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Speaking of Asylum for Converts to Christianity:

The Orlando Sentinel writes:

The girl, who turned 17 on Monday, is at the center of a custody dispute in Orlando, where she sought help from a family she barely knew — a pastor and his wife [the Lorenzes] willing to take in a teen who feared her own [Muslim] family's retribution because she converted to Christianity....

The girl appeared before a crowded courtroom full of lawyers and spectators on Monday when an Orange Circuit Court Judge ordered her into Department of Children and Families emergency custody....

Her dispute with her family became news several weeks ago when the girl ran away from her home in Columbus, Ohio.... The teen told the Lorenzes she feared her family would hurt her, kill her or send her back to Sri Lanka, Beverly Lorenz said....

Reached by a Sentinel reporter by phone, the girl's mother said little. "Yes, of course" her daughter would be safe should a judge eventually order her back there, she said.

And her father would not harm his daughter if she wanted to be a Christian, the woman said....

More here:

An attorney representing the girl's mother said the parents were allowing Bary to explore her Christianity. The parents claimed that their daughter was not afraid until she made contact with Pastor Blake Lorenz in Orlando....

It seems to me the law is clear: If a judge finds that there is real danger of serious violence from the parents — whether stemming from religious tensions or anything else — then the minor may indeed be placed into state custody and from there into a foster home. Naturally a judge can't just presume this based on generalizations about Islamic attitudes towards apostasy: There would have to be credible evidence of specific threats, or actual instances of physical abuse, and the judge would presumably listen to the child, the parents, and any other witnesses, and decide, difficult as the she said/they said factual question might be.

Thanks to Religion Clause for the pointer.

DennisN (mail):
What does FL Family Law have to say about the child's choice? The kid can legally leave home at 18. There is little to be gained by forcing a 17 year old to remain in a dubious situation for a few months, and would arguably be against the better interests of the child.

Given the "newspaper facts," if I were that kid, I'd be out the window and over the fence so fast it woulds make your head spin.
8.12.2009 9:17am
Cornellian (mail):
In this country, teenagers run away from home for a lot less than the threat of being sent to Sri Lanka.
8.12.2009 9:50am
geokstr (mail):

"Reached by a Sentinel reporter by phone, the girl's mother said little. "Yes, of course" her daughter would be safe should a judge eventually order her back there, she said.

And her father would not harm his daughter if she wanted to be a Christian, the woman said...."

Yeah right.

Funny there's nothing being heard directly from dad, since it is generally the father who does the "honor" killing in the family.

And once she's dead, media reports will totally drop any reference to this being an "honor" killing, or related in any way to Islam, or a pretty common occurrence in other parts of the worls, just another (ho-hum) child abuse story, with a typical male misogynist being the perp.
8.12.2009 9:51am
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Does Florida law allow for the judicial emancipation of minors? That would seem the easiest way out, here. (Of course, the easiest is not always the best; don't know whether that's the case here.)
8.12.2009 10:03am
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Answering my own question, here's a brochure [pdf] on the subject, from a Florida legal aid organization. Here's the text of the statute (scroll down to 743.015).

Looks like it has to be filed by the natural or legal guardian, or, if there is none, by a guardian ad litem. So looks like the judge would first have to find a reason to appoint a separate legal guardian from the parents. (What's the point of having a judicial emancipation procedure which requires parental permission?)

Beyond that, the minor basically needs to show she has decent character and judgment, is not on public assistance, and has a plan for meeting her food and shelter needs.
8.12.2009 10:12am
Daniel San:
If we assume that there actually is some actual harm or threat of harm, it seems very unlikely that placement will be in the home that the daughter ran away to. Furthermore, in a social services case, the parents are still entitled to input (maybe conclusive input) regarding the child's religious upbringing. But yes, that all gets a bit more bizarre when the child is 17 years old.
8.12.2009 10:35am
Anononymous314:
"Naturally a judge can't just presume this based on generalizations about Islamic attitudes towards apostasy."

This seems to be a dubious assertion. Islamic law provides only one penalty for conversion outside of Islam, and that is death. It should be presumed that, due to the risk to human life involved, expressed fear of a child that they will be murdered by their Muslim parents for apostasy should be taken at face value. Honor killings are well known among Muslims, and when one expressed the fear of imminent death at the hands of adherents to Islam, this should be taken extremely seriously, in and of itself.
8.12.2009 11:12am
Smooth, Like a Rhapsody (mail):
Emancipation in my state is not available unless the minor is either (legally) married or self-supporting. It is not available to cirumvent custody decisions.

Detention of a child (again, in my state) only requires probable cause to believe that the child's health or well-being is in imminent peril. Then a full trial is scheduled to determine the services, if any, the child needs; for that hearing the burden rises to preponderance.

The minister's family should try to establish a temp guardianship asap.
8.12.2009 11:39am
PeteP:
Why do you not mention what religion she is converting FROM ? I know of only one where leaving it puts you in harms way from your own family.



Why don't you name it ? Why the dance ?



[Uh-oh -- I hadn't even realized I'd edited it out of the original quote; I've revised the post accordingly, so thanks for the heads up. But note that the original post did mention, later in the text, that "a judge can't just presume [risk to the child] based on generalizations about Islamic attitudes towards apostasy," which hardly left the parents' religion a secret. -EV]
8.12.2009 12:18pm
DennisN (mail):
Smooth, Like a Rhapsody:

The minister's family should try to establish a temp guardianship asap.


I'd rather place the girl on neutral ground.
8.12.2009 12:29pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Anononymous314: In the American legal system, people's guilt or likely guilt can't be inferred based on the beliefs of some of their coreligionists -- whether they're Muslim, Orthodox Jewish, fundamentalist Christian, atheist, or what have you -- or based on statements in their holy writings.
8.12.2009 12:42pm
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
Separate from the "asylum from religious persecution" issue, this raises, in interesting (and provocative, but not in a good way) ways, the general issue of what the state should and shouldn't do to enforce parental "dominion" over nearly-adult children, an issue which comes up frequently in much more mundane contexts.

I know that there are a number of private "boot camps" intended to address the issues of "troubled teens". At least some have explicitly religious overtones. The ones I know about most instead mostly have at least a patina of medical/psychiatric authority, which serves to help them do the things which concern me below.

Some such places provide for "assistance" in procuring the teen's presence at such camps, which are often located quite remotely.

While there's clearly no "fear of persecution to death" involved in such contexts (whether or not the fear in the Orlando case was or wasn't well-founded) there's clearly a well-founded fear of at least involuntary confinement and unpleasant coercion.


At what level, short of actual adulthood, should children have some standing to object to such treatment? How?


r gould-saltman
8.12.2009 12:44pm
pete (mail) (www):
<blockquote>
Why do you not mention what religion she is converting FROM ? I know of only one where leaving it puts you in harms way from your own family.
</blockquote>

You might want to hold back on the outrage and read the post again.

<blockquote>
Naturally a judge can't just presume this based on generalizations about Islamic attitudes towards apostasy:
</blockquote>
8.12.2009 12:46pm
Smooth, Like a Rhapsody (mail):
Dennis

I was operating under the assumptions that:

1. The minister's family is not objectionable to a neutral observer; and that,
2. The minister's family is not a licensed placement in that jurisdition, which would disqualify them as a potential placement if CPS takes wardship.
8.12.2009 12:47pm
Monty:
Assuming she continues her opposition to returning home, and presuming she doesn't just escape from the emergency custody; What are the odds that this case is resolved before she ages out at 18? I mean is it likely that even the initial case, which will be extremely contentious will be resolved in time? Through in a stay pending appeal, and by the time the case is resolved the whole thing will be moot.
8.12.2009 12:56pm
Ken Arromdee:
I was operating under the assumptions that:

1. The minister's family is not objectionable to a neutral observer;


The article says that the minister is from the "Global Revolution Church", which does sound a little strange, although normal churches can have such names too.
8.12.2009 1:48pm
DennisN (mail):
Smooth, Like a Rhapsody (mail):

I was operating under the assumptions that:

1. The minister's family is not objectionable to a neutral observer; and that,
2. The minister's family is not a licensed placement in that jurisdition, which would disqualify them as a potential placement if CPS takes wardship.


My mistake. I thought you were suggesting the minister as a potential foster parent.


R Gould-Saltman:

At what level, short of actual adulthood, should children have some standing to object to such treatment? How?


When the child is mature enough to make a reasoned argument in his own behalf. I'm not saying the child's judgement in that case should govern, but it should at least be listened to. In the case at hand, I would think the child's reasoned testimony that she considers herself to be in significant danger, would carry a lot of weight.
8.12.2009 2:18pm
mischief:

In the American legal system, people's guilt or likely guilt can't be inferred based on the beliefs of some of their coreligionists -- whether they're Muslim, Orthodox Jewish, fundamentalist Christian, atheist, or what have you -- or based on statements in their holy writings.


Guilt? They're not even being charged with anything.

We're discussing danger.
8.12.2009 4:45pm
Sarcastro (www):
mischief's point is why I always run for the water whenever I find out someone is Buddhist. There's real danger they might light themselves on fire since that one guy did. I mean members of the same religion all follow the same laws, right? Cause if there is anything that is monolithic and without disagreement, it is a religion.

Unless they're the kung-fu type Buddhist. Then you just kiss your ass goodbye.
8.12.2009 5:13pm
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
Sez Dennis N.:

"When the child is mature enough to make a reasoned argument in his own behalf. I'm not saying the child's judgement in that case should govern, but it should at least be listened to. In the case at hand, I would think the child's reasoned testimony that she considers herself to be in significant danger, would carry a lot of weight."

a fairly good description of the standard which gets applied, at least where I practice, where the disagreement BETWEEN THE PARENTS has brought the issue to the attention of the state, because someone's filed some sort of action for a custody order.

ABSENT disagreement of the parents, or the unusual facts in the original post, however, the current rules in the U.S. do NOT much accommodate the objections of children to things their parents AGREE should happen to them.

So if you have an intact marriage, or good relationship with the other parent, you can impose your (joint collective) will on your almost-grown kid in a BUNCHA ways which you won't be able to, once someone's sought some sort of judicial decision or intervention. It seems oddly arbitrary that the consideration of the child's preference
may rise or fall with how well his parents get along.

r. gould-saltman
8.12.2009 6:37pm
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
BTW,does anyone out there reading have any substantial demographic knowledge of the Muslim community in Sri Lanka? Muslims are IIRC a minority in Sri Lanka (like maybe 10%?); the majority of the country is, I believe, Buddhist or Hindu.

I've got no idea what Muslim subgroups predominate in the Muslim communities in Sri Lanka; if they are, in the scheme of things, particularly liberal or fundamentalist, if "honor killings" are a frequent or nearly unheard-of occurence, and call me a cynic, but I'm going to guess that "Pastor Blake Lorenz of Global Revolution Church" isn't working from detailed information either.

Also, somewhat puzzling is the girl's belief that it would be practically possible for her parents to "send" her to Sri Lanka,presumably by air, when they apparently can't keep her from hopping onto a Greyhound Bus for Orlando...

BTW, I note that the kid in question references her enjoyment of participation in cheer-leading and tumbling, so I'd infer that her parents have neither refused to permit her to attend public school, nor kept her in purdah...

r gould-saltman
8.12.2009 7:49pm
DennisN (mail):
R Gould-Saltman:

ABSENT disagreement of the parents, or the unusual facts in the original post, however, the current rules in the U.S. do NOT much accommodate the objections of children to things their parents AGREE should happen to them


I would hope, in a case where danger is alleged, that the child's reasoned testimony would be granted considerable weight, but I guess that's up to the judge. I would also think that a guardian ad litem would be in the child's interest.

Since the child is so close to being naturally emancipated, the practical aspects of forcing the child to remain with her parents should also be a consideration. Particularly if she has friends on the outside, it shouldn't be overly difficult to escape and hide out for a while. Kids can be pretty seriously defiant, and sometimes it is valuable to recognize when you are peeing into the wind.

I have these visions of Jimmy Cagney (Or was it Edward G Robinson) firing a tommy-gun out a second floor window shouting, "You'll never take me alive, Copper!"
8.12.2009 9:54pm
Margo (mail):
While there is all this focus on the muslim parents and whether they are dangerous, I think we are overlooking another critical danger. If the religions were reversed public opinion would be playing out very differently in this one. Consider a kid who leaves home to be with a religious extremist in another state. Said extremist harbors her until the cops show, and then she gets hysterical and claims her parents are dangerous and want to kill her. Reality is, Lorenz has every appearance of being a religious extremist. He only recently departed from a position at a well-to-do United Methodist Church--resigning not only from the individual church but from the conference as well. This would tend to indicate that he is not credentialled by anyone--a red flag. He has started his own "church," (in quotes because his website says it isn't about a new church--it's all about relationships). Based on his personal revelations from Jesus, he is preaching revolution.

The attorney that he and his wife located for the young lady does pro bono work (on "Christian" legal issues) supported by an extreme right wing group.

Now, I have some personal objections to many of the folks claiming Christianity in this case. But, it would seem as though job one is for the court to appoint an objective guardian ad litem for the kid.
8.12.2009 10:44pm
ReaderY:
Asylum law is intended to address the acts of government, not intra-familial disputes. Not every claim of hurt, or every claim of hurt we may think unjust, is persecution. People who live in typhoon or earthquake prone areas can be hurt by typhoons or earthquakes, but such hurt is not "persecution", however unjust we may think Nature to be. Family problems, even abusive parents (assuming the claims to be true) are similarly not "persecution" in the asylum sense.
8.12.2009 11:12pm
ssgcmwatson (www):

Reality is, Lorenz has every appearance of being a religious extremist. He only recently departed from a position at a well-to-do United Methodist Church--resigning not only from the individual church but from the conference as well. This would tend to indicate that he is not credentialled by anyone--a red flag. He has started his own "church," (in quotes because his website says it isn't about a new church--it's all about relationships). Based on his personal revelations from Jesus, he is preaching revolution.


Don't read too much into this (he could be an extremist, but this is all fairly typical in modern American Christianity). There's a song called "Fields of Grace" with the line "there's a place where religion finally dies...dancing with my Father God in fields of grace." Many Christians (including myself) view religion as the rules and trappings that often serve more harm than good, much like the practices of the Pharisees that Jesus railed against. The relationship is connection that you personally have with God/Jesus/Holy Spirit.

As a member of the United Methodist Church (and former staff member of my church) I've been often tempted to quit the UMC and start a small congregation. A good friend of mine left a youth ministry position because the church board didn't like how she connected all of her lessons and activities to Jesus and the Bible. If this man was ordained in the UMC it means he has at least a Master's degree, probably an M. Div. Graduation from seminary is a requirement to become clergy in many denominations, but the early church had no such requirement as they had no seminaries. They were told to check everything they were taught against the scriptures (Acts 17:11).

We often think of "revolution" in the military sense, i.e. the Revolutionary War, the French Revolution, etc. This website speaks of spiritual revolution, seeking to lead a "radical Sermon on the Mount lifestyle." That; is hardly a section of the Bible on which you'd want to justify revolution by force.
8.13.2009 2:03am
Rich Rostrom (mail):
ReaderY: Asylum law is intended to address the acts of government, not intra-familial disputes... Family problems, even abusive parents (assuming the claims to be true) are similarly not "persecution" in the asylum sense.

What if the abusive family operates with government sanction? The governments of Moslem countries routinely let off "honor killers" with trivial punishments, but arrest daughters (or wives) who resist male abuse. Also, in many such countries, certain families control the government, and they (or their cronies) routinely use state power for their private ends.
8.13.2009 4:29am
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
Sez Rich Rostrom:

"What if the abusive family operates with government sanction? The governments of Moslem countries routinely let off "honor killers" with trivial punishments, but arrest daughters (or wives) who resist male abuse. Also, in many such countries, certain families control the government, and they (or their cronies) routinely use state power for their private ends."

Except, as I noted, Sri Lanka isn't, by any reasonable stretch, a "Moslem country" (while current numbers are fairly vague, it appears that the actual number of self-described Muslims in the US now slightly exceeds the number in Sri Lanka), so whatever inferences someone may draw about what may or may not happen in "Moslem countries" have no particular bearing on what may or may not happen in this case, or, for that matter, the reasonableness or lack of reasonableness of kid's fear.

Other than ol' pastor, (or his wife) saying that the kid says she's afraid that Dad's going to do stuff, 'cause he's a Muslim, I haven't seen ANY fact alleged which gives even a patina of credibility to the alleged reasonableness of kid's fear. So we're clear, I'm working from news stories here: I acknowledge that there may be a whole BUNCH of facts out there which establish the reasonableness of kid's fear, but to date, I haven't seen 'em alleged.
8.13.2009 2:03pm
DennisN (mail):
(link)R Gould-Saltman (mail):

Sri Lanka isn't, by any reasonable stretch, a "Moslem country" (while current numbers are fairly vague, it appears that the actual number of self-described Muslims in the US now slightly exceeds the number in Sri Lanka), so whatever inferences someone may draw about what may or may not happen in "Moslem countries" have no particular bearing on what may or may not happen in this case,


Sri Lanka is a primitive and largely tribal country. Under those circumstances, if the girl would be living in a more-or-less self contained Muslim society, your distinction provides no practical difference. The nature of that Muslim society is more important than whether it is a country or a neighborhood.

or, for that matter, the reasonableness or lack of reasonableness of kid's fear.


That, I think, is the crux of the issue, and it is something we cannot judge from here. We know that honor killings are practiced in some societies. We also know that a headstrong teenager can be wildly hysterical or dishonest.
8.13.2009 2:17pm
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
Sez DennisN:

Sri Lanka is a primitive and largely tribal country. Under those circumstances, if the girl would be living in a more-or-less self contained Muslim society, your distinction provides no practical difference. The nature of that Muslim society is more important than whether it is a country or a neighborhood.

That's why I raised the questions as to the nature of the parents' observance here. There are insular Muslim communities in the US, and large numbers of fairly "secularized/assimilated" Muslims as well. It doesn't appear that kid, or parents, are "living in a more-or-less self contained Muslim society" here. (Remember the "cheerleading and tumbling"?)

As I noted before, we don't have very much, if any, information about the Muslim community in Sri Lanka generally, or the community in which kid's parents' family may live in Sri Lanka*.


What we've got so far therefore started out looking like, and continues to look perilously close to:

"[Pastor says] [kid says that] Dad will do bad stuff, 'cause Dad doesn't like what kid is doing, Dad's a Muslim, and we all know about those Muslims!"


R Gould-Saltman


*My first thought on reading the original post was, I'll admit: "SRI LANKA?!? Hell, forget 'honor killings'; isn't Sri Lanka just maybe sorta kinda finishing a fairly gnarly real shooting bombing civil war, which has ground on for decades? THAT sounds like it could be a REAL danger; IED's and mines aren't notably good at discerning the religions of their victims!"
8.13.2009 2:43pm
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
and geokstr, who sez:

"Funny there's nothing being heard directly from dad, since it is generally the father who does the "honor" killing in the family. "


If Dad's MY client in this mess,(or any other child custody matter, even without the highly charged overlay in this one) his answer to any calls from the media** is "I have nothing to say to you. I don't intend to make my relationship with my daughter your business. Good-bye."

Family law judicial officers, in general, REALLY don't think it's in kids' best interest for custody cases to be litigated through the news.


R Gould-Saltman

**if anyone bothered to call him, and it's not asserted that they did
8.13.2009 3:48pm
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
Religion Clause notes that there's now a You-Tube video of the girl, who appears to be literally under the arm of the good pastor. SOMEONE's trying this case in the media...

r gould-saltman
8.13.2009 5:03pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
R Gould-Saltman

BTW,does anyone out there reading have any substantial demographic knowledge of the Muslim community in Sri Lanka? Muslims are IIRC a minority in Sri Lanka (like maybe 10%?); the majority of the country is, I believe, Buddhist or Hindu.


Yeah, not like the kid going back to Sri Lanka would join a terrorist organization (like the LTTE or various Sinhalese groups).... In Sri Lanka I would be more concerned about the Hindus and Buddhists being violent.....
8.13.2009 6:45pm
DennisN (mail):
R Gould-Saltman:

I pretty much agree with your analysis. That's why, were I the judge, I would really want to hear from the kid, preferably without the parents present. Judging her attitudes and mental state could be critical, here.

That pastor is starting to squick me. I'm smelling cult. I think, I'd be thinking about temporarily placing the girl away from the pastor. A short term separation from her new church (or her old religion FTM) is unlikely to be harmful.

Being an ornery cuss, I would tend to really want to push back if the case started to be tried in the media. Can the judge put a gag on everybody?
8.13.2009 7:14pm
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
Another thing that strikes me as a bit hinky: it's not clear to me why Florida thinks they have any jurisdiction to do anything in this case but exercise emergency jurisdiction, issue a temporary order to return the child to Ohio, and let Ohio authorities do something. Other than kid's running away to Florida*, it's not clear that there's ANY connection to Florida; certainly any evidence regarding the parents is in Ohio, and there's no basis for a Florida judge to think that Ohio's incapable of protecting this kid, or that there's no place in Ohio where these issues can get a reasonable hearing.

R Gould-Saltman


*notwithstanding kid'S statement that she wanted to get "as far away from Ohio" as she could and what that implies about her apparent confusion, at age 17, regarding geography
8.13.2009 8:04pm
Nayagan (mail) (www):
I expected a bit more out of the Volokh commentariat.

Sri Lanka is not a 'primitive' or 'tribal' country--at least not any more 'tribal' than India or China. And certainly not during the times i've been there, not even during the lifespans of my 8 uncles and aunts or my 13 great uncles and aunts. Low GDP, to be sure, lagging in connectivity yes, but Afghanistan it is not.



The Muslim population of SL is actually most commonly described as an ETHNIC grouping--the Sri Lankan Moors (even though it's not as descriptive as common users would imagine.) Only about 7% of the population. The populations that did live in the north and east primarily spoke tamil but now have little in the way of identity-politics-driven ties with Tamil Christians and Hindus after being driven out of most of their ancestral holdings by the Christian and Hindu LTTE (all tamil speakers--and one white lady, Adele Balasingham who lives a very cushy life in the UK. Yes, this is quite disgusting.)

Integration is less thorough than other religious demographics exhibit but the only armed Muslim group in SL was formed this year, after 10% of the 70k-odd casualties the civil war produced, were actually experienced. Living where they do and with the lack of friends, i really don't blame them.

This girl would have apparently nothing to fear by returning to SL. She is not a reputed LTTE-supporter with a Tamil surname nor is she a Norwegian 'peace' monitor. In some of the commenters' rush to emulate Robert Spencer, they inexplicably tripped over several easily discoverable facts.
8.13.2009 8:45pm
DennisN (mail):
Nayagan:

Sri Lanka is not a 'primitive' or 'tribal' country--at least not any more 'tribal' than India or China.


Those would be primitive and tribal enough for my argument.

The Muslim population of SL is actually most commonly described as an ETHNIC grouping


I'll accept that correction. My point is that, if the girl would potentially be sent to live in a compact ethnic community that would be partially immune from the law of the land, then she would potentially be subject to barbaric practices such as honor killing. That has even happened in some Muslim communities in Western Europe and the US. These barbaric practices are carried out with impunity in some areas.

It would be the Court's duty to satisfy itself that the girl was not potentiality being sent off to a barbaric realm to be executed.
8.14.2009 6:33pm
Nayagan (mail) (www):
dennis,

that you keep encircling the deadly flame of ignorance is enough for me to classify you as a Razib-defined, "tard." You obviously neither know nor appreciate the definition and significance of "barbaric" or "primitive."

have you ever used your passport? methinks not, other than in pursuit of a subservient third-world spouse. In that context, i can see your remarks as cogent and accurate.

you have the barest conception of how 'law' operates in various south asian countries or how custom has shaped the ways in which te various communities interact with each other.

Show me one shred of evidence that an honor killing has ever happened in SL. I guess you would prefer she was brainwashed by a prosperity-theology pastor rather than confront the stark differences between first and third world living and cease her insufferable public sniffling.

if you condone this kind of childish behavior, your team will be the weakest. see you at the race wars...
8.15.2009 10:53am
DennisN (mail):
Nayagan:

I've worked in Sri Lanka. My passport needs its own suitcase. My comments stand.

One of the great fallacies of "internationalism" and the fatal flaw of such organizations as the UN is that barbarian countries are the equivalent of civilized ones.

Show me one shred of evidence that an honor killing has ever happened in SL.


The safety of Sri Lanka would need to be established to the Court. My opinion is irrelevant.

I guess you would prefer she was brainwashed by a prosperity-theology pastor rather than confront the stark differences between first and third world living and cease her insufferable public sniffling.


Show me where I ever argued that. I believe I have stated that I am suspicious of the so-called pastor. But the Court should be very reluctant to risk the involuntary removal of a person with a right to residence in the US to a turd world cesspit.

This is not a simple case. Neither side sounds particularly trustworthy from here.
8.16.2009 12:49pm
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
Sez Dennis N.:

"But the Court should be very reluctant to risk the involuntary removal of a person with a right to residence in the US to a turd world cesspit."

Except where, in anything that's been made public so far, is there any showing that there's any such risk? Although girl, under arm of pastor, says "Ask my brother!" brother's only subsequent public statement seemed to be, in effect, "I don't know what she's talking about!" We've gone quickly (even in the relatively rational confines of VC) from "there's reason to think she'll be subject to a Muslim honor killing!" to "Well, the Third World's a dangerous place!"

BTW, any Florida dependency/neglect court practitioners out there? I'm going to guess that whatever gets said in court is in a sealed record (but if I'm wrong on this, I'd like to know) so, it's likely that the ONLY side of this we get to hear is whatever the good pastor is putting out there...
8.16.2009 9:55pm
DennisN (mail):
R Gould-Saltman:

Except where, in anything that's been made public so far, is there any showing that there's any such risk?


As you pointed out, we're pretty much in the dark about what has been said ion court. The propaganda public statements of both parties are all we have to go on.

it's likely that the ONLY side of this we get to hear is whatever the good pastor is putting out there...


Exactly, and I'm uneasy about the even handedness of his statements. I think a lot of this discussion is "Well, I hope the Court is looking at ..." This is why I've suggested she needs a guardian ad litem.

One of the dangerous things about a case like this, is that there is real possibility of enacting an irreversible change. If the girl is returned to Sri Lanka, then she may never be able to return. If she was eighteen, this issue would be moot. Yes, you must draw a line somewhere, but "old" children are often granted a say in their custodial arrangements.

If I were that girl, and believed what she has alleged, I'd be running for my life, trying to spin out the clock.
8.17.2009 6:33am

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Comment Policy: We reserve the right to edit or delete comments, and in extreme cases to ban commenters, at our discretion. Comments must be relevant and civil (and, especially, free of name-calling). We think of comment threads like dinner parties at our homes. If you make the party unpleasant for us or for others, we'd rather you went elsewhere. We're happy to see a wide range of viewpoints, but we want all of them to be expressed as politely as possible.

We realize that such a comment policy can never be evenly enforced, because we can't possibly monitor every comment equally well. Hundreds of comments are posted every day here, and we don't read them all. Those we read, we read with different degrees of attention, and in different moods. We try to be fair, but we make no promises.

And remember, it's a big Internet. If you think we were mistaken in removing your post (or, in extreme cases, in removing you) -- or if you prefer a more free-for-all approach -- there are surely plenty of ways you can still get your views out.