Saturday, August 1, 2009


Interestingly Dana Garrett recently raised the issue of the March 2008 death of 11-year old Madeline Neumann, whose criminal parents caused her slow, painful death by denying medical treatment of her diabetes, in order to satisfy their religion-based insanity.

Garrett tried to imply that this tragic crime was somehow relevant to a discussion of libertarianism. His whole piece was hogwash. Homicide is not libertarian.

For the record, this libertarian is glad to see in today's news that justice has now been served for Madeline unto her monstrous criminal father. (Her mother was convicted earlier this year).

The Associated Press - 5:58 p.m. ET, Sat., Aug 1, 2009

WAUSAU, Wis. - A central Wisconsin man accused of killing his 11-year-old daughter by praying instead of seeking medical care was found guilty Saturday of second-degree reckless homicide.

Dale Neumann, 47, was convicted in the March 23, 2008, death of his daughter, Madeline, from undiagnosed diabetes. Prosecutors contended he should have rushed the girl to a hospital because she couldn't walk, talk, eat or drink. Instead, Madeline died on the floor of the family's rural Weston home as people surrounded her and prayed. Someone called 911 when she stopped breathing.

Sitting straight in his chair, Neumann stared at the jury as the verdict in a nearly empty courtroom was read. He declined comment as he left the courthouse.

Defense attorney Jay Kronenwetter said the verdict would be appealed. He declined further comment.

Prosecutors also declined comment, citing a gag order.

Mother convicted in spring

Leilani Neumann, 41, was convicted on the same charge in the spring. Marathon County Circuit Judge Vincent Howard set Oct. 6 for sentencing for both parents, who face up to 25 years in prison.

Their case is believed to be the first in Wisconsin involving faith healing in which someone died and another person was charged with a homicide.

Last month, an Oregon jury convicted a man of misdemeanor criminal mistreatment for relying on prayer instead of seeking medical care for his 15-month-old daughter who died of pneumonia and a blood infection in March 2008. Both of the girl's parents were acquitted of a more serious manslaughter charge.

Neumann's jury — six men and six women — deliberated about 15 hours over two days before convicting him. At one point, jurors asked the judge whether Neumann's belief in faith healing made him "not liable" for not taking his daughter to the hospital even if he knew she wasn't feeling well.

Neumann, who once studied to be a Pentecostal minister, testified Thursday that he believed God would heal his daughter and he never expected her to die. God promises in the Bible to heal, he said.

"If I go to the doctor, I am putting the doctor before God," Neumann testified. "I am not believing what he said he would do."


ChrisNC said...

I think your remarks here are ill-considered. While I agree with you about the stupidity of the parents, I think that the government's intervention is even more dangerous. What if the parents had been attempting a homeopathic solution, rather than faith-healing, when their daughter died? Or any other alternative healthcare? I think it is a dangerous precedent when the government can punish parents, especially so severely, for not following government-approved medical procedures. I think there is less risk from bad parents than there is from bad government.

Consider if the situation were reversed, and we lived in a society where scientific medicine were eschewed, and faith-healing required. Parents would then be punished for "allowing" a child to die without the prescribed medical intervention. It's hard to imagine that, but it is a simple [paradigm shift.

In even given the bad apples, I trust parents more than government to provide for the medical care of their children.

Angel Clark said...

Regardless of the parents religious beliefs, when a child is 11 years old, it is the responsibility of the parents to care for that child. How many times do you think that poor girl had problems considering it was undiagnosed, did they pray for her every time? They didn't even bother to find out what was wrong with her, which would have most likely been done in any alternative healthcare. How is not taking care of your children libertarian?

Tyler Nixon said...

Chris - I understand what you are saying, but I don't think any rational person would consider "prayer" to be even a reasonable attempt at medical treatment, much less actual treatment.

The government's "intervention" here was only in bringing these people to justice for their reckless negligence, causing the death of a child. It was not to force these people to pursue a particular means of treating the child's life-threatening medical condition.

ChrisNC said...

That's a straw man argument. Opposing government intervention is NOT equivalent to condoning the parents' decisions.

ChrisNC said...

Oops, sorry. I was responding to Angel.

Beto Castelo said...

While I agree with Tyler/Angel that there was no government intervention on parenting here, but simply bringing to justice someone responsible due to negligence for the death of an 11 y.o. (at least based on the news articles I read), I share some of Chris' concerns regarding precedent.

On the other hand, I don't think this case offers a precedent that would justify future government intervention (well, it might, wrongly, due to "think of the children" politics). The case is not about parents being prosecuted for pursuing what they thought was in the best interest of their child, but for putting their religious beliefs above it, and for denying any treatment efforts due to those beliefs.

But maybe Garrett is not too far off-topic in bringing the Neumann case to a discussion on libertarianism after all. It does bring interesting questions in anyone's mind that may be concerned with government paternalism. Garrett's post is hogwash, however, simply because he does not seem to grasp simple logic very well (I'll choose to believe incompetence instead of malice as the cause for his weak reasoning). He uses a quote criticizing paternalism that says "Opponents of paternalism [...] claim that liberty supersedes safety in terms of actions that only affect oneself" (my emphasis), and goes on to claim that this basic libertarian view would justify the Neumann couple's actions, which obviously affected mostly their daughter, not themselves.