Monday, May 30, 2016

Self-Righteous Indignation

In case you missed it (practically impossible if you live in the U.S.), this past weekend a 4-year-old boy somehow got into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo, dropped 15 feet into a foot of water in the enclosure's moat, and was taken (some reports say "dragged") by a 17-year-old male gorilla to another part of the moat where the gorilla was then shot and killed by first-responder/emergency zoo staff. There is so much to say about this situation. There are so many unknowns. My first thought was, "how awful on so many levels." I grieve for the gorilla. I grieve for the zoo staff. My heart breaks for the little boy and his mother. However, as is more and more the case in this country, after the initial shock of the incident was reported the comments started rolling in on the almighty social media.

"Where was this boy's mother?!"
"Somebody call social services because there is clearly a case for neglect!"
"If that was [sic] my kid I'd smack the crap out of him!"
"Parent your damn kid!"
"This is what happens when people don't discipline their kids!"
"People need to learn to control their kids, not be their friends."
"They shot the wrong primate."


You know, I was a much wiser, knowledgeable, better parent before I became one. The self-righteous indignation in the comments above makes me sad. And devastated. And furious. Sad because I am sure the mother of this child (let's all remember that it is a child we're talking about. A 4-year-old child) is reading at least some of these comments, because they are inescapable. Devastated because I used to be someone who would make those kinds of comments about parents needing to get in control of their children (not ones advocating violence, but even so...). I use to be that asshole. And furious because (now that I am a parent and no longer the that asshole) I see how awful the attitudes and messages behind these kinds of comments really are.

First of all, we don't know what happened. We don't know. Was the boy's mother (or parent) there when it happened? Maybe. Maybe not. We don't know. Was the parent being neglectful? Maybe, maybe not. We don't know. Is the parent a disciplinarian or an attachment parent? We don't know. Was the child hit/slapped/abused for his actions? We. Don't. Know. We just don't know what happened or how this boy was/is parented, or any of the extenuating circumstances.

Second, this is NOT what happens when parents don't discipline their kids. This is what happens when a freak set of circumstances collide. If this were the sort of thing that happened when people didn't discipline their kids then this sort of thing would happen all the time, isn't that right??

Thirdly, children are people, got it? People. Like, real people. If you think for one second that there is some magical way to "control" them, then you're obviously not a parent. Sure, you can spank (i.e. hit) them - slap them around a bit. You can threaten, intimidate, bribe, reward, or do any number of things to get them to comply with your demands. But that's not control. And it's not even healthy complacency.

Fourth, "They shot the wrong primate."?! The person who wrote this (friend of a friend on Facebook) disgusts me. The sentiment is appalling, base, vile, unfeeling, and just plain wrong. You're mad about an innocent animal being shot to death? So am I. You think the better outcome would have been for another innocent animal (that's right. A child wandering into a place he shouldn't be does not strip him from his innocence here) to have been shot instead?? You're illogical and wrong.

Last, I think people are getting pissed at the wrong thing for the wrong reason. We don't know what happened here. We know an innocent animal lost it's life because of human actions. That's what the comments are abhorring. But, and here's my salient question for all the commenters, are you vegan? Because if you're not, your indignation on this topic is not worth a damn.

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