Case Study I:
In a perfect example of the “Awww!” Facter at work, Marc Daniels was hailed as a model dad after he jumped on stage and began dancing with his toddler daughter when stage fright paralyzed her during a ballet performance in Hamilton, Bermuda. The cute video went “viral.”
Let’s stay away from the inherent ethical problems of having two-year-olds perform on stage at all. Let’s also stipulate that the fact that the audience applauded is irrelevant; applause doesn’t validate misconduct. Those Broadway fools applauded Robert Di Niro for saying “Fuck Trump.”
Here’s the ethics point: cute or not, Daniels had no justification for hijacking the performance. The performance had a director. Adults were in charge of the situation. This was his solution: how does anyone know what the next parent who feels so empowered might do? Order the number re-started? Shout at his daughter? What if other parents were unhappy with their children’s demeanor on stage? What if they felt Daniels’ interference was upsetting and distracting their daughters? Daniels was an audience member, and the ethical limits on his performance were the same as on any audience member. Is this a ballet only exception, or should dads jump out of the stands to complete a Little League play when their kids drop the ball? There is no difference. Let me say it again: there is no difference.
Daniels’ daughter was 2. What’s the cut-off when such parental interference is inappropriate? 4? 8? 12? 36?
I see this as part of the “Think of the children!” disease, an unfortunate and unanticipated consequence of women having equal access to levers of power and the presumed legitimacy that goes along with it. Parenting, love, loyalty and compassion outranks everything now, even law, rules, and common sense, and men have been so intimidated about “man-splaining” and are so terrified of being called sexist that they are adopting this warped hierarchy that can only result in chaos if it becomes the norm.
Case Study II:
Mike Jones was racing in the NASCAR Late Model 100 at South Boston Speedway in Virginia when his car spun out of control, crashed, and burst into flames. His father, watching nearby among the spectators. immediately jumped onto the track, reached the wreck before track rescue crews, and pulled his son to safety.
“Dad of the Year!”, awwwwed the Sporting News.
Wrong. This was pure moral luck. By interfering with the rescue crews, Jones easily could have harmed his son. Indeed, Dean Jones was placed on probation for the rest of the season, though he will not be fined or suspended. Dad is his son’s track chief, but he wasn’t involved in the race when he decided to run on the track. He was just another spectator.
As with the Dancing Dad, Jones was playing a special Daddy card that doesn’t exist, but people cheering, sighing “Awww!” and praising irresponsible behavior reinforce the dangerous belief that that card is in the societal pack.
It is not, nor should it be.