Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Balloon parents may lose kids

Some people are really upset that they got tricked by the recent Colorado UFO balloon hoax. Here is one story:
The lawyer for a man accused of tricking media and emergency officials into thinking his son was trapped in a runaway balloon, says his client expects to be charged and is willing to co-operate with police. ...

The parents, Heene and his wife Mayumi, are expected to face misdemeanor charges for filing a false police report, but could also face felony charges for conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and attempting to influence a public servant.

"We understand all three of the children knew about (the hoax). They are six, eight and 10 years old." Collins said.

"They are not going to be facing any charges. They are quite young and it's clear to authorities the parents were the ones orchestrating this whole ordeal and the children will not face any charges or punishment."

However, she said child protection agencies are involved in the investigation, and it's possible the parents' custody rights could be in jeopardy.

"It isn't uncommon for parental rights to be terminated when a crime is committed and parents are in on it," Collins said.
The news media should be embarrassed that they got fooled so easily. Any idiot could see from the video that the balloon had no kid in it. The balloon flopped around like an empty plastic bag blowing in the wind.

But I was shocked to see two experts on Fox News say that CPS should take the three kids away from these parents.
Bill O'Reilly: Should the authorities take the kids away?

Lis Wiehl: Absolutely. The kid was not just hiding in a cellar for six hours, he had been put in the cellar by the parents. And you know that I have been very hesitant to take kids away from their parents. Remember the 300-pound kid, I said that the woman needs help, she doesn't need her child taken away from her. But they premeditated this, they worked on this together, the mom and the father, and it looks like some other people as well. Why, Bill? Why? So they could get a reality show.

O'Reilly: So it is a heinous situation. If you take the kids away, the kids are going to suffer unbelievably in the system.

Wiehl: Yeah, yeah.
What? This is crazy. It was a juvenile prank. No one was hurt. If the parents committing a misdemeanor crime of giving false info to the police, then they should be punished for that. I didn't know that "attempting to influence a public servant" was a crime in Colorado, but how would that justify taking their kids away?

How is this worse than the single mom with the 300-pound kid? That single mom was obvious doing a bad job of parenting, and the poor kid is going to suffer for a long time as a result. But these balloon kids are not suffering at all.

They can only take kids away for serious physical child abuse, sexual child abuse, or child neglect. The balloon kids have suffered none of these things.

Lis Wiehl used to be a federal prosecutor. I am inclined to say that means she should know better, but maybe her view is typical of prosecutors, I don't know.

What struck me the most was that Wiehl (and O'Reilly and the other guest) seemed mainly to want to use CPS to punish the kids as a way of punishing the parents for their attitude. It wasn't that she thought that the parents were unlawfully abusing the kids or that CPS could help the kids. It was that she was offended at how bold and outrageous parents' plan was.

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