The horrific story breaking this week is of Jaycee Lee Dugard, who was 11 in 1991 when she was kidnapped. Snatched from her school bus stop, and then locked away from the outside world behind a series of fences, sheds and tents in the back of a suburban home, her abductor, investigators say, raped her and fathered two children with her, the first when Jaycee was about 14. Those children, both girls now 11 and 15, also were kept hidden away in the backyard compound.
No one in our society today would consider this type of behavior sane, let alone suggest it should be legal, but there was a time when such actions were allowed, as was customary in some sects of Mormonism, and as enslaving human beings for profit was once legal here, as well. Indeed, there are places today where enslaving children for sexual exploitation is legal, where stoning a woman to death for adultery is legal, where forced child labor is legal, where mutilation of a woman's genitals is legal, etc.
In our country, the United States of America, it is legal to carry a loaded assault rifle to a town hall meeting on health care! In the U.S., it is legal for banks and credit card companies to charge 33% interest on borrowed money. In America, it is legal to give toddlers speed and other psychotropic medication. Here in our country, everything that was done by the banks and hedge funds that caused the collapse of our economy was legal.
Do a search on my blog for the word "insane" and you will find many postings where I plead with people to call crazy what it is. We hide behind a word - "legal" - far too often. Legal does not mean sane. Sane means sane. Behavior can be legal and yet be insane. That's why the spirit of the law in many cases overrules the letter of the law, and that is why having judges with compassion and wisdom is important, because the law sometimes is insane. In our grandparents' lifetimes, women and African-Americans weren't allowed to vote, remember?
So, when you decry in horror the story of Jaycee Lee Dugard and her two children, don't forget the gun-toting birthers and tea-baggers. And look at yourself and your relatives and friends. As I've written here many times, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia... and practically the entire practice of mainstream medicine and law enforcement... these are all psychiatric disorders!