mike tang and son

Mike Tang, Dad Who Made Son Walk Home in Dark, Loses His Appeal

Mike Tang, the California chemist who got 56 days’ “hard labor” for making his 8-year-old son walk home at about 8 p.m. in the dark, just lost his appeal.

Tang had left his son outside a local grocery store as punishment for cutting corners on his homework. He told the boy he had to walk home. The child  had walked the route many times before. “I just wanted to reinforce that money is hard to earn and that, if he doesn’t do a good job at school, he could end up sleeping…[with] the homeless” outside grocery stores, Tang told Reason.tv (see below).

The jury found Tang guilty of neglect. At his appeal, he asked the Superior Court of California’s Riverside County Appellate Division to reverse his conviction, in part because California law criminalizes anyone who puts a child “in a situation where his or her person or health may be endangered.” May. That is such a vague and vast catch-all, Tang argued, that any parent could be arrested if “there was a crack in the sidewalk where the child could trip and fall.” 
 
The appellate court, like our society, had no problem with such a demanding level of precaution, or with giving law enforcement, child protective services and the courts so much control over parents. Apparently the three judges, Raquel A. Marquez, Gloria Connor Trask and Dean Benjamini, could not accept that a child out on his own in the dark could be reasonably safe. 
 
The area is not a high crime area, but both the jury and the appeals court found it sufficiently damning that Corona Police Officer Doug Doty, the cop who arrested Tang, testified that once he had made a DUI arrest in that location, and another time had encountered a violent homeless person there. (See yesterday’s post, regarding IHOSFO: It Happened Once, So Freak Out.)
Tang’s wonderful retort was that:
 
“To criminalize the action of allowing a minor to walk on a sidewalk because of one instance of one officer stopping a car for a DUI in the entire history of the sidewalk, since its construction, is patently absurd. That would imply that this stretch of sidewalk would be off-limits to minors from now until the foreseeable eternity, and any parent allowing their child to walk on this stretch of sidewalk amounts to criminal child endangerment, and that is also patently absurd.”
 
Absurd or not, Mike lost. It seems as if any parent who doesn’t immediately imagine the worst is considered uncaring, inhuman.
 
And guilty.
 
What can be done? David DeLugas is executive director of the National Association of Parentsa member-supported non-profit (I joined!) whose mission includes fighting for the rights of parents to raise their kids as they see fit, so long as not they’re harming the children. It was DeLugas who fought the charges against the mom vacationing in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware who’d been arrested for “endangering” her kids when she went to pick up dinner and they took their dog out for a walk. In Delaware, DeLugas points out, child endangerment charges kick in only when a child is “likely” to be hurt, not just when they “may” be hurt. He gathered enough evidence to make it obvious that the children were not “likely” to be hurt, and the prosecutor dismissed the charges.
 
The “may” term in the California statute is not Constitutional, DeLugas told me, because it takes the decision-making rights from the parent and gives them to the state, permitting the authorities to charge any parent, at any time, under almost any circumstances. For instance, he said, “A parent who permits a child to play tackle football is subject to being charged under this same statute because the child ‘may’ be injured.”
 
In truth, a child playing football — or hockey, or even Red Rover (my kid broke his arm) — is more likely to get hurt than a kid walking home, even in the dark, on a route he knows.
 
So we must fight the laws that can criminalize everyday parenting decisions simply because they are unpopular, or could, once in a million times, go wrong. When the law allows us to prosecute parents who trust the odds and trust their kids, said DeLugas, “Every parent should be concerned.”
Okay. I am. – L 

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Mike Tang made his son walk home at night. The cop who arrested him said, “I wouldn’t let my 20-YEAR-OLD walk alone.”

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96 Responses to Mike Tang, Dad Who Made Son Walk Home in Dark, Loses His Appeal

  1. Dienne August 18, 2017 at 10:30 am #

    Sorry, Lenore, love you dearly, but you’re wrong on this one. This case has been tried and reviewed at all levels of our justice system now (including three judges at this level) and every single level (all of whom have had more than just Mike Tang’s word for the “facts” of the case) has found Tang guilty of harming his son. This isn’t just overprotective nanny statism. This is Mike Tang’s own behavior damning him. We’ve seen how he acted when he came on this forum. We have a reasonably good idea how he acted with the cops on the scene. This should give us a pretty good idea of how he acts with his son. This is a man who threatened his kid with homelessness (and drove away leaving the kid alone at night where homeless people sleep to prove it) because the kid *didn’t read the right book*!

  2. SKL August 18, 2017 at 10:54 am #

    If he actually terrorized his son, I could understand the outcome here, and since I wasn’t there, I don’t really know how it went down. But I do know it’s crazy to make it illegal for an 8yo to walk on a sidewalk that he habitually walks on.

    Now I’m gonna go off on a bit of a tangent, speaking of the standard of a “caring parent.”

    The other day, someone posted in one of my fb groups: as a single mom, is it safe to use Uber, just me and my son together? (Her son is around the same age as my kids, ~10yo if not older.) I was tempted to say, “I would let my 10yo ride Uber without me [if it was legal].” But (a) that wasn’t the question, and (b) I wasn’t in the mood for the whole group to attack me. Most of the replies were reassuring, but some were not; she decided to go with a much more expensive car company and was happy with that. Whatever, but when is her kid going to be allowed in the same car with a man? None of my business, I know. 😛

  3. JulieH August 18, 2017 at 11:00 am #

    Note, I am not a lawyer, but be careful about how you interpret an appeal. An appeal does not ask for a “retrying” of the case but rather asks another set of judicial eyes to review specifically defined complaints as to the application of the law and court procedures. New evidence is not entered. We have discussed at length previously that the arguments and evidence provided by Mr. Tang were not made with the assistance of legal representation (by his choice), and there seemed to be a general consensus that he may have missed opportunities due to his lack of legal knowledge (regardless of our individual evaluations of his parenting choices). In the appeal, the appellant asks the appeals court to look at specific things that he/she felt were in the wrong. It appears that Mr. Tang asked that the applicability of the California code’s wording of “may” in light of the evidence presented to the previous court be reviewed (not any new evidence or argument). It seems the appeals court determined that everything was in order and there was not judicial overreach in the decision.

  4. John B. August 18, 2017 at 11:13 am #

    F…… California. The land of fruits and nuts.

  5. Theresa Hall August 18, 2017 at 11:35 am #

    Like I said should got a shark of a lawyer. It the only way you can win in this country. . Cops word are treated like gold. Your words not so much.

  6. Mari Inshaw August 18, 2017 at 11:48 am #

    Wait we still have hard labor in this country?
    That’s legal?

  7. Dienne August 18, 2017 at 11:56 am #

    “Hard labor” = picking up garbage, i.e., community service.

  8. James Pollock August 18, 2017 at 12:17 pm #

    This has been hashed to death already.
    The relevant statute says, in full:
    “(b) Any person who, under circumstances or conditions other than those likely to produce great bodily harm or death, willfully causes or permits any child to suffer, or inflicts thereon unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering, or having the care or custody of any child, willfully causes or permits the person or health of that child to be injured, or willfully causes or permits that child to be placed in a situation where his or her person or health may be endangered, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

    The relevant passage is NOT “willfully causes or permits that child to be placed in a situation where his or her person or health may be endangered,”

    It’s “willfully causes or permits any child to suffer, or inflicts thereon unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering”

    Have you noticed that giant wave of California cases where they’ve arrested and convicted parents for kids walking down the sidewalk? No? Hmmm. Then perhaps pretending that California has criminalized letting kids walk down the sidewalk is a bit silly.

    Instead, what this is is a case of a parent who, as a punishment, tells his kid he’s going to be homeless, then puts him in the car and drops him off “where homeless people sleep”, then drives off. THAT’s the offense. If you go back and look at his comments here, he blames everybody… literally EVERYBODY… but himself for his conviction. The judge is corrupt, the police are evil, the jury was biased, etc.

    I’m honestly surprised that this is seen as a “free-range” issue, because from my point of view, it’s a “no, parents DON’T have an unlimited right to punish their children” case. Is this particular punishment too severe? At the same time, I wouldn’t have thought so, but having interacted with Mr. Tang, I see why the jury might think so. Mr. Tang is a very poor spokesman for Mr. Tang’s interests. The less said about his legal “strategy”, the better. Ultimately, I believe he lost his case because he is guilty. The prosecution didn’t convince me of that, but Mr. Tang himself did.

  9. caytie August 18, 2017 at 12:31 pm #

    Regardless of what is thought about Mr Tan’s parenting decision, I think he should be the one allowed to make the decision on how to parent his son. The state is not the parent. Yes, he can reasonably be found guilty under the law as it is written. The law is unreasonably vague however.

  10. Dienne August 18, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

    “… I think he should be the one allowed to make the decision on how to parent his son.”

    Do you think that’s an unlimited right? Can I, for instance, make my kid stand for two hours naked in the snow because she lost her gloves? Presumably (hopefully) you’d say no to that, so I guess there are limits to parenting decisions? So the question becomes, in this case, did Mike Tang’s actions cross over that line? People with a whole lot more information than we have here – the cops, the prosecution, the judge, the jury and now the appellate court – have all unanimously decided that his actions did in fact cross over that line. I’m not sure why it is that people with only half the story feel qualified to second guess those people.

  11. bmommyx2 August 18, 2017 at 12:43 pm #

    This is not only wrong, but upsetting. Personally I’m not sure I would have made the same decision as Mike Tang, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong or that he endangered his child. I’m sure many criminals don’t get 56 days of hard labor. The bigger problem is that the “authorities” in the State of California have become mad with power & want to take control of everyone’s lives. The especially want to take away parental rights, the State wants to over ride parenting decisions. Take a look at this bill before they gutted it. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB18 Because this wasn’t going anywhere, the author Senator Richard Pan MD found a back door. Now he is trying to get this passes https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SCR41 Parental rights are eroding all over this country, but California has become the leader. When it comes to decisions for your children regarding education, Medical treatment & safety we have become the state of Big Brother & the disease is spreading across the Nation & the World. It’s a sad time to be a parent & even more frustrating is the masses are buying what they are selling. Thank you for all your hard work.

  12. pentamom August 18, 2017 at 12:51 pm #

    I don’t know, but I suspect, that “hard labor” is just a leftover term in that jurisdiction. Hard labor is what they called it when they sent you to prison, and now it isn’t literally that anymore, but the language was never officially changed.

  13. Kenny Felder August 18, 2017 at 1:28 pm #

    I have to admit that I was startled and disturbed to see how many of the comments (there are twelve so far) agree with this ruling. That’s what I would expect to see if I were reading most Web sites, but not this one. And I can interpret it as good news–Lenore, you’re not just preaching to the converted. You’re reaching people who are not entirely converted, and hopefully drip drip drip winning them over.

    So, OK, here comes my attempt to articulate the Free Range position for all you nay-sayers. Everything I’m about to say seems to me like simple common sense, and would have been taken as such by almost all Americans a few decades ago.

    * A father who beats his son regularly, or abuses his son sexually, should have his son taken away by the state. In other words, there are certainly cases where the rights of the child require that he be removed from the parent.

    * The problem with this ruling, then, is not that the state should never take children away from their parents. It’s that walking home in the dark is a PERFECTLY NORMAL THING FOR AN EIGHT-YEAR-OLD TO DO.

    As everyone in every culture ever has known.

  14. Anthony August 18, 2017 at 1:47 pm #

    The self appointed experts in raising a child see danger in everyday life when a child does anything in the presence of an adult or not. Life must be experienced by a child to develop into a individual capable of making decisions for themselves to learn. Wake up the morons that think they know better for everyone else. I grew up in the latchkey era with only one bread winner at home and my parents divorced when I was young. I had babysitters and stayed by myself many times when at home – no problems!

  15. Dienne August 18, 2017 at 2:21 pm #

    “It’s that walking home in the dark is a PERFECTLY NORMAL THING FOR AN EIGHT-YEAR-OLD TO DO.”

    Yes, and if that was all this case consisted of, you’d have no argument and it’s highly doubtful Tang would have been arrested, much less prosecuted, convicted and upheld. But he was all of the above. You might ask yourself why. Maybe it has to do with the fact that Tang *made* his son walk home *where the homeless sleep* after he threatened him that he *would be homeless* because he *didn’t read the right book*. Maybe it has something to do with Tang’s behavior when the cops were called. Maybe it has to do with the fact that he represented himself and his lawyer has a fool for a client. Maybe it has to do with his attitude in general (as evidenced by, for instance, his writing “F*** you” on his citation and refusing to serve his sentence). Maybe it has to do with something else that the judge and jury knew about that we don’t. Maybe it has to do with all of the above.

    A story, apropos of nothing, I suppose. I used to work in a residential facility for abused/traumatized kids. Every one of our kids had very well documented histories of horrific abuse/abandonment/trauma/etc. But nearly every one of our kids’ parents would tell you that it was just “nothing” or a “misunderstanding” or “CPS overreach” or some such thing. I can assure you that was not the case for any one of them – every one of them deserved to lose custody of their kid. But neither we nor CPS could ever comment publicly on the cases, even though some of those parents went to the media to spread their sob story. So anyone listening to their sob story would completely believe the parent had been screwed by the system because they were only hearing one side of the story.

    Now, I’m not saying Mr. Tang is as bad as the parents we dealt with nor do I think he should lose custody of his son. But I do know that every single person with access to the full story (which we do not have) has determined that he should have been prosecuted and found guilty and served his so-called “hard labor” (which, again, amounts to picking up garbage). So in the absence of supporting evidence for Mr. Tang, I think we should reserve judgment. As Mr. Pollock points out, it’s not like there’s been a sudden rash of people in California being arrested for letting their kid walk on a sidewalk. Maybe we should consider that perhaps this particular case has merit.

  16. pentamom August 18, 2017 at 2:51 pm #

    “Maybe it has to do with the fact that Tang *made* his son walk home *where the homeless sleep* after he threatened him that he *would be homeless* because he *didn’t read the right book*.

    Short of threats of direct bodily harm, unapproved parenting rhetoric had better never form *any* part of why someone gets convicted of a crime and sent to jail.

    However, I agree that his own behavior toward the cops and courts no doubt played a role.

  17. Emily August 18, 2017 at 3:23 pm #

    I agree with everyone else here. It’s not (entirely) about the walk; it’s about context. If it was, “Hey Son, you’re going to have to walk home from Cub Scouts tonight, because my car is in the shop, and your baby sister will be asleep by then and your mother can’t leave her home alone,” or even, “Hey Son, you’re going to have to walk home from Cub Scouts from now on, because [ongoing scheduling conflict],” and the Cub Scout meeting place is also a mile away from home, and the route home is safe to walk, then that’d be fine. But, “You read a book that wasn’t challenging enough, you’re going to be homeless, get in the car [doesn’t tell Son where he’s going, then parks and drops him off]. This is where homeless people sleep. Get out and walk home,” is a bit much. I’d categorize that as emotional abuse, especially for a child that young. I’m not saying that Son should get off scot-free, but a better approach would be, “I know you can do better, you’ll have to redo that book report,” and then making sure he does re-do it, even if it means missing something fun, like screen time, or an outing or a birthday party with friends. That’s a consequence, not a punishment, because it forces Son to take responsibility for fixing his mistake–either he complies, reads a harder book, and redoes the book report, and still gets to go to, say, his best friend’s birthday party at the laser tag place on Saturday, or he sulks and procrastinates, and, oh, look, it’s Saturday, and the book report isn’t done, so Son has to stay home. Either way, he’s learned what he needs to learn.

  18. Emily August 18, 2017 at 3:28 pm #

    P.S., While we’re on the subject of logical consequences, why hard labour? That’s not going to make Mr. Tang less likely to repeat similar behaviour toward his son; if anything, it’ll just make him angrier. I think it’d be better to have him take a parenting course instead. Hard labour would be a better punishment for something like vandalism or property damage.

  19. caytie August 18, 2017 at 4:11 pm #

    Dienne- I did not say that it is an unlimited right. However, just because someone might do something harmful such as allow a child to stand naked in the snow, does not mean the state should have the power to step in and usurp parental authority to make decisions that do not harm the child. The child WAS NOT hurt. As a parent, I should be allowed to make decisions for my child that the state or other people might disagree with. The cops, the judge, the prosecutor, and the jury may have more “information” but they also have built in biases and perspectives through which that information is filtered.

  20. Dienne August 18, 2017 at 4:18 pm #

    “The child WAS NOT hurt.”

    Well, okay, that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it. But again, all the people with all the information in this case (and, incidentally, the people with the authority to make the decisions) determined otherwise, so you and Mr. Tang are free to rant to your heart’s content, but it doesn’t change anything. This is how our system works.

  21. Jamie August 18, 2017 at 4:34 pm #

    Outside abuse, legal systems should not be involved in parenting. CPS is going ultra crazy and helicopter parents are just egging the crazy on.

    Our elementary school kids walk more than a mile to school every day. In the dark during the winter since the sun rises later.

    He even drove back to check on the boy.

    Offer to help the boy. Be a good neighbor. But leave the parents alone.

  22. Dienne August 18, 2017 at 4:36 pm #

    Incidentally, I should add, Tang was not charged, prosecuted and found guilty for something he *might* have done. He was charged, prosecuted and found guilty for something he *did* do. The cops, prosecutor, judge and jury weren’t worried that he *might* later do something to endanger his son. They were concerned that he *actually* threatened his son with homelessness and then made his son believe he’d do it (this by his own admission, by the way).

  23. En Passant August 18, 2017 at 4:47 pm #

    Dienne August 18, 2017 at 2:21 pm wrote:

    Maybe it has to do with the fact that he represented himself and his lawyer has a fool for a client.

    Self-representation (sometimes called pro se or in propia personem is a major reason some people lose in trial court. It’s even more important to have a lawyer in appeals. Even lawyers tend not to represent themselves.

  24. Donald August 18, 2017 at 5:10 pm #

    I’m with Kenny Felder on this one. The decision didn’t go as I hoped it would. However, my default setting isn’t, “I didn’t get the outcome that I hoped for therefore this is bad news”. I try to see what good that can come out of it and Kenny pointed it out to me.

    “Lenore, you’re not just preaching to the converted. You’re reaching people who are not entirely converted”

  25. common sense August 18, 2017 at 7:01 pm #

    so once again dienne wants other people to have no opinion other than her own opinion while stating her’s is not opinion but fact. she feels that we can’t form our own since we apparently have only half the facts. I guess she magically has all the facts. the fact he was convicted does not mean in the real world he is guilty of bad parenting, it means he was convicted of breaking a law about parenting. person ally I think he acted like a jerk to all authority figures however that should not be a reason to convict. if he had swallowed his pride and gotten a hal;f way good lawyer this wouldn’t have happened. all people are entitled to form their own opinion from the available facts otherwise you might as well just sit staring at a blank wall waiting to be told what to think.

  26. Dienne August 18, 2017 at 7:16 pm #

    I don’t have all the facts, but the judges and jury did. Have I not stated that clearly enough? And the one fact that I do have, which, again, I’ve repeated ad nauseum, is that everyone who did have all the facts has found Mike Tang guilty as charged. Or do people dispute that? This really isn’t complicated.

    Also, nowhere have I said you can’t have your own opinion. In fact, I explicitly said the exact opposite. It’s just that your opinion matters exactly this much: zilch. No one posting here had authority to make the decision because no one posting here was on the jury or served as a judge and, hence had all the relevant information.

    Incidentally, the jury was comprised, as all juries are, of common citizens who got summoned for jury duty. None of them are authorities on a power trip, they’re just there to do the job and get out. Yet they unanimously agreed that Mike Tang was guilty. I’m just saying it’s awfully presumptuous for people who don’t have the same information they had to second guess their work.

    Sure, have any opinion you want. You can have the opinion that the earth is flat if you’d like. Doesn’t make your opinion valid.

  27. Donna August 18, 2017 at 7:23 pm #

    We’ve hashed this case over 1,000 times. Based on Mr. Tang’s own comments, Mr. Tang acted like a toddler from beginning to end of this scenario. He was an ass to the cops who investigated. He represented himself and presented an inane defense about curfews that had absolutely no basis in reality, let alone the law, and likely also showed himself to be an ass. Then, despite his poor showing at trial, he insisted that he needed to represent himself on the appeal.

    None of these verdicts or rulings stand for anything other being an ass and presenting a bogus defense make it unlikely you are going to win in court. When someone who presents a coherent defense actually loses a similar trial, I’ll be concerned, but not based on this crap-storm of a case.

  28. common sense August 18, 2017 at 7:55 pm #

    doesn’t make your opinion valid either…just saying you seem to take a great deal of pleasure in trying to prove that you aren’t judging others opinions as invalid [ flat earth, really?] while doing just that.

  29. Dienne August 18, 2017 at 8:09 pm #

    In this case, your opinion is pretty much invalid, yes. You weren’t on the jury and you weren’t the judge. You have no say. Sure, you can disagree all you want, so long as you acknowledge that you disagree without having all the evidence.

  30. common sense August 18, 2017 at 8:09 pm #

    and in this country it’s not presumptuous to second guess juries , it’s a national past time. and who said the juries were given all the info. information can be and is ruled in admissible. and yes juries work hard but having been on a few I can tell you there are times when one or two jurors who just want to convict can sway others who just want to get it over with and go home.

  31. common sense August 18, 2017 at 8:12 pm #

    I guess I should be cowed that the great dienne has ruled my opinion invalid, but I’m not. you’re just another person who thinks they know better than everyone else and we had better listen to you. not.

  32. Dienne August 18, 2017 at 8:21 pm #

    So are you saying you have more evidence than the judge and jury? What evidence do you have? Mike Tang’s word? The rambling rants of a disorganized potty mouth who flat out admitted he did what he was accused of doing and that he’d do it again? The man can’t take responsibility for a single thing since the beginning of the case. Even if you think his actions toward his son were justifiable, there’s still the fact that he was an ass to the cops, represented himself atrociously and still insisted on representing himself on appeal. But according to Mike Tang, none of that is relevant. It’s all just, the cops were out to get him, the judge and jury were biased, yada yada. Everyone but Mike Tang was responsible for the plight that Mike Tang now finds himself in. If that’s the word you want to take over the cops, the prosecutor, the judge, the jury and the appellate court, well, okay. If believing that Mike Tang was a poor innocent victim makes the world better for you, okay. If that’s what you need to do.

  33. Common sense August 18, 2017 at 8:38 pm #

    Try reading what I wrote instead of going off on a rant. All I said was I don’t have all the facts and neither do you. Yet even though we are both working on the same facts, you consider what you conclude from them the only correct answer and if any one else has a different conclusion that is wrong according to you. I never said I know more than the judge and jury, I said neither of us know the whole story. I never said he was right, I admitted he was a jerk and all I did say was being a jerk is not a reason to convict. Even Donna said that if he had a halfway good defense the outcome would have been different. That’ s what I need. Not someone basically telling I have no sense whatsoever.apparently what you need is for everyone to agree with and I don’t.

  34. JsMacF August 18, 2017 at 9:11 pm #

    The true beauty about opinions is that they are all actually valid. You cannot really tell someone their opinion is wrong. It’s an opinion. You may disagree. Anything else is smug righteousness. Well played @commonsense.

  35. Common sense August 18, 2017 at 9:23 pm #

    JsMacF…thank you for stating that clearly.

  36. Dienne August 18, 2017 at 9:36 pm #

    All opinions are equally valid and you can’t tell anyone theirs is wrong? Okay then, the sun rises in the east and the moon is made of green cheese. Don’t tell me I’m wrong. My opinion is perfectly valid.

    Ay, ay, ay, this “everything is equally valid” idea is why the country is in so much trouble. It’s equally valid to march in Nazi uniform and drive cars into people as it is to peacefully protest Nazi marches. It’s equally valid to believe or not believe in climate change or evolution. Baloney. There are facts in this world and the facts in this case say that every single person in a position to make a decision in this case has seen that Mike Tang is a hostile, arrogant jerk who emotionally abused an eight year old by threatening him with homelessness and then abandoning him “where the homeless sleep” to prove it (and who was then an ass to the cops and a miserable lawyer on top of that). Mike Tang was and is not an innocent victim. He chose every single action that has gotten him where he is. That’s a fact.

  37. Dienne August 18, 2017 at 9:37 pm #

    Ugh, brain-o. My opinion is that the sun rises in the *west*. Don’t tell me I’m wrong.

  38. Abigail August 18, 2017 at 9:39 pm #

    I’ve read through this and I can’t agree with Dienne. It’s not that the justice system did not function…It’s the influence of fear over the system on a whole.

    We do not know all the facts. And the facts don’t matter if the system is moving towards restricting parental rights (possibly unconstitutionally).

    We have some really good examples of institutional biases within the legal system…it’s not a jump to think the system is representing values incongruous with what is actually best for all. Without questioning this process we cannot improve it.

  39. Common sense August 18, 2017 at 9:45 pm #

    Diene there are some people who can just not agree to disagree. You are one of them . When you resort to ridiculous comparisons you just make yourself look stupid. JsMacF called it . You want to say the sun rises in the west,go for. It. It just proves how far you are willing to go to put other people down and prove you are always right. I’ll bet the you have never admitted in your life that you might possibly been mistaken about anything.

  40. Dienne August 18, 2017 at 9:53 pm #

    “And the facts don’t matter if the system is moving towards restricting parental rights…”

    Well, okay, I suppose “the system” has moved towards restricting parental rights. After all, the first child abuse case was brought by the ASPCA because parents used to have unlimited rights and children, as property of their parents, had none, so the suit had to be brought on the basis of the fact that as an animal, the child had at least some basic rights to be protected from mistreatment. So, yes, that and subsequent cases have restricted parental rights to some degree.

    The questions are, is that a bad thing, and have we moved too far? I personally don’t think it’s a bad thing that children now have a right to be protected from abuse. Perhaps we have moved too far, but this particular case sure doesn’t prove that. Because when it comes to each individual case, the facts do indeed matter. If Mike Tang were arrested for allowing his kid to walk home after a Cub Scout meeting, for instance, that would be one thing. But he wasn’t. He was arrested because his kid was found walking alone and upset and he then told the cops that his father told him he would be homeless and then kicked him out of the car “where the homeless sleep”. Those facts are relevant. Other relevant facts include Tang’s attitude toward the police, his insistence on representing himself, which he did very badly, and his writing “F*** you” on his citation.

  41. Dienne August 18, 2017 at 9:54 pm #

    Common – I’m not the one who said that all opinions are equally valid. I just gave some examples of how ridiculous that statement is.

  42. Dienne August 18, 2017 at 10:08 pm #

    Incidentally, Common, I am in fact quite willing to admit when I’m wrong if someone provides me evidence that I am. But what evidence has been provided in this case? What is it about this case that makes you think the cops the prosecution, the judge, the jury and the appellate court were all wrong about their decisions? What evidence do you have that contradicts them? Just the generic belief that all such people are “biased”? What I have that makes me believe that they were right is Mike Tang’s own words – what he said to the cops, how he mangled his case by focusing on irrelevant details and ignoring the actual charges against him, his words on this site, his refusal to admit that he needed legal help or that he might have done anything wrong, his “F*** you” on his citation.

  43. Alanna Mozzer August 18, 2017 at 10:11 pm #

    “When I was four, she stopped the car a few miles from our house and made me find my own way home across the fields, ” said by Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group. Need I say more?

  44. Common sense August 18, 2017 at 10:22 pm #

    You are however the one who took it and made the very snide comments and examples. You seem to think that any time anyone disagrees with you that we approve of abusing children. Nothing is farther from the truth. When you make extreme example and then state well I guess this is not abuse because parents should have the right to decide about their children you are just smugly bullying the other person. There is a world of difference between making a child stand in the snow and simply making the child find their mitten. But you just can’ t resist showing us how much better and more moral you are because guess what,you’ re always right and we’re always wrong. I guess I should just let you get the last word in but too bad. I guess you have never heard of convictions being overturned or people being cleared after years in prison, because according to you courts and juries never get it wrong. According to you they know everything and are the final word. And we shouldn’t fight against unfair laws and just let our parental rights be taken away bit by bit. You say you used to work with abused children. Good for you. But perhaps your experiences there warped your perception of the real world. They say to a hammer everything looks like a nail. Maybe that’s your problem. Or maybe you think God should ask your opinion on all decisions and take your advice without question, because you sure think you know all the answers. Maybe you should run for president.

  45. Abigail August 18, 2017 at 10:26 pm #

    Kinda makes you wonder how the child feels now. What is more traumatic? The homeless “lesson,” or the case against his dad…but how that child feels is not fact. Moving on.

  46. Donna August 18, 2017 at 10:42 pm #

    “What is it about this case that makes you think the cops the prosecution, the judge, the jury and the appellate court were all wrong about their decisions?”

    First, the judge didn’t make a decision about Mr. Tang’s guilt. You don’t get both a judge and a jury to decide whether you are guilty. It is one or the other. A judge can throw out a jury decision, but it is an extreme rarity and the vast majority of judges will defer to the jury’s verdict even if they disagree unless the verdict is very clearly contrary to the law. The appellate court also didn’t make a decision about the facts. Appellate courts decide questions of law; they don’t relitigate the facts. They decide whether the judges rulings about evidence and objections were proper, not whether Mr. Tang was guilty or innocent. To the extent that they do look at the facts, strong deference is given to the verdict and if there is any way to justify the guilty verdict, the appellate courts will allow it to stand even if the judges believe that they would have decided differently had they heard the case originally.

    These types of cases are highly subjective. Mr. Tang’s defense was essentially “yes, I did everything they said I did, but I still didn’t violate the law charged.” That is very different than your standard “who done it” trial. It is very open to influence from the juror’s own person opinions as to how to raise children. What constitutes “mental suffering” is going to vary per person. Ms. Tang could have tried the case the next day in front of 6 different people and gotten a different result because the result is very dependent on who is making a decision. That some people don’t agree with the verdict is not at all surprising.

  47. Donna August 18, 2017 at 10:45 pm #

    That should be Mr. Tang.

  48. ezymel August 19, 2017 at 12:41 am #

    Come on! Isn’t this going too far? I agree that Mr.Tang did not choose the right scenario by letting his kid walk home alone in the dark by himself. Especially, where there are homeless people in the streets. Personally, I believe that his punishment was too harsh and demeaning. Mr. Tang appears to be an upright, standing citizen. I know he didn’t mean any harm to his son. Sometimes, we make the wrong decisions and that is what begins to be a problem. Law enforcement is there to protect citizens but sometimes it gets out of hand. Once you become part of the system, the law takes over. The police who files the report does what he is supposed to. I don’t know what went on during the scene of an arrest, so I am unable to comment on that. According to what other people here have said that Mr. Tang got angry and mentioned a few choice words to the Police. Police do have a hard time keeping peace on the streets and all it takes is some kind of confrontation to stir things up. If Mr.Tang did not react in said manner, possibly there would not be any arrest. Maybe he would be cited and had to go in front of a judge for his own defense, but at the time, he thought it would pass by a simple fine, attend counseling classes or even a few hours of community service. He wouldn’t be arrested with harsh punishment for the number of days that he had to serve and above all, wouldn’t have an arrest record which can haunt him for years afterward. If he had a private attorney, the expense would be considerable. I would think in a trial setting where you are judged by a jury and have an appointed defense lawyer, who you think will defend you properly, don’t always count on it. Every State has it’s laws; some harsh and some not as harsh. Mr. Tang does deserve an appeal and be granted a release of his arrest record. I know Mr. Tang suffered a lot by this and deserves another chance. For what I see of him, he won’t do it again. I wish you luck, Mr.Tang and I am sure you have a good relationship with your son. I want to make a clearification of I am not a lawyer; although I have taken some classes in law. By this, what I said is by my own opinion.

  49. sexhysteria August 19, 2017 at 3:07 am #

    Incredible outrage!

  50. Korou August 19, 2017 at 5:14 am #

    Dienne, I’m going to side with Lenore on this one. We’ve seen so many examples of people taking parents’ rights away on this site – as well as so many proofs that these are a trend, not isolated examples – that I do not share your belief that we can trust the courts and police to always do the right thing.

    You said:
    “This is Mike Tang’s own behavior damning him. We’ve seen how he acted when he came on this forum.”
    The fact that he reacted defensively and rudely does not mean he is an abusive parent – it could just mean that he was angry and scared about being arrested for parenting his son. I for one don’t blame him!

    “We have a reasonably good idea how he acted with the cops on the scene.”
    Even if we accept that, reacting badly doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person or a bad parent – just that you lack savviness on how to deal with cops and lawyers.

    “This should give us a pretty good idea of how he acts with his son.”
    I don’t think that follows. You can’t judge a person’s everyday interactions by the way they react when under stress and pressure in an extraordinary situation – such as what some might call abusive laws, lawyers and cops.

    “This is a man who threatened his kid with homelessness (and drove away leaving the kid alone at night where homeless people sleep to prove it) because the kid *didn’t read the right book*!”
    Other people have already argued this with you for long enough. I’ll just say that I do not regard your interpretation of his actions as authoritative, and leave it at that.

  51. Korou August 19, 2017 at 5:20 am #

    “I guess you have never heard of convictions being overturned or people being cleared after years in prison, because according to you courts and juries never get it wrong. According to you they know everything and are the final word. And we shouldn’t fight against unfair laws and just let our parental rights be taken away bit by bit.”

    Thank you, Common Sense. That was just the kind of common sense we need to hear!

  52. James Pollock August 19, 2017 at 5:48 am #

    So much to catch up on.

    “Short of threats of direct bodily harm, unapproved parenting rhetoric had better never form *any* part of why someone gets convicted of a crime and sent to jail.”

    Threats of direct bodily harm are prosecutable as “abuse”. Threats of indirect bodily harm can be prosecutable as “neglect”.

    Consider: “I intend to leave my kids at home alone while I go to work” is no big deal if the kids are 21, 17, and 12, but would be if the kids involved are 4, 2, and 3 months. I think just saying this would be rather strong evidence supporting a conviction for child neglect.

    Or how about “my kid complained about bullies at school. So I gave him my old 9mm to take to school with him. He’s only 8, but there’s enough rounds in the clip that he’ll hit what he’s aiming at eventually…”

    Or “I learned enhanced interrogation procedures that the army uses to interrogate suspected enemy combatants, and I know which ones don’t do any real bodily harm. I told my kid I’d better not see any B’s on his report card this semester…”

    Or “Yeah, I know my son climbs up the tree in our backyard to spy on your daughters getting dressed in their bedrooms. Where do you think he got the idea? You’re just blaming me because your kids aren’t smart enough to close the windows…”

    When the state punishes a parent for abusing or neglecting a child, they’re not doing it for their own gain. They paid the police to investigate, they paid for the judge and courtroom and staff, they paid the prosecutor and possibly the defense lawyer as well. If the conviction goes through, they’ll be paying for the jail, and the jailers, and the food and medical care for the prisoner while they’re in jail. The state does this because children are citizens, and have the right to not be abused or neglected, and since they can’t protect their rights themselves, the state must do it for them.

    ” The child WAS NOT hurt.”
    Do you have a source for this claim who is not a convicted criminal?

    “As a parent, I should be allowed to make decisions for my child that the state or other people might disagree with.”
    For the most part, you do. As noted above, the state is not acting in its own interest when it acts to limit your parental rights… it is defending your child’s rights. So, if you decide no chocolate cake until after junior eats his vegetables, even though the state’s nutritional guidelines call for a mix of grains and carbs in addition to vegetables, the state gives way. If your personal religious views prohibit use of modern medicine, but your child needs a surgery to survive, guess what… the state overrides your choice to deny medical care to your child (at least, my sate does, your state may vary.)

    Consider another freedom, the freedom to travel about as you please. The state doesn’t take any particular interest in how you use this freedom, except for a fairly limited range of proscriptions. Want to drive on a public roadway? Then you need license, registration, and insurance (or bond). Want to drive 115 in a school zone? Expect some pushback. Want to drive down the offramp and proceed at highway speeds into oncoming traffic? That’s the state’s business, as well. In none of these cases does the state know or care where you are trying to go. They’re acting to protect the interests of all the other people on the roads with you, who shouldn’t have THEIR rights interfered with because you don’t feel the state should be in the driver licensing business, or because you believe that cops pulling drivers over for failing to have valid registration on their cars is just a revenue-enhancement scam, or whatever/

    “CPS is going ultra crazy”
    CPS isn’t involved in this story.

    “Self-representation (sometimes called pro se or in propia personem is a major reason some people lose in trial court.”

    This is true enough. However, being guilty is ANOTHER reason some people lose in trial court. (Arguably, there is a net decrease in justice if a lawyer can get a guilty person acquitted. It will surprise no one, I’m sure, that the opposite is also arguable, or that I could argue either side. Not the point.)

    “the fact he was convicted does not mean in the real world he is guilty of bad parenting”
    True, although it is a pretty good indicator.
    The lock, however, is that not once when he commented on the case, NOT ONCE, does Mr. Tang frame it as something he did because it was good for his son, despite a rather specific request that he do so. Rather, it is all about Mr. Tang, and his rights to do as he pleases that forms the center of his response, with his son as an afterthought.
    I suggest that the response of a good parent to a bad challenge to their parenting is to look at the complaint, and then explain why the complaint is incorrect, poorly-informed, or otherwise not useful. The response of a bad parent to any challenge to their authority is to attack and insult anyone who dares suggest anything other than what they want to hear, whether the challenge is valid, invalid, or partly one and partly the other.

    “all people are entitled to form their own opinion from the available facts ”
    Although rushing to judgment before you have enough available facts is foolish.
    It is wiser to at least admit the possibility that other people may have a different opinion from yours because they have more or better information than you do. “Everybody is free to form their own opinion” does not imply that all those opinions are of equal value.

    ” When someone who presents a coherent defense actually loses a similar trial, I’ll be concerned, but not based on this crap-storm of a case.”

    Ouch. But concise.

    “in this country it’s not presumptuous to second guess juries , it’s a national past time.”

    Juries are wrong from time to time, yes. A person who blindly goes along with juries in all cases is going to be wrong a time or two, as well. Is there any reason to doubt that this specific jury got the facts wrong (I mean, the guy was on this site saying that he did it.) He also specifically accused the judge of corruption (on spurious grounds) and was eventually goaded into also claiming that literally everyone involved in the case, from the beginning to the conviction, was/is corrupt (along with whatever insult happened to fly into his brain at the time).

    On the other hand, the jury also spends however long it takes to present all the evidence, seeing and hearing all the evidence. Given the choice between believing what the jury determined, and what some random person who read a story about the case on the Internet determined, I’m going to weight one of those higher than the other, unless something else is available.

    “Even Donna said that if he had a halfway good defense the outcome would have been different.”

    No, actually, she didn’t.

    “The true beauty about opinions is that they are all actually valid.”

    No, actually, they are not. I don’t think “valid” means what you think it does.
    valid, adjective
    1. sound; just; well-founded:
    2. producing the desired result; effective:
    3. having force, weight, or cogency; authoritative.
    4. legally sound, effective, or binding; having legal force:
    5. (of an argument) so constructed that if the premises are jointly asserted, the conclusion cannot be denied without contradiction.

    “You cannot really tell someone their opinion is wrong.”
    You sure can. Are you familiar with the word “debate”?

    “Anything else is smug righteousness.”
    When I do it, it’s just smug rightness.
    Some people read my words, and bask in warm glow of their awesomeness. Some people read my words and sulk in bitter annoyance. I don’t care, I get paid the same either way.

    ” the facts don’t matter if the system is moving towards restricting parental rights ”

    Parental rights do not include a right to abuse children. If you find that alarming, so be it.
    (Another way of looking at this is not as a diminishment of parental rights, but as a vindication of children’s).
    YMMV.

    “First, the judge didn’t make a decision about Mr. Tang’s guilt.”

    You’re contradicting Mr. Tang on that point.

    “The appellate court also didn’t make a decision about the facts.”
    Technically true… but the question of whether these facts constitute a violation of that statute, while technically a matter of law and not one of fact, are awfully close to a decision “about the facts”.

    After all this, I’d like to believe that it would be uncontroversial to believe that the best possible outcome here would be if Mr. Tang took this opportunity to examine his behavior, look for improvements he could make in his approach to parenting, and then strive for improvement.
    But I have my doubts that anything related to this matter is, or can be, uncontroversial.

  53. Jen August 19, 2017 at 8:12 am #

    observations:

    I’m amazed that my kid has an incredibly difficult time knowing where we are in relation to home — because we are in the car most of the time — where we live is not conducive to walking about much. When she was 8, she had a hard time trying to explain to a friend’s dad how to get to our house. So, maybe Mike Tang’s kid was legitimately freaked out because he wasn’t sure how to get home, how long it would take, he’s afraid of the dark, things look different at night…

    Regardless of what you think — this long drawn out court battle has pretty much ensured that Mike Tang will have difficulty getting his kid to do anything he doesn’t want to from now on…take out the garbage-nope, help stack firewood (nope), clean the garage…

  54. pentamom August 19, 2017 at 9:36 am #

    Or, for Heaven’s sake, James, none of that is pertinent to the kind of scenario we had here, where Dienne was trying to justify criminal prosecution at least in part because he said some mean, scary, but not directly threatening, things to the kid. I think I’ve mentioned before that it doesn’t make you sound smart to parse everyone’s writing as legal argument, rather than trying to understand what ordinary people could reasonably be expected to mean by their words within a given context.

  55. James Pollock August 19, 2017 at 10:07 am #

    “none of that is pertinent to the kind of scenario we had here, where Dienne was trying to justify criminal prosecution at least in part because he said some mean, scary, but not directly threatening, things to the kid.”

    I tried to explain why reality doesn’t agree with your pronouncement, but you don’t want to hear it. Fine, you keep believing what you like, and reality will keep being, well, real, with or without your approval.

    One more time: mean, scary, and directly threatening things are prosecutable as abuse. Mean, scary, but not directly threatening things can be prosecutable as neglect. Despite your fervent desires otherwise.

    I expect this to continue being true for the foreseeable future.

  56. Dienne August 19, 2017 at 4:11 pm #

    Oh for pity’s sake. He didn’t just *say* “mean, scary things”. He threatened his kid with homelessness, then *actually* kicked him out of the car “where the homeless sleep”. He followed up the “mean, scary things” he said by *doing* a mean, scary thing to prove it. Tang Jr. was eight years old at the time. The only reasonable interpretation a literal-minded eight year old would draw from that threat followed by that action was “Dad’s going to make me be homeless because I didn’t read the right book.” That’s what’s abusive.

    If Tang Jr. were 16 I’d feel otherwise. A sixteen year old is capable of understanding the nuances: “Dad thinks I’m a lousy no good and that I’ll never amount to anything if I don’t buckle down. If I don’t amount to anything, he thinks I’ll be homeless. He wants to scare me to show me what that’s like so I’ll get my rear in gear.” I would still disagree with Tang’s parenting decision (why punish/antagonize your kid when talking to them and working with them to figure out a solution to the problem (if there even is a problem, which I don’t think “not reading the right book” is) is so much more effective?), but I wouldn’t call it abuse. But threatening an eight year old and following it up in a way that an eight year old could only understand as “Dad’s going to make me homeless”? That’s abuse.

  57. SKL August 19, 2017 at 4:45 pm #

    Anyone remember the case where parents staged a kidnapping on their little boy because he was being too nice to people? They intentionally terrorized him and were found guilty for it. And if the facts were really as presented, then I agree with the verdict.

    I wasn’t there when Mr. Tang did this particular parenting with his son, so I don’t know exactly how it went down, but I won’t say it’s never wrong to terrorize your kid. I will say it can be hard to prove either guilt or innocence. But it sounds like he made it easy by admitting to it or something. I dunno. But yeah – if you actually terrorize your kid – especially on purpose – that is abuse, sorry.

    I have philosophically sided with Tang based on the assumption that he really didn’t scare his kid that badly, and the cops were really upset about the walking alone part. I would like to believe that set of facts, but it isn’t impossible to scare your kid to the point of it being abuse.

  58. Susan M Baker August 19, 2017 at 7:38 pm #

    Where he left his son at night to walk home was not a safe area. I would not walk that area at night myself. I don’t live in that area anymore. This dad needs some parenting classes. That sound abusive and negligent to me. First time I have not agreed with you Lenore.

  59. SteveS August 19, 2017 at 10:26 pm #

    None of these verdicts or rulings stand for anything other being an ass and presenting a bogus defense make it unlikely you are going to win in court.

    This x 100

    The old saying that a person that represents themselves has a fool for a client is almost always true. I have seen this at all levels of court proceedings, from informal traffic violation hearings all the way up to appellate matters and it seldom goes well for the defendant/litigant. I don’t know enough about the case to say whether he would have been acquitted if he hired counsel, but he certainly didn’t do himself any favors by going it alone.

  60. JJ August 20, 2017 at 5:37 am #

    As I understand from the summaries, he was not convicted of emotional abuse for threatening his son, he was convicted for placing his son in a situation where he may be harmed. So whatever your opinion of the homeless threat, that would be legally immaterial since the reason for being dropped off there has no relation to the risk level. Unless the specific act he was convicted of is mistaken.

    I find Dienne’s faith in the system disturbing. This guy almost certainly lost because of his pro se defense. If you’re so convinced he’s lying about the facts, go find the actual court documents and shut us all up. People can’t get convicted on secret evidence and facts outside of natsec cases, so go find what he’s hiding. Until then, it’s entirely reasonable to believe the court did simply agree that the walk was dangerous, because the cop said so and he lacked the ability to mount an effective defense, which makes this a patently absurd ruling. Everything about this reeks of systemic abuse, from the unconstitutional vagueness of “may” to retaliation for bad attitude and pro se. To have faith it’s not after all the ridiculous police and court behavior we’ve seen places the burden on proving we are missing facts, only a hard authoritarian presume we are given what we do know– but by all means, get the case file, prove me wrong.

  61. Megan August 20, 2017 at 6:58 am #

    I applaud Dienne’s attempts to impress upon us that child abuse really does happen, because I often read what is basically a lot of denial of that fact on this site. I manage to be a free range thinker while refusing to minimize the risks all children are at in a world of people bigger, more experienced, and more empowered than they are. I also thought “common sense” got extremely emotional him or herself for someone trying to analyze someone’s argument.

    In any case, I don’t like to see anyone given carte blanche with our rights and freedoms, but kids have to start being considered when we talk about these things. It was simply never a thing until way too recently. I can say I don’t know what I would have decided had I been on that jury, but Mike Tang is clearly an asshole who doesn’t understand the emotional life of a child. Even if I were inclined to find him technically not guilty, I would have wanted to keep an eye on this guy’s future parenting decisions, because clearly he is out of ideas.

  62. Dienne August 20, 2017 at 8:15 am #

    “If you’re so convinced he’s lying about the facts….”

    Where did I say that? In fact, a large part of why he was convicted was that he flat out admitted to what he did and bragged that he’d do it again. It’s not that he lied about what he did, it’s that he’s proud of it.

  63. Dienne August 20, 2017 at 8:18 am #

    Shoot, shouldn’t have hit the submit button so soon. Yes, I’m sure his pro se defense had a lot to do with it too. But not so much because he didn’t present a slick defense, but because he *did* show the court who he was. I gather he acted like an ass, just like he did with the cops. If you act like an ass in what’s supposed to be a controlled situation like court, one can only imagine what an ass you are with your own son.

  64. test August 20, 2017 at 8:57 am #

    @Korou It is not just that Mr. Tang would be rude. He also insisted on defending himself against charge he was not accused of (while ignoring actual charge). He refused layer not because he could not afford it (which would make some sense), but because he believed his own layer would be biased against him. I understand that fear or arrest/prosecution and anger especially make people act less rational. However, Mr. Tang took it to the next level.

    He also systematically framed the issue as being about kids right to “walk home”, never addressed actual context his opposition took issue with (being 8 in the dark in place where homeless sleep). That is not nearly the same as walking home from school no matter how much Mr. Tang attempts to frame things. The whole “if there was a crack in the sidewalk where the child could trip and fall” is completely irrelevant to it all.The court was not prosecuting possible crack trip and fall.

    So, I have hard time to take his word and framings for granted given the above. At minimum, what he says does not seem to be well grounded in reality. And even if he would be right and it was all overreach, he still has plenty of himself to blame. Justice system is not magical “make everything fair” ward. It is human system that can possibly end in fair result if both sides are at least a bit competent in laws and procedures.

    American appeal courts don’t evaluate evidence, they evaluate process. You can win appeal if your procedural rights were broken and some t was not crossed. Not because you are frustrated, angry and emotional. If the cops arguments were absurd, it should have been argued first time round and not on appeal. Layer would know that, Mr. Tang did not. And the last thing the judges on appeal decided was that “could not accept that a child out on his own in the dark could be reasonably safe.” They were not even in position to make such decision.

    At worst, this court case shown that if you dont bother hire lawyer (because hired laywer would be bias, seriously) and dont know much about the law system and are so angry that you cant reason properly, then you are bound to loose.

  65. Korou August 20, 2017 at 10:30 am #

    test, it looks like we’re in agreement. Mike didn’t lose his case because he did something wrong or because he was a bad parent, but because he showed disrespect for the law that was judging him. In other words, he didn’t lose the case because he was guilty but because he wasn’t a good lawyer. Like most of us, I dare say.

    You say he has only himself to blame. I kind of agree with you. He should have got a lawyer.

  66. test August 20, 2017 at 10:44 am #

    @Korou It is definitely possibility that it was unfair judgement, but as I said, I cant fully buy his interpretation of events. And even much less his judgement when it comes to implications of the case. It is not just a question of respect toward law, but also whether I can trust him when he speaks about what happened (whether in the court room or how the place looked like). My impression from his communication in comment section of this blog was that I really cant.

    Which is why I am willing to extend some benefit of the doubt to people who dealt with the case.

  67. test August 20, 2017 at 10:45 am #

    “whether in the court room” was meant to be “whether what happened or was said in the court room”

  68. James Pollock August 20, 2017 at 1:02 pm #

    “This guy almost certainly lost because of his pro se defense.”

    This guy certainly lost because he’s guilty, and proud of it. It wasn’t the prosecutor who convinced me of this… it was Mr. Tang, himself, who did.

    “If you’re so convinced he’s lying about the facts, go find the actual court documents and shut us all up. People can’t get convicted on secret evidence and facts outside of natsec cases, so go find what he’s hiding.”

    Nobody thinks he’s lying about the facts. He’s not hiding anything. He’s quite open and honest about violating the statute. His argument covered many topics, none of which was whether or not he’d violated the statute he was charged under. He was quite irate that the judge didn’t want to hear any more argument about whether or not his son was violating the curfew law, for example. The problem is that he has the sort of misunderstanding of the law and legal processes as does a “sovereign citizen”.

    “To have faith it’s not after all the ridiculous police and court behavior we’ve seen places the burden on proving we are missing facts”
    Uh, not so much. Sure, there’s a chance that the court system was flawed in processing this case. The likelihood is that there isn’t. If you think there was ridiculous police and court behavior in this specific case, fine. Bring out the facts that support this claim. YOU are making the claim. YOU thus have the burden of bringing out evidence that supports it. If you have no evidence that supports your claim, the claim fails. In short, if you believe there was police or court misconduct, go find the transcript and point it out.

    “Mike didn’t lose his case because he did something wrong or because he was a bad parent, but because he showed disrespect for the law that was judging him.”

    You’re assuming this is an “or” You’re framing the question as “did he lose because of this OR that?”, and excluding the possibility that it could be (and I think, was) an “and”. That is, you’re ignoring the likelihood that he lost because he was guilty, AND he put on a defense that wasn’t effective.
    In all the time since this story was first commented on here, and in all the comments Mr. Tang has himself written, not one of them even attempts to lay out a claim that his choice of punishments was justified… that is, that although it might appear severe to persons unfamiliar with Mr. Tang, his son, and the relationship between them, it was in fact a measured, carefully-chosen choice tailored to be the least-severe punishment that would be effective in correcting the behavior of the child. Rather, Mr. Tang claims to possess the right to torment his child as he alone sees fit, and denies that the state has any authority to limit his choices. His understanding of law on this point is simply not correct.

    (Finally, note that “bad parenting” is not against the law. Further, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t made a few bad parenting decisions along the way, so even if this specific event was “bad parenting”, it doesn’t/wouldn’t settle the matter. I do think Mr. Tang did something wrong. I have no idea what kind of parent he is.)

  69. Donna August 20, 2017 at 1:24 pm #

    “Until then, it’s entirely reasonable to believe the court did simply agree that the walk was dangerous, because the cop said so and he lacked the ability to mount an effective defense, which makes this a patently absurd ruling.”

    People who refuse to hire attorneys – note, that Mr. Tang has always asserted that he refused to hire an attorney because he wanted to represent himself, not that he couldn’t afford an attorney but didn’t qualify for a public defender – suffer the consequences of refusing hiring an attorney. There is nothing absurd about that at all.

    Nor do we know if this a true statement. It is very possible that he would have lost the case even if he had hired the best criminal attorney in the country. I can see why some people would believe that Mr. Tang’s actions – as described by him – constitute the crime charged. I might disagree, but that is the problem with taking a case like this to trial. Beliefs as to what constitutes “unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering” is going to vary by person.

  70. Matthew Dowd August 20, 2017 at 2:31 pm #

    To have a better idea of what occurred on appeal, we would need to see the briefs on appeal. I can only hope that Mr. Tang hired an attorney for the appeal. If he did not, not much should be taken away from this case. As I said in a comment in an earlier post about this story, Mr. Tang’s biggest mistake was not hiring an attorney. (I was counsel for the Meitivs in the Silver Spring, MD “free range” kids case. We had a successful outcome in that case.)

    Matthew Dowd
    Dowd PLLC

  71. Donna August 20, 2017 at 3:29 pm #

    “I can only hope that Mr. Tang hired an attorney for the appeal.”

    He indicated the last time he posted here that he had no intention of doing so, so I think the likelihood that he did is pretty low.

    “If he did not, not much should be taken away from this case.”

    Even if he did, not much should be taken away from this case. An appellate attorney can only do so much to rectify a bad pro se trial defense.

  72. Ashley Wright August 21, 2017 at 12:35 am #

    Wow, when you first talked about this story I didn’t really pay much attention, but we just moved to CA a few months ago and I just realized this occurred just a mile or so from my house. We have been to that shopping center and nearby park many times and it seems like a very safe area. The street is kind of busy but there are safe places to cross. One of my biggest fears with moving from a small town in Missouri to southern CA has been the ability to be a free range parent. I have allowed my 13 and 10 year old to ride their bikes to the nearby Walmart, and some people are pretty surprised when they hear this. I get nervous that a neighbor might have a problem with my 13 year old babysitting frequently or my 10 year old taking his 2 year old brother for a walk in the stroller (we live on a quiet, dead end street) But they crave responsibility and freedom, so I can’t let my fears stop me. Thank you to Mike Tang for taking a stand.

  73. common sense August 21, 2017 at 8:22 am #

    so Ashley and susan both seem to know the area where tang junioe had to walk. one feels it’s too dangerous and the other thinks it’s an okay place to walk. maybe we need Lenore to check it out because with 2 such opposite opinions, one is wrong.

  74. RW August 21, 2017 at 9:11 am #

    No one here is really talking about the state of the child – what was his emotional state and how does he respond to his father? My parents, if you talked to them would claim they were fantastic and pro free range. My therapist says they were toxic and so does my anxiety disorder. There is nothing wrong with free range when done right but be aware that you may not know when you crossed the line to neglect or emotional abuse till your child is an adult. You have to have a great relationship with your kids and be willing above all to correct your own errors.

  75. John B. August 21, 2017 at 12:44 pm #

    People, what it boils down to here is that Mr. Tang would have been much better off hiring an attorney. I realize that it’s all hindsight now and perhaps he still would have lost his case had an attorney represented him. BUT he would have had a much greater chance of winning had he hired an attorney. If that were the case, Dienne’s statement that “……Mike Tang is a hostile, arrogant jerk who emotionally abused an eight year old by threatening him with homelessness and then abandoning him” would NOT have been true. But since he lost his case, that statement is officially true.

    Other than maybe challenging a traffic citation, I, personally, would NEVER, NEVER, NEVER represent myself in a court case.

  76. Donna August 21, 2017 at 5:13 pm #

    “so Ashley and susan both seem to know the area where tang junioe had to walk. one feels it’s too dangerous and the other thinks it’s an okay place to walk. maybe we need Lenore to check it out because with 2 such opposite opinions, one is wrong.”

    Or maybe we should accept that “too dangerous” and “okay place to walk” are subjective and people can have differing opinions.

    But all of that is irrelevant because that is not why Mr. Tang was arrested. Mr. Tang was arrested for the ENTIRE INCIDENT not just the part you want to insist he was arrested for. If just the walking was the problem, Mr. Tang would have been arrested for the numerous other times Tang Jr. had walked the exact same route home from school. But he wasn’t. He was only arrested this time.

  77. James Pollock August 21, 2017 at 10:35 pm #

    ” If just the walking was the problem, Mr. Tang would have been arrested for the numerous other times Tang Jr. had walked the exact same route”

    He was just one of the massive wave of California arrests for letting children walk around. There were thousands and thousands of arrests, but the mainstream media (fake news) just won’t tell you about all the many, many arrests since California made children walking illegal…

  78. Korou August 22, 2017 at 9:15 am #

    “People, what it boils down to here is that Mr. Tang would have been much better off hiring an attorney.”

    I agree, but it seems that some commenters don’t. If they did, they wouldn’t be saying that we have no right to dispute the case since a judge and jury “in full possession of all the facts” found Mr. Tang guilty.

  79. Miriam August 22, 2017 at 9:38 am #

    Maybe most of us can agree on this:

    – “May” should be removed.
    – All parents say and do regretable things to their kids. Cynical remarks when we’ve had it up to here, scaring them too much so they would finally listen, yell, or scold too long when they are already crying. So even if you disagree with his actions, none of us parents is entirely free from ‘damaging’ their kids. So let’s not act as if we’re all morally superior.
    – Sometimes its better to be smart than right. Cursing, refusing to cooperate and making people hate you, is not helpful. Even if you have the right to do it. I’m saying it because I’ve learned my lesson. I’m usually very stubborn and tend to stick to the ‘right’ instead of the ‘smart’. It could very possibly be that the judges/jury used this ‘loophole’ because they felt that this specific parent may possibly cause regular mental abuse to his kids (without compensating for it in the bigger picture), and preferred that he would have prior convictions if future issues arrise. The sentence is not that severe. I know it’s the principle, but maybe this was not the kind of person to fight this just cause. Not comparing, but many mafia leaders were convicted for tax issues because those were the only facts the prosecutors had. They wanted to charge them for murders, threats and bribe and many other issues, but decided to go with what works and what they had.
    – It’s ridiculous that he was charged with “neglect” because his actions are anything but neglect. It was done on purpose, and it caused him additional work to discipline his kid this way (pick him up later, wait for him, etc).
    – Law is not an exact science. Common sense, empathy and gut feelings are an important part if it. Let’s work on changing public opinions so that gut and common sense (of both judges and jury) are on our side. Personally I’m more worried about juries than about judges (that they reach decisions based on emotions), but I might be too naive…

  80. James Pollock August 22, 2017 at 10:08 am #

    “I agree, but it seems that some commenters don’t. If they did, they wouldn’t be saying that we have no right to dispute the case since a judge and jury “in full possession of all the facts” found Mr. Tang guilty.”

    Mr. Tang should have hired an attorney, and the reason is that an attorney could have negotiated a lighter sentence.

    There’s a possibility that some kind of evidence exists, but has not been brought forth by Mr. Tang, that his choice was legally justified because nothing lesser would have have provided the necessary effect on the young Mr. Tang, but I sincerely doubt this. Mr. Tang was caught in the act, and that doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room, even for a good practitioner. Strong representation could have helped Mr. Tang avoid making it worse for himself at every opportunity to do so, this is true.

    “many mafia leaders were convicted for tax issues because those were the only facts the prosecutors had.”
    An aside: The truth is a bit more complicated. Our legal system is divided between state and federal authorities. States have primary, in some cases, sole, authority to prosecute for many crimes. Federal prosecutors can’t prosecute for violations of state laws, only federal. Not paying your (federal) income taxes is a federal crime. Murder, except for a list of specific circumstances, isn’t. So if a murder doesn’t fit one of the circumstances, a federal prosecutor CAN’T prosecute a murder. Admittedly, the list of specific circumstances that allow the feds to investigate and prosecute is a long one, and keeps getting longer.

    “– It’s ridiculous that he was charged with “neglect” because his actions are anything but neglect. It was done on purpose, and it caused him additional work to discipline his kid this way (pick him up later, wait for him, etc).”

    I’d like to point out that we only have Mr. Tang’s word for this. It’s possible that he did not intend to shadow the kid, pick him up later, or wait for him. This is why we have trials, and make the jury listen to all the available evidence, before rendering judgment. (Note: I didn’t listen to all that available evidence, so I have no basis to determine if the list above is true or not. I think the crime was completed when young Mr. Tang got out of the car, and it just so happens that the “excessive punishment” crime is covered under the “parental neglect” statute rather than somewhere else in the criminal code.

    “Let’s work on changing public opinions so that gut and common sense (of both judges and jury) are on our side.”
    You’re assuming they aren’t already. You’re undoubtedly right, in some cases, but just as undoubtedly wrong, for some others.

    While it’s certainly a possibility that the jury said “this guy’s an jerk. Let’s punish him for being a jerk, even though he’s innocent of the crime charged”, it’s also possible that the jury looked at the case with nothing but cool reason, and said. “He keeps saying he did it, and he’d do it again, and he has the right to keep doing it. Makes it really easy for us to decide that he did it. Also, what a jerk.” Or maybe it was a completely different third thing, or a fourth. As a spectator, I have nothing that would lead me to believe that the jury operated unfairly in finding that Mr. Tang did what he was charged with doing (notably, we heard from Mr. Tang saying he did it. That doesn’t leave much room for believing that maybe he isn’t guilty of doing it.) His defense seems to be “I did it, but I have a right to do it that California can’t take away”, and, well, he’s wrong on that last part. Hopefully, this will (eventually) turn out to be a learning experience.

  81. Donna August 23, 2017 at 9:01 am #

    “I sincerely doubt this. Mr. Tang was caught in the act, and that doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room, even for a good practitioner.”

    People argue in trials quite regularly “I did everything that the state says I did, but those actions did not violate the law I am charged under.” Some win. Some lose. Depends greatly on the case, the attorney and the jury. That was essentially Mr. Tang’s defense, but his presentation of it sucked. It is unknown whether he would have won if he had had an attorney who could have articulated his position in a sane, rational manner. If he did nothing more than what he has described numerous times here, I wouldn’t have convicted him. Nor would the majority of regular commenters.

  82. Donna August 23, 2017 at 9:07 am #

    “– “May” should be removed.”

    No “may” should not be removed. There are countless things that abusive parents do that most even here would agree are abuse or neglect, but that through some act of fate or luck do not actually cause any harm. For example, someone who allows their 2 year old to play in the middle of the highway is neglectful even if the child is not hit by a car.

  83. James Pollock August 23, 2017 at 8:48 pm #

    “People argue in trials quite regularly ‘I did everything that the state says I did, but those actions did not violate the law I am charged under.”’

    Yeah. That’s pretty much the only choice when you are caught in the act of doing it. The defense of “nope… wasn’t me” isn’t really available. The defense of “maybe I was there, maybe I wasn’t. Maybe I was involved, maybe I wasn’t. Prove it” isn’t really available.

    In some cases, the defense has a lot of choices… do they attack the evidence as insubstantial? Do they argue an alternate theory of the case? Do they throw a co-offender under the bus? Heck, sometimes its possible to argue that the police were and are biased against the defendant, and pursued an innocent person because of that bias, and sometimes it’s even true. In other cases, there isn’t any wiggle room… there’s one possible defense, however strong or weak it may be.

    The “my imaginary right trumps your actual law” defense wasn’t going to work. Might an actual defense? It would have all depended on keeping the man quietly glued to his chair, and giving respectful answers to questions (yes, I know full well the fifth amendment means he didn’t have to testify. I don’t think he could’ve won without explaining his side, and neither to I believe he could have done so in a respectful manner, when under pressure. The first time he got angry and flew off the handle, the jury sees that he’s capable of losing his temper and flying off the handle, which is a key aspect of the offense he was charged with.

  84. Korou August 24, 2017 at 2:44 pm #

    Nobody’s denying, James Pollock, that Mr. Tang was “caught in the act.” The question that we are considering is whether he was actually “caught” doing anything wrong. That was his defense, and the fact that he handled that defense very badly does not mean he was guilty.
    Which is, I think, Lenore’s point.

  85. Korou August 24, 2017 at 2:57 pm #

    After all the argument and controversy about this I thought I’d revisit the original post to see if I’ve missed anything at http://www.freerangekids.com/dad-gets-56-days-hard-labor-for-making-son-8-walk-home-at-night/

    But after rereading it, I can’t see that Mike Tang did anything he should be punished for. No doubt this is just chewing over stale soup, but I really cannot see what all the fuss was about.

    “So to put the fear of failure into his son, Tang drove him to the local shopping plaza at around 7:40 pm and showed him, “This is where homeless people sleep.” (There were no actual homeless people present.) Mike then told the boy that he had to walk home, which was about a mile, along the same route that he walks to school. And off dad drove.”

    So there were no homeless people there, and it was early in the evening, and it was along a well-known route. Fine.

    “Four police cars arrived a few minutes later, as did Tang and his own dad, coming to check up on the boy. They were shocked to find the cops there. Tang was not permitted to talk to his son. Instead he was handcuffed, charged with criminal child neglect, and taken to jail.”

    I’ve read a good deal about how his son might have been traumatised by the experience. Ironic, since it seems the police response must have been much more traumatic to him!

    “Meanwhile, a cop went to his home, entered it and lectured his wife on how to properly discipline kids: “Do you think it’s right for an 8-year-old to walk that far in this cold weather? …He could have been kidnapped.”

    Seems like the issue is “is it safe for a child to walk a mile alone along a familiar route?” and that the police officer would have had the same attitude to the boy walking to or from school.

    The officer said, “At night, anywhere, in my opinion, is just dangerous for a child, for even an adult to walk home that late. Even 8:00 o’clock doesn’t seem that late, but it just is. Anything can happen at any time.”

    “Anything can happen” is pure helicopter parenting.

    “Officer Doty: In my opinion, if I was in your shoes, I wouldn’t have left my child there. I have a 20-year-old daughter that I would not let her walk home.”

    In other words, “I am a helicopter parent, and we are judging you for not being one too.”

    Lenore said: “As for my take, I must harken, once again, to the UC Irvine study that was trying to determine why we keep arresting parents for putting their kids in nearly non-existent danger. It found that the more we morally disapprove of a parent, the more danger we believe they put their child in.”

    Hear, hear!

  86. Donna August 24, 2017 at 5:50 pm #

    “and that the police officer would have had the same attitude to the boy walking to or from school.”

    Which would make sense … except that the exact same child had walked the same basic route to and from school prior to the incident and has, to my knowledge, walked it repeatedly since and there have been no additional arrests.

  87. James Pollock August 25, 2017 at 12:34 am #

    “the fact that he handled that defense very badly does not mean he was guilty.”

    Duh. The fact that he had a lousy defense, however, does not mean that he would have done any better with a better defender. (Well, he probably would have negotiated a less severe sentence, had Mr. Tang been inclined to accept that yes, California DOES have the power to limit his parental choices.

    The point of having a trial is to establish the truth of what happened, and then apply the law to those facts.
    In the trial court, we establish what the facts are, and, with numerous but minor exceptions, once the facts are established at trial, they are established. The jury hears all the evidence available to them, and decides what the facts are. The facts of this case are not really in doubt; Mr. Tang, when he can be reined in from irrelevant tangents such as curfew law and cracks in the sidewalk, admits that the facts are, essentially, as charged. He did do the things he’s accused of doing.
    That brings us to the application of the law. The statute (I quoted it way up above, scroll up and look at it if you’re curious.) forbids “unjustified” suffering, mental or physical, to children in one’s care. If I may be so bold as to suggest what Mr. Tang’s argument actually was, minus the irrelevancies, it’s this: I’m the parent, so whatever suffering I choose to inflict on my child is justified. If I think reading a book that is well below grade level to satisfy a reading assignment should be punished by being threatened with homelessness and being kicked out of the house and left “where the homeless sleep”, that’s my call and the state can’t second-guess me, because I am the parent and they are not. I may have this analysis way off… but it’s not about what time the curfew is, whether or not the kid was in direct physical danger at the time of the incident (the statute has two branches, one for when the kid IS under direct threat of substantial injury, and one where the child IS NOT under direct threat of substantial injury, and Mr. Tang was convicted of the one that applies when the child is not under threat of substantial injury. So arguing about how safe the kid was while he was being tormented is useless… the state didn’t argue that he was in any danger.
    So… the real question is “was the mental suffering Mr. Tang inflicted on his son justified, or not? Mr. Tang never argues that it was (not once). Rather, he frames the issue in terms of his “rights”, claiming parental authority to inflict whatever suffering he chooses to impose. It turns out that parents do not actually have such a right, and arguing that they do is unpersuasive to people who know better, including prosecutors, judges, a presumably (though not necessarily) properly-instructed jury, and some but not all people who just read about the case on the Internet.

    Can we let it go, now? Way, way, WAY too much time has been taken up by this. It’s not a free-range issue. Free-range is about autonomy for youngsters. Tang Jr. wasn’t exercising autonomy. What this is turns out to be a “do parents have the right to torment their children” issue. The short answer is “no”, but, like ALL legal questions, there is a long answer which has a LOT more nuance to it.

    If you choose to punish your child(ren) publicly, you run the risk that the public (and their agents, the police and courts) may take an interest in your choices, and you may not find their interest to be to your liking. Next.

  88. Korou August 25, 2017 at 8:42 am #

    “Which would make sense … except that the exact same child had walked the same basic route to and from school prior to the incident and has, to my knowledge, walked it repeatedly since and there have been no additional arrests.”

    You’re right, it doesn’t make sense – but that’s because the officer’s argument itself does not make sense.
    If he did think that “anything could have happened” then, as you say, intervention would have taken place. If the issue is that it was after dark, well, why is the curfew not earlier?

    I’d guess that what it really is is that they acted reflexively and are now trying to justify their decision.

  89. Korou August 25, 2017 at 8:46 am #

    “I may have this analysis way off…”

    You do. A highly emotional and one-sided interpretation of it.
    How about:

    “I’m the parent, so whatever reasonable punishments I choose to use in disciplining my children are justified. If I think consistently under-performing in homework assignments should be punished by warning my child of future consequences and making him walk home (on a safe, familiar route early in the evening) is appropriate then that’s my call and the state can’t second-guess me, because I am the parent and they are not.”

    If we’re going to leave it there we will, I think, need to agree to disagree. I’ll stand by what Lenore said and my own interpretation: Mike Tang did nothing wrong.

  90. James Pollock August 25, 2017 at 11:52 am #

    “If the issue is that it was after dark, well, why is the curfew not earlier?”

    Because you don’t understand what curfews are, what they are for, and how they operate? Just a guess.
    Curfews aren’t about protecting the people being restricted from the big scary world. Curfews are about protecting people and property FROM THE PEOPLE BEING RESTRICTED. We make teenagers go home and stay there between midnight and 6am not because the streets are too darn dangerous for teens, but because teens who are out and about between midnight and 6am are up to no good. A curfew gives a cop who comes across a teen at 2am a reasonable suspicion that the teen is violating a specific law that can be clearly articulated, which happens to be the requirement if said cop wants to detain someone.

    “I’d guess that what it really is is that they acted reflexively and are now trying to justify their decision.”
    That’s a highly one-sided and emotional interpretation.

    “‘I may have this analysis way off…’
    You do.”
    Such certitude. Your analysis may be way off, as well. The difference is, I’ve laid out all the evidence and reasoning that supports my conclusion, whereas you just state yours as fact. Hmmmm.

    ” I’ll stand by what Lenore said and my own interpretation: Mike Tang did nothing wrong.”
    OK. And I’ll stand by what Mr. Tang actually told me, and a jury of his peers determined to be true: Yes, he did.

  91. Korou August 26, 2017 at 1:01 am #

    Thank you for your correction about curfew. You’re right, I didn’t understand it.

    However, I still can’t see how Mr. Tang did anything wrong. Saying that you’ll “stand by what Mr. Tang told you” is a bit strange. Did he plead guilty, then? What you mean, I imagine, is that you’ll stand by your own opinion of what his actions meant. Earlier, you said:
    “Mr. Tang was charged with being cruel to his child…He definitely did it. Maybe what he did shouldn’t be considered a crime, maybe it should be.”
    Well, exactly. Some of us think it shouldn’t be considered a crime, a misdemeanour, or a wrong thing to do, which is why we think it was wrong for him to be convicted.

    As for “cruelty to his child” when I read this, I just can’t see it:
    “This was not the first time the boy had done this, and previous punishments like taking away his videogames hadn’t worked. So to put the fear of failure into his son, Tang drove him to the local shopping plaza at around 7:40 pm and showed him, “This is where homeless people sleep.” (There were no actual homeless people present.) Mike then told the boy that he had to walk home, which was about a mile, along the same route that he walks to school. And off dad drove.”

    So, the parent had a legitimate reason to want to discipline his child. He warned him about the possible future consequences of his actions – “If you carry on like this, you could end up homeless.”
    And then he told him to walk home, along a familiar route. Not “Stay here and see how you like it” or “I’m kicking you out of the house.” There’s no evidence to suggest that he was threatening to make his son homeless. So where, exactly, is the cruelty?

    And, on a final point, “cruelty” to the child was not why Mike Tang was arrested. He was arrested because police believed that a child walking on his own was in danger of his life. Which is the kind of nonsense that the whole free-range kids movement opposes.

  92. James Pollock August 26, 2017 at 2:54 am #

    “However, I still can’t see how Mr. Tang did anything wrong.”
    OK. We’ll put you down in the “it’s OK to torment children” side.

    “Saying that you’ll ‘stand by what Mr. Tang told you’ is a bit strange.
    It is? He came on this site, and exchanged comments with me on several occasions.

    “Did he plead guilty, then?”
    No. He said California didn’t have the right to punish him for what he did.

    “What you mean, I imagine, is that you’ll stand by your own opinion of what his actions meant.”
    What I mean, in reality, is that I’ll stand by the fact that Mr. Tang told me he did what he was accused of (not that he had much choice but to admit it, he was caught doing it.)

    “Well, exactly. Some of us think it shouldn’t be considered a crime, a misdemeanour, or a wrong thing to do, which is why we think it was wrong for him to be convicted. ”
    Yes. Already got you on the “pro” side of “is it OK to abuse children?” question, now confirmed. It’s definitely a wrong thing to do. It’s a misdemeanor when you do it without justification. That last part is the wiggle room… was this particular punishment, though wrong, made legal by justification? Since Mr. Tang has declined to even attempt to offer any justification (despite being asked specifically to do so), I can’t say for 100% certain that there wasn’t a justification. The justification I’ve inferred from Mr. Tang’s ranting is the “I’m the parent so anything I do is justified”. No, that’s not justification. But there might actually be one, that has yet to be disclosed.

    “So, the parent had a legitimate reason to want to discipline his child.”
    Yes. You can have this point, in the sense that literally nobody is arguing the other side of it. Yay for you!
    Of course he had a reason to want to discipline his child. This does not, however, in any way establish that the punishment he chose was justified.
    So, when your toddler spills Kool-Aid on the white carpeting, leaving a stain, despite having been told not to carry Kool-Aid in containers that can spill, you’d be justified in disciplining the child. But if the punishment you select is to lock him outdoors in a dog kennel for six months, where he can spill all he wants to without staining any carpets, you might not think this is wrong or a crime or a misdemeanor, but California will, and will act accordingly.
    Here’s another side jaunt.
    Many California (and, in fact, the other states, too) criminal offenses have justification defenses. If I shot a man to death because he was raping my daughter at the time, the act is justified and thus not a crime. Justification has to be proportional, however… if my neighbor lets his dog crap in my yard despite being told to keep his dog off my lawn, I’m justified in being angry about it. I’m justified in taking many actions. Burning down his house, however, and framing him for distributing child pornography and meth, are not on the list. Cutting someone off in traffic justifies bad language and offensive hand gestures. It does not justify gunfire, as a general rule.
    Now, we might say that breaking a toddler’s arm is child abuse, and there wouldn’t be much argument about THAT (I hope) But if the child’s arm got broken because of the speed and force necessary to retrieve that toddler from walking into traffic, or off a six-story building’s roof, then the injury, although severe and painful, is likely justified. The young Mr. Tang’s offense (apparently a repeated one) involved not putting the amount of effort into homework that elder Mr. Tang believed was appropriate. (Gee, I wish this site would take up the question of whether or not homework should be assigned to 8-year-olds…) That justifies a punishment. There are a wide assortment of punishments which would not have caused any issue at all, because although they do involve suffering (mental or physical or both) they would not involve UNJUSTIFIED suffering, and the statute criminalizes only the infliction of unjustified suffering.
    The problem (originally for young Mr. Tang, then for the elder Mr. Tang) was that the punishment selected was not proportional to the offense.

    “He was arrested because police believed that a child walking on his own was in danger of his life.”
    It’s nice that you believe this, but (alas) it has no basis in fact.
    The California child neglect statute (California Penal Code 273a, if you want to look it up) has two forks. One fork (section a) is a felony, and involves actually placing a child in danger of his or her life or actually causing major injury. The other (section b) is a misdemeanor, and involves either physical or mental cruelty (i.e., causing unjustified suffering) or placing the child in danger, but not in danger of major injury.
    If your statement were correct, Mr. Tang would have been charged with the felony. He was in fact, charged, tried, and convicted of the misdemeanor.
    Let me quote the relevant text for you. “Any person who, under circumstances or conditions other than those likely to produce great bodily harm or death…”
    Just to be clear, your working theory is that the police thought the boy was in danger of his life, and so they arrested Mr. Tang and charged Mr. Tang with a violation of a statute, resulting in a conviction which was upheld under appeal, where the statute EXPLICITLY states that it applies in circumstances that are not likely to produce death (or great bodily harm). You figure that the cops, the prosecutor, the judges in the trial court AND the appeals court ALL overlooked this unimportant detail. Does this about sum up your argument?

    I think we’re done here. You want the results to be different, so you choose to imagine that the facts are different.
    But these are facts:
    1) Mr. Tang caused suffering in his child. (Before you try to argue that, no, there was no suffering, I suggest you ponder the nature of punishment. It does not work if there is no suffering.)
    2) That suffering was disproportional to the juvenile offense against parental authority.
    3) Disproportional punishments are not justified.
    4) California criminalizes inflicting unjustified suffering upon children in your care. (Guess what? So do the other 49 states, and most other jurisdictions, too.)
    5) the defense of “I’m the kid’s father, and I have the right to discipline my child any way I choose to, and you (various state authorities) do not have the authorities to punish me for my choices” does not work, and people who are not you mostly agree that it should not work.
    Those are facts.

    Now, because there aren’t enough of my words here yet, let’s contrast Mr. Tang’s case with the Meitivs’ case. They (the Meitiv parents) determined that their children were capable of ranging to locations unaccompanied, based on their knowledge and experience of the children and their abilities, and, this helps, the children were, in fact, capable. They successfully made excursions on many, many occasions. The Meitivs were empowering their children, allowing them to take on responsibilities that they were prepared for. They could clearly articulate why they made the decision(s) they did, and that reasoning was expressed in in terms of the benefits to the children. In short, it was about the kids, not the parents.

    Or consider Ms. Skenazy’s case… her son asked to be allowed to travel on the subways on his own, as he was confident he could make the trip successfully. He was empowered to take responsibility for himself on this journey. Ms. Skenazy was able to clearly articulate why she made the decision she did, and that reasoning was expressed in terms of the benefits to her son. She wrote several newspaper columns on the experience. which received a great deal of attention, both positive and negative. In short, it was about the kid, and not the parent.

    Now, back to Mr. Tang. His son did not ask to be put out of the house; it was a punishment. He (the son) did not seek out the opportunity to exercise responsibility for himself. He (the son) did not successfully complete the trip on his own, and thus did not accrue any of the benefits of taking responsibility for himself. Asked about his reasoning for why he chose the actions he took, Mr. Tang spoke over and over about HIS rights to do as he pleases, and to torment his son as and when he chooses to do so, and never (not once) did he articulate any benefit his son would achieve from this incident. In short, it was all about Mr. Tang, Sr., and his perception that his “rights” were being invaded.

    Which one of these doesn’t belong with the others?

    I’ll throw in a fourth case. A single father raising a daughter. The daughter is given considerable latitude and personal autonomy, and although still given clear constraints, she is given the reasoning behind why those constraints exist, and at least some idea of what might be required to alter them. The daughter is given responsibilities commensurate with her capabilities. She chooses her own extracurricular activities, schedules her own homework, and (mostly) selects her own wardrobe, for school and outside activities.
    Because the child’s parents are divorced, the child travels between the households… a task originally involving walking, and later involving scheduling airline travel and traveling unaccompanied, which is done successfully although not without challenges, and including being stuck in a city (and even state) neither parent lives in.
    That child successfully completes a high-school education and continues on to university, earning a science degree and making plans to apply to medical school. This child successfully transitions from living at home to living in university housing to living off-campus. This father can explain every decision made about this child’s upbringing, in terms related to benefits to the child, which is a major contributor to why he was the custodial parent. (The law says that neither mother nor father has an advantage in custody cases, but fathers actually win contested custody cases about one time in five.)
    Of course, one thing working in father’s favor during custody proceedings is that father is nearly always right, which is annoying to daughter, intolerable to child’s mother, and to a large chunk of the Internet at large. So be it.

  93. Donna August 26, 2017 at 12:27 pm #

    “You’re right, it doesn’t make sense – but that’s because the officer’s argument itself does not make sense.
    If he did think that “anything could have happened” then, as you say, intervention would have taken place. If the issue is that it was after dark, well, why is the curfew not earlier?”

    No, it is because he was arrested for THE ENTIRE INCIDENT, not just the one part everyone here insists that he was arrested for – walking. Yes, the officer talked about the walking part in his testimony, but that does not mean that that was all he was concerned with. We have always only had a portion of the transcript – the portion Mr. Tang wanted to release.

    Look, I agree with you that what Mr. Tang did, while not poor parenting, did not rise to the level of abuse that should be criminally prosecuted. But that does not mean that there was not more at play here than simply a child walking down the street. Nor does it mean that other people couldn’t disagree. That is what makes taking this kind of case to a jury very risky – while there are things that are so clearly abuse that no sane, rational person would disagree, there are many situations that are much grayer in which people may come to differing conclusions.

    This case is even more complicated by the fact that Mr. Tang, who comes across as a complete asshole here, chose to defend himself and presented a defense that was completely incoherent and not consistent with the laws of the state or even logic. We do not know what a jury would have done with this case had it actually been presented the with argument that Mr. Tang’s actions did not rise to the level of “unjustifiable mental suffering” required by the statute or that addressed the incident in total and not just the walking part. We don’t know what would have happened if Mr. Tang had been able to articulate his position without coming across as a raging lunatic that clearly subjected everyone, including his child, to unjustifiable mental suffering on a regular basis. There is really nothing to conclude from this case other than, if you are charged criminally, hire an attorney.

  94. Donna August 26, 2017 at 12:32 pm #

    “Look, I agree with you that what Mr. Tang did, while not poor parenting,”

    That should have said, Look, I agree with you that what Mr. Tang did, while poor parenting …

  95. Korou August 27, 2017 at 7:19 am #

    James: I’m not certain whether you’re serious or not when you say “We’ll put you down in the “it’s OK to torment children” side” and “Already got you on the “pro” side of “is it OK to abuse children?” question, now confirmed.”

    If you are NOT serious, if you do not really believe that I support the abuse of children, then I would like an apology.

    If you are serious, then I’m puzzled. I don’t think this is at all consistent with what I wrote. On a side note, I wonder if you think Lenore Skenazy is also a proponent of child abuse, as she’s defended Mike Tang in three separate posts, and clearly thinks it was wrong for him to be arrested, charged or convicted.

    Anyway. There’s quite a lot that I disagree with in your post, but I hope you don’t mind if we ignore why this is a free-range issue and the other “side jaunts” you cited for now. I’d like to focus on what I think is the key point:

    What was the unjustified suffering that was caused to the child?

    You said:
    “1) Mr. Tang caused suffering in his child. (Before you try to argue that, no, there was no suffering, I suggest you ponder the nature of punishment. It does not work if there is no suffering.)
    2) That suffering was disproportional to the juvenile offense against parental authority.”

    As for 1, I see nothing wrong in agreeing that he caused suffering. That’s one of the things that discipline and sanctions are for. But as for 2 (and this is where I am puzzled, because I’ve already explained this) I do not think that what Mike Tang did could have caused unjustified suffering in his child. I’ve made this point before, and this time I hope you respond to it.

    – Was the child scared of being attacked? There were no homeless people present, so there was nothing to scare the child unduly.
    – Was the child scared by being left alone? The route was a familiar one that that child had walked before, so he didn’t need to fear getting lost.
    – Was the child scared he was being made homeless? Mr. Tang told his son to walk home; there was no reason for his son to be worried.

    As far as I can tell, all we have is a parental lecture on responsibility, coupled with a warning about future consequences and the punishment of being made to walk outside for a while. So: please explain to me. In what way was unjustified suffering caused?

  96. Donna August 27, 2017 at 11:20 am #

    “That suffering was disproportional to the juvenile offense against parental authority.”

    Except that is not consistent with the plain language of the statute. The statute specifically states “inflicts thereon UNJUSTIFIABLE physical pain or mental suffering.” “Unjustifiable” connotes that the suffering is impossible to justify, not that Mr. Tang failed to justify it. “Unjustified” would be the proper word if they meant what you are saying – that the suffering would be okay in some circumstances, but not others.

    In addition, the issue is whether he violated the statute as charged, not whether he violated the statute in any way possible. I have never seen the accusation or verdict form and to my knowledge you have not either. He could have been charged for inflicting unjustifiable mental suffering or he could have been charged for permitting his child to be placed in a situation where his or her person or health may be endangered. I have no idea.

    Mr. Tang has always been totally focused on the “permits that child to be placed in a situation where his or her person or health may be endangered” portion of the statute. That could be because he is an idiot or it could be that was what he was actually charged and convicted of doing. All the evidence we’ve seen from the transcript is focused on the danger and not the mental suffering, so it is very possible that he was convicted under the portion of the statute addressing danger and not the portion involving mental suffering.

    “Mr. Tang caused suffering in his child. (Before you try to argue that, no, there was no suffering, I suggest you ponder the nature of punishment. It does not work if there is no suffering.)”

    What Mr. Tang intended and what happened could easily be two different things. It is true that the punishment does not work if there is no suffering, but we have no evidence whatsoever that the punishment worked. Could be that Tang Jr. thought it was funny and thoroughly enjoyed being out at night despite what his father intended. This portion of the statute requires mental suffering to actually happen. If none happened, he did not violate the statute even if he intended for mental suffering to occur.