In a horrifying incident last week, a man was arrested at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota for allegedly grabbing a random 5-year-old boy named Landen and throwing him off the second-floor railing, leading the child to suffer life-threatening injuries. Like many others, I asked myself what would prompt a person to do such a horrible thing to an innocent child?
The man accused of the crime told investigators he was “looking for someone to kill” because he was frustrated with women. It was not the mother, however, that the hateful man picked up and threw, but her small and defenseless child.
‘I Hate Children’
Not too long ago I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I noticed that one of my friends had posted a March 2017 article with the provocative title Study Finds People Are Morally Outraged by Those Who Decide Not to Have Kids.
The article’s author interviewed the lead researcher of the study, Leslie Ashburn-Nardo, who found in her poll of 197 undergraduates that they not only believed that the childless were “significantly less psychologically fulfilled than targets with two children,” but also expressed “significantly greater moral outrage” toward them.
In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.
— (((Dan Hodges))) (@DPJHodges) June 19, 2015
At the time, I agreed with Ashburn-Nardo’s conclusion that this bias against the intentionally child-free, if indeed it exists on a wide-scale, is “something we should work to change.” But then I did something that we all know never to do. I read the comments.
As I passed through the different levels of snark and humor, I finally came to the earnest remark of one woman who plainly stated in her response, “I hate children. There I said it.”
Even though Facebook is often the place where people go to destroy arguments, not a single subsequent commenter challenged this woman’s declaration of child hatred, and many even liked her comment.
Imagine what would have happened if instead the woman had said, “I hate old people.” I assure you that she would have been dragged for days. What if she had written, “I hate men”? All the mansplainers would have come out of the woodwork with their “well, actuallys” and doxxing. What if she had opined, “I hate queers” or “I hate blacks” or “I hate Jews”? Careers have been destroyed for far less direct public declarations of such hate. And if a man were to declare publicly, “I hate women,” the incident at the Mall of America shows that we all should immediately call the police.
Role of Media
This woman’s comment went unchallenged likely because in recent years various media outlets have been publishing articles suggesting that it is okay to publicly express hatred for children, replete with a bulleted list of justifications meant to make this completely indefensible position seem just as understandable as disliking broccoli.
It is hard to imagine, for example, an article justifying, and even seemingly promoting, “positive contempt” for essentially any other group of people being published in Salon magazine, where one woman unabashedly wrote back in 2015, “I basely, emphatically, viscerally hate children.”
One imagines that if some of the less vicious defenders of child hatred were to be asked why they find the littlest humans on earth so reprehensible, they might respond with the more mundane but stereotypical justifications of, “They’re noisy!” “They’re not interesting!” “They’re gross!”
These are curious and nonsensical perspectives for anyone to offer though, given the fact that being a “noisy,” “uninteresting,” and “gross” child is the only thing that every single person currently on the planet either is or has been at some point. The same cannot be said about virtually any other identity, even, or perhaps especially, in the case of becoming elderly.
omfg i HATE when kids scream in public… u have no real problems. it should be me screaming. ME
— ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? (@seupo) May 17, 2015
It might be tempting to conclude that some of these people claiming to hate children are only joking, being ironic, or trying to be edgy. Maybe so. But it is still worth remembering that just as hate speech has been directly linked to violence against women, African Americans, Jews, and the LGBTQ community, viewing children as burdens to be disdained has all kinds of very unfunny and decidedly not cool consequences, ranging from verbal and physical child abuse to actual infanticide.
Perhaps, we all need to think twice, then, before we refrain from challenging those who would confuse the totally reasonable (and financially sound!) decision not to have children with publicly arguing for the right to hate them.
Children like Landen remain the most vulnerable and innocent members of society, and the fact that people publicly express hatred for them with practical immunity from real consequences may just be our world’s clearest example of the banality of evil.
In the words of poet Maya Angelou, “Each child belongs to all of us and they will bring us a tomorrow in direct relation to the responsibility we have shown to them.”Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Globe Post.