Well, it seems that the issue surrounding the runaway balloon has finally been resolved with the entire event being a hoax. Certainly there are many people that are angry and there's much talk about criminal charges being brought.  No doubt, virtually everyone has an opinion and it probably isn't favorable.

However, the concern I have is with the issue of Child Protective Services involvement and the threat of having the children removed.  Despite everyone coming out of the woodwork now claiming that Richard Heene is abusive and that he's endangering his children, the simple truth is that prior to this event he wasn't on anyone's radar, so I'm a bit suspicious about how bad a parent he is.

More importantly, while there are many people that think that his taking children with him on storm-chasing trips, the point is that this is ultimately a parental decision.  There is a clear line separating an abusive parent versus one that may simply be acting in a manner we disagree with.

The issue is whether society, at large, should have a right to intervene in parenting simply because they disagree with someone's methods.  We may make all kinds of rationalizing arguments about how he's a bad parent, or how he's endangering his children, or how their behavior is inappropriate.  In the end, the question that remains is "how is this any of our business"?

We are fond of talking about Constitutional rights and personal liberty, yet we are so quick to intrude into the most fundamental right that exists; parental decisions in how they raise their children.

Intervening in a family is an extremely serious step and warrants correspondingly serious circumstances before it is invoked.  However, it seems that this is becoming an increasingly available option intended to intimidate parents.  In short, I don't find the discussions about Richard Heene's children to be motivated by a concern for the children as much as a retaliatory act against the parents. 

I certainly don't have a problem with the family being fined and ordered to pay restitution for the expenses incurred for the hoax.  However, anything beyond that is to make a relatively innocuous event into a crime that is totally out of proportion to what actually occurred.

In short, the public needs to understand that while they are entitled to their personal opinions, they are not entitled to have that opinion enforced by the authorities of our government.  It's time that people lightened up a bit.  We have enough serious problems to contend with without escalating trivial problems into national criminal status.