Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Overreactive Dads And Non-existent Pedophiles

Garden Grove, CA

You can't blame a dad for being protective of his kid. You can, however, blame him for tackling an off-duty cop for taking photos of children at a Strawberry Festival.

Mark Dornan caught a man taking photos of his five-year-old daughter and decided that that wasn't kosher. So he chased him, tackled him and, after getting him to the ground, found his Colt Commander .45 tucked into his shorts. According to Garden Grove police, the photos found on the officer's camera were not pornographic. Mr. Dornan, however, feels otherwise.

Look, I get it. He's worried about his kid. He's worried about child abductors, pedophiles, serial killers, the possibility that someone will take away or hurt his daughter. I commend him for being a protective dad. If I had children (and be glad that I don't) I'd murder anyone who so much as laid a hand on them.

But, dude, not everybody at a festival taking pictures of kids is a perv. Some of them are what we like to call "photographers". They're people who take pictures just because they like to take pictures. Some of them are even photography students. That's how photo classes go. They tell you, "Go out and take pictures. Festivals are a great place to do it." I wonder how many photo students in the crowd were watching this exchange and trying to hide their cameras.

Then there's the unidentified cop. You let a civilian drop you and get hold of your gun. 'Nuff said.

And, of course, we have the sensationalistic nature of news reporting. There's a quote by Mr. Dornan on the web page.
"It must have been a pedophile's dream," Dornan said of the festival.
Well, yeah. They tend to be. That's an unfortunate reality. You're just now figuring this out?

However, plastering this quote in large italics on the right side of the page, underneath a photo of some fresh, moist, tasty looking strawberries two photos down (and if that ain't Freudian, I don't know what is) and then using that quote to end the piece, seems a bit excessive.

I'm in no position to comment on the idea of responsible behavior or journalistic integrity. Not that I don't, I'm just in no position to. People die and I make jokes about it, for god's sake. But this sort of thing is up there with "Storm Watch 2007!!" whenever there's a slight drizzle in Los Angeles.

I think this whole thing can be summed up in the words of Garden Grove police Sgt. Jim Fischer. "Right now, this whole thing is getting blown way out of proportion."

Happy to do my part adding to the general hysteria, Sergeant. You're welcome.


Steven said...

Why didn't the cop just identify himself? If he's carrying a gun, he's no doubt carrying a badge, no?

There again, a cop who runs away...

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

When I was my oldest daughter's age (nine), my little brother and I rode our bikes all over town. We spent hours playing outside, mostly unsupervised. So did a lot of our friends. It was no big deal, as long as we stayed out of trouble and were home in time for dinner.

I've become an overprotective father. I don't allow my daughter to leave our block by herself. I don't even let her go to a friend's house unless I know something about the parents first (and then sometimes I say no because I DO know the parents).

When we go to fairs or the mall, I keep a close watch on both my kids. I'm constantly on the lookout for pervs. How the hell did I get this way? I keep saying it's because society has changed and become more dangerous. But is that really true? Does the fact that more incidents of child abuse, abduction, molestation, etc. are reported mean that they are occuring more often? I don't know.

It's funny. The other day I was reading Ace Atkins's novel WHITE SHADOW, which is set in the 1950s. There was a part where the narrator mentioned that this retired bootlegger used to give all the little kids on his block a silver dollar when he was out for a walk.

It made me think about the old men in my neighborhood who would give us kids pieces of watermelon or Bazooka gum or italian ices or a quarter. Or maybe we were playing in the park, and an old guy would come over and show us how to throw a knuckle ball...and he'd have to put his hand on yours to do it. Nobody thought anything of it thirty years ago.

Looking back, I'm positive there was nothing pervy about any of those men. But see an old man (or even a not-so-old man) try to do something like that today, and we'd pull our kids away and/or call the police.

Yes, the perverts are out there, but they aren't lurking behind every bush. That said, there is a convicted sex offender living on my block and another on the next street over...my daughter still doesn't leave the yard without me.