Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Privacy or Justice? A small victory for sense.

Fathers' rights in America may be reeling over the Darren Mack incident (and the lunatic fringe of the opposition having a fine old time crowing like the thugs that they are), but in the UK, The Times reports on a major victory, abeit under an inappropriately emotive headline.  Fathers (and I would assume mothers) will now have the right to talk openly about family court cases.  But we should reassure the Times editors that this is not the end of "children's right to anonymity" because, according to their own article, "publicity will not be allowed in any case where it could in any way harm or cause distress to a child."

Judges say it would help to “rebut the slur inherent in the charge that the family courts administer ‘secret justice’”.  Someone should explain the Brits' own language to these judges - if you can't talk about it, it's secret, so it's no "slur" that the courts administer, or rather, administered "secret justice", it's a simple fact.  Sheesh.

Interestingly, digging a little deeper, the decision derives from a case in which the father did jail time for internationally abducting his daughter.  The court was appropriately careful not to condone this action, and those who suspect that they are should think carefully about preventing anyone from explaining themselves, no matter how much they might disagree.  As the judge put it: "If the father thinks that an exculpatory account to the world of his discreditable behaviour will serve any purpose, he must be free to write it."  Like the judge, I doubt that he can excuse it, but I wouldn't deny him his right to try.

The family feud has a happy ending, by the way, with the parents sharing care having drawn up a "bill of rights" for their daughter.  What an excellent idea, and I salute the mother for having such sense and not reacting to the abduction at her daughter's expense.

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