The key question being, was the father irresponsible, suicidal, or otherwise bonkers, to begin with (cavalierly assumed by Elie Mystal), or did the man become so because (!) of the years of exasperating frustrations dealing with government, with courts, and with all the parasites in what Stephen Baskerville calls the "divorce industry"?
Using Stephen Baskerville's Taken Into Custody (The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family), let's walk her points though, shall we?
(Update: Stacy McCain takes on another feminist's attack on the victim, Tom Ball.)
Elie Mystal: "…you know what’s worse than defaulting on your student debts? Not paying your child support. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that if you had a choice between paying your student debts or making your child support payments, the morally superior choice would be to pay your child support and circle back to your student payments when you can."
Stephen Baskerville (quotes from throughout his book, Taken Into Custody):
A look at the government machinery reveals that [child support] was created not in response to claims of widespread nonpayment but before them, and that it was less a response to "deadbeat dads" than a mechanism to create them.Elie Mystal: "Is this [commenter on the article from the Union Leader website] honestly suggesting that we’ve gone too far in protecting abused spouses and children … ?"
…To what extent child support is responsible for the very poverty it is claimed to alleviate is unclear. It has long been known that the vast majority of the homeless are male. Widespread anecdotal evidence suggests that family courts may be partially responsible for their plight.
…coerced child support is predicated not on uniting children with fathers but on keeping them apart…
… the premise betrays the true agenda: not to unite fathers with their children but to keep them apart and to pull them more securely into the government enforcement machinery, extending the bureaucratic hegemony into the every corner of their lives…
…social scientists have found that as much as 95 percent of fathers having no unemployment problems for the previous five years pay their ordered child support regularly, and that 81 percent paid in full and on time. Columnist Kathleen Parker concluded that "the 'deadbeat dad' is an egregious exaggeration, a caricature of a few desperate men who for various reasons — sometimes pretty good ones — fail to hand over their paycheck, assuming they have one." Deborah Simmons of the Washington Times observes that "there is scant evidence that crackdowns … serve any purpose other than to increase the bank accounts of those special-interest groups pushing enforcement."
…The comments of a Tennessee judge that "I specifically make it [visitation] so absolutely ridiculous that nobody can adhere to it." was apparently not deemed to be grounds for disciplinary actions, "And I hold people in contempt and put them in jail for it," he added.
…Contrary to popular belief (and centuries of common-law precedent), child support today has nothing to do with fathers abandoning their children, reneging on their marital vows, of even agreeing to a divorce. It is automatically assessed on all non-custodial parents, even those divorced over their objections and who lose their children through no legal fault or agreement of their own. It is an entitlement, in short, for all divorcing mothers…
…child support is no longer primarily a method for requiring men to take responsibility for the offspring they have sired and then abandoned, as most people are led to believe. Overwhelmingly it is now a regime whereby "a father is forced to finance the filching of his own children."
Though not classified as a form of child abuse, the emotional devastation inflicted on children by divorce itself is arguably at least as serious as the effects on grown women of the "abuse" recounted by domestic violence groups ("depriving her of clothes"). The psychological trauma and emotional damage of divorce on children has been understood for centuries, however fashionable it has become in recent years to deny it. Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee have called divorce the "single most important cause of enduring pain in a child's life."Elie Mystal: "for what it’s worth, I don’t think I’m the only one who would rather face a 'legal bludgeon' than be bludgeoned by a deadbeat father my mom needs to sue every time I have a medical problem."
…accusations of spousal abuse and child abuse made without any evidence are presumed true and used to separate fathers from children for extended periods and even for life, until proved otherwise…
…Unlike any other area of the law, the accusation is enough.
…Most fathers accused of abuse are never formally charged, tried, or convicted because there is no evidence against them. The purpose usually is not to punish a crime but to gain custody of the children, along with the financial awards they bring. The result is the parent never receives due process of law or a chance to clear his name, let alone recover his children.
…"Whenever a woman claims to be a victim, she is automatically believed," says Washington attorney Lisa Scott. "No proof of abuse is required." Jeannie Suk characterizes domestic violence as a system of "state-imposed de facto divorce that subjects the practical and substantive continuation of the relationship to criminal sanction."
…Open perjury is readily acknowledged in family law circles…
…As with domestic violence, most unsubstantiated reports are made during divorce proceedings for the transparent purpose of obtaining custody and preventing fathers' visitation…
…"There is not an epidemic of domestic violence," Judge Milton Raphelson has stated (after his retirement). "There is an epidemic of hysteria about domestic violence."
…Melanie Phillips: "One study included "feeling threatened" as evidence of violence. Even [Britain's] Home Office some years back widened the definition to include the slippery "emotional abuse." That now includes insults or rows. In America, it includes an "overprotective manner" or not helping the children with their homework. … To call it abuse is to batter the language. To equate it with violence is dishonest. To accuse only men of doing it is despicable.
Stephen Baskerville :
When Heidi [Howard] said Neil was never violent the social worker replied, "You don't need to be beaten to be battered," saying he kept the family checkbook to gain "power" over her, which constitutes violence.Elie Mystal: "If you have a Dad who didn’t beat or molest you, didn’t embezzle money from you or your family, and kept his whoring enough on the down-low that he has never had to address it in a press conference, you better be getting that man a present.
…the political and financial incentives that induce prosecutors, family courts, and child protective services to exaggerate and even fabricate charges of child abuse against parents in order to take away their children. "By far the most powerful incentive to rubber-stamp as abuse charge is financial," argue Parke and Brott. A San Diego grand jury investigation revealed "a system out of control, with few checks and little balance." This system, where justice is blocked by "confidential files, closed courts, gag orders, and total statutory immunity [for judges and social workers], has isolated itself to a degree unprecedented in our system of jurisprudence and ordered liberties."
…Not only has the father's role as his children's protector now become politically incorrect; the divorce machine has perverted it into a fault. Such "male violence against women" as does occur is almost certainly the result of child stealing more often than it is the cause, since common sense suggests that fathers with no previous proclivity to violence could well erupt when their children are taken. "A significant percentage of domestic violence occurs during litigated divorces in families who never had a history of it," according to Douglas Schoenberg, a New Jersey divorce attorney and mediator. At the risk of laboring the ideologically incorrect obvious, one is tempted to say this is precisely what fathers are for: to become violent when someone interferes with their children.
…By using unproven abuse allegations against men to secure automatic child custody for women, feminists are openly practicing in the political arena precisely what they claim is not happening in the courts: unfounded accusations of "battering" to separate children from fathers who are guilty of no such thing…
"Dads who manage to avoid all of the things mentioned in the previous paragraph are hard to find, and deserving of praise."
Update: What might Abraham Lincoln's take have been on this?
… The growth of [the divorce] machinery has been accompanied by a huge propaganda campaign that has served to justify punitive measures against citizens who are not convicted of any crime. "is there a species on the planet who is more unjustly maligned than fathers?" writes columnist Naomi Lakritz. "Fathers are abusers, bullies, deadbeats, molesters, and all-around sexist clods who have a lot of gall wanting a relationship with their children once the initial moment of conception is over."
…the media will go to any lengths to avoid admitting that we are in a massive epidemic of government-sponsored child stealing.
So pervasive is the demonization of fathers today that fathers themselves share in it even after they have become its victims. "It is typical for a man to believe … the media myth of the Evil Male," writes Robert Seidenberg. "While he knows that he is a great father himself, he thinks everybody else is a deadbeat dad."