A horrific story in the Sydney Morning Herald: the headline “A prisoner of family and the state” sums it up perfectly. Kylie Fitter was just 15 when she helped her father and brother kill their mother. That makes her sound like a monster, but in fact she was pure victim.
Kylie, born three months premature, already remained to her parents fragile and vulnerable. Sheltered from life, she was an introverted girl with no friends, or self-esteem, and little ability to think for herself. Her mother waited on her. Her father filled her head with extreme Christian beliefs. He was domineering, passionate about his God and his family. … Both Kylie’s parents suffered abuse as children. Out of love for their children, they kept them close and fiercely protected. They moved a lot; there were several schools, and charismatic churches. By 13 Kylie was on Prozac. She left school at 14, a social misfit, believing she was stupid, and in isolation filled her days playing computer games. Her brother was spiralling into schizophrenia, hearing “demons’ voices” and becoming fixated on harming his mother.
Where in the hell, one wonders, was social services? But the state’s role gets worse. Kylie was locked up (but not convicted on the ground that she was mentally ill) after the killing, for an indefinite term. Three times now, (and soon to be a fourth) medical experts have said that her mental state is basically healthy, and she is no threat at all (if indeed, removed from her family, she ever was). She has a family that has informally adopted her, is studying for a university degree, and after that horrific beginning has some sort of hope of building a life for herself.
One thing stands in her way. Politics.
In NSW, the power to release a forensic patient lies with politicians, who are subject to lobbying and voter backlash. …effective power resides with the Minister Assisting the Health the Health Minister, Cherie Burton. … This year she rejected all six recommendations for conditional release, insisting on more conditions, and more information. … In 2000, the Government released on strict conditions 70 per cent of those recommended by the tribunal; last year it freed only 30 per cent.
There’s an election this year.Â The only hope might be that even in the increasingly rightwing, authoritarian Australia, the profound injustice here will lead to a change in the law, taking control out of the hands of politicians.
Meanwhile in Massachusetts, parents are suing a school for reading out a story in whichÂ two men – prince and prince (nice) – find each other and live happily ever after. This, remember, is in a state that allows gay marriage, so this is perfectly in line with societal norms.
The suit filed in the US District Court in Boston on Thursday alleges violations of the federal civil rights of the two sets of parents, David and Tonia Parker, and Rob and Robin Wirthlin. All are devout Judaeo-Christians.
“I was concerned that I had not broached this topic with my young child yet and I was concerned that the point of view that was being presented was different from our family’s personal moral values,” Robin Wirthlin told a news conference.
All the more reason for your child to be given an independent moral framework, to learn that however odd and twisted his or her homelife, there are other options. Otherwise that child might end up separated from the world, unable to function in it, just like poor Kylie. Your child is not your possession, to be shaped into a form you think is appropriate. They are an independent human being who can, and must, develop a mind of their own. Any other result is tragedy.