How sick are we
September 19, 2002 8:19 PM   Subscribe

How sick are we as a nation when this is done is public and no one notices. Of course, the coast was clear, as the mom checked before she launched this attack. But then, to read that the family, seeing the videotape of the beating, still protects their daughter, I have to come close to burning rage inside. Enough to make me wish she gets caught and prosecuted in Texas, where she has some links.
posted by Busithoth (50 comments total)

 
I too was totally shocked when I saw that. Absolutely terrible. There is no reason at all to pound the living crap out of a child. Period.
posted by ericdano at 8:25 PM on September 19, 2002


Urgh :( I hope somebody finds that poor little girl, couldn't the security guard have done something ? They said they were tracking the pair and that it went on for some time. Very very sad...
posted by zeoslap at 8:27 PM on September 19, 2002


Seems Like I would've been all over her, How can anyone watch that and basically do nothing? not even yell at her?

It seems the tracked her from front door to car, To busy to send someone?

Afraid to confront, possibly, Ive seem folks just stare and wait till someone else (I) broke up a fight before, but at least that was two adults, and they were both pretty drunk. But a child, god America sucks sometimes....
posted by Elim at 8:31 PM on September 19, 2002


Welcome to the good side of total surveillance.
posted by beth at 8:34 PM on September 19, 2002


Sometimes our priorites are in the wrong place
posted by jmd82 at 8:34 PM on September 19, 2002


Why are we certain that Americans are so liable to beat children and/or sit around while children are being beaten? What makes this ugly crime especially American, anyway?
posted by tss at 8:36 PM on September 19, 2002


CanYouBelieveThosePeopleFilter
posted by sacre_bleu at 8:41 PM on September 19, 2002


Police say the two women caught the attention of security personnel at Kohl's.

This confused me into thinking there was another adult present, until I realized that they were calling the four-year-old a woman. Seems an odd choice.

And no, I don't think this is a particularly "American" crime. Other cultures torture, beat, enslave, and even kill their offspring. It is, sadly, a dark side of human nature to think of children as possessions rather than other humans.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:48 PM on September 19, 2002


I suppose I was more appalled by the fact that it was watched on camera and recorded, yet that didn't expedite things (oh yeah, they got her car) and then the family defending her. I don't see how they could make some kind of bond with the daughter and protect her, while forgetting that the daughter is related as well...and I wasn't particularly suggesting that the US is the only country to have such things.
It's just made all the more horrible that now we have a video of the beating and that doesn't help the girl in the least.

Secret Life of Gravy, I agree with you in your interpretation of two 'women'. My initial reading led me to believe that this mother had some kind of friend who witnessed the whole thing. Then I realized that it might be the child, but was kept guessing.
posted by Busithoth at 8:56 PM on September 19, 2002


Sounds as if they were "tracking" the mother and daughter because the mother had given them a bit of a retail-related hassle in the store. Nowhere does the article say that the mother harmed or threatened the child in the store; they were probably watching her to make certain she didn't cause more trouble for the staff or shoplift anything.

What the article does say is: "The assault lasts just over 25 seconds." Now, it could be that people passed by in the parking lot and didn't stop, but I doubt very much that people watching the surveillance camera could have gotten out there fast enough to stop her.

I certainly do hope they find this woman, and take the child out of her hands (and, probably, away from the "less than helpful" family).
posted by dryad at 9:07 PM on September 19, 2002


Bushitoth, by what logic do you conclude that "no one noticed" this crime? Looks like a hell of a LOT of people noticed the crime, from security guards to concerned citizens. I strongly resent your attempt to blame "we as a nation" for the sickness of a single individual.

Incidentally, the way the US justice system works, the prosecution of a crime takes place in the jurisdiction where it occurred. Under normal circumstances there is no way she could be prosecuted in Texas for this particular beating.

Incidentally, the little girl is likely a prime candidate for reactive attachment disorder.
posted by dhartung at 9:07 PM on September 19, 2002


until I realized that they were calling the four-year-old a woman. Seems an odd choice.

i've noticed this a lot lately in both american and canadian news articles... referring to female children as women. it makes my head hurt when i start to wonder about this apparent trend... is it bad editing, typos, or what...? some unconscious need to push female children into adulthood in order to excuse/ignore/cope with certain behaviors in our society...? the next time i see this happen, i'm calling the reporter to question their choice of words.
posted by t r a c y at 9:32 PM on September 19, 2002


Yea I don't know what the big deal is about this. I mean after all if this type of behavior were checked we'd surely have less than our fair share of serial killers and all that jazz. I'm certain without them the world would surely go to pot.

Thanks be to our child beating overlords!
posted by filchyboy at 9:35 PM on September 19, 2002


I disagree It is our problem, regardless of what goes no in the rest of the world, we have a problem with violence, and aggression.

Anyone disagrees and I'l kick their we ass!!!!


But really, we love a good buttwhuppin, as long as it's someone elses butt, and some other national butt even better. and pretty soon we get to thing buttwhuppin is a socially acceptable activity, and self control is a weakness,

The UN is weak,'cause they don't lay'th the smackdown on bad o' Saddam,

Arafat is weak cause he don't lay'th the smackdown on bad o' Suicide Bombers, (although I don't see how that would help, but rational thought doesn't seem to be in the regions plan) and

Ashcroft is weak cause he don't kick all the Muslum asses,

Gore is cause he don't lay'th the smackdown on bad o' Shrub.

And running to bomb some Iraqis is a sign of 'strength' and beeting a kid is easier than teaching her or listening or enven caring, and just watching is easier than getting off your ass and protectign (not attacking for once) someone helpless.

that is why I think somethings about this great land SUCK!

posted by Elim at 9:59 PM on September 19, 2002


Damn it pulled my rant tags. damn.... oh well.
posted by Elim at 10:00 PM on September 19, 2002


How sick are we as a nation when this is done is public and no one notices. Of course, the coast was clear, as the mom checked before she launched this attack.

Duh???
posted by flatlander at 10:26 PM on September 19, 2002


Police say the two women caught the attention of security personnel at Kohl's.

This confused me into thinking there was another adult present, until I realized that they were calling the four-year-old a woman. Seems an odd choice.


There were initially two women. You could see them walking through the parking lot together with their children earlier in the tape, before the beating began. From a report on another Indy TV station:

"Police said Gorman and another woman -- identified as Gorman's sister -- had earlier caught the attention of security personnel. "
posted by schmedeman at 10:26 PM on September 19, 2002


The article says the beating lasted 25 seconds, nowhere near enough time to locate, instruct and dispatch a guard to investigate.
posted by mischief at 10:37 PM on September 19, 2002


It looks terrible, but in the version I've seen (from filepile, registration required), the woman seems to be beating on the girl, then pulls down the seat. The girl hopped up and with reasonable vigor climbs into the back of the truck.

The voiceover indicates there is more to the video after that, but that is where the version I have ends.

Is it possible that they were just play fighting? The piece I see does actually show any blows and the girl certainly doesn't look hurt in the brief moment she is visible.

Not trying to justify, just wondering if that possibility has been addressed.
posted by obfusciatrist at 11:23 PM on September 19, 2002


WNDU posted an update on the story, putting the national news coverage in the lede.

Assistant prosecutor Maggie Jones believes the suspect is part of a group known as the Irish Travelers who travel the country looking for seasonal work... The Mishawaka police chief said the name of the wanted woman is Madelyne Gorman who also goes by the name Madelyne Toogood.

I remember a flap a little while back over an episode of Dateline NBC on the Irish Travelers. Apparently the piece prompted South Carolina to raise the legal age to marry to 14 and 16 for girls and boys, respectively.
posted by pzarquon at 11:33 PM on September 19, 2002


I'm not sure if it was play fighting. Before putting the little girl in the car the mom seemed to look around to see if anyone was watching, or so it seemed to me, then commenced with the waylay.
posted by Ron at 11:34 PM on September 19, 2002


From the clip I saw last night on the news it was definitely not play fighting. That woman was pounding the crap out of that little girl.
posted by konolia at 3:32 AM on September 20, 2002


y'all poking yer nose in where it don't belong. i have it on good authority that little girl is a terrist infiltrator and the woman is with homeland security. our government beating the crap out of enemy combatants is none of your frigging business, so just move along, folks, nothing to see here.
posted by quonsar at 4:42 AM on September 20, 2002


the suspect is part of a group known as the Irish Travelers

I don't give a Tinker's damn who she is. What does the group she belongs to have to do with it?
posted by yerfatma at 4:43 AM on September 20, 2002


What does the group she belongs to have to do with it?

Well, it would explain why the family has been less than cooperative. Read pzarquon's link, it's pretty strange - I'd never heard of these people.
posted by jalexei at 5:25 AM on September 20, 2002


"Pikeys?! I f*cking hate Pikeys!"
posted by bkdelong at 5:52 AM on September 20, 2002


I kind of have to go with obfusciatrist on this one. I was watching the CNN coverage last night, and there was all this talk about how the girl needs immediate medical attention, she probably has a concussion, etc... etc... I will admit, she will probably have a bruise or two, but concussion? Come on. Women don't hit that hard, even when the recipient is a little kid. And I have to agree that the kid seemed pretty vigorous there... even had her foot tapping near the end of what I saw.

This is going to sound really trite, and and everyone will think I'm already fairly messed up and therefore have no right to comment, but I got beatings way worse than that as a kid and survived just fine (I'm generally a pacifist, and rarely even get upset much less raise my voice). Anybody else get bare-bum spanked? With leather belts? Wooden spoons? Drum sticks? 3/4" diameter solid plastic rods? (Where the heck did my Dad ever find those... man they hurt like stink.) Was it unfortunate and somewhat traumatic? Yes. Would it have justified a state-wide manhunt? I don't think so. This women needs help, for sure, but I don't necessarily think she's the child-killing monster she's being made out to be. Heck, she had a car seat, that's more than I ever had!!

Let the flamethrowers roar!
posted by timbley at 6:04 AM on September 20, 2002


i saw this in the UK this morning.

obfusciatrist, looked to me that she hit the girl first (dont know why), then *pushed the seat up* then pounded that back to clip it in to the housing.
posted by andybw at 6:54 AM on September 20, 2002


Ever try to confront an abusive parent in public? Oh, man. You have to be reeeeeally careful not to strengthen their resolve. You don't want the kid to get it worse when they get home ...
posted by whatnot at 7:07 AM on September 20, 2002


...the assault begins with the woman hitting then aggressively and repeatedly punching the little girl

I thought this picture caption was a bit odd. Putting the word aggressively in there. Kind of stating the obvious a bit isn't it, or is it just me being a pedant?
posted by DrDoberman at 7:16 AM on September 20, 2002


Does anyone have a link to the video segment?
posted by mert at 7:28 AM on September 20, 2002


... even had her foot tapping near the end of what I saw.

I was afraid that was a seizure. But the whole thing was kind of hard to see, and I didn't want to watch too closely, honestly.
posted by teenydreams at 7:32 AM on September 20, 2002


jalexei: I'd never heard of these people.

Jalexei, go down to the video store and rent Traveller, a fine piece of fiction starring Bill Paxton.

Irish Travellers are basically Gypsies, with the added benefit of being, well, Irish.
posted by thanotopsis at 7:55 AM on September 20, 2002


And I have to agree that the kid seemed pretty vigorous there... even had her foot tapping near the end of what I saw.

The video doesn't seem to be working for me, but from what I've read, it sounds like the last sequence (the dozen plus blows to the head described in the article) occur after the girl is in the seat, and isn't shown on the video on the site(?) That ain't no swat on the behind....

thanotopsis, thanks for the link.
posted by jalexei at 8:15 AM on September 20, 2002


Mert:
Here. Link on left hand side under "video"
posted by internal at 8:15 AM on September 20, 2002


Well, it would explain why the family has been less than cooperative

I know. Bad joke, sorry: "Tinker" was the less-than-friendly epithet replaced by "Traveller".
(Into the West is another good movie on the same subject)
posted by yerfatma at 9:47 AM on September 20, 2002


Ever try to confront an abusive parent in public? Oh, man. You have to be reeeeeally careful not to strengthen their resolve. You don't want the kid to get it worse when they get home ...

True confessions time. Not because I want a group hug (she said, reflecting on the dire fates of those who've tried to use MeFi for their own group-therapy purposes) but because I think this is really important.

As a survivor of child abuse, I find it much easier to deal with memories of the actual physical abuse I suffered at the hands of my stepfather, than to deal with my memories of how much he got away with in public, and how much public evidence there was of the things he did in private.

I can cope with the bad luck of having shared a house with a damaged, angry man for seven years, but I cannot dismiss as bad luck the fact that for seven years, until I left home at 15, it was allowed to go on. By everyone who knew us, by strangers on the street, by people at my schools, by inept child welfare bureaucrats.

If a stranger had ever confronted my stepfather in the middle of his hurting me, sure, there's a chance that it just would have been continued later on. But---honestly---so what? A beating now or a beating later, doesn't matter, there was always one just around the corner. You cannot rationalize abuse into neat, logical, cause-and-effect formulas. Ask any battered kid or spouse who never gave up trying to figure out the magic behavior or the magic words that would keep her from being hurt again.

On the other hand. A little bit of validation that this is wrong and should not be allowed to go on would have meant the world to me. I'd've gladly taken a matched pair of black eyes for a little bit of hope that the world was a better place than it looked.

In short, the isolation of abuse hurts more than the bruises do, and lasts far longer. That is why I'll never turn away from a scene like the one in this videotape. There are a million plausible-sounding reasons for not getting involved, but every one of them wilts in comparison to the reason you should get involved.
posted by Sapphireblue at 10:09 AM on September 20, 2002 [1 favorite]


Sapphireblue, I was absolutely not advocating ignorance. I hate that we as a society look the other way and let this crap go on.

I have yet to come up with a reliable way to confront. I am not a trained crisis counselor. After reading this thread, I Googled abuse+intervention+public (and various other iterations) and got plenty of results stating that we should intervene, but no one seems to know how without escalating the situation. I think the point is to defuse rather than confront, but still, I don't have the training. Not that I haven't tried.

At age 4, my son once stopped a shrieking harpy from repeatedly whacking her kid in front of everyone at Sears by simply saying (rather loudly), "Mom, why is she hitting that boy? He's crying!"

If only I had his candor.
posted by whatnot at 10:38 AM on September 20, 2002


... even had her foot tapping near the end of what I saw.

I don't think that was happy foot tapping, myself, I think that was angry, hurt, crying, frustrated foot tapping. I think the reports of the child needing "immediate medical attention" are semi-hysterical exaggeration, I think most of the hits were pretty ineffectual (which is not to say they were excusable). I think this is a classic case of the media pouncing on something and getting hysterical about it.

Frankly, I don't think this is much worse than any other kind of hitting (spanking included), and I (somewhat cynically) think that part of the reason people are up in arms about it is because it's an out-of-context, soundless, videotape, and it's probably no worse than any other episode of "physical discipline" would seem if seen under similar circumstances. I wouldn't be surprised if many of the people who find this objectionable have no problem with bare-bottom spanking (and who would probably be shocked at how awful a spanking looks if framed in the same way as this incident). I've said it before: corporal punishment is pretty well always the refuge of the lazy, ignorant or frustrated parent, and it has no place (IMHO) in responsible child-rearing. I just find it ironic that this is seen as somehow far more terrible, simply because it's on videotape and it's being shown on the news ad nauseam. If we're going to launch a manhunt for this woman, we should be doing the same for anyone else who hits their children in any way more than a tap on a clothed behind, and I somehow don't think that's going to happen as long as people insist on defending their right to hit those who (apparently) have no right to not be hit.
posted by biscotti at 11:32 AM on September 20, 2002


I know of a good intervention strategy.

Film the parent in action and air the film on CNN, then have a manhunt to track the parent down. I think a little national shame should do the trick. That little girl will probably never be hit again.
posted by timbley at 11:56 AM on September 20, 2002


If we're going to launch a manhunt for this woman, we should be doing the same for anyone else who hits their children in any way more than a tap on a clothed behind

Why yes. Gotta start somewhere. SUV lady is as good as any. By the way, CNN says now she's wanted for skipping a court date related to a shoplifting incident.

...I found a few things about the "correct" way to intervene in and defuse an abusive/potentially abusive situation. Here's links:

Jan Hunt seems to be a pretty well-credentialed counsellor and parenting expert who has written two longish articles on this subject. I'd never heard of her before, but her first article echoes the gist of my rant above, which is interesting if only to me.
  • Intervening on Behalf of a Child in a Public Place, Part 1: Is It Our Business?
  • Intervening on Behalf of a Child in a Public Place, Part 2: What Can We Do?


  • The Kempe Children's Center has an article, How can I help defuse an abusive situation?

    There is an article at Parenting.com titled "Reality Check: Should You Stop a Verbally Abusive Mom?"

    The common thread seems to be that the way to go is to soothe and defuse, rather than confront or criticize. Sensible enough. I like your son's technique, too, whatnot.

    Lastly, someone in Canada is (was? I see no dates) writing a doctoral dissertation on this very subject, there's a call for study participation and sign-up sheet here. I've written to ask if the study or paper are done yet, perhaps with luck someone will respond with a link to a nice meaty resource on this topic.
    posted by Sapphireblue at 11:58 AM on September 20, 2002


    Good links Sapphireblue, thanks. I try to remind myself, when I see a parent being abusive, that it's possible that they just don't know any better because that's how they were raised themselves, or that they have no support network, or that there's possibly some excuse, and I think the approaches outlined in those links are likely the best ones. It still seems like it would be hard to be nice to someone you'd just seen abusing their child, and I'm as guilty as the next person of succumbing to the societal taboo against intervening (I also fear I'd go from "it's difficult when they're at that age, isn't it" to "but that's no excuse to abuse them, is it?").

    And you're right that we've got to start somewhere.
    posted by biscotti at 1:02 PM on September 20, 2002


    beth: Welcome to the good side of total surveillance.

    Security Guard: Should we do anything?
    Boss: Fuck no. Its not our liability.

    No one stepped in. All the video is going to do is provide another level of proof at the eventual trial. Without the video they would have had the eye witness testimony of a handful of people. You don't need video to prove what happened especially after they inspect the child. Arguably, national media attention helps produce a bias jury, grandstanding D.A.'s and over-the-top lawyers, and general OJ-ness.

    Thanks but no thanks. Keep your cameras to yourself.
    posted by skallas at 2:58 PM on September 20, 2002


    I've seen several instances where the whole tape was not played. After the girl is in the seat the mother continues hitting the child, much of it looking to be at the childs head, and no, it wasn't play fighting.

    Security Guard: Should we do anything?
    Boss: Fuck no. Its not our liability.


    Do we know how far away they were from the parking lot? How long did it last, 25 seconds? By the time they realized what was going on (human responce is not instantaneous) I don't see how they could have done anything, unless they're 'magic'. And I doubt they had the authority to actually chase the vehicle down the highway.

    They did do something. They called the police. Damn them for not having supernatural powers.
    posted by justgary at 9:37 PM on September 20, 2002


    "I just find it ironic that this is seen as somehow far more terrible, simply because it's on videotape..."

    No, it's not "far more terrible" than what many are suffering. But this is a way to start addressing the issue. And so, in addition to using this to help catch the perpetrator, you also can make it an example.

    It's valuable put this tape out there and say:
    This is what it looks like through the cool eye of the camera lens. What do you think about this level of physical violence (or even "mimed" violence, if that's what some claim it is)? Have you ever ignored a scene like this in a public place? Do you know someone who is, or are you yourself, in an out-of-control situation?
    posted by NorthernLite at 7:24 AM on September 21, 2002


    it seems the woman has turned herself in
    posted by dolface at 3:08 PM on September 21, 2002


    Sapphire: those are the most useful links i've EVER seen on MeFi. Thanks.

    I'd just like to point out the apparent discrepancy between the designation 'Irish' (as an anglo, born in Oxford of Irish parents) when it's convenient, and 'American' (which this woman undoubtedly is).

    Eveyone:
    Forget ethnicity: traveller, Irish (in Eire, likelihood she'd be stopped quicker anyway), American: she was wrong. racial background is irrelevant, you know it wouldn't be emphasised if she was Jewish, white, Californian...
    posted by dash_slot- at 8:15 PM on September 21, 2002


    I can't believe the "women don't hit that hard" comment hasn't elicited a peep!

    While child abuse perpetrated by women hasn't been studied as extensively as that by men, and pretty much all the info I was able to find (which wasn't much) on the severity of child abuse when perpetrated by women in some Google searching appears to come from studies done by conservative anti-feminist groups, I can at least say I have known many people in my life who were abused by their mothers who I think would certainly disagree with that statement. And I find it very sad to see the beating this kid suffered minimized by someone who says he's a survivor of it himself just because the incident that got caught on tape isn't as severe as what he survived. Hell, all I could think when I saw that tape on my local news was that if that's how hard she hits that little girl in public, I hate to think what things must be like for that child at home.
    posted by apollonia6 at 11:43 PM on September 21, 2002


    Um, bad sentence structure there... instead of "pretty much all the info I was able to find (which wasn't much) on the severity of child abuse when perpetrated by women in some Google searching appears to come from..." I should have said "pretty much all the info I was able to find in some Google searching (which wasn't much) on the severity of child abuse when perpetrated by women appears to come from..." Oops. I doubt much child abuse is done via Google.
    posted by apollonia6 at 11:46 PM on September 21, 2002


    Last weekend, someone jumped down my throat for leaving my 4 year old son in the car while I returned a shopping cart 15 feet away on a day when it was 65 degrees outside.

    Just sharing the flipside - people without kids have a tendency to judge parents in public places.

    With that said, that woman was hitting her child above the belt. Inexcusable and horrible. Watching that video made me want to strap her into a seat and slap her in the head a few times.
    posted by glenwood at 6:33 AM on September 23, 2002


    « Older Rally monkey time!...  |  Meanwhile in the world of spor... Newer »


    This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments