When parents pick prayer over health care

June 4, 2016

Children die, of course. This tragedy occurred in 2013 but is in Calgary court now. According to testimony, Emil and Rodica Radita returned from church to find their 15-year-old son not breathing. They waited 2 whole fucking hours before calling EMS, opting to pray over the boy instead. Apparently other church members were in the house at the time, doing the same.

Shauna Mitchell, an investigator from Medical Examiner’s office reportedly heard conflicting stories from witnesses and thought it was possible the boy was already dead before the parents left for church that evening.

The boy, a diabetic, died from bacterial sepsis due to complications from starvation and neglect.

Both Mitchell and Const. Larry Pugliese, the first police officer on the scene, said the boy was nothing but skin and bones when they saw him dead in his bed.

Pugliese said Alexandru was “like a skeleton.”

He said it was clear to him the teen was dead.

“The boy was extremely thin,” Pugliese told the Court of Queen’s Bench murder trial.

The parents also claim the boy didn’t want to go to a hospital earlier that day because he had a “bad experience” when he was 3.

The murder trial continues later this week so hopefully I’ll remember to update.

Back in May, the CBC reported on this story, mentioning the fact that the family once lived in British Columbia but left. Why, I wonder…

[They] had their son seized by social services in that province in 2004 after he nearly died from untreated diabetes — the same allegations they now face in relation to his death, according to prosecutor Susan Pepper.

So, this poor kid suffered for a hell of a long time. It’s appalling, to say the least.

The other story that was making the rounds lately was also from Alberta: 19-month-old Ezekiel died of untreated meningitis. That had nothing to with picking prayer over hospitals; that was all naturopathic bullshit masquerading as health care. (Although naming a baby Ezekiel probably means David and Collet Stephan are fairly familiar with the Bible as well.)

Despite the conviction, they remain unrepentant, painting themselves as persecuted and warning that the parenting police are out to get us all.

Hardly.

The message in the conviction is consistent with what our laws and courts have said over decades in cases with similar philosophical underpinnings – parents who refuse blood transfusion, vaccination, cancer treatment and other demonstrably beneficial medical treatments for their children in favour of prayer or other nonsense: As an adult, you can have beliefs, religious or otherwise, and you can raise your children according to those beliefs, no matter how wacky, but that does not obviate the obligation to provide the necessities of life. When a child’s health and well-being are compromised, the rules change, because a guardian has responsibilities as well as rights.

Exactly.

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Another priest, another porn charge

October 17, 2014

This time in Canada:

ICE forensic analysts are currently in the process of analyzing a number of computer and mobile devices that were seized.

“Dozens” of hand-drawn images, which under the Criminal Code are classified as child pornography, have been seized.

Investigators say the man gave the pictures to another person but at this point they don’t believe he distributed them over the internet.

“I have seen some of the images in this case and I can say that it’s not just children posed naked, but that it does depict sexual assaults of children,” said Lokken.

“Anytime anybody has certain influence or a position within the community, it puts them in a position where they could have contact with young persons, and that’s concerning to us,” added Lokken.

His name’s all the way at the bottom:

Richard John Docekal, 58, is charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.

I’ll have to watch for updates on this one.


Billy Graham (or his people) can’t live and let live

October 14, 2014

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: My niece is trapped in a really bad relationship (not married, but living together). It has no future, but she refuses to see this. We’ve tried to tell her to get out of the relationship, but she just gets mad. How can we help her? — K.W.

Define “bad” first. Oh wait, KW does: not married, therefore no future. Well, that’s just stupid.

Laws vary between states and provinces in terms of what constitutes a common-law relationship but once you’ve met those requirements, it’s as good as being married in the eyes of the law for your state or province and, quite frankly, that’s all that matters. The need to add God into the mix with a religious service is a personal choice, although families that fuel themselves with faith would say otherwise.

The Man and I went with a marriage commissioner service at a gallery in town. It was quick and lovely. I’d said since that maybe we could have remained common-law instead of spending the money on one day but then he kind of wondered if I’d still think that in five years or be annoyed that we hadn’t gotten properly married by that point. There is, of course, no way to answer that unless you buy into theories of multiple universes where such a life may have been lived. The year the Man and I spent apart, I can honestly admit it gave me some comfort to think that there could have been a version of the universe where it worked out better for both of us as a couple .. and then this universe came in line with that slight pipe dream and voila! Married! Never saw it coming..

DEAR K.W.: When someone steadfastly refuses to listen to wise advice, there may be little we can do, humanly speaking, to help them. They may simply be stubborn, too proud to admit they’re wrong, or they may sincerely think they’re right and we’re wrong. Whatever the reason, they refuse to heed our warnings.

Here’s the thing to think about. This is a niece, not a son or daughter. Even if it were a relationship the son or daughter was having, it still really isn’t the business of the parent to disapprove and bitch about it and try to break it up. Adults have to make their own choices in life and this ultimately means that they are going to have to make their own mistakes, too. Assuming this relationship is really a “mistake”. Without details about the guy for why he’s a bad pick, we just have this writer’s opinion on the matter.

What can you do? First, let your niece know you love her and care about her, even if she doesn’t accept your advice. If your analysis of her situation is correct, eventually this relationship will end, perhaps painfully, and she’ll need your friendship. You might offer to take her out to lunch and listen to her side of the story, not arguing but gently expressing your concern and letting her know you care. The Bible reminds us that there is “a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7).

And it seems like KW would like to skip directly to “speak” and act like he or she knows the right answer without having any access to the actual test being taken by this niece. Maybe the guy is really awesome but struggling to find a decent job or has family issues that stress him out. Nothing is said that he’s an abuser or a drug addict or a criminal. He’s just not married to her. Big deal — not.

Then pray for her. God can do what we can’t do, and he can change even the most stubborn heart. Pray, too, that your niece will not only come to see the wrongness of what she has done but will also face her need for God’s forgiveness and guidance. Pray, too, for wisdom as you interact with her.

Bah.

If he’s monogamous, leave them alone.

If he’s not monogamous but they’re in a mutual agreement to enjoy multiple partners of various genders, leave them alone.

If she’s happy with the way her life is right now, in whatever form it’s taking, leave her the fuck alone.

Not.

Your.

Damn.

Business.

Finally, don’t give up on her. Even if your niece rebuffs you right now, your life is an example of how she should be living. She needs Christ, and God can use you to point her to his forgiveness and love.

If it’s 1950, maybe. Or 1850. Or 1550. Everybody is different. Every situation is different. You disapproval doesn’t add up to squat. Your life is your life, hers is hers. If she isn’t living your life, maybe it’s because she has chosen not to. Perhaps on purpose and with joy in her heart. I’m so glad I’m not K…

If there’s a legitimate beef about the guy, though, as in true, factual, photographic evidence of abuse, then you owe it to your niece to encourage her to seek help and keep at it, even if she’s trying to shut you out. Help her find the help she needs from the medical community, mental health experts, and support groups. Don’t leave her thinking there’s no hope, no escape, and no future that doesn’t include him. Then is the time to use your happy marriage as a model and show her what she’s missing in terms of a healthy relationship. Help her start the very long process to fix things for herself.

(This all would assume she’s ready and wants to. If she’s not, then maybe prayer winds up being your only alternative…)

Thoughts?


Dear parents, your grade 9 kid should already know about sex

October 9, 2014

Another older article, but this time about books, censorship and schools. A common story.

Upset parents demanded this week that the Kings Canyon Unified School District remove a book intended for freshmen English classes that one father said is “inappropriate, amoral and disgusting.”

“All parents send their children to school with the expectation of trust, that they will be safe and protected from all forms of harm,” Jeff Claxton told school board members at their meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 23. “If you allow this title to be taught to our children, you will have failed.”

The only harm that comes from reading a book is the risk of a paper cut. Oh, right. Books are full of ideas, though, and these parents would rather their kids only get their ideas from parent approved sources, not bestselling fiction about adolescence. Were theirs so titillating they wouldn’t want their kids to know about those either? I offer a quote from the book, although I’m not given a page number.

“Secrets affect you more than you’d think. You lie to keep them hidden. You steer talk away from them. You worry someone’ll discover yours and tell the world. You think you are in charge of the secret, but isn’t it the secret who’s actually using you?”

Back to the article.

A crowd of about 50 people packed the small board room, and a majority of them came to protest the use of “Black Swan Green” at Reedley High.

The 2006 novel is the story of 13 months in the life of a 13-year-old boy in England in the early 1980s. In one passage of the 294-page book, the boy watches a couple have sex and describes what he sees.

I suppose they flipped through the book specifically to look for the word SEX so they could complain about it; they didn’t bother to read it. It’s won several awards. I’ve never heard of it, but I just work at a library; I don’t have time to read everything that’s in there. (Maybe I can suggest it to my Banned Book Club peeps when we finish Candide, though.)

The school district’s position has been that ninth- graders would read only two excerpts, not the entire book, and that neither of the excerpts deals with sex.

But, a parent has filed a complaint with the district about the book, which some say is pornographic in its depiction of the sex scene, blasphemous in several references to Jesus and profane because it contains the f-word and other vulgar language.

Like I said, probably flipped through to cherry pick the “naughty” bits.

The thing is, kids learn about sex and will learn it from their friends and all manner of media and internet and FSM knows what else. They’ll be swearing, they’ll be vulgar, they’ll be teenagers circa 2014 and just as idiotic and horny as kids in the 1980s were.

Another book, another place, another time: parents call police to stop free giving of challenged book in Meridian, Idaho. The publishers provided free copies of Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian after it was learned that the schools removed it from the reading list.

“There’s a paragraph right here where it has some sexual content,” Kissel said. “But if you look at it it’s a paragraph this big in a 230 page book.” That page reads ‘If God hadn’t wanted us to masturbate, then God wouldn’t have given us thumbs.”

After about an hour of Kissel passing out books to teenagers, Meridian police showed up. They said they had been called out by someone concerned about teenagers picking up a copy of the book without having a parent’s permission.

Are you fucking kidding me? Why would teenagers need parental permission to read a book? I read The Devil’s Cat at mealtimes and my parents never batted an eye. Of course, they never even opened it up to see what kind of book it was but it had a cool hologram of a cat’s head turning into the devil on the cover. And lots of sex, death and demonic violence. Perfect for a 13 year old… I can’t say it corrupted me in any way. It was just a book I read a few times.

At my library, parents can have access to their childrens’ library cards to check what they’re borrowing, but only up to the age of 14 or so. Beyond that, the teens have the right to borrow whatever the hell they want on their cards and snoopy parents can’t do a thing to stop them but I’m sure they’ve tried over the years. (The only limits put on them have to do with movie and video game ratings, viewer laws the library has to uphold.)

I don’t think anyone spoke up about books we were assigned in school when I was a kid. Our teachers seemed to go out of their way to pick challenged materials. To Kill a Mockingbird, A Separate Peace, Lord of the Flies, The Outsiders, The Chyrsalids.. that’s all I can think of off the top of my head but I think there were others.

That’s all I got. Thoughts?


Dear Saskatoon city and Transit: please make up and be friends again…

September 30, 2014

Or, if not friends, at least find a workable compromise and get the buses running again.

I’m glad we forked out for a better car this year. I can’t imagine trying to do all this running around from job to school to job to home to babysitter with the car we had before, which was on the verge of crapping out. At least we have a car. Others are not so lucky and it’s costly and frustrating to work around this.

The transit lockout has left Saskatoon’s Oskayak High School to hire its own bus service in order to get students to class.

During the first school week without buses, only one-third of the student population was able to make it to school.

“I heavily rely on the transit system because I have school, I go to work, and I have dance practices to go to and that’s not happening,” Grade 12 student Heaven Adams said.

“It makes it a lot harder. It’s a lot harder to find rides or I spend a huge amount of money on cabs and it’s just ridiculous.”

Adams, along with all of the school’s 315 students, uses city transit to get to classes.

Today’s adventure:

The Man drove me to work early so he could drive downtown to get the Little Man and take him to school. He and his mother have been stuck walking for an hour every morning but yesterday mom’s chronic back issues were acting up and she apparently had no way to get him there so he missed the whole day. (This is not the first time he’s missed, either, but that’s another issue — had she just asked on Sunday, we could have gone over there to get him Monday morning! I also kick myself for not thinking to suggest that. Poor kid’s gonna fall so far behind and it’s French immersion, too.)

So, the Man picked up the Little Man, drove him to school, then the Man drove back to my workplace so I could drive him to his workplace and drive back to mine. We didn’t have to pick up the Little Man in the afternoon, but I drove home so I could get a few things done and get supper started and then I’m back in the car to get the Man when his shift is done.

The city is into its second week without buses and the ways in which it is affecting people is growing.

Life without a bus ride has been very challenging for Grace Kuhn. She has been taking the bus for years. She uses transit for everything from getting to work, to appointments, to meeting with friends. She’s turned to Kijiji to help fill the transportation void but unfortunately that has fallen through as well.

“I literally sit down and cried,” Kuhn said.

She can’t afford to spend $600 a month on cab fare and she doesn’t want to spend all of her savings. What really frustrated her was the response she got after she wrote an email to her city councillor.

“Saying, sorry this has happened, but here’s a couple of links, you can (go online) to get yourself a ride. You’re kidding me?” Kuhn said.

Like I said, we’re very fortunate we can afford a car. A lot of people in this city rely on transit and even with a car, we use the bus quite a bit, too, on account of shift work schedules and kid trading between houses and other needs. We need a working bus system.

It’s great news that the city has agreed to pay for 10 new buses, but they’re not additional buses, they’re replacement buses for ancient machines that keep breaking down.

A shortage of mechanics that caused a backlog of bus maintenance was the biggest factor for cancelled routes prior to unionized transit workers being locked out by the city on Sept. 20.

Older buses were also partially to blame for cancelled routes after the Labour Day weekend.

Some of the buses currently in the fleet are over 20-years-old and have more than 1.5 million kilometres.

That’s like 2 trips to the moon and back. Small wonder they’re falling apart…

Unrelated, but interesting for other reasons (mostly because I somehow never heard about it), apparently at the start of September, a 9 year old took a brief joyride in a bus that was left running with the door unlocked. The kid promptly drove the bus out of the garage area and onto the street. Eventually he struck another bus parked not far away and another vehicle. Due to his age, the police are unable to lay any charges on him.

No injuries were reported and damage to the buses is estimated between $1,000 and $10,000.

“This is not a case where policies need to be reviewed or practises need to be reviewed, this is a case where, from what I’ve seen, policy and procedures were very clearly violated,” said Jorgenson.

The city is in the early stages of the investigation.


Atheist Scruples: Church costs too much! Tear it down!

September 30, 2014

Actually, that headline is just for the clicks. This is a big issue in terms of history and traditions versus practicality and costs.

The gracious old church where you worship is an inspiration, but the declining church membership can’t support it. A big developer offers big money to demolish it. Do you vote to sell?

In August of 2013 the North Buxton Baptist Church in Chatham, Ontario faced this problem.

The First Baptist Church that was built in 1883 is being torn down, and Shannon Prince, curator of the Buxton National Historic Site Museum says part of it like pews and windows will be saved, but that doesn’t make it easier.

“It is going to be a sad day, very sad,” she says, “A piece of your community a piece of what has been built has been lost.”

She says the decision was made as a community. The church has been closed for some time, and with limited resources to keep up old properties the decision was made to tear it down rather than let if fall down.

It’s not just churches that fall victim to the possibility of demolition or sale. Heritage Canada has a running list of “Worst Losses” of Canadian history. Saskatoon winds up with a few on the list, like the Gathercole building:

Gathercole Building (1931), Saskatoon, Saskatchewan — [2004 List]
Despite the efforts of a coalition of cultural and heritage organizations to convert the historic Gathercole Building into a combined market and arts centre, City Council, led by the Mayor, chose to let the private sector redevelop the waterfront site by tearing down the landmark and using the ensuing property taxes to fund surrounding amenities.

Schools get closed up, too. Saskatchewan has many little towns. When there aren’t enough kids left in Rinkdinkville to make it worth heating the school and keep teachers on staff, the school closes and the kids are bused to neighbouring towns. Same goes for neighbourhoods in larger centers with aging populations. Schools will shut in those areas if there aren’t enough kids to fill the seats and new schools will be built where the kids are now.

Changing demographics within a city will affect churches for the same reason. If the population isn’t enough to fill the place anymore, maybe there is a better use for that space.

Back to the question, I’d wonder if the building itself could be repurposed rather than torn down. Advertise it as concert space, public speaking venues beyond religious ones, daycare, museums, art galleries.. find something useful to do with it if nobody really wants to pray there anymore. Yoga classes, book clubs, music practice space. There are always people looking for space to set up that kind of activity. Hell, see if the atheists want to borrow it for their secular services. Lots of atheists like the notion of church-style gatherings these days. It’s a big deal.

Or, if the building is old enough to qualify as a heritage site, maybe look into going that route and try to save it for historical reasons. I don’t know how successful those projects tend to be, though.

Ideas? Other thoughts on the topic? What happened to old buildings in your city?


Archbishop caught with child porn videos

September 29, 2014

Over 100,000 of them.

A former Vatican archbishop accused of paedophilia stored tens of thousands of child porn videos and photos on a computer in his office at the Holy See diplomatic compound in the Dominican Republic, it has emerged.

Details of Jozef Wesolowski’s massive child porn stash have been revealed after the 66-year-old was arrested at the Vatican earlier this week.

He is the highest-ranking Vatican official ever to be investigated for sex abuse, and the first top papal representative to receive a defrocking sentence. He has been charged with sexually abusing minors and child porn possession and might face up to seven years in the Vatican’s tiny jail.

I wonder how many years it took him to get that many videos onto his work computer.

Some 160 videos showing teenage boys forced to perform sexual acts on themselves and on adults and more than 86,000 pornographic photos were meticulously archived in several category-based folders, the paper said.

Investigators said that at least another 45,000 pictures were deleted, while a second stash of material was found on a laptop Wesolowski used during his trips abroad.