Dad Flips over Facebook Comments

Watching this video of a dad chastising her daughter online and then finally shooting her laptop because of what she posted on Facebook, I couldn’t help but grin at the absurdity of the whole episode. The absurdity is not about the fact that the daughter aired her disagreements with her parents to the public, nor is it about the fact that she refused to do what to me would appear to be very trivial chores. It is the fact that the father is doing exactly what his daughter did; going public with his grievances about his daughter. Yes, like daughter, like father. An act he might have intended to be a tough lesson seems to have morphed into an act of retribution.

This video prompts a lot of questions that I do not necessary have opinions on, let alone answers to. Some of the issues are: As a parent, what do you do when your child disobeys you? Do you have a legal or moral right to punish them? As a child, what responsibilities do you have to your parents and where do these responsibilities stop? Should children be able to broadcast to the public what they think about their parents? Or should the dignity and privacy of their family come before their opinions? To what extent are parents responsible for their children’s activities online? Does this responsibility give parents the right to use their technological expertise to spy on their kids online? Does the laptop a parent buys for their child belong to them or the child? Do you as a parent have a right to destroy such property/gifts just because you bought them? And finally, does the right to own a gun give you a right to use it to destroy the laptop you bought your child?

The one issue I would like to touch on is that of parents monitoring what their kids do online. Just as it is natural for parents to want to know what their twelve-year-old child is up to when they go outside with their friends, it would seem reasonable for a parent to also want to know what their child was up to online. Unfortunately, parents can’t just take what their child tells them they were doing to be true. The range of activities that youngsters can engage in online is virtually infinite, creating countless avenues for parents to worry about. As a result, some parents resort to using online monitoring technology in a bid to protect their kids from the obvious dangers lurking behind their screens.

However, many would agree that this concern about their kids’ safety results in parents invading the privacy of their kids. Currently, software that can monitor a child’s chat history in various social media is available to parents at cheap prices, giving them an intimate look into their kids’ actions online. While some would say that this ability to monitor the minutest detail of what their kids do online gives parents greater opportunities to protect their children from online predators, most people would scorn at a parent who tapes a tape recorder on their child’s chest in a bid to monitor who they talk to and what they talk about when they leave the house.

Ultimately, the ethical issues boil down to the level of monitoring parents do chose to engage in, whether they inform their children about it and how they react to what they find their kids have been up to online. Rebuking your child in front of the whole world might not be the best way to get her to listen to you. Neither is such thoughtless display of the powers of a gun necessary.

The Dark Knight Rises…in Seattle

Fans of masked heroes will be thrilled to know that vigilante justice is not unique to Gotham City.  According to a recent Reuter’s article, Seattle’s very own Phoenix Jones has been unmasked.

Phoenix, whose real name is Benjamin Fodor, was recently arrested for assault after pepper-spraying patrons of a local night club because he suspected that they were involved in a street brawl.  When the police arrived, Fodor was being attacked by an angry woman with her shoes.   The Seattle police have not charged Fodor, and he vows to return to vigilante work.
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A thieving church and amnesty that amounts to impunity

“Son, I am sorry that I had to wait until the hour of my death to tell you the truth, I wish I had had the courage to reveal it to you earlier. I am not your biological father! I bought you from hospital X when you were Y days old!”

Imagine being told that by the man you have known all your life as your dad. It would be heartbreaking, to say the least. This is exactly the situation that two men in their forties, Juan Luis Moreno and Antonio Barroso, found themselves confronting earlier this year in Spain as recounted by this BBC article. All their lives, they had lived a lie; believing that the parents they lived with were their biological parents.

Their situation is not unique in Spain. After their story went public, many mothers came out to tell stories of their missing babies too. All these incidents trace their origins to the dictatorial era of Francisco Franco (1936-1975). After the Spanish civil war, Franco’s side took babies from women it believed to be unworthy parents because they had supported the Republican side during the war. However, over the years, this practice was turned into a money-making enterprise as babies were taken at birth from their parents and sold to couples wishing to adopt them. Continue reading “A thieving church and amnesty that amounts to impunity”

Church or Jail?


Bay Minette, a city in my home state Alabama (woot!), recently launched “Operation Restore Our Community.” It sounds super legitimate, but I can’t say that I am too proud of it. Essentially, Bay Minette is now offering some offenders the choice between “Jesus time” and “jail time.” The ones who choose church over jail will have to check in with a local church of their choosing every Sunday for a year. This Operation aims to provide a more long-term solution to some offenses and is projected to save $75 a day per inmate. Only churches are participating in the Operation because there are no synagogues/mosques/temples in the region.

And it is also being sued by the ACLU on the claims that the city government is forcing religious participation (surprise!?!?).

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The Death of a Hamster

ChadDDHamsterLast year at June, an angry 19 year old teenager choked and threw a hamster out of the house and killed it instantly, and about three weeks ago, she was arrested and charged with aggravated cruelty to animals and faced up to two years in prison. I was pretty horrified when I first heard of this, and judging from some of the comments I’ve read from various blogs, the public seems indignant at what she has done.

There is probably not much debate on whether her action was humane or not, what I think really is worth talking about is Mark Bittman’s response in the New York Times. Bittman argues that we torture animals everyday in meat factories and we make it okay because we eat the animals (warning: he included some really graphic videos). The fact that a teenager is charged with a federal felony for killing a hamster while industries get away with grinding up 200 million chicks alive in a year is something that really troubles me.

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Rules are Made to be…Flexible?

We are all told from a young age that we need to follow certain rules to be successful, or to keep order. Certainly, everyone but perhaps the most die-hard of anarchists among us agrees that rules are an important part of our society. What exactly these rules should do or regulate, is a topic of considerable more controversy, but not one I want to discuss today.

Instead, I want to talk about the unnecessary rigidity with which we enforce rules today. Instead of making rules a flexible code by which to properly keep order and respect in society, we have, in many cases, allowed rules to become elevated to sacrosanct status. Instead of looking at the pros and cons of enforcing a rule in any given situation, we repeat the mantra that “rules are rules” and the punishment must be enforced no matter the situation.

One of the best speakers I have seen on this subject is Barry Schwartz, who within this excellent TED talk (it’s long, but worth it) tells the story of a professor who accidentally gave his young son a “Mike’s Hard Lemonade” and nearly ended up losing custody of him.

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