Elizabeth Morgan Back in the News

Elizabeth Morgan had her 15 minutes of fame in the 1980s when she fled to New Zealand with her daughter rather than allow her husband to have unsupervised visits with the child. Despite her odd behavior, Morgan had numerous supporters in the United States who saw her as a heroine. Morgan was back in the news recently as a witness in an attempted murder case that highlighted her twisted thinking.

The case involved Elsa D. Newman, who was charged with conspiracy to kill her estranged husband in January 2002. Newman attended a speech given by Morgan and struck up an e-mail correspondent with the activist.

Morgan testified that she believed Newman’s story that her husband was abusing her two boys despite having no more information about the situation than what Newman told her.

In fact, Newman’s husband was awarded full custody of both boys after a bizarre incident witnessed by Newman’s attorney, Stephen A. Friedman. Friedman asked a judge to recuse him from being her lawyer after Newman made a threat against the lives of the two boys. At the murder trial, Friedman testified that,

[Newman] gets real calm, tilts her head back and says in this sing-songy voice, ‘You know I don’t have to kill both kids.’

But after a few e-mails, Morgan was convinced that Newman was right and her husband was abusing the two boys. So what advice did Morgan give Newman? In an e-mail she told Newman that she had three choices — go along with the court’s order, defy the court, or “kill” the abuser.

On the stand, Morgan testified,

I told her what I tell everybody when they contact me. You don’t have any good choices. You can say, “I’ve been to court, and I will obey the court and send my child back.” The other thing you can do is defy the court order. That usually means running . . . The third option is to take the law into your own hands and attack the abuser.

Newman took Morgan’s advice. She paid a friend to kill her husband, but he managed to fend off the would-be killer after being shot in the leg. One would hope that at some point, the husband will include Morgan in a civil suit for such outrageous behavior.


Morgan describes advising Md. defendant. Annie Gowen, Washington Post, August 3, 2002.

Outrage Over Idaho’s Topless Car Wash

The Associated Press ran a story earlier this month about efforts by civic and community leaders in the Moscow, Idaho, to shut down a topless car wash.

The controversy actually started several years ago with another group of women who decided to walk bare-chested through downtown Moscow. They were arrested, but in the ensuing legal fight Moscow’s ordinance that banned topless women but allowed topless men was ruled unconstitutionally vague.

Daisy Mace and her friends, including several men, are apparently the first to try to take commercial advantage of the lack of a specific statute. Their topless car wash operates irregularly and patrons are asked only for donations, but the car wash is lucrative enough to anger both civic leaders as well as competing car washes who complain that the topless attraction is stealing their business.

The Associated Press quoted local car wash owner Tony Heath complaining that he’s lost more than $100/day in business since the topless car wash folks set up shop, and that the whole enterprise is unfair because, “Guys can’t go around topless and make money.”

The car washers have been evicted from their apartment at least twice for holding car washes there, but so far efforts to craft an ordinance that would let the city squash the topless car washers have bogged down into debates over just how much of the breast — whether male or female — should be covered up. The current proposal would require both men and women to have at least a thin strip of cloth to cover up the nipples.


Topless car wash raises money and tempers in Idaho. Nicholas K. Geranios, Associated Press, July 11, 2002.

A Sign of a Non-Competitive State? How It Treats Women

Radical feminists like to pretend that the only people who care about the rights of women are the socialist and Marxists that have dominated their movement for too long. But a 1998 article published in, of all places, the US Army War College Quarterly Parameters highlights the fact that in many ways how successfully societies integrate women into daily life — especially the workforce — is also a good marker as to how successful such societies will be.

Writer Ralph Peters insightful article, Spotting the Losers: Seven Signs of Non-Competitive States, looks at an issue of ongoing debate — what makes some countries and cultures succeed while relegating others to poverty and instability. The second factor on Peters’ list of things that hold back societies– closely behind the failure to inculcate the free flow of information — is the subjugation of women.

Peters attributes much of the success of the U.S. economy to the rising status of women thanks to the early feminist movement. Peters writes,

Vying with informational abilities as a key factor in the reinvigoration of the US economy has been the pervasive entry of American women into the educational process and the workplace. When the stock market soars, thank Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the suffragettes, not just their beneficiary, Alan Greenspan. After a century and a half of struggle by English and American women, the US economy now operates at a wartime level of human-resource commitment on a routine basis.

Ironically, as a number of critics of radical feminism have noted, it was sexual discrimination that at its heart was socialist in nature. Growing up I often remember hearing relatives and others complain that if feminism succeeded, then women would end up taking men’s jobs, as if individual men had some sort of lifetime right to a guarantee of a job free from competition from a woman.

Eliminating sexual discrimination, as Peters notes, has been a capitalist gold mine, allowing talented people to pursue their goals regardless of their sex and in the meantime enrich us all. As Peters notes,

The math isn’t hard. ANy country or culture that suppresses half its population, excluding them from economic contribution and wasting energy keeping them out of the school and workplace is not going to perform comfortably with us [the United States].

Peters then goes on to offer this advice, primarily directed at people considering investing money in foreign countries but equally applicable to all sorts of decisions,

The point isn’t really the fear that women will steal jobs in Country X. Rather, it’s a fundamental fear of women — or of a cultural caricature of women as incapable, stupid, and worrisomely sexual. If, when you get off the plane, you do not see men and women sitting together in the airport lounge, put your portfolio treat on the next flight home.

It is difficult for any human being to share power already possessed. Authority over their women is the only power many males will ever enjoy. From Greece to the Ganges, half the world is afraid of girls and gratified by their subjugation. It is a prescription for cultural mediocrity, economic failure — and inexpressible boredom. The value added by the training and utilization of our female capital is an American secret weapon.

Ironically, it is the radical feminists in the United States today who would most like to overturn this 20th century revolution by moving feminism away from its individualistic, equal opportunity roots and toward the sort of socialist, group think that so hampers Europe’s economy.


Spotting the Losers: Seven Signs of Non-Competitive States. Ralph Peters, Parameters, Spring 1998, pp.36-47.

Thanks to Andrew Hofer for bringing this article to my attention.

Man Wrongfully Imprisoned for 9 Years Now Hounded by Texas for Child Support

Clarence Brandley was wrongfully imprisoned by the state of Texas for 9 years. When he finally won his release in the early 1990s, the state of Texas had a message for him — he owed the state for child support payments he had been unable to make during his 9 years in jail.

Brandley, 51, was convicted in 1981 of raping and strangling a 16-year-old girl. Brandley worked as a janitor at a high school, and the girl visited the school as part of a volleyball tournament.

In 1987 a judge agreed with Brandley’s attorneys that he had not received a fair trial. In fact, State District Judge Perry Picket wrote that, “no case has presented a more shocking scenario of the effects of racial prejudice, perjured testimony, witness intimidation (and) an investigation the outcome of which was predetermined” than Brandley’s case.

In 1990, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld Picket’s ruling and Brandley was freed from jail — but not freed from his child support payments.

Brandley had been divorced in 1977 and ordered to pay $190/month in child support payments. After being sent to jail, he did not make those payments, having no source of income.

After being released from jail, he apparently agreed in 1993 to make the back payments, but subsequently hired a lawyer to contest the payments for the time during which he was in prison and the state of Texas did not attempt to collect the child support.

It renewed collection efforts, however, after Brandley filed an ultimately unsuccessful $120 million lawsuit against various Texas state agencies over his wrongful imprisonment. Those lawsuits were all rejected on the grounds of sovereign immunity (a pernicious legal doctrine that says citizens cannot sue governments for wrongful acts because, well, they’re the government).

Dianna Thompson of The American Coalition of Fathers and Children told the Houston Chronicle that federal laws makes it illegal for states to forgive child support payments regardless of circumstance.

That law needs to be amended so that parents wrongfully deprived by the state of the opportunity to work and support their children are not penalized later for the wrongful actions of the state. It is not Brandley’s fault but rather the fault of the state of Texas that he did not make regular child support payments for 9 years. Forcing him to pay for the state’s mistake is obscene.


‘It’s like a double insult. Harvey Rice, Houston Chronicle, April 27, 2002.

No, Really — Old Women Are Not Witches

Comic Relief and the Department for International Development are funding an odd program in Tanzania — aid workers there are trying a number of approaches to convince people in north-west Tanzanian that old women are not witches.

According to the BBC,

In many African villages, old women living on their own or in isolation are often accused of being witches with local people holding them esponsible for tragic events or even general hardship.

The women are victimised and intimidated and in many cases they are killed.

The program targets 70 villages in north-west Tanzania. “We use traditional drama groups, dances, choirs to pass educational messages to the entire community that older people are not witches,” Sixbert Mbaya, who manages one of these programs, told The BBC.

On the one hand, it is difficult to fathom that in the 21st century there is any part of the world that still needs such a program. On the other hand, it is only a few centuries removes since the last witch trials in North America. Programs that genuinely improve the status of women in the developing world deserve our support.


Aid scheme tackles African witch myth. The BBC, April 26, 2002.

Controversial Use of Fetal Murder Law in Michigan

In Michigan, prosecutors are pursuing what is bound to be an extremely controversial application of the state’s fetal murder law in the wake of a tragic automobile accident.

The facts are this: On Jan. 3, 2001 Kara Hanford was 9 months pregnant and traveling in a vehicle driven by the father, Marty French. Hanford was not wearing a seat belt and French’s license was listed as being suspended (although Hanford maintains he had a valid driver’s license).

According to witnesses, as French approached a train crossing, he tried to stop but hit a patch of ice and slammed into a train. Hanford was thrown out of the car and into a nearby pond. She was taken by paramedics to a nearby hospital where an emergency Caesarean section was performed. The infant survived only four days.

This week French was formally charged with driving with a suspended license causing death and negligent homicide. French could spend up to 15 years in jail if convicted on the charges.

French is being charged under Michigan’s Prenatal Protection Act which was enacted after a highly publicized case in Michigan where drunk driver caused a car accident which killed a nearly full-term fetus. The idea was that there should be some sort of penalty for third parties causing the death of a fetus through their own negligence and/or willfully malicious actions.

But prosecutors in this case are reaching beyond all bounds if they think people who supported this law believed it would be used in this sort of case. This was a tragedy that both Hanford and French clearly have not yet recovered from. As Hanford nicely summarized French’s impending prosecution,

I lost a big part of me, and now they’re going to take the rest of me. Now one year later, they want to take away the only thing I have left. Like his son dying wasn’t enough.

Moreover, these sorts of prosecutions will only create a backlash that will undermine a law that could do some good if sensibly applied.


Prison threat adds to parents’ loss. John Agar, Kalamazoo Gazette, April 16, 2002.