Grandparent Ethics: Too Drunk and Stupid To Be Unethical?

On the bright side, at least it wasn't a dog...

My parents were intelligent, caring, responsible people. But after they drove my 2-year-old son in their car while he sat on a small, fold-down jump-seat in the back without any seat belt, my wife and I never let them baby-sit him again. It was a generational blind-spot that could have gotten our child killed, and even though this was a source of tension and resentment between us for the rest of my parents’ lives, I didn’t think my wife and I had any other choice. I still feel guilty about it. Luckily, my mother always blamed my wife.

Then there is the case of grandparents Paul and Belinda Jean Berloni, who were arrested over the weekend when a sheriff’s deputy managed not to have a stroke as he watched them tow a plastic Hot Wheels toy car, resembling a Pontiac Solstice, with a 7-year old girl at the wheel behind their SUV. The car was attached to the back by a couple of dog leashes, and the SUV was clocked at between 5 and 10 miles per hour. The child, their granddaughter, was only wearing a swimsuit.

Granddad, the driver, was pretty clearly drunk as a skunk. When the officer asked for his driver’s license, he said that it had been revoked ten years ago for a DUI.  Grandma was also bombed, and had been leaning out the back hatch of the SUV cheering the girl on.  The arrest report says that Belinda Jean told the officer she knew “it was dangerous to drag a child behind the vehicle,” but that “they were just having fun and had been doing this all day.”

Appropriate charges followed.

I wonder if the Berlonis are Romney supporters?

This is a sterling example of the principle that a critical number of brain cells have to be present and functioning before we can even get to the question of ethics. Stupid and drunk make ethics irrelevant. Minimal powers of reason are  essential to engage in ethical analysis, and ethics alarms are likely to be disabled by sufficient consumption of alcoholic beverages. The real ethical breach, therefore, has to be laid at the feet of the parents, who could not possibly have watched these two drunken morons stumble through life without realizing that they were dumber than a box of Gingrich for President buttons and less fit to oversee the welfare of a child than Britney Spears.

The police reported that the child’s father, Justin Oetting, arrived at the scene and began shouting at his mother. “Are you fucking stupid?”  he asked Belinda-Jean. To that, the required reply would be, “Why yes, son…didn’t you know? You’re stupid too, after all!”

Or, if not stupid, wildly irresponsible.


Facts: The Smoking Gun

Graphic: The Smoking Gun

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at

5 thoughts on “Grandparent Ethics: Too Drunk and Stupid To Be Unethical?

  1. so I guess my father tying a rope to the back of his car and driving around the ice covered streets of our neighborhood why we sat in a metal dish sled and held on was wrong???

      • Oh I forgot all about the Romney dog thing! I’m ashamed. Those were easy dots to connect. I totally missed the temporal context. Your shot wasn’t as cheap as I first thought. Laughing now…remembering one of the National Lampoon Vacation movies (and shame on me again for laughing about a horrific, cruel death of a dog, even if it was only fictional).

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