Free-Range Kids

Kid Was Too Hot in a Cold Car—Quick, Call the Cops

Rhode Island state senator proposes unnecessary punishments for imperfect parents.

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Dreamstime

Remember: Any law drawn up in haste on the heels of a tragedy, and/or following a breathless news report, and/or named for a child, and/or containing the word "angel" in its title will probably be a bad law. It will not be based on any kind of study or rational examination of a problem—or even based on a real problem at all. It will be based on emotion, fury, sadness, and a heaping helping of political puffery.

In the case we are looking at today, the trigger was the news report last week of a Rhode Island mom who left her baby in a "frigid car." Never mind the fact it was for so short a time that the baby was actually sweating, rather than freezing. And never mind we're talking about a 10-minute car-wait. The authorities still took the tot to the hospital for an evaluation.

In the wake of that news story, Rhode Island state Sen. Lou Raptakis proposed a law that would fine parents $1,000 and have them lose their drivers' licenses for three years—penalties drawn out of a hat, it seems to me—if they leave their kids under age 7 in the car (an age that seems drawn out of a hat, too).

This proposed legislation pays no heed to the fact that more children die in parking lots than in parked cars. Nor does it make room for circumstance, or parental judgment. Is it really better to drag triplet toddlers across a dark, icy parking lot to get the cough medicine? Is it really necessary to make a six-year-old go in with mom to pick up the pizza? Is it really a good idea to turn Rhode Island citizens into busybodies ready to report any imperfect parent to the police?

Oh, how we love to pound and pummel parents. Oh, how we love that for the children!" high. And oh, how we love to legislate the minutiae of daily life, as if micromanaging parents is the job we elected huffing, puffing state senators to do.

This piece originally ran under Robby Soave's byline. That was an error. Lenore Skenazy is the author of the piece.

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  1. Why do people keep electing busy body shitheads like this? Oh yeah, it’s because they themselves are busy body shitheads.

    1. So they deserve each other.

    2. We get the busy body shitheads other people deserve.

    3. People are dicks

      1. About half of them also have one.

    4. Because only busybody shitheads run for office.

      Because coercive monopolistic government has no place for any but busybody shitheads.

      Because “none of the above” was not an option.

      Because as long as coercive monopolistic government exists, it will tend towards controlling people, and if you don’t vote for controlling others, they will vote for controlling you, because there are no other choices.

    5. Hints :
      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Political_party_strength_in_Rhode_Island
      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Politics_of_Rhode_Island# Democratic_Era_.281930s-present.29

      Notice that it’s basically all Team Blue from 1930 on. If Team Blue’s ideas led to the utopia they imagined, Rhode Island would be paradise on earth. Unfortunately, it’s a high tax state with a stagnant economy that leaks residents and tax base like a sieve and a notoriously corrupt government. Probably nothing to do with effectively one-Team rule for 80+ years.

  2. In the wake of that news story, Rhode Island state Sen. Lou Raptakis proposed a law that would fine parents $1,000 and have them lose their drivers’ licenses for three years?penalties drawn out of a hat, it seems to me[…]

    Aren’t all penalties figured out arbitrarily?

    Is it really a good idea to turn Rhode Island citizens into busybodies ready to report any imperfect parent to the police?

    Isn’t all this legislation that purports to protect “children” intended instead to create a big and intrusive government that generates a more compliant and subservient population?

    1. Aren’t all penalties figured out arbitrarily?

      No, I’d say figuring out the boats took quite some thought.

      1. +1 the boats!!!!!!!

        I’ve long thought that the reflecting pool on the Washington DC mall would serve perfectly for that most appropriate punishment for government officials involved in prosecuting the war on drugs.

  3. If a person leaves a pet in the car in Rhode Island, under animal cruelty laws they could be jailed for a year and fined up to $1,000. But according to Raptakis, there’s currently no fine for doing the same thing to a child, which he said “makes no sense.”

    Mandatory heart worm shots for all children!

    1. Remember to spay and neuter your children!

  4. fFor the Children, Robbo?

    1. I thought his Welsh side was coming out for a moment.

  5. Remember: Any law drawn up in haste on the heels of a tragedy, and/or following a breathless news report, and/or named for a child, and/or containing the word “angel” in its title will probably be a bad law.

    What are laws with cutesy acronym names, chopped liver?

    1. Angel is Not Unix, Surely

      1. Angel is Not Nixon, Surely

  6. The authorities still took the tot to the hospital for an evaluation.

    Sounds like all we need are common sense laws against kidnapping.

    1. I actually not losing sleep over that. You don’t leave an 8 month old in the car to go to a fucking outlet mall. The more she was inconvenienced the better. Hopefully she had to pay for the check up.

      1. Outlet malls are evil. Everyone who goes to an outlet mall should be subjected to a mandatory health evaluation and forced to pay for it! You are so right! !!1!!1!!1!@#$&%ף’,

        1. I seriously lolled at the ‘?’.

      2. Yep. They should take away her license and make her pay a big fine. Then she’ll be even less able to take care of the kid. But that’s okay, CPS will take the child away from her and put it through some tortuous regulatory process so that the kid is traumatized for the rest of its life! That’ll show ’em who’s boss!! Er, that’ll fix the problem, for sure.

        1. Except ….that’s not what they did. They took the kid to the hospital for a check up and interrupted her day of shopping while her baby was alone in the car. Fuck that bitch

          1. Fourth? Fourth? Who needs a fourth amendment? Fuck that bitch, yeah!

          2. Being left in the car did no harm to the child or anyone else. The only harm here was done by the government, to both the mother and the child.

            Pretty silly response to behavior that no rational person would consider dangerous.

          3. And someone used the incident as an excuse to make a law that will make macsnafu’s post the result in any future such situations.

  7. Someone tell me if I’m missing something…

    I contend that placing someone at the mercy of law enforcement in this country is to do active harm to that person. I don’t care if we’re talking about a serial killer, there is a mathematics of harm here, and in the case of a killer, sure, we decide as a society that inflicting it is justified.

    But this woman and her child are now inconvenienced at best, subject to life-changing penalties at worst. Future cases will result in the parent not being legally able to drive to work to put food in her their children’s mouths. Am I wrong in thinking that nobody seems to care about applying proportionality and actually identifying the act of setting jackboots after people as doing them harm?

    Never call the cops is what I’m getting at. Not unless the child looks like it might be near death.

    1. Well, the slaver mentality is that if you make something illegal people will just magically stop doing it. So measuring the impact of the penalties is moot.

      You of all people should be familiar with this.

      1. You don’t understand me at all. I’m for the abolition of criminal punishment.

        1. I’m for the abortion of criminal punishment.

    2. Re: Tony the Marxian,

      Someone tell me if I’m missing something[…]

      Don’t say later that you didn’t open the door…

      Am I wrong in thinking that nobody seems to care about applying proportionality and actually identifying the act of setting jackboots after people as doing them harm?

      Are you placing proportionality and rationality above the life of childrunz? For shame!

    3. I contend that placing someone at the mercy of law enforcement in this country is to do active harm to that person.

      Yet you’ve never met a government program you didn’t like. You know what happens when someone doesn’t want to cooperate with a government program or objects to paying for it? They find themselves at the mercy of law enforcement. Want to see the face of someone who advocates for putting people at the mercy of law enforcement? Look in the mirror, Tony. Or take a selfie. It will last longer.

    4. No, you are pretty much right on with that, I think.

      What did you do with the regular Tony?

      1. This is Tony’s evil, I mean his good, twin.

  8. Um, how about not leaving your infants in the car?

    This is the hill you’re dying on?

    1. Because 6 year olds are infants.

      1. The kid in the story was 8 months old.

        1. And the law that the RI Senator is proposing covers what ages?

        2. The kid in the story was unharmed. Let’s not get distracted by age and forget the furor is over a hypothetical.

          1. Good Point, HoD.

  9. As someone who lives in Phoenix, I recognize that there should probably be a some sort of law against leaving tiny children who can’t open the doors or windows in the car by themselves for long periods of time.

    Naturally, a politician managed to take this sensible idea and turn it into a completely stupid law.

    Imagine that

  10. Was it somehow colder inside the car than outside it?

    If not, it seems to me that the mother is being punished for leaving the kid in a warmer place in lieu of carrying it through a colder place.

  11. Sweating during cold conditions is a leading cause of hypothermia. “You sweat, you die” Les Stroud.

  12. As a father of 3 young children, this is near and dear to my heart. The busybodies are out in full force here in south Florida.

    Now, to be fair, the sun is extremely hot down here and cars do get dangerously hot. And we have way more than our share of pedophiles and perverts. But dang, do some women have issues. And yes, it is almost uniformly women that stick their noses in.

    We had an “incident” outside of church last spring. A lady who fosters a couple of abused kids had the toddler asleep in her car as she talked with a couple of ladies on the sidewalk. Literally within arms reach of the car… with the windows open on a nice, 75 degree morning. One old lady who watches way, way too much Nancy Grace freaked out and started yelling at her. Said she was going to call the police and everything.

    People have absolutely lost their minds on this one. Forget “free-range”, even that situation had a few people drop caveats on their response: “Now, I’m not saying it is ever OK to leave a kid in the car, but….”.

    So here I am with three kids. Maybe the 3 year old falls asleep on the way to pick up pizza. Now I have to choose. Do I wake up the little one and drag all three into the store for 5 minutes, or do I leave them in the car watching a movie where I can see them through the glass storefront just a couple of dozen feet away? It really is crazy. Most fathers agree. Just not in front of our wives.

  13. This child fetishism has to end. It’s unhealthy – both for the subject AND object of the fetish.

    Just. Quit.

  14. “as if micromanaging parents is the job we elected huffing, puffing state senators to do.” it most certainly is the job a lot of people elected them to do

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