Another Man Down in the War Against Fathers by Roger F. Gay

Article originally appeared in Fathermag.com on August 22, 2002

© 2002 Roger F. Gay

Reproduced with permission of the author


 

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America's Most Wanted put it like this:

Catalino Morales is wanted for the attempted homicide of five deputy sheriff's in Allentown, Pennsylvania and for failure to pay back child support.

On Saturday, morning, December 9, 2000, eight deputies in Lehigh county Pennsylvania broke into Catalino Morales' home to serve an arrest warrant charging him with failure to make child support payments. According to the deputies, Morales barricaded himself in a second-floor bedroom and fired two shots through a closed door. He then shot out a back window, jumped onto a flat roof, and onto the ground where it is alleged that he shot at a deputy. The deputy returned fire but no one was injured. Morales escaped the immediate area.

Police say Morales then entered a house in the neighborhood and held a family of four hostage for several hours. The standoff ended when one of the residents managed to wrestle the gun out of Morales' hands and Morales fled the scene. A massive hunt ensued, including search dogs, helicopters, and Allentown police; to no avail.

On the night of June 20, 2001 a SWAT team in Hartford, Connecticut surrounded Morales in a housing complex and shots were fired. No police persons were injured in the encounters. Morales was hit by three of 25 police bullets, permanently damaging his hand and his leg and endangering the lives of the nearby residents.

• He is a father.

• He is a man.

• He is allegedly behind in making "child support" payments.

It is unlikely that the child support system will be put on trial in defense of Catalino Morales, but it should be. Under heavy influence from a profit-driven collection industry the process of determining the amount of child support ordered and enforcement practices have changed dramatically within the past fifteen years. Political corruption is rampant and obvious not only to those who have studied the system closely but to many fathers who have been forced into subjugation by it.

Millions of men are treated arbitrarily and unfairly to a degree that compromises or destroys their chance to maintain themselves, let alone get on with a normal life. Many cannot do what the system requires them to do. Add to that years of harassment and threats from a long list of strangers, including half-witted pimple-faced high school drop-outs trying to collect to make a commission and female bureaucrats, possibly former welfare mothers, who revel in the opportunity to emasculate men. There is no escape, no reason. Every politician says so. Men and women with more power than moral character constantly remind them that this is what fatherhood is all about.

Then other strangers arrive with guns and invade their homes with the intent of taking them prisoner. They are experiencing the horror of a dictatorial police state.

Catalino Morales is one of many canaries in the child support coal mines. Year after year we watch the canaries die yet the workers are not allowed to leave. Those among us who have the opportunity to communicate are morally obligated to pass the word. This system must be abandoned as quickly as possible whether the masters wish it or not.

In the early 1990s, millions of fathers first experienced the suspension of constitutional law in domestic relations courts and the transition to enforcement of arbitrary en masse central political decisions. The new system seems designed to ruin men's lives. Decisions are arbitrarily based on statistical projections that have no basis in reality. State governments are encouraged to take as much from fathers as possible in order to increase the amount of federal funds they receive. "Public-private partnerships" formed with private collection agencies that benefit from higher child support awards and greater debt. Industry representatives control much of the policy making process, including the design of most formulae used in setting child support amounts.

With so many people involved, there has been a predictable variation in reaction to the change. The early 1990s saw the rise of the fathers rights movement, class-action lawsuits, a surge in the number of appeals filed against child support orders, and new national conferences on fathers issues. State and federal politicians were lobbied constantly to fix or abandon the new laws. Members of the Washington State Legislature received thousands of pairs of baby shoes from fathers trying to make a point.

There were also reports of increases in suicide and violence. The early 1990s saw news reports of the first of the early morning raids on communities to round-up hundreds of dads to cart them off to jail. It saw shootings in courtrooms, lawyers and judges taken bloody to ambulances, and fathers barricaded in their homes surrounded by police.

• In Dallas, a lawyer representing himself in a divorce case pulled a semi-automatic weapon from his briefcase and opened fire.

• While one father was barricaded in his home threatening suicide if police came too close, he was telephoned by a reporter who wanted to turn the conversation over to a police negotiator.

• Feminist groups protested, saying the government must not negotiate with terrorists.

• News coverage on such incidents ended.

• Billions of dollars were spent increasing security in courthouses.

Despite the best efforts of ordinary citizens, the system got worse. Fathers-rights advocates were largely cut off from making their appeals through traditional media that continued an enormous propaganda effort against the so-called "deadbeat dads." By the mid-1990s politicians were confident that the public couldn't get enough. Child support was on the political agenda in every election year. Politicians in both parties continually promised to make life tougher for fathers and passed law after law to do so.

By the late 1990s life had become so desperate for a few divorced men (in more than one country) suffering psychologically from the loss of their children and constant harassment that they took guns into day-care centers and held children hostage. Do you now understand how it feels, they asked before being gunned down by police snipers.

Due to the enormous weight of one-sided reporting on the child support issue, many people are still quite unfamiliar with the problem. It is easy to find people who believe that errors can be corrected and orders adjusted to circumstances by a quick visit with a family court judge or through some simple administrative process. They have been brainwashed into believing that men generally avoid what are presumed to be fair and reasonable obligations to their children. It is difficult for them to understand that millions of ordinary citizens are fighting for their survival in the midst of a constitutional crisis.

The Constitution of the United States and the constitutions of the states define a system of checks and balances. Unreasonable orders are to be corrected on appeal. Unconstitutional laws are to be overturned by the judiciary. These are necessary safeguards against harmful, intrusive, and corrupt government behavior. But during the past twelve years the system has not functioned as designed. Everyone in government connected with child support, including judges, receive financial rewards for maintaining the centrally-planned system, and courts and prosecutors have cooperated to an amazing degree. This has created a situation in which no legal remedy for arbitrary and oppressive orders and overly zealous enforcement measures exists.

Some orders are so high as to be life threatening. They do not leave the person who is ordered to pay with sufficient income to support himself. Lives have been lost. But to create the order is not enough. Once bound, the system constantly threatens and harasses fathers who are unable to meet their arbitrarily assigned "obligations." Just give the situation more than two seconds thought. If you do not think that the system caused Catalino Morales to fire a gun and run for his life you do not pass elementary applied probability. You do not understand humans.

Unless the corruption in the system is dealt with and those abusing power and influence arrested and jailed, there will be more gunfights and more men brought down in the war against fathers. Some will no longer have the compassion for life that Catalino Morales displayed. Their instinct to fight when threatened will win out over flight. They will aim at police before firing and not relinquish their weapons to hostages. We will all be guilty if we do not hold those responsible for the child support system as we know it today guilty of conspiracy.


 

Roger F. Gay is a professional analyst and director of Project for the Improvement of Child Support Litigation Technology. He has also been an intensive political observer for many years culminating in a well-developed sense of honest cynicism. Other articles by Roger F. Gay can be found at Fathering Magazine and Men's News Daily.

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Last modified 4/11/15