A Tactical Disagreement with F 4 J

Los Angeles, CA–I have all the respect in the world for Jolly Stanesby and many of the other English Fathers 4 Justice protesters–their peaceful, non-violent protests have brought tremendous media attention to the crisis of fathers being denied a meaningful role in their children’s lives after divorce or separation. They are courageous men–I wish we had more men like them in the U.S.
That being said, I’ve always disagreed with the tactic of protesting at judges’ or government officials’ private homes, and the story below is a good example why. From Harriet Harman’s husband: Our terror as Fathers-4-Justice ‘superheroes’ invaded our home (UK Mail, 11/07):

Harriet Harman’s trade unionist husband today spoke of the terror he felt when two fathers’ rights campaigners climbed onto his house’s roof dressed as comic book superheroes. Speaking at the protestors’ trial, Jack Dromey said he thought Fathers4Justice campaigners Jonathan Stanesby and Mark Harris were burglars trying to break into his house. Dromey, who is Labour Party Treasurer and husband of the Labour deputy leader, said the invasion of his home ‘was a matter of alarm and continuing distress’… Jonathan ‘Jolly’ Stanesby, 43, and Mark Harris, 49, who are both from Devon, scaled Mrs Harman’s three-storey home in south-east London on June 8 this year. Harris was dressed as ‘Cash Gordon’ and Stanesby was wearing a Superman outfit, but called himself as ‘Captain Conception’. Once on the roof the pair unveiled a banner reading: ‘A father is for life; not just for conception’. The protestors later claimed they had got onto the house by simply entering the garden through an unlocked gate and propping a ladder against the building’s wall. It is thought that Miss Harman was targeted because, in her previous role as Solicitor General, she was accused of not doing enough to open up access to the family courts. Fathers’ rights campaigners have also claimed that Mrs Harman has done nothing to support their cause, despite hinting that she supported their aims. As a result of the protest, which started at 8.15am and lasted around six hours, Mrs Harman, 58, and her husband had to temporarily vacate their home… He added: ‘I’ve lived in that house for 31 years. I love the house. We’ve brought our kids up in the house. We’re proud of the house. ‘Our home was invaded, that was a matter of alarm and continuing distress. It’s an experience we would never wish to go through again.’

Protesting near judges’/officials’ private homes gives them the opportunity to smear perfectly peaceful fathers by going into a big “I was terrorized by those evil men” act. Dromey plays it well here. An even worse idea which, fortunately, seems very rare, is to protest outside of the ex-wife’s house. It doesn’t matter if the man has done nothing wrong and she’s emotionally abusing her children by not allowing them to see their father, the ex-wife will almost always be able to con the media into reporting that she is being “terrorized” by the “violent” father. Read the full article here. Some might say “OK, but if they can’t do this, what else can they do?” The answer to that is what David Chick did, as well what Stanesby and others have done in previous protests.

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