Thursday, July 22, 2010

First wagon in the circle.

Pasting my comment here. Also going to add the plagiarism tag, because I always keep track of things I believe to be influential in producing the ethical erosion I deal with sometimes. [Later: changed to a new tag, ethics]

I am neither an anonymous coward nor a hypocrite. I wonder why you, and your buddy Rob, embrace the son’s version of the story with barely a question while what the homeowner says is “alleged?”

Kids lying is also older than our grandparents and is still fairly common.

1. Ding Dong Ditch is older than your grandparents. It actually dates as far back as the 19th Century and is still fairly common.

How does this matter? It’s an old prank so that makes it charming? Or are you suggesting not having heard of it before makes one ignorant? Kids don’t do it in my village as far as I know, and I didn’t know anyone who did it when I was a kid, either.

2. Madeo is going to punish his son. If you’d read the article, you’d all know that.

I have read every article, before you started wagging your finger, in fact. Frankly, if the TU wanted to out the parent’s identity, and Madeo jumped right in, then why not reveal what that supposed punishment is? I can already hear the cries of MYOB when essentially this story is being milked for all its worth.

It takes a village to raise a child, right? That shouldn’t just mean entitlements. It should also mean that families are accountable to communities, not that you could be sued or arrested for intervening when a kid is misbehaving.

3. This is all still new and raw. We don’t know that these charges are going to be maintained or if/when the Madeos may decide to drop them.

The fact is that they are currently pressing charges. If that’s met with silence it is doubtful they will make the right decision on their own. Perhaps with the community speaking out the Madeos will do the right thing and drop the charges. (They should also make the kid apologise, but I have a feeling that will never happen.)

4. A lot of you are crying “you don’t know what you’d do to protect your children!” while chastising Rob for looking at his bruised and visibly shaken son and deigning to press charges against the man who did it, regardless of the circumstances.

Regardless of the circumstances!! You have to be kidding me. Son was the catalyst, and actions have consequences. He wasn’t hit by a car while riding his bike.

5. I’ll be attacked for saying it (again), but regardless of where it happened, Mr. Van Plew gave chase and was WRONG WRONG WRONG. Not from a moral standpoint, but from a safety one. Under absolutely NO circumstances should you do that, whether the people fleeing were playing ding dong ditch or trying to steal your stereo. That’s not just me saying that, that’s also any police officer. You all cry “you have no idea what they were up to!”, completely disregarding that if this kid did have evil intentions, Mr. Van Slew’s actions would have further put himself and his family in danger. Anybody who knows for certain they would react similarly needs, for their own sake, to re-examine their thought process when it comes to this sort of thing.

Nice of you to throw away the moral angle. Yes, we all know for our own safety we shouldn’t walk alone at night, and we shouldn’t fight with an attacker over our purses. I would not chase someone who was lurking around my house, nor would I hold them for police, but I am a small woman deep in middle age. Wrongdoers depend on good people doing nothing. Where do you draw the line on blaming the victim? If I do walk alone and someone assaults me, is it so much my fault that the attacker should walk?

6. Every single one of you who suggested Rob’s son should have been beaten worse or shot – what the Hell is wrong with you?

No argument there.

7. As someone else pointed out, kids do dumb things. To suggest that parents – whether it be the Madeos or the hosts of the sleepover – maintain constant mental control over all actions their kids take shows a stunning lack of grasp on reality.

I don’t believe parents can do this, and I also know that even good kids do stupid things. But Madeo is responsible for his own actions, and pressing charges is sending the wrong message to his kid.

8. Every single one of you who suggested Rob was a bad father clearly don’t know Rob or his family. More importantly, you should be ashamed of yourself.

You know what? I deal with young people all the time. Most are wonderful, but a handful are unethical and amoral. They would cheat, lie or low level steal if it served their ends. They are used to having their parents intervene and defend every mistake they make. I suspect it is one reason we see so much professional misconduct in the news – everything from Enron to Jayson Blair to Blagojevich. Often I am the first person whose path they cross that does not let them off the hook lightly after catching them. I do blame poor parenting, and frankly, that is more of a stretch than this case because the young people I reference are young adults, not teenagers. I am most sincerely not ashamed of my attitude – I feel I am doing them, and the world, a service by being the wake up call, and holding them accountable.

9. I sincerely regret my initial stance, which was nothing less than a full indictment of Mr. Van Plew’s actions. My reaction was raw and not well thought out, and I need to man up and apologize for it.

Again, no argument.

10. A kid who plays ding dong ditch isn’t a “hoodlum.” Get some perspective.

Maybe not, but based on Madeo’s reaction of placing blame, I am not convinced it is not a pattern, and that his kid isn’t starting down a bad path. Will the next article or blog in the TU go to great lengths to show junior is an honor student, loved by all, and is kind to babies, puppies and kittens?

A later comment: Your defense is evolving to ginning up sympathy for a dad wanting to pursue justice for his poor battered baby.

Since you have admonished us to read the articles, I’m having trouble reconciling this from the 7/22 story “The police report said the Madeo boy suffered a cut on his elbow, bruise over his eye and a bloody lip after being tackled by Van Plew, but the boy refused medical attention” with your statement in the comments above “what’s being reported is that the police reported several lacerations, a bruise above the eye, a swollen lip, and according to their lawyer it’s said he could end up permanently removing teeth.”

Although he refused medical treatment at the scene, his injuries were such that he may lose teeth? And there were multiple lacerations in addition to the cut on his elbow? This is in the police report, or the lawyer asserted it? Where is this being reported?


I actually can understand why you are writing about it, because you quite clearly are friendly with him. And I recall reading a post you made several weeks ago about your desire for fatherhood and fondness for infants. I think that instinct is sparking you to identify with your friend’s situation, and think he is admirably protecting his son.

Babies eventually grow into 14 year olds. They can be a lot more challenging at that age.

DL writes “I don’t see how the TU has any vested interest in him.”

I do. He may not be an employee, but his blog hits, and the traffic generated by this fiasco are revenue generators. Selling newspapers is getting more and more difficult. Plenty of media outlets have folded.

Kevin writes “…it’s people trying to score points on the internet (WHY?) at the expense of Rob and his kid. And I think that’s wrong.”

Just on the internet? The Times Union isn’t capitalizing on the situation? Yesterday’s print story was low on the front page and didn’t include Madeo’s name, but did include this:

Gerstenzang denied that Van Plew threatened the teenager with violence if he tried to escape before police arrived, as the teen allegedly told police in a statement, according to an e-mail from a town insider who calls himself “the Delmar tipster.”

Is the Delmar tipster Madeo?

The story is all “allegedly” about the kid’s behavior, but not the homeowner’s. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Madeo’s son is not the one facing charges. It also included TMI on the homeowner’s life.

Today’s story was on the front page, above the fold! In fact, it was the top story. Madeo is extensively quoted. The last is “…it’s a very sensitive issue that I’d rather not be discussing.” Than why was he discussing it? Why was he identified in the paper at all?

Madeo may deny it, but he is a public figure. The controversies he has generated are bound to spark discussion and criticism. (He may even be enjoying the attention in a conflicted kind of way.) What I think is wrong is that it is being presented as poor him and his kid, boo hoo, it’s all at his expense, you people are mean.

This is exactly why much of the community is outraged. I am tired of the sense of entitlement, ethical relativism, and lawyering up. This is what I see in his behavior and the justifications for it.

I could not care less about scoring points on the internet – I write for myself, have done so for years, and note this incident to keep track of ethical failings in media, politics and elsewhere because it is a particular interest of mine.

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