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Fathers-4-Justice: Would Ayn Rand approve?
May 25, 2005
by Brian Lovett

In December, 2002, over 100 protestors who have either no access, or very limited access to their children, dressed as Father Christmas and sang in the office lobby of one of the most senior and important functionaries in the government of the United Kingdom, Lord Chancellor. You might say it was an “uphill” battle from there, as Fathers-4-Justice went to extraordinary “heights” to make their plight known: that there are millions of fathers around the world who, by law, are not allowed to see their children and have been treated unfairly by courts. Why? Because they got divorced from their wives. Any other reason? No.

Every time I have a conversation with someone “new” to these conceptually difficult-to-understand facts, I get the same response: “Why?” This one-word question keeps my hope for mankind strong, as it reinforces what I desperately want to believe – that individuals still attempt to use reason as their first reaction to a lack of understanding. Unfortunately for Fathers-4-Justice, it’s usually “downhill” from there.

Writing about a 1964 protest at Berkeley where university students staged “sit-in” protests in the administration building, famed novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand opined in 1965 that “[p]olitically, mass civil disobedience is appropriate only as a prelude to civil war – as the declaration of a total break with a country’s political institutions.” It made me think: what would Rand, who relished the hero and despised “sacrifice,” have thought about Spiderman and Batman as they leapt tall cranes and palaces in a single bound?

Rand stated that “[t]he student rebellion is an eloquent demonstration of the fact that when men abandon reason, they open the door to physical force as the only alternative and the inevitable consequence.” Merriam-Webster defines reason as “a rational ground or motive.” Fathers-4-Justice claims in their Blueprint for Family Law in the 21st Century that “100 children everyday lose all or partial contact with a natural parent,” and also claims that, for 40 of those children, the “parent/child relationship will be completely severed” within 2 years. I think it would be quite difficult for anyone, including the most ardent supporters of these laws, to claim that an outcome where one child loses a parent every 15 minutes through no fault of their own would be considered rational.

Down the rabbit hole

The individuals new to this terror always have a hard time believing U.S. government statistics that indicate mothers consistently and overwhelmingly receive preferential treatment in nationwide custody “awards” (i.e., mothers receive custody 72% of the time, whereas fathers receive custody 9% of the time, and joint custody is declared 16% of the time). “I can’t believe it” they commonly respond, or “I thought that everyone gets joint custody unless you don’t want it.” (Rand used to call that faking reality, referring to evasion as the typical modern weapon.) Rather than pointing you to toward the “rabbit hole” of why this is occurring, Rand would likely suggest that your search for the truth start by asking the most critical question: who stands to profit? (a.k.a., follow the money). (As an aside, I’ve been told that Alice in Wonderland was Lewis Carroll mocking the legal profession.)

Granted, Rand thought that “there are the nihilists who, moved by a profound hatred, seek nothing but destruction for the sake of destruction.” But, pursuing those motives in this topic would take us down a conspiracy theory tangent that would make some of you roll your eyes (e.g., these judges hate them for being good fathers; fathers elucidate everything that the state does poorly, like providing food, shelter, and safety; these fathers are providing a morally correct path; the state desires what fathers provide – they can't emulate it, so they prefer to destroy it). In referring to The Age of Envy, Rand explained: “[i]f a child wants to get good grades in school, but is unable or unwilling to achieve them and begins to hate the children who do, that is hatred of the good. If a man regards intelligence as a value, but is troubled by self-doubt and begins to hate the men he judges to be intelligent, that is hatred of the good.” Rand continued: “They do not want to own your fortune, they want you to lose it; they do not want to succeed, they want you to fail; they do not want to live, they want you to die; they desire nothing, they hate existence…” Let’s not go there right now.

Father knows best

Rand had somewhat mixed, but consistent views of civil disobedience. “Civil disobedience may be justifiable, in some cases, when and if an individual disobeys a law in order to bring an issue to court, as a test case.” In her opinion, “[s]uch an action involves respect for legality and a protest directed only at a particular law which the individual seeks an opportunity to prove to be unjust.” In the case of Fathers-4-Justice, that attack is on a particular law known as “the best interest of the child.” (In America, all 50 states have a “best interest of the child” law implementing the process that leads to the previously discussed statistics that separate parents from children.) Rand supported civil disobedience for individuals or groups “when and if the risks involved are their own.”

Is the plight of these “super hero dads” credible? During and after a divorce, the so-called “best interest of the child” statutes allow a judge to make any decision that he feels is “best” for the child. According to the states, judges are given this ultimate power to protect children. What either of the parents have to say about this decision is “irrelevant.” However, in 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court stated in a very well-known Illinois case:

“What is the state interest in separating children from fathers without a hearing designed to determine whether the father is unfit in a particular disputed case? We observe that the State registers no gain towards its declared goals when it separates children from the custody of fit parents. Indeed, if [he] is a fit father, the State spites its own articulated goals when it needlessly separates him from his family… The State’s interest in caring for [his] children is de minimis if [he] is shown to be a fit father.”

In other words, the U.S. Supreme Court thinks that separating a fit father from his children is not in their best interest. Therefore, these laws do not value the best interest of the child – they value its destruction. Fathers-4-Justice refers to these “family” judges who separate them from their children as tyrants. In speaking about tyranny, Rand referred to what she called the ”ultimate penalty” for tyrants: “[a] dictatorship has to promulgate some sort of distant goals and moral ideals in order to justify its rule and the people's immolation; the extent to which it succeeds in convincing its victims, is the extent of its own danger; sooner or later, its contradictions are thrown in its face by the best of its subjects: the ablest, the most intelligent, the most honest.”

However, Rand was adamant that “there is no justification, in a civilized society, for the kind of mass civil disobedience that involves a violation of the rights of others – regardless of whether the demonstrators’ goal is good or evil. The end does not justify the means.” Rand was passionate that “[n]o one’s rights can be secured by the violation of the rights of others.” To her, “[m]ass disobedience is an assault on the concept of rights: it is a mob’s defiance of legality as such.” Referring to the student “sit-in,” she proselytized that “[t]he forcible occupation of another man’s property or the obstruction of a public thoroughfare is so blatant a violation of rights that an attempt to justify it becomes an abrogation of morality.”

Do you hear me? Do you care?

I don’t know about you but, when I was growing up, it didn’t take much for me to listen to my father (the mere threat of being grounded made my ears quickly perk up). Now-a-days, you might say it takes a little more than threats to get a father’s message heard. Let’s look at a small sampling from Fathers-4-Justice’s resume: a condom of purple flour landing on British Prime Minister Tony Blair (just recently, a purple egg missed him); 6 days atop a 100-foot high crane near the Tower Bridge in London closing roads and causing long diversions for traffic; storming a courtroom in the England family court; placing banners on gantries of major thoroughfares that caused significant traffic congestion; trespassing on a balcony at Buckingham Palace; gluing the locks and entrances of 80 Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service offices and family court buildings (not to mention the office of the education secretary); handcuffing a protestor to Children’s Minister Margaret Hodge (they called it “a citizen’s arrest”); rotten fish and other foul smelling material posted through lawyers’ doors (the Fathers-4-Justice international coordinator referred to it as “air freshener”); a protest that stopped a popular tourist attraction called the London Eye.

Can we really take them seriously? Before Fathers-4-Justice, the family law atmosphere was one of contempt. Now, people are finally taking notice (gosh – even the New York Times). Fathers-4-Justice thinks that, with such a “publicity campaign,” people will have more concern for their suffering and, more importantly, their children's suffering. All actions were clearly designed to bring massive attention to the government’s direct destruction of the father/child relationship. (Granted, these atrocities destroy the relationships between mothers and their children as well, though the number of these cases is much, much fewer, as the government statistics prove.) Technically and objectively, I would strongly support the contention that these actions by Fathers-4-Justice were “a violation of the rights of others.”

But he hit me first!

But, what would Rand say? Probably “what did you expect – is not the world rational?” These are rebels against conformity to the destruction of children. Rand was emphatic in her views that physical force was only justified in self-defense. So, let’s look at the undisputable facts: millions of fathers are removed from their children’s lives even though they have never abused or neglected them (what the U.S. Supreme Court refers to as being a “fit” parent). These second-class parents are typically relegated with the severance package of every other weekend visitation (if that). (Reminds me of a quote I once read: “There is no such thing as visitation between a parent and a child.”) To add insult to injury, millions of fathers (who the Office of Child Support Enforcement nebulously refers to as “cases”), who have consistently provided their children’s food, safety, and shelter, are threatened with jail time if they don’t give a significant portion of their monthly earnings and assets to their ex-wives without any say as to how that money gets spent. As John Galt stated in Atlas Shrugged (Rand’s most famous treatise on morality): “[f]orce and mind are opposites; morality ends where a gun begins.”

Fair enough, some will say; but Rand also detested sacrifice. What could be more demonstrable of sacrifice that a Father-4-Justice crusader going to jail so that people will listen to his message? Hmmmm… what would Rand think about that?

John Galt had something very interesting to say about sacrifice: “If a mother buys food for her hungry child rather than a hat for herself, it is not a sacrifice: she values the child higher than the hat; but it is a sacrifice to the kind of mother whose higher value is the hat, who would prefer her child to starve and feeds him only from a sense of duty. If a man dies fighting for his freedom, it is not a sacrifice: he is not willing to live as a slave; but it is a sacrifice to the kind of man who's willing. If a man refuses to sell his convictions, it is not a sacrifice, unless he is the sort of man who has no convictions.” Did you ever consider that the Fathers-4-Justice individuals, who literally risk life-and-limb to get back into their children’s lives, actually value their relationships with their children more than staying out of jail or falling off a gantry? Hmmmm…

Rand spoke through John Galt that “[a] sacrifice is the surrender of a value.” Rand also said that “[v]alues are that which one acts to gain and/or keep.” Sounds to me like Fathers-4-Justice refuses to surrender their children (i.e., their values). Ergo, by the transitive property

Justice is coming

The reward for these defenders of children is jail, yet they remain loyal, no matter what the circumstances. Fathers-4-Justice is intent on reaching out to the millions of fathers who each feels individually impotent before the enormity of the problem. They are screaming to the best within these fathers, who have been bankrupted by corrupt judges, had their children stolen from them, had their relationships destroyed, and are reminded of it all every day that 20 – 70% of their wages are forcefully removed from their paychecks purportedly to support their children that they have never financially neglected. Their children are their inspiration – can there be anything more morally defensible than that?

Fathers-4-Justice members are raising their voices (as well as their bodies) in the name of justice. These fathers are not asking for compassion – they are demanding justice. To these fathers, justice matters. Fathers-4-Justice, who will soon launch in the U.S., includes the exceptions to those that are perishing in silence and lonely agony of resignation to a childless life of despair. Over 225 years ago, American men readied their courage when they heard the cries through the Concord, Massachusetts streets that “The British are coming! The British are coming!” Today, American fathers are once again readying their courage as those cries are echoed again. However, this time, these British and American men (a.k.a. “non-custodial parents”) are on the same side fighting against the oldest of evils: tyranny.

Brian Lovett is a business strategy and transformation consultant, and earned his MBA from the University of Chicago. Without any education in law, he is currently challenging almost every divorce law in the State of Illinois pro se, including the “best interest of the child,” child support, alimony, attorneys’ fees, the disclosure of personal information, and the elimination of trials by jury in divorce proceedings. He can be reached through his Web site at www.loveisearned.com.

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