Internet Meme Demolition Derby: Learn the Meaning of Respect!
(CN: Violence against children)
“If I had spoken to my parents the way some children do now, I wouldn’t be here to share this status. Some children need to learn the meaning of respect. Share this if you agree.”
Today’s meme comes from the Facebook page of WBUL 98.1 The Bull in Lexington Kentucky. I don’t think I’m surprising anyone when I inform the audience that The Bull is a “Country” music station, and a quick perusal of their Facebook feed reveals that their primary concerns at the moment are not bad viral parenting memes but rather the University of Kentucky semi-pro Men’s Basketball team and their quest for an NCAA Championship and a perfect season. I’m sure that whatever intern they assign to keep their FB page interesting and fun gave hardly a second thought to this meme before moving on to “Go Big Blue!” or “Next!”.
Which is really too bad because if you gave a second thought to the meaning of these words you would think twice before sharing them.Because what this meme is explicitly calling for is the death of children.
This isn’t the first time we have examined “respect” at the IMDD, most notably when we explored the “My Parents Spanked Me as a Kid” meme almost exactly a year ago. Back then we were only concerned with corporal punishment, something I think all of us at Grounded Parents agree is a barbaric and ineffective parenting technique and one that is unlikely to actually teach children respect for others. This meme takes the threat of violence a step further, basically implying that our parents… our older and supposedly wiser, certainly more strict parents… would have literally killed us if we spoke the way kids do these days!
Because that will teach them!
“C’mon Lou… don’t take it so seriously… it’s just a jokey meme. Besides, kids these days are particularly awful, they should show more respect!”
Not really a good point Imaginary Devil’s Advocate, as we will see as we unpack this thing. We can break this meme into two major problematic elements. Let’s start with the first half…
“If I had spoken to my parents the way some children do now”
Like a lot of these memes, this is definitely referring to someone elses children. Those children “out there”, on the Internet cursing their mothers out, in the grocery store throwing a temper tantrum, on the MTV with their Hippity Hoppity Rap lyrics. Down at the soda fountain mingling with them no good kids from the wrong side of the tracks, listening to that freaky jazz music with it’s tribal rhythms and smoking them Mary Jane cigarettes and getting the reefer madness. Or hanging out listening to that freak Socrates and all of his high falutin ideas about Philosphy…
I hope you see where I’m going with this, but I’ll spell it out precisely. Moral Panics have been happening since long before Professor Harold Hill strolled into River City to explain the evils of pool and expound on the virtues of school bands.
Pretending that kids “these days” are somehow uniquely out of control is merely the appeal to antiquity fallacy. It is almost always applied across class, religious and racial lines as a tool of shame and control.
The second part of this meme should be more disturbing than we realize. Sure, I’ve jokingly threatened to “kill” my kids before. Often in the middle of the grocery store in front of several witnesses. And I should probably stop doing that because parents killing their kids over disciplinary issues is no joke. It happens all the fucking time.
Consider this story from 2013:
Two parents in Washington state have been found guilty of murder after allegedly following the abusive parenting techniques advocated in the parenting book “To Train Up a Child” by Michael and Debi Pearl.
Larry and Carri Williams received the maximum prison sentences allowable under the law after being found guilty of beating and starving their adopted daughter Hana to death. The methods they used to “discipline” their daughter were advocated in the controversial Christian book.
Or this story
This week CNN reported that Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz, a white couple from Paradise, California beat their seven-year-old black daughter Lydia because they believed God wanted them to. The couple tortured the child for seven consecutive hours, taking breaks for prayer. When police arrived at the Schatz residence, Lydia was still alive. An officer administered CPR, but it was too late.
“We have heard the phrase ‘death by a thousand lashes,’” Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey told CNN. “That’s basically what this was.”
Or maybe this…
Four-year-old Jada Norfleet died from being disciplined with a 1-by-2 piece of lumber, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday following the arrest of her stepmother and school teacher father.
Jada was hit multiple times before paramedics were called to her parents’ Fountains at Deerwood apartment Friday, Chief of Investigations Chris Butler. He called it an “ongoing abusive situation for months” with the child hit on her arms and legs.
“This happened whenever the child would do something that the parents deemed inappropriate,” Butler said. “… Without giving you the details of it, the child was asked to do things and did not and at that point received discipline for it. I am not trying to minimize it by saying discipline. They beat the child.”
Everybody having a good laugh now? Do you think any of these kids learned enough “respect” from their beatings before they died? Anybody else think that the incredibly common cases of parents murdering their children is an appropriate thing to share your in your joke meme. Kids these days certainly deserve it don’t they? Because I’m sure that that four year old girl must have said something really awful to deserve being beaten with a piece of lumber.
Kinda dark there, isn’t it. That’s because killing kids isn’t really all that funny. Not when the reality is laid out in front of us.
And another thing before we leave. Let’s try and remember what “respect” really means. From the Source of all Knowledge
Respect is a positive feeling of esteem or deference for a person or other entity (such as a nation or a religion), and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. Respect can be a specific feeling of regard for the actual qualities of the one respected (e.g., “I have great respect for her judgment”). It can also be conduct in accord with a specific ethic of respect.
Respect is a positive feeling. It is something that you have to earn. It is something that you have to teach and model. For an example of parenting based on respect I highly recommend fellow Grounded Parent Steph’s most recent contribution “House Rules- To Love, Honor, and Disobey”, about her peaceful parenting philosophy that works without punishment, without threats of violence.
As always, if you have found a particularly noxious bit of parenting advice polluting your social media feeds, drop us a line at @GroundedParents or @Blotzphoto. Make it something silly next time, this one got yucky real fast.
Featured Image Credit Jason Scragz at Flickr
People talk about kids disrespecting parents and other adults, but nobody talks about the pervasive disrespect adults show for children. I see adults bad-mouthing children, even their own, all the time. I see them expecting things of children that are beyond their abilities (and often expecting things that nobody expects adults to be able to do. Sit silently and listen to some tedious presentation for 45 minutes? Come on!)
I can’t help thinking that the “disrespect” that the meme is complaining about is really just children treating adults the way the adults treat them.
Good post, Lou.
Oh, and I admit it when I am wrong. None of this “the parent is always right” nonsense.
FWIW, most of the parents I know are like that, too. And I have to say, most of the kids I know are IMHO respectful and considerate. To everyone. They’re better than a lot of adults I know.
I agree with amm1. Additionally, I have found the topic of ‘respect’ difficult for some adults to understand. From my experience, anecdotally, those that believe in ‘first time obedience’ are quick to find disrespect in children. At our house we don’t believe in first time obedience and want our child to ask questions and come up with her own ideas about things.