Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Michael Terheyden

5/8/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A Palm Beach County sheriff wants people to report their neighbors, friends and family members to his first of a kind violence prevention program, which he hopes will become a model for others.

Sheriff R. Bradshaw of Palm Beach County, Florida

Sheriff R. Bradshaw of Palm Beach County, Florida

Highlights

By Michael Terheyden

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/8/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Florida, Palm Beach County, Sheriff R. Bradshaw, Violence, Intervention, Prevention, Professional, Michael Terheyden


KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - According to The Palm Beach Post, the Florida House and Senate has voted to give Palm Beach County Sheriff R. Bradshaw one million dollars to start up a new violence prevention program. It may seem a small matter to some people, but I see it as one more sign that a menacing shadow is spreading across our land. However, we are not doomed to darkness, for the Catholic Church offers us a light.

The goal of the sheriff's new program is to make "sure law enforcement knows about potential powder kegs before tragedies [like those in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado] occur." The program will feature "prevention intervention" teams comprising a 24-hour hotline, specially trained police officers, mental health professionals, and social workers. Bradshaw said that it would be the first in the nation, and he hopes it will become a model for others.

He is also preparing public service announcements that urge people to "report their neighbors, friends or family members if they fear they could harm themselves or others." At the same time, the public is being told that it will be done in a way that respects civil rights. The public is also being told that law-abiding citizens will be protected from false claims, because all the team members are trained professionals. Bradshaw said, "We know how to sift through frivolous complaints."

I believe that Bradshaw has the best intentions, but I am not comforted by his assurances because his concern clearly favors the group over the individual. This is collectivism, and there have been too many instances where law enforcement professionals and other so-called professionals have falsely accused law-abiding men, women and children of imagined or exaggerated crimes as a consequence of collectivist programs.

Perhaps you recall some of the horror stories in the news describing the draconian methods school professionals used to create a safe environment in some elementary schools after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. I have included two such stories below.

Less than a week after the Sandy Hook massacre, 6-year-old Rodney Lynch, a student at Roscoe R. Nix Elementary in Maryland, was sent to the principal's office. School administrators questioned him about his home life. They wanted to know if anyone in his family owned a gun, and they wanted to know the names of all the video games he owned. In the end, these caring professionals accused him of "threatening to shoot a student" for making a gun gesture with his hand and saying "pow." Then they suspended him.

This incident is now part of Rodney's permanent school record. His parents have had to hire an attorney. They hope to get this incident expunged from their little boy's record, though it could cost them thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Not long after Rodney's ordeal, a 5-year-old little girl was accused of a similar crime at Mount Carmel Elementary in Pennsylvania. According to the attorney her parents hired, the little girl told her classmates she was going to shoot them and herself with a "Hello Kitty Bubble Gun." The gun blows soap bubbles.

School officials questioned her for three hours without her parents' knowledge. They told her she could go to jail, and they accused her of making a "terrorist threat" and suspended her. The initial accusation was later reduced to a "threat to harm others," and she was allowed back in school after she submitted to psychological testing.

I will never forget an incident that occurred to an 82-year-old woman, Lillian Fletcher. It too was the result of good intentions by so-called professionals. The incident began when social workers called the police during a "well-being check" at Lillian's Chicago home in 2007. The police came out and tasered the 82-year-old woman for swinging a hammer. Apparently, Lillian did not want or need a "well-being check," until she was tasered, that is.

Tammy Cooper's neighbor would probably fit in well with Sheriff Bradshaw's prevention program. She called the police on Tammy this past September because she thought Tammy was not watching her children as they played in front of her house. Tammy says she was watching her children, but the police charged her with "child endangerment" and arrested her anyhow.

According to a local news report, it appears that the police had decided to arrest Tammy before they even pulled up to the crime scene. And they did it in front of her children. Tammy said, "My daughter had him [the police officer] around the leg saying, 'Please, please don't take my mom to jail. Please, she didn't do anything wrong.'"

In addition, more people are becoming ensnared by the government as its police powers grow and become more ambitious. While people are grateful that the bombing suspects are no longer roaming the streets of Boston, the lockdown during the manhunt was absolutely unprecedented in American history.

Public transportation was suspended, businesses were closed, and people were forced to remain inside regardless of their present location and needs. Military-type vehicles rolled through the streets. The police conducted door-to-door searches. It was reported that they threw families out of their homes at gun point and searched their homes. 

Former Representative Ron Paul referred to the lockdown as a "military-style occupation of an American city." He said, "This unprecedented move should frighten us as much or more than the attack itself." Today, it seems law-abiding citizens are routinely being watched, threatened and arrested without probable cause in the name of easy solutions to violence prevention and other false promises.
 
This is the menacing shadow I see. It is the false promise of easy solutions. Such solutions remind me of addicts who take drugs to deal with their problems. Their problems become worse, and they end up in bondage. It seems to me that some of our leaders are offering us drugs to solve our problems. But if we take these drugs, our problems will become worse, and we will end up as slaves.
 
I have asked myself, how could this happen in the United States? How could we give up our right to be "secure in [our] persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" so easily? I believe an important part of the answer can be found in two words that Sheriff Bradshaw used: "professional" and "prevention." Both of them are worth our consideration.

It seems that the idea of professionalism has taken a bizarre turn in the Western world. This thought first occurred to me when I ran across a seventh edition textbook, Social Work, by Armando T. Morales and Bradford W. Sheafor. They focus on professionalism in the field of social work, but what they say applies to other professions as well.

The field of social work experienced enormous growth in the wake of former President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society programs in the 1960's. As their influence grew, social workers organized and lobbied hard for professional status. These efforts seemed strange to me, but not nearly as strange as their definition of professionals.

They defined professionals as recognized experts possessing a monopoly in their field with exclusive rights to make judgments and give advice. According to the textbook, "In granting this professional authority, society, in essence, gives up the right to judge the competency of these professionals except in extreme cases of incompetence."

I do not recall giving social workers, or any professional group, a monopoly or exclusive rights. Nor do I recall giving up any of my rights. But I do recall thinking that professional standards were being lowered, and that fields in the social sciences and social work, education, law enforcement, and journalism were becoming rife with corruption and incompetence.

Nevertheless, I could not envision what this change meant until I saw its connection to the idea of prevention. Morales and Sheafor define prevention as the "anticipation of future consequences and purposeful manipulation to achieve desired ends or prevent undesired ones."

Based on this kind of thinking, it seems that many so-called professionals, especially those working directly or indirectly with federal, state and local governments, have seized an inordinate amount of power in our country. And they are using this power to manipulate whatever desired ends they deem proper for society. This is arrogant.

It is as though they are drunk with power. They have assumed too much power. They have exceeded their limits. A professional education is a wonderful thing, and a true professional, or anyone who is a true expert in their field, has much to offer society; but they do not have the know-how or the right to decide what ends are most desirable for society or to manipulate people for their ends.

Given our fallen nature, we simply cannot be trusted with so much power over others. Even our best and most noble intentions are tainted because our goodness is limited. Jesus told us as much. In Luke 18:19, he said, "No one is good but God alone." This truth is also reflected in James Madison's defense of a system of checks and balances to limit government abuses. In The Federalist No. 51, he writes: "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary."

Consequently, it is highly unlikely that collectivist programs based on prevention intervention, like Sheriff Bradshaw's, can be implemented without trampling the rights and dignity of the people they promise to help. But this does not mean that all social programs are bad. They just need to maintain a proper balance between people, society and government. The Catholic Church has a solution to collectivism, and it is a light in the spreading darkness.

For instance, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "There is a certain resemblance between the union of the divine persons and the fraternity that men are to establish among themselves. . . " (1878). We need society. It is a function of our nature as human persons. We develop our potential through social exchange, dialogue and service with each other.

However, socialization can threaten personal freedom and initiative due to excessive intervention by the state. The principle of subsidiarity says that ". . . a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it. . ." (1883).

This principle is derived from the way God governs the world and His respect for human freedom. God did not reserve the exercise of all power to Himself. We can see this when we look at creation. God entrusted "to every creature the functions it is capable of performing, according to the capacities of its own nature" (1884). Thus, the principle of subsidiarity "sets limits for state intervention" (1885).

As Catholics, we know that Americans can combat terrorism, and all violent crime, without turning our country into a police state. Under the circumstances today, I do not believe we should report our neighbors, friends and family members to the so-called professionals in Sheriff Bradshaw's prevention program, except, perhaps, under extraordinary circumstances.

On the other hand, we need to constantly pray for our leaders, neighbors, friends, and family members; and we need to bring them the light which the Church offers us. We also need to petition our leaders (like the Sheriff and the governor of Florida) with our concerns.

 
-----

Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. However, he knows that God's grace operating throughout his life is the main reason he is a Catholic. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.

-----

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More U.S.

Thousands of Christians Flee Under Death Threat From Tyrannical Caliph and ISIS Jihadists Watch

Image of (Pictured: Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, or Caliph Ibrahim) At first, Christians were ordered to gather in a central place to receive the directive from the self appointed Caliph. Understandably, given the track record of this maniacal tyrant, few did. So, the text of the statement was issued as a formal declaration to all Christians - We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract - involving payment of Jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

By now, everyone who is in anyway concerned about what is happening to Christians in Iraq has heard the horrific news. The madman who claims to be a descendant of Mohammed, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi - who in his delusion and grandiosity has taken to calling himself ... continue reading


Bridget of Sweden, Marriage and Family, and the Need for Canonized Married Saints Watch

Image of St Bridget of Sweden, her husband Ulf, and all the modern Popes call Christian married couples to become the 'Sweet and Smiling Face of the Church' in this age. This is an age which is desperately in need of all kinds of saints. I suggest we particularly need examples of married, canonized Saints. That is precisely because this is an age where faithful marriage is now counter-cultural. We need examples of men and women who not only embraced it in Christ, but lived it as a but a path to heroic virtue.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The clear teaching of the Bible, the Christian tradition and the re-emphasis of the last Council in the Catholic Church, the Second Vatican Council, make clear - we are ALL called to holiness in life. That  is what the Catholic Church regularly refers to as ... continue reading


Deacon Keith Fournier: The Courage of the Catholic Bishops, Religious Liberty, Hobby Lobby and ENDA Watch

Image of Deacon Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and six grandchildren, He serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Stephen, Martyr Parish in Chesapeake, VA. He is also a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate. Deacon Fournier is a graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville (Theology and Philosophy, BA), the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University (Theology of Marriage and Family, MTS), and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law (JD). He has completed requirements for the PhD in Moral Theology at the Catholic University of America and is writing the PhD dissertation on the teaching of St. John Paul II.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Catholic Bishops are doing an excellent job standing up for Religious liberty as a fundamental human right. One of my growing concerns is that many Catholics do not even read what they are saying. Sadly, in a propagandized media where sound bites substitute ... continue reading


Obama demands that illegals be allowed to enter U.S. Watch

Image of Tens of thousands of illegal, unaccompanied minors have flooded into the United States since 2014 began, often escaping violence in war torn Central American countries.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama's administration is considering whether or not it will allow hundreds of minors and young adults from Honduras and other war-torn Central American states to enter into the United States illegally and without crossing into the country ... continue reading


Are you ready for the next dust bowl? California is! Watch

Image of A new study suggests that the Colorado River Basin is rapidly running out of water, which may be disastrous for the seven states it supplies.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

According to a report published by the American space agency and the University of California, the water crisis that is punishing the southwestern United States is likely to worsen. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The report found that the prime source of water ... continue reading


PLAGUE OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS: Mayflies descend on Wisconsin Watch

Image of When summer arrives, Mayflies take flight and proceed to mate before immediately going back to the water to lay eggs and die.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's a plague of Biblical proportions. Ugly mayflies have descended on the state of Wisconsin, covering up exterior services like so much black, metallic dust. Photos coming out of Wisconsin is sure to send viewers itching - so beware of some of the sights in ... continue reading


Catholic Bishops Decry Obama's LGBT executive order as imprudent act of religious discrimination Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The chairmen of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty and Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth have been strong in their condemnation of President Obama's legislation on LGBT employees. "Today's ... continue reading


A Tribute to Protestant Bishop Tony Palmer, Friend of Francis and Champion of Christian Unity Watch

Image of The late Bishop Tony Palmer with Pope Francis- He was catapulted into prominence in the broader Christian community when, while meeting with his friend the Pope in January, he was given a recorded message from Francis to deliver to a large group of charismatic, evangelical protestant leaders who gathered in the United States. The video went viral. It moved millions to sincere prayer for the healing of the divisions in the broken Body of Christ and is prompting a renewed commitment to common apostolic action between Christians.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

I never personally met Bishop Tony Palmer. However, I look forward to spending an eternity in the full communion of God's love with him. I appreciated his Christian courage and felt that his efforts were prophetic. He wrote his life - and lived his ministry - ... continue reading


Exclusive: Tribute to Bishop Tony Palmer, A Life Dedicated to Unity Watch

Image of (Pictured: Left to Right - Dirk West, Matteo Callisi, Bishop Tony Palmer, and Deacon Darrell Wentworth) - Faith to Bishop Tony Palmer was a dynamic, lived experience and, as a result, his life built up the whole Body of Christ and tore down the walls some have built to separate us from each other! What a legacy! A true example of living Jesus' prayer in John 17! (Deacon Darrell Wentworth)

By Deacon Darrell Wentworth

Monday, July 21, 2014, was supposed to be like most Mondays - the start of a work week. But Deacon Keith Fournier sent me a text informing me that my friend, Bishop Tony Palmer, had died. Shock went through my body as I processed that news; then disbelief as I ... continue reading


Anarchy in Chicago! Weekend of crime tears city apart Watch

Image of The weekend of July 18 saw the death of five people and the wounding of 47 in Chicago.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There were 47 shooting victims in Chicago this weekend, five of which ended up being fatal, statistics from the Chicago Police Department report. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Chicago officials met on July 21 to discuss the city's recent surge in gun ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 13:1-11
1 Yahweh said this to me, 'Go and buy a linen ... Read More

Psalm, Deuteronomy 32:18-19, 20, 21
18 (You forget the Rock who fathered you, the God who ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:31-35
31 He put another parable before them, 'The kingdom ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 28th, 2014 Image

St. Innocent I
July 28: Innocent was born at Albano, Italy. He became Pope, succeeding ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter