Last night US Skiier Bode Miller won a bronze medal. Two controversies raged in the backdrop of this win. One was his post-race interview with NBC’s Christin Cooper which I’ll deal with in another post. The other is the custody battle he is engaged with with his ex-girlfriend Sara McKenna over their son which bitter is too kind a word to attach to it and which has divided people who on the one hand believe that father’s should be more involved in co-parenting the child they helped to create and on the other, that a woman’s right is ALWAYS most important.
Slate.com produced this inflammatory piece about the battle which paints McKenna as a super responsible woman who’s only concern is her best interests and Miller as a sperm donor who demands unfair rights to a child that, while his, wasn’t even a child yet when he petitioned for custody. Think I’m kidding, then check this out:
McKenna moved to New York in December, when she was seven months pregnant. Two days after her baby was born in February 2013, she went to New York Family Court to petition for custody—the legal basis for keeping the baby with her and making decisions about raising him. The first step of the Family Court’s job—deciding whether it had jurisdiction, or the authority to hear the case—should have been easy. New York law, which is based on a uniform code for all the states, says that New York courts have jurisdiction when New York is the child’s “home state.” This was obviously the case for McKenna and Miller’s baby (she calls the baby Sam; he calls him Nate), who was born in New York. But the New York family judge who heard the case (called a referee for some reason) seemed to have it in for McKenna when he sent the case back to the California courts, accusing her of moving to New York as an underhanded attempt at “forum shopping”—picking one court over another. The judge/referee also overlooked the fact that “child” in state custody law does not mean unborn child, as in fetus, which is what the “child” was when McKenna moved east.
Read that last sentence again. This “child” has no rights because he was not yet born at the time. No right to fight for his own life. And no right for his father to fight to see him. While the article attempts to paint Miller in a poor light, as CNBC contributor and Politico Chief Editor Ben White tweeted
I have no particular love for Bode Miller but nothing in that @Slate piece suggests he is some kind of monster.
— Ben White (@morningmoneyben) February 17, 2014
Slate initially tweeted the story this way: @Slate: Why you shouldn’t root for Bode Miller: http://slate.me/1gaBeDv which reveals the bias of Miller as a jerk or as the author of the article implied with this statement as one in a group of “fathers who are so eager to assert themselves that they run roughshod over women’s rights.” The article itself is from November and aside from the mention of a text that McKenna released from Miller that she claims was in response to a text inviting him to an ultrasound and the mention of a now deleted blog post by Miller’s wife Morgan which the article claims berated McKenna for using childcare, as Ben White said, there is nothing that paints the picture of Miller as a terrible person or bad father.
Speaking to the text message, it is ambiguous what Miller meant by it. Since the entire sequence of texts was never released it is hard to say for sure that this text was actually in reference to the ultrasound something completely unrelated. The text reads, “U made this choice against my wish.” Again, while it could reference the ultrasound perhaps it referred to the date which conflicted with something, a surgery of his own, or some thing else that McKenna had knowledge of. Again, we have no way of knowing if Miller’s text implied he wished McKenna had pursued an abortion or not. We also cannot be sure of McKenna’s reasoning behind releasing this text message to the media. If it was admitted as evidence in family court, we would have to assume it was to try to de-legitimize Miller’s claim that he truly wanted custody of his unborn son because his text has possibly implications that he wished McKenna had aborted the child. However, the fact the text was released to the media shows perhaps an attempt to assault Miller’s character and paint McKenna as the more mature member of the relationship who was more ready to parent a child and therefore should not only have custody but public opinion on her side. Which is only difficult to swallow because Miller was already at that point a devoted father to his daughter who he successfully co-parents with that child’s mother. That relationship also ended shortly before the mother discovered the pregnancy and there was no angry text message and no bitter custody issues either. It is possible that Miller’s relationship with his now-wife Morgan has made the ordeal more acrimonious but it’s equally possible that McKenna felt like a woman scorned and wanted to stick Miller with the child support but not allow custody. Either is entirely plausible.
All we know for sure is that Miller and McKenna briefly dated, McKenna became pregnant, the relationship ended, shortly after Miller met Morgan Beck and married her followed by McKenna’s decision to move across the country to NY to pursue and education at Columbia University. The narrative the media has put out is that Miller has attempted to punish and persecute McKenna for pursuing an education all the while making sure to mention McKenna is a Marine setting up that she has served her country as well as a character reference which I totally do not get because, um, Miller has too maybe not in combat but he has nonetheless gone on international stages in an official capacity representing the Stars and Stripes. We’re not all called to serve in the same way, after all.
But Miller has come out against the media portrayal not just as a person whose character is possibly being unfairly maligned but in defense of his son. In a January 9 interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show, Miller came out swinging with this statement:
‘When it’s about a small child who can’t really defend themselves or is going to have to deal with the repercussions of that in the future, that’s a really tough thing to deal with,’ Miller said.
The truth is, the media players do not know what was said in private, the context or entire series of text messages, nor what is going on in the courtroom. After Miller’s interview with Lauer, Tom Brokaw in his human interest piece for NBC Olympic coverage simply mentioned that Miller and his wife were “raising” Miller’s two children from previous relationships. Yet, Miller’s image is being crafted not as that of a father who wants to ensure he can see his children (as was mentioned before, he successfully co-parents his daughter) but as a man intent on holding a woman down and violating her “right to choose” which in this case is being seen as where she lives and pursues higher education but is easily extended far beyond that particular situation.
Bode Miller is one dad. One dad who is fighting for the right to see and be with his son. And he chose to start fighting before his son took his first breath. Custody battles are an ugly thing, to be sure, and often the child in the center is damaged and not considered. But as the Slate article so acidly points out, the child should not have had a right when his father laid legal claim to him. No, no, no, because of his “age” or lack thereof at that time, little Samuel Bode Nathaneal Miller-McKenna, was a blob of cells, a fetus, NOT a child and therefore he had no father, only his “host carrier” who could decide to rid herself of the parasite at any time. I don’t think either Miller nor McKenna like that portrayal of the son they love, but that is the very picture of him that the mainstream media paints of the darling little guy when they describe this custody battle. And Miller is right, the repurcussions of that could be very damaging.
And while dead beat dads are a huge problem, when we paint fathers who show a vested interest in their unborn child’s life and future as “over zealous” and “trampling on the rights of women” simply by asking for a custody agreement if the mother chooses to move a great distance away or he suspects his access to seeing his child could be impeded, we do a great disservice both to the child and the father. And that may or may not be what Miller did, but it’s a shame to think that a father thinking very plainly in those terms would be painted in that way but seriously, what other choice do radical leftist pro-abort feminists have? If they concede that it’s a good thing for a father to take interest in his unborn child then they also concede that it’s not “her right to choose” it’s “their right to choose” and heaven-forbid a child might actually be born. We are so busy as a society emasculating men by our constant barrage of contraceptives, abortion and consequence-free sex that it is no wonder that we have the problem of dead-beat dads and single moms banging down doors for child support. Fatherhood is being undermined at every turn and every avenue and instead of us standing up and saying “good for this guy, he’s standing up and doing the right thing,” we portray him as “overbearing,” “overzealous,” even “abusive” when those things may not be the case at all.
Fathers have rights. They didn’t end when the second line appeared on the home test because it interferes with plans for career, fun or whatever. Like it or not, Bode Miller has a right to see and be with his son just as he does his daughter. And as Ben White pointed out, him exercising those rights doesn’t make him a monster hell-bent on destroying his son’s mother’s life. Custody battles are awful things. A friend with a seven-year-old whose marriage ended last year’s agreement states she can’t move out of state with her daughter until the child turns 18 as it could impede a relationship with the child’s father so there really isn’t that much bizarro going on in this case. What is criminal is questioning if the father who loves his child for being pro-active and asserting his rights before the child is born, particularly as late in the pregnancy as this petition occurred. By that time it was clear McKenna was going to give birth to her son and move across the country, it would only seem natural that a father would want to start hammering out some kind of details. And to assault his character based on one text message when evidence to the contrary (his relationship with his daughter and her mother and the pain of the loss of a pregnancy with his wife of a child they did not plan for but very much wanted) abounds in order to advance the cause of “women’s rights” is an ugly play designed to denigrate the life of a child and the father who loves him.