Friday, February 10, 2006

Today's lessons from Phill Kline

From the online Chat with Kansas Atty. Gen. Phill "the second ell is for luv" Kline. First, how not to ask a question:
Naomi, Lindsborg: How can you tell from abortion records if child abuse has occurred? Why not subpoena records from any woman who has had a baby?

How many child abusers have you found using this method?

You are obviously on a witch hunt.
Naomi, this was an excellent question. How many convictions has he obtained based on abortion records? How many does he expect to obtain? Why are abortion records more useful than maternity ward records? Excellent questions all around.

But Naomi, by tossing out your concluding accusation, you let him talk about witch hunts, rather than his work. We still don't know how many people he's convicted by invading patient privacy.

Now a very well asked question, and a lesson in avoiding tough questions:
John, Lawrence: So if a 15 year-old boy and a 15-year old girl have sex, you have stated that each is a sex offender as well as a victim of sexual abuse. You have also stated that a mandated reporter (social worker, teacher, et al) has to report knowledge or even suspicion of such activity to law enforcement. Your opinion requires adults best positioned to help such kids to betray their confidences by informing against them thereby compromising the child's legal interests. Do you think such a big government solution to such an inherently personal and family-focused problem is really warranted?
This is excellent. John tags Kline with the "big government" label and sets him up having to defend his respect for personal and family sovereignty. He also focused his question on an issue that's clearly illogical. How can someone, in a single act, become a victim and perpetrator of the same crime? And why force a mandated reporter to violate a patient's trust by reporting non-violent sexual experimentation between two 15 year-olds? This puts Kline in a corner. His decision? Move the room around.

Atty. Gen. Phill Kline: That is incorrect. I have repeatedly stated that prosecutors do not, nor will I, prosecute consensual relationships between children of a similar age. Kansas law, not I, makes it a crime. It is not prosecuted. I will say, however, that children do not report their own sexual abuse. Many are terrified, fearful of harm and some in co-dependent relationships. Accordingly, as the 11 year old is telling the abortion intake nurse please do not tell - it was my boyfriend - the 27 year old step father is out in the car having told her to say that or she is not coming home. That is a case I will prosecute. Docs, nurses, etc, need to be in partnership with SRS and law enforcement to prevent child sexual exploitation.
Why violate the trust of the patient? Not clear. Why insert government into personal and family-focused problems? Not clear. Kline whines that the law forces it, but it's his enforcement of the law which has caused a controversy. He revised the reporting standard to demand that social workers, doctors and nurses must report non-injurious sexual contact like John describes. Instead, Kline focuses on a hypothetical case not at issue here.

The questioning was almost uniformly negative. Maybe that's just the Lawrence Journal-World's biased readership, but the questions came from all over: Lawrence, Prairie Village, KCK, Bluff City, Overland Park, Lindsborg, Washington, DC, and Bonner Springs. This supports my thesis that his extremism isn't particularly thrilling even his base. The coming election should be interesting.