The
Fatherhood Coalition

Radio show excerpt transcript:
Government Invasive of Father's Rights

Interview with Stephen Baskerville, New Nation radio show

May 3, 2000


"In most society's the state has, if anything, supported the integrity of the family. What we've done in the last few decades is completely reverse that, where the state is now...actually forcibly ripping families apart, which they are doing in huge numbers," stated Stephen Baskerville, a professor at Howard University in the District of Columbia. A guest on the "New Nation" radio program, Baskerville is an authority on how the state government - federal and local - are interfering with the family.

Host Bill Lind commented, "I hear case after case where on some pretext suddenly the social worker, who should probably be wearing the little Nazi armband, shows up at the door, takes the kids and the parents can't get them back."

Baskerville said, "Yes, this is a very widespread phenomenon indeed. It's not limited to fathers, who I've been mostly concerned with - it's a very broad phenomena. Any child, almost, in America, can be taken away from parents at any time for any reason, and frequently for no reason. Most often these are fathers."

Co-host Nicholas Sanchez questioned Baskerville, "Let's talk specifically about that. Fatherhood is certainly an institution which has been under attack for a long time. Certainly the popular media has mocked it. It goes back even before Murphy Brown and her infamous program that came out in which the role of the father was really played down. What specific policies are we seeing now that are detrimental to the institute of fatherhood?" Baskerville answered, "The most serious governmental institution for fatherhood is the family court. The family court is at the top of a huge governmental machine that consists of lawyers, judges, psychotherapists, social workers, bureaucratic police and many others, who have a vested interest in tearing as many children away from their fathers as possible. These fathers don't necessarily have to have done anything wrong. They don't have to have consented to a divorce or separation. All of these people, once the children are taken from the father, the father then becomes an object of plunder, where...it's a feeding frenzy on fathers, where everyone takes a cut in the form of...coerce legal fees that fathers can be jailed for not paying in the form of child support payments, in the form of forced psychotherapy, that, again, fathers can be forced to pay and forced to endure, and their children as well."

Bill commented, "You paint a very interesting picture in your study...'The Criminalization of Fatherhood.' You paint an interesting picture to start with of these family courts. They sound like something out of a totalitarian state.... None of the normal protections that Englishmen and later, Americans, have traditionally expected from the law, seems to apply here. These courts seem to be able to do just about anything." Baskerville said, "That's precisely right. They call themselves courts of equity, rather than courts of law, like the former court of England...which was eventually abolished for precisely this kind of reason. They are, essentially, immune from constitutional protections. They don't see themselves as governed by the Bill of Rights virtually at all. They are protected from oversight; their operations are often in secret behind closed doors; there's usually no record, no transcript of their proceedings. They're not accessible by the press or the public - even [some] family members are excluded."

Sanchez asked, "So they're accountable to no one that we know of, and there's no real watchdog over these proceedings?" Baskerville answered, "The only ones they're accountable to are the bar associations and the associations of psychotherapists." Bill Lind noted, "I noticed in your paper...most Americans undoubtedly think that imprisonment for debt is something that went away in the 18th Century - but you point out in your paper that if people - if fathers in particular - don't pay whatever fees are assessed on them by the lawyers, by the psychotherapists, again, people they may not have contracted with, may not have agreed to hire - if they don't pay those fees, these courts throw them in jail for debt."

Baskerville reiterated, "That's exactly right. Fathers are regularly jailed for not paying lawyers, not paying psychotherapists, fathers who have not agreed to a divorce or separation, fathers who have done nothing wrong - are forced to pay the fees of professions...or go to jail..." Baskerville said the fees "are exorbitant. Sometimes fees can run as high as $2,000 an hour. We have a father in Virginia...who was recently jailed for not paying $2,000 to the psychotherapist. He was released when his mother came up with the money. He is now facing jail for not paying $15,000 to lawyers that he never hired."

Baskerville noted that this is "very well concealed indeed. And it's partly concealed behind a veil of vilification of fathers. People say the father must have done something wrong, or at least agreed to the divorce. But no, very few people know that this is going on until it happens to them. In fact, we've created a system of involuntarily servitude, of slavery, in some ways. For fathers, their children are taken away and the children are used to reduce them to a status of servitude - to pay the fees of lawyers, custodial parents, and other court officials." Baskerville noted, "Fathers can be kept away from their children. Now the regular standard visitation keeps them away about 24 to 26 days a month. In many instances, fathers are kept away from their children altogether. They can be issued with restraining orders without any evidence whatsoever of wrongdoing." Baskerville emphasized, "What we're seeing in this country is a very disturbing thing indeed. We are seeing enormous amounts of political chicanery being gotten away with under the name of children. Any kind of political gimmick -any kind of trickster...can get away with just about anything by waiving the white flag at children. In fact, these people are often using and exploiting children for their own purposes.... It's very difficult for a legislator to be against anything that's billed as being for children, so they tend to vote for these things, but, in fact, we should be very, very skeptical - we should be more skeptical, not less, when something is presented to us under the banner of providing for children."

For media inquiries, contact Robert McFarland 202.546.3000 / rmcfarland@freecongress.org

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