We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

“I want simply to learn about the world and to live freely.”

Laura Dekker

And she is indeed learning about the world… that states regard people who wish to act on their desire to be free as deeply suspicious. Get out of the Netherlands and stay on your boat, my dear, because the state clearly owns you at the moment.

51 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Sunfish

    A Dutch court took her into protective custody over this?

    Okay, 13 is a tad young for a solo trip, but terminating parental rights over a sailing trip is also OTT.

    The story mentions that she put in to take two days off from school and was denied permission. Question: apart from her parents, who the fuck has any place saying whether she misses school or not?

  • veryretired

    I’m sorry, but I’m on my 4th teenager, and this is one of those stupid ideas teens routinely come up with because they know so little about reality even as they truly believe they have everything all figured out.

    Some 17 year old kid just did this, and maybe she wants to because it seemed so glamorous and made a fuss in the media, like that teen who wanted to fly around the world a while ago.

    If she was my kid, this wouldn’t have gone to court because the answer would have been a firm and unequivocal “NO” with no possibility of appeal. Once she was 18, if she was still deranged, she could do whatever the hell she wanted and suffer the consequences or enjoy the success.

    As for the Dutch court, regardless of the higher question of why it should be involved in the first place, once it was, there’s no chance any sensible adult is going to agree to this kind of sensationalist nonsense from a pubescent child.

    As to her parents, well, there are Darwin Awards for this kind of oblivious behavior towards one’s genetic heritage. I’m sure they would qualify, right up there with the guy who decided he could fly if he packed his underwear with dynamite.

  • Eric

    Not two days, Sunfish. Two years.

    She’s a rather remarkable girl who’s been sailing since she was six years old. It’s really a shame the state is going to take this square peg and pound it into a round hole.

  • Screw them. She will do it eventually – she may not set the ‘youngest’ record though, which is a shame.

    Her parents must be remarkable people.

  • Paul Marks


  • “Get out of the Netherlands…”

    But don’t come here. Last time, having crossed the North Sea single-handed, she was detained and spent the night in one of our wonderful council childrens homes.

    “It emerged during the legal proceedings that the teenage girl had been placed in foster care by British police after she sailed single-handed from Holland to Britain in May.

    Police in Lowestoft and social workers decided that the return journey was too dangerous and placed Miss Dekker in a home until her father came to collect her.

    Dick Dekker, Laura’s father who at the age of 12 sailed from Ijmuiden harbour across the North Sea, collected her from the home and defied the authorities by letting her make the sea crossing alone.

    The British police then contacted their Dutch counterparts who alerted the Utrecht social services, leading to Friday’s custody decision.”

  • Increasingly, people are not free to kill themselves. Whether it is riding without a motorcycle helmet or being the youngest to sail solo around the world, someone else knows what is best for you.

    In the case of this girl, it surely is dangerous. Imagine the character building such a trip would install.

  • Brad

    What comes to my mind is that the State is trying desperately to infantilize us all and it has, through socialist policy, elongated the period of juvenility into the mid 20’s (at least here in the US) and curries dependency from “adulthood” on. It has no interest in a thirteen year old showing such competency. Anything that doesn’t follow the plan of mediocrity and docility cannot be brooked. One can only imagine the horror of missing two years of Statist education. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that, by now, she has a grasp of symbologies well enough to communicate. Everything from here on out is philosophy. I can’t imagine that anything they are going to ply her with can compare to the education this endeavor would bring. But, again, it wouldn’t comport with The Plan. None of this independent thinking, independent action non-sense. Your brain and body are ours until we tell you otherwise.

  • Rignerd

    Another good reason to home school.

    A friend here in Texas took their children out of school for a week to attend a wedding in Hawaii. The school was so outraged that they were hauled into court and sentenced to 2 weeks re-indoctrination and a small fine. They told the school they were going to take the trip months before hand, but permission was denied.

    I home school my kids so I don’t go to jail for choking school councilors.

  • Consider yourself lucky: most places you can go to jail for homeschooling your kids.

  • VR, this kid was born and grew up on a boat, it is obvious that she knows all there is to know about sailing, at least as much as any adult yachtsman. That’s for the technical side of it. As for traveling alone around the world, sailing is very much different from regular travel by car and plane: you run into totally different kinds of people and places. I am not saying that there are no dangers involved in either aspect of this, but I doubt that they exceed the dangers facing a teenage girl getting around on foot or bus in any major Western city, or driving around in any Western suburb. I am sure that the trip was carefully plotted out, with friends of the family waiting for her in every port she was scheduled to arrive, with supplies, all the necessary precautions etc. Yes, she is relatively young, but if it was my daughter I would probably have tried to talk her out of this even if she was 20, and even if she was planning on a car trip around Europe – so what, that’s just me. Anyway, this is extreme, but less extreme than the way it sounds, and in any case it is none of anyone’s damn business but the family in question. It really depends on the individual: some are more mature than others, and those who sail at a young age tend to be much more mature.

    BTW, this reminded me of this guy. His father was assigned on his first extensive Mossad mission in Europe when the boy was 12, IIRC. He was extremely home-sick and couldn’t adapt to the new environment, so his mother took him back home, and he lived there alone for about a year, with only occasional visits by relatives and friends of the family. He turned out OK, I think. Again, myself I don’t think I would have done it. but, again, so what.

  • joel

    Well, she can quit school and sail away in 3 years. What is the rush? Don’t most countries have truancy laws? We all know that a sixteen year old girl sailing around the world by herself will have no problems. Her good judgment will keep her safe.

  • Alice

    Let’s think outside the box. This Dutch girl may just have pointed to a solution of one of the major tragedies devastating Europe — teenage pregnancies.

    Let governments do what they love to do — regulate. Let the EU have a rule that ALL pubescent teenage girls must sail around the world on their own, and specify that the sail can be no larger than a handkerchief (for safety reasons, of course). By the time (years in the future) those girls return to European shores as young ladies, they will have successfully navigated past the dangerous shoals of teenage drink, drugs, and sex on which so many of their young lives are foundering.

  • What is the rush? Don’t most countries have truancy laws?

    But Joel, that is rather the point. I think the very notion of truancy laws, i.e. state enforced and directed education, is monstrous.

    Who are you… or anyone… to conscript a 13 year old for 3 years? And make no mistake, this is state conscription we are discussing here.

  • As for the Dutch court, regardless of the higher question of why it should be involved in the first place…

    Stop… it cannot be ‘regardless of the higher question’ because the state’s involvement in this is the only meaningful question here.

  • Metrocentric

    The arrogance of the Dutch judiciary here is incredible: the State is appalling in loco parentis (see children’s homes in both the UK and Netherlands).

    As to whether Miss Dekker is up to the challenge, Arthur Ransome had it right: “Better drowned if duffers; if not duffers, won’t drown”. All the evidence suggests she’s no duffer.

  • veryretired

    Perry and Alisa—I was responding as a parent, not an ideologue who subsumes all judgement to whatever the party line happens to be.

    If you will look at what I said, it was that this entire issue would not have ever come to the point of state involvement if the if the parent or parents of this little Magellin had the gumption to resist all the whining and demands and simply say that magic parental word, “No”.

    I don’t care one way or the other if the child wants to be a guinness book hero and ends up chum, but her parents should.

    As to the ins and outs of the Dutch system regarding child welfare issues and court procedures, I have no idea how they all work, or how a family ends up in front of a judge in a case such as this.

    My point was that no responsible court officer is going to allow something like this to occur.

    If you want to reform the entire Dutch social service and court system to accomodate the demands of adolescents who want to take foolish chances in order to get their 15 minutes of fame, go ahead, knock yourselves out.

    But please stop trying to turn this willful child into some type of heroic martyr. She’s just one more demanding, adolescent tyrant who has worn her family down to the point where they would rather agree to her courting suicide than tell her she can’t do something.

  • Sorry VR, I understood very well what you meant the first time. I am not saying that you could not be right about this particular family, but I am saying that I also see a different possibility, which you seem to rule out from the outset. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one, since we are not likely to ever meet these people to find out.

  • Jacob

    Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic in the first (solo) flight at the ripe age of 25. (He had flown planes since he was 18).
    When he was about to start his flight, reporters hounded his mother and asked her why she allowed her son to take such risks, wasn’t she afraid he might die, and wasn’t it irresponsible of her to let him go. (two previous teams of seasoned pilots that had attempted the Atlantic crossing were lost and never heard of). The mother replied that her boy knew what he was doing, and would the reporters please get lost.

    If you read the article you can see that she was born on a boat while her family did a seven year cruise around the world. Her father is training her and encouraging her, and he knows sailing. It’s not a case of a child’s whim. So your analysis, while coherent, doesn’t apply to this particular case.

  • veryretired

    If she was born into a circus and trained all her life to walk a tightrope, would you approve of her desire tio walk across Europe on a mile high wire without a net?

    She’s 13. A parent’s responsibility is to get her to adulthood, not help find ways to express her adolescent whims.

    Now I am done with this.

  • perlhaqr

    A parent’s responsibility is to get her to adulthood. Too bad you seem to think that requires forcing her to remain an infant who never does anything.

    I pity any children you may have had. You are why the world sucks.

  • perlhaqr

    Clearly the answer is, never let the world know you’re going to do something exceptional. Just do it, and let them deal with the result afterwards.

    This notion that the state owns all of us is just horrifying.

  • jacob

    “A parent’s responsibility is to get her to adulthood, not help find ways to express her adolescent whims.”

    Looks to me more like her father’s whim than hers.

  • Is ‘jacob’ the same ‘Jacob’?

  • Speaking of the tender age of 13 (h/t to Natalie).

  • Pa Annoyed

    Is it possible VR has had extensive experience of whining, demanding, adolescent tyrants, and is projecting?

    Age is a poor criterion for judging maturity. There are 30 year olds I wouldn’t trust in charge of a pedalo on the boating lake. And teenagers can be very adult, if you give them the chance. Exceptional people can be exceptional even when they’re young.

    Personally, I’d set some hard tests to see if she really does know what she’s doing, and what she’s getting herself into. If she fails, you’ve got a good reason to say no, and if she passes, you’ve got nothing to worry about. And then I’d get her the best equipment and support crew I could manage, help her plan everything for safety and the ability to abort at any time, make sure she was in continual radio contact, and wish her well.

  • Pa, I’m itching to ask if you have kids, but I know it’s none of my damn business:-)

    I have a teenager (granted, a couple of years older) who does know how to sail. But if something like this came up, I would have very mixed feelings (there’s an understatement if there ever was one). If he persisted though, I’d do exactly what you said, and then I would have to forget all about sleeping for the next several months…

  • MarkE

    Having seen one girl into her 20s and one into her late teens so far I am constantly being told I am a bad father; I let both girls take the bus to the nearest decent sized town (15 miles) alone from about 13 (hardly sailing around the world, but from the comments I got from other parents you’d think it was); if I had to take them somewhere I was (and am) as likely to use a motorcycle as a car (amazing how many people think there is or should be a minimum age to ride pillion); the youngest is currently learning to ride her own motorcycle having had both bike and licence ready on her 17th birthday (her application & money, not mine). Both have been praised as organisers when they did things others approved of, and criticised as ringleaders when their projects were less conformist, either way, they led,. they didn’t follow.

    I do sometimes have trouble sleeping, but that is a parents burden, and it is no reason to hold them down. I am consoled by the thought that many of their peers (my critics’ children) will be 40 before they have done as much as mine have done, and that only if mine stop and they start living tomorrow. In reality they will never catch up.

  • Largo

    “A parent’s responsibility is to get her to adulthood, not help find ways to express her adolescent whims.”

    Looks to me more like her father’s whim than hers.

    Why’s that, jacob?

  • Jerry

    Haven’t seen anyone mention
    disabling accident
    Yes yes I know these happen all the time but NOT to 13 year olds alone at sea.

    One or more of these is what makes this trip so dangerous.
    That trip ?? My daughter, despite her maturity ?? At that age ?? At ANY age where I would have had any control over that decision –
    No damn way.

    Simply TOO dangerous in this day and age.
    And don’t kid yourself, a trip like this in NOT like ANYTHING on land or in the air. People die trying it every year or just disappear !!!

    If it were my daughter, and I said yes and ANYTHING bad happened, it would simply destroy me. Learned a LONG time ago, NEVER say yes when you REALLY want to say no.

    As for the ‘state’s involvement’ – they should be told where to stuff it and get the hell out of these people’s lives.

    When I took my children out of school for something I deemed more important ( in later years, almost ANYTHING could be deemed more important ), I didn’t ask the school for permission.
    I TOLD them what I was going to do.

    Was questioned ONCE and the principle and I came to a face to face understanding about exactly WHOSE children mine were and WHO was going to make decisions about where they would be and when.

  • Kim du Toit

    You know, there’s a reason why all societies (ALL societies) draw a line to decide when one has become a capable adult. Sure, some reach that maturity sooner than others — but that’s not the way to bet. And honestly, I think that 13 is too young to embark on a voyage like this, regardless of how capable a sailor she may be. Round-the-world yachts are not teensy little skiffs than can be handled by a (barely-) adolescent girl: by definition, they have to be large, heavy beasts which can handle the continuous pounding of massive ocean waves. Such a boat, I would suggest, is beyond the strength of any 13-year-old to handle competently, for such an extended period of time.

    Now: as for taking her into State custody, that’s just authoritarian. Simply forbidding her father to allow her to go (under threat of prosecution) should be sufficient. After all, he is responsible for her well-being as a parent, but if he’s going to act irresponsibly, he should only do so at the risk of being imprisoned (or similar legal censure).

    I know that this is being discussed as a matter of individual freedom (life at samizdata.net), but in this case, I think that all the individuals concerned are acting like idiots. I can make an exception for the girl — after all, the proclivity for children to make stupid decisions is the reason we try to protect them from themselves — but the father’s acting like an idiot.

  • veryretired

    All right, I admit it. Pediqure busted me.

    Every thing I said is just part of my decades long plot to ruin the world by denying 13 year olds their deepest heart’s desires.

    It all started with my oldest. All he wanted to do for his 13th birthday was climb Mt Everest dressed as Darth Vadar. And, of course, because I’m so mean (and wanted to ruin the world) I said no.

    Then my next oldest wanted to lead a snorkelling expedition of his scout troop to the Mariannas Trench. Once again, I ruined his life and denied him, even though he’d been swimming laps for years to practice.

    Then my daughter wanted to celebrate her confirmation by going to Amsterdam to buy some lingerie, and do some reverse window shopping. Once again, I must confess I crushed her childlike dreams by denying even this most harmless of excursions, even to the point of not letting her buy any red light bulbs for the trip.

    And finally, just a few years ago, I destroyed my youngest’s life when I refused to supply him with any more tablespoons from the kitchen for his eighth grade science project of digging to China in our back yard.

    One of these days, I’m hoping they will come out of the basement. It smells down there, and I’m getting tired of tossing food down the stairs and listening to them fight over it.

    All I needed was this one last step of denying sister Magellin her chance to drown herself, and the whole world would have been good and truly ruined. My life’s work would have been complete.

    Oh well. Now I’ll have to think up a new plot. Just like my hero, evil arch-criminal Cassanova Frankenstein, I will never give up trying to destroy Captain America.

    Gee, I hope The Shoveler’s not around…

  • A couple of years ago I met a Finnish couple in Cyprus who were finishing just such a trip in a boat just about that size.

  • ROTFL, VR! You are an evil, evil man!

  • Laird

    OK, VR, I have to ask: what is “reverse window shopping”?

  • Jerry

    VR – you reminded me of something I heard L O N G ago regarding raising children –

    ‘When they turn 13 lock them in the closet and don’t let them out until they’re 21 !!!!!’

    I threatened mine with harmone shots and told them they could go through puberty in their 20’s when I wouldn’t have to deal with it !!!

  • Laird: Amsterdam, red light-bulbs, window shopping – do the math. Do I have to explain everything around here?

  • Jerry


    I think VR means ‘working on the ‘wrong’ side of the window pane’.
    In other words, being a supplier instead of a consumer

  • Jerry, in my version I lock them in a freezer – I am sure the advantages are obvious to any rational person.

  • Laird

    Sorry to be so dense.

  • Jacob

    Looks to me more like her father’s whim than hers.

    Why’s that, jacob?

    Yes, it’s Jacob.

    Read the article. The girl made a solo sailing from Holland to England, but wasn’t permitted to return, and was taken into custody by the police. Her father came, released her from the police, and sent her back home, sailing alone, again.

    It’s obvious that while most commenters speak about the teenagers they know (normal ones), this girl seems quite exceptional.

  • When I was 13, I did all sorts of dangerous things like rock climbing, caving, kayaking, and handling firearms. Some of these activities were supervised, most of them were solo. I grew up doing them, or around people who did, so by 13, I understood what it meant if you failed to use protective procedures, and I behaved better than a lot of adults.

    Sailing is one of those skills which require actual competence and years of study to master. It sounds to me like this girl has forgotten more than I will ever know about it, and this whole ‘bad parent’ crap is galling. She will NOT be left alone, just alone on the boat.

    The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise. -Tacitus

  • Nothing Left

    Let her go, just as long as my country (Australia) won’t have to answer her rescue calls as she founders in the Southern Ocean.

    I’m sick of showoffs, activists, stretchers of boundaries, Guiness Book of Ridiculous Record Seekers, who assume I will provide the support platform.

    Remember, to them, when the shit hits the fan, the Government is their friend – only it’s my taxes, and their right, don’cha know.


  • Largo

    Her father came, released her from the police, and sent her back home, sailing alone, again.

    I missed that. Was it the father who chose for her to return that way? (Ah, too inconsequential to bother looking up.)

    The girl seems exceptional indeed. Not sure what to think about her father putting her up to it (if he did), but from what I see, if I was in his place, I would be quite happy to encourage her in it if she is serious enough.

    It sounds like a family that would be interesting to meet.

    (BTW, I would not set her off on a world voyage on a whim, but I’d be all for her giving the finger to England by sailing back home if she had the druthers!)

  • Jacob

    Her father, being a seasoned sailor himself, would probably see to it that another boat, maybe his own, would sail in her trail, being on hand if a rescue became necessary.
    That’s a pure guess of mine, but seems plausible. He wouldn’t announce it so as not to spoil the Guiness record.

  • Laird

    OK, I’m returning to the key issue here: “reverse window shopping”. I think I conceded my own obtuseness too quickly on that one.

    “Window shopping” is looking without buying. “Reverse” window shopping, therefore, would logically be either buying without looking (seems unlikely) or (more likely) displaying without selling. That goes on every day (been to beach lately?), and is generally viewed as not particularly objectionable. So I’m still confused. What’s your beef, VR?

  • veryretired

    It was a joke, Laird, just a joke. You are making too much out of it, and thinking much deeper about the phrase than I ever did.

    It was just a joke.

  • Nuke Gray

    I think VR meant ‘window-shopped’. Instead of someone looking at things through the window, you would be the thing looked at.
    Still, it seems excessive criticism. Some libertarians talk a lot about decreasing the role of the police, and then become language cops on the side! Lighten up, you tub of Laird!

  • Laird

    I know it was a joke; I was just having some fun with you by pushing it harder. Levity doesn’t always come off well in written form, does it? Sorry to annoy you.

  • veryretired

    Oh, Laird, I’m not annoyed with you. If I was, I’d try to tease you the way I did pdq or whatever his name was.

    It’s just that sometimes people get into these enormous debates about some word or phrase and I didn’t want to do that.

    I couldn’t even follow your analysis. It was certainly more complicated than any thought process of mine that went into the whole comment, much less the little bit about Amsterdam.

    I think the only reason the Amsterdam thing even came to mind was because the girl is Dutch, first of all, and secondly, I read a novel a few months ago in which the red light district there played a big part.

    “A Widow For One Year” by John Irving. Didn’t like it as much as some others of his.

  • Levity doesn’t always come off well in written form, does it?

    Tell me about it…:-)