Free-Range Kids

Video: Mike Tang, The Dad Convicted for Making Son Walk a Mile, Responds to Critics

Who decides how we parent?

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Tang
Reason TV

Recently, Reason TV interviewed Mike Tang, the dad sentenced to 56 days' labor for making his son walk home a mile to teach him not to slack off on his homework. Some readers have asked if there's a way to contribute to Mike's defense fund. Here is what he wrote to me:

Thanks. I am at this point, refusing a lawyer, and all donations. It's not a matter of how much the fine is, or the cost of the lawyer, as much as the notion that it shouldn't come to this.

If the fine was 2 cents and 10 minutes of community service, I still would not pay it. If all Americans had to hire a lawyer to defend each little parenting decision such as spanking or forcing a kid to clean up his room, there would be no victory for the parents, only for lawyers.

If I can show the cops and county that I can win (or die trying) without a lawyer, perhaps that might knock some sense into them next time they try to pull something like this.

–Mike

P.S. Another thing I'd like to address, if I could, to the many people who ask: "Well, what would he feel if something DID happen to the kid?" My response would be:

"I'd be just as sorry and remorseful as if I drove him somewhere and got in a car accident, or if I dropped him off at school and he was injured at a school shooting. But that certainly doesn't make driving him in a car or dropping him off at school dangerous or illegal."

Whatever anyone thinks of Mike's approach or demeanor, that last point is really well taken. Simply because some rare and unpredictable tragedy could happen literally anytime, any place, that doesn't mean a parent is wrong to trust the overwhelming odds that everything will be okay. This something-bad-could-happen rationale is exactly what killed the Free-Range Kids Bill of Rights in Arkansas about a week ago.

Moreover, the feisty father makes another great point saying that if our parenting decisions can be second guessed—and litigated—simply because they're not popular, none of us is free to raise our kids the way we see fit. In the absence of immediate, egregious and statistically likely danger (which we do want to protect kids from), who decides how we parent? It shouldn't be the cops or the courts.

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  1. If I can show the cops and county that I can win (or die trying) without a lawyer, perhaps that might knock some sense into them next time they try to pull something like this.

    Nope.

    1. Without a lawyer, yet. Is there anything this asshole thinks he CAN’T do?

      1. That kid’s haircut is a crime.

  2. From the age of eight or so, I used to walk a couple miles just to go fishing.

    Sometimes stuff did happen!

    I got picked on by bullies, got into a fight. Got a hook stuck in my thumb. Fell out of a tree. Dealt with stray dogs, etc. Ran away from the fuzz looking to see if I had a fishing license, etc.

    One time, somebody ran me over. I woke up lying in the middle of the road, not remembering how I got there. But there was this crying lady standing over me. She asked me where I lived so she could take me home. That was when I saw all the blood all over me. They took me to the hospital and gave me a bunch of stitches.

    When bad things happen, you learn how to deal with bad things happening.

    Incidentally, if it were me at that age, and my dad made me walk a mile home like that? I might have walked somewhere other than home just to teach him a lesson. Two can play that game!

    I was an ornery kid.

    Anyway, something bad did happen to this kid. The police went and arrested his dad for no good reason. I bet the kid would rather have had to deal with bullies or something–rather than have the cops come and bully his dad.

    1. My entire youth we walked or rode our bikes farther than that on a regular basis. Throughout elementary and middle school I walked roughly a mile to swim practice every summer morning at 5:45 am. And I also ran into bullies and other bad situations. But c’mon. A mile? An 8 year old should be able to jog that in close to 10 minutes.

      Heck, I rode my bike 20 miles in the “bike-a-thon” in second grade – no parents helicoptering during that one. And that was a year younger than this kid.

      These people have lost their minds.

      1. LETTING your kid walk home alone at night and FORCING them to do so are two different things. Have no sympathy for the guy.

        1. I hate to see how your kids turn out.

          1. Probably a lot like yours, only beautiful and successful.

        2. Check out safety Bob over here.

          Bet he makes his kids wear helmets when they go ice skating. And I bet he says “inappropriate” all the time.

          1. Problematic is likely another fave for him. His kid will likely major in douchebaggery or gender studies whichever is less employable.

        3. “LETTING your kid walk home alone at night and FORCING them to do so are two different things.”

          Well that law got involved for child endangerment. Can you all humor us and explain how it is more dangerous to walk home when ordered to by a parent than it is to do so voluntarily? If you can’t then reasonable people might be left to conclude that you simply wish to use the law as a spiteful weapon against people who have parenting styles you find icky. Others might draw the obvious conclusion that you are a bad person who is wasting all of our oxygen.

    2. That’s a good point. Even if a bad thing happens, kids aren’t stupid or useless and you learn a lot about how to get by in the world if you have to deal with some kind of crisis yourself.

    3. I don’t know how old you are but I do think that most people born in the 50’s and 60’s grew up this way. I was born in 58. I lived in suburban Kansas City until I was 11 when we moved to south Alabama. Either place there were hours and hours where my parents only had a vague idea where I was. I was usually with a pack of kids on bikes doin’ whatever.

      Being free as a kid is a generational phenomena. There was a time when this was normal, now the parents/kids have to fight for some semblance of freedom.

      1. “Be back before sundown” was every kid’s rule.

        In our neighborhood, different moms had distinctive bells. They were really loud. One of the used a triangle like they used to in the cowboy movies. That’s because they didn’t know where you were or what you were doing. But if they were going somewhere, they’d tell you to stay within “earshot”, which with some of those bells was a long way away.

        And I wasn’t rural really. This was halfway between Baltimore and Washington DC.

        1. This was my experience as well.

          You’d get in trouble for not coming when called. But only minor league trouble.

          These guys are acting like it is a matter of national security if the kid isn’t encased in bubble wrap and under constant surveillance.

    4. I’d bet the opposite. His dad is a bully who thinks just because he can bully his kid, he can do the same with the cops. He picked the wrong set of bullies to bully. I just can’t get outraged or feel much sympathy for someone who’s clearly an insufferable prick.

      1. If we could throw people in jail for being jerks, you’d be in a prison cell, too. Be careful what you ask for!

  3. A cop/witness said he wouldn’t let his 20 yr old daughter walk home? If the place is that dangerous, the cops aren’t doing their job.

    100 yrs ago, when I was in junior high, the county decided it would not provide bus service for children living less than 2 miles from the school. I wonder if that’s still the policy in 2017 — I mean, how would kids get to school today without a bus or a parent with time to drive them there? Walk? Bicycle? That’s crazy talk.

    1. The cop is of course a retard. My college was in a shithole in a dilapidated rust belt town, and I walked around alone for hours in the worst hours of the night when I couldn’t sleep, and I’m basically a midget, and after 4 years of it I didn’t even get mugged. I was practically trying to get mugged. But nope.

      Cops depend for their jobs on the idea that it’s a jungle just outside your doorstep. The last thing they want is people reconsidering whenever we need so many of them.

    2. If the place is that dangerous, the cops aren’t doing their job.

      Of course they’re not doing their job, when people like you are trying to handcuff their ability to arrest dangerous actors like Mike Tang.

    3. That cop is an idiot aiming to justify this crap.

      Same here. Used to walk 1.5km to school.

      Jesus what bunch of fucking, hysterical nanny pussies we are in North America.

      MIND YOUR FUCKEN BUSINESS.

    4. I was right on the line when they made a policy like that. So they moved the bus stop 100 yards up the street. I think I didn’t walk because my parents didn’t want to get up an hour earlier.

  4. Wait, he made him walk a mile? Awhole mile?

    1. As I mentioned here the other day, that equates to 20 to 30 minutes for an 8 yr old. Horrible.

    2. Not even, it was just a skim mile.

    3. That’s 5280 feet brah, think about it.

  5. I like the father’s response to the following question:
    “?to the many people who ask: “Well, what would he feel if something DID happen to the kid?” My response would be:?”
    This may be pedantic but the use of the word “feel” in the above type of question is the wrong word and way of thinking but indicative of our current society. It is used to suggest that that the person would come to a different conclusion if it happened to the respondent and that feelings and what is better for me at the moment should be the main consideration when coming to a decision.

    1. I’m old enough to remember that the gun control folks, when Reagan was shot, thought, “well, now that HE’S been at the wrong end of a gun, perhaps he’ll change his views on gun control.”

      IOW, they thought his views on gun control were as squishy and emotional as their views. Perish the thought that his views would remain the same — i.e. that his stance was based on emotion rather than a rational result of intellectual consideration.

      1. By the same logic every white person who gets mugged or carjacked by a black person ought to reconsider racism.

    2. What would he feel if someone grabbed his kid right off the front porch? Sure, many a father would feel guilty about letting the kid out of the house; when something bad happens it’s probably natural for a parent to regret they ever let their kid out of the womb. But that hardly justifies making it illegal to let your child go unsupervised onto the front porch.

  6. I suspect bias towards men/fathers. I found it interesting that the piece points to studies supporting that others make judgements on the father (parent) and not on the danger to the child and then you review the comments on the Free Range Kids blog and they contain a bunch of comments passing judgement on the father! Anyone who has been in the (anti) family court recognizes that “the best interest of the child” isn’t being looked at, it is the actions of the father which are placed under (negative) scrutiny. I expect if this were the mother (and why isn’t she charged with neglect for allowing it?) an offer of a suspended sentence and “don’t do it again” would have been the outcome.

    1. I suspect Mrs. Tang is a submissive little thing who does exactly what Mike Tang says and thinks his word is law. But, yes, I agree she’s complicit anyway and should be charged with neglect. The real thing he’s going to jail for is writing “Fuck you” several times on the summons. Yup, there’s a guy who should be giving “life lessons”.

  7. Punishing your child in public is always a good idea.

    1. Used to be, parents would bring their spawn to supermarkets to beat them…

      I miss the sound of their screams.

      1. The humiliation is part of the process.

  8. Man, this whole time I thought the little one with the bad haircut was the kid.

  9. When I was eight I had a full-time job working alongside my four brothers breaking stone in a rock quarry, and that as after we finished our chores on the farm (Sure, we had jobs, but the farm still needed tending). The quarry was six miles from our home, and since we only had one bike to share, we took turns riding that bike once a week. Wow, what a day that was! Sure, on occasion while walking back to the farm we would get into scrapes with other boys, local gangs, coyotes, wolves, packs of feral dogs, and homicidal rabbits, but it was all part of growing up in that part of the world. And when our father wanted to punish us, he loaded the entire family into the wagon, brought us into town and chained us to a bench in the square, where he paid strangers up to four shillings to teach us life’s lessons with their fists, feet, elbows, teeth, and penis’, while the other members of the family shined shoes. You know, that may seem a little over the top now, but trust me, we learned a lot about the real world.

    I wouldn’t have traded it for the moon.

    1. where he paid strangers up to four shillings to teach us life’s lessons with their fists, feet, elbows, teeth, and penis

      To this day, the surest way to trigger Crusty is with a mushroom stamp.

    2. The Aristocrats?

    3. You had a bike?

      Luxury!

      When I was a kid, we had to get up at 2 am, a half-hour before we went to bed.

    4. Thomas Pynchon, is that you?

  10. . . . homicidal rabbits . . .

    Jimmy Carter?

    1. Can’t have a 3yr old peeing the hospital bed.

      1. Seriously:

        “One cop held my penis, and a doctor shoved a catheter in me

        Holy crow!

        1. Gayyyyyy

        2. Hey, the ACLU wrote a letter about it.

          A letter.

          So don’t worry. This has been handled.

    2. In Sparks’ case, the doctor who oversaw the procedure, Peter Maningas, is also a reserve officer for the Pierre Police Department and is a member of the department’s SWAT team, according to court records.

      Probably the only doctor they could find to overlook his own ethics to perform an elective medical procedure against consent.

    3. That’s what happens when you let them walk home.

  11. The Tax March: Thousands protest around the country; call on President Trump to release his taxes

    The Middle-East burns, North Korea rattles its surprisingly big saber, it’s playoff season, and these desperate dweebs are waging a war on tax returns.

    1. yet they don’t bat an eye at the Clinton Foundation

      1. And they’re mystified why more young people don’t get involved.

  12. Interesting case where I live. Woman’s 13 year old daughter kept sneaking out of the house to meet up with 20+ boyfriend. After several episodes the mother spanked her daughter who immediately notified child services. Child services took the girl and did an investigation after which they made the parents come in and proceeded to tell the parents how they had to raise their daughter. The mother stood up and told them if you want to make the rules for her upbringing then you raise her and promptly walked out. It took 6 months and a court fight for Child services to make them take her back. The learned a valuable lesson. Child services learned nothing.

    1. +1 The Ransom of Red Chief

      “The Ransom of Red Chief” is a 1910 short story by O. Henry first published in The Saturday Evening Post. It follows two men who kidnap and attempt to ransom a wealthy Alabaman’s son; eventually, the men are driven crazy by the boy’s spoiled and hyperactive behavior, and end up having to pay the boy’s father to take him back.

    2. Simplybe, you sure that wasn’t a porn movie?

    1. Shouting “he’s got a gun!” would be one way of ensuring a comfortable seat on the subway as the queues disintegrate and people flee.

      1. Hey, whenever I want to jump to the front of the line at Subway I shout ‘allahu akhbar.’ Unfortunately the employees run away too so I end up havibg to make my own sandwich.

      2. There’s an Oliver Wendell Holmes quote for that.

  13. With Le Pen threatening in the polls, 500K French expats dependent on continued EU membership get two absentee ballots due to “computer error”.

    1. Hah, when I read your comment, my first thought was that 500,000 people got 2 ballots among all of them, not each.

      “Chip your pets” has other connotations around here, but I assume you meant it that way.

  14. Convicted?????

    Is the jury insane? Did they never hear of jury nullification?

    1. It was all millennials. When they read the verdict, they said, “not ok”

  15. If I can show the cops and county that I can win (or die trying) without a lawyer, perhaps that might knock some sense into them

    Why do you hate lawyers, Mike? WHY?!

  16. I just began eight weeks past and i have become four check for an entire of $4,15000…this is the best call I made in quite a while! “Much obliged to you for giving American express this unprecedented opportunity to make more cash from home. This further cash has adjusted my life in such a lot of courses in which, bestow you!”…….GOOD LUCK Click this snap
    this connection -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= http://www.net.pro70.com

  17. I just began eight weeks past and i have become four check for an entire of $4,15000…this is the best call I made in quite a while! “Much obliged to you for giving American express this unprecedented opportunity to make more cash from home. This further cash has adjusted my life in such a lot of courses in which, bestow you!”…….GOOD LUCK Click this snap
    this connection -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= http://www.net.pro70.com

  18. This country is DOOMED. Yesterday, 4/15 “tax day”, there were protests. Protests about how high taxes are? Protest about how unfair taxes are? Protests that federal spending is so hight that taxes come nowhere near covering expenditures? Protests that 6-figure government pensions are further bankrupting the system?

    Don’t be silly. The protesters were demanding that Trump release his tax returns. Doomed, I tell ya, DOOMED.

  19. Two punchable faces, amiright?

  20. This sure is stupid, but at least he’s sticking it to the man by refusing donations.

    1. I’m not a regular Reason reader, so I wonder: Does Reason latch onto any story where some Joe Blow seems to be asserting his individuality or sticking it to the man? Do all instances of “don’t tread on me” get its righteous organ tingling?

      1. Yes. because Liberty in this country is long dead, you kind of have to latch on to whatever you can. Basically we’re just fighting over crumbs now.

  21. Probably one of the true unsolvables: how much authority should Authority have over parents? Obviously, some or even a lot. I think that if we see a parent clearly abusing his child — which includes shaming him — we’d be in the rights to stop him. On the other side is Dr. Thomas Gordon of Parent Effectiveness Training fame (“I” messages; active listening; the “no-lose” approach), which wants parents to basically negotiate all conflicts with the child and effect no punishments. (Example, where the child doesn’t want to wear her “ugly” raincoat in the rain. Parent: “So you have a need not to be embarrassed by being seen in an ugly raincoat, while I have a need not to get a doctor’s bill when you get sick. Let’s work this out.”) While I think Gordon is primarily (and theoretically) right, it can’t work in all cases. Essentially, we’re stuck in an abortion debate-type limbo.

    1. “Probably one of the true unsolvables: how much authority should Authority have over parents? Obviously…”

      With respect to parenting, very little, and this situation does not come remotely close to the intervention point, not even close.

    2. “While I think Gordon is primarily (and theoretically) right, it can’t work in all cases. ”

      If by all you mean any, then we’re in agreement.

  22. My parents left heroin needles and feces all over the house until The Man came and took them away. Fuck the pigs!

    1. Progressives are so empathetic and respectful of other people’s life choices.

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