Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Thoughts on the Naugler Family - A Conservative's View

A story has come up in the past few weeks about homesteading and unschooling family, Joe and Nichole Naugler.  The controversy surrounding the seizure of their 10 children by CPS, followed by subsequent criminal charges against the family's patriarch, has touched my little corner of the country because most of the people in these New Mexican mountains are rough, tough, and don't take kindly to government interference.  I've heard it said that New Mexico is the 'last frontier' in America, and in many ways it's true.  We are an independent, surly lot, and many pockets of this state greatly resemble the lost-but-not-forgotten Old West of cowboy and gunslinger lore.  Leave us alone, and we'll leave you alone.

Except when it comes to children.  When a person's expression of their civil liberties causes harm the helpless and voiceless in their life, then they have gone too far.  Just as 'free speech' doesn't mean you can stand up and yell, "FIRE!" in a crowded theater, 'the pursuit of happiness' doesn't mean you can subject your vomiting children to a 'camp out' around a fire pit.  In the Solomons once, my mom, sister, brother and I ate tainted meat from a can (fed to us by an Islander who didn't know better).  I have experienced food poisoning without indoor plumbing.  Projecting fluids from both sides of your body, into a metal basin, while laying on a pallet on the floor, is just a half step above literal hell.  To subject your children to it when there are medical facilities within driving distance is unspeakably cruel. 

Homescholers Anonymous published a wonderfully analytical piece by a former off-grid, homeschooled child that goes into far better detail than I can about how the Nauglers are doing homesteading all wrong.  It is highly recommended reading.  Also recommended is a perusal of the family's own Facebook page, Blessed Little Homestead.  Truly, the pictures they post are evidence enough in my mind that the kids are being needlessly subjected to a lifestyle that is physically and psychologically harmful.  

I also wrote a piece for HA, telling about my experience on Luaniua and comparing it to the living conditions of the Naugler family. 

My hope is that the state of Kentucky does its job in prosecuting the Naugler parents and protecting the Naugler kids.  My hope is also that those who are defending the Nauglers will come to the realization that this is not a civil liberties issue.  As a libertarian-leaning Republican, who also lives many aspects of the homesteading lifestyle, whose parents built their own home from scratch while their young kids lived in it, and who lived in what many would call deprivation while on the island, I can confidently say from personal experience that the Naugler lifestyle is, simply put, abusive.  Please don't let political dogmatism cause you to lose sight of what's really happening here.  Because then you become part of the problem.


  1. I am also an MK, and lived in West Africa and Central America, then went myself to Asia for many years. And I would agree - I never saw anything like this. The pictures are just dirty - I saw some three-walled houses in Bangladesh, but they have warm weather most of the year and at least the ones I saw in Dhaka were somewhat insulated. I'm somewhat libertarian leaning although with some liberal tendencies, but was frustrated that the media left out pictures and details (the father's run ins with the police, and the recent pictures of the "homestead") that's not living off-grid, that is homelessness and is in no way prepping the kids for real life.

  2. What I loved was the caption to the campfire vomit fest, "and nobody feels like marshmallows." Really? That's what one feeds to ill children? What about chicken soup, greens or, I dunno, something even mildly nourishing (besides loads of fresh water to replace all the lost fluids)?