A Christmas KABOOM! Six Flags’ Sick Parody Of “Miracle On 34th Street”

HO HO KABOOM!

HO HO KABOOM!

Call it “Miraculous Stupidity On Six Flags’ Street.” I’m sure I could come up with something more clever if my brains weren’t splattered on the walls and ceiling.

Get this:

Jerry Henderson and his wife visit Six Flags Over Texas almost every weekend to walk the park for exercise. Jerry has white hair,a long white beard, and a little round belly that shakes when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly. Around this time of year, he wears a red vest and a Santa hat.

“This ain’t a costume,” says Henderson. “I go to Walmart like this. This is me,” he said. “I enjoy making kids smile.” He’s looked like Santa Claus for  almost 20 years . On this visit to the theme park, a woman asked him to pose for a picture with her children. “Knelt down, put my arms around them, and afterward I reached in my wife’s walker, pulled out two candy canes, handed it to them,” recalled Henderson. The kids were thrilled.

The Horror.

Jerry was then confronted by park security, who ordered him to leave the park.  “For what reason?  Jerry asked. The stupid answer was, “You look too much like Santa Claus.”

Six Flags released this statement on the matter:

“We apologize that Mr. Henderson was inconvenienced, but the safety of our guests is always our highest priority. We cannot knowingly allow individuals who are not approved by the park to interact with small children in this capacity. Mr Henderson was handing out candy to our younger guests and was dressed up as Santa which is in violation of our No Costume policy. When asked to change he refused and at that point was asked to leave.”

Henderson says he offered to take off his Santa hat and never hand out another candy cane, but was told that he had to shave off his beard too. Be still my rumbling head.  Henderson never approaches children, but will respond to requests  from their parents. “I do not approach kids. The parents come to me,” Jerry insists. Ah, but you can’t give kids a Christmas thrill without pre-certification, or something.

Ah, if only Jerry really was Santa Claus! That would make Six Flags feel awfully silly.

Or maybe he is….!

 

 

73 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Kaboom!, Popular Culture

73 responses to “A Christmas KABOOM! Six Flags’ Sick Parody Of “Miracle On 34th Street”

  1. Steve

    Horrible overreaction. What a bunch of assholes, I think they could have handled ethically, as in quash any of their Lawyer or insurance company concerns, by offering to check him out, background check or whatever and then treated him as a volunteer if he wanted to continued visiting the park like that.

    It is their property but the way they reacted shows they are stupid, such bad PR, these types of incidents are remembered for a long time.

  2. Wayne

    Sound like the statement fits in the category of “non-apology-apology”. Well, they just lost one potential customer.

  3. This is where over compensation for ethics incompleteness leads to bad results. All six flags needed to do was totally tolerate this guy, then some boundary pushing asshole could come in. The awhile later push some more boundaries until six flags has a lawsuit on their hands and reminds themselves why they have to be no tolerance overreactors.

  4. There is a weird panic about this sort of thing that permeates amusement parks. Once, when I was about fourteen, I said something friendly to a woman who had two children at a Six Flags. She herded them out of the room, and all but ran from me. It was the strangest thing.

  5. I hate to say it, but this story about Jerry Henderson is an allegory and a prophetic warning about all sorts of overreach by authoritarian governments. It’s fair warning about laws on climate control, birth control (yes, including abortion), gun control, immigration control, health care cost control, energy usage control, education control, housing control, nutrition control, election campaign finance control, and eventually, speech and “faith” control. “We apologize that [the public, this or that disfavored group] was inconvenienced, but the safety of our citizens is always our highest priority.” Yeah, right.

  6. Steve-O-in-NJ

    I can see both sides here. If you are going to dress in an attention-attracting way, it shouldn’t surprise you when you attract attention. If you are going to dress in a way that’s going to attract children in a place where there will be a lot of them, it shouldn’t surprise you when whoever owns or manages that place takes an interest. The park is private property, so Six Flags has great leeway in setting rules for how to dress and how to behave. If in fact they have costumed characters whose job it is to interact with kids, it’s their prerogative to say only their employees can do that. Some places where there are going to be costumed employees AND costumed visitors, like the various Renaissance events, hand out a specific badge to their employees, so that parents and others will know instantly who is who and who is safe. Parents get very funny about people interacting with their kids and places like this are also leery. All it takes is one horror story and they are out of business.

    That said, this was handled all wrong. The fact that the parents approached him and not the other way around should have been taken into account. Removing the hat and vest and not handing out candy were within the park’s authority to set, but it’s not within their power to tell someone to shave, because if they told a Hasidic Jew or observant Muslim to shave they’d be in a lot of trouble with a lot of organizations. For them to hide behind the safety of kids is disingenuous, they are worried about lawsuits. It’s ok to be concerned about risk management, but at least be up front about it.

    BTW, a certain amount of responsibility for kids’ safety falls on their parents, also. If you are worried about your kids interacting with someone, if something doesn’t feel right or look right, then by all means step in. In a crowded situation like this kind of park take them firmly by the hand when needed and don’t let them run ahead. And for heaven’s sake, if you know someone they think is some character is just a cosplayer, then tell them the truth, that it’s just some ordinary person dressed up in a costume enjoying the event, same as you, and we don’t talk to or bother strangers. I for one wouldn’t let my child accept candy from ANYONE who wasn’t official (the South Street Seaport official Santa was one of the ones who did give out candy, unfortunately the actor has since passed away).

    • Don’t dress like Santa or act like him (by handing out candy)? OK. It’s excessive, but OK. Don’t LOOK like Santa? Freedom of expression.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        Agreed, but necessary in this world of fear of pedophiles and ruinous lawsuits.

        • Whose fear? There are no more pedophiles around now than before. Who is more likely to be a pedophile, the man who draws attention to himself, or the quiet, unassuming, pervert?

          • Steve-O-in-NJ

            The general public’s. The people who pushed an attempt to pass a law here in NJ that would have criminalized photographing a child other than one’s own. The mom who kept tight hold of her nine-year-old daughter’s hand through the entire Eighth and I evening parade (a good hour and change) while sitting in the bleachers. The dad who erected a 10-foot high black fence around his front and back yard to keep his 2 kids hidden at all times from anyone without a drone camera. Who is more likely? You never know, and that’s what a lot of awareness groups are pushing. Is the guy playing superhero for the party just an aspiring actor, or is he waiting for the moment he can put his arm around your kid for photos? Is the new volunteer for whatever civic family volunteer group just a new guy in town, or is he scoping out the local kids? Is the guy with a professional-level camera in Central Park just shooting nature pictures, or is he spycamming kids (spycamming is all too easy now)? You never know, and, all too often you never know until it’s too late.

          • It’s a strange dichotomy, the more safe we are, the less safe we feel. I mean, kids have never been more safe not than in any time in history, death rates are down, injury rates are down, abuse rates are down (unless you count the entirety of the educational system). But there’s this manic fear that our kids are going to get hurt.

            More than that; “stranger danger” was one of the worst ideas to come out of the 80’s, if a kid is going to be abused, they are orders of magnitude more likely to be abused by someone they know, not some random pervert on the street. There’s still this stigma regarding men and children that borders (if not just simply is) bigotry.

            I was in the mall yesterday, and this maybe 6 year old girl had strapped herself in to one of those stupid coin animal rides, and was howling bloody murder at her mother to make the pony go. The mother had more packages in her arms than Santa, and was yelling at the kid to “come here now”. I walk over, pop the buckle, and lift the kid to the floor. I thought I was being a good person. Maybe I should have asked. Whatever. Does she thank me? No. She looks at me like she just caught me trying to axe murder her precious. Wrangle your own hell-spawn then, bitch.

            These irrational fears are making us stupid, and I don’t know what can be done about it.

            • “Maybe I should have asked. Whatever.”

              Uh. Yes. Or mention, “here let me help you”.

              I’d have given you a piece of my mind and possibly more if you gave no indication of your intent and I’m in a situation of encumbrance.

              • You can wrangle your own hellspawn too.

                • Whatever helps you sleep at night.

                  It’s very rare. But this time you are flat out wrong.

                  You don’t handle a stranger’s child if you haven’t made any indication of your intent giving the parent an opportunity to approve or deny your offer.*

                  Sorry. You’re wrong.

                  *Of course there are instances which override this, such as life or death scenarios. But the general rule applies here.

                  • The only way my intention to free the hellion from pony captivity would not be clear is if you’re of the mind frame that strangers are there to harm children. I’m sorry, but your fear has made you stupid on this.

                    • Whatever you need to tell yourself.

                      You’ve never been more wrong.

                    • Stunning retort. I think you’re wrong. Done.

                    • I’m not sure I could add much more to the argument.

                      My stance is based on simple manners and respect for other people, yours is based on assuming someone else in a stressful situation can read your mind when they have every reason to assume someone approaching their child ought to indicate their intentions since such action is effortless.

                      My stance is more rational.

                    • I’m sure you THINK that, I think it’s based in an irrational fear, and because enough people feel that irrational fear, it’s been socialised into acceptability. I’m SURE there’s a lot of people that agree with you, you’re still wrong.

                    • “I’m sure you THINK that, I think it’s based in an irrational fear, and because enough people feel that irrational fear, it’s been socialised into acceptability.”

                      Uh huh. And stats will probably show that extremely few children are injured by fires, but by your logic a parent ought not stop their kid from picking up burning rubbish because the stats say kids are really unlikely to be burned by fires…

                      The issue isn’t stats, the issue is what conduct *LOOKS LIKE* at the immediate time of the conduct BALANCED against *what can the individual do to indicate the conduct is ACTUALLY harmless and ACTUALLY helpful*.

                      In that equation, the burden is on you to say “can I help you” or “do you need help”.

                      Brutally easy on your part to assuage a fully natural instinct on behalf of a parent.

                      “I’m SURE there’s a lot of people that agree with you, you’re still wrong.”

                      Good thing I’m not making an argumentum ad populum error here for this attempted strawman to refute…

                    • “Uh huh. And stats will probably show that extremely few children are injured by fires, but by your logic a parent ought not stop their kid from picking up burning rubbish because the stats say kids are really unlikely to be burned by fires…”

                      You know, it’s funny, do you think that strangers are all as innately dangerous as fire? I mean… It IS more reasonable not to play with burning rubbish than to assume all the people around you are out to hurt you. You know that, right? And when is the last time you saw fire, not including your TV screen? When is the last time you saw a stranger?

                      The sheer ridiculousness of this comparison actually proves my point.

                    • Your incessant insistence for leaving out the entire detail where you failed to indicate your intent while grabbing a child does wonders for implying you know you’re sunk on this.

                      I didn’t compare potential danger of fires to strangers…I compared it to a stranger grabbing a kid without seeking any type of consent.

                    • I’m blown away. That has to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen you type.

                      You said:

                      “And stats will probably show that extremely few children are injured by fires, but by your logic a parent ought not stop their kid from picking up burning rubbish because the stats say kids are really unlikely to be burned by fires…”

                      And I said:

                      “do you think that strangers are all as innately dangerous as fire? I mean… It IS more reasonable not to play with burning rubbish than to assume all the people around you are out to hurt you. You know that, right? And when is the last time you saw fire, not including your TV screen? When is the last time you saw a stranger?”

                      My point being that th comparison was bad because playing with fire is always dangerous, because fire burns things (I can’t believe I have to explain this.), whereas strangers almost never are, but the reason abductions still happen more often than burning is because our contact with strangers is infinitely more frequent than our contact with fire. (which is actually the real math if you never have any contact with fire.)

                      To which you replied:

                      “I didn’t compare potential danger of fires to strangers…I compared it to a stranger grabbing a kid without seeking any type of consent.”

                      Which I’ll uncharitably translate to: I didn’t compare ALL strangers to fire, just the ones that offer assistance to children without asking their parent first.

                      And I hear your outrage already: That’s not the same thing, Jeff! From her perspective, a stranger touched her child without talking to her.

                      Yeah. I get that. Thanks. Now please, tell me what part of my sentence is invalidated by that reply?

                      You threw the golden rule at me, and I threw it back at you, because it was a stupid assertion. I’ll try. How about you look at it as a variation of the First Niggardly Principle:

                      “No one should be criticized or penalized</b< because someone takes racial, ethnic, religious or other offense at their conduct or speech due to the ignorance, bias or misunderstanding by the offended party.”

                    • Since you fail to see the subtleties of the comparison and only focus on the irrelevant weaknesses of the analogy (as all analogy have weaknesses), let me point out the key subtlety: parents KNOW fire is dangerous. They DON’T KNOW that a stranger grabbing their kid is or is not dangerous (however altruistic the stranger thinks they are), which is precisely why it the STRANGER is obligated to identify their intent and not the parent obligated to assume the best.

                      “No one should be criticized or penalized because someone takes racial, ethnic, religious or other offense at their conduct or speech due to the ignorance, bias or misunderstanding by the offended party.”

                      All well and good, except that the “misunderstanding” is entirely the fault of the offending party. A parent has every right to their *harmless* natural reaction of protection towards their children. If you are trying to apply the ignorance standard of the niggardly principle, then you are merely repeating your unstated “the parent should have read my mind” belief.

                      Your arguments fail. Golden rule is on you in this one. And no, it isn’t clouded by the fact that you actually were helping. You still *ought* to have indicated your intent in order to put the parent at ease or give them the opportunity to politely deny your offer to help.

                      But, by all means, spin some more. I understand how it is when pride is ruffled.

                    • Just so we’re clear: You have nothing new to add?

                    • I don’t think I need to. You’ve failed to make a single argument that doesn’t rely on the mother reading your mind… so sure. Nothing new.

                • Steve-O-in-NJ

                  Mmmm, yeah, best bet would have been to ask “Can I give you a hand?” or “Can I hold some of those packages while you retrieve your daughter?” If mom says “Thanks, but I’ll handle this,” or “It’s no trouble,” then you are off the hook.

                  • Sure that might be BETTER. But animosity towards someone who is obviously was doing you a favour borders on mania. This isn’t a hero/villain dichotomy, this is a good guy/hero dichotomy.

                    • It’s simple manners.

                      You’re obligated to indicate your intentions before handling a stranger’s children.

                    • Except in various caveats. You gave the example of mortal peril as an example. And no, I’m not saying that this was mortal peril, although the girl was certainly screaming like it was… But my point is that there’s a spectrum to this, and the default position of “strangers are out to get me” is social rot.

                    • I will mitigate this, if it assuages your angst any, that had you done such to my child and the immediate action was bringing my kid to me, I probably wouldn’t have glared like the lady in your episode, I may even thank you. But that’s moral luck.

                      You would have still been obligated to indicate your intent before taking action. You chose not to. That’s why I’m criticized your conduct.

                    • “chose” is so… accusatory. I saw someone that needed help, I helped them. God forbid. I might even hold a door open for a stroller without getting the moms consent. Probably counts as rape.

                    • No one is criticizing you for helping her. Diversion.

                      We’ve only noted you are obligated to indicate your intent before you handle a stranger’s child.

                      “I might even hold a door open for a stroller without getting the moms consent. Probably counts as rape.”

                      This drivel doesn’t warrant a response.

                    • No, the criticism is with the WAY I helped. I want you to wrap your head around this…. It doesn’t matter that it was obvious she needed help, it didn’t matter what my intention was, it didn’t matter that the help was effective; This. Was. Wrong.

                      You have to ask yourself: Why? “Manners”? What does that even mean? IS it rude to hold open a door without asking someone if they want the door held open? No? Interesting. How about throwing coins at a busker’s guitar case, or do you need to ask if they want the money first? Helping someone up when they trip? How about calling security to deal with a dog in a car that seems distressed? How about paying the next person in line’s bill at a drive through? The idea that freely given, obviously needed help is somehow tainted by a lack of verbalising an intent to help is ridiculous. It SHOULD be obvious.

                      “But this is about kids Jeff. You TOUCHED one. In front of her MOTHER!”

                      EXACTLY! Parents are disproportionately, manically afraid on behalf of their children, despite an ever reducing reason for them to feel that way. What SHOULD be obvious is somehow pathologised in the parents head because of this societal fear of other people. How reasonable do you think it is to fear someone approaching your child in the middle of a mall?

                    • “No, the criticism is with the WAY I helped.”

                      Yeah, and part of the way you helped was not indicating at all what your intentions were. It’s really simple.

                      “It doesn’t matter that it was obvious she needed help, it didn’t matter what my intention was, it didn’t matter that the help was effective; This. Was. Wrong.”

                      Do you want a medal for showing initiative and helping? Like I said, your altruism isn’t the issue, if it helps, you have a special place in my heart because you wanted to help and acted on it. To repeat myself, in what is increasingly a wasted effort, the criticism is levelled at your failure to gain consent before doing what you did. Consent by the way, which would have been effortless to seek on your part.

                      This little retort of yours was pure diversion.

                      “IS it rude to hold open a door without asking someone if they want the door held open? No? Interesting.”

                      Not that interesting. If you can’t see the substantive difference between this and the actual episode, I’m afraid you are hopelessly lost on this. But I know you, you’re smarter than using this as “same principle” argument. It isn’t.

                      “How about throwing coins at a busker’s guitar case, or do you need to ask if they want the money first?”

                      I know you also know this is EVEN more substantively different than your first stab in the dark.

                      “Helping someone up when they trip? How about calling security to deal with a dog in a car that seems distressed? How about paying the next person in line’s bill at a drive through? The idea that freely given, obviously needed help is somehow tainted by a lack of verbalising an intent to help is ridiculous. It SHOULD be obvious.”

                      Too bad none of your listed hypotheticals bear any resemblance to the grab-a-strangers-kid-on-the-phony-belief-they-can-read-your-mind episode except for the dog in car situation…which is closer in analogy to the emergency exception I already noted above.

                      “But this is about kids Jeff. You TOUCHED one. In front of her MOTHER!”

                      In your attempts to make the objection sound ludicrous you’ve conveniently left out that very item you are being criticized for…a oversight in simple manners and etiquette. It’s really amusing that of all the intelligent people on here, you being one of them, you of all people are chosing this hill to die on. You are miffed because a woman glared at you for grabbing her kid without indicating at all your intention…and it’s society’s fault because they don’t keep abreast of kidnapping and molester stats but have an incredibly natural tendency to not want their kids grabbed by strangers? By the by, the simple and effortless “Hey can I help you” or “Here, let me help” works wonders in easing the whole “this guy is a stranger grabbing my kid without my consent” issue…

                      Just stop. It’s embarrassing.

                      “EXACTLY! Parents are disproportionately, manically afraid on behalf of their children, despite an ever reducing reason for them to feel that way. What SHOULD be obvious is somehow pathologised in the parents head because of this societal fear of other people.”

                      I know right! Your expectations on society are enough for you disregard simple etiquette and manners because dammit everyone ought to be on board with the way you want to live. You’re now edging close to a Golden Rule violation if you aren’t already there.

                      You can call it an irrational fear based on crime statistics. Yet there is a natural impulse for a parent not to want strangers to grab their kids without their consent. Funny that. You can argue all you want about whether or not parents are irrational in the amount of *precautions* they apply to avoid having their kids even exposed to strangers or danger. But you are lumping in the very natural immediate concern of a stranger grabbing a child, however altruistically the stranger’s motivation, with all those precautions. But that’s an error. At that point it isn’t precautionary…it’s purely reactionary.

                      And you, the stranger, are obligated to seek reduction in the perfectly natural concern of the parent. Which the simple “Can I help you” does…

                      “How reasonable do you think it is to fear someone approaching your child in the middle of a mall?”

                      Goalpost moving much? Thought you grabbed her child in the middle of the mall…not just approached. Is there more to this story than you’re letting on?

                    • “Yeah, and part of the way you helped was not indicating at all what your intentions were. It’s really simple.”

                      Look, 60% of communication is non-verbal, 30% is tonal, and 10% is linguistic. Assuming that because I didn’t verbalise that I was going to help means that there was no *indication* that I was going to help is stupid.

                      “Do you want a medal for showing initiative and helping?”

                      I mean, if you’ll give me one, I won’t say no.

                      “Like I said, your altruism isn’t the issue, if it helps, you have a special place in my heart because you wanted to help and acted on it. To repeat myself, in what is increasingly a wasted effort, the criticism is levelled at your failure to gain consent before doing what you did. Consent by the way, which would have been effortless to seek on your part.”

                      Sure, and so would have been my continuing to walk. I assumed, and maybe this is because I have more faith in the general goodness of humanity than you and the hellion’s mother, that it would be amazingly obvious that the guy in the suit, unbuckling your screaming kid and putting her on the ground MIGHT be met with some kind of relief, or even gratitude instead of animosity, that I , a stranger, dared to help without asking.

                      Because, again, what you aren’t so subtly arguing against is a society polite enough to do the right thing without verbalising it. Perhaps, 20… 30 years from now, when this irrational fear of other people turns the next corner, we’ll all be required to carry paper contracts for people to sign. Yes, I think that’s ridiculous. I think your argument is too.

                      “This little retort of yours was pure diversion.”

                      *snort*

                      “Not that interesting. If you can’t see the substantive difference between this and the actual episode, I’m afraid you are hopelessly lost on this.”

                      Fear not, I’m actually a pretty smart fellow. And I would love for you to explain to me the ‘substantive difference’, because I actually think you’ll struggle a little in explaining it without referring to fear.

                      “But I know you, you’re smarter than using this as “same principle” argument. It isn’t.”

                      I think it’s closer than you think, and maybe that should make you think.

                      “Too bad none of your listed hypotheticals bear any resemblance to the grab-a-strangers-kid-on-the-phony-belief-they-can-read-your-mind episode except for the dog in car situation…which is closer in analogy to the emergency exception I already noted above.”

                      I think that catching someone when they fall, or helping them up after was actually the best example. You see someone trip, you help them up. Is this inappropriate? A situation that they can obviously deal with, but it’s equally obvious that your assistance would be kind. It even involves touching, which I think is your hang up here. Does this obvious act of kindness change when the person who fell is a minor? Why? And again, I think you’ll have a hard time putting that difference into words without referencing fear.

                      “In your attempts to make the objection sound ludicrous you’ve conveniently left out that very item you are being criticized for…a oversight in simple manners and etiquette.”

                      This is why we can’t have nice things, by the way. Good people doing good things in a good way (not the best way, granted) is treated with suspicion and fear, and that suspicion and fear is coddled by other suspicious and fearful people. This idea that a “breach of manners and etiquette” (which I’m still waiting on the objective rule book by the way, you missed my earlier point where I was inferring that these terms are subjective at best.) somehow makes an act of kindness wrong, I think, cannot possibly end in a good place.

                      “It’s really amusing that of all the intelligent people on here, you being one of them, you of all people are chosing this hill to die on.”

                      I’ll die on any hill I think I can defend, usually until someone explains with language outside of bumper stickers and ephemera why I’m wrong. Look at your posts: “Manners” “protocol” “you’re wrong””obligation” “drivel” “really simple”, ask yourself: “Have I ever actually articulated my point and explained WHY these things are, or am I falling back on my personal mores and expecting other people not only to know what they are, but agree with them?”

                      “You are miffed because a woman glared at you for grabbing her kid without indicating at all your intention…and it’s society’s fault because they don’t keep abreast of kidnapping and molester stats but have an incredibly natural tendency to not want their kids grabbed by strangers?”

                      Kind of, yeah. It could be uncharitably interpreted that you’re arguing that irrational fear is reasonable because people are ignorant and this is fine. I know you aren’t consciously arguing that, but I’m having a hard time seeing the material difference. If you wanted to say: “Hey tough break, some people aren’t rational, and you should expect this.” I’d take that, but I’m reading this like you’re saying I was wrong to do this, and I think that’s a bridge too far.

                      “I know right! Your expectations on society are enough for you disregard simple etiquette and manners because dammit everyone ought to be on board with the way you want to live.”

                      Etiquette and manners ARE expectations on society. They are subjective. Talking about them in this instance is misguided, and pretending they are objective and someone is wrong is self-serving. I thought the glare was rude, you think helping without consent was rude. Who’s right? Break out that rulebook, tex, show me where it says “thou must asketh mother dearest before saving mother dearest’s hellspawn for the pony of quarters.”

                      “You’re now edging close to a Golden Rule violation if you aren’t already there.”

                      Mind. Blown. I would a million times out of a million instances prefer someone attempt to help me without asking if I needed the help. And if someone took the effort to help me, even if that help was unnecessary or even unwanted, I’d like to think I’d have the grace to have some reaction other than to stare daggers at a good samaritan.

                      Or is the assertion if it were my kid, would I have been irrationally fearful? God I hope not. Probably won’t ever find out. I did raise my youngest sister though, and I got to tell you, as a single guardian, I lived day to day on the kindness of others, and I personally would never have been shitty enough to scowl at help.

                      “You can call it an irrational fear based on crime statistics.”

                      Sure can. I think that’s reasonable.

                      “Yet there is a natural impulse for a parent not to want strangers to grab their kids without their consent.”

                      There are a lot of natural impulses we overcome. If that natural impulse is detrimental, we overcome. “Nature” is a cheap excuse.

                      “Funny that. You can argue all you want about whether or not parents are irrational in the amount of *precautions* they apply to avoid having their kids even exposed to strangers or danger. But you are lumping in the very natural immediate concern of a stranger grabbing a child, however altruistically the stranger’s motivation, with all those precautions. But that’s an error. At that point it isn’t precautionary…it’s purely reactionary.”

                      Speaking of strawmen… Did I actually say any of that, or are you conversing with yourself? I’d be right there saying overprotective helicopter parents are an issue too, and also a product of fear.

                    • “60% of communication is non-verbal, 30% is tonal, and 10% is linguistic. Assuming that because I didn’t verbalise that I was going to help means that there was no *indication* that I was going to help is stupid.”

                      Would you care to guess what non-verbal message is sent by a stranger grabbing a child without consent of the parent…let alone a parent in the midst of apparently debilitating encumbrance?

                      And no, the non-verbal message isn’t “Hey, I’m here to help.”

                      Remarkably, the 10% extra effort of saying “Can I help” or “I’d like to help you” (which is literally the most effortless thing to do to assuage the worries (however irrationally you *feel* they are) of the parent?

                      “Sure, and so would have been my continuing to walk.”

                      Again with the diversions towards your actual act of helping. You aren’t criticized for that. Just the oversight of notifying a parent prior to grabbing their child, that, you as a stranger, would like to help.

                      “I assumed, and maybe this is because I have more faith in the general goodness of humanity than you and the hellion’s mother, that it would be amazingly obvious that the guy in the suit, unbuckling your screaming kid and putting her on the ground MIGHT be met with some kind of relief, or even gratitude instead of animosity, that I , a stranger, dared to help without asking.”

                      Saintly martyrdom now? You really aren’t putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.

                      “Perhaps, 20… 30 years from now, when this irrational fear of other people turns the next corner, we’ll all be required to carry paper contracts for people to sign. Yes, I think that’s ridiculous.”

                      And yet you keep reducing yourself to these ridiculous arguments…

                      Why is that?

                      I know why.

                      “Not that interesting. If you can’t see the substantive difference between this and the actual episode, I’m afraid you are hopelessly lost on this.”

                      “Fear not, I’m actually a pretty smart fellow. And I would love for you to explain to me the ‘substantive difference’, because I actually think you’ll struggle a little in explaining it without referring to fear.”

                      Erm…in one you are grabbing a door that has no bearing on either of you once you are through it. In the other one you are grabbing the child of the person… hell, even in the door situation I think a reasonable door opener would even say “Hi” or “Howdy” and a smile.

                      “Too bad none of your listed hypotheticals bear any resemblance to the grab-a-strangers-kid-on-the-phony-belief-they-can-read-your-mind episode except for the dog in car situation…which is closer in analogy to the emergency exception I already noted above.”
                      I think that catching someone when they fall, or helping them up after was actually the best example. You see someone trip, you help them up. Is this inappropriate? A situation that they can obviously deal with, but it’s equally obvious that your assistance would be kind. It even involves touching, which I think is your hang up here. Does this obvious act of kindness change when the person who fell is a minor? Why? And again, I think you’ll have a hard time putting that difference into words without referencing fear.”

                      As a clarification, the falling down one puts the helpee in a situation on the continuum closer to injury and pain, so certainly that is closer or in the exception zone. Congrats. That was settled easily.

                      I fear you’re gonna need to meditate further on this.

                      Oops referenced it…

                      “In your attempts to make the objection sound ludicrous you’ve conveniently left out that very item you are being criticized for…a oversight in simple manners and etiquette.”

                      “This is why we can’t have nice things, by the way. Good people doing good things in a good way (not the best way, granted) is treated with suspicion and fear, and that suspicion and fear is coddled by other suspicious and fearful people.”

                      This is record level hysteria. You taking the zero effort action to assuage a reasonably expected reaction from a parent seeing their child grabbed without consent in no way an opening for this slippery slope argument you are increasingly relying upon.

                      You know, consistently using these diversions and unjustifiable slippery slope arguments only convince me you know you made an error here but pride is the only block to resolving this.

                      “This idea that a “breach of manners and etiquette” somehow makes an act of kindness wrong, I think, cannot possibly end in a good place.”

                      Why the constant diversions to the helpful act itself? I really do need to send you a medal… no one has criticized your desire to help or your actual helping. All that’s being criticized is the fact you really expected this parent to read your mind and so you felt no obligation to assuage any possible worries this parent may have (and apparently did have).

                      It’s almost sounding like a rationalization at this point.

                      “(which I’m still waiting on the objective rule book by the way, you missed my earlier point where I was inferring that these terms are subjective at best.)

                      Nope. Didn’t miss it. You probably missed the response though where I called you out on using the kind of silly games you eagerly berate others for. And no, manners is a subset of ethics. They isn’t subjective, they are derived rationally.

                      Reading through the rest of your response is more of the same:

                      Diversion to the helpful act in isolation as though that’s what is being criticized: It isn’t

                      Pretend like someone is obligated to read your altruistic intent despite the sudden grabbing of their child: Already demonstrated how the ethical balance there obligates the stranger to mitigate the concerns

                      Constantly rewording the objection in a ludicrous form, while leaving out the essence of what is actually being criticized: Not gonna work

                      But I will address your sign off:

                      “Funny that. You can argue all you want about whether or not parents are irrational in the amount of *precautions* they apply to avoid having their kids even exposed to strangers or danger. But you are lumping in the very natural immediate concern of a stranger grabbing a child, however altruistically the stranger’s motivation, with all those precautions. But that’s an error. At that point it isn’t precautionary…it’s purely reactionary.”

                      Speaking of strawmen… Did I actually say any of that, or are you conversing with yourself? I’d be right there saying overprotective helicopter parents are an issue too, and also a product of fear.

                      Your opening post was literally that. A handful of paragraphs lamenting the insane lengths parents go to to keep their kids from ever being anywhere *near* strangers or dangers, followed by an anecdote about how you felt someone was engaging in just such an insane length.

                      Literally a perfect format of “Idea, Idea, Idea, Example Supporting Those Ideas”

                    • But I will address your sign off:

                      “Funny that. You can argue all you want about whether or not parents are irrational in the amount of *precautions* they apply to avoid having their kids even exposed to strangers or danger. But you are lumping in the very natural immediate concern of a stranger grabbing a child, however altruistically the stranger’s motivation, with all those precautions. But that’s an error. At that point it isn’t precautionary…it’s purely reactionary.”

                      “Speaking of strawmen… Did I actually say any of that, or are you conversing with yourself? I’d be right there saying overprotective helicopter parents are an issue too, and also a product of fear.”

                      Your opening post was literally that. A handful of paragraphs lamenting the insane lengths parents go to to keep their kids from ever being anywhere *near* strangers or dangers, followed by an anecdote about how you felt someone was engaging in just such an insane length.

                      Literally a perfect format of “Idea, Idea, Idea, Example Supporting Those Ideas”

            • Steve-O-in-NJ

              No good deed goes unpunished. That’s why I stay well away from kids not of my immediate family. And yup, let mom wrangle her own little pink hobgoblin. I myself don’t trust over-40 single men, of which I am one, ever since I had a post-concert drink with about 30 over 40, single Jackie Evancho fans, with lots of graying hair, lots of thickening middles, lots of pictures of a then-12yo singer…and not a wife or gf anywhere in evidence. I am guessing as many of them were fans of Jackie’s singing as they were of anything else, but there was a very creepy vibe.

              • I had to google Jackie Evancho, and now I feel old.

                • Steve-O-in-NJ

                  And Jackie isn’t the first kid singer to wow the gray brigade with a megawatt smile in a cute face and the umpteenth version of “O Mio Babbino Caro.” I saw all this nonsense happen with Charlotte Church 20 years ago, and felt the same creepy vibe from the fanbase then, a lot of whom were also over 40, single men. Of course then Charlotte tried to go pop and a lot of those same fans made fools of themselves trying to back that decision, when they were the very fans she wanted to (but was never quite able to) shed.

            • Spartan

              I was with you until you told your anecdote. You offer to help before you actually help. Children 101.

              • You guys live in a sad head space.

                • I know your feelings were hurt because you knew in your heart of hearts that you were being helpful.

                  But sorry, manners and protocol are manners and protocol.

                  • You know you’re wrong when you use words like “protocol” to describe something like this. Show me the manual, tex, that lays out in detail every social engagement we might have. Show me the objective roadmap to human interaction.

                    • Don’t play dummy games. Leave that to the knee jerks.

                      You know full well that “societal protocol” is manners.

                      So I was redundant. You know who else dives on minor terminology and spins out of control on it? Guys you berate furiously for doing so.

              • Steve-O-in-NJ

                With a few exceptions, including if the kid is bugging you. Someone’s 5yo daughter decided it would be fun to run laps around my food court table where I was having my lunch while out Christmas shopping a year or three ago. I figured she’d get bored and get going after a while. When she didn’t, I stood up, and boomed (I can fill a courtroom and then some) “Whoever’s daughter this is, come and collect her, before I call security!” Mom, who’d been busy chatting with her friend, came running, and hustled her daughter away, 3 shades of red.

      • But six flags has to over react in a litigious society- they have no reason to assume the guy’s explanation was factual.

        “I do not approach kids. The parents come to me,” innocent Jerry insists

        “I do not approach kids. The parents come to me,” lying pedophile insists

        • So we judge ordinary, honest people by the standards of pedophiles? A teeny bit of investigation and due process would have backed Jerry up. And how exactly does a pedophile operate in a theme park, unless a parent is negligent?

          • I completely think Santa Jerry is a totally acceptable facet of any community. Every community needs the eccentric harmless geezers that bringing joy to people.

            I just know that from six flags point of view in the equation between balancing “putting in the effort to figure out this guy is just a normal citizen providing extra value to the community” AND “assuming that, based on the odds of litigation in our sue-at-the-drop-of-a-hat society filled with enoigh people who WILL complain at the slightest perceived offense, so it’s better just to play it hyper safe”, their formula says “go overboard because in the end it’s less effort and less loss of employee time to go over board on one guy than it is to investigate EVERY single time in the future someone may complain about this behavior and similar behaviors”

            • This is just as much a condemnation of a hyper sensitive and litigious society that six flags operates in as it is a condemnation of six flags’ unnecessary overreaction.

          • Steve-O-in-NJ

            Parents judge everyone by one standard: am I ok with this for my kids? Businesses judge everyone by one standard: could this get me sued? Going by that, maybe Jerry is just a nice, social guy playing up his appearance to make others happy…and maybe he is a closeted pedo hiding in plain sight, enjoying the touch of kids and bopping his banana to the pictures later (if he keeps a copy). More touch than that would be hard to get in a theme park, but pictures are easy, all you need is a zoom camera and a vantage point.

  7. Spartan

    I had the opposite experience recently and it pissed me off a little. My kids take swimming classes at our local park authority pool, and last week, while we were signing in, one of the managers came out of the back office dressed as Santa. However, he was doing it as a gag for the other employees, not for the kids. (About 80%+ of the people there were children.) My kids went running up to him shouting, “Santa, Santa!” He did not acknowledge them or the other kids, didn’t even say hi, and just walked into one of the workout rooms.

    I thought my kids were going to cry. I had to tell them that Santa was busy right now, but not to worry, we would go see him tomorrow when he had time to talk to them.

    • That’s ethics quiz worthy! If you look like Santa, are you obligated to act like Santa? I’m going to do it.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        If you are cosplaying are you obligated not to break character? Is Santa a special case? Or is every person who goes to an event where dressing up is allowed or expected under the obligation to act the part while in public view? If a woman goes to a medieval event dressed as a well-known princess character is she obligated to accept hugs from all the little girls and answer inane questions as if she were real? If a man goes to a WWII event dressed up as a Flying Tiger or some other famous pilot is he obligated to know that unit’s history forward and back so he can answer questions like a pro?

        • I think context matters and purpose of the event matters.

          Dude at a swimming pool whose population is a reasonably predictable 80% children knows the venue is child-oriented. The purpose is entertainment oriented. He then ought to entertain the kids as though that were his original purpose EVEN if his ultimate goal is to prank some coworkers*.

          At a cosplay event? Which, though children may be present, isn’t a venue or context oriented for that purpose. In that equation, it’s up to the parents bringing their kids to decide what they are willing to expose their kids too. And if vision-shattering Santa is a possibility, then the parents need to decide based on their priorities.

          In short, I don’t think dressing as Santa *necessarily* obligates one to behave like Santa. I do think certain contexts will necessitate the obligation whether the impersonator wants to or not while other contexts do not obligate the impersonator.

          *such pranking better be out of sight of kids too, if the pranks may violate the kids’ vision of Santa like the jerk preacher did at the mall when he openly told kids that belief in Santa was wrong.

        • Slick Willy

          You guys are making me head hurt!

          Lookit, dressing as Santa is special case. Not fair, but there it is. Dressing as Santa and being rude to kids is not acceptable.

          Where is that Advil?

  8. I have a thought. Does Six Flags now have an obligation (legaly or ethically) to now do a “Santa check” of some sort for people entering or being in their park? Presuming they are banning someone for the reason that he looks like Santa, does that mean now that they should have to ban any other person who resembles Santa from any of their parks?

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