Rinaldo Del Gallo 3rd, who very-well could be Rinaldo Del Gallo III, takes on the idea that fathers’ rights are swept under the rug and given no attention. He admits that he can’t cover the topic in a short column, but I think he raises some fair points. Del Gallo focuses his arguments around the story of Thomas Ball, who’s plight was underreported and widely ignored in the media. Hey, we didn’t even hear about it, and we search the web for fatherhood news every day!
Ball, who last month committed suicide by self-immolation in front of a New Hampshire courthouse, was depressed and and felt helpless in dealing with family courts. But Ball’s case is complicated, as most family issues are. Ball had slapped his child in an argument about bedtime, and then refused to go to a court-ordered counselor. This led to a divorce – and, we assume – his own removal from his childrens’ lives. Ball worked with Fathers & Families, a father’s group we mention here often, but when you start hearing all sides of the story (which Del Gallo mentions is hard to do, since the Ball story was given absolutely no press), you read conflicting evidence of whether Ball was just a stubborn man, or whether he was a man whose mission outweighed his focus on his own family. It’s a tough call.
Del Gallo gets me back on track by saying that he can’t do any justice to the fathers’ rights issue in a short column like this – because issues like the federal government “incentivizing judges to grant sole custody and high child support awards” by subsidizing all of the money given to states for child support awards. Del Gallo continues back to Ball’s suicide, which “remains a mystery because the media has cast so little light on the issues that prompted it.” No doubt. We’ll never know the truth, because by and large, the mainstream media isn’t interested in knowing. Smaller websites did cover the case – MensNewsDaily, Fathers & Families, and a handful of local papers.
Business Insider offers a couple of insights that no one else did. Evidently, outside of the United States, self-immolation is a cause for immediate attention to a matter. In the United States, it’s cause to call someone a nut and move on. Del Gallo suggests that Ball should have filmed his suicide so that at least it would “have been played over and over again by CNN and the Fox News Channel.”
And if you want to go all-in on this, check out AVoiceForMen‘s website for some “tough s**t” tude on the topic of why Thomas Ball’s Wikipedia page had been taken down.
Problematically, Ball was mentally unstable by the time he submitted his suicide-note-of-sorts to a local paper, which was mostly a narrative of his feelings. The cause of his instability is unclear – whether he was fed-up with the family court system or otherwise, Ball had problems out of his own scope. F&F mentions Ball’s call for violence, which I can’t read because the Sentinel Source link now requires a subscription. But as F&F writer Robert Franklin says – there’s other ways of solving the family court problems than suggesting violence be done to people. And I think most people would agree that committing crimes in the name of a cause probably immediately discredits the cause. Nothing says “take my kids away” like throwing a molitov cocktail through a police station window and claiming that you’re not able to see your kids.
So – in the end, I hate to echo the tired, old Ghandi quote, but you’ve got to “be the change you want to see in the world.” Don’t just read about fathers’ rights when you’re mad about custody, and don’t just read about fatherhood when you have a particular good or bad feeling about it. Read about fathers daily – be a father. Be the change, and in time, perceptions will change. That’s not terribly comforting to those that have had a troubled past in family courts – but for the rest of us, we should only move forward, showing the world and media that we’re more than just an annoyance and a piggy bank.
Thanks to Del Gallo for bringing the topic back up – and let’s keep doing it until they’re sick of us!