The Oath Keepers, I've explained, are not just your ordinary Tea Party support group -- they're a disturbing and potentially very dangerous organization, built around radicalizing members of the military, veterans, and police officers.
Now they're planning to protest in New Hampshire in defense of one of their associates -- a sometime Oath Keepers activist who, along with his fiance, claims the state came in to their hospital room and removed their newborn baby, all supposedly because he's an Oath Keeper:
The director of a self-described anti-totalitarian group is urging supporters to rally outside a New Hampshire courthouse this week in support of an Epsom couple whose newborn was taken last week by state social workers.
Johnathon Irish and Stephanie Taylor say their baby was seized because of Irish's association with the Oath Keepers. Court documents, however, charge Irish with a history of violence toward Taylor and her children.
Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, told his group's members yesterday that the rally, scheduled for Thursday outside the Rochester Family Division Court, would be "in support of the First Amendment-protected right of freedom of association."
... "The fact that the political association of the father with Oath Keepers, and his gun ownership, were even among the reasons given for the taking of this baby takes this case beyond the realm of your mundane family court matter and turns it into something that could affect the rights of us all, nationwide," Rhodes wrote on the Oath Keepers website yesterday.
What's really happened, as is so often the case with bizarre stories like this, is that this has been ginned up for the past couple of weeks by Alex Jones and his conspiracy-theory operation, which has been hitting the story constantly with its broadcasts and videos, and dozens of would-be "libertarians" have been jumping on the bandwagon. And so already there have been small clusters of protesters outside all of Irish's subsequent court hearings.
Hopefully, none of the kooks out protesting in defense of this child abuser will do what kooks often do, hurt other people (and themselves) by acting out violently. After all, we've already seen an Oath Keeper planning to take over a county courthouse. Crazier things have happened -- and with this bunch, are likely to.
The video above (compiled from couple of YouTube reports gives you a look at the couple in question as they're interviewed about the claims against them. The second half is a phone interview with Stephanie's ex-husband, who points to reports about Johnathon Irish being investigated for child abuse of Stephanie's two children.
Daniel Barrick of the Concord Monitor, who has been doing stellar work reporting this story, has more on that:
But according to an affidavit provided to Irish by the state Division for Children, Youth and Families, state officials took the child because of Irish's long record of violence and abuse. According to the affidavit, a judge determined that Irish abused Taylor's two other children. She is still married to the father of those children, though Taylor said yesterday that her husband has refused to accept her divorce petition for the past two years.
The affidavit also says that the police in Rochester report a "lengthy history of domestic violence" between Taylor and Irish, and that she accused him of choking and hitting her on more than one occasion. According to the document, Irish failed to complete a domestic violence course as ordered by the state, and that a hearing was held last month to terminate Taylor's parental rights over her two older children.
Taylor "has failed to recognize the impact of domestic violence in her life and the potential danger it poses to a newborn baby," the affidavit reads. "Mr. Irish has not acknowledged any responsibility to date and remains a significant safety risk to an infant in his care. . . . Without the intervention of the court, the infant will be at risk of harm."
All this is corroborated by an unlikely by probably authoritative source: Johnathon Irish's father, John Irish. Here's an interview Irish had on a self-described "Christian Patriot" radio show, "A Call to Action," hosted by Pastor Butch Paugh. It took place on Tuesday:
It's an incredibly damning interview. John Irish describes his son as not just a child abuser but a wife abuser as well, a violent man with a vicious temper and an obsession with guns. Moreover, he is someone who lives off the government dole and yet belongs to one of the most noxious anti-government Patriot groups in the business. The key quote:
Irish: The reason they are concerned with Oath Keepers is that Johnathon has a fanatical attitude that Oath Keepers is an organization that is planning to overthrow the present government, and bring us back into strict accordance with the Constitution. And Johnathon's feeling on that is he needs to be acquiring weapons to be ready for that overthrow.
Paugh: Has he been using the Oath Keepers as a means of threatening people?
Irish: At times he has gone around telling people that if they don't back off and leave him alone, that he's going to have the Oath Keepers come after them, that they're violating his constitutional rights.
As for the claim that the decision to remove the child from its mother's custody had anything to do with Johnathon Irish's OathKeeperhood, well, that doesn't hold much water either:
The head of the New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth and Families said allegations that the state seized a newborn girl over her father's political affiliations don't reflect the division's policies.
"That's what people seem to be focusing on, but it's not what I'm focusing on," said Maggie Bishop, director of DCYF. "To think that we would remove a child because of a person's affiliation with a club - that's not what we do."
Bishop said confidentiality requirements prevent her from discussing the specifics in the case of Johnathon Irish and Stephanie Taylor, the Epsom couple whose daughter was taken from their custody a day after her birth at Concord Hospital last week.
An affidavit spelling out the state's reason for taking the child included Irish's affiliation with the Oath Keepers, a group that pledges to defend the Constitution and to oppose government tyranny. But Bishop said such affiliations rarely play a role in child custody matters unless they are connected with safety issues.
"The Oath Keepers piece is the most insignificant part of that," Bishop said. "An affiliation is only as relevant as it relates to the safety concerns of a child."
Child custody matters are normally private affairs, but Irish and Taylor's publicity has shined intense attention on their case. The affidavit supporting the state's seizure of the newborn cited allegations of violence by Irish, including a report by the Rochester police of a "lengthy history of domestic violence" between him and Taylor.
"Without the intervention of the court, the infant will be at risk of harm," the affidavit reads.
Of course, we also remember that this is not the first time someone involved with the Oath Keepers has been involved in child-abuse charges. What are they putting in their Oaths?