Really? Ya think?

Rob Tisinai

December 8th, 2011

This video is pretty controversial, even in the gay community.  I don’t like it.  I expected to like it — I’ve been mocking Michele Bachmann for a long time — but I don’t.

First, I’m not a big fan of using kids as political props. I’ve ridiculed our opponents for doing it. Was this video his idea? I don’t know but I doubt it. Is he just being pushed into camera to parrot what his mother told him? That feels more likely. I have no confidence this kid understands what he’s saying.

Gives me the creeps.

It’s bad for another reason, though:

I like Michele Bachmann in this video!

I didn’t even think that was possible. But for these few seconds, I see a side of her I’ve never witnessed. She’s charming with the boy, kind and gentle. She’s helpful when he’s shy. And when the shock hits, she directs her reaction to the mother, not to him. She casts a frozen glance at Mom, then smiles at the boy and quietly tells him, “Ba bye.”

The videographer’s intent may have been to cut through Bachann’s political facade and expose a monster within, but this video does just the opposite.  I still can’t stand the woman, but this snippet humanizes her. In fact, if you framed it just right and gave it a good spin, the video could be an ad for our opponents.

What do you all think?

Everything I’ve said so far is subjective. I don’t know the boy, don’t know the Mom, don’t know how this whole thing came to be. Did anyone have the same reaction? The opposite?  Did anybody see their reaction shift with multiple viewings?

I’d like to know.

Timothy Kincaid

December 8th, 2011

I’m totally with you on this Rob. I thought pretty much the same.


December 8th, 2011

I agree too, Rob, but the thing I really hate the most about this video is how the religious right is using it to paint LGBT people and same sex couples raising kids as evil activists who will use their own kids to “advance an agenda.” As mad as I am for the dumb decision of the mother, I’m rather disgusted with the right’s reaction to it.


December 8th, 2011

I agree with your reaction — and would add that I find it extremely difficult to believe that the comment was spontaneous on the kid’s part.

Priya Lynn

December 8th, 2011

I see it somewhat differently. I think its highly likely that someone explained to the child that people like Bachman think his mother is a bad person and needs to be fixed because she’s a lesbian. I think its likely that the child expressed to his mother a desire to tell such people they’re wrong but that the mother encouraged him to go through with it in this specific circumstance.

I don’t think this makes Bachman look good or that it humanizes her. I think it justifiably makes her look like someone with a prejudice she can’t defend.

Ray Harwick

December 8th, 2011

“I like Michele Bachmann in this video!”

I had that *exact* reaction, Rob. She was *stunned* that this kid has been used in that way. Me too!!!! I spend ALLLLL day on JMG arguing with some knuckleheads over this video and finally got through to them only after I wrote my own family’s history of what happens to gay-headed families when you DON’T inject you kid into an adult fight. We had a *miserable* experience beginning when my daughter was the same age as this little boy. But it was under far different circumstances. It began when my daughter outed us. She was at school and the teacher had the kids making Valentines for the parents. My daughter’s had a big heart with an arrow though it and on that she wrote, “Dad Loves Ted.” (I still have the valentine even while my daughter is 34 years old, married and a mommy). Our lives were **never** the same after that. And because of that experience, I just thought it was INSANE, even if the boy allegedly wanted to speak up for his mother (which I absolutely DON’T believe he did of his own accord). Now, he’s been identified and the homophobes will come out of the woodwork: peers, teachers, other parents. They will converge on him and use him as a target to punish his parents. THAT is why it’s wrong to put your kid up to fighting your social agenda. I don’t know if it’s avoidable for your kid to escape elements of harrassment but there’s not logic in the world that permits you to inject them into that realm when the are innocent kids whose security is intertwined with their love of their parents.

Priya Lynn

December 8th, 2011

I agree that his mother almost certainly provided some degree of encouragement but I think its also almost certainly the case that the child expressed some interest in making such a statement to anti-gays in general, if not Bachman in particular.

I don’t find it remotely believable that the child was solely a pawn in this and it was entirely his mother’s idea.


December 8th, 2011

The assumption that the kid is being used – buys into Republican/anti-gay propaganda.

It buys into the notion that young children cannot recognize right and wrong.

Those who interpret this – without evidence as – the kid is being used – have swallowed the Republican spin.

Subversive Librarian

December 8th, 2011

I agree 100%. It’s one thing for a little kid to say what s/he really thinks. But the fact that he needed so much coaxing was disturbing, and that was multiplied by the fact that it was filmed. It looks suspiciously like a set-up. I hope our arguments for equality are strong enough that we don’t need to resort to gimmicks. Kudos to the little boy, by the way. He was a very good sport and he probably did mean what he said.

Priya Lynn

December 8th, 2011

I think this video is worth listening to, unfortunately I can’t listen to it because it only plays in the U.S.:

(scroll up to see video)


December 8th, 2011

What looks like coaxing is him being a bit shy when it comes to actually doing it. Perfectly understandable. According to the people who were there it was his idea. They were about to leave and he stopped his him and asked her if it was ok if he said something to her.

I think it’s completely silly how many people assume he was pressured into doing this. The kid is f*cking eight years old, even if he may look younger. He certainly thinks for himself, knows what’s happening around him and picks up other people’s attitudes towards his parents.

Filming it and putting it on YouTube is another thing entirely, but people should really give children some more credit

Jim Burroway

December 8th, 2011

I think it’s preposterous to think that wondering if this kid is being used as having “swallowed the Republican spin.” That’s just the rhetoric of someone wanting to shut down critical thinking.

The video gave me the willies, and as anyone who knows me, “Republican spin” is an abomination to me.

This is a fight among adults. I know people claim that it was all the kid’s idea, but still. Kids come up with all sorts of ideas to do something that they should probably not do. Especially with someone with a video camera just itching to film whatever happens and post it on YouTube. To me, that just amps the creep factor too far.

So yeah, I am extremely uncomforable with what I saw here. And so are others who wouldn’t touch “Republican spin” with a ten foot pole. If the mother had something to say to Bachmann, it was her place to say it. Not to let her child do an adult’s job.

Priya Lynn

December 8th, 2011

Jim, I was with you up until you said “Kids come up with all sorts of ideas to do something that they should probably not do.”.

I totally disagree that this was something a kid “should probably not do.”. If he wanted to do it he most certainly should have done it.

Timothy Kincaid

December 8th, 2011

Whether he was coached or spontaneous, encouraged or coaxed, a freedom champion or a pawn of a thoughtless mother, one question remains unanswered:

How, exactly, did this eight year old boy come to be at a Michele Bachmann event?

Priya Lynn

December 8th, 2011

Maybe his mother couldn’t find a babysitter. Everytime I hear some screaming kid at a restaurant where I’m trying to enjoy a meal I also wonder “How did this child come to be here?”.

Timothy Kincaid

December 8th, 2011

Sure. That’s it.

His mother is a big supporter of Bachmann and was there to be counted. And she brought her son because she couldn’t find a babysitter. But to her great surprise, the son was a rebel and actually didn’t support Bachmann. Who’d have thunk it?

And, when Mommy said, “go on, you can say it louder” it was because Mommy thought he was saying, “We love you and your right-wing theocratic politics, Michele.” It was a shocker to all when he said what he did.

Yep. That’s how it happened.

Or not.

Priya Lynn

December 8th, 2011

The videographer said it was the kid’s idea to do this. There is no evidence that that is not the case. You of course are welcome to believe they are bald faced liars and and the mother brought the child solely to put him up to this. I however am certain that this was at least partly the child’s idea. If people think the child shouldn’t have expressed his beliefs because some would think his mother used him as a tool I couldn’t disagree with them more.


December 8th, 2011

Ugh, plain and simple, the mom should not have used the son in such a manner.

Ray Harwick

December 8th, 2011


Injecting, or allowing your INFANT child to inject themselves into an adult issue is WRONG on so many levels. I’ll speak as an Early Childhood Education professional on the *proper* time to allow your child to explore. By *every* measure of development wisdom, this boy is an *infant* because of his developmental stage. I not only raised one of these little critters, I studied them and taught them for a decade. This boy’s entire security and sense of safety has everthing to do with PLEASING his parents, not acting as advocate for an adult issue. You are confusing the *idealize* outcome that lots of gays and lesbian hold for children with what children of this age can actually comprehend. Further, the very notion that this boy understand the intricately nuanced adult concept of sexual orientation or getting “fixed” is absurd for 99.99% of children this age. It’s simply NOT a part of their experience and capability at this age. He is *obviously* parroting his mother’s views not to nail Bachmann, but to please his mother. That’s what kids his age are ALL about. He is obviously intimidate about approaching a stranger and saying *anything* and guess what: that’s TYPICAL for children this age. The mistake a whole lot of people are making is that they are superimposing their hopes that the children of gays are as sophisticated as that young man we’ve seen recently who so ably spoke for marriage equality while his two mothers beamed in the background.

The average child of a gay-headed household is not like that young man. They aren’t as able, articulate, confident as he is. My own daughter, even at age 34, could not articulate the position of most equality issues even though her ENTIRE experience was in living with her two fathers. Kids of gays are not the geniuses we wish them to be. They are, rather, flesh and blood human beings whose primary motivation is to be loved and to return that love with loyalty. But the can’t begin to do advocacy until they can understand what it means and can defend their own position. Kids, like adults, have to choose their own fights. You don’t send a kid to do an adult’s job. That’s what’s WRONG with this picture. The kid is outmatched BEFORE he does it and his mothers is oblivious to that dilemma.

Priya Lynn

December 8th, 2011

I respect your opinion Ray, I just don’t believe a word of it. Your describing an eight year old as an infant to me illustrates how you’re trying to twist reality. I don’t for a second believe sexual orientation and some not approving of it is a difficult concept or that any eight year old would have the slightest trouble understanding it.

This child is affected directly by this issue, its not an issue that belong’s solely to adults, this child has every right to express his opinion on this topic and I strongly applaud him for doing so.

I agree that if this was entirely his mother’s idea and she put him up to it that that was wrong. There is however no evidence to support that and I don’t find that even slightly believable.

Ray Harwick

December 8th, 2011

Ha. Okay, Priya. You first. Go ahead and inject your kid into that mess. I’ll KNOW what they’ll reap. My kid got taunted, assaulted, and set up for ridicule by her TEACHERS and her school principal. Our home got shot at be her peers, our property vandalized, my job threatened. My daughter HATED school because of the treatment she got. She was MARGINALIZED by her peers. Other parents would NOT allow sleep-overs at our house and they didn’t want my kid playing on the same soccer team.

I wish sit and talk to my daughter for a couple of days and find out just how REAL life as the child of a gay couple can be a living hell even when parents fight like wildcats to prevent the abuse, humilation and marginalization. When my daugter finished the 10th grade we ALL had had enough. She never went back to public school and it was only THEN that she blossemed as a young girl.

Anyway, dismiss me at your own folly. You are advocating setting up kids for PAIN and you don’t even know it.


December 8th, 2011

Now it’s bad to teach your child to stand up for your family? It’s bad to teach your child to speak truth to power? We now like Michele Bachmann because her insanity and hate was laid bare by a child who left her stunned in his wake?

I have to assume you’re only publishing stuff like this for the hits. There cannot possibly be any other explanation.

No, it’s not bad to teach your child to stand up for his family. No, it’s not bad to teach your child to speak truth to power. No, we do not like Michele Bachmann because she was upstaged by someone with a greater intellect and a bigger heart than hers, who also happens to be a fraction of her age.

Seriously — is this opposite day?

And an eight year old is now an infant??? I don’t even know what to say to that. How is that not utter nonsense?

And if Dan Savage is against it, what more proof does anyone need to be for it? He was also for the invasion of Iraq and openly supported the genocide that was to follow. I’ll take the parenting advice of the mother of the child in this video before I take Dan Savage’s any day.

Priya Lynn

December 8th, 2011

Ray, I’m sorry you and your family were abused for your gayness. The fault lies with the abusers, not you, not your daughter, and not me.

Keep in mind, your experience was a long time ago and a lot has changed since then. If no one ever stands up for what is right out of fear of being punished we’ll never have what is right.

Rob Tisinai

December 8th, 2011

Bad to teach your child to stand up for your family? Didn’t say that.

Bad to teach your child to speak truth to power? Didn’t say that.

We now like Michele Bachmann? Didn’t say that either (unless you focus on sentence fragments and ignore everything in bold).

I’m starting to see a bunch of straw men march through a big pile of ad hominem.

Focus on what people are saying, and respect their personal experience.

There’s no sin in finding this video cringe-worthy. There’s no sin in finding it an inspiration.

(Lord, I sound pompous even to myself. But I’m serious.)

Ray Harwick

December 8th, 2011

Ha! Priya, just how do you account for the teen suicide rate if, as you say, “a lot has changed”. This happened to us in allegedly “liberal” California. You can read about some kid being taunted, harassed, set up for humiliation or ridicule practically on a daily basis just by tuning in on the gay blogs or Rachael Maddow. There is *no* diserable improvement that I can see. I suppose it at least can be said of my own family’s time that we were blissfully ignorant of the suicides going on since the internet only took hold in the mid 1990s. But my daughter was on the schedule to graduate in 1996. When the net came along it just confirmed to me that we weren’t the only ones who endured that sadistic treatment. And now, when I look at the details surrounding these terribly distressed teens pleading on “It Gets Better” for some support, reading about kids offing themselves because the hate going back to school because they are afraid, it’s like living the experience we had all over again. And, checking my calander, it’s 2011, not 1995 in which I’m reading this stuff. Practically every suicide I read about involved a gay kid has details that are indistinguishable from the experience my family had. Nope. Things aren’t different. In some cases, they’re WORSE now than what we went though.


December 8th, 2011

My initial reaction was that if Michele Bachmann can’t find the tact and diplomacy to respond with kindness and dignity to the child’s statement, then how the hell can we expect her to have the skills necessary to deal with adult/international nuances?

Sure, she was kind initially; I liked the “my ears were too far away.” But her knee-jerk withdrawal speaks volumes to me about how little she values anyone large or small who dare contradict her.

How I feel about the child approaching Ms. Bachmann? I don’t know. I don’t think I would want any child I cared for to have that close an encounter with someone who so clearly wishes me specific, intentional and irreparable harm and pretends to herself that said harm is actually “compassion.”

Priya Lynn

December 8th, 2011

Ray, you are justifiably angry and skeptical. I know things are still bad for many LGBTs but I also know many LGBTs think things are greatly improved over what they were in the ’80’s.

If I understand your concern, its that this child’s actions will out his parents and he’ll be harrassed at school. How do you know his parents aren’t already out? How do you know the children at this child’s school don’t already know he has lesbian parents?

I hear you advocating for gays to stay in the closet and understandably so. However many polls have shown that people who know gays are much more accepting of them than those who do not. Coming out, being out is making things better, that’s widely accepted as a good strategy for achieving equality. I understand that your gut reaction is that its a terrible idea and you may never change your mind, but understand that I see it differently.

Ray Harwick

December 8th, 2011


She was surprised. Look again at the video. She listen to what the boy said, lets go of him, and says “Bye bye” to him. That’s the level of “diplomacy and tact” one would expect an adult to use with a small child who had just been escorted up to for an ambush. Actually, it was the perfect thing to do. She didn’t yell him or make a fuss with his mothers, She just said bye and that’s certainly in keeping with how any adults would think to refrain from scaring a child by stepping back and being quiet.

Let’s imagine the opposite. Suppose one of the mothers was doing the book signing and someone brought a child up who said, “You’re a fag.” What’s your move? Scream at the kid and his parent? No. It would be all too obvious that the parent, not the kid, was responsible and if you truly had the child’s interest at heart, you wouldn’t make a scene in front of the kid by raking the parent over the coals.

So, there in living color, you see Michele Bachmann doing exactly the right thing. So lets go of the kid and say bye, then watches the family walk away. Surely she was as appauled as I am at what happened. But adults do have the capability to deferring to the best interests of children in their presence. Right?


December 8th, 2011

This video was apparently filmed by a close friend of the boy’s Mother. I gather they were at another event and saw the opportunity to confront Bachmann. There wasn’t a premeditated plan to push the boy into this. Anyway, I’ll let Jennifer, the videographer explain:

“I was standing in line with Elijah and his mom. His mom was going to say something to her, but she got nervous and told me she wanted to leave. We were about to step out of the line but Elijah cried out, “Nooo!” He grabbed onto her coat and pulled her back in the line, saying he wanted to talk to her.

When we got up to Michele, he got a little stage fright. His mom just didn’t want him to not say it because he was afraid, because she knew he would regret it if he didn’t. I used to do ballet as a child, and before performances, I’d want to no do it– my mom pushed me to perform. Afterwards, I’d run to her and tell her how happy I was. How is this any different? If we were shown a video of a child before a school play, or a recital, being pushed to perform and not give into stage fright, would we get the same reaction? My gut says no.”

So maybe his Mother should’ve prevented him from speaking to Bachmann. I can’t honestly say I think this was bad for the kid. It might, however, not have been the wisest move for the LGBT cause, but it seems it was a spur of the moment thing. I reckon we should cut the woman some slack.

Ray Harwick

December 8th, 2011

Not quite. What my experience taught me was that you ought to protect you kid from ridicule to the extent you can. When the attack begin you don’t know to what extent your child is able to handle them. I know of kids who had social skill to deal with taunting and have an outcome that actually put them in a good light and gain peer support. But that’s just ONE problem to deal with. We got the entire gamet of harsh reaction from peers, peers parents and from teachers and school administrator. It was everyone.

You can’t be closeted and present a model of honesty to you kid at the same time. We had to model affection for our daughter and that meant we hugged and kissed in front of her. WE wanted to define what “gay” was for her, before someone else botched it. So would couldn’t possbly be closeted with our daughter and have an honest discussion about the definition of gay. We understood that some level of backlash was inevitable, so our concern was that we did not want to hasten the day that backlash came.

So, our moment of truth arrived in an expression of our daughter’s love for us – she made us a valentine at school and until then, no one was the wiser about her. But she happened to have a religious homophobe as a 2nd grade teacher, a school principal who was worse, and these two regularly mocked and ridiculed my daughter’s dads to teachers and parents. We didn’t inject our daughter into that bigoty. The bigots injected US into it. So, that served as an object lesson to us. It told us to spare the child pain as long as you can. Don’t ever let it be said that you started that pain by injecting your own child into a cycle of abusive treatment. We are innocent of such a charge. But I just don’t think this boy’s mother can make such a claim. The potential for him to start getting abuse at school just got magnified a million fold when his mother:

1. escourted him into an adult’s battle
2. filmed it
3. stread the file all over the world.

That boy looks pretty timid and that’s how my daughter was at that age. For my daughter the backlash began immediately and it drew all of us into 8 years of a tooth and nail slugout in elementary, middle and high school; in our home; in out social lives. It impacted me at work and when I eventually became profoundly deaf in both ears, and we were having high school kids driving by shooting at our house, I couldn’t sleep at night and I was afraid someone who kill one of us and I’d never even hear the shot. It all served to make me understand that it’s insane inject your kid into the fight when the may have days, weeks, months or years before anyone catches on to the family situation who may want to hurt the child. The rule, then, is don’t hasten the day. It might not come at all, but you hand bigots a chance to start it immediately by putting your child in the front of the fight.


December 8th, 2011

It is more likely that the kid asked a number of questions after hearing his mother talking about this with another adult and came to the conclusion that his mother is perfect as she is: a conclusion that most kids his age in healthy homes would come to.

The mother might have said to him “Remember when you told me I don’t need to be fixed? Can you go over there and tell that nice lady the same thing?”

At his age, if he didn’t understand what he was saying, he most likely wouldn’t have repeated it verbatim. His hesitation simply appears to be normal, childhood shyness around strangers.


December 8th, 2011

I just wish our opponents were as critical of tactics on their side as we are on our side.

I also find it bizarre that NO ONE seems to notice, or at least no one seems to be pointing out, the unbelievable hypocrisy of conservatives and anti-gays who are suddenly apoplectic over a child being used as a footsoldier in the “culture wars”. Conservatives, fundamentalist and other homophobes have brazenly used children as their weapon of choice AGAINST gay people for decades. Look at all the NOM ads over the last few years that feature “terrified” and “confused” children talking about how they were force fed “homa-sek-shality” at school or sadly looking into the camera while reciting lines about not wanting to grow up with out a Mommie or Daddy.

NO ONE of these self-righteous assholes complaining about this “indoctrinated child activist” have EVER complained about the children put on the front lines on their side in their fight to destroy our community.

I’m not supporting what was done by this mom. It gave me the creeps too, but instead of jumping on the anti-gay talking point band wagon why don’t we call out some of the hypocrites (O’Reilly, Gallagher, etc…..)?

Just today NOM released a line of CHILDRENS’ clothing and accessories with anti-gay marriage slogans on them. Where is O’Reilly’s outrage? Where is ANY outrage on Fox “News”? And where are the people on our side who should be pointing this hypocrisy out?

Ray Harwick

December 8th, 2011

@RJS. Thank you. To my mind, regardless of the story the photographer told, that had to be what happened, or something of that nature. I was thinking:

Mom: There’s that bitch Bachmann. I like to knock her block off.

Boy: What?

Mom: She’s a mean person. You want to go tell her she’s a mean person?

Boy: Why is she mean?

Mom: She want to “fix” mommy. You could go tell her mommy doesn’t need to be fixed.

Boy: Fix you? I don’t know how to say that.

Mom: Just say, “My mommy is gay and she doesn’t need to be fixed.”

Boy: “Don’t fix mommy.”

Mom: No, say “My mommy is gay and she doesn’t need to be fixed.” Try saying that.

Boy: “My mommy is gay and she doesn’t need to be fixed.”

Mom: Can you remember that?

Boy: (nods)

Mom: Come on. Got tell her “My mommy is gay and doesn’t need to be fixed”

Boy: (speakng to Bachmann) My mommy is gay and she doesn’t need to be fixed.

Priya Lynn

December 8th, 2011

Ray, I never suggested you were closeted with your daughter and I never thought that you were. Once again, for all you know this mother is out with the people she knows and the child’s schoolmates were aware of his lesbian mother(s) long before this film was made.

Once again, unless you’re advocating that gays and lesbians remain in the closet I can’t appreciate your concern over this matter. You seem certain that an abusive outcome is going to occurr and given your past I don’t blame you, but regardless of that an abusive outcome is not a certainty and I think not even likely.

You can focus on what happened to you and what life was like for the LGBT kids that recently committed suicide and claim that is representative of what things are like for LGBTs today. By the same token I can focus on life for LGBTs like me who are ecstatic with our lives, who think things couldn’t be better and claim that is representative of what things are like for LGBTs today – neither of us would be right.

The same justification you use to condemn this event is applicable to any gay or lesbian parent being out of the closet. If people want to remain in the closet out of fear I understand and respect that but I certainly wouldn’t criticize anyone for being out of the closet or this child’s parents for allowing him to do what he did.

That’s all I’ve got to say.


December 8th, 2011

I agree with you, Rob. As for those who say that criticizing the exploitation of children being used as political props like this, was “Republican spin” that filmed this and uploaded it to YouTube for the whole world to see? I don’t think so. If I were the boy’s parent I might let him go up and speak with Bachmann or some other politician to express his viewpoint, not really sure since 8 is awfully young IMO, but I sure as hell wouldn’t have filmed it and put it online as a “gotcha” moment. The actions of the adult are what I find greatly offensive, not what the boy himself said (which I agreed with).


December 8th, 2011

Ray, your little invented dialogue makes the kid sound like he’s 4. He’s 8. I’m sure he could understand the exchange. I don’t know what was said between the mom and the boy before this was filmed. You don’t either. You shouldn’t pretend to.


December 8th, 2011

Rob my reaction was exactly the same the first time I saw this. I actually felt sorry for Bachmann because I think she was genuinely unsure what to do. Now, if she had said something comforting to the boy even if being neutral and ignoring the topic at hand that would have completely destroyed the boy’s mother’s attempt at embarrassing her. I also can’t stand Elisabeth Hasselbeck but agree with her assessment on the View that Bachmann could have handled this better.


December 9th, 2011

We’ve all seen all the anti-gay commercials we’ve seen, with child-actors feigning debilitating despair and confusion over the concept of two daddies or two mommies and have been appropriately grossed out. Or when NOM-ites always moan, “how will I explain this billboard/movie ad/tv show/political sex scandal/etc to my children?”
What the woman in the video is doing is the Helen Lovejoy “Won’t someone think of the children?” in reverse.
You *never* use your children as props, not ever. I won’t go so far as to say I liked Michelle Bachmann in this clip–that’s pretty much an impossibility– but I did feel a bit sorry for her.
We’re better than this. You can’t control what every American does, but the “gay” media should be collectively condemning this mom for making her kid do this.
And yes, it was her idea. Look how incredibly uncomfortable that boy is. And as others have pointed out, what other reason would those two have for being at a Bachmann rally, anyway?


December 9th, 2011

@Tampa Zeke, I think everyone is noticing the blatant hypocrisy. I just think we’re go expectant of it, we barely even notice it. Of course O’Relly, Gallagher, etc, will only acknowledge the “indoctrination of children” if it’s a viewpoint they disagree with. All the more reason for us to be better than them, and condemn this youtube clip.

Ray Harwick

December 9th, 2011

Priya, so was I “out with the people I knew”. And a safe guess is that this boy’s mother is “out with people she knows.”

Even though I’m available for you to ask, with you doing so you just specuated that I was “certain that the abuse is going to happen”. You needn’t be afraid or shy about asking me anything. I read you comments on this and other blogs practically every day. I had a great respect for your judgement. But please don’t assign motives to me that don’t exist.

I’m the opposite of what you say. I’m certain I DON’T know WHEN or IF abuse will happen. I’ve said precisely that in my comments already. Didn’t you read it?

1. And the NOT knowing WHEN or If it will happen along with
2. NOT KNOWING to what degree your child will be able to handle the situations the MAIN reason to NOT thrust them into the line of fire.

If *you* want to gamble on a positive outcome, go ahead. But if you’re going to thrush you child out there on a gamble, be prepared to be held responsible for their tears, injury and fear if you gamble wrong. No parent can guarantee their child is not going to suffer, but if you’re rolling the dice on your own kid and they DO get hurt, I guarantee you that you won’t be sitting around debating whether it is or isn’t appropriate for this or that hypothetical parent to make an advocate of this or that hypothetical child. No. You’ll have to deal with looking into the eyes of a crying child who is in that state because you pushed them to do your job. They did it. They got hurt. Now what? Are you proud they stood up for you because you couldn’t stand up for yourself? If you like the guilt of knowing that you put your child up to do a job that was over their head, and then your child gets hurt – MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Pat yourself on the back. But don’t expect me to share your view of child rearing. Kids get to many hurts under ordinary circumstance for a parent to lay a burden of advocacy on their shoulders as well.

Ray Harwick

December 9th, 2011


Of course I wrote that conversation that way *deliberately*. I *simplfied* the conversation so there would be no mistake about what could happen in a very basic exchange between them. If I had constructed a much more complex conversation, you’d be criticizing that one, too, because it didn’t fit your imagination of what happened. And, just as I said, I was imaginating what took place, not writing an eye-witness account. So I don’t understand you logic. If it’s not clear to you, writing a possible conversation between two people is a writer tool used for illustrating a point. Am I to dispense with that tool of writing for clarification? I’m not familiar with the logic that demands that such illustration is somehow too “whatever” to be used for clear communication. Thanks for your suggestion but I have no need of that hypothesis.


December 9th, 2011

I actually completely agree with the author here. It’s not about “teaching your kids to stand up for what’s right” – it’s about using their affection for you to stage a political stunt – and getting it all on camera. Of course our opponents misuse children in their attacks on us — how unfortunate that the net effect of that appears to be the popularization of children as shills for grown-ups engaging in conflicts with each other.

I have no problem whatsoever with parents discussing with their kids about age-appropriate issues, and with kids deciding on their own volition that they feel they have something to say to the powers that be.

Few things are as powerful as a kid speaking in their own voice about something they care passionately about, especially when they appear to have greater insight than the grown-ups in the room who seem more interested in the conflict than in the truths at issue.

But there are key words there.. “own voice”, “they care”, “age-appropriate”.

I’ve always dismissed Bachman’s role as a foster mother, especially because she seems to count the kids that stayed under her roof for less than 48 hours when she cites her experiences on the campaign trail.

I now seriously suspect, after witnessing this, that no matter how screwed up the woman is, how narrow her views, how closed her mind – she might honestly be great with kids in the larger sense, and might even be acting in good faith (and bad ideas).

Never fails to amaze me how people can get in their own way. Idiot parents putting their kids up to crap like this. Shame on them.

Ray Harwick

December 9th, 2011

Andrew, I’ve written about 10,000 words on this topic in the past two days think you eloquently express in your short comment all that I’ve said. I also think it’s graceful of to acknowledge Michele Bachmann’s potential to be a responsible mother to foster children, and that’s a tangent I have not addressed but would like to.

My husband’s niece who lives in Oregon made her living doing the very thing Michele Bachmann did: she cared for foster children in her own home and acted as their mother in times of tremendous stress to the young girls in her charge. While she filled an emotional need for these kids by allowing them to regard her a their mother, she was far more honest about it then Bachmann. She did her job very well, gave them love and established boundaries. But when they were ready to move on, my niece made no pretense that she was their real mother as Bachmann seems to do. So I must agree with you that Bachmann’s claim of motherhood to her foster children is pretense. There is a fine line she has taken in this regard. She exploits her charges for her political agenda. She does not go so far as to parade the out into the public to fulfill her politcal agenda and, I think you’ll agree, that is a praiseworthy decision on Bachmann’s part. Still, it’s a little overboard to give the impression that she was somehow the sole mother influence to those girls.

On an issue closer to the present topic, I think you illustrate well a fundamental concept that comes into play when rearing children when you speak of respecting a child’s decision to speak on their own volition. Adults learn over the course of a lifetime to pick arguments they are prepared to defend and we must always respect the right of a child to employ that same logic at an age-appropriate level. I’ve repeated that same idea here in conversations with other, and I’ve done so several time over the course of the past two days. I’m getting brushed aside for embracing that view and the reason seems to be more like gays are so hopeful for our generation of children being raised in gay-headed homes to become natural advocates who put a face on our success, they don’t consider that such hopes may be realized, but the have to come from within the child. It’s my contention that gay parents don’t raise advocate for the gay community. Rather, the raise kids to be loyal to a family that earns their loyalty. I believe that is what ALL families do and by doing so, your children will become your advocate out of respect for your love rather than for your poitical fights. Which is better: a child who stands up for your because they love you, or one who has no choice but to fight for you when you exploit their affection to get them to fight your battles? I choose the former approach because children are better prepared to choose the arguments they are prepared to engage than an adult who pushes them out front to be used as a shield in a conflict. We don’t haphazardly point at a big, muscled guy and tell our kid to go fight them and stand up for the family. They’ll lose. My own father did this with me when I was battling my way through school. He insisted that I slug it out with kids who were bigger and stronger. The result was that I got clobbered and I then couldn’t turn to my father and talk about it because he would simply shove me back into the fight and pile on the humiliation by calling me a sissy. I was lucky to have an older brother who would come to my aid in those days. And even luckier that my brother would not then go home and tell my dad that he had fough someone on my behalf. Probably the best thing that happended to me was 1) My parents divorced and my dad moved away, and 2) I simply outgrew every kid in school and was then able to defend myself. But when I was growing up I wasn’t a physical match for most of the boys who attacked me. When I finally was big, nobody wanted to fight me and that was just FINE with me because I hated fighting. If there is a lesson in this, it’s as I mentioned earlier – that kids need to determine for themselves which fights to engage.


December 9th, 2011

I really, really doubt that this kid A) came up with the exact phrasing of what he said on his own, B) took it upon himself to be where Michele Bachmann was, and C) had the idea himself to go up and say this to her. An eight-year-old kid might think to, say, write a letter to Michele Bachmann that says something to the effect of, “My mom is gay and she’s a good mom and I love her.” (I can believe the kid knows who MB is simply because she’s a public figure, his mom’s gay, and MB could easily be a topic of conversation around the house.) An eight-year-old kid is not going to tell his mom, “Bring a camera, I’m going to go up to Michele Bachmann and tell her you don’t need to be fixed, and I want it recorded for the world to see.”

I agree that Bachmann was nice to the kid and dealt with this well. I’ve never maintained that she’s a completely evil person – her opinions on GLBT people are bizarre, nonsensical, and hurtful, but very few people are entirely bad.

Reed Boyer

December 9th, 2011

Having been a bright, shy eight-year-old, I’ll give the boy credit for not being a mere tool.

Priya Lynn

December 9th, 2011

“Few things are as powerful as a kid speaking in their own voice about something they care passionately about, especially when they appear to have greater insight than the grown-ups in the room who seem more interested in the conflict than in the truths at issue.

But there are key words there.. “own voice”, “they care”, “age-appropriate”.”.

You haven’t established that this isn’t the child’s own voice, you’re merely speculating in contradiction to what the people who were there said – this was the child’s own idea.

“My mommy is attracted to women.” is no more age inapropriate than “Daddy loves mommy.”. Let’s not fall into the trap of accepting the bigoted talking points of the anti-gays. Being gay or lesbian isn’t something shameful that we have to worry about how old a child is before we talk about it in front of them.


December 9th, 2011

@ Ray, I quite clearly said I didn’t know what was said between the mom and the child. I’m imagining nothing.
Rather early in this thread, I already gave my opinion *if* in fact the mother coerced the child to say something, but I don’t know that she did. Perhaps he said, “Mom, I want to talk to her before we leave.” Then when it was time, he had stage fright, and she encouraged him to be brave. I don’t know. MAYBE that happened, but it’s looking like the woman pushed the child to do it, and maybe she didn’t ponder that she was using her kid to make a point, but the fact is, I already opined that she shouldn’t have. You can reject my point all you’d like, the fact remains that you don’t know exactly what happened prior to this video anymore than I do, but we’re all free to speculate, and have differing opinions, especially if we’re willing to adjust that opinion if we take into consideration the different circumstances that could have preceded the video footage.


December 9th, 2011

The posting of the video was probably not the wisest thing to do but most of the criticism being levelled at the Mother here is based on speculation and assumption. There is an account of the event from the person who took the footage. I’ve even posted the quote above.

Most of the comments that follow that quote seem to have given it no account and have chosen to confect a scenario so as to condemn the Mother. She’s perhaps not above criticism but what I’m seeing here is over the top.


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