Athens, Ga. -- Richard Winfield attacked the Montgomery Campaign Monday night for pointing out his radical and questionable positions on the government’s role in families and re-sorting the familial, social structure. He has even argued that disabled children should not have rights as individuals because their personhood has been “obliterated.”
In his book, “The Just Family,” and in his other writings, Winfield lays out a vision for America that most people would not recognize. During the Athens NAACP/Economic Justice Coalition debate at the Athens Regional Library Monday night, Winfield said that he stands by the book and that the problem is not with the book, but with a “false” interpretation of it. However, contemporaneous social and academic reviewers have the same interpretations:
From Women's Philosophy Review, by Maureen Ramsay: "Because family right consists in self-determination...Some incest prohibitions are unwarranted, and even polygamy can be acceptable if reconstructed with family right...Individuals qualify as parents by virtue of their ethical commitment to provide children with the care necessary for them to become autonomous individuals.”
“Consequently, Winfield adopts a permissive attitude to adultery and a conservative attitude towards divorce...No fault divorce is impermissible because subjective feelings of dissatisfaction are not sufficient grounds for annulling an ethical relation. Neither is establishing fault sufficient ground for divorce since marital misconduct need not necessarily signify the general rupture of a marriage."
From Philosophy in Review, by E.P. Brandon: "Winfield is not afraid of social and political change. In discussing objections to the family based on its partiality, he mandates social welfare provisions more extensive than any we find, permits state abolition of inheritance (beyond what is necessary for the education of any minors in a family to adulthood - grown-up children cease to have any ethical, rather than moral, relationship with their parents) and the taxation of the surviving spouse(s) to 'reduce resultant advantages within the limits dictated by social justice' (198)."
"Parenting can hardly be dispensed with. But here again, Winfield is too fixated on rationalizing changing legal provisions. It is only after pages in which children are not persons, not responsible for caring for parents, not co-owners of family property, and ought not to be given state resources to raise their own children that Winfield notes the impossibility of drawing a clear factual line between child and adult (152) and thus the inescapable need for discretion and the desirability of a progressive assumption of what he treats as an absolute status.
Winfield can find nothing good about the extended family or traditional kinship group. It is perhaps rather presumptuous for a reason to banish so unceremoniously the contingencies upon which marriage and parenting are based."
The Montgomery campaign remains troubled by these passages with full knowledge of the entire context.