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Friday, June 22, 2007

Name Withheld Has Two Mommies

posted by on June 22 at 12:38 PM

I’ve filed lots of “Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father” posts, filed under “Hetero,” calling attention to spectacular examples of terrible heterosexual parents.

My sense of fairness compels me to post this extremely distressing item: An 11-year-old boy was found locked in a closet in Wisconsin. Tortured repeatedly, starved, and kept out of school, the boy is permanently disfigured. His mother’s lesbian lover has been arrested and charged, along with his sister and three other adults—yes, his own sister was a “full participant” in the torture, according to the police.

Oh, and his mother? Her body was found buried in the backyard.

Homicide, Torture Case Rocks Portage

PORTAGE, Wis. — A group of suspected identity thieves who prosecutors said killed one of their own and abused a child traveled to Wisconsin and rented a house in the quiet community of Portage simply because they wanted to see snow….

People have left flowers and candles on the front stoop of the rental house. A new bat and glove was left for the 11-year-old boy who authorities said was found locked in a closet, bloody, burned and tortured.

Investigators said his mother was strangled and buried in the back yard. Her 15-year-old daughter, two women and a man who lived at the house are in custody.
Prosecutors said the dead woman, Tammie Garlin, had a romantic relationship with another woman, Michaela Clerc, who lived in the house, and that Clerc thought Garlin had cheated on her.

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Gah, this is horrible. And fuel for the Fred Phelps and Co fire.

Posted by Ziggity | June 22, 2007 12:56 PM

had 2 mommies

Posted by J | June 22, 2007 12:59 PM

"Suspected identity thieves"? We can only hope the perpetrators were really Catholic priests who stole the identities of an innocent lesbian couple to carry out their heinous crimes.

Posted by Brendan | June 22, 2007 1:00 PM

I saw the mugshots of the perps the other day and they look like the roadshow Cast of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Musical."

Posted by elswingere | June 22, 2007 1:02 PM

Meh. Humans are fucked up. News at 11!

Posted by seattle98104 | June 22, 2007 1:03 PM

So you post the horrible hetero parenting stories to make a point about gay parents. Then you post the horrible gay parenting stories to show fairness. How 'bout if you just stop posting horrible parenting stories? We live in an endless fascinating city, full of colorful characters. It's a beautiful partly cloudy day outside, with big poofy clouds. The second longest of the year! Wouldn't you be happier moving away from the child torture stuff?

Posted by Big Sven | June 22, 2007 1:45 PM

Does this mean that maybe, possibly, PLEASE, these posts of awful things being done to children will stop?

We all get it Dan, breeders can be awful to their kids and as such, having a mommy AND a Daddy is not the end all be all of parenting. But gay people can be pretty awful too and once more of them get to be parents (a time I look forward to with great anticipation) the number of articles about them being awful to their kids will go up.

I just think that these posts are not doing anything to convince anyone and really are beside the point. Just because hetero parents can be evil fucks doesn't that gay people should be allowed to be parents. Gay people should be allowed to be parents because they're people too and deserve all the rights and privileges the rest of us have in our society. Whether or not straight people can be fucked in the head has nothing to do with it.

Posted by Charlie | June 22, 2007 1:50 PM

Big question is what "the lesbians" everywhere have to say for themselves.

Posted by Touring | June 22, 2007 2:45 PM

@8 - you're being facetious, right? oh good. Because lesbians who torture and kill people almost undoubtedly have very little in common with lesbians who don't. Duh.

Posted by call me a snot | June 22, 2007 3:08 PM

#9 Couldn't you say the same of heterosexual parents?

Posted by elswinger | June 22, 2007 3:56 PM

I"m officially gonna stop reading these.

Posted by Boomer in NYC | June 22, 2007 4:22 PM

@10- of course but it wasn't the het parents who were referenced by @8.

Posted by call me a snot | June 22, 2007 4:29 PM

From the article:

Authorities launched an investigation after being alerted by Florida officials that Clark was suspected of abducting her own daughter, of whom she didn't have custody, from Florida. The 2-year-old child was found at the home along with two other children who lived there....authorities found a missing 2-year-old Florida girl -- along with her mother, Candace Clark, her mother's boyfriend Michael Sisk and the couple's two other children.

The 2 year old girl had a mother and father. Well, a mother and mother's boyfriend. Who happen to torture and kill people.

I think the point is anyone can be terrible parents, no matter how many people you have of which genders. If everyone had to go through the rigorous screenings Dan went through before having to have a kid, there would be a lot more happy childhoods.

Posted by sepiolida | June 22, 2007 5:02 PM

Exactly. Don't you think Dan knows this? Don't you understand that this was the point he was originally trying to make? He was simply trying to underscore the ridiculousness of the religious right's argument that a child needs a mother and a father, because somehow male + female = automatic perfect parenting skills, with no regard for how damaging some hetero parents actually could be. He's mocking the idea that some religious leaders would seem to claim abusive hetero parents to be more fit to raise a child than the most stable, loving homosexual couple.

You can argue that his methods of proving heteros can be bad parents are brutal, or that they've gone on too long, or that he's preaching to the choir, or many other things. But you can't argue that he doesn't get that gay people should be able to parent as a matter of individual rights. Trust me. He gets it.

Posted by lymerae | June 22, 2007 9:51 PM

hmm. When I saw the article I was relieved that Dan and Shmader have gone to the trouble of collecting the 'Every Child' series, because the posted story is exactly the kind of statistical rarity that could be used to unfairly demonize gay parents.

I'm relieved that there is a public collection that speaks to the hypocrisy involved in denying gay parents and their children equal legal rights. It's probably an outrageous and upsetting collection because that's how it feels to experience discrimination. It is outrageous to claim that the gender of parents makes them dangerous to children. Gay parents are associated with scum by virtue of their sexual identity, every time it is asserted that the protection of children requires barring gay parents from the legal rights and responsibilities of parenthood.

It seems plausible that if the rampant abuse of children by their hetero parents goes ignored, those seeking to deny civil rights to gay parents and their kids, on the basis of lies, get to win a public relations victory in their crusade.

If it's too hard to read, don't read it. But know that it's there if you're ever stuck in small room with someone insisting that you believe their dangerous lies.

Posted by r | June 23, 2007 12:14 AM

Did you see CNN's reporting on this?

It does not mention the relationship aspect at all. I don't know if this does us good or the fact that it demeans us by not mentioning us at all.

Posted by David | June 23, 2007 8:01 AM

r- "Collecting" a "collection"? What? Yes, I supposed you can page through the Slog archives, searching for "pedophilia", "child rape", "child murder", etc. Really, the word "child" would probably do it, since the Slog seems to post nothing else about kids other than horrific tales of their torture and/or demise. But a "collection"? No. It's not even a "category archive" in the Slog archives.

But if you need annecdotal snuff stories to use against bigots, then Dan *should* make such an archive. It could be one of the tags under Columns on the Stranger page, right under "Drunk of the Week."

Then it wouldn't have to be in the Slog. From what I can tell, every single person who reads the Slog agrees w/ Dan on the subject of gay parenting. Every. Single. One. I applaud the times Dan has brought this subject up in Savage Love, because that *does* get to a larger audience. BUT HERE AT THE SLOG IT'S PREACHING TO THE CHOIR. How many fucking freak show annecdotes do you need for your hypothetical argument with a fundie bigot, anyhow?!? Is 10 enough? How about 20?

Posted by Big Sven | June 23, 2007 11:26 AM

This is just proof that homosexuals are the downfall of humanity and more importantly, the Holy North American Empire, God Bless Emperor George Bush II.

This child would still be alive if he had a mother and a father. I hope the "gay community" can live with themselves for what they've done to this poor boy. For shame, for shame.

Posted by Aexia | June 23, 2007 2:56 PM

Big Sven,

I feel like I should apologize to you, but I can't figure out exactly what I said to offend you. I did not intend to be offensive, though, and I don't intend any offense now.

But to try to answer your question, I'm not sure why there are political leaders who keep saying things like "every child needs a mother and father," and I don't know how many more times they need to be shown to be dangerous liars.

I'm not sure how or when the "Every Child..." series got started. I've previously applauded its ability to kick us in the head with remembrance that children are in serious danger in this country. In stories related to the posted story, there are allegations that a child protective agency waited four months to do anything once the other child was reported kidnapped. And the child was reported to be 'educationally' neglected - so it also kind of sounds like no one noticed when the kid didn't show up to school.

From my perspective, the series gets people outraged and could get people to take further action to stop the abuse of children. After paying attention to Slog, it would be hard to deny a thorough understanding of the apparent collapse of the child protective services system. People might call or write their elected super-majority representation and demand that they do something to stop Slog from reminding us that it is an ugly ugly world and something has to be done immediately.

So these digital monuments remind us of a lot. We're reminded we live in a medieval dark ages where people are segregated from equal rights due to sexual identity. We're reminded that we're being lied to by anyone who tries to claim that "a mother and a father" is so good for kids it's the only way. We're reminded that children suffer and die when the community would rather ignore their plight than confront what is happening.

It's not sleek like the Viet Nam War memorial, it's not cute like an endangered species, it's not peaceful like a melting iceberg. It actually can hurt to look at.

I'm just suggesting that if people are offended by the 'Every Child' posts, try getting the religious right to stop lying, and try asking our elected officials to do a better job creating and maintaining effective services to protect children.

I think it would help cut down on the frequency and severity of the "Every Child" posts.

Posted by r | June 23, 2007 4:56 PM

r- you didn't offend me, though I appreciate your offer of an apology. It seems like you and I agree that crimes against kids are particularly horrible. Where we disagree is on the efficacy of Dan (and others) posting story after story on the Slog about it.

Dan's stated purpose isn't child protective services reform- it's the propagation of the idea that gay parents aren't inherently bad. The Slog isn't the medium for that propagation because 100% of the readers agree w/ Dan and 0% disagree with Dan. As opposed to the general population. Which doesn't read the Slog.

I generally get my news from the Economist, the New Yorker, and NPR. I find broadcast TV and the PI/Times too sensationalistic, too corporate, and too focused on anecdotes. The Stranger and the Slog are my primary sources of local Seattle news.

Perhaps it's because I'm a parent of two young (6 and 9 year old) children, but I really believe that being exposed to horrific details of child sexual and physical abuse is unhealthy- it's unhealthy for me, it's unhealthy for Dan (particularly because he's a parent), it's unhealthy for most people. I admire social workers, who put up with that spiritual damage because they're doing a greater good.

But no great good is being accomplished on the slog on this issue- the meme that Dan is trying to implant was fully propagated in this audience long ago.

I think your point about getting people shocked to motivate action is valid, but the Slog doesn't generally discuss specific violent crimes between adults unless they take place here in Seattle- ditto abuse of old people, abuse of animals, etc.

Dan's gotta do what Dan's gotta do. I think he's an awesome writer, and a great editor of a fine weekly. And I find the level of discourse on the Slog much better than most blogs. But a little of my enthusiasm for Slog dies with each of these torture/snuff posts, and I am sad at the thought that if this continues, at some point in the future I'll just have to stop reading the Slog altogether.

Posted by Big Sven | June 24, 2007 3:21 AM

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