- Category: Letters
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To The Daily Sun,
The blatant abuse of power by the state of Massachusetts in the Justina Pelletier case should make every parent shudder at the utter tyranny that has been on display in the Bay State. Let's face it, the state DCF agency kidnapped 15-year-old Justina from a wonderful intact family that has never had a whiff of a problem with the law.
Justina was being treated at Tufts Medical Center for mitochondrial disease when her physician, Mark Korson advised her parents to bring her to Boston Children's Hospital for treatment. The doctor who treated her there was newly out of medical school and diagnosed her condition as mental rather than physical. He wanted Justina's parents to sign his treatment plan and disregard the one from Dr. Korson.
When Justina's parents attempted to return her to Tufts, Boston Children's Hospital (BCH), a teaching and research hospital, called the Division of Children and Families (DCF) who immediately detained Justina at BCH and declared her a ward of the state. The Pelletiers had suddenly and inexplicably been assessed as neglectful and not competent enough to care for their own daughter. They were only allowed to see her for one hour a week with an armed guard standing by. There was a gag order issued by the court preventing the parents from discussing their case with the media. The rest of the family rarely got to see Justina. As a ward of the state, the hospital could now conduct research on her within certain guidelines.
After about a year of witnessing the deterioration of his daughter, who went from being a figure skater to wheel chair confined, Lou Pelletier broke his silence and spoke to Megyn Kelly and Michael Huckabee of Fox News. The Boston Globe and Glenn Beck's "The Blaze" website had been all over this disgraceful breach of power for some time.
Initially, DCF attempted to find Lou Pelletier in contempt of court, but backed off when Mat Staver and the Liberty Counsel sprang into action to help this beleaguered family. The contempt charges and the gag order were dropped, however Justina would not be returned to her family for several more months. While a ward of the state at BCH, she received little medical care, becoming increasingly weak and sickly. She was forbidden from having any education, putting her two years behind in her school work. Plus she was denied the use of her Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which she has for a learning disability.
The despicable treatment of this 15-year-old is unfathomable. How could this happen in the city where the fight for freedom from tyranny began? Incarcerated felons receive far more visits per week and far better medical treatment than Justina received, plus educational opportunities. Benjamin Franklin said, "words may show a man's wit, but actions his meaning."
Gov. Deval Patrick, beloved buddy of Barack Obama, showed his true meaning by his lack of action. There should be a full-scale investigation into the gross misbehavior of DCF and BCH and some heads should roll for the horror that they put the Pelletier family through.
Tacitus reminds us that "when the state is most corrupt, then laws are most multiplied." And of course Lord Acton gave us this cautionary note, "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." As we celebrate the return of Justina to her loving family, should we not heed their sage analysis and defend our freedoms with more diligence, lest the state dare to come after one of our children?
An aspiring rapper posts his lyrics on Facebook, suggesting a Halloween costume with his estranged wife's "head on a stick."
He goes on: "I'm not going to rest until your body is a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts. Hurry up and die, bitch, so I can..." and so on and so forth.
Anthony Elonis insists that he was merely engaging in artistic expression per his right to free speech. His wife disagreed. She saw his writings as a real threat of bodily harm, a crime not protected by the First Amendment.
Courts sided with the wife, and Anthony spent 44 months behind bars.
But the case won't hurry up and die. It's now before the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear arguments in the fall.
A core issue will be Elonis' intent in writing those words. Did he mean it?
His defenders say that social media make the job of getting into anyone's head so much harder. And that's what makes this case interesting.
"In social media, you're deprived of interaction" with the author, Elonis' lawyer, John Elwood, told me. "People can't see your face, can't hear your voice."
The Facebook audience is crowded with strangers who don't know the writer. They're not well-equipped to judge whether he's the type to follow through on a threat or merely prancing on his stage. Miscommunication is easy in these circumstances.
But, you may say, his wife knows him and insists she's terrified. That brings up a long-running debate in such cases over whether to be a crime, a threat has to look real in unbiased eyes or simply strike fear in the target.
Elwood believes that the lower courts ignored the cues in Elonis' Facebook posts suggesting, "I don't mean anything by this."
For example, Elonis quoted and linked to a comedy group called The Whitest Kids U' Know. He also wrote in the middle of a post, "Me thinks the judge needs an education on true threat jurisprudence."
"These things indicate this is not intended to intimidate anybody," Elwood said, "but that he is blowing off steam."
Clearly, not everyone has caught the yuk-yuk-yuk disclaimers. And not everyone appreciates Elonis' brand of wit or, more to the point, identifies it as such.
Many of today's threat prosecutions are based on things said on social media platforms, a reason the Supreme Court has taken up the case. No easy task labeling impermissible speech on the Internet, where fantasies run amok alongside sober opinions, insanity, stupidity, irrationality and just plain bad writing.
Recent history shows not all of these online threats are idle. Elliot Rodger posted warnings on YouTube and online forums before stabbing and shooting several people to death in Santa Barbara, California. Jerad and Amanda Miller wrote of their "coming sacrifices" on Facebook before embarking on a murderous rampage in Las Vegas.
Some worry that the nine justices have not shown themselves to be keenly aware of communications technology. Questions such as these will arise:
Elonis didn't tag his wife on the Facebook threats. Does that mean that they weren't directly aimed at her?
He put an emoticon with a tongue sticking out at the end of the Halloween reference. Is this evidence that he was only kidding around?
Do the Supreme Court justices know what an emoticon is?
"Art is about pushing limits," Elonis has posted. But if a threat is written as rap lyrics — or in iambic pentameter, for that matter — does it get a pass as art?
Heaven knows we don't want to lose the sacred right to say moronic things online. And yet...
(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)
To The Daily Sun,
Just as a reminder, the plan for my radio show Saturday will include discussion of some Letters to the Editor in The Daily Sun this past week.
It is unfortunate for those who do not appreciate that my position is different than theirs re: spending taxpayers dollars (hard to come by) on construction of a county jail expansion.
If THEIR plan is $42 million or more; if their plan is hire 16 more employees; if their plan is to house those who are free to go after their sentence has been served get to stay for who knows how long — then count me as opposition. My hometown of Laconia is a Tax Cap city; we have many older folks like me who are fortunate to stay in our homes. The commissioners want more money for those who break the laws? Do the commissioners care if we have a Tax Cap or SB-2 in the communities that make up Belknap County?
As a former elected official (not a bureaucrat), one thing those who are elected by their peers should not accept insults from those who take those $90,000 plus checks a year home. Or a retired, pensioned judge who is insulting to those House members who receive $100 a year and mileage who care about the taxpayers? We have B. Hussein Obama that we have to watch every minute for our freedoms are being taken away, and county government who says; "if you don't like it, sue me". We aren't going to sue you. We are going to remove you from office.
I urge all concerned taxpayers of Belknap County to only vote for those you can count on for fiscal sanity-in touch with reality. And that includes some Republicans right here in Laconia.
To The Daily Sun,
As a former small-business owner, the gas tax affects me in a very negative way.
My business was greatly affected by gas prices. I ran a moving company, and anytime gas prices went up our profit margin went down.
The increase in the gas tax to 22.2 cents per gallon is completely unreasonable. The gas tax increase would make it harder any small business to be successful. I do not know what the governor thinks she is doing, but she is not helping any small-business owners.
Anyone who owns a business knows that the first thing you need to get under control is your budget. However, that is something that Maggie Hassan, as governor, has not done. As a result she needs to increase revenue, which means taking more money from my business with her gas tax.
Businesses cannot just create revenue by picking it from someone else's pocket, so why is it fair that she can?