Thursday, October 31, 2013

villains we love to hate

A Halloween story making the rounds recently drew much online ire: a woman planned to hand letters to overweight children instead of candy. The letter said:
You [sic] child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar and treats to the extent of some children this Halloween season.
My hope is that you will step up and parent and ration candy this Halloween and not allow your child to continue these unhealthy eating habits.
People were outraged. How cruel she is! What a witch! I bet her house gets egged! People like her are just evil!

People love a good villain and this woman is Cruella DeVille with children instead of puppies.

To be a good villain, he or she must be guilty of something totally reprehensible, completely beyond the pale. Killing puppies for their fur? Withholding candy on Halloween? Criticizing children's weights? Definitely reprehensible and beyond any pale we ever met.

Other good villains include bullies and sex offenders. Everyone knows that those people are very, very bad. 

I wonder, though. How does it feel to see the billboards and TV commercials and Facebook posts that tell us to Stop the Bullying! Do kids see those and think I must stop bullying in its tracks, or do they feel shame and think, I hope no one thinks I'm a bully. How does a kid feel to be labeled a bully? I'm thinking she must feel as if someone is bullying her.

And sex offenders. Sex offenders are very bad people. Why else would law enforcement make them register unless they were all very dangerous? Think. Everything rational says the dangerous registered sex offender is extremely rare and yet...coming down harshly on all sex offenders is accepted. You can't list people on the Internet, tell us what crime they committed, and then tell us that the list is to keep us safe from those people without encouraging the pointing fingers and the cry of Shame! How does it feel to be labeled a sex offender? I'm thinking he must feel as if someone is bullying him. 

Shame is a hard rock to live under. We should encourage those who did wrong to take their punishment and then go back to life as usual. If we label them, restrict where they can live, and hold them up as an example of bad we have made it impossible for them to come out from under that rock. We can't label someone a bully and think that won't stick for a very long time.

The lady with the letters for chubby kids? Probably a hoax. Not so scary after all....just as bullies and sex offenders aren't as scary as you are led to believe. Do you feel let down? 

The anti-bullying programs and the sex offender registry have been letdowns, too. 

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