Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Punishment Too Far In Georgia

In Georgia, a mother was angry with her son for getting bad grades. This much is not news. That much happens all around the world. So to punish him, she made him beat his pet hamster to death with a hammer. She was arrested for this, charged with one count cruelty to animals, one count cruelty to children, and one count battery. (The battery charge doesn't seem to fit the pattern, since it's the crime of touching a stranger without their permission. Did she grab the sheriff's arm while being arrested or something?)
I have to agree with the charges, and think she should lose her child to protective services because of what lessons she's teaching. At best she's teaching her son that Mommy is a crazy person who cannot react rationally to disappointments. At worst, she's teaching him that vandalism, assault, or even murder, are normal acceptable responses to interpersonal problems. You may think I'm exaggerating in the last one, but children think very anthropomorphically. Even their toys are people to them. These are not lessons I want a child to learn. Especially if he decides that if Fluffy has to die for his sins, then maybe it's okay if I, or the guy down the street, or Mommy dies for his sins too.
Now, had this mother instead sold the hamster to a pet store, and used the money on a tutor, (or even kept it for her own uses), it would have the intended lesson that screwing up has consequences, that the hamster is now gone forever because the boy didn't put the effort into keeping it. And life would have gone on with me (and the national media) completely ignorant of the situation. The hamster may experience some momentary sadness at the change of situation, but it would at least still be alive.
What blows my mind entirely are people defending the mother in this situation, which only makes sense of you hate animals beyond all reason, or think that vandalism is a great response to interpersonal problems. Either way, I think I'll be avoiding Georgia for a while. It's full of crazy people.

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