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NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

December 7th, 2011 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
If you suspected the anti-parental alienation forces were getting desperate, now you know for certain.  This article and the film it’s about are proof positive (The Quad, 12/5/11).

As reliable evidence of the reality of parental alienation grows and as more and more gets published about it including Dr. William Bernet’s recent book giving the current state of the scientific data on parental alienation and Parental Alienation Syndrome, their opponents more and more grasp at straws in an effort to debunk the concepts.

Of course there is an ongoing and lively debate within the mental health community about whether to include PAS in the upcoming Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.  About that I make no comment because I’m not qualified to render an opinion.  But whatever the outcome of that debate, at least it seems to be one of intellectual honesty and integrity.  Various scientists and clinicians have differing opinions.

But outside the community of mental health professionals, at least one side of the debate makes no pretense of intellectual honesty or integrity.  That’s the anti-dad crowd that claims to one and all that PA and PAS are nothing but pro-father schemes to deprive mothers of their children.  According to them, fathers who abuse their children are routinely given custody of them by going to court and claiming that the mother is alienating the children from the dad.

It’s a measure of the intellectual dishonesty of that movement that even a cursory reading of the literature on PAS makes it clear that it’s simply not gender-specific behavior.  Some mothers do it; some fathers do it.  But you’d never know that from the mutterings of the anti-dad, anti-PAS zealots.

Now, throughout the entire history of this effort to turn back fathers’ rights to their children, the anti-PAS crowd has named countless cases in which they claim abusive fathers have gotten custody by duping courts into believing a mother has alienated a child.  The problem is that, in almost all of them, the claim is bogus as proven by court documents.

Has it happened that an abusive father got custody?  I suppose it must be possible.  After all, with over one million divorces in this country every year, it’s just not logical that judges don’t err in some of them.  Indeed, they err on the anti-father side with considerable frequency, so they probably sometimes get it wrong the other way as well.  It’s one of the wort aspects of the anti-father movement that it never notices abusive mothers with custody of their children.

In the Holly Collins case, however, the courts got it right.  Nevertheless, that’s the one the linked-to article and the film rely on to make their point.  The article presents Holly Collins the same way the anti-dad crowd presents most mothers; it assumes everything she says is true.  There’s a problem with that when it comes to Holly Collins.  As countless judges, custody evaluators, guardians ad litem, doctors, mental health professionals and her own mother, brother and sister make clear, Holly Collins looks very much like an inveterate liar.

To give a full idea of the extremes to which Collins and her supporters go, check out this link.  It’s the analysis Glenn Sacks reprised two years ago of the entire Holly Collins case.  It’s 13,000 words and totally destroys any claim that Holly Collins or her children were abused by their father Mark Collins.  Read what Glenn wrote and it becomes clear that Holly Collins utterly lacks credibility.

That of course is what all seven judges that considered the case found, and that is why they gave Mark Collins custody of his two children.  Holly’s subsequent kidnapping of the children was in fact a continuing act of parental alienation, but to the true believers in the anti-dad crowd, it’s an act of heroism.

I can’t begin to relate the Collins case in detail, but do yourself one favor; read the linked-to article and then read Glenn’s evisceration of Holly Collins’s claims.  The contrast between intellectual dishonesty on one hand and honesty, openness and integrity on the other is astonishing.

The article in the Boston University publication gets it wrong almost from start to finish.  Essentially all its claims have either been proven wrong before or are so flagrantly at odds with the truth you’d think no one would bother to make them.  For example, it quotes the maker of the film, Professor Garland Waller thus:

Professor Waller also cited the lingering gender bias in the family courts. “Courts do not have to consider domestic violence in their rulings,” she said.

No, actually they do.  In fact, the family laws of all 50 states explicitly require judges to consider domestic violence in deciding custody.  Into the bargain, so do the family laws of all the English-speaking nations on the planet.  It’s a good indication of the level of intellectual honesty of the anti-PAS, anti-dad crowd that they make such patently false claims.

But Waller wasn’t finished.

“After a nice review [of the film] in a Boston Magazine blog, many pro-father’s rights men were highly critical,” she explained, but “none of them had seen the film and none of them had access to all the thousands of pages of legal documents and medical records and correspondence from experts and FBI documents that we had.”

Again, that’s just flat not true.  Anyone who’d like to take two minutes out of her busy day could go to Glenn’s analysis of the Holly Collins case and find all the court documents right there.  Could it be that Waller is so intellectually lazy that she hasn’t done that simple exercise?  Or has she looked at Glenn’s blog and chosen to lie about it?  I can’t begin to guess, but either way it’s about as shoddy a way of dealing with an issue as you can get.

My main point though is less the well-documented dishonesty of the anti-dad crowd than its desperation.  Face it, when all they can come up with is a film that uses a thoroughly debunked, case from 20 years ago in which a mother wrongfully kidnapped her children to keep them from a father whom medical doctors and psychologists alike testified was a better influence on them than Holly Collins, there’s only one word to describe it – desperation.

On one point, I must agree with Waller, however.

Professor Waller concluded. “I want to live in an America that protects the children.”

So do I.  And, contrary to her many misrepresentations, that means recognition of parental alienation when it occurs.  It means taking children away from parents who alienate them from other parents who are fit to care for them.  The bottom line is this: children need both parents in their lives as long as both can adequately care for them.  Some like Garland Waller oppose that concept, preferring to allow parental alienators to get away with their abuse of children, as long as those parents are mothers.

That’s not desperate, it’s just plain wrong.

Thanks to Don for the heads-up.

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