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Shouldn't retard be singular?
July 27, 2006 5:08 PM   Subscribe

Caution: Retards In Area
posted by nooneyouknow (105 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
This is so asking for a "Slow: Redneck Crossing" sign in response....
posted by mr_roboto at 5:11 PM on July 27, 2006


excuse me, don't you mean "Retard's"?
posted by jimmy at 5:13 PM on July 27, 2006 [3 favorites]


I knew there was something (else) I didn't like about Utahns.
posted by dersins at 5:14 PM on July 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


Taking a look at the white trash that put the sign up, I think irony has truly struck . . .
posted by Ironmouth at 5:15 PM on July 27, 2006


That sign isn't going to do shit. They need a cattle fence.
posted by bob sarabia at 5:17 PM on July 27, 2006


I am not taglining that because it would be wrong.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:18 PM on July 27, 2006


Like jimmy says, there's a delightful irony in the signmakers' inability to use the apostrophe...
posted by dogsbody at 5:20 PM on July 27, 2006


So fucking what? This is hardly international news.
posted by Joeforking at 5:21 PM on July 27, 2006


I wonder if it would be ok if he had a sign that said "caution: developmentally challenged person in area."
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 5:22 PM on July 27, 2006


Actually, "Retard's" can be considered correct, in the sense that it is also a contraction for "Retard is in area." Apologies for inadvertently undermining the argument that these people are morons.
posted by dhammond at 5:22 PM on July 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


All they need is a bigger sign for the whole state.
posted by you just lost the game at 5:24 PM on July 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


I saw this three days ago, but I had the sense not to post it here.
posted by Kwantsar at 5:26 PM on July 27, 2006


The sign is a bit much, but I can see how the neighbors of the boy might be a bit frustrated. I suspect that things are about to become more than a little tricky -- when you have a 4 or 5 year old mind residing in a teenage body.

I had a friend who worked in an adult care facility for a number of years and it was not uncommon for workers to get hurt (at the hands of residents). I distinctly remember her talking of problems with residents deciding to ...ummm... indiscriminately whack off too.

The neighbors' daughter had rocks thrown at her by the teenager and he has been entering folks homes uninvited.

I have sympathy for the teenager's mom too. Things are about to get worse IMHO. But she is going to have to try to exercise more control over her kid, despite any redneck signage.
posted by bim at 5:26 PM on July 27, 2006



posted by schoolgirl report at 5:29 PM on July 27, 2006 [2 favorites]


The sign has been taken down.
posted by Mitheral at 5:29 PM on July 27, 2006


What? No video?
posted by gigbutt at 5:30 PM on July 27, 2006


"We're not looking at this like a hate crime and we're waiting to hear back from the county attorney to see what our sign ordinances are," said [police chief] Bowles.

So if this sign said:
CAUTION: NIGGERS IN AREA
or even
CAUTION: BLACKS IN AREA

Something tells me it would be called a hate crime pretty quick, with the cops taking action on the first visit.

People disgust me.
posted by rsanheim at 5:31 PM on July 27, 2006


Vile.
posted by ericb at 5:36 PM on July 27, 2006


My cousin has Down's Syndrome. He got a medal in the Special Olympics a few years ago in weightlifting. (I'm not a small guy, and he can lift me over his head—and has, and it was scary.)

I'd like to introduce him to these fuckholes.
posted by Zozo at 5:40 PM on July 27, 2006


Seems like a good place to post this. Tard Blog.

My social circle includes many people (incl. myself) who work with developmentally delayed people. The existence of this blog started a discussion that lasted weeks and ended lifelong friendships.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 5:48 PM on July 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


when the level of discourse rises to the point of people calling other people retarded, that's when metafilter gets really good....
posted by crunchland at 5:50 PM on July 27, 2006


All other considerations aside, the mother is dangerously in denial, and she needs to be charged with neglect and child endangerment the next time he is caught trespassing or assaulting the neighbors and she claims she doesn't know about it. The fact that he is due the same respect as anyone else requires also that someone be held accountable for protecting the neighbors from him (and by extension, him from himself). The level of frustration and ignorance on display here not only doesn't excuse her dismissal of responsibility in the matter, it should make very clear the mounting danger that continued mishandling of the situation poses to her son, if not the neighbors.

On preview, Zozo - perhaps that is the very scenario the neighbors are trying to avoid? Not saying I approve of their methods, but I have to admit that I find it somewhat troubling that people are reacting as if a sign the boy can't even read or understand is worse than the boy's assault on an innocent little girl. I know it feels worse to strangers reading about it on the Internet, but if someone were to assault my grandson, I frankly wouldn't give a flying fuck what their personal issues were, I'd want someone to assure me they were taking measures to make sure it wouldn't happen again. Isn't that what being treated equally really means?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:55 PM on July 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


I've never done this before and I promise I'll never do it again, but this one's too easy:

Metafilter: Retards In Area
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 5:59 PM on July 27, 2006


I'd want someone to assure me they were taking measures to make sure it wouldn't happen again.

Yeah, but the measures you'd take would be more effective that this. It's pretty hard to believe that the situation would come to this if either side was behaving reasonably. Not only is the sign offensive but it really solves nothing and creates lots of other problems for the dumbass who put it up.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 6:01 PM on July 27, 2006


They obviously mean themselves--they should add "assholes" too.
posted by amberglow at 6:08 PM on July 27, 2006


While I agree that the sign is rude, I cannot completely condemn the father who erected it...

Some retarded individuals (to abandon idiotic political correctness) are simply unable to interact with other people normally. Thus, their interactions with others should be limited and supervised.

The retarded boy's family seemed unwilling to provide such an environment for her child, leading to unlawful (trespassing) and even dagerous (rock throwing) interactions.

Since the police was unwilling to prosecute the incidents, and (one assumes) negotiations between the two families was unproductive, the logical next step was to shame both parties into action via the press.
posted by The Confessor at 6:08 PM on July 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


from the taking down link:
"Mostly they complain that he goes into their homes, rifles through their things and eats their food," Bowles said. "There are a lot of people in the area who are frustrated with this boy."

Okay...is it just me or could a lot of trouble be avoided just by locking the door?
posted by juv3nal at 6:08 PM on July 27, 2006


Slarty Bartfast: "Yeah, but the measures you'd take would be more effective that this. It's pretty hard to believe that the situation would come to this if either side was behaving reasonably."

Well, my methods would certainly have been different, but I'm not so sure they would have been any more effective. Keep in mind - the authorities had already been called on multiple occasions, and the mother was still refusing to even admit there is a problem. So - no: I may be an ass, but I'm not that particular kind of an ass. Nevertheless, I'm not so sure that any reasonableness on my part would make any difference here. Like I said - I worry about the obvious escalation if Mom doesn't start taking more responsibility for the boy.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:08 PM on July 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


I don't see why this guy makes such a big deal about having a (ahem) "developmentally delayed" person living nearby. I'm surrounded by fucking Christians. Imagine that!
posted by Decani at 6:12 PM on July 27, 2006


The sign is abominable, because it targets the autistic boy, who is innocent.

Instead, it should read, "Caution, neglectful parents in area."
posted by Afroblanco at 6:18 PM on July 27, 2006 [5 favorites]


A-fuckin-men, Afroblanco! You just said in two short lines what I was trying to say.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:20 PM on July 27, 2006


I have to admit, I am definitely guilty of using the word "retarded" often. I guess my only saving grace is that I never use it in reference to people, only situations or things.
posted by nightchrome at 6:21 PM on July 27, 2006


Completely insensitive - absolutely. A better way to handle the situation -- there has to be. The sign-maker is not helping his cause (or the child) -- you betcha.
But the word "retarded" does indeed appear to be correct, according to the definition. No way should this be classified as a 'hate crime' or some such.
posted by davidmsc at 6:25 PM on July 27, 2006


It's not we cold hearted - it's just you're retarded.

Tri-amen to Afroblanco.
posted by anthill at 6:31 PM on July 27, 2006


"I knew there was something (else) I didn't like about Utahns."

That's all right, we still love you.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:32 PM on July 27, 2006


It's pretty hard to believe that the situation would come to this if either side was behaving reasonably.

Becasue we are reasonable people, this seems like a reasonable statement. Unfortunatly, we live in a world with a seemingly endless supply of unreasonable people. Looking at the pictues, I wouldn't bet on the both sides thing unless the pay-off was at least 3 to 1.

I'd tend to agree with The Confessor on the limited and supervised thing but without knowing more of the family's situation, well, if you were his parents would you keep him or a short leash (so to speak) or go to work so you can continute feeding him.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:33 PM on July 27, 2006


Is shooting intruders legal in Utah? Something to consider if this kid starts wandering outside the neighborhood.
posted by mischief at 6:41 PM on July 27, 2006


"Is shooting intruders legal in Utah?"

Yes.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:43 PM on July 27, 2006


Okay...is it just me or could a lot of trouble be avoided just by locking the door?

Yes, and what's the deal with these feminists that complain about sexual assault? This sort of trouble could be avoided if women wore chastity belts. /sarcasm
posted by dhammond at 6:44 PM on July 27, 2006


The mom should put up a sign that reads "CAUTION: WIFE BEATER IN AREA. When Utah Trash comes to confront her, she should ask him why he thought it was directed to him.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:46 PM on July 27, 2006


Which mom?
posted by mischief at 6:50 PM on July 27, 2006


Surely the neighbors can sue the parents of the retarded boy. He's (at least) attempted to assault their daughter. Seems like a restraining order would be a good start, anyway.
posted by jewzilla at 6:59 PM on July 27, 2006


the "teacher" with the tard-blog needs to be smacked. very hard. or put in his/her place by one of the so-called tards?

seriously, I know the work is hard but why is it ok for someone who is charged with helping kids with developmental delays to call them tards, and bitch and make fun when the kids can't do stuff because they are developmentally delayed?

I would be furious if one of my kids were in this person's care...
A bunch of 40 plus year olds talking about curriculum, standardized testing, etc, and me, the kid on the staff, talking about all sorts of things that are supposed to be confidential, downing Margaritas like its Cinco de fucking Mayo. I will eat this time though, as the embarrassment of having our speech-language pathologist call a cab for me last time was just too much.
posted by gminks at 7:09 PM on July 27, 2006


I knew there was something (else) I didn't like about Utahns.

Because they're all exactly alike.
posted by mecran01 at 7:09 PM on July 27, 2006


They opened a home for about 50 developmentally disabled adults in my parents' upper middle-class neighbourhood. People reacted the same way for awhile. The daughter of a judge was felt up by a twenty year old boy, and the neighbors were ready for a lynching. Feeling up a twelve year old girl is totally unacceptable, but the institution was able to secure the community without hanging the boy or closing the building.

As others have noted, Afroblanco's totally right: the kid's parents are negligent. But they are not the only ones. You can lock your door, rather than put up a sign the kid in question cannot read. You can ask the boy not to come in. You can talk to the parents nicely rather than try to shame them.

The developmentally delayed kid and his parents need to modify their behavior. But I think the neighbours do too.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:10 PM on July 27, 2006


what's the deal with these feminists that complain about sexual assault? This sort of trouble could be avoided if women wore chastity belts. /sarcasm

An autistic boy is completely different from rapist. The kid doen't know what he is doing, and is much easier to stop than a violent criminal. Yes, he should be stopped and his behavior should be modified. But he is not a rapist, a terrorist, or an American hating Democrat. He's a kid.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:16 PM on July 27, 2006


... and the victims are still victims.
posted by mischief at 7:27 PM on July 27, 2006


Nothing good ever came out of Utah. It's a gateway to hell.

Though I guess this does contradict my theory that Florida is hell. Strange.
posted by nixerman at 7:33 PM on July 27, 2006


In some schools of Buddhism, there are many hells. Maybe you're Buddhist?
posted by mr_roboto at 7:40 PM on July 27, 2006


It still amazes me how ok it is to be prejudiced against people from predominantly white and lower-class areas. If this had happened in Boston, would anybody here say "funny how this sign was put up by stupid niggers?"

Shame on y'all.
posted by Citizen Premier at 7:49 PM on July 27, 2006


would anybody here say "funny how this sign was put up by stupid niggers?"

Well we wouldn't say it out loud. That would be retarded.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 8:06 PM on July 27, 2006 [3 favorites]


people who pick on retarded people are the lowest and most cowardly. Even racists are at least attacking people capable of returning fire on their own. These troglodytes deserve all the loathing they're recieving.
posted by jonmc at 8:13 PM on July 27, 2006


Isn't that the sign on the gate to the White House?
posted by fenriq at 8:20 PM on July 27, 2006 [2 favorites]


If the target of the slur doesn't know of, doesn't understand, or is otherwise completely unaffected by the slur, is that a "hate crime?"

To quote Frank Zappa, "We're talking about words."
posted by fandango_matt at 8:22 PM on July 27, 2006


It's turtles tards all the way down.
posted by trip and a half at 8:29 PM on July 27, 2006


MetaFilter: shame on y'all
posted by bwg at 8:37 PM on July 27, 2006


"Nothing good ever came out of Utah."

Nolan Bushnell is from Utah.
posted by mecran01 at 8:40 PM on July 27, 2006


IRFH, I don't actually want to see these people beaten up. I just think—as has been said in a far more eloquent and timely fashion—that it's cruel and unfair to pick on the kid when it's his parents who are the fuckups.

Levity! I was teasing my aforementioned cousin in a restaurant once (about a girl, I think) when he said to me—in that loud, throaty Down's Syndrome slur—"What are you, some kind of retard?" The room went dead silent and he flashed the biggest shit-eating grin I've seen in my life.
posted by Zozo at 8:41 PM on July 27, 2006


Wow... they sure look like classy folk.
posted by ruwan at 8:57 PM on July 27, 2006


This just highlights the degree to which suburban life is sanitised in North America. We're conditioned to seeing relatively young, healthy people out and about, while people with mental and physical disabilities, as well as the elderly and the mentally and physically ill, are somewhat separated from society; hidden away in various institutions and homes. I spent last summer/fall in Europe (mostly Barcelona) and noted the degree to which this was different there. Older people, especially, were a much more normal and integral part of everyday life.

These interactions between 'normal' people and developmentally disabled people should be taken with a large dose of tolerance and understanding and it is this which needs to be taught to people in this situation - on both sides. I'm always amazed that physical violence (ie the rock throwing) is tolerated much less than mental abuse and conflict, even though the latter often causes much more long-term harm to the individuals involved. A few errant rocks, combined with empathy on both sides, would be much better.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:58 PM on July 27, 2006


"I'm always amazed that physical violence (ie the rock throwing) is tolerated much less than mental abuse and conflict, even though the latter often causes much more long-term harm to the individuals involved."

Not a parent, are you?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:40 PM on July 27, 2006


Not a parent, are you?

Not a parent, no...you think the opposite?
posted by jimmythefish at 9:52 PM on July 27, 2006


But the word "retarded" does indeed appear to be correct

no ... autistic does NOT mean retarded

it seems to me that the young boy is capable enough to be taught a couple of things by his mother ... especially if she takes the time to actually supervise him a little more closely ... there's a fine line between demanding things of an autistic child that he isn't capable of (yet) ... and letting him get away with things because "he's autistic and doesn't understand" ... i think she's crossed that line and needs to realize it
posted by pyramid termite at 9:52 PM on July 27, 2006


Something tells me it would be called a hate crime pretty quick, with the cops taking action on the first visit.

"Hate Crime" legislation refers to regular crimes, which are committed with an extra hateful motivation, and allows for giving someone a tougher sentace.

So if you burn down your neighbor's house it would be considered a "hate crime" if you did it because you hated him for his ethnicity, but not if you just hated him for some individual reason. Since putting up a sign isn't a crime itself, putting up a sign attacking someone for his or her ethnicity isn't necessarily a hate crime. It probably violates some city ordinance though.

Just because you imagine something might happen differently in a situation you feel is analogous does not actually make a person a hypocrite.
posted by delmoi at 9:53 PM on July 27, 2006


I think what I find most amazing about this story is that it appears as if it was their leading news story of the day.
posted by crunchland at 10:25 PM on July 27, 2006


when the level of discourse rises to the point of people calling other people retarded, that's when metafilter gets really good....

::snicker::
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 10:40 PM on July 27, 2006


Why is it the mother who is responsible? As opposed to the parents, the community (e.g. what services are available, whether they are effective), the teenager himself, etc.

I found the "tard-blog" oddly riveting -- politics aside, the writing is amazing. (Background: I'm a disability rights lawyer, part of "disability rights community," have a disabled foster kid, etc., etc.)

I'll have to read more of it, and think more. I hate the language tard/retard, but I hate it more when we don't talk *out loud* about disability and people with disabilities. You know, the "shh, he's special, don't say anything." Yuck.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:01 PM on July 27, 2006


So if you burn down your neighbor's house it would be considered a "hate crime" if you did it because you hated him for his ethnicity, but not if you just hated him for some individual reason. Since putting up a sign isn't a crime itself, putting up a sign attacking someone for his or her ethnicity isn't necessarily a hate crime.

And that's what makes hate crime...
...A Savage Hypocrisy!
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:02 PM on July 27, 2006


jimmythefish: "Not a parent, no...you think the opposite?"

Opposite? No. Just differently. When it is your child's blood, I think it is harder to believe that the feelings of the one who spilled it are equal to the physical well-being of the life you are utterly in love with, and whose safety is your primary concern in life.

I can tell you this - I had my kids seriously endangered by others on several occasions over the years, and my mouth left a scorched-earth swath of profanity that is probably still ringing in the perpetrator's ears all these many years later. I regret not a syllable, and if the words left any lasting impact at all (doubtful, as these were the sort of "retards" for which the word should now be reclaimed - handicapped not by nature but by a profound lack of character), I hope they left exactly the kind of mental trauma you worry about. That would mean that, hope against hope, maybe they learned something.

Certainly, true mental cruelty is a bad thing. This is not really a case, however, where long term mental abuse is at issue. This is a case of a single classless gesture that would be entirely meaningless to the target were it not explained to him. Versus physically dangerous outbursts by someone whose primary caregiver refuses to acknowledge the danger. Both wrong, but in no way equivalent. The suggestions that the neighborhood should deal with this by locking their doors and (presumably) locking their children inside are not just naive, they are counterproductive. Turning the neighbor kids into prisoners inside their own homes will not promote the empathy you speak of, it will only promote the kind of resentment that leads to the hate everyone wants to avoid. The only solution here is for the mother to take responsibility for the actions of the son. He's young, still. But the threat to this child if he's allowed to roam unsupervised will grow exponentially as he grows. It may take many years before he is capable of independent social interaction - or he may never be. But I think the likelihood of that grows dimmer with every day his mother refuses to face the truth of her situation. She is doing her son no favors. It's a bit late to preach tolerance and understanding to the neighbors when the safety of their children has already been proved at risk and no one will do anything about it. Being forced to live in fear is also abusive - even in Barcelona, no?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:03 PM on July 27, 2006 [4 favorites]


ClaudiaCenter: "Why is it the mother who is responsible?"

Because of the mental age of the boy, the authorities refused to charge him. It is generally agreed by everyone involved that he does not really have the capacity to be legally held responsible for his actions. His primary caregiver, then, is responsible for his safety, and for the safety of others potentially endangered by any negligence in supervising the child. In this case, that's the mother. Same as if a four-year-old caused harm to another child. Any redress would fall to the legal caregivers for the nominally "responsible" child.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:21 PM on July 27, 2006


For the record, I'm against this sort of thing.
posted by jonson at 11:31 PM on July 27, 2006


I never fail to be amazed how people will stand on the backs of those who need help the most from society, for a laugh, or to show how free they are, or whatever thing inspires people to make sure the rest of the world knows who to despise or consider sub-human. Just because the mentally disabled can't always tell you why being treated poorly makes their hard lives even worse, doesn't mean that it doesn't do just that. Ha ha, you called someone retarded, no one hurt and you sound so cool and detached, so un pc. Use of the term retarded still stands on the backs of the mentally retarded, by pointing out how it can be slung any time for giggles and they can't defend themselves, and no one can make you take them seriously. what a great way to prove who you are, and only at the expense of those with the least leverage of all downtrodden minorities since the beginning of downtrodden minorities.
sorry about this rant, but really. come on.
posted by donabean at 11:40 PM on July 27, 2006


Where did I suggest locking anyone away or living in fear? Fear is largely borne of a lack of understanding. What I'm saying is, both sides need to understand the situation better. Clearly, the woman needs to control her son better. However, you yourself say that locking away people is no alternative and this works both ways; you can't sequester the boy indefinitely. You can't guarantee that things aren't going to happen again with the boy harming someone; however, you can definitely ensure that people in the neighbourhood understand that this may happen and that there's no malice in his actions. Your idea that 'the only solution here is for the mother to take responsibility' just isn't true. There's no redundancy there. My previous post was trying to say that this shouldn't be treated as a problem of individuals but rather that of a community - there needs to be redundancy built into the solution. Surely this is the better alternative.

I disagree with the 'single classless gesture' analysis. It's symptomatic of a larger problem of intolerance which affects many more people than just the boy, and essentially does nothing but heighten this intolerant attitude. It's not a sign which screams 'let's work this out' but rather 'stay away from the freak'.

I guess I'm just bothered by the fact that relatively extreme and long-term, engendered antisocial behaviour is tolerated due to (in this case) threat of physical harm not of a malicious sort.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:43 PM on July 27, 2006


You can't guarantee that things aren't going to happen again with the boy harming someone; however, you can definitely ensure that people in the neighbourhood understand that this may happen and that there's no malice in his actions.

So they're just supposed to suck up any violence and inappropriate social behavior he dishes out? Did they know they were signing up for this when they bought a house there?

you can't sequester the boy indefinitely

If he's a danger to others, can't be taught effectively *not* to be a danger to others, and nobody has the resources to put a guard on him when he's out and about that will keep him from being a danger to others, then why the hell not?

I have a good friend who lost a teaching job because a retarded kid clobbered him (hard enough to break his glasses). Rather than deal with the fact that the kid's violence was not controlled (or even controllable?), they chose to fire the person he used physical violence against. I really don't think giving these people a pass is called for. Other people have a right to be safe.

No, I am not the oracle of answers when it comes to how exactly to prevent harm done by retarded or other developmentally disabled / delayed people who cannot control themselves as a normal person would. But I think throwing up our hands and saying "shit happens!" is not fair to the victims.
posted by beth at 3:53 AM on July 28, 2006


When I was a kid (aged ten) I was badly hassled twice a week walking home from school by a man with severe Down's Syndrome who would lean over his garden wall to waylay me. His mother - inexplicably to me at the time - always rapped on the inside window (she was watching him while he stood in the garden and waited for me) in a "don't mind him!" way. I did mind, very much - I knew perfectly well about Down's Syndrome but I found him big, frightening - and ending each encounter very difficult. I felt haunted by him, I hated him. I would have been much happier if he had simply vanished for ever.

When I look back many years later, I can see it from her point of view. I suspect these were 'days home' visits and she was hoping for a little normal interaction in his life.

So I'm with the spirit of jimmythefish's comments. Childish fear made me intolerant.

Yes, the kid in the story sounds a pain. His mother could do better. The sign is still appallingly childish, putting it mildly.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 5:51 AM on July 28, 2006


*None* of the individuals involved should be allowed to breed, if you catch my drift.
posted by LoopSouth at 6:09 AM on July 28, 2006


"Fear is largely borne of a lack of understanding."

The only lack of understanding I see here is on your part. In the real world, fear is largely born of a sense of danger. The "we only fear what we don't understand" mindset you've been infected with is pure Privileged 20th Century Western Kumbaya bullshit. Danger exists, and needs more than a hug. This is why I assumed you were not a parent. When you have never been solely responsible for the welfare of a defenseless child it's pretty easy to spout theories about how we should all just get along. Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world, and the parents in the neighborhood do not have the power to change the essential problem.

And here is the real crime of the hateful sign: it allows the handwringers to ignore the actual source of the problem. The boy in question has been described as having the mental capacity of a four or five year old. No one with the mental capacity of a four or five year old should be left without adult supervision ever, let alone outside their own home. Ever. No matter what their actual age. Whether he is hassling the neighbors, or not. Because - and I hope that I can finally get this across to you - an unsupervised five-year old is a real, honest-to-God danger to himself. This is a case of neglect, pure and simple. Unfortunately masked behind a single act of monumentally misdirected asshattery.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:28 AM on July 28, 2006 [2 favorites]


Folks can put their heads in the sand now and ignore this kid's antisocial behavior, but he's not going to be such a sympathetic character when he's a grown man and graduates to more serious behavioral problems -- if his parents don't try to rein him in now.

This has nothing to do with name calling or being intolerant or being a lousy spelller or being allowed to breed and the like. That's just a side issue which doesn't really address the underlying problem.

I'm all for being liberal and tolerant and open-minded and all that jazz, but I am also a realist. Some others folks need to become part of the reality based community too IMHO. :)
posted by bim at 6:30 AM on July 28, 2006


Jody, I think the essential difference in your situation is that the man who waylayed you was being directly supervised by his mother. It also sounds like he never actually injured you. So your experience does definitely fit more into jimmythefish's view. Consider the difference if the same man had actively tried to hurt you, then showed up in your house when you were alone? I'm guessing "tolerance" wouldn't be your primary concern.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:41 AM on July 28, 2006


The only lack of understanding I see here is on your part. In the real world, fear is largely born of a sense of danger.

Bullshit. Fear can be irrational in a social situation, and this is precisely what we need to teach children - irrational fears from real fear. Fear is the perception of danger, whereas harm comes from actual danger. There's a difference. Has anyone been seriously hurt in this story? I think the rock throwing is an excuse, to be honest.

Your posts are contradictory. On the one hand you state that this kid might be able to learn some form of social interaction. Well, when is he going to be able to do that if nobody's allowed to interact with him in a normal way?

And, yes, 4 and 5 year olds can interact with minimal supervision all the time. I did it myself when I was that age. I'd play on the street just as these kids did. This is precisely my point - we have been conditioned to place safety above all else in contemporary North American life.

And, the attitude that 'I'm not a parent so I don't understand' is unfounded, relativistic, insulting bullshit. I do have a large family with small children and do definitely understand the risks involved with parenting.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:25 AM on July 28, 2006


"I think the essential difference in your situation is that the man who waylayed you was being directly supervised by his mother"

IRFH: Yes, true - and perfectly accurate too that there was no physical assault whatsoever (just mild grabbing of my hands and touching my hair - more toddler-like than anything else). It was his loudness, his urgency, his doggedness and his bulk - the fact he wasn't "normal" that was upsetting.

But my childish fearful anger was also based on the fact that his mother actively encouraged our "relationship" from behind her front room window. I honestly thought she was a coward and a witch. And that was added to my ten-year-old self's imaginative over-drive: what if I can't get away? What if Jimmy - that was his name - grabs me hard and his mother still thinks he's playing? Why doesn't she notice how threatening and unpredictable I find the situation?

All this is not to over-egg my experience. I was clearly in no danger at all - in retrospect. Jimmy's mother was clearly doing her best. And was in no way responsible for my squeamish jitters.

But the neighbors in the story here - with their claim that the lad threw a rock at their young daughter?

That very much sounds like an oddly selective accusation - and doesn't quite match up with their sign response. (How is a crude sign going to protect their daughter?). It sounds like a parental "what if?" has become a fact for the prosecution.

I keep seeing the neighbors as incredibly lacking in empathy. And they are adults.

I have two sons in their teens, unlike fishyjimmy. I like to think I have the usual tigress instincts towards them, for what it's worth.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:30 AM on July 28, 2006


Some retarded individuals (to abandon idiotic political correctness) are simply unable to interact with other people normally.

So are most "normal" people, unless you've got very low standards for "normal interaction."

Thus, their interactions with others should be limited and supervised.

Universal Gitmo! But who watches the watchers?
posted by davy at 7:33 AM on July 28, 2006


"And, the attitude that 'I'm not a parent so I don't understand' is unfounded, relativistic, insulting bullshit. I do have a large family with small children and do definitely understand the risks involved with parenting."
posted by jimmythefish

JTF: I totally agree with your comments up until the last point. It may sound unfair, but it's NOT insulting bullshit at all. Experience of parenting trumps lack of it the moment a non-professional admits he or she doesn't have kids. (Yeah, yeah - usual caveats apply. But it's a general rule.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:40 AM on July 28, 2006


Universal Gitmo!

Yes, clearly it is universal Gitmo to restrain the movements of a three-year-old with the strength of a man.
posted by darukaru at 7:48 AM on July 28, 2006


non-professional admits he or she doesn't have kids.

I'm a soon-to-be urban planner (professional) who has done social work and planning work study at a graduate level and I will likely have to deal with some issue like this in the future. Does that make me exempt?
posted by jimmythefish at 7:50 AM on July 28, 2006


davy

Indeed, 'normal interaction' defies exact definition, as does 'normal'. My own interactions with other people are somewhat abnormal; I have a speech impediment that makes my sentences jerky, clipped, and difficult to follow.

But trespassing in other people's homes? Throwing rocks at children? I would classify these abnormalities, if not correctable, as being severe enough to warrant strict supervision, at the very least.

And your 'universal Gitmo' comment is a red herring; a system's potential for abuse does not automatically mitigate its necessity.
posted by The Confessor at 8:03 AM on July 28, 2006


"Fear can be irrational in a social situation, and this is precisely what we need to teach children - irrational fears from real fear. Fear is the perception of danger, whereas harm comes from actual danger. There's a difference."

Agreed. If only someone had taught you how to spot the difference. But your confession to seeing his rock throwing as merely an excuse for the neighbors to misbehave exposes your bias and naivete. The things we love are sometimes the most dangerous. The only actual harm done in this whole story, was done by the boy.

"Well, when is he going to be able to do that if nobody's allowed to interact with him in a normal way?"

Breaking and entering, theft, and assault is not normal interaction. The whole point of this is that he is not normal. He has special needs. Learning, for him, will be a life-long struggle, requiring very specialized techniques. Ignoring his special needs does not apear to be working to his benefit at this point, does it?

"And, yes, 4 and 5 year olds can interact with minimal supervision all the time. I did it myself when I was that age. I'd play on the street just as these kids did."

Read the article. He was not minimally supervised. He was entering people's houses, stealing from them, and assaulting their children. Not playing with them on the street. Your fairytale childhood, that the mother obviously dreams of as well, does not exist here. If tresspass, theft, and assault are the activities you were participating in as a 4 and 5 year old, and activities you would overlook while "minimally" supervising your children, then I suppose our world views are too far appart to bother continuing the discussion. (Also - stay the hell out of my neighborhood.)

"And, the attitude that 'I'm not a parent so I don't understand' is unfounded, relativistic, insulting bullshit. I do have a large family with small children and do definitely understand the risks involved with parenting."

No, you don't. Being a parent is in no way equivelant to living in a large family with small children. It simply isn't. The fact that you even suggest that merely underscores that you don't understand. I grew up poor, in a part of town with a largely African American population. That may give me some insight, but it sure as hell doesn't mean I understand what it's like to be African American. I have a sister, a mother, a wife. Many women friends. But I don't "understand" what it's like to be a woman. Being a parent is like that. You think you know, but you don't. Everything changes. Even the way you understand your own parents changes.

That's actually one of the reasons I have sympathy for the mother of the boy in all this. I understand the lure of wanting the best for (and wanting only to believe in the best from) your child. I also understand that it's never that simple.

Feel free to respond, but I doubt I'll bother to continue. We've made our points, we obviously disagree to a fundamental degree, it's time to move on. For us it's that easy. For the people we're arguing about, though, every single day presents the same unending struggle. I don't envy any of them.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:16 AM on July 28, 2006


Universal Gitmo! But who watches the watchers?

Um, Robots? You know, because if the watchers aren't human, it's easier to accept them as authorities figures, and more fun to rebel against. (I read too much science fiction)

Plus, then we can have Robot Insurance, for when they come to steal our old people medicine.
posted by daq at 8:17 AM on July 28, 2006


"...Does that make me exempt?"
posted by jimmythefish

Let's split the difference and agree you will be astoundingly well-qualified in the trump department should you have kids yourself!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:18 AM on July 28, 2006


IRFH, I'll just say this:

Nowhere did I say that I understand completely what it's like to be a parent. However, I know people with children who share my point of view and I have experienced social and cultural behaviour which is in direct opposition to this culture of fear to which you seem to have succumbed.

If you consider a 'fairytale childhood' consisting of playing on the street without my parents watching 100% of the time, well, then I likewise want you to stay the hell out of my neighbourhood lest you spread something nasty.

Oh, and did I mention that, on my street when I was 4, there lived a special needs kid very similar to the one described? It's not possible for you to understand that situation unless you've lived it, so don't bother.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:41 AM on July 28, 2006


Florence Henderson has beatifully articulated everything I think about this issue. Doesn't happen often. Well done.
posted by sic at 8:52 AM on July 28, 2006


jimmythefish: Well, since you've misrepresented what I said, I guess I'll respond after all. Nowhere have I objected to your "playing on the street without [your] parents watching 100% of the time." I objected to your equating "trespass, theft, and assault" to "playing on the street," and suggested, only partly in jest, that if you honestly think "trespass, theft, and assault" is an acceptable result of unsupervised childhood play that I wouldn't want to live in your neighborhood. I have, unfortunately, lived next to exactly that kind of Laissez-faire parenting, and it was a fucking nightmare. Although I honestly have my doubts about you playing unsupervised "on the street" as a four and five year old. I'm guessing there were at least older siblings or neighbor kids around to keep you from becoming a hood ornament. If I'm wrong about that, well - honestly, that explains a lot. Or maybe you just grew up in Mayberry. I did not. Neither did the families in the article.

“However, I know people with children who share my point of view.”

Yeah – I’ve “experienced” quite a few parents who thought their precious little snowflakes were above actual parenting, too. And without exception, their kids were fucking brats. The ones that survived.

“I have experienced social and cultural behaviour which is in direct opposition to this culture of fear to which you seem to have succumbed.”

“Culture of fear to which I have succumbed?” Good lord is that a stretch! An honest appraisal of the risks associated with parenting a special needs teenager who is already displaying aggressive antisocial behavior is succumbing to a culture of fear? Three words: Hire a nanny.

And no, I won't bother trying to understand your childhood, or entirely miss the point with boring tales about mine. On the other hand, I have multiple special needs children and adults in my family. A couple of them are independent. A couple of them will never be. One of them is occasionally violent to her mother. They are all wonderful people. Why didn’t I bring them up before? Because, like your neighborhood friend, they are irrelevant to the discussion. They are sources of joy and constant responsibilities, but mostly they are individuals, not poster-children for the unfairness of it all.

###

On preview: Thanks, sic!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:45 AM on July 28, 2006


jimmythefish: I'm being more combative this morning than is usual for me, so for the snide tone, I apologize. I'm very tired. Fittingly, I suppose, my only excuse is that my neighbors woke me up at 4:15 this morning climbing around on my roof and digging in my pond next to the front door. These neighbors being a pair of determined (and noisy) raccoons.

We obviously have different ideas about what constitutes an appropriate level of responsible supervision for toddlers and the severely developmentally disabled, and we obviously have different ideas of the kinds of activities neighbors should have to put up with in the name of tolerance and peace and love. I guess resorting to insults lets the terrorists win, though, so for any offense given, please practice what you preach and forgive this particular neighbor any breaches of etiquette.

At least I think we can all agree that the sign was an abomination. And that raccoons are a pain in the ass.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:57 AM on July 28, 2006


Ah, where to start. You, likewise, are misrepresenting me.

There are two separate issues here, which you seem to have confused into one general child safety issue.

Turning one's child into a 'hood ornament' through lack of supervision is really fundamentally different than having a child harmed by this special needs child. One is a matter of general environmental safety, and another is dealing with a very specific, known issue. In any case, 'laissez faire parenting' is not a solution. To the contrary - you need strict parental guidelines and you need to teach your children strategies for dealing with situations at hand.

You're boiling down the issue to 'theft, trespass and assault' which is totally different when people are aware of this child's behaviours and lack of social skill vs. the conventional, malicious 'theft, trespass and assault'. Would you react the same way if you were a neighbour and found Jimmy in your living room vs. a strange adult? These two things do not equate. One incident of rock throwing doesn't justify a lockdown - kids throw rocks at each other on occasion. It's life, deal with it. I'm amazed that all form of civilised behaviour or richness of experience is thrown out for the sake of public health and safety. The media thrives on this - turn on the 6:00 news and all you hear is fear-based propaganda. "Find out how car seats may be hurting your child! Right after King of Queens!"

Again, I realise that this is a huge pain in the ass for everyone involved. But I'm not convinced that the complaints surrounding safety are justified. As soon as the question of safety is even mentioned, though, there seems to be a justified response to do whatever it takes to protect people's children from even the remotest chance of harm. It's not about real harm - kids can hurt themselves anywhere. It's about the perception of control. People want to think they're controlling as much as they can in their children's lives.

People who live in a community and who look after and out for one another should not be selective in their care. If everyone in the community was educated about the situation and tolerated everyone in their community and recognised the real threats in it at face value, it would be a better situation for everyone. My Barcelona example was meant to highlight the difference in attitudes. When I first got there, I'd see little kids plaing by themselves at 10 or 11pm, in a square somewhere. Were these kids being hovered over by their parents? No. Was there a community at large watching them? Yes, most certainly. There is a culture of street life there which isn't reflected here due to a rather unique cultural value of safety and solely personal responsibility vs. the responsibility to the maintenance of civil life and community.

My boring little old story about having a special needs kid on my block was, too, a little tongue-in-cheek. But, it is possible to understand a situation enough without having lived it.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:22 AM on July 28, 2006


On post-preview,

I too apologise. I'm trying to make my point but it's hard to type it without simplifying or being totally fair...it would be good to sit down over a coffee and do it proper.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:23 AM on July 28, 2006


Bullshit. Fear can be irrational in a social situation, and this is precisely what we need to teach children - irrational fears from real fear.

How is being affraid of having rocks thrown at you "irrational"?
posted by delmoi at 11:28 AM on July 28, 2006


How is being affraid of having rocks thrown at you "irrational"?
posted by delmoi

According to the story, it was "a rock" - once - not "rocks" plural.

See how easy it is?


I heard that annoying boy was seen with a rock.
I heard he threw one.
I heard it was at a little girl.
Hey - everyone - the weird boy throws rocks at little kids!
Let's warn everyone about the "retard" - hey, we're just rational folk!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:45 AM on July 28, 2006


Speaking of coffee, I need to go get some.

I actually think you made your point best in your last post. I'm certainly not calling for a lockdown, and agree that the community would be best served by understanding and a sense of shared-responsibility. As I have repeatedly said, however, my primary concern in all of this is the matter of general environmental safety for the special needs child, as much as for the neighbor children. If he is indeed at the four to five year-old level, then the mere fact that he is able to enter people's houses and steal from them should be proof enough that he is not being supervised appropriately. It is not the 'theft, trespass and assault' in-and-of-itself that I am objecting to, necessarily, it's the fact that this result is proof of neglect. If this child showed up in my home uninvited, I would absolutely feel differently about it than if it were a stranger. But I would also be plenty concerned that he was wandering around unsupervised, and that the lack of supervision was leading to antisocial behavior. Similarly, it is less the misbehavior, itself, that concerns me, than the mother's refusal to acknowledge the misbehavior. Am I making sense? There can be no resolution here until the mother owns up to her responsibility not only to the child's feelings but also to his social development and general safety. There are similarly emotional issues related to loved ones with Alzheimer’s, where balancing dignity and respect with harsh realities and safety are heartbreaking daily battles.

Okay. Going for coffee – then, there’s work to be done. Won’t be back until tonight. Be well.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:03 PM on July 28, 2006


Similarly, it is less the misbehavior, itself, that concerns me, than the mother's refusal to acknowledge the misbehavior. Am I making sense?

Absolutely...and in my original post I emphasised the need for compromise on both sides; the need for the mother to parent her child properly in addition to the neighbours recognising that this is a part of life and we don't live in a sanitised world where nobody has problems.

My thing is that dealing with a situation such as this through mutual understanding, tolerance and compassion such that the kids are still able to co-exist (and learn to accept difference) is infinitely better than the alternative. I think if you did a bit more digging, at least some of the fear in this situation is due to a lack of understanding. This is not hard to conclude, given the nature of the sign.

The best part about this thread, though, is still the Morans sign. Classic. I sent it to a buddy who'll be doubled over for a while.
posted by jimmythefish at 2:23 PM on July 28, 2006


I threw rocks when I was a kid. And spoons and sticks and balls and rockets. (No small animals though.)

But I never threw molotov cocktails. Nope, nope, nope.
posted by Twang at 2:30 PM on July 28, 2006


There were people, in a town I lived in, named "Moran". They hated it when you misspelled their name.
posted by Twang at 2:31 PM on July 28, 2006


Um, Jody Tressler,

From the update, which was posted above:

"He [Chad Bowles, chief of Nephi City's police department] said the police department considered asking prosecutors to charge the boy when he hit the Galbraith's 10-year-old daughter in the knee and elbow with rocks last November...."

So it looks like it was, in fact, rocks, plural.
posted by aberrant at 1:20 PM on July 29, 2006


In rural Wisconsin, there's an election for sheriff coming up, and the leading candidate is Moran. Everywhere, signs: "Moran for sheriff!"
posted by klangklangston at 9:01 AM on July 31, 2006


I might be wrong, but I think it would be funnier if his name were moron.
posted by crunchland at 9:17 AM on July 31, 2006


Well, his first name's Shitbeagle, which is funny on its own. I'm not sure what Moron would add to that.
posted by klangklangston at 10:12 PM on July 31, 2006


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