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Let’s Get A Few Things Straight…

This is going to be one of “those” entries. It is not directed to a single person, but it does deal with a series of issues I’ve had with a single blogger. There’s a big lesson here about what happens when two people reach a point at which one or both stop listening. There’s also a big lesson here in what effective arguing is and isn’t. If you’d prefer to skip over it, I’d certainly understand.

I received a comment yesterday morning which I have rejected. As I stated recently, while I’ve not published any formal comments policy, I do expect comments to be respectful. I did not consider this commenter, James, to be particularly respectful. Over at his own blog, (which has since been deleted), he began by saying that I seem like a “nice enough guy,” then immediately jumps into ad hominem attack mode, first stating that he could find more “extreme examples of idiocy” if he were to visit more “right-wing” blogs, but, that he instead chooses to “make do” with my “occasional forays into the boneheaded.”

What a nice, polite way to begin. I suppose I should be immediately grateful that he at least considers me a “nice enough guy.”

There were good reasons to simply ignore his post; it’s his opinion, and I don’t have a problem with him lashing out against my position on any particular issue, even when he takes pains to say that not only that he disagrees but that it’s “one of the dumbest ideas” he’s ever seen or that I’m not only wrong, but “spectacularly” wrong!

However, when a blogger, and a fellow writer, well aware of the power of words, makes outrageous claims about you — for example, that you feel that “beating kids is okay” — that crosses a line that is far beyond inappropriate.

He has published the entire comment he left here, with the added commentary that one shouldn’t “hold their breath” waiting for it to be an approved comment; if he was so sure I wouldn’t approve it, I have to wonder why he’d waste his time leaving it to begin with. But he was right that I wouldn’t approve it. He’s also correct if he’s assuming that it’s unlikely he’ll ever have another comment published in my blog, given his latest remarks. Enough is enough. 

But there is a discussion behind the unnecessary foul language, so I’ll run a portion of his comment with the important points he raises:

“Your deep-seated issues with children have to do with control: you want children to do and say what you consider appropriate, which is pretty much at odds with what children actually do and say. You demonstrate a total lack of empathy. On the other hand, this woman here does have empathy. I imagine in your case, you’d wonder why this kid was allowed to keep bothering you, while this woman actually took the time to contextualize the behavior of the child in question with normal child behavior. By contrast, you don’t have any idea what normal child behavior is.”

Doesn’t society decide, in advance, what is and isn’t appropriate? Doesn’t society expect that over time, students will learn manners and how to conduct themselves?

My parents raised me from an early age to be responsible, to follow rules, to be respectful, and to obey authority. I was treated like a child, but reasoned with like an adult. Perhaps I had an earlier start than some kids have, and if so, I come by my expectations honestly, even if they are lofty at times.

As for what I’d have done if I had been the woman in the convenience store, what makes anyone think that whatever he or she can imagine I would do, is without question what I really would do?

What “deep-seated” issues do I have about kids? This will require taking a look back at three previous issues in which I have displayed — at least in his point of view — my “dislike” of children.

ITEM ONE: Tantrum on Tape
Last year, there was the much-publicized story of a five-year-old child handcuffed by police. The police had been called to the school by teachers who said they couldn’t get her under control. News programs — legitimate and tabloid — ran clips of a video tape they claimed lasted nearly 30 minutes, which showed that the girl at times climbed on the tops of desks and swung at teachers who were trying to talk her down.

Unable to reach the child’s mother at work, the teachers called police when they felt they couldn’t bring her under control. Officers arrived after the child had calmed down, but their appearance upset her all over again. (This raises an important point: should the school have called police a second time and cancelled their request for assistance? If she had calmed down already and was quiet, then there shouldn’t have been any reason to have the officers enter the classroom at that point.) In any case, the police entered the situation with the understanding that school administrators couldn’t calm the child down. When she became unruly again, they decided to restrain her with a pair of handcuffs.

In my original post, I said:

“The question is, when a child becomes unruly and threatens the safety of other children, what is a school supposed to do these days? They can’t spank the child, because that’s illegal.

They can’t forcibly restrain the child, because that’s illegal.

They can tell her to go to “time out,” which obviously wouldn’t have an effect.

They can shout at her, which obviously wouldn’t have an effect.

It seems to me that this country has removed from our schools the ability to effectively discipline a child. Then we wonder why kids act up. If the child had injured another student during the tantrum, and let’s say your child was her victim, how would you feel about this child being handcuffed?

What else could they do, that wouldn’t be grounds for a lawsuit?”

To James, this meant that I was advocating both the handcuffing and the “beating” of a child. He responded:

“I’m note sure why you continue to uphold this Victorian idea that beating children is an appropriate way to discipline them. It’s been demonstrated that what you call ‘passive’ discipline (such as a time-out) is just as effective, if not more so, than physical punishment. I do not hit my son, but use time outs. The school also uses time outs. This punishment is so effective that oftentimes the time out itself isn’t even necessary; just the threat of it is enough to guarantee behavior.

I’m further disturbed by your exegesis in this situation. You infer a great deal about the child’s parenting from this incident, though you don’t know the child, the parents, or even the situation that sparked the initial outburst. Given that you have no experience as a parent or as a caregiver, I hardly think you’re qualified to make any judgments in these areas at all.”

Keep in mind this important note about the handcuffing: once police arrive on the scene, if they feel that handcuffing is the right way to handle the situation — regardless of whether it is or not — one must wonder how much control a teacher has at that point. Will a teacher who asks that the police not handcuff her make any headway with them? Maybe, maybe not.

Was handcuffing the child the ideal way to handle the situation? Of course not. And I never said it was. Do I think that spanking the child would have been a better solution? No.

But I never advocated either one. I didn’t advocate anything: I just asked a question!

They tried “time-outs” and attempts to “reason” with the child, according to accounts I read at the time. That didn’t work. That doesn’t mean that such measures are ineffective, but in this case, they didn’t get results. You can blame the teachers for not doing it correctly, or the school for not educating the teachers on discipline, or the district for not providing training to the schools.

But at that moment, none of that mattered: they had a child who they said would not settle down and no way to reach a parent for assistance. I infer nothing about the child’s upbringing or the parent’s ability to teach her right from wrong. I didn’t blame anyone for the outburst itself. I simply asked, “What’s a teacher to do?”

Do I have empathy for this child? Of course I do. Carly, who read what I said and actually provided an answer to my question, added:

“There is clearly something else going on for this child…something that needs to be looked into because it seems she doesn’t have the words to express why she is so angry. At age 5 would we really expect her to?”

I understand that. I agree with it. My point wasn’t to ignore that, but rather to look at what was happening right then and there. I certainly hope that in the time since this happened, a look into psychological issues about why she was so angry has been done. I do feel sorry for the child because she was handcuffed. I’m quite sure she’ll never forget that experience and I genuinely hope she’s not scarred by the situation; if anything, I hope she has taken a valuable lesson that there are consequences — sometimes extreme — for behavior that teachers consider to be extreme. That doesn’t make it right, but most of us have come to know by adulthood that punishment does not always fit the “crime.” It is a shame that this child must carry on with the memory of that incident, and I never said otherwise.

Regardless of what should or could have been done, the reality of this particular story is that there’s no way to undo the handcuffs incident, so she must find a way to deal with it and move on. I certainly hope those close to her are helping her do so. If I could press a button to guarantee that she would have no psychological trauma from that incident, you can damn-well bet I’d have pressed it and way back then.

I did mention in that original post that when I was in school, paddling was one of several disciplinary options available to the principal. For those of us in my class, the threat of that option was enough to quiet down most of us. I never said that we should go back to spanking; in our litigious society, it seems to some that if a teacher so much as touches a child, the teacher can find herself facing an abuse complaint.

The question I asked is, given that times have changed from the way things were when most of us were in school, I wonder what you’d have a teacher do when a child won’t calm down, won’t listen to commands to stop throwing things, is climbing up on desks and swinging at teachers? My basic point wasn’t to call for a return to “Victorian” concepts, but rather to ask what the solution is in such cases? A time-out works, I’m guessing, when a child understands what a time-out is and complies; that is to say, doesn’t an effective time-out require at least some voluntary participation on the child’s part? If you send a child to time-out, and the child won’t stay there and continues on with the tantrum, is that time-out a success?

Some research does indeed show that spanking isn’t more effective than “passive” discipline. But there is a big difference between a “spanking” and a “beating.”

I’ve mentioned before that my parents resorted to spanking at times. But I was spanked a total of two or three times in my whole life. I carry no emotional scars from those few experiences. In fact, my memory of them isn’t the spanking itself but rather the long talk we had afterwards, during which my parents took great effort to explain that the spanking didn’t mean that they didn’t love me and that it was critical that I obeyed their instructions. They communicated with me about their discipline: they made it clear why I was being punished, and on those rare occasions when my behavior warranted in their minds that “extreme” action, they made sure that I understood why they felt that way.

I was never, for a single second of my life, abused by my parents.

Some people can’t say that. My dad is one of them. His father wasn’t above hitting him with closed fists during heated moments. My father entered parenthood with the knowledge of what those moments were like, and unlike the many victims of abuse who can be prone to repeat the same behavior to which they were exposed, my father never lost sight of how his own father made him feel and made sure every day that I lived under his roof that I never felt that way.

Those who would ignore the last paragrah and say that the fact that I was ever spanked as a child, even one time, is an indication that I had bad parents quite simply don’t know what they’re talking about!

The difference between a spanking and “beating” is much like the difference between talking in a stern yet calm voice to scold and screaming at the top of your lungs like a madman.

There are some people who either cannot — or, for whatever reason, will not — see the difference between the two. But not everyone believes that spanking involves child abuse. I’m sure there are plenty of readers out there who were once spanked, but don’t feel that they were children of abusers.

ITEM TWO: Controversial Call
Just a few weeks after that incident, another school-related story made national headlines. In this case, a high school student received a cell phone call from his mother during school hours. What made this such a problem was that the school’s policy forbade students from carrying cell phones on campus. What made this an extraordinary situation was that the teen’s mother is an active duty soldier calling from Iraq!

The school had a “no cell phone” policy. Though this incident reportedly occurred inside a hallway during a lunch break, cell phones aren’t allowed at all. The student, understandably, took the call. A teacher, following the established rules given to her, attempted to make him end his call. That, in itself, shouldn’t be considered a problem; if anything, that’s what most people would expect to happen.

What happened next wasn’t the ideal way to handle the situation. According to the teacher, (Peachy referred to the original, now-expired news article) the student never told her who was on the other end of the call. Instead, the teacher said, he “became defiant and used profanity when asked to surrender his phone.” I suggested that the teacher had every right to attempt to confiscate the phone, solely on the grounds that the phone was a violation of school policy, period.

But I also said:

He should have been allowed to continue the call. If I were that student, I would have certainly continued the call if my mother was calling from Iraq. The school teacher or leader — whoever tried to confiscate the phone — should have dropped the matter as soon as they were told that it was the student’s mother in Iraq at the other end.”

No teacher in his or her right mind would have interrupted a call between a student and his parent calling from a war zone. But the teacher at that moment wasn’t given the benefit — or courtesy — of an explanation, and the student was initially suspended for 10 days for his handling of the situation.

This time, James responded:

“Here you go again: blaming parents and kids without knowing the kid or the parents. You also make a lot of assumptions about what kids ‘should’ do and what parents ‘should’ do, as if you have the authority to make those sorts of statements. Owning pets is not the same as being a parent.”

I have yet to find anyone who can tell me where I ever said that owning pets is the same as being a parent. I never said it. I do not believe it, now or ever before.

He added, in another comment:

“Now: decide for yourself if you’d like to waste precious seconds explaining to some overeager stranger what’s going on, as opposed to continuing your conversation.”

My answer is simple: I sit here with a stopwatch and say, “It’s my mom…she’s in Iraq!” I find that it takes a little more than two-and-a-half seconds to speak these words quickly, as you’d do when you’re trying to talk on the phone, preusmably over a precarious connection. I wonder how long he spent being “beligerent” and “using profanity.” Even if it took him the same amount of time, he could have avoided being disrespectful and the trouble that followed, with just a couple of seconds of real communication. The school is adjacent to a military base, so the notion of a student with deployed loved ones shouldn’t be an alien concept to students or teachers.

James (at his blog) also accused me of begrudging “a teenager his right to talk with his mother (currently in a war zone) without having to explain himself to a busybody.”

As I said then, I never begrudged the teen his right to speak to his mother. I did begrudge him the option of being disrespectful to a teacher, particularly one who was doing her job when she was making sure this student followed school policy. And isn’t it odd that I get accused of making unfair assumptions about students and parents while he doesn’t seem to think that he’s making an unfair assumption about the teacher’s motives when he called her “overeager,” and later, a “busybody!”

The sad parallel here is that the student with the cell phone could have been respectful to the teacher who questioned him, and James, likewise, could have been respectful with the comment he left here. Both chose not to be.

ITEM THREE: Katrina’s Aftermath
Immediately after Katrina’s landfall and the subsequent flooding of New Orleans, I reformatted the sidebar of what was then my primary journal on AOL to add logos and contact information for three charities: The American Red Cross was on top and above the “fold.” The Salvation Army appeared directly below that and was mostly above the “fold,” and Noah’s Wish, an animal charity, was below that and below the “fold.” These three charities ran for at least a couple of weeks on the sidebar. After a great deal of donations came pouring in at the Red Cross and other similar charities, through local and national fundraising campaigns, I reformatted the sidebar again, and Noah’s Wish became the sole charity remaining there. (I doubt very seriously if this change resulted in any major loss of donations to either of the other two charities.) I soon did a post about the pet victims of Katrina. At least one more followed a few days later.

This didn’t set well, either. Ignoring, forgetting, or never noticing the more blatant advertising of charities already in the area assisting the human victims of the catastrophe, he said, among other things:

“Though the situation in New Orleans is still dire, Patrick has moved on to more important issues: arguing about whether AOL-hosted blogs should have advertising on them. Even before the first house dried out, he’d stopped caring about the people, and expended his efforts on talking up the plight of pets. Because, y’know, a pet cat is way more important than a poor black kid.” (Empahsis is his.)

So if I really care about the people who are suffering, it seems, I should have filled the pages of this blog with nothing but discussion about their suffering. I shouldn’t have ever left the subject to discuss anything else, personal or not. Otherwise, I’m a cretin!

Do you hear this message, fellow bloggers? No more posts about your family, or the cute things your new puppy did, or the trip you took last summer or the photos from your family reunion! If you don’t post about those who are suffering in the world right this minute, you’ve stopped caring about people!!

James has talked about a lot of different subjects since then. But I don’t think for a moment that he stopped caring about the people. And yet the cleanup and recovery are still far from over.

It was a child, his race and family’s income level irrelevant, who was forced to leave his dog, Snowball, behind when getting on a bus that was evacuating the Superdome. The boy, whose home and belongings may well have been destroyed, clutched the dog and cried when they tried to take it away. He was so upset be became physically ill and threw up. The officers took the dog, anyway, and reportedly let it loose on the street to fend for itself.

A rescue operation for animals that wanted to reunite people like this with the animals they weren’t allowed to take with them seems to me to be a worthy charity. For some of these people, all they had was the clothes on their backs and their pets. All of their other belongings were destroyed. This child had already been through more than enough misery and suffering when his pet was taken away. Why would anyone have a problem with a charity working to locate his pet and reunite them?

My support of such organizations doesn’t mean that I think charities like the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity aren’t worthy charities or are even less worthy.

I think that anyone who reads what I have to say without preconceived notions about my intent wouldn’t assume that I was making such an obviously-ridiculous statement, anyway.

The fact is, even when they reunite those pets with their owners, they’re helping the people as much — in some ways, more — than the dogs and cats, by restoring some small sense of normalcy in their owners’ lives. We all know that pets can improve people’s quality of life. We all know that dogs and cats are used as part of a therapy plan for people in hospitals, hospices and nursing homes. There’s nothing new in that.

We’re talking about people whose lives have been forever turned upside down by a natural disaster. Those volunteers who work to find missing pets are trying to help. There are still far more people doing more “important” work, like finding victims shelter, food and jobs.

How can one be so judgmental of how people help, as long as people are actually getting up off their butts or opening their wallets to help? If he’s going to jump to the conclusion that my moving on to different topics means I don’t care anymore, he should at least celebrate those who are doing something to show that they do care, even if what they’re doing isn’t necessarily what he’d do.

It’s just one aspect of the big picture. When we all write about individual “small picture” items, the blogosphere can help make people see the parts as well as the whole. It shouldn’t be any one person’s responsibility to stick to one single topic to raise everyone’s awareness about one individual problem…especially in a forum as personal as a blog. And this isn’t blog-by-committee: I’m not going to run every topic I wish to write about past screeners to make sure no one will take issue with what I have to say. Someone is going to take issue with something I write no matter what I do. You can’t please everyone, and I dropped that goal a long time ago.

But wait a second: let’s look at this from the other direction: I volunteer with a local animal shelter. Given James’s belief that I have “issues” with kids, I can’t seriously imagine that he’d prefer that I do my charitable work for an organization that would have me working with children. I’m working with animals, not kids. Given his obvious opinion of me, he should be delighted for the children of the world!

For the record, I make absolutely no apology about promoting animal-related charities or volunteering with them. Reversing James’s argument, anyone who volunteered with or promoted people-realted charities must not give a damn about animals. That’s a ridiculous argument. When I assist in a pet adoption, I’m helping people and animals at the same time. I feel good about that. What someone else thinks shouldn’t matter — and doesn’t — so long as I know I’m making a contribution.

What logical right does anyone have to assume that one who writes about animal charities has “stopped caring” about people? In my estimation, none.

Was it unreasonable on my part to use the story of the woman’s chance encounter with a child in a conveniene store and her own relentless search for her, based on a hunch that something was wrong, as an example to show that it is not always true that people who have never had children can’t recognize a problem when they see it? Not when there are people who are so quick to dismiss completely what the childless think about children and what is and isn’t appropriate in their upbringing. What if the police officer who came into the store on the woman’s second visit had summarily dismissed her concerns after learning that she wasn’t a parent? With whom would those kids be with today?

James’s strategy in dealing with what I write on this subject seems to be a three-step plan:

Step 1: Summarily dismiss anything I have to say about a subject based solely upon my lack of personal experience in dealing with that subect firsthand.

Step 2: Manipulate what I have said after already dismissing it, taking my points to the extreme so that what he reports that I said is now exaggerated so far out of proportion that most reasonable people wouldn’t agree with it, thereby attempting to give credibility to his arguments, which turn out to be arguments against the extreme, not against what I’ve actually said.

Step 3: Go into name calling mode, suggesting that while I seem to be a “nice enough guy,” it’s possible (according to the title of his latest blog entry) that I couldn’t be more of a “S***head,” and that I delve into “idiocy” and “wrongheadedness.”

I’ll repeat a question that I asked before, based on James’s earlier remarks: Is it fair to say that one must be a parent in order to have an opinion on children?

My answer, then and now, is no. That does not mean, in my mind, that the childless are always right, or that parents are always wrong. I think there is right or wrong on both sides. If the childless were never allowed to have an opinion on child discipline, they’d likely feel a lot less motivation ever to have a child. If they couldn’t have any thoughts about children or begin trying to develop their own discipline goals, then those who would make such a rule would really be expecting new parents to enter parenthood with absolutely no idea what they’re planning. That sounds not only foolish but wrecklessly irresponsible to me, a non-parent.

I’ve never heard of a school district that requires every teacher, guidance counselor and principal to be a parent before they can get their job. I had plenty of single, childless teachers while I was in school. Since they don’t have the personal experience of disciplining a child at home, 24 hours a day, as opposed to a classroom setting for an hour or so on weekdays, should they be fired until they raise their own families? Should their input not matter until they have kids of their own? If their training on childhood education still isn’t the same as being a parent, and therefore isn’t enough, I think you’d see a lot of good teachers suddenly out of a job if you were to go with James’s apparent position that experience is the only important factor in giving someone any frame of reference when it comes to the right way to deal with children.

Then, there are the myriad books available on the subject of child rearing. I did a quick search in the books section of for the word “parenthood.” It returned 906 listings, ranging from books written for hopeful future parents to books designed for couples after they already are parents. This begs three important questions:

1. Why would books be written for couples wanting to start a family if they shouldn’t be forming any opinions until they actually are parents?

2. Why would there be books written for parents if parents already have all of the answers?


3. If all of the experts agreed that there was one definitive way to raise a child successfully, why would there be 906 books on the subject? We’d only need one!

As for his second step in painting my beliefs on the subject in a poor light, does anyone favor “beating” a child? Would anyone take away a cell phone being held by a child who’s talking to a parent who’s serving in a war zone?

Give me a break! Look, if you have to take this extreme a characterization of someone’s argument, there’s something wrong here.

James actually said:

“One of the hallmarks of the closed mind is the complete inability to factor in expertise when having an argument.”

How many parents do you know who you’d call “experts?” How many times have you read something written by a recognized “expert” that you found to be completely off-base or that you had previously tried without any measurable success?

My only “expertise” in the parent-child relationship is in having loving parents who treated me both like a child and like the adult they expected me to become. For them, spanking was an option. It was not beating, but spanking. And when they did it, it was done with compassion, not anger; with love, not hate. I learned from it and became better because of it. My parents were never threatening, and I didn’t grow up in an unhappy home.

I was lucky. A lot of adults today can’t say that. But don’t take that out on me!

If you never experienced the difference between a “spanking” and a “beating,” or if you are incapable of understanding what spanking is when it is used as part of a good parent’s discipline plan, then what right have you to say that there is no difference between spanking and beating, or that spanking is never right, particularly if your primary point has been all along that those who aren’t parents shouldn’t have an opinion? If my lack of experience in parenthood takes away any credibility about anything I say on the subject of children, what effect should we expect one’s lack of experiencing firsthand loving discipline from parents with whom one shares a happy, healthy relationship, to to have on that person’s credibility when they condemn the intention of parents whose methods are apparently different from their own?

A lot of people who were brought up the way I was are living proof that spanking is not automatically wrong, no matter what any experts say about it, and no matter what those who have experienced something very different feel about it.

As for the name-calling, there’s no point in returning that favor. That is one of the keystones of ineffective argument, and really furthers nothing in the spirit of discussion. When one stoops to such a level, the possibility of discussion is long over.

Do I have “issues” with children? Well, in his mind, I clearly do. I can’t imagine anything I could do to change that. So be it.

Do I lack empathy? Not at all. But I point out that this commenter, who has been so quick to jump in whenever he can dispute — and at times in a scathing way — something I said, conveniently skipped over my recent mention of the illness and death of that close family friend and my own father’s surgery. No words of condolence, no expressions of sympathy, nothing. He leapfrogged between those two entries to pounce on the one directly in the middle. On that one, he attacked. On the others, he found no desire in taking the chance to demonstrate what empathy is to someone who he thinks doesn’t understand it.

Is it fair for me to assume that he is incapable of empathy? Of course it’s not. Even if he chooses not to display it here, I know he is perfectly capable of compassion from things he’s written about people whom he obviously does like or at least respect. But even if I’d never gotten that feeling from what he’s chosen to say about himself online, it would still be unfair to expect that reading one’s blog and truly understanding the person who writes it equal the same thing; we may form opinions based on what people write, but we should be able to realize that our impressions of the written word and the real person behind them if we met in person are likely to be very different!

That’s the difference between my style of argument and his.

As for my “occasional forays into the boneheaded,” the obvious question is this: if what I write is so offensive to him, causes so much anger and frustration, why read me? Why invite higher blood pressure? There are blogs I’ve stumbled upon before written by people with whom I did not agree. When I spotted in them what I felt was the same close-mindedness he seems to spot in me, I stopped reading them! When I felt that they were either not interested in my point of view or were more interested in expanding it far beyond anything I ever intended, I stop commenting. I haven’t commented in James’s blog for a long time, and I first learned of his new post about me when the trackback appeared here.

If I’m so wrong and so close-minded, take a visit to, and learn from, Proverbs 14:7:

“Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivist not in him the lips of knowledge.”

See no knowledge here? Go elsewhere! Problem solved! Wasn’t that easy? (And as an added benefit, you wouldn’t have to feel any responsiblity to monitor, then report in comments, the status of my “slipping” Google ranking, something about which I can’t imagine that anyone besides me would spend any time researching, anyway!)

If the biblical reference isn’t to your liking, a former co-worker once told me, “Don’t let anyone else rent space in your head for their crap!” For those who think that I’m full of it, why allow me space in your head? It only aggravates you while boosting my counter! (And there’s every chance that actually linking to me might raise my Google ranking! We certainly wouldn’t want that to happen!)

To “make do” with my forays into anything when you are prone to disagree so vehemently with my opinions is like forcing yourself to sit through a television show you hate just to be reminded once a week of why you hate it! Why not just change the channel? There are plenty more out there that will be infinitely more to your liking!

Hasn’t everyone more important things to do with their lives? I might suggest that one alternative to reading my blog would be to go out and volunteer with those “people” charities some apparently feel that I’ve have snubbed! Or, those parents who spend time blasting me for having the audacity to have any opinion about children could always use that time to plan activities to share with their children! I bet they and their children would agree that it would be time much better spent!

In conclusion, I can only offer two pieces of wisdom:

First, just because one person believes something is true, no matter how fervently they believe it, even if they desperately hope it is true to support their argument, their rigid conviction doesn’t make it true.

I think I’ll rely on the judgment of my best friends, a husband and wife whom I’ve known for 14 and 11 years, respectively, who named me the Godfather of their first son and named their second son after me, and who have never, even for a moment, shuttered their children in a secret “panic room” when I’ve visited their home; if they thought I was some kind of heartless monster when it came to children, or that I had ruthless methods of dealing with them, or even that I possessed obvious “issues” towards them in general, I don’t think I’d be allowed anywhere near their kids.

That, to me, speaks volumes. And I think they’re in a lot better position to make such a judgment than someone who has never even met me in person.

The second piece of wisdom comes from a very old source: Book of Matthew, Chapter Seven, Verses 1 and 2.

Look it up.


  1. Oh but I will reason for a reader to be calling names…he is just as bad as the cops etc. then.

  2. Your response to the individual is appropriate and commensurate. It also demonstrates the power of cognitive discourse in the arena of online journals, a technique that is sorely lacking from many readers.

  3. it’s all about who you’re ticking of 🙂 – keep it up, only way you know you might be onto something good.

  4. I always read and never comment, but I have to today:

    Bravo, for a well thought-out, well written, and carefully considered response to a commentor… It’s rarely seen in the blogosphere (and these days, even society in general) and it’s heartening to know that there are still people out there who can disagree with civility…

    Secondly – I wholeheartedly agree with the points you made, and I cannot understand why these concepts needed to be spelled out letter-for-letter… I’ve never had trouble understanding your position on those subjects, in fact, I’ve sometimes felt you went into more detail than absolutely nescessary… (I’m beginning to see why now, however… *smiles*) But I think the majority of us who read your blog know where you’re coming from… It’s a shame that regardless of your clarity, there are still some who will choose to take issue over any point you may try to make…

  5. Patrick,

    I read your post last night. I gave myself time to let your words sink in. I hope this comment finds you Happy and In Peace. Much love to you and yours.

    My thoughts are these: We Are what We Know. As a mother of three boys I have to take issue with what I feel is most important. It seams to me that, in our society today, respect for The Human Condition has shifted into our lack of respect for Anyone’s Personal Opinion, especially if that opinion wavers ever so slightly from our own. You (from what “I’ve” assumed) ARE a kind, thoughtful, and loving man. This I Know. I thank your parents for that. You have an Obvious Love of animals and an even More Obvious “Concern” for Our leaders of tomorrow (Our Children!) We all should be so lucky. We need to get back to the Truth: If we don’t take Special Care of those whom can’t take care of themselves, where will we be twenty years from now? Children learn by example. This example starts at home. Teaching consideration and respect for All Life while making sure that they Consider and Respect themselves first and foremost is the most important lesson: It’s called Discipline! Sorry But, For anyone to hide behind an online screen name and bash another human being is the worst form of cowardice, in my opinion. All people are entitled to their own opinions. They can “share” these opinions in any way they see fit. I can “choose” to read or not to read; that is the question. This, for me, usually occurs within the first few sentences of a post.

    (And, James.. If you can’t say something nice….. Go somewhere else! … and when you do, Play Nice! God is watching)

    I’m sorry, Patrick, I’ve been a rule breaker most all my life. And, believe it or not, I was spanked for it too. I love my kids; I’ve spanked my kids, and, they are the most well adjusted, respectful teenagers you would ever want to meet. (well, most of the time anyway -at home? not as much. outside of the home? Always! *wink*)

    Be Well, My Friend, I love you,


  6. This post – which was excellent, by the way – sent me back to a web page I saved to my hard drive as a resource for a critical thinking course toward the end of my UoP accounting program. It was a list of fallacies. From your description, I see not only “ad hominem” here but also “straw man” (which was your point about attacking an extreme distortion of your position), “stacking the deck” (disallowing your arguments on the basis of qualifications), “needling” (an attempt to provike anger), “excluded middle” (the only alternative to “time out” is “beating,” and one cannot care about both people and animals), and “argument by emotive language” (the use of the word “beating.” Interesting stuff! I have no intention of looking into what was actually said, beyond what you’ve reported, so I can’t be certain that I have correctly identified which fallacious arguments were used. But reseaching the ones that I recognized made for a good refresher course. Thanks!


  7. I’m going to make a wild guess that getting his comment published here was only part of his purpose in making it. The other was to make sure you saw it. Which of course, you did.

  8. Personally, I think parent’s are to blame. Nobody wants to physically disapline their child for fear that the child will report them to their teacher and the government will step in. So now we have unruly kids running around doing whatever they feel like.

    When I was a child I got smacked by my mother when she thought I was way out of line and I knew I deserved it. I turned out to be a well balanced woman who did fine in school and did not take drugs or had behavior issues.

    And as for the animal charities as Jennifer spoke about, I too gave to only animal charities. I will always give to animal charities before I ever give to human charities. Some don’t give a darn about their animals as shown with the hurricane coverage. People could get out, animals could not. May I remind you of the many dogs that were chained up while the flood waters were rising…it was a sin.

    People can think of me what they want. If people want to make the assumption that I put animals before humans…so be it. At least animals do not judge and ridicule.

    Stepping off my soap box now. I usually just comment on the weekender so this is a first for me I believe.

  9. Patrick…

    I admire your wordsmithing here…reminds me of Jodi when someone was thoughtless to me in a comment.

    Now for the other guy, what is that tasteless cliche about opinions? Everyone has one?????


  10. Personally, I don’t see how anyone could make the leap from anything you’ve said to an endorsement of beating children. So I’m not sure where that came from and, as a reader, the minute I see an accusation that extreme without any link back or evidence to support the accusation, I generally dismiss it as a figment of someone’s imagination.

    But whatever. (And that was not an attack; it’s a statement of my fact.)

    But what I find personally hurtful is this idea (and it’s not the first I’ve read) that endorsing “pet” charities somehow diminishes my concern for human charities. Like you, I featured pet charities after Katrina, not because I don’t care about human suffering (and I sent in my donation there first) but because too often people get so caught up in helping people, they tend to forget about our four-leggers, the ones, like children, who are the most helpless and the most dependent on human kindness.

    So when I was prominently promoting the animal charities I was simply asking that people remember that there were thousands of dogs and cats, who had been loved by those people, who also needed help. And for people to assume that my plea for the animals was over and above my concern for humans (even though it may have been…) is rude, presumptive and completely unfair.

    And wrong.

  11. Chances are more positive reinforcement initially would have been better & even calming techniques & compassion & love. Simply telling her I understand why you are upset. Remember children learn how to behave from adults! Adults through temper tantrums all the time. Chances are the teacher reacted to her in a poor way & that just made things worse. There are so many times when people just act from frustration themselves & just make it worse.

    Let’s say that you’re dead on right: that the first teacher who was dealing with her completely reacted inappropriately and now has the child even more upset.

    You’re the principal or another teacher and you find that the methods you mention, which all sound reasonable, won’t work because your co-worker did more harm than good.

    What do you do to not only undo what the other teacher did, but also calm the child? What’s plan B?

    By the way, thanks in advance for the handout. I look forward to reading it.

  12. Good Lord Patrick that was just too long…I’d prefer it split up but anyways…

    I can see how when one brings up the questions of teachers not being able to spank etc it does suggest that one is in favor of it. You may not be saying lets do this but you say “Well, they can’t do that so….” I am not in favor of those options so I would not even bring those up. What else could you do many things they did not do. As for spanking vs beating, spanking still is not recommended by the APA or AMA. I’ll email you the handout out I give my students when we are in the Learning Module to take a look at. Even when one does not have, or say they have emotional scars there are problems & this handout will list them. Chances are more positive reinforcement initially would have been better & even calming techniques & compassion & love. Simply telling her I understand why you are upset. Remember children learn how to behave from adults! Adults through temper tantrums all the time. Chances are the teacher reacted to her in a poor way & that just made things worse. There are so many times when people just act from frustration themselves & just make it worse.

  13. Choose not to allow this if you like; but I don’t think that person’s comments should be dignified with a response. No offense if you don’t allow this. It’s for your eyes anyway, so I don’t care if anyone else sees it.

Comments are closed.

Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.