A couple of days ago, I saw one of the most disturbing videos I have ever seen come across my Facebook newsfeed. The video was of a one year old Toddler who was being instructed to put a gun in his mouth and say “pow”, by his 22-year old mother Toni Wilson and her 19-year old boyfriend Michael Barnes. Authorities obtained the video after arresting Barnes in a separate incident in which he made arrangements via social media to sell a handgun to an undercover cop.
Shortly after reading about this epically terrible parenting move, I posted a comment about it on my Cappuccino Queen Facebook page. I was immediately shocked by one of the early comments from a woman who believed that these two parents shouldn’t have been stripped of their “parental rights” after this incident. While initially I thought maybe one of my readers was punking me, I soon realized that this chic was dead serious. Her comment scared me possibly even more than the fact that something like this actually occurred in the first place. What have we come to in this country where people like these two fools are being supported? The fact that there are people who believe the rights of these criminals should come before the basic Civil Rights of this child is an appalling example of the poor state of affairs facing our nation.
While this woman’s comment was one of the most extreme, several other people said things that were also shocking. Many folks were obsessing over whether or not the gun was loaded. “What the hell?? Am I in some alternate reality,’ I thought, completely stunned as I read through the comments on my computer. Other folks showed sympathy for the two idiot parents, hoping that they too find “security and love.” Other (likely internet trolls) threw their two cents in by saying things like, “I don’t see a problem here.” And of course, extreme gun supporters believed that these parents had a constitutional right to do whatever they wanted with their guns.
The reason I decided to write about this incident is not solely about the Internet trolls, but because I think its important to break down this situation for the folks who might not grasp exactly why what these parents did was truly bad enough for them to lose their parental rights and never get them back.
Physical Harm: This category is perhaps the most obvious. Most people’s first reaction was likely the danger in that toddler picking up the gun and one day actually blowing her brains out. I guess this is the category of harm the folks who wondered whether or not it was loaded were stuck in. I would argue that it doesn’t matter that much whether it was or not. This toddler is being taught that it is funny to stick a gun in her mouth and pull the trigger. She is also being taught that playing with guns is alright. The level of danger inherent in this lesson makes it not so important (or different) if it had been a real gun or a toy gun (though it wasn’t a toy). The physical harm aspect would be similar if some parents sat out on route 66 and encouraged their toddler to try and run across it, dodging cars, while they filmed it and laughed.
Psychological Harm: Imagine being a little child again. I know, its a stretch for many people to put themselves back in the shoes of a defenseless kid – but just humor me and try. So you are this baby, and you depend on your mom to protect you and take care of you. You look up to her, and want to be just like her. You want to do everything to please her because at that age – she is the center of your world. (Note: this is the same for fathers, but I am focused on the mom here because she is the bio parent to this kid.) Anyway, now imagine your mom joking about you killing yourself with her boyfriend. Imagine this pathetic shit bag of a father figure (the 19-year old punk pictured above) filming on his smartphone while joking about you sticking a weapon in your mouth and killing yourself – as the 1 month old biological kids of this shit bag couple watch.
Things Unseen: Had this shit bag of a father figure not been doing something else criminal, these two fools might have gotten away with their abusive behavior. Based on my intimate experience with this type of criminally abusive personality, I can guarantee you that this was not the first time they had done something abusive to that child. This was simply just the first time they had been caught. I can also guarantee you that they are not sitting in jail feeling guilty for abusing this child, they are probably too concerned with being angry about getting caught. If the state fails to keep children away from these two, we will be reading about these children again – but next time there will be no second chances. There is no rehab, no class, no seminar a child abuser could take to make them suddenly safe around children.
In situations like these, I urge everyone to keep their thoughts on the children. These parents, while young, are adults; therefore, they are old enough to make choices for which they should be held responsible. Their children did not choose to be born into this situation, much like my son didn’t choose to be born to someone who would eventually kill him in order to collect on a life insurance policy. We should be focused on the children’s rights before ever giving a damn about the rights of their criminally negligent parents. If teaching a child that it’s funny to kill themselves does not reach the threshold to lose parental rights, we are doomed to experience a society that will only become increasingly more violent.