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From “Our Bodies, Ourselves” to “Our Courts, Ourselves”…

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The topic of mediation, especially mandatory mediation, is a hot one within the family court venue, and particularly among domestic violence advocates.  Many have come up opposed to it.

On the other side of the fence (??) are those who are advocating mediation to cut down on the caseload in these courts, and attempt to reconcile opposing parties for the best interests of the children, supposedly.

While looking through the RAND corporation policy papers, available on-line, I was astounded to find almost nothing whatsoever on violence against4 women, or women per se (although there were articles about the education gap for men and boys of color, with the kneejerk recommendation, more and earlier preschool.  I happen to disagree, I think there’s enough subject matter for child development scholars to study throughout the educational, penal, and court institutions in this country already…).  There was next to nothing current on domestic violence, although a few articles dating back to 2004/2005 actually used this word.

However, there is this interesting take on mediation.  My limited technique can’t paste in the image, so I recommend taking a look at:

All I’m going to say about Our Bodies, Ourselves, is that it is reminiscent of the feminist movement (after all, these ARE our bodies, if it’s women involved), and another era.  For more info, read Dr. Phyllis Chesler, including Women & Madness, Mothers on Trial, and Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman.  Don’t forget to also take a serious look at Honor Killings vs. Domestic violence (articles), and so forth.

Now about, Our Courts Ourselves — I believe  a takeoff on that title:

http://www.rand.org/pubs/reprints/2005/RP1090.pdf

“Our Courts, Ourselves:  how the Alternative Dispute Resolution Movement is Reshaping Our Legal System.”

It says plainly what I have deduced, in using the phrase “Designer Family” and in sarcastically stating that a world without conflict IS indeed possible — if everyone is drugged, asleep, or simply not paying attention.  . . . .  Which appears to be an imminent possibility, or business goal in some arenas…  I mean, as slavery is supposedly abolished, SOMEONE has to do life’s dirty work, for cheap or free….  Women got the vote, heck what next?  ???

This tends to verify my observations:  (from page 168, Section II, “Puritans Populists and Utopians.”)…

Members of America’s utopian societies yearned for social harmony and eschewed conflict.  One of their goals was to eliminate adversarial legal processes.  In Edward Bellamy’s Utopia, depicted in his wildly popular 1988 novel Looking Backward, citizens are inducted into the armies of a corporatist state into which all contribute and from which all receive the necessities of life….

Are you frightened yet? 

As communitarian values replace private interest, economic competition, social conflict and adversarial processes are eliminated…Wise citizens take the place of judges and juries in deciding how and when to punish bad behavior, lawyers’ services become superfluous, and the law itself is discarded.

(My quote here, since I can’t cut & paste from the pdf, is from memory, for speed — check source yourself)

Bellamy’s novel inspired a new political movement called Nationalism, comprised of a series of grassroots organizations dedicated to creating a utopian society devoid of economic and social conflict and gave rise to the establishment of the Populist Party.. . .

Many in the Nationalist Movement had ties with Theosophy, a contemporary religious movement….  substituting “Universal brotherhood and cooperation for competition..”  but the roots of Theosophy lay in spiritualism, and elevating the divine spirit within the individual.  Their leaders eschewed social justice and activism, and eventually the movements parted paths.

To those who are somewhat versed in one of the “Abrahamic” religions (i.e., Judaism, Christianity, Islam), this utopian vision and non-involvement in social justice are at odds with fundamental beliefs that man’s nature needs redemption (i.e., “the Fall”) and that a future resurrection and judgement await. 

At the very least, then, this utopian philosophy goes against the core of a substantial portion of the world’s population.  Experientially, someone has to become the “wise citizens” and of a supposedly superior, elitist, caste to inform and educate the plebians in how to get along.

The philosophy that CONFLICT is bad, and that PEACE AT ANY PRICE (and sacrificing safety, or justice in the process) is the primary good is — to my reading — a violence against the concept of justice, balance and equity. 

Hence, the jargon calling a divorce or process in which women protesting abuse of themselves, or their children, even when sexual abuse has been involved and documented, a “high-conflict” custody comes from this worldview.  That is not the primary characteristic — only according to a certain view.

As to “our bodies, ourselves,” an 11 year old in Wisconsin and (I recently heard) a 14 year old in Michigan, have learned that they are property, not people.  Michaela Tipton went back to her father to get her mother out of jail.  A young man, A student, spent a night in detention for refusing to visit his father also. 

 http://www.macombdaily.com/articles/2009/11/21/news/srv0000006883874.txt#blogcomments
Teenager incarcerated for refusing to visit his father
Published: Saturday, November 21, 2009

A 14-year-old boy was thrown into the county youth home overnight and handcuffed for about four hours after refusing to follow a judge’s order to visit his father, as part of an ongoing custody case.

The boy, Jacob Mastrogiovanni of Warren, was ordered Thursday to spend three days in the youth home by family court Judge John Foster, who lifted the sentenced Friday following protests by his mother and a night of incarceration for her son.

The uncommon occurrence of a contempt of

court sentence for a child in a child custody dispute angered his mother, Dawn Platevoet, and several of her relatives, including the boy’s grandmother. They picketed in front of the county courthouse in downtown Mount Clemens on Thursday and Friday, garnering media attention.
“A judge shouldn’t throw an all-A student in jail for refusing to visit his father,” Platevoet said. “There are other ways to handle the situation, and apparently the judge agreed because he let him out.”
Jacob was slated to remain in the Juvenile Justice Center until 7 p.m. Sunday but was released by Foster about 12:30 p.m. Friday. Foster had Jacob brought from the youth home in handcuffs about 8:30 a.m. Friday to appear in front of him in Macomb County Circuit Court later that morning. Jacob waited in a holding cell.

Moments after he was released Friday, Jacob said Foster didn’t specify why he freed him.
“He said that I don’t decide whether I see my dad or not,” Jacob said. “It was kind of like a warning, this time, I guess.”
Foster’s secretary said the judge did not want to comment.

Jacob and Platevoet wouldn’t delve into many details of why he won’t visit his father, Victor Mastrogiovanni of Chesterfield Township. She said Jacob began resisting in July following an unspecified incident.

They said when Jacob has visited Mastrogiovanni recently that he is forced to stay in his room without any contact.

On Foster’s order, the three have been attending weekly counseling sessions since early September. {{That’s the racket, folks…}}  But they and the therapist have been unable to resolve the disagreement.

Platevoet and Mastrogiovanni never married and have had some disputes for years {{OBviously.  The boy is 14!}}regarding custody and support issues, they said.

Mastrogiovanni, who has been married for two years and has a 15-month-old child, [[IE 2nd marriage, new kid]]said he did not want to comment specifically about the dispute.

“I love my kid very much and want what’s best for him,” he said.

Platevoet said she would like her son to visit his dad but can’t force him.

“What am I supposed to do? Grab him by the back of the head and put him in the car?” she said. “He’s a teenager and wants to do teenager things.”

She said Jacob “listens to me” about other things but not about the visits

//

ANYHOW, you are either awake or asleep in this matter about trying to create a utopian society where wise citizens (NOT due process and facts/evidence, etc.) choose punishments, and where all the requirements of life are also obtained from the state.  Hence, “Health & Human Services.” 

The question is, Who is Being Served?  And being served What?

2nd largest federal expenditure, Educational Department, making sure (that’s a laugh!) no child left behind.  What isn’t being openly marketed — where they are marching, goosestep style, who is paying the drummer, and what is the origin of the tune.  Not only can we not make medical or health choices for our kids, we as a populace aren’t smart enough to resource or network our life choices and also help them get educated.

You cannot really deal with the courts entirely separate from the educational system.  For one, the courts are trying to run cleanup after educational (moral/value) failures, all at the expense of taxpayers (not those who can write off expenses as business owners and investors, etc.).  For another, I am simply not interested in an oligarchy, a dictatorship, or any of that.  After all, it’s my own body here, and the children that came out of it are NOT state property, or fodder for others’ professional careers in psychology, mental health, law, pharmacology, etc.  I respected their father’s contact with them, and the law.  In return from this, I lost all contact with them, and made a mockery of the process.

Several entities are laughing all the way to the bank on this one.  The thing is, to get an audit of those statements. 

Anyhow — take a look at that rand document — it’s for sure informative.  Then also realize that what takes place through the courts, when it does — that’s not mediation in the proper sense of the word.  That’s basically program marketing, and “required outcome enforcement” from things such as the Access Visitation Grants, Responsible Fatherhood/Marriage, and such-like. 

Enough for today!

 

 

One Response

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  1. My experience with family law mediation: my soon-to-be ex-husband threatened to sue me for full custody, using his parents money, if I pressed a request for 60% time. The mediator turned to me (of far less means than him) and said, “And how does that make you feel?” And then I paid the bill. Oh, and after he defaulted on his child support, he sued me anyway. I settled — resulting in the loss of my child — because I could not afford a lawyer. Now he lives in a big house with a swimming pool, sticks my son in an after-school program until late every afternoon, and makes me beg for an extra day every time a school vacation comes around because he “needs to take family vacations.”

    JDZ

    November 24, 2009 at 5:00 pm


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martinplaut

Journalist specialising in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa

Let's Get Honest! Blog: Absolutely Uncommon Analysis of Family & Conciliation Courts' Operations, Practices, & History

'A Different Kind of Attention Develops Sound Judgment' | 'Suppose I'm Right Here?...' (posted 3/23 & 3/5/2014). Over 680 posts, Public-Interest Investigative Blogging On These Matters Since 2009.

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