Monday, July 21, 2014

Horror Stories

It’s probably not the spooky supernatural variety to which he is referring but rather the slight-of-hand, illusion-based brand which tricks the audience into believing something happened or is happening but in reality it really isn’t… and never did… much like the ‘fish-to-men’ theory of evolution which is being thrust onto the innocent minds of a generation of victims of the worst form of child abuse to hit humanity.
PPSIMMONS "Science or Child Abuse? New Evolution Book Geared to Preschoolers Teaches Children They Evolved from Fish!"
About half a lifetime ago, I met a little boy. He was one of a number of siblings, few of whom shared a father. His mother loved babies. Toddlers, she was okay with. Children, she had no time for. When the father of her youngest child came to take his son for a while, she refused to allow him to take the child - unless he also took the little boy with him. Eventually, the state took her children, including the baby, away from her. She was, of course, remorseful, and promised, every time there was a family event, that she would come and spend time with the little boy. In the four -plus years that I knew the little boy, he became more acquainted with my mother, than I became with his. He met my mother once.

Around the same time, I met a little girl. She told me a story about how her neighbors shuttled her from house to house, via ground-floor windows and back doors, while her foster father tore up the neighborhood looking for her. He, you see, wanted to fool around a bit, and wasn't used to being denied. She told me this in the matter-of-fact way that a child might describe what had happened at school the day before. Enough time had passed that she was fuzzy on the details. By the time she related the story to me, it had been two, maybe three years since the events in question. When I met her, she wasn't yet nine.

Months pass. There are more children and more stories. One child was debated for intake. According to her case file, her mother, unemployed and desperate for money to supply her drug habit, sold the girl to men for sex. The reason her intake was debated was that the facility took in children from four to thirteen. The child wasn't quite old enough yet.

Three stories. Three out of I don't remember how many. Even at the time, several of them began to blend into an undifferentiated mass of pain, horror and sorrow. At first, I worked to be the a good clinician's assistant. I listened carefully, and was attentive to each child's tone, affect and body language. Once I had time, I would carefully write down what they had told me, and deliver it to the social workers, thinking that it would help in each child's therapy. I learned, fairly quickly, that these stories were well known. Those children who told them usually did so as a form of sympathy-seeking. All of the new people heard them. At first, I was too much the good clinician to respond emotionally. By the time I was able to set aside my clinical detachment, I was too jaded. When child-care workers from different facilities got together, a Misery Poker by Proxy game would nearly always ensue, with everyone vying to tell the most heart-rending story. The first time I encountered this phenomenon, I was horrified. The second time, I was sure I had a winning hand.

In a way, I envy this "PPSimmons" person. It must be nice, to live in a world where "the worst form of child abuse to hit humanity" consists of nothing more than teaching them that all terrestrial life evolved from creatures that lived in the oceans. I know of any number of children who would gladly live in a world where teaching them that the Genesis story is not literally true rates as the worst that adults would ever do to them. Even as an adult it seems immeasurably better than the world we have now, punctuated as it is with rare, horrific events that scar everyone they touch.

So I find myself hoping that they can stay in the world that their beliefs have created for them. The truth may set you free, but when it turns you out into the cold and dark, you realize that, sometimes, being set free isn't all it's cracked up to be.

P.S.: I get that PPSimmons is being intentionally hyperbolic - it would be ridiculous beyond all reason for him to suggest, say, that children be removed from their homes because a parent taught them evolution. And in a way, that's the issue. The casual belittling of horrific events simply so that he mock people with whom he has a sincere, but ultimately trivial, disagreement.

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