00 p.m. and was informed that Tamera would be spending all night in that corner, for wetting the bed. Having decided not to get involve because Tamera was not his child, he slept that night, until about 11:00 a.m., brushed his teeth, played a video game, and watched some television Wooden decided to free Tamera around 2:30 p.m.

Finding her dead, they concocted their story. Tamera had disappeared when they took her to play with some other four-year-olds. They even reported her missing.

The boyfriend ended up getting involved after all. When the police came to investigate the missing child report, he told the police Tamera’s body was in the closet, under a pile of clothes. On the other side of the closet door, the three-month-old daughter he had with Tamera’s mother slept in her basinet while police examined Tamera’s body.

The shape they found her in suggests that it wasn’t just spending the night in the corner that killed her.

The medical examiner found that Tamera was so dehydrated she had no urine in her bladder. She was so thin, at 36 pounds, that her size was not even listed on an age-appropriate growth chart. She had injuries to her head, chest, back, buttocks and extremities, with fresh wounds on her face, back and legs.

Police found no urine in the corner where Tamera spent her last moments.

You can’t ask Tamera if she was “best protected” merely by having a heterosexual parent, and a de-facto heterosexual step-father. Edwards and Wooden even had a child together, which means they meet the minimal standards — heterosexual, with the possibility of procreation — for marriage protections.

Even now, after Edwards pleaded guilty to homicide and child abuse, and even if Wooden is convicted, they can still marry. After all, even if they’re eventually imprisoned miles from each other, there’s still the possibility they could have another child together. They just have to not kill it this time.

The only thing we ever did when Parker wet the bed was to restrict his liquids the last half-hour or so before bedtime, and make sure he used the bathroom before going to bed. But we’re not heterosexual, so we come up short even in comparison to Edwards and Wooden.

You could ask Seth Ireland. At ten-years-old, he would have been more than capable of talking about his home life. But he can’t tell you about being beaten by his mom’s boyfriend while his mom watched. And beaten so badly that he ended up in critical condition and later died.

Ten-year-old Seth Ireland died early Tuesday morning, eight days after police say he was repeatedly punched, kicked and stomped by his mother’s boyfriend in their southwest Fresno home — while his mother watched.

The case, first reported Tuesday by The Bee, has provoked an angry public response and an internal review in the county’s Child Protective Services Office. Social workers received reports in August that Seth was being abused, four months before the fatal beating. But Seth remained in the home he shared with his mother, Rena Ireland, 40, her boyfriend, LeBaron Vaughn, 32, and three younger boys.

Ireland and Vaughn, who were charged with inflicting injuries on a child after Seth was hospitalized, are scheduled to appear in court this morning on those charges.

…An affidavit filed in support of a warrant to search the family’s home on South Thorne Avenue said Vaughn told police he got mad at Seth for picking on one of his younger brothers. Vaughn, who is 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds, said he first elbowed Seth in the face.

“The suspect also admitted that he lost control and violently punched the victim approximately 10 times in the face and chest area,” the affidavit said.

Once Seth fell to the floor, Vaughn told police that he kicked the boy 10 times in his legs and body. “The suspect then admitted to stomping on the victim’s head,” the affidavit said.

He also stood on the boy’s head and body, the affidavit said. After the beating, Vaughn said he laid Seth on a bed and put ointments on his injuries. He said he stayed with Seth for a few hours and called for an ambulance when the boy lost consciousness.

Police said Seth’s mother witnessed the beating but did nothing to stop Vaughn.

Need I say it? Parker is only six-years-old, but I can imagine that ten-year-old boys are about as rambunctious in their play. Maybe more, maybe less. As much as he loves playing with his little brother, we sometimes have to warn him to be a bit more gentle. (Though Dylan usually responds to Parker with delighted peals of laughter, unless he just woke up or is tired and needs to go to bed.) I don’t know what sparked the beating that killed Sean Ireland

You could ask Ja’Shawn Powell. He was 2 1/2 and might have told you something, before he was murdered by his father, in a bid to avoid child support.

Danny Platt, 22, from New Orleans, US, confessed and told cops where to find the boy’s body, police superintendent Warren Riley said.

The father is to be charged with the first-degree murder of his son Ja’ Shawn Powell.

“(Platt) had said he would kill either his wife or his child before he paid child support,” which he recently had been ordered to do, Supt Riley said.

The officer said he did not know the amount of child support and would not describe how the boy was killed.

We know the amount of the child support now. The amount of the child support was $4,000. We know how Ja’Shawn Powell died, too.

A coroner’s vehicle carrying the body of Ja’Shawn Powell, who was killed by his father, pulls out of the driveway on Jackson Avenue in New Orleans where the boy’s body was found Saturday.

I’ve imagined Melvin DeBerry pulling a Jacob and wrestling all night with God before even considering raising his hand against me. It doesn’t matter to me that he’s a deacon at his church. As his son, I’ve imagined him defiantly disobeying a divine order to kill me and me loving him all the more for that disobedience.

I know the arms-spread-wide love a boy has for his daddy, and because my father is who he is, I know the piggy-back kind of love a daddy has for his son. And then I read that Danny Platt claims he had “a whole bunch of reasons” for slitting the throat of his 2-year-old son Ja’Shawn Powell and allowing the toddler to bleed to death.

“I’m sorry about killing my baby,” Platt reportedly said on his way to jail Saturday night where he was booked with first-degree murder. “I had a lot of pressure on me.” Then, he made his preposterous claim that his reasons for killing his child were numerous.

But apparently Platt’s reasons did not include the $4,000 in child support he owed the boy’s mother, Daniella Powell. “No, sir,” Platt answered when he was asked Saturday night if he killed the boy to avoid paying child support.

I know that “arms-spread-wide love” too. I see it every evening when I put my key in the lock and Parker runs over to me yelling “Daddy’s home!”, the same way my sister and I would run out side to greet our dad when we saw him pull into the driveway. And Dylan stands up and toddles over, grinning and babbling until I pick him up, the same way that my dad would sweep us up into his arms when we ran out to greet him.

I know that “arms-spread-wide love” from both sides, now; as a child then and a parent now. What I don’t know, and what my kids don’t know and never will is what it’s like when that “arms-spread-wide” love is betrayed by violence and neglect; what it’s like when the hands that are supposed to help and care hurt instead, or when the arms that are supposed to lift you up hold you down under scalding water.

How is it, then that I’m less of a parent than … well, any of the parents in this post?

Perhaps it starts with being less of a citizen, or simply “less than” a full and equal part of the human family. At least as far as people like Ratzinger and Lawrence are concerned.

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One Comment

  1. A. I’ve linked to this.

    2. Three video clips commencing on opening at the same time is a bit confusing, especially with the details (I made note of this) and potentially triggering.

    III. Thank you.

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