Jun 17, 2014

Impediment to Free Speech

The US Constitution’s first amendment was established in 1791 to, in part, protect the freedom to speak one’s opinions. The Supreme Court of the United States further declared that one could not be convicted based solely on the content of his speech (Cohen v. California, 1971) and has written that free speech is "the matrix, the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom." More directly to the point I want to make obvious today is the decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio, 1969 that stated speech could be limited only if it is intended and likely to produce an imminent lawless action.

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Last week I was required to appear in court; the technical charge was a violation of an order of protection. Sounds serious, huh? It’s because I mailed (yes, postal mail) my two youngest children Valentine’s Day cards with stickers inside as a gift. Yes...I’m serious. If there is more to this charge I was not informed by either the Judge or my attorney. The enacting of the order of protection was based on statements I believe to qualify as perjury...but that is another article in itself. Furthermore, I mailed the “offensive” gifts in February and charges were not brought to the local police until late April of this year. I guess that could be an indication of how seriously this violation was perceived by the opposing party.

What does this have to do with the First Amendment you ask? Well, at some point in the proceedings it was brought up that I had previously posted something on the social media site Facebook that was offensive to the opposing party ( I would repost here, but I fear further judicial repercussions at the moment). The post mentioned no names directly and there was no direct or implied threat. The opposing party in this suit, inferred that the Facebook posting was for them. It wasn’t, but since no names were directly stated...I'll let that one slide. The opposing party then went on to misrepresent the post as a threat to themselves. No threat was made, no names mentioned. No lawless act was intended. The Judge in my case (Judge Canas), in response to these unproven allegations, has ordered me to close all social media accounts. In my very strong, and researched opinion, he has impeded my freedom of speech.

I’m not a wealthy man with the means to fight this abuse of power so I will comply with the court’s ruling. My priorities in this suit are more personal that this grievance but I can't sit by and let this abuse go unnoticed. I will be closing all my personal social media accounts, as instructed, and posting this notice to as many public sites as I can. The Judge is an elected official; I would like the body of citizens he represents to be aware of his conduct. My preference is that he wouldn’t be re-elected, but even President Obama pulled that off.

You probably don’t care if my Facebook account gets closed. Honestly, I really don’t either. What I do care about is that a County Court Judge feels he has the power to limit free speech with the swipe of a pen and there wasn't a single gasp in the courtroom as he quickly undermined the First Amendment to the US Constitution. Everyone I've spoken with just shrugs their shoulders and says something similar to “that’s how things are”. Maybe so...but why? I believe it’s because ordinary people endure these injustices each day and never say a word. Well, here is my 0.02¢. Agree or disagree; just be appreciative that you still have the God given right to do so.

Jun 9, 2014

It's for the kids!

I'm going to hop on my soapbox a bit because lately there are quite a few people I know that are fighting with their children's other parent, either verbally or in the court rooms. I'm almost certain that there will be next to no one that agrees with me completely, a few will think I'm totally nuts, and many will like about half of what I say and discard the remainder...but I honestly do think it's the best approach.

First off, quit arguing with your former spouse/partner...it does nothing for you, them, and especially not for the kids. Most of the time this bickering back and forth falls along similar lines for the custodial parent (in Texas that's mostly the Moms) the argument is that the non custodial parent doesn't spend enough time with the children and isn't paying a fair share of the expenses. Whereas the non custodial parent's complaints are typically along the lines of not wanting to pay the custodial parent a penny more than absolutely necessary and that the custodial parent diminishes their standing with the children (emotionally, verbally, etc.).

Custodial parents, regardless of what you think of your former parenting partner this is no longer your relationship, primarily it's your children's relationship with the other parent. You should always respect that for the children's sake. I know that can be a great challenge. Your beautiful kid(s) come back telling you how mean someone was and how this person upset them all during the time they shared with the non custodial parent. Not your problem. I know what you're thinking "...um, yeah it is! That's my beautiful child and I have to protect them so it is most definitely my problem". If your talking physical or sexual harm...yes. Otherwise, no it isn't. If your little one comes back from the other's home saying "Dad is so mean to me, he wouldn't let me do things that my step siblings could do." You should definitely not get on the phone and tell "Dad" what an idiot he is. You may say, "but my little angel is only 4 or 6 or whatever age..." the sooner the better. It's a parent child relationship and as you are no longer parenting within the same time frame, you are only responsible for the parenting within your timeframe.

Now you non custodial parents, say it repeatedly to yourself, "it's for my kids". You are not paying child support so that your coparent can have a shopping spree. You are paying child support to support your child, and that amount the court ordered you to pay, no matter how astronomical, should be the minimum you feel obligated to pay. I can hear it now, your saying "but if I was the custodial parent it wouldn't cost me $20k a month for daycare and I wouldn't be driving a new BMW!!" Or your thinking but they tell my kids all these horrible things about me that aren't true (or are true but aren't for children's ears). Maybe so, but as I told your former child rearing buddy...not your problem. Worse case scenario, your kid(s) will see that they can't get new shoes for school because someone else needed a new Louis Vuitton purse or that awesome new smart phone, but you did your minimal part. You made sure they were financially sound and if you want to be the hero, get them the shoes too! They may ask why you did this awful thing that you didn't do, simply tell them you didn't do that and your glad they asked you about it directly. You want to make sure your children know that they are as important to you as ever, see them every chance you get. Remind them that no matter what happens between Mom and Dad...you will always be there for them. The theme of the day...you are can only control the parenting that you are privileged enough to bestow upon your children. You cannot control the parenting of the other household.

You may honestly hate your coparent to the core for what has transpired that divided your relationship and would love nothing more than for them to vanish from the face of the Earth, but your child(ren) will be better off for having that relationship. You need to support your child in that relationship for your childs sake regardless of your personal feelings toward that monster with whom you were involved. Custodial or Non custodial...it all boils down to the same efforts. Support your child being with the other parent. Even when you, and possibly your child as well, don't want to support that relationship remember that in the long run your child will be a better human being for having it. If the relationship is good, they will grow because of it. If the relationship is bad, they will grow in spite of it. If the relationship is absent the growth will be hindered or non existent. Children deserve equal uninterrupted time with both parents. If one parent doesn't exercise that privilege, the child will notice. If one parent attempts to restrict that privilege the child will notice. In either case, the only parent child relationship you are responsible for is between you and your child, not your child and the other parent.

Obviously I say all this to most of the parents out there. If your child is being subjected to extremes (physical, sexual, emotional distress, etc.) you do have to step in and protect them. In my (ever so limited) experience this is not the normal occurrence, but the parents involved FEAR that this is what is going on at the other's home because we all hate to give up control. Your child can grown tremendously from being exposed to perspectives of both parents, and shouldn't be deprived of that. Learn to set the boundaries of these new coparenting relationships and leave the blame out of it for the kids sake. Miranda Lambert says "At the baggage claim, you got a lot of luggage in your name" let them deal with their own baggage you don't have to carry that around anymore, your child doesn't either.

Thank you for letting me drop my baggage here.

Mar 14, 2014

When life is passing you by

Yesterday I felt the weight of the world bearing down on my shoulders. I was so tense all day that my neck and shoulders are still sore today and as I drove home from an all day mediation I realized my stress was from my mind being on my youngest babies.My Little Angel, and My Little Man have been secluded from me for nearly a year now. I've jumped through every hoop the opposing side offers and they just keep denying me time with my children. So today I'm reaching out to them, in the hopes they'll read this someday (when they learn to read).

My Little Angel, I thought about how much of a handful you must be for your Mother right now; it's just your age. I saw your cousin this past weekend; she's a handful too. She reminded me of you. I sent you a Valentine's Day present and I'm getting ready to send out your St. Patrick's Day package. I hope you enjoy it. I saw pictures today of me holding you and Cole at his Christening. You gave your Mom such a fit that day. You didn't want your bow in your hair, you wanted to take your shoes off, etc. It was frustrating then, but it's kind of funny and a little endearing to think of it now. I want to give you some words that I hope will help you retain more endearing moments and help you grow until I can see you again. Siblings can be the most wonderful friends in the world, and your worst enemy too. I want you to be a good example to your little brother, be nice to him and help him when you can. I want you to be an example to your older brother's and sister's too. Show them that it doesn't matter what they say or do to you; it only matters how you react to it. Let them know you are only accountable for your actions, the rest is their problem. Above all love them all the time. Love them whether they're mean or nice, because no matter what happens; they love you too.

My Little Man, I am so very, very sorry that I wasn't there again for your surgery. Someone called and said they thought of reporting your issues as a case of Munchausen by Proxy and wanted my opinion. I said I have no idea. I always thought your Mother did all the good she could for you so I couldn't say it was likely. But I have explicitly been banned from your hospital records and that doesn't make sense to me. I hope you understand this is not a terse word against your Mother, only my frustration at not knowing how to help you. You and your sister should never allow anyone to say mean words against your parents, not even the other parent. I looked all over to find your St. Patrick's Day present; I hope you like it. I'm sure you have a ton of toys and clothes but I wanted to send this to you so you'd know I'm here and thinking of you every spare moment of everyday. I miss you so very much. I want you to be nice to your sister and watch out for her, you have to watch out for all your siblings and they should watch out for you. Maybe someday very soon I'll get to hold you and your sister again. Until then, be every bit the wonder little boy you've always been and now that I love you.

For you both; remember that no matter what happens I am always here for you!

I love you yesterday, today, and forever!