British Fathers’ Rights Activist May Face Jail Time for Talc Prank

I guess it’s because I just can’t get Aset Magomadova out of my head. She’s the mother in Canada who strangled her pain-in-the-butt 14-year-old daughter to death. A couple of months ago she was sentenced to no jail time for her crime. The outrage that followed, and that continues to this day, testifies to the continuation of the female sentencing discount that research published in the Journal of Law and Economics shows to be as big a factor as race in federal sentencing in the U.S (University of Chicago, 4/2001). I would argue that it also testifies to the growing divide between policy elites and the rest of us,
but that’s fodder for another post another time. But Aset Madomadova is one reason why this case stuck out (ABC, 8/26/10). In it, Australian Fiona Maree Garth was babysitting four year old Liam Osborne. According to her, young Liam was clowning around in the bathtub so she did what any reasonable person would do; she beat him to death. After lying to the police and generally seeming not to care about what she’d done, Garth finally copped to hitting him five times, but that in no way accounts for the severity of the battering his body exhibited. But the boy had a heart condition which figured into his death, so Garth was sentenced to nine months in prison. Not coincidentally, that’s the amount of time she’d already spent in jail awaiting trial, so, after sentencing she walked out of court a free woman. And once again, the unwashed masses aren’t happy about it. But never mind. Our betters have decided and so there’s nothing to be done. Which brings me “by a commodus vicus of recirculation back to” this most heinous of all crimes (This is Surrey Today, 9/3/10). It seems that Martin Matthews is a member of the British version of FATHERS 4 Justice. They’re the group whose members periodically don superhero outfits and climb up on buildings to display banners asking the family courts to do a modicum of justice. They get some media coverage, but the courts couldn’t care less. Meanwhile, Matthews decided to pull a different type of stunt. He sent a package to the Child Support Agency in his native Surrey. It contained a diaper sprinkled with talcum powder. And for that, he’s been charged with a crime. What crime? Well, it seems that authorities think he’s a terrorist. I guess they thought the talc was some sort of toxic substance, but, since it isn’t and since people and companies ship the stuff every day, it’s hard for me to understand what Matthews’ crime is. My guess is that it’s closer to sedition, the act of failing to make the desired obeisance to governmental authority. For his part, Matthews, who told the court his name was General Good Shafting II, continues unrepentant and vows to remain unrehabilitated regardless of all.

Of the charge, for which he could serve time in prison, he added: “From where I was sitting, I had to keep a straight face but I found it difficult because I think it is really, really funny. “It is a complete overreaction and it doesn’t matter which way you look at it – it is funny. I can’t show any remorse because it wasn’t meant to be harmful. “If they want to make an example out of me and imprison me, then I have got to pay some price for my actions. “Sending me to prison and trying to rehabilitate me won’t help, but it does help the Child Support Agency to reflect on the way they speak to people.”

Activist that he is, Matthews’ problem seems to be that he supports his son in his own ways, which are not the ways the CSA deems appropriate.

“If my son needs something and tells me about it, I will provide it. My son is my pride and joy and so I provide it immediately – that is the way it works. “Whether it is right or wrong, that’s up to other people, but that’s what I do. “We do care about our children and they must try and understand that, because as fathers we try and do our best.

So it looks like Matthews wants to provide support directly to his son rather than paying to CSA which then pays the boy’s mother. But whatever the case, when Matthews adds that “their definitions and our definitions are hugely different,” he’s talking literally about his and CSA’s definitions of child support. But he could as well be talking about which actions courts believe warrant punishment and which they don’t. Thanks to Greg for the heads-up on the Garth case.

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