Keith St. Onge and his wife are professional barefoot water skiers and co-owners of the World Barefoot Center in Winter Haven, Florida. Last week, they had their six-month old daughter Zyla strap on little tiny skis and finally attempt what her parents had spent weeks training her for–water-skiing. She did it, too, for 686 feet across Lake Silver. The proud parents filmed her feat and posted the video on YouTube (of course).
The Washington Post notes that many are criticizing the St. Onges for the stunt, claiming child endangerment. Papa St. Onge defended the unusual pre-toddler (the girl can’t walk yet) activity, saying, “People don’t realize that it was done properly. It was planned and she was ready for it.”
Your strange Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…
Is this ethical parenting?
I was considering leaving this alone until everyone had waved in, but I feel a rant coming on.
Are you kidding me?
This is using a baby as a prop while simultaneously putting her at risk, just for some cheap publicity. You know what the difference is between a waterskiing squirrel..
…and Zyla? NOTHING, except the squirrel probably understands what is happening more, and is at less risk. What does the father mean, “it was planned” and “she was ready”? How do they know how ready she was? No baby has ever done this before. She can’t consent to it; she can’t even say “waterski” or “GET ME THE HELL OFF OF THESE THINGS!!!” If it’s OK to use a baby for this, what isn’t it OK to use a baby for? Setting the record for the youngest solo ski diver? The cutest human cannon ball? The tiniest jockey?
Ethics Alarms has previously visited the sick American practice of parents jeopardizing their children’s health and welfare for their own selfish needs or vicarious passions. There was Abby Sunderland…but she was 16. There were the sailing Kaufmans, who endangered an infant and a toddler, but at least they didn’t have the children steering the boat. Paul Romero sent his son Jordan, then 13, out to be the youngest to climb Mount Everest. Babar Suleman wanted his 17-year-old son, Haris Suleman, to be the youngest pilot to fly around the world in a single-engine aircraft. The boy was prepared too, and he just missed, becoming instead the youngest pilot to die trying to fly around the world. And, of course, there are my favorites, the Biking Vogels.
All of these, however, are likely to pale in comparison to what the St. Onges are capable of inflicting on their daughter, if this is what they think is responsible parenting of an infant.