New Postal Wonders

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As many of you know, I routinely look to the U.S. Post Office (as well as church elections) to see exactly what’s happening in America. Today I noticed two interesting commemoratives: “Wonders of America: Land of Superlatives” and “Amber Alert”. The Wonders series features 40 stamps, each boasting of a “highest”, “hottest”, “windiest” or otherwise super-est American landmark or feature. (Not surprisingly, the largest delta is the Mississippi River Delta. But did you know the largest flower is the American lotus? Or that the windiest place is Mount Washington? And did our representatives lobby to have features of their own states included? Why was there no “deepest mine”? Or “furriest peach”?)

The great thing about this series is that, with its subtitle “Land of Superlatives”, it seems to be tongue-in-cheek or at least a bit ironic. This is indeed the land of superlatives and hyperbolia. And so in this vein it seems appropriate to celebrate? commemorate? acknowledge? the Amber Alert, one in a series of initiatives produced as a result of moral panic about child abduction. The media has been relentless in flogging the issue of child abduction and murder, generating near hysterical fear among suburban parents. In reality, of course, there are probably fewer than 400 serious abductions of children by strangers each year. (There are far more child kidnappings in total, but these are almost all by non-custodial parents. Amber Alerts can address these crimes, but the creation of Amber Alerts was hardly inspired by concern over custodial disputes.)

As Eric and Dan have discussed, our media live and breathe overheated rhetoric. Is that really something to commemorate and celebrate? The USPS apparently thinks so, but whoever created that Wonders of America: Land of Superlatives series probably knows better.

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1 Response

  1. Your statement “In reality, of course, there are probably fewer than 400 serious abductions of children by strangers each year. (There are far more child kidnappings in total, but these are almost all by non-custodial parents. Amber Alerts can address these crimes, but the creation of Amber Alerts was hardly inspired by concern over custodial disputes.)” may be accurate with regards to the number of stranger abductions. However, this stamp is a piece of propaganda designed to suggest that mothers are the primary victims (after the children, of course). In fact, there are more than 700,000 child abductions each year, mainly by non-custodial parents, and about 2000 of these are international (,meaning the child is removed from the USA). 80% of those are perpetrated by mothers, so a stamp showing a “mother reunited with her child” (as stated by the Post Office press release and elsewhere) merely continues to foster the lie that mothers are the victims, and not the perpetrators. In cases in which the father is the perpetrator, you are right in assuming that the father usually does not have custody. It is just this sort of propaganda that manipulates the legal system to give custody to mothers when, in many cases, the mother is unfit to raise the children. Any decent father would take his children in such a situation. For the past seven years, I have been the director of “America’s Stolen Children Network” (http://StolenChildren.net), and have found that the number of mothers approaching our organization for aid is about one-fifth of the number of fathers, so I have empirical evidence to back up my statements regarding the proportions. When I mentioned the Amber Alert Stamp to another father whose children were abducted (Andrew Bowey) in a case just as sensational as my own, he said “This is exactly what biases the judges in children custody cases to side for the woman… It’s subliminal.” I would also like to remind you that the women’s movement has shown much influence within the stamp department of the post office prior to this. Consider how much money the Breast Cancer Stamp has raised for breast cancer research: enough to completely turn the tide around for that disease, while the situation concerning male prostate cancer gets worse and worse each day and the post office laughs at the suggestion of a stamp to raise research money for men to complement their Breast Cancer Stamp.