To the editors:
What Adam Langer ("Guts," August 26) observed at Albany and School streets is an all too common example of heterosexual child abuse. For a child's father and uncles--if indeed they were such-0to approve of, and encourage, the action of other juveniles in beating and terrorizing a defenseless six-year-old is a clear case of criminal negligence and should also, if the laws were adequate, make them accessories to criminal assault and battery. It's a pity Langer failed to notice the street address. If everyone had been doing their job, the police would have arrested the adults and charged the bullies as juvenile delinquents, while the child victim would have been placed in a loving foster home.
That these corrective actions did not take place reveals a serious sickness in American society. Parents do not own their children, and they are not free to treat them in any manner they choose. Yet instances of psychological abuse and physical torture are daily occurrences within many American families.
The attitudes that stopped Langer from interfering in this case of public brutality--that because the child "belonged" to them, the attackers were within their "rights"; that the father was merely ensuring that the child was "toughened up," or that he wanted to "make a man out of him"--are the same attitudes that ensure a constant crop of new domestic criminals and an endless string of foreign wars.
Rampant heterosexuality--the idea that other men are dangerous rivals, women are appealing tools for men's gratification and exploitation, and children are the proof of men's success--is a most dangerous ideology, especially when disguised as "family values." The danger is compounded when those who use the heterosexual family to exploit innocents are themselves exploited by political leaders who use "pro-family" rhetoric to advance public policies that benefit the powerful few.
The alternative is a philosophy that stresses the inherent worth and dignity of every individual--male or female, adult or child, white or black, straight or gay, rich or poor, American or foreign. Only by rejecting fascism on every level can we build an America that neither exports war, robs the poor, or beats defenseless children.