Thing One and Thing Two

On this, the day that thousands gathered on the National Mall for an annual “March for Life,” a family of thirteen children in California has only days ago been freed from a life of torture at their parents’ hands.

So far, we have learned nothing of the torturers’ motives for mistreating their children, but what are the chances that they are NOT adherents to some kooky fundamentalist principles?

According to Dad David Turpin’s parents (per  Wikipedia),

“God called upon them to have a large number of children.” 

We’ll see if that is borne out by future reports.

The pictures of the children, with faces obscured and wearing identical conservative outfits are all too reminiscent of cult photos we have seen in the past. But there is a new kind of sick irony in the one that shows the children dressed in identical red teeshirts labelled “Thing 1,” “Thing 2,” “Thing 3,” “Thing 4,” etc.

The fact that the youngest of the children, still a baby, has not yet been subjected to the abuse suffered by the elder children makes one wonder if each of them was spared so long as they were infants, only to reach an age where the mistreatment began. Such a betrayal is difficult even to think about. The family’s two young dogs appear to have been better cared for than were the children, who suffer from a variety of physical and psychological afflictions, presumably resulting from abuse and neglect.

It always gets my goat that, when it comes to procreation,“Christian” fundamentalists who go on and on about their religious freedom, want the government to prevent women from controlling their own bodies. Then, when it comes to contributing to government programs that care for the needy, often children whom their parents can’t afford to care for, they want the government to butt out and allow their churches to avoid paying taxes.

Who is going to end up paying for the care that the Turpin children will undoubtedly require through the remainder of their lives? Not whatever crackpot font of religious zealotry inspired the Turpins to bear thirteen children, then starve and abuse them for years!

No, it will be up to those of us who pay our taxes and advocate for a just and merciful government that cares for the least among us.  Life only begins at birth.  Being “pro-life” should carry with it an obligation to the quality of life beyond birth. For those who are “pro choice” and thus, consider the child’s quality of life beyond birth, that extended interest in the child that is born is a given.

In Donald Trump’s America, it is apparently okay to hook-up with a porn star while your wife nurses a newborn at home… so long as you can buy the porn star’s silence. You can boast about grabbing women by their private parts without permission; and you can vindictively renege on a promise to 3.5 million Dreamers out of jealousy and spite; but a woman cannot make a very painful and private decision about her own body without the disrespectful interference of a bunch of self-interested strangers in Washington.

Maybe its time for more regulation, not less, of activities like home-schooling that can shield private crimes from public eyes. Shouldn’t the privilege of home-schooling carry increased obligations of care for parents and supervision for the state? When it comes to child welfare, privacy must take a back seat to protection.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

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