Across the pond, governmental agencies are targeting fathers in ever-more bizarre ways. Here
, 6/30/11) and here
, 7/5/11) are a couple of recent examples.
In the first, David Hawksworth is doing three months in Perth Prison in Scotland courtesy of Sheriff Richard Davidson. What's the normally mild-mannered Hawksworth doing there? According to Davidson he committed a crime the sheriff deemed "threatening" and (gasp!) "inappropriate."
It seems Hawksworth has been denied all access to his son, so, on the boy's eighth birthday, he placed 100 balloons outside his school. That, according to Davidson, constituted the crime of "harassment." Of whom? one wonders, but the sheriff didn't get into that.
Meanwhile, the activist organization New Fathers 4 Justice plans to protest the outrage of jailing a father for attempted celebration of his son's birthday.
"Whilst David is in Perth Prison, Blairgowrie Golf Club will also be targeted with direct action. Fathers' rights group New Fathers 4 Justice will close down arterial routes in Scotland ... after activist Dave Hawksworth was jailed for three months in Dundee last week.
"Dave crime (sic) was to place 100 balloons outside his sons (sic) school on his 8th birthday after being denied access for many years. He was told that he had no business at protesting at his course and clear off back to England, he has not had any direct contact with his son in 7 years."
The statement also claims that Tayside Police had given permission for Hawksworth to place the balloons outside the school.
Apparently the mother has denied Hawksworth access to his son for seven of the boy's eight years. If she's been punished in any way for that violation of his parental rights, it's not been publicized. My guess is that she's been given a pass on that.
So, in this case, total deprivation of contact between a boy and his father is acceptable behavior on the part of a mother, but placing balloons outside his school on the child's birthday is a crime. Letting the child know he's still there and thinking of him gets a father jail time.
Real Fathers For Justice chairman Mike Kelly said online, "It will come as no shock to those within the movement as to how this father has been treated by the authorities, lambasted, racially abused and then hung out to dry in prison alongside murderers and rapists. All he wants to be is a father to his kids."
Does it get any more outrageous? (Well, there was the Australian father who was jailed for sending his daughter a birthday card, but I won't go there.)
Meanwhile, farther south in Rochester, Kent, Ian Burrowes was recently informed by England's Child Support Agency that he owed £11,500 in back child support for his two grown daughters. Burrowes was stunned. He'd never known about the young ladies he was told he'd fathered.
On searching further, he learned that the mother of the girls was someone he'd never met and didn't know existed. He informed the CSA of that fact.
He then found photographs of them. They're black and he's white.
He spent two months trying to clear his name and traced a photograph on the internet of the now grown-up "children' – two women with thick afros.
He said: "I was stunned. I"m a pale, white guy with ginger hair and these women were black.
"It was obvious just by looking at us there was no way I could ever be their father.'
So he contacted the Child Support Agency whose representative did what any self-respecting bureaucrat would do; he/she got indignant and passed the buck.
When he rang up to protest his innocence and demand a DNA test, an advisor at the CSA told him: "It"s not for us to prove you"re guilty, it"s for you to prove you"re not.
"As far as we"re concerned you are the father and you need to pay.'
Notice that the folks at the CSA didn't do what any normal human being would have done. They didn't say, "Gee, you've got a point there. Let's see what we can do to fix this. After all, the real dad is out there somewhere." No, it was more on the order of "We made this mess, now you fix it. If you don't, we'll put you in jail. You're guilty until proven innocent."
And when I say it was CSA who made the mess, I'm just telling the truth.
DIY manager Ian was told the CSA had files listing his name, previous address and National Insurance number on their birth certificates alongside the mother, a woman named Darlene.
How'd that happen? How could CSA possibly have all his information when he had no connection to the woman or her kids? The answer? CSA put it there.
It seems that when Mom was filling out the requisite forms for the kids, she left out her National Insurance number. So somehow someone from CSA just filled in a number and that number happened to be Ian Burrowes's. Really, that's how these people operate.
Burrowes hired a soliciter and CSA backed down and even apologized, claiming he'd been the victim of an "unprecedented" error. Unprecedented? I doubt it.
But before all that, the whole foul-up caused consternation in the ranks of Burrowes's actual family who initially thought he'd been leading a double life.
He also faced questions from his own family, including his daughters Hazel, 22, and Kirsty, 20, over the claims.
He said: "They were concerned that I had been living this double life.
"It caused a lot of grief and made a lot of people doubt my integrity.'
In the minds of CSA functionaries, all that's taken care of by an apology.
Then of course there's the matter of the real dad. Where's he? Who is he? Why did his two daughters grow to adulthood without a father? Why will he ultimately be forced to pay a large lump sum of child support when he's been refused all access to and perhaps all knowledge of his own flesh and blood?
Those are questions the article doesn't ask. More to the point, I suspect they're questions the CSA neither asked nor cares about.