Friday, December 10, 2004
Spare the rod and spoil the child took on a new meaning yesterday in our state. According to a news report released this morning, Washington's highest court issued a ruling that a mother who lives in Friday Harbor violated her 14-year-old daughter's privacy by eavesdropping on her telephone conversation.
Apparently, the sheriff in that town asked the mother in question to be alert to any dealings her daughter had with a 17-year-old boy, a suspect in a purse snatching case. When the boy called the house and the daughter took the cordless phone to her bedroom and shut the door, the mother activated the speaker phone function on the base of the phone and began taking notes. That conversation, in part, led to police arresting the 17-year-old and his ultimate conviction of second degree robbery. Now, he must be retried on the same charges.
The essence of yesterday's ruling by the state Supreme Court is that law enforcement can no longer use such practices to make their cases against criminals. Snooping and eavesdropping on the conversations of our own children are strictly forbidden in such instances.
Right now, the privacy rights of children apparently only apply when such conversations may lead to an arrest or conviction. But the can of worms has been opened and it is only time, I predict, before this set of judges or some other judicial body rules that the privacy of children extends to other areas, as well.
Federal rules allow parents to record their children's conversations, but here in Washington state the privacy laws are much stricter. After yesterday's ruling, they're stricter yet.
This constant erosion of taking away the control parents have over their children is sickening. To limit what a parent can do to monitor their own children in their own home isn't the business of our state courts. What's next? Will we not be allowed to look in our son's sock drawer to see if he's hiding a bag of pot, because we're intruding on his privacy? Will we be forbidden from sneaking a peak into our daughter's purse to see if she's hiding birth control pills, all for the sake of privacy rights?
When I was a kid, I grew up in my parents' home. Their rules applied, not the rules of my classroom teacher or the school principal or the local police chief. My parents were the judge, jury and hangman. Their word was law. That's how it was, and how it should have been.
Today, though, the rules are different. Based on what we are told we can and can't do in the raising of our children and the direction we're headed, it won't be long before all our kids are merely wards of the court, with us parents simply serving as surrogates in their upbringing.
I'm tired of justices sitting smugly behind their benches, overstepping their bounds at every opportunity they are presented. In this instance, about all we can do is vote this current crop of state Supreme Court justices out of office. Their names are Gerry Alexander, Mary Fairhurst, Bobbe Bridge, Barbara Madsen, Charles Johnson, Richard Sanders, Faith Ireland, Susan Owens and Tom Chambers.
Kick da bums out!