Florida Pilot

A compendium of random thoughts from a former Washington Beltway insider who is now having a lot more fun flying small airplanes in Central Florida.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

punishing the victims

Recent legislation passed by the Florida legislature and signed by Governor Jeb Bush ups penalties for individuals found guilty of molesting young children. It is hard to know at this point if the legislation is good or bad -- the media-induced frenzy to pass another law after two recent cases of previously-convicted individuals killing young girls was enough to eliminate any possibility of reasoned debate and the published media summaries of the bill contained few details.

But count on Jeb Bush to mete out punishment to even the victims of abuse if they happen to survive. The hand of Bush is evident in the recent effort by the Gestapo-like Department Against Children and Families (DCF) to require the victim of a statutory rape remain an ongoing victim by carrying the resultant pregnancy to term. Fortunately, the Florida courts have thwarted the DCF effort to deny this crime victim her rights under the state Constitution.

This is the second occasion in the last few months that the courts have had to stop the Governor, acting through the DCF, from eliminating the rights of vulnerable individuals. The first time was, of course, the Terri Schiavo case where the governor attempted to step in to deprive Terri of her right to stop the futile intervention that had kept her existing in a persistent vegetative state for over 19 years.

In the Schiavo case, the DCF had argued that it needed to take Terri into custody (and deny her her rights) while it investigated over 50 anonymous claims of abuse. Some time after Terri's death, the DCF was forced to reveal that it had found the abuse claims to be completely without merit. In the instant case, DCF had apparently argued that its authority gave it more control over the affected minor than her parents would have had and that its Gestapo-like powers overrode the girl's constitutional rights.

The DCF is a frightening operation that has been found again and again to be working against the interests of Florida citizens. Governor Bush, howver, has found it a useful tool as he attempts to impose his personal views on any Florida resident who acts in ways contrary to the governor's beliefs.


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