When something bad happens, like a Crank feature article, our instincts are to say, let’s make sure something like this never happens again, usually via a better life through litigation. But this build-a-new-law strategy is usually counterproductive. Have you heard about the family who took pictures of their kids in the tub? They turned some glossies into Wal-Mart to develop and ended up losing their kids for a month to CPS. Who knew long term babysitting could be so easy? Fox News, sensationalism with zero forethought, dons its red cap of justice and flies in for the rescue. The same shortsighted binary-thinking imbeciles who championed the laws that made this fiasco possible are now the most surprised by the ramifications of their deeds. Sadly, this is their usual MO (hint: they’re not horribly bright).
Bill O’Rielly flits scantily clad teens all day long on his program to prove how much he hates and despises such practices. Mr. Reaction Formation would have called anyone who questioned any aspect of the constitutionality of child porn laws a pedophile. Yes/no, right/wrong, good/bad. You are either with the pedophiles or against them. Sith happens. If someone ever said, “but this law might be draconian because if someone innocently goes to Wal-Mart to develop some pictures of their kids in the tub”—(Insert your favorite O’Rielly rant here, pedophile appeaser!)
People are doing a lot of time for pics on their hard drive. No proof of distribution, no proof they tried to go near any child, no proof of anything, really. In fact, someone jumps onto your unsecured wireless from next door and they still come after you. These have turned into modern day witch hunts. By all means, monitor the internet and nail these perpetrators to the wall, but can we stop before we arrest grandma at the Fotomat booth? (Remember those?) According to Megan’s Law anyone possessing a nude picture of someone deemed under age is subject to five years in jail (per picture). Why isn’t this Wal-Mart family in jail then? Throw the book at em’. My parents need to report to prison and yours probably should too. Megan’s Law was another one of those classic let’s never let this happen again moments.
Did you ever end up on the wrong website? You’ll have five years to think about your egregious clicking. Remember that photo attachment that was big laughs at the office? She might not be 18. We’ll let a jury decide. That should tack on five more years to the tally. No one apparently IDs these girls, it’s based on the subjectivity of the jury. So I’m sure Howard Stern’s ‘collection’ could land him in jail until long after the sun depletes its supply of hydrogen. Forget Howard Stern, I own Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy. According to the letter of the law, I should turn myself in, along with the million or so other Zep fans, on child pornography charges. I asked a federal attorney during a trial once (I was there professionally, really), how does this shit happen? He said that any politician who tries to reform child porn regs is doomed. The media will spin the shit out of it and paint that politician as being pro-child pornography.
Enter Fox News. Fox, particularly Bill O’Rielly, championed this bullshit the loudest. Now people like him are the most outraged by the results of their idiocy as it spills into one family’s Wal-Mart nightmare. There are quite enough actual perpetrators out there to keep law enforcement busy, isn’t there? I don’t think marching half the country into jail right now, wrongly, is the best way to handle this issue. I had the same conversation with the Crank a couple of years ago. He sided with O’Rielly (imagine that) and I’m sure this Wal-Mart story outraged him as much as any Foxer. As if limiting child pornography laws to, er…perpetrators is a bad thing. But, to be fair, there are only those two switches in their head.
As for behavioral health, one case in Arizona, Arnold vs. Sarns, has brought the system to its knees. Two kids died at the hands of a serious mentally ill individual and it’s all over. Granted, this guy should have been monitored better, but the real culprit is this: society has never made this a priority—never has, never will. Behavioral health is under funded, increasingly more so by the minute, and with our let’s never let this happen again mentality, we cripple the few case managers left who could actually do something about it.
Foxers are also the first one’s to go: “Why wasn’t this nut being watched before he killed all of those nuns!” Well, Foxeteers, as the least common denominator, you’ve systematically helped to decimate services. Remember? You championed each and every budget cut, when in reality every dollar spent in behavioral health is likely to save society three. But they’re not interested in the facts. They’d rather continue breaking news down into tiny shards of sensationalism. Good luck with that.
Before that ‘nut’ killed those two kids he received two phone calls and his case manager attempted one home visit. They couldn’t find the guy and shortly thereafter the two kids are dead. Today, post the Arnold vs. Sarns decision, post the investigation on mental health-land, post all the revamping, post the additional monitors, post the additional forms to fill out, post the misallocated dollars. Today this same man would receive one phone call (we’d fudge the other one) and, forget the home visit…at 30 mph we’d throw a rock with a note on it that says ‘please call us’ as we speed passed toward client number 412. Feel safer society? This isn’t litigation, this is shitigation. Hint: if a case manager has considerably more paperwork due to shitigation and is even further under funded, they’re going to see their clients even less. This isn’t calculus, kids. We do need monitors, but not to death. And we do need to fund things as a society that are important, or guess what? Shit is going to happen. I would like to see a senator or congressman try case managing several hundred severely mentally ill people for a day. You can film it for entertainment purposes. It would be rather like listening to a baseball announcer broadcasting a hockey game.
Invariably, the overblown reaction to never let this happen again causes a legal shit storm that further handicaps the very system that erred in the first place. This results in more, not less, people getting substandard care or, for our first example, police focusing their time on grandma at the Fotomat booth instead of area pedophiles. This shitigation is happening in every quadrant of our society.
One doctor a little hungover in Cleveland makes a mistake and, after court, all docs from sea to shining sea have another form to fill out. End result: my one minute of actual doc time is whittled down to forty-five seconds. Is this form going to stop the next hungover doctor from making a similar mistake somewhere? Hell no. That’s called supervision. That involves that doctor and his supervisor (or in this case, his bartender). But national forms are fun! Kill a forest for victory! So each lawsuit designed to help protect the consumer actually puts and increasingly debilitating strain on the entire system. As a therapist, if I have to fill out one more form I’m going to just start mailing my clients a letter that says, “Tell me about your mother” with an enclosed bill.
I think there should be a law about over reacting. That’s it! I’m going to make a law about over reacting, so that this never happens again!