Speaking as the mother of an almost-14 year old (Bonzo) who likes to “put the wrestling moves” on his 10-year-old sister (La Principessa), when I first heard about this last week, I found the whole thing to be so appalling that I could hardly even think about it without feeling sick. I considered it a “teachable moment”, of course, and made a B.F.D. out of drawing Bonzo’s attention to it. “See, this is what can happen. Put moves only on people your own size.”
However, now that the initial shock has worn off, and I’ve had a chance to read some more detailed news accounts, I can see several big trees in the forest.
First, this wouldn’t be the first time in the history of the world that an older boy beat a younger kid to death. I don’t think it’s fair to classify what happened as “wrestling moves”, even Smackdown-type wrestling moves. If you sit and watch Smackdown, there really isn’t a lot of just stomping and kicking. They do a lot of picking up and throwing around.
What Lionel did wasn’t wrestling–it was just plain stomping and kicking. I read in another article, in the Chicago Tribune I think, that someone pointed out that he only said, “Yeah, it was wrestling moves” after his attorney prompted him.
I don’t think it’s fair to blame professional wrestling, either. Bonzo watches Smackdown constantly, and I’ve seen him practice moves with his buddies in the back yard. Of course, he knows that at least once during the proceedings, Mom (or the Granddad of one of the other boys who lives next door) is going to put her head out the back door and remind him to be careful. (Granddad just bellows at them, “Cut it out!”) And I do see that the boys are actually rather formal about it. They don’t just scuffle and thrash around–they take turns, critique each other’s performance, and give advice. This is a far cry from what evidently went on in that mobile home.
So I don’t see anything intrinsically bad about WWF, any more than I see anything intrinsically bad about Mortal Kombat. Boys have always wrestled out in the back yard, and large dysfunctional boys have occasionally beaten smaller children to death.
Second, Lionel’s mother was described as “being asleep” in the mobile home while this was going on. I’m such a cynic–for “asleep” I have to hear either “passed out drunk” or “having taken a sleeping pill”. Unless they’ve got some kind of special soundproofing installed in that mobile home, I can’t comprehend how a child could be beaten to death at one end of the trailer and an adult, even a sleeping adult, at the other end not hear anything.
Speaking as someone who babysits another woman’s 10-year-old before and after school, I know that you don’t take a sleeping pill and lie down for a nap when you’re “on duty”.
Third, Lionel is described as weighing 170 pounds. Jeepers, that’s the size of the Better Half, who is not a small man. So this was a big hulking kid who beat a 6-year-old to death. I don’t see where any of that has anything to do with professional wrestling.
And fourth, I would say Lionel had a terrible lawyer. I guess he thought he’d be able to pull it off (“it was an accident, and besides it was all Vince McMahon’s fault!”), but he failed.
Ryan, I think boys who are properly supervised by adults can watch Smackdown without causing the death of younger children. I’d have to disagree with you, that it’s like watching a cooking show where the cook reaches into a pot of boiling water. Bonzo’s been watching wrestling since he was 10, and from the git-go he’s had Mom (and Dad) reminding him, “Now, you know this is all fake, it’s all scripted.” And we got some videos from the library that showed how professional wrestlers do it, and how they’re trained. He also was in a real wrestling club for a year (Greco-Roman collegiate stuff). Not to mention all the years of training he’s had at his mother’s knee on the subject of, “Just because you see it on TV doesn’t mean it’s true.”
So it’s like with anything else–as long as you’ve got parental input, I don’t see any problem with it. But if you just let kids watch whatever they want on TV, with no parental input, then of course you’re going to run into problems.
And speaking of Evil Cooking Shows, what about Jacques Pepin? Have you ever SEEN how much butter he puts in stuff? Now THERE’S a need for parental input–“listen, my children, just because Jacques Pepin puts a stick of butter in his chicken gravy doesn’t mean it’s a good idea…”