As a parent, I can attest that one of the more infuriating aspects of the so-called parental rights movement is the sheer, unmitigated gall these people display while they purport to act in the interests of other people’s children.
In nearly every circumstance, their tactics merely amount to imposing their own—usually warped, usually religious-inspired—sense of morality on other, often unsuspecting parents. The recent travails of Bridget Ziegler, one of the co-founders of the Florida group “Moms For Liberty,” illustrates what happens when that gall is revealed as pure hypocrisy.
But these people truly seem to be crawling out of the woodwork everywhere, apparently with lots of free time on their hands to intrude into other peoples’ business. Evidently, they get themselves so riled up living in their hermetically sealed social media bubbles that they assume they’ve been granted some divine right to dictate how other parents ought to raise or school their children. So when one of them gets caught with their pants down (sometimes literally, in the case of the Zieglers) yes, a certain degree of schadenfreude is a perfectly appropriate response.
As Isabela Dias at Mother Jones reports, one of these moral crusaders was recently charged with multiple morally questionable offenses in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Dias details the charges against Clarice Schillinger:
A Pennsylvania mom connected to the conservative so-called “parental rights” movement is facing criminal charges of assault, harassment, and furnishing minors with alcohol, according to a case filed in October and reported on by the USA Today Network’s PhillyBurbs. Bucks County’s Clarice Schillinger, a 2022 GOP candidate for lieutenant governor, was charged with punching a teenager during a late September birthday party for her daughter at her home in Doylestown. Schillinger’s lawyer denied the charges and said she would go to court.
I hope Schillinger does “go to court,” because I would actually love to hear her side of this story.
According to documents in the case, including an affidavit of probable cause, Schillinger was hosting her daughter’s 17th birthday party on September 29 with 20 teenage guests. The celebration took place in a basement with a well-stocked bar. Witnesses told authorities that Schillinger allegedly poured liquor for the minors, asked them to take a shot with her, and played beer pong with them. Under Pennsylvania’s state law, it is illegal to give alcohol to a minor.
There are some things that, for parents, are difficult to prevent. One of them is teenage drinking. That’s unfortunately just a fact of life. You’d have to be willfully avoidant to deny that it occurs, but you do your level best to control it—mainly by repeatedly admonishing your children of the potential dangers associated with it. Some parents opt for grounding or other punishments; others teach their children how to handle the issue if and when it arises. Either approach is well within the realm of parental prerogatives.
When a parent is actually supplying or providing access to the alcohol, however—or worse, pouring the shots, as Schillinger is alleged to have done—that has definitely crossed a line. Number one, it’s illegal. It’s also stupid and dangerous. Even so, such parental behavior can be explained—if not excused—as the foibles and misjudgment of a particular parent or set of parents. No parents are perfect, and we accept that.
But when a parent has appointed herself the public moral scold of other people’s children and tried to impose her personal beliefs on school policy, any prior sympathy for that parent evaporates if she ends up accused of such sordid behavior herself. Strange how that works.
As Dias reports:
During the pandemic, Schillinger started the Keeping Kids in School political action committee to support school board candidates advocating for reopening schools. She then helped found the Back to School PA PAC with Paul Martino, a Doylestown venture capitalist and vocal activist at school board meetings. As I wrote back in November, Martino and his PAC played an outsized role in bankrolling conservative candidates for the 2021 local school board elections across Pennsylvania…[.]
Schillinger ‘s efforts to keep schools open during the pandemic, despite health agency advice to the contrary, doubtlessly created conflict and animosity between beleaguered parents and equally beleaguered teachers and students. In fact, she and people like her did everything they could to make a mostly miserable experience of gritting our teeth through a deadly pandemic even more miserable.
Dias cites a report in PhillyBurbs, the USA Network’s local coverage outlet, which provides further details of the alleged behavior of Schillinger and other members of her family the evening of her daughter’s birthday party:
The documents state that during the event — which started Sept. 29 and went past midnight — Schillinger’s then-boyfriend allegedly grabbed a 16-year-old by the neck for intervening in a fight between the couple and hit a 15-year-old in the face during an argument over football. According to the allegations in court papers, her intoxicated mother also punched the older teen in the eye and chased him around the kitchen island. Police said they had cellphone recordings of some of these reported events.
PhillyBurbs reports that a parent of one of the teens at the party called the police “early in the morning of Sept. 30 to report the assaults and the underage drinking.” This was reportedly the fourth time police had been called to the Schillinger house this year for incidents that involved alcohol.
PhillyBurbs also reports that the PAC co-founded by Schillinger and “Bucks county venture capitalist” Paul Martino was part of a national effort to influence school policies in ways they deem appropriate:
Schillinger announced that Back To School PA would be going national during a July 25, 2022, episode of 1210 WPHT’s The Dom Giordano Program.
“Back To School USA is really going to be focused on putting candidates in place that will put our children and their education first,” Schillinger said. “Right now, we are not doing that. We are more focused on these woke and gender ideas.”
According to PhillyBurbs, however, the PAC no longer seems to be active, possibly as a result of conservative school board candidates suffering what Dias describes as “resounding defeats in Pennsylvania and beyond” in elections last year. So, perhaps Schillinger now has time to focus on her own alleged personal behavior, before presuming to focus on others.