Alaska GOP Lawmaker Censured For Seeing Sunny Side Of Dead Child Abuse Victims

Alaska GOP Lawmaker Censured For Seeing Sunny Side Of Dead Child Abuse Victims

Alaska state Rep. David Eastman, a Republican from Wasilla and a lifetime member of the extremist Oath Keepers organization, is in a little bit of trouble this week, just for sharing his extremely normal ideas about child abuse victims and whether or not it is better to just let them die.

During a committee hearing Monday, Rep. Eastman asked Trevor Storrs, president and CEO of the Alaska Children's Trust, how he would respond "to the argument that I have heard on occasion where in the case where child abuse is fatal, obviously it's not good for the child, but it's actually a benefit to society because there aren’t needs for government services and whatnot over the whole course of that child’s life."

Storrs, understandably, was a little taken aback, and asked Rep. Eastman to repeat what he had just said. "Did you say, 'a benefit for society?'"

"Talking dollars." Eastman said. "Now you’ve got a $1.5 million price tag here for victims of fatal child abuse. It gets argued periodically that it’s actually a cost savings because that child is not going to need any of those government services that they might otherwise be entitled to receive and need based on growing up in this type of environment."

Surprisingly, that did not actually make it better. Storr compared it to suggesting it would be better, if you hit someone with your car, to back up over them and make sure they're dead because the insurance would be cheaper.

Rep. Eastman did not clarify who it was that he "periodically" hears this argument from, as this is not the kind of thing people frequently say out loud in a room full of people who are not right-wing extremists.

Though it is perhaps worth noting here that Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes — who was convicted of seditious conspiracy for his part in the January 6 insurrection — has in fact been accused of abuse by his own children.

The Oath Keepers is largely a right-libertarian organization, and those who espouse that particular worldview are often pretty chill about child abuse in general. Austrian school economist Murray Rothbard was very in favor of child labor, arguing that banning it was a nefarious tactic meant to artificially drive up wages for adults by removing "competition" that would be willing to work for less (children). While Rothbard was deeply opposed the right to abortion and advocated an alternative in which babies were sold on the open market, he did support the right of parents to starve their children to death. So long as they were born first.

Via the Mises Institute:

Applying our theory to parents and children, this means that a parent does not have the right to aggress against his children, but also that the parent should not have a legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate his children, since such obligations would entail positive acts coerced upon the parent and depriving the parent of his rights. The parent therefore may not murder or mutilate his child, and the law properly outlaws a parent from doing so. But the parent should have the legal right not to feed the child, i.e., to allow it to die. The law, therefore, may not properly compel the parent to feed a child or to keep it alive. (Again, whether or not a parent has a moral rather than a legally enforceable obligation to keep his child alive is a completely separate question.) This rule allows us to solve such vexing questions as: should a parent have the right to allow a deformed baby to die (e.g., by not feeding it)?The answer is of course yes, following a fortiori from the larger right to allow any baby, whether deformed or not, to die. (Though, as we shall see below, in a libertarian society the existence of a free baby market will bring such "neglect" down to a minimum.)

That parents ought to be allowed to starve their children to death is a popular idea among the libertarian right and was notably argued with much fervor by former John McCain advisor Bill Evers.

Right-libertarians also hold the view that "taxation is theft" (their own toxic spin on the "property is theft" slogan coined by actual libertarian Pierre-Joseph Proudhon), and so it wouldn't be too surprising for people with that worldview to consider the greater evil to be providing social services to victims of child abuse.

Rep. Eastman's colleagues in the Alaska House voted 35-1 to censure him for his statements, with his own vote being the only one against. He was in fact very upset about their decision to impugn his good name by suggesting he would "support child abuse when I've staked my entire political career arguing for the opposite."

That does not appear to be the case, unless one is talking about abortion, which he probably is. Rep. Eastman previously suggested that women in Alaska were getting pregnant on purpose in order to enjoy a "free trip" to the city to get an abortion.

“You have individuals who are in villages and are glad to be pregnant, so that they can have an abortion because there’s a free trip to Anchorage involved," Eastman told Alaska Public Media in 2017.

Surely, Eastman has got a very bright future in the Republican Party.

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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