There are several characters in this story and you are going to have to pay attention. I will be especially unsubtle to make it easy. At the end you will have an opportunity to vote for the character you believe to have demonstrated the highest level of stupidity in authority.

Pam Belluck of The New York Times brings us our first vignette.

Meet Henry Rayhons, a 78-year-old Iowa corn and soybean farmer. Unfortunately you will not be able to meet Henry’s late wife, Donna Lou Rayhons because she is… well… late, the victim of severe Alzheimer’s disease.

Mr. Rayhons is spending his time in court these days defending himself against a rape charge as a result of having sex with his wife in May 2014. According to Ms. Belluck’s story, “There is no allegation that Mrs. Rayhons resisted or showed signs of abuse. And it is widely agreed that the Rayhonses had a loving, affectionate relationship, having married in 2007 after each had been widowed. They met while singing in a church choir.”

Following his arrest last August shortly after his wife’s death, Mr. Rayhons, a Republican, decided not to run for a 10th term in the Iowa legislature.

Now say hello to Michelle Dornbier, a social worker at the Concord Care Center, where Mrs. Rayhons lived, and to Suzan Brunes, Mrs. Rayhons’s daughter by her first marriage. The question they raise is, of course, whether or not Mrs. Rayhons had the mental capacity to consent to having sex with her husband. Especially in a nursing home double room, separated from her roommate by only a curtain. If not, she was raped, presumably because Iowa lacks an appropriate statute creating a suitable crime on behalf of those who are merely grossed out. Because of its importance, the state attorney general’s office is prosecuting the case.

Ms. Belluck does not cover the all-important question of whether promoters of the utterly useless and counterproductive Iowa caucuses can spin this case into another Terri Schiavo debacle, thus requiring additional Iowa photo ops for aspiring politicians.

Brigid Schulte and Donna St. George of The Washington Post bring us our second vignette. It is part of an ongoing saga and it takes us to the opposite end of the age-range from Mr. and Mrs. Rayhons.

Meet Danielle and Alexander Meitiv. They live in Silver Spring, Maryland and they have two children Rafi 10 and Dvora 6. Silver Spring is located in Montgomery County, which has a Child Protective Services department, which, in turn, appears to have far too much time on his hands and far too little judgment.

Some weeks ago, the Meitiv family first became acquainted with Montgomery County Child Protective Services because they allowed Rafi and Dvora to walk home from school unchaperoned. The encounter did not go well.

Then they did it again, this time permitting the children to walk home from a nearby park after a long car trip.

There are outraged participants and onlookers on both sides. Some believe the authorities are overstepping while others are angry that the Meitivs “did it again” while being watched.

All appear to be entirely comfortable using the word “parent” as a verb. And let’s not forget the anonymous caller who alerted Child Protective Services to this egregious violation of “parenting” standards.

Exemplifying its overall cleverness, Montgomery County Child Protective Services employs a spokesperson who released the following statement: “Protecting children is the agency’s number one priority. We are required to follow up on all calls to Child Protective Services and will continue to work in the best interest of all children.”

Those who use parent as a verb are not required to include a modifier before “parenting” even though helicopter and hovering, come readily to mind. Those who have a different view are apparently required to describe their practice as “free-range parenting.”

Now for the voting. Who has demonstrated the highest level of stupidity in authority?

And the nominees are:

  • Michelle Dornbier, the Concord Care social worker
  • Suzan Brunes, the grossed out step daughter
  • The Attorney General of Iowa, who has apparently not heard the words “prosecutorial discretion” quite as loudly as he (or she) heard the words Terri Schiavo
  • The entire governing structure of Montgomery County, MD
  • The entire leadership of Montgomery County Child Protective Services
  • The anonymous caller
  • The Child Protective Services spokesperson
  • The rest of us for not buying every pitchfork in Iowa and using them in accordance with revolutionary tradition

And the envelope please.

Oh my God this is unprecedented. We have an eight-way tie.

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