Archive for September 29th, 2008

Alec Baldwin’s book “A Promise to Ourselves. A Journey through Fatherhood and Divorce” is out. In his book, Baldwin describes the hurdles his ex-wife Kim Bassinger and the family court system of California put him through. Baldwin struggled with California’s biased justice system that denied him the right to have a normal relation with his daughter Ireland and gave Bassinger carte blanche to alienate her; the common lot of fathers in this bleak judicial landscape in the US. The only thing that Baldwin has not shared with the average divorced father is to be driven to poverty with overburdening child support payments. He might well be ordered to pay unfair child support; in any case, he will be able to meet his obligations.

Given that the American public barely knows about violation of fathers’ rights, that the silence of the politicians on this issue is deafening, Baldwin’s book is truly good news. It has already raised awareness; it might also boost the fathers’ rights movement, which is in infancy. Yet some of us –Dean Tong– disagree: Baldwin can be no poster child for the fathers’ rights movement.

Why would we need a poster boy in the first place? Fathers’ rights is not some charitable cause that would best be promoted by a Laura Bush. We don’t need a Saint; we need to have the issues of shared custody of children, fair child support payments, criminalization of parental alienation, made part of the political agenda. Baldwin’s book can help for that matter.

Dean Tong’s fear that Baldwin might be the wrong messenger is based on the “infamous message” Baldwin left on the answering machine for his daughter. He had not heard about his daughter in a long time, he was pissed and called her “pig.” Bassinger did not fail to use this message to claim the Baldwin was an unfit father. To me, this makes Baldwin real. At the end of one of the supervised visitations, my girls verbally assailed me with the accusations that their mother had put in their mouth. I told them to “shut up” and sicko-ex wife pressed criminal charges against me after the visit. Children’s alienation is a crime, being pissed is not; Ireland will understand and forgive.

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