Monday, January 29, 2007

"Left" is right, again

While Montana Headlines hasn't done a comprehensive enough review of the current session's legislation to agree that Rep. Mike Lange's parental rights bill is The Worst Bill of This Session, Left in the West (along with the Billings Gazette editors) is right that the bill is a non-starter.

While Rep. Lange's concerns for parental rights are to be commended, one finds it hard to believe that anyone who has had any kind of exposure to the real-world reasons why children are in foster care would come up with a bill like this. One wonders how many foster parents the bill's sponsors interviewed in the process of preparing it.

In some states, social services departments are intrusive, bullying, and overfunded. But not in Montana, as far as can be seen.

The only conceivable reason for such a bill would be if there were evidence that a particular religious upbringing itself was being used as evidence for abuse or neglect. No such evidence is being offered -- and even if there are individual cases where the state has acted with a high hand toward parents whose children are being taken away, the proper redress is through providing legal assistance to the wronged parents.

A legislative (let alone constitutional) solution would only be in order after a pattern of governmental abuse has been clearly established. Unless Lange and other bill supporters can establish such a pattern, this bill deserves to die a quiet death.

If this is an attempt at "wedge issue" politics, then it isn't a very well-conceived one.