For a week now, I have been reading about Thomas James Ball, who self immolated on June 15 in front of the Cheshire county
courthouse (New Hampshire). I cannot totally grasp the total desperation of a man who sets himself on fire; moreover, with three kids he loves. There is not even the hope that one’s sacrifice will serve a purpose. Mohamed Bouazizi, the street vendor who self immolated himself, sparked the Tunisian Revolution and the Arab Spring (now the Arab Year), did not know what the consequences of his immolation would be.
What is clear is that Thomas James Ball’s story is too reminiscent of that of many fathers fighting family laws and family court justice in this country. What broke the camel back in Thomas’ case was that he had it all, whereas most of us do not drink the chalice of the insanity of U.S. family justice all at once.
It starts with Ball’s wife accusing her husband of domestic violence. That was unfounded but in Cheshire County House, Keene, New Hamsphire, like in most U.S. family courts, it does not matter; What family courts care about, is to give women the impression that they are treated seriously, even if their accusations don’t fly. Ball has in front of him the typical gutless family court judge, judge Sullivan, who denies him to see his two girls unsupervised until the Monadnock Family Services say so. Obviously, the family justice system of the great State of New Hampshire, like that of the great State of New York, heavily counts on these private, for-profit, unregulated, ”Fully-Committed-To-Screw-Your” Family Services to sort out the wheat from the chaff. It happens that Ball cannot stand the do-gooders of Monadnock Family Services and refuses its transitory family “guidance”.
Last blow for Ball: he became unemployed. He soon found out that while men were on pot, family-loving lawmakers have reenacted debt prison for failure to pay child support. He faced the prospect of unlimited time in jail.
Rest in peace, Thomas.