Dr. Stephen Baskerville Stuns
"The O'Reilly Factor":
10/16/00 Transcript

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O'REILLY:    One of the programs that Al Gore has embraced is tougher federal enforcement for "Deadbeat Dads" - fathers who fail to pay child support. Fifty percent of American kids presently live apart from their fathers. Joining us now from Washington is Howard University Professor Stephen Baskerville, the spokesman for Men, Fathers and Children International. Professor Baskerville has a different take on so-called "Deadbeat Dads". And what take is that, Professor?

BASKERVILLE:    Well, what most people don't realize is that we have in this country government officials who forcibly tear fathers away from their children with no grounds of legal wrong-doing, either proven or alleged. We've created in this country a very dangerous and destructive machine. It consists of judges, lawyers, bureaucrats, bureaucratic police, and many others who all have a vested interest in one thing. And that's ripping away as many fathers from their children as they can.

O'REILLY:    Why is that happening?

BASKERVILLE:    There are basic conflicts of interest in the whole child-custody, child-support system. Dickens said that the principle of the law is to make business for itself, and family court judges have learned that the more children they take away from their parents, the more business there is for their courts and for those who are the recipients of their patronage. They sit at the top of a very large patronage network. And they can dole out a father's income and many other goodies to an assortment, an entourage, of judicial courtiers who also profit from having children taken away from their parents.

O'REILLY:    Wow, that's a really conspiratorial thesis you have. You know ... I know a lot of family court judges and I ...I ... just couldn't believe they would think that way. I do know there's a bias to giving the children to their mother in this society, I don't think there's any question about that ... that a judge, all things being equal are (sic) going to award primary custody to the mom. Is that a wrong thing?

BASKERVILLE:    Well, what most people don't realize is that there's a much more serious matter here. And that is that it is not just a mutual divorce in most cases. Eighty percent of the divorces in this country are unilateral. And when fathers are involved, most of the divorces are filed by mothers when children are involved. In other words, a father who's done nothing wrong can be hauled into divorce court and deprived of his children, his oncome, his savings, his home, his inheritance ... he can lose everything he has and he doesn't have to have done anything wrong, and he doesn't have to have agreed to a divorce.

O'REILLY:    How many states have "no-fault" divorces now?

BASKERVILLE:    I believe all of them do. The laws change ... vary somewhat ...

O'REILLY:    In every state now? You're right, it is a frightening scenario, there's no question about it. I have to be honest and say it's heartbreaking for the children across the country 'cause there's so much acrimony between men and women. But even if that's true, and I don't know very many fathers, responsible fathers, who are shut out completely from their children. Usually they have, you know ... co .. uh custody, joint custody, or, and a lot of visitation. But even if the guy gets hosed in court, shouldn't he still pay for his child?

BASKERVILLE:    This appeals to common sense, but when you think about it, it's a very dangerous principle. You're talking about the government seizing control of the children of citizens who have done nothing wrong. This is the most dangerous power any government can have, to control and regulate the private lives of its citizens, including their families and their children.

O'REILLY:    But decisions have to be made in a divorce action. And the only one who can make them is a court ... which is supposed to be impartial.

BASKERVILLE:    And a court can make a decision that if it has no jurisdiction in a case then the State should not be involving itself. The State involves itself when someone has done something legally wrong, either civilly or criminally.

O'REILLY:    But then how would you resolve any custody matters if the two parents wanta live apart? How would you resolve that?

BASKERVILLE:    If the two parents want to live apart that's one thing, but in eighty percent of the divorces in this country, one parent does not want to live apart.

O'REILLY:    Yah, but you can't keep ... if one spouse wants out, you can't keep that person in there. So you're saying that the spouse who wants out ... wants out should walk away from the kids too?

BASKERVILLE:    This is the only constitutionally and morally acceptable principle we can accept. Otherwise, we're talking about government seizing control of children, and property, and persons. This is the kind of police state the Divorce Industry (emphasis added) is creating in this country. (O'Reilly attempts to talk over - "Allright, let me stop you then" - Baskerville continues: First they take your children, then they take your property, and then they take you.

O'REILLY:    Very provocative, your thesis is ... the person who wants out of the marriage should then walk away from the children as well.

BASKERVILLE:    St. Augustine said that without justice, States are nothing but great robberies, and this is exactly what we are seeing in divorce courts. If States have the power, if government has the power to seize control of children, and micromanage the private lives of citizens who have done nothing wrong, there is no stopping the State.

O'REILLY:    OK, Professor, very, very provocative. Thank you very much.

BASKERVILLE:    Thank you.

Contact Dr. Baskerville:
Stephen Baskerville, PhD
Department of Political Science
Howard University
Washington, DC 20059
202-265-3527 (fax)

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