[Loosening the ties that bind]
“Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast ordained
strength,” prayed David to the Lord. When Gregory Kingsley came
along, the Lord seems to have been taking a lunch break. A judge in
Florida granted Gregory’s wish to “divorce” his natural
mother and evolve into the son of foster parents. Maybe his real mother
should rejoice to be rid of him.
Quizzed by reporters after Judge Thomas Kirk used his legal scissors
to snip the natural cords that bind children to parents, young Gregory
declaimed upon the “abuse and neglect” he had endured from
the woman who brought him into the world.
Mrs. Kingsley stuck him into several foster homes. Years went by when
he did not hear from her, even at Christmas or on birthdays. Often,
when he did live with her, she drank and smoked marijuana. Young Gregory’s
lawyer claimed Mrs. Kingsley not only smoked pot but also practiced
lesbianism and prostitution — charges she denies. By the time
Gregory and his legal pit bull had finished, you would have thought
they were writing a sequel to Oliver Twist.
The fact is that at no time has Gregory or his lawyer given any evidence
of what the real world normally means by abuse or neglect by his natural
mother. No one alleges she beat him, sexually abused him, abandoned
him, or failed to provide food, clothing, and shelter for him. It is
true that Mrs. Kingsley placed him in foster homes, and maybe, as alleged,
that was because she just did not care about him. But placing a child
in a foster home shows care of a kind.
It is hardly the same as throwing him out on the street, tossing him
into a trash can, or selling him to strangers — actual cases
of which are common enough these days.
If there were no abuse or neglect in any normal sense, why did Gregory
bring suit? What comes from this babe’s mouth is the motto of
the modern world: “I’m doing this for me so I can be happy.” When
Judge Kirk uttered his foolish decree, that portion of the modern world
that has nothing better to do than haunt courtrooms burst into applause.
There is, of course, no reason to doubt that Gregory’s real
mom was pretty lousy, but there is every reason to doubt he will be
any happier with his new parents. It would not be surprising if he
eventually discovers another couple from whom he imagines he can extract
even more gratification, presents, attention, or whatever it is he
thinks he wants. The road to happiness is paved with quicksand, and
those who tread it usually sink pretty fast, especially when they are
children with the law on their side.
Yet, regardless of the merits and flaws of Gregory’s case, the
real issue transcends even his personal happiness, as inconceivable
as that may be to him and his supporters. The issue is that, for the
first time in American history, a minor has succeeded in using the
law to challenge the authority of his natural family. This means that
from now on there is a precedent for arguing that what nature put together
human beings — even children — can break apart.
To those who consider that patterns rooted in nature offer no norms
any more valid than those invented by lawyers, the results will not
be disturbing. Gregory’s legal victory is implicit in the ideology
in which they pretend to believe. Now they will have a chance to enjoy
a world that deceives itself into importing their pretenses into law.
To those who think that the bizarre relationship between Gregory and
his real mother is an aberration — one on which no norms, let
alone legally binding ones, should be founded — and that emotional
bonds as natural as a bitch fighting to protect her puppies tell us
something about how human societies are and should be constructed,
Judge Kirk’s decision is an invitation to anarchy.
Nature has not so constructed 12-year-old boys that they know more
than their parents, let alone what happiness really is. Nor has it
so constructed judges and lawmakers that they are able to improve on
what nature normally does construct. Maybe Gregory is exceptional,
but with his exception a legal precedent, others are now free to extend
it. The Washington Post reports that “Legal experts have expressed
doubt that children will hire their own attorneys, except in the most
unusual cases.” But the same day’s edition carries a story
of another 12-year-old boy in Virginia who “is seeking to ‘divorce’ his
parents so he can stay with his foster family.”
Having wrapped ourselves in the illusion that we can redesign nature
to make ourselves happier, there is no telling what legal mischief
we will proceed to erect. What if children make their parents unhappy?
Can Mom and Dad take Junior to court because he plays his stereo too
loud? Maybe Gregory and Judge Kirk have not thought about that. Children
obsessed with themselves and their own gratification seldom do. That
is why nature made adults.
This article is excerpted from Shots Fired:
Sam Francis on America’s
Culture War (FGF Books, 2007). It was originally published by Tribune
Media Syndicate, October 2, 1992).
Samuel Francis Classics archives
The Samuel Francis Classics are copyright © 2008
by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfbooks.com.
All rights reserved.
Political pundit Samuel Francis was an author
and syndicated columnist. A former deputy editorial page editor for The
Washington Times, he received the Distinguished Writing Award
for Editorial Writing from the American Society of Newspaper Editors
in both 1989 and 1990.
Shots Fired: Sam Francis on America’s Culture War, a collection of some
of Mr. Francis' writing and speeches,
was published by FGF Books, a division of the Fitzgerald
Griffin Foundation. See www.shotsfired.us
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