Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

Quite contrary

Some small part of me admires flat-earthers and "dinosaur bones were planted by Satan to lead us astray" folks of every stripe, "liberal", "conservative" and "otherwise". It's not that I admire unreason, it's that sheer unabashed whimsy in the face of facts mildly appeals to me. However, despite this flaw in my Vulcan logic, I must admit that I hit my limit fairly quickly when certain types of unreason present themselves. It's like the fellow on the 700 Club or some similar show the other night who had written a book suggesting that separation of church and state was the furthest thing from the framers of the Constitution's minds when they enacted the First Amendment. I must remember the fellow in my Xmas gift list, and send him a copy of Thomas Jefferson's book about the Bible.

Sometimes the issue is a bit closer, and open to some debate. For my money, for instance, one of the great wrong-headed moves of the left was the lionization of Dr. Elizabeth Morgan, though not everyone will agree. Dr. Morgan was and is a plastic surgeon who was once some sort of columnist for Cosmopolitan as well as a published author. She married unwisely, which resulted in a very public and messy divorce.

During her divorce, she got an ample chance to try her claims of child sexual abuse by her ex in court, and lost after radical expenditures of funds. She then became something of an iconic "hero" when her family secreted the child overseas rather than grant court-ordered visitation, and she went to jail rather than follow the rule of law and disclose the whereabouts of her child. Now, if someone from my suburb did that, then the rule of law would tend not to reward that behavior. However, Dr. Morgan was the beneficiary of special laws passed to grant her essentially a free pass, in that Congress actually passed laws that let her out of jail and that allowed her to return her child from New Zealand to this country without encountering problems in light of the family court rulings against her (in fairness, it is my understanding that her ex supported this move).

As are all custody cases in which abuse is alleged, the case was a difficult one based on sharply conflicting evidence. What made this case radically different, though, was that a number of folks vociferously wanted to just ignore the rulings of courts which apparently had, on conflicting evidence, ruled against Dr. Morgan. The National Organization of Women came out sharply in favor of Dr. Morgan. Now I'm no great idolizer of courts, and courts do get it wrong sometimes. The southern courts in race issues got it wrong consistently and often, which was one motive force behind civil rights legislation. But Dr. Morgan's case was just one more custody case on disputed facts, and not a basis for iconization of her as some courageous feminist hero.

Had an "ordinary" man or woman done what she did, given the state of the rulings, that man or woman would have been branded with unkind names and received no congressional dispensation from legal sanctions. But Dr. Morgan had an elite education, and a public, Cosmo-esque profile. Dr. Morgan routinely appeared on media during the era of her conflict with her ex, making assertions that courts had rejected, and yet somehow being portrayed as the only side of the story worth listening to. I had, during that time, very little sympathy for either party in this particularly nasty, public divorce. But it all seems to me years later like some flat-earth theory allowed everyone to suspend the adversarial trial process between two well-funded litigants, and somehow determine that we should ignore the results of a trial and just permit Dr. Morgan to flout the system.

I was looking the other day at my old copy of Solo Practice, Dr. Morgan's pre-divorce self-paean to how she was a plastic surgeon with a heart, who left behind the need for money in order to have a patient-focused practice. This book has its share of dysfunctional relationship story, and its share of mugging by Dr. Morgan. I shook my head that a little fame can mean so much when it comes to being excused from following the rules.

Now, first of all, let's all admit that if we believed as Dr. Morgan believed, we might act as she did. But that's not really the issue for a third party examining this case. The issue is instead that Dr. Morgan got all these incredible breaks largely because she knew the right people and she did the "right" things in her background. Somehow if one has jumped the right hoops, then all our pious platitudes about everyone being equal under the law do not apply. Celebrity and hobnobbing with the powerful elite are among the hoops that give the most protection.

I was looking at Dr. Morgan's website later that morning, as she is now in practice in the DC area. I thought to myself how different Dr. Morgan's situation would be if she were a male who believed with all his heart that his child was being abused, took that child out of state when the court ruled adversely, but was a working class man. She's be in jail or on the run, not promoting her US practice, including the PhD she picked up in psychology during her refugee years in New Zealand.

I paused before writing about Dr. Morgan, because her case was so divisive (and her ex, a Dr. Foretich, was no more sympathetic). The facts were hotly disputed, and perhaps the court was not right (perhaps it was). But as much as on some level I believe that "folks gotta do what they gotta do", I am consistently amused how people can act contrary to any rule, if they only have the right connections or enough money. We end up with a rule of law that means that "if you're rich, rule A", "if you're famous, Rule A", "if you're middle class, Rule B (the inefficient but essentially equal rule), and "if you're poor, Rule C" (the "anger the wrong people and you're toast" rule).

The case of Dr. Morgan and her ex is arguable. But the lionization of Dr. Morgan is simply a case of the elite getting breaks (from "my team", the left) which those of us who did not write columns or do not hobnob with the Washington elite do not get.

As much as I admire whimsical results in life, I prefer to continue to believe that dinosaur bones are about evolution and not Satan, and that everyone should be subject to the same rules of law.

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