The Children We Ignore

The Children We Ignore July 9, 2011

While the world is leaving the lights on for Caylee, plenty of other murdered children remain in the dark. They aren’t white enough, middle-class enough, for the media to pay much attention to…

Jadon Higganbothan was murdered by a cult leader, apparently for being “gay.” His murder was certainly motivated by religious extremism. So many issues come to play in his murder: homeschooled children falling off the radar, racist doctrines, abusive polygamy and the apathy of modern Americans.

Peter Moses supposedly ran the abusive household according to the principles of the Black Hebrews movement. With Black Sumpremacy theology, it shares similar ideology with the Christian Identity movement. Living with four women and nine children, he went unnoticed by the neighbors. Even when a woman begged to use a neighbors phone they turned a blind eye and didn’t allow her to use the phone or call the police themselves. That woman, Antoinetta Yvonne McKoy, was killed later that day, after enduring beatings and strangulation, for seeking help. She was shot with the same gun that was used on Jadon, the only child in the house not fathered by Moses.

As a homeschooled child who fell off the radar myself, I find myself placing a lot of blame on a school system that allows children to be sucked into black holes of abuse without a home visit or follow up testing.  Yet when a woman begging to use a phone to call the police is rebuffed though, how seriously would a school official take a child reaching out for help? Would it have made a difference in a society grown so insular and apathetic?

If polygamy wasn’t illegal, would Moses have the same amount of control over these women? Polygamist women being able to speak about their lives and live openly would shatter so much of the darkness associated with that lifestyle. Outlawing polygamy means polygamists live outside the law in more ways than simply plural marriage. Didn’t Prohibition teach us that making something taboo doesn’t erase it from our culture, but greatly increases the amount or crime and abuse involved with the taboo?

The racist doctrines disturb me because I once had an encounter with this movement. Riding the train north through Atlanta from the airport a nice couple next to me were discussing Black Hebrews. I found their discussion fascinating, and longed to join in, but I got a vibe from them that they just wanted to be left alone. I thought it was the usual commuter train vibe, but now I’m troubled that two such interesting articulate people were considering joining such a cult. I find myself wishing I could find them again, take them to one of my tradition’s rituals and show them that true community and spirituality transcends race and sexual orientation. We are ALL the chosen people of the Gods.

I think the thing that bothers me most about this case is that I can’t help wondering if the abuse was overlooked because they were known to be religious? Had this been a Pagan group not only would the neighbors have been calling the cops but other folks in the Pagan community would have been raising red flags. However, it’s known that other people in his religious community were scared of Moses, it’s known that several people knew he was guilty of abuse and murder (he displayed McKoy’s body to his relatives) and his neighbors had to know something odd was going on at that house, yet no one said anything. Is it because he was seen to be a religious man? Because he believed in the One True God?

I sometimes lament at how argumentative and vicious my religious community can be, yet stories like this makes me grateful for that very quality. We have no sacred cows and challenge everything. I like to think we wouldn’t stand by while such a family existed in our communities. I hope we wouldn’t. I hope we would say something. I hope we would take Jadon into our homes and love him for the child he is. Was. He appears to have been a sweet child and deserved a family who loved him.

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  • Thanks for the article; I too often wonder who (or what) it is inside the Media Machine that decides which child homicide victim will become the next national media sensation. Apparently, for all the progress the nation has made on racism and cultural sensitivity, that progress does not extend to murder victims. I said several times to my friends and family how ridiculous I thought the Casey Anthony trial was considering – exactly as you said – how many other children are murdered every day in the USA. It seems that to make a good murder story for consumption by the masses the child has to be white, female, and affluent – all the other children that get killed “just aren’t worthy of attention.” It’s a sad state of affairs.

  • Thanks for the article; I too often wonder who (or what) it is inside the Media Machine that decides which child homicide victim will become the next national media sensation. Apparently, for all the progress the nation has made on racism and cultural sensitivity, that progress does not extend to murder victims. I said several times to my friends and family how ridiculous I thought the Casey Anthony trial was considering – exactly as you said – how many other children are murdered every day in the USA. It seems that to make a good murder story for consumption by the masses the child has to be white, female, and affluent – all the other children that get killed “just aren’t worthy of attention.” It’s a sad state of affairs.

  • I found another article that is pointing out how Jadon won’t be recognized because he isn’t blonde or a girl. http://www.irishcentral.com/story/ent/manhattan_diary/man-shoots-4-year-old-for-gay-behavior-125262744.html

    I find this case more heinous and appalling than the Anthony case to be quite honest. Our society failed this boy.

  • I found another article that is pointing out how Jadon won’t be recognized because he isn’t blonde or a girl. http://www.irishcentral.com/story/ent/manhattan_diary/man-shoots-4-year-old-for-gay-behavior-125262744.html

    I find this case more heinous and appalling than the Anthony case to be quite honest. Our society failed this boy.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think children should necessarily BE on anyone’s radar.   The parents are the ones that naturally have the best interest of the child at heart.  Sure sometimes there are exceptions to that rule, but if we continue to govern by those exceptions, we’ll soon find that we have little liberty left.  We’ll find ourselves wondering why someone could go to jail for planting a vegetable garden in their front yard or why well loved, cared for kids are taken away from parents who’ve merely fallen on hard times and are doing their best to provide.
    It’s sad, but it might be that the price of freedom is not paid solely by young men and women in our military.

  • kagil

    I don’t think children should necessarily BE on anyone’s radar.   The parents are the ones that naturally have the best interest of the child at heart.  Sure sometimes there are exceptions to that rule, but if we continue to govern by those exceptions, we’ll soon find that we have little liberty left.  We’ll find ourselves wondering why someone could go to jail for planting a vegetable garden in their front yard or why well loved, cared for kids are taken away from parents who’ve merely fallen on hard times and are doing their best to provide.
    It’s sad, but it might be that the price of freedom is not paid solely by young men and women in our military.

  • Jancis M. Andrews

    Legalizing or decriminalizing polygamy would not have helped matters because polygamy is a patriarchal practice come to us from the dark ages when women were considered nothing but chattels and male property. There is no equality in polygamy, where one man collects several women as concubines in his harem, but where they are expected to remain faithful to him and serve him alone, while he enjoys a sex fest. Polygamy automatically reduces women to second-class citizenship. Some people excuse it on the grounds that it’s an ancient form of marriage that is recorded in the Old Testament and was practised by the likes of King Solomon, Abraham, etc. Too true. Let’s not forget that King Solomon had 700 concubines in his harem, and that he slit their throats. Polygamy has no place in the modern world. The year is 2011 AD, not 2011 BC.
    Jancis M. Andrews

  • Jancis M. Andrews

    Legalizing or decriminalizing polygamy would not have helped matters because polygamy is a patriarchal practice come to us from the dark ages when women were considered nothing but chattels and male property. There is no equality in polygamy, where one man collects several women as concubines in his harem, but where they are expected to remain faithful to him and serve him alone, while he enjoys a sex fest. Polygamy automatically reduces women to second-class citizenship. Some people excuse it on the grounds that it’s an ancient form of marriage that is recorded in the Old Testament and was practised by the likes of King Solomon, Abraham, etc. Too true. Let’s not forget that King Solomon had 700 concubines in his harem, and that he slit their throats. Polygamy has no place in the modern world. The year is 2011 AD, not 2011 BC.
    Jancis M. Andrews

  • Anicesilvercat

    If nothing else I wish that Nancy Grace, Jane Velez-Mitchell and the HLN crew would find another child murder case to follow and give it as move attention as this one just to keep this type of injustice in the public eye. Children deserve any and all protection that we can give to them.

  • Anicesilvercat

    If nothing else I wish that Nancy Grace, Jane Velez-Mitchell and the HLN crew would find another child murder case to follow and give it as move attention as this one just to keep this type of injustice in the public eye. Children deserve any and all protection that we can give to them.

  • IAWTC.

    As someone who homeschooled her son to graduation, I am thankful we lived in one of the least restrictive and intrusive homeschooling state (Illinois). There are some states, like I believe North Dakota, where they make it nearly impossible to homeschool – requiring teaching certificates, regular testing, frequent visits… whereas where I am, our son was able to focus on what /he/ determined to be relevant at that particular time. And guess what – when he took the ASVAB test to get into the Army, he scored two and even three times higher than his local peers. I know, because the recruiter told me what his station’s averages were.

    We didn’t always homeschool, and we weren’t doing it for primarily religious reasons. Quite frankly, Chicago Public Schools suck, and hubby doesn’t believe in paying tuition, so HSing was the route we took. When he was in public school, one of the best magnets in the city – one of only five with no uniforms (no gang problem!), it still wasn’t good enough for our son. He was bored stiff and wanted to do his own thing, thanks to the No Child Left Behind system. But we dealt with it, hoping he’d get into a college prep magnet high school by default (magnet elementary students got first dibs at magnet high schools [then?]).

    But it all came to a head with part of it saying they wanted to investigate US for being well… unusual. What kind of parents get into the extreme underground metal scene, much less run a business in it? What kind of parents let their 12yo play with grenades, even if they /were/ the cleaned out ones bought from the surplus store? What kind of parents get into “that stuff” (Paganism) and raise their kid in it, not to mention run the community’s family group? Uh-uh, no friggin way!

    We yanked our kid out of school so fast we didn’t even have a plan as to what we were going to do! Fortunately for us, I knew of a Pagan mom from the group I ran that homeschooled, so she helped us get started. And the minute I mailed the board of education and the school our letter of intent, all that investigation BS stopped. No phone calls, no nothing. And we liked it that way, and I certainly don’t want to see any of that changing for the families homeschooling now.

  • IAWTC.

    As someone who homeschooled her son to graduation, I am thankful we lived in one of the least restrictive and intrusive homeschooling state (Illinois). There are some states, like I believe North Dakota, where they make it nearly impossible to homeschool – requiring teaching certificates, regular testing, frequent visits… whereas where I am, our son was able to focus on what /he/ determined to be relevant at that particular time. And guess what – when he took the ASVAB test to get into the Army, he scored two and even three times higher than his local peers. I know, because the recruiter told me what his station’s averages were.

    We didn’t always homeschool, and we weren’t doing it for primarily religious reasons. Quite frankly, Chicago Public Schools suck, and hubby doesn’t believe in paying tuition, so HSing was the route we took. When he was in public school, one of the best magnets in the city – one of only five with no uniforms (no gang problem!), it still wasn’t good enough for our son. He was bored stiff and wanted to do his own thing, thanks to the No Child Left Behind system. But we dealt with it, hoping he’d get into a college prep magnet high school by default (magnet elementary students got first dibs at magnet high schools [then?]).

    But it all came to a head with part of it saying they wanted to investigate US for being well… unusual. What kind of parents get into the extreme underground metal scene, much less run a business in it? What kind of parents let their 12yo play with grenades, even if they /were/ the cleaned out ones bought from the surplus store? What kind of parents get into “that stuff” (Paganism) and raise their kid in it, not to mention run the community’s family group? Uh-uh, no friggin way!

    We yanked our kid out of school so fast we didn’t even have a plan as to what we were going to do! Fortunately for us, I knew of a Pagan mom from the group I ran that homeschooled, so she helped us get started. And the minute I mailed the board of education and the school our letter of intent, all that investigation BS stopped. No phone calls, no nothing. And we liked it that way, and I certainly don’t want to see any of that changing for the families homeschooling now.

  • Star,
    Thanks so much for giving this story some exposure. It is places like Pantheos that we must rely on to catch what Mainstream Media decides to reject.

  • Star,
    Thanks so much for giving this story some exposure. It is places like Pantheos that we must rely on to catch what Mainstream Media decides to reject.

  • Hi Lori,

    As another pagan homeschooler, I totally agree with what you’re saying here. I do often think about how our ability to homeschool our kids freely to flourish and grow into the people they want to be comes with the dark side of other people, elsewhere, homeschooling their kids to conform to rigid gender roles and narrow worldviews that I can’t think of as being healthy or desirable. I’m sure they feel exactly the same way about us. 
    I’m glad that the State leaves us the hell alone, but otoh I want the State to intervene when somebody else is abusing their kids. Is this a conflicted POV? I don’t think so. After all, as long as I’m not driving dangerously, running over people, wrecking property, I can drive however and wherever I want. I don’t want anarchy, I don’t want a true nanny state. I want a State that is disinterested in me as long as what I’m doing isn’t harmful. The problem comes when we start to define what is harmful. I don’t know where the middle ground to meet on is for the “what is harmful” question.

  • Hi Lori,

    As another pagan homeschooler, I totally agree with what you’re saying here. I do often think about how our ability to homeschool our kids freely to flourish and grow into the people they want to be comes with the dark side of other people, elsewhere, homeschooling their kids to conform to rigid gender roles and narrow worldviews that I can’t think of as being healthy or desirable. I’m sure they feel exactly the same way about us. 
    I’m glad that the State leaves us the hell alone, but otoh I want the State to intervene when somebody else is abusing their kids. Is this a conflicted POV? I don’t think so. After all, as long as I’m not driving dangerously, running over people, wrecking property, I can drive however and wherever I want. I don’t want anarchy, I don’t want a true nanny state. I want a State that is disinterested in me as long as what I’m doing isn’t harmful. The problem comes when we start to define what is harmful. I don’t know where the middle ground to meet on is for the “what is harmful” question.

  • The Black Hebrew Nation used to live close to me, in Benton Harbor Michigan, and were basically driven away by police and social services for the same practices.  Including another homicide… it DID receive a lot of media attention… about 10 to 15 years ago.  They packed up and moved somewhere else… your area, apparently.  I don’t see this incident as being so much about race (yeah, they’re separatists, but so are the Amish, who are peaceful) but about domestic violence.  Which transcends race and class, and yes, religion.  Not sure what to do about it… one suggestion (covering my ears against the screaming of liberals) is make it more easy for women to arm themselves.

  • The Black Hebrew Nation used to live close to me, in Benton Harbor Michigan, and were basically driven away by police and social services for the same practices.  Including another homicide… it DID receive a lot of media attention… about 10 to 15 years ago.  They packed up and moved somewhere else… your area, apparently.  I don’t see this incident as being so much about race (yeah, they’re separatists, but so are the Amish, who are peaceful) but about domestic violence.  Which transcends race and class, and yes, religion.  Not sure what to do about it… one suggestion (covering my ears against the screaming of liberals) is make it more easy for women to arm themselves.

  • Witchcraft68

    i put responsibility on the MANY MANY people that knew of this happening and turned the other cheek …this nation seems to forget we are our brothers keepers and many of the wrongs in this world could be prevented if some said HEY that is wrong stop it …I stand up for the weak and voiceless any chance I get and will continue till the day I lay myself down for eternity blessings pagan life is love

  • Witchcraft68

    i put responsibility on the MANY MANY people that knew of this happening and turned the other cheek …this nation seems to forget we are our brothers keepers and many of the wrongs in this world could be prevented if some said HEY that is wrong stop it …I stand up for the weak and voiceless any chance I get and will continue till the day I lay myself down for eternity blessings pagan life is love