Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lenore Skenazy at FreeRangeKids links to a story about a man who was mistaken for someone dangerous when he was seen with his little girl.

From his story:
I turn around to see a woman I recognise as the yoga instructor approaching us. She looks concerned. She is not looking at me at all. She is bending down and trying to get my daughter’s attention. “Sweetie, where’s your Mum? Where’s Mummy, sweetie?”
Later, he says,
We are constantly informed of how much evil exists is in the world. We are bombarded with horrendous stories of child abuse, abduction, murder; you name it. We get it from those who report fact and we get it from those who create fiction. I feel like we’ve never been made more aware of the capacity for people to be horrible creatures. 
I can’t presume to know what motivated that yoga instructor to do what she did. Maybe her actions were fuelled by paranoia. Maybe she’s been convinced to believe that a man on his own taking a little girl’s hand has as much chance of being a paedophile as he does of being her father. Maybe it was just blind instinct. I don’t know. I don’t care. I choose to stand and applaud her, because I believe what she chose to do was the right thing; was good.
After a stranger assumed he was a danger to the child, the man decided the stranger was right to assume that he was someone who would harm the child instead of assuming the child was happy to be with her father. I wonder if this man would be as understanding if the woman had called the police about him instead of following him herself. I have a hunch that his name and photo in the newspaper and a night in the clink would have elicited a different response from him. Lucky for him, she didn't call the cops.

In the comments at FreeRangeKids, some commenters agree with him. Good for that woman, they say, for taking action, for not being afraid to protect this little girl. Better safe than sorry. 

If the child had been in danger, I would agree with them. As it was, the woman jumped to a conclusion with no evidence to support it.

The man said, "I feel like we’ve never been made more aware of the capacity for people to be horrible creatures." And that's why we are where we are, with the word "pedophile" sprinkled through the comments like salt on french fries. A man with a child is seen as a danger, and not just any danger: it is understood that the danger is that he's a pedophile, though that word appeared nowhere in the original story.

My comment at FRK:
When did we all start thinking that sex with toddlers is a common happening? Isn’t that what people mean when they use the word “pedophile”? There is something wrong with pedophiles, true. But isn’t there also something twisted when other people automatically think about sex when they see toddlers? Or are people using the word “pedophile” without thinking of its real meaning? 
Pedophilia is a psychological diagnosis. It doesn’t refer to every man who thinks the high school cheerleaders are fun to watch and it doesn’t refer to every man who looks at child porn. No, really, it doesn’t. (Looking at pictures is creepy and indicates some real problems but it does not automatically get a guy diagnosed as a pedophile.) 
And especially, it doesn’t refer to every man.

1 comment:

Tina said...

I read both stories, your and his. What in the world could he have had his photo in the paper and spent a night in the "clink" for? If police had been called, I believe the matter would have ended exactly the same way....with apologies for the mistake. Thank goodness there are still people in our world that value children. Why does that bother you so much?