Sunday, February 06, 2011

All kinds of unpleasant (UPDATED!)

UPDATE! The listing has been pulled from eBay. As of this writing, the Kotaku link still has the image in question posted for those seeking some context. I maintain my earlier position that the whole thing is creepy as hell and raises all kinds of "call Child Services" flags, to me anyway.

Hat-tip: Kotaku

Some guy in Georgia wants YOU to help him punish his kids... and he seems to be getting a real kick out of it. Kinda uneasy-feeling details after the jump:

The story: Allegedly, this guy's two kids busted up the bath tub by using it as an "arena" for their Beyblade toys (a spinning-top game based on an Anime series); so to punish them, he's selling-off said toys on eBay to pay for the damage. Yes, it's real, here's the eBay page... though the numbers may look a little shocking, as "Anon" - alias the web-vigilantes from 4chan - have apparently been screwing with the auction via fake bids all day.

Okay, so... sounds a little harsh, but also sounds like a sensible "cause and effect" type of punishment i.e. a kill-two-birds mix of "actions have consequences" and "use it properly or lose it." Probably wouldn't be my approach... but okay, he's got kids, I don't, etc.

Here's where this tips over into "red flag" territory for me: Instead of posting a good photo of the actual items up for sale, he posted a picture of the two kids holding them up. I don't want to put the image here, go look at the auction to see it. For those who didn't: Two boys, one looking about six or seven, the other older, holding up the offending playthings in a ziplock baggie. The older one is bawling like E.T. just flatlined, the younger one is staring down the camera like Vincent D'Onofrio's last day at Boot Camp. It's pretty striking.

This is where my head is at on this: What exactly is he REALLY selling here? There's no specific detail on what the items are for anyone who wants to buy them, and no image you can see from, so he's pretty-much selling "bag of random toys." But the picture of the two kids, both of them clearly captured in a moment of very real (deservedly or not) trauma... I'm sorry, but what this says to me is that his (apparently sincere) sales pitch isn't the bag of Beyblades so much as "Hey, y'see this sobbing child? Bid NOW for the privilige of being part of making that happen!"

For those who'll offer that "context is everything," he doesn't describe the items in the text-description, either - instead, he relates the story of the punishment, plus the exact dollar amount of what he's already confiscated from their piggy-banks. Oh, and it's capped-off with a rather gleeful exclamation of "and then it's on to their other toys!" And let's not forget: He's showing-off a picture of his visibly-shaken post-punishment children on the internet, for all the world to "enjoy." Folks, I've been punished in my life - often severely and quite deservedly... but my parents NEVER took a photo of my anguished expression and plastered flyers of it reading "look what Bob did!!!" all over the neighbor, to say nothing of THE PLANET. And if they had, I imagine Child Services would be knocking on the door for that sort of thing.

So... am I NUTS, or does this just scream abuse? I don't mean the initial punishment - fine, sell the damn toys, whatever - but proudly showing it off for The Internet like some demented cross between the dad from "This Boy's Life" and that Tiger Mother sociopath... wouldn't "subjecting child to public humiliation" constitute abuse in and of itself? And if not, wouldn't it at least be probable cause for Child Services to maybe show up and check these kids for bruises or whatever else could cause the younger-looking one to have a goddamn thousand-yard-stare at that age? I'm NOT "accusing" the guy, I'm just saying... if I was a cop in Georgia, and I saw this, I'd be inclined to follow-up on this.


Linus said...

Oh please, I was half expecting you to write "Won't somebody PLEASE think of the children!?". You're overreacting, the kids deserve it.

Anonymous said...

Bob, you are not overreacting. This qualifies as psychological abuse. If anything, he should have seized the toys and given them back after making them earn it, etc. We have taken toys from my brother and withheld them (some indefinitely) in addition to punishing him the regular way, but if my parents ever did this sort of thing to him I would call CPS right away and rip them a new ass.

Anonymous said...

*by them I mean my parents.

I'm actually rather disturbed by how happy the man seems about the punishment. I hate having to punish kids.

Linus said...

Well obviously the mans motives are a bit questionable but in the end the kids will learn valuable lessions that will help them greatly in life.
I wish people would stop being so damn over protective and overreacting. Feels like I'm watching fox news.

Bob said...

The thing is, I don't give a shit about the damn toys. What bothers me is using the web to publically humiliate these kids (there are memes of their faces all over 4chan now, I checked, and that shit is basically FOREVER) and the apparent joy being taken in it. "Enjoys inflicting punishment" is waaay near the top of "signs of abusive parent."

The auction already got taken down, probably for violating eBay TOS but also probably due to Anon running up the fake bids - I just browsed through some threads, and those guys are already on a full-blown get-the-puppy-tosser level reaction mode - lots of guys trying to find the address, ostensibly so they can send them more of these tops...

Linus said...

Bob, imagine you're a parent. Your kids just ruined your bathtub and you're not exactly overflowing with money to replace it. You need to punish the kids to teach them a lesson or they'll grow up to be like snotnosed unachieving unrespectful punks I see when I wait for the buss every day. you need to pay for the bathtub, so selling the toys will hit two birds with one stone.

Sure the picture is taking it a bit far but are you really going to get so worked up about what is probably a lapse of judgment done while clouded by anger?

Honestly everyone makes inconsiderate mistakes and don't tell me you would react differently in the punishment (not including the picture.

I'm gonna love reading what anon does with this though, expecting media blowout if I know the american press right.

The Tickle Phantom said...

my brother has many of those tops and i have a few from the old plastic generation from ten years ago. Unless you're launching those tops with mile long ripcords and the arms of a demigod you aren't going to be able to do the damage that these kids supposedly did. Hell, even with the crazy mods that people were doing you couldn't destroy a plastic stadium, let alone a bathtub made from something significantly harder than cheap molded play sets. something is amiss, and that photo is beyond messed up. Its one thing to take something away from children (I had that happen to me) and to actively humiliate them in a place where photos are immortalized forever.

Sega MikeyDrive said...

Perhaps the father didn't realise the consequences of putting such a photo on the internet for everyone to see.

I remember than when I their age, if I were to misbehave in a public place, my dad would smack me and tell me, quite loudly, that I was acting like a baby. I can safely say that it was the humiliation of being smacked in publish that made me learn my lesson, not the smacking itself.

This father's probably thinking along the same lines. The boy'll just get more toys come birthday time, or whatever, but the humiliation of being internationally shamed will make sure they never play Beybalde in the bath again.

It was a bad move by the father, but I doubt he knew what he was getting his children into by putting the photo on eBay.

Anonymous said...

Selling toys to pay for damage, fine, yeah, actions have consequences, harsh but logical perhaps.

Selling them on e-bay. Indifferent fact.

Ranting to the ENTIRE WORLD about how he wants them to suffer by showing a photograph and encouraging people to conti ue the psychological trauma! That IS psychological abuse of children, the sort of stuff you loose your children for. Further more as pointed out by 4-Chan's involvement, don't put your children's faces on the internet like this you idiot!

You're right Bob. That's one bad Father right there.

JDude said...

Yeah, this is creepy and wrong. I'm with Tickle-Phantom here; how in the crap do spinning plastic toys damage a bathtub worthy of $500 in damages? These kids are little, they're not strapping razor-blades and sandpaper to the edges of these things. A bathtub seems ideal for them, actually.

I mean, the most you'd see is maybe a scuff left by a bad hit, and that's nothing you can't buff-out.

I agree, there's something rotten with this Dad. There's no way he doesn't understand the elementary knowledge that the Internet is public domain to the world.

Just imagining a guy concocting and putting into action the making of this disturbing photo tells you all you need. It's too creative and cruel to have merely popped into his head; he had to think about this one, but the frightening thing is how evidently fast he must have thought it up given how fresh the expressions of these children are.

I mean, imagine it. Dreaming this ebay thing up, and getting out a camera to photograph, not the toys, but the kids HOLDING the toys. Or should I say "kid", because it's only the one who looks like he's in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness holding anything. The elder one is just there for the full effect.

We can't KNOW what's going on for sure, but this warrants a look by SOMEBODY, if only that.

mstieler said...

Has anyone thought the damage may not have been caused by the toys themselves, but possibly the kids? I know plenty of time things accidentally got hit when playing around with toys as a kid, and I can easily see a soapdish in a bathtub getting broken if they're horsing around in there, not to mention dings, scratches and chips.

My thoughts: selling toys on eBay: fine punishment. Story of the punishment: fine. Picture: too far.

Blue Highwind said...

This story is fake. There's no way on Earth Beyblades could destroy a bathtub, they're crappy pieces of plastic. Not very well made crappy pieces of plastic too.

The guy made this whole story up, staged the pictures, and did it all just to generate interest and get more money for a Beyblade collection. Basically telling the public "if you don't buy these for a lot of money, I'll take all my kids' toys away (mustache twirl)"

I'd like to know if it worked.

Toomin said...

I've got no issue with your stance on the matter, Bob. But I do take umbrage with your "Tiger Mother" dig, which was both unnecessary and inaccurate. Watch her interview with Colbert, or maybe just read anything non-inflammatory about her, and then see if she seems like sociopath, kay?

Daniel said...

like everyone else already pointed out; I used to play Beyblades during the twilight of my childhood in a plastic arena with my friends, and they were't very well made. Usually the things would shatter the moment they hit the stadium. Unless they've started making them tougher over the last decade I doubt that any of them could really damage a bathtub as much as the man says they did. "Destroyed the Tub's enamel and 'took out a chunk of tub'" that to me seems almost impossible.

Suspicious damage aside I also think this guy is a horrible father. Taking their toys is fine, my parents used to take toys away from me all the time. Selling them on e-bay is a bit extreme but whatever he's the parent. Taking away their piggy banks is fine in my opinion, I recall breaking a lamp and having to pay for the replacement. Posting that picture online and doing whatever caused that younger kid to have that shiver-inducing stare simply crosses the line. I hope this picture and the ensuing memes are forgotten quickly. No kid deserves to grow up with some stupid joke on the internet being told at their expense.

Reverend Allan Ironside said...

This is a load of crap. There's no way on God's green earth a plastic Beyblade toy can do a damn thing to a bathtub lining unless someone carved it up with a knife.

I'm calling bullshit on this.

Anonymous said...

Actually, if it was a fibreglass tub, those Beyblades could have done significant damage to it - it's very improbable, but plausible. And, as far as I'm aware, they have metal components in them anyway.

That being said, to do $500 worth of damage to any household appliance or amenity, I would imagine the children responsible would have to be left on their own for a significant amount of time, likely hours. This man obviously has issues, but, on top of the internet posting, we should question how, exactly, two children could get up to that sort of ruckus without making anyone, if anyone was home, aware of it!

Overall, creepy, no doubt, and, although they're still young, this father may have just subjected his kids to Star-Wars-Kid-like ridicule for a long time.

Smashmatt202 said...

I would have never thought of it the way you did... And I'm ashamed that I almost didn't.

Bob said...


The appearance on Colbert is actually what sealed it for me. Chua comes off like both a semi-sadist and an amiable, highly-intelligent psychopath; i.e. one that's clever enough to have worked out precisely how to get their kicks without getting into trouble for it: Stick to the "invisible" trauma of psychological torment, exploit the social taboo of questioning people's parenting by "keeping it in the family," couch the whole thing in self-justifying academic/cultural terms, etc.

Novice said...

"Sure the picture is taking it a bit far but are you really going to get so worked up about what is probably a lapse of judgment done while clouded by anger?"

I have made parenting mistakes I am not proud of while angry. I yelled, said things I regretted and have gotten so mad my kids burst into tears. I wouldn't judge the Dad for that. Parents are people and they get angry.

Taking and uploading the photos, typing the description...that all takes time and blood cools.

My kids have ruined stuff. EXPENSIVE stuff.*

This is not going to work as a punishment. Punishment is supposed to teach people a lesson. All they'll remember about is the sadness. Confiscating the toys, donating or selling them...great idea. Add to that taking away allowance or making them do lots of extra chores to earn the money to help pay for the tub...better idea.

I would not humiliate my children and allow others to take part in it. They could burn down the house and I wouldn’t do that to them, and my kids are not entitled brats. They know that their actions have consequences and sometimes those consequences feel terrible, but they still have to be.

Well...maybe not the little one. She’s still in the “Is this a carrot or a crayon? Munch munch munch. Bleck. Crayon. Maybe I’ll try this one. Argh! Still crayon”.

Though she had some freaky uncomfortable poop after that, so maybe she did learn.

Novice said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Novice said...

* An entire dining room wall in the span of 3 minutes. In case you were wondering.

bigjkt said...

I wish I could post this Collin Cowherd podcast from last year about the difference between public and private.

bigjkt said...

I've been punished by my parents but they didn't publicly announce it afterwards.

matthew_harvey13 said...

I agree. The ebay selling is not an issue. I sure this guy is not the first parent to have thought if the idea. But the way the auction is put together. That's the bit I find over the line. In the UK we did away with stocks for public humiliation / punishment a while ago. Though we seem ti be happily exporting other methods of public humiliation, Simon Cowell shows and big brother anyone.

Anyway back on topic. Selling of toys on Ebay as punishment is fine. Humiliating your kinds on the internet as punishment is not fine.

Adam said...

Selling the toys to pay for the damage is fine. As a kid I was taught to respect both my property and other people's. If I didn't there were consequences. Plain and simple.

Broadcasting the punishment over the internet along with visual aids of humiliation? Yeah that is all kinds of wrong.

H said...

personally, i'm most excited to see exactly what 4chan does about this.
i vote for the "send thousands of beyblade tops through the mail" idea.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Bob: yes, it is fine to punish you're children if they have done wrong, within reason.

Selling their toys: okay. Unconventional, but acceptable.

Putting their pictures on the net and ranting about them and their actions: not okay.

First, you really shouldn't be splattering the web with photos of your kids and giving descriptions of them anyways. For seconds, its simply bringing a private, family matter (the discipline of your kids) in the sphere of the public. It's like taking your kid into a mall and asking passers-by to help you wallop the child over the head because he didn't eat his veggies last night or whatever.

tyra menendez said...

Has anyone else had the thought that this could be a case of serious trolling? Trolls trolling trolls, as it were. Just a thought.