UPDATE: Legal blog Above the Law has a very good article on this abuse scandal. They note several important things: 1) the family appeared to be held captive to emotional abuse and the parents are no longer together, 2) the judge in question appears to be an elected family law judge -- WTF! They also print several statements from the daughter and mother in question, including this note that came along with the video:
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO CONTENT
2004: Aransas County Court-At-Law Judge William Adams took a belt to his own teenage daughter as punishment for using the internet to acquire music and games that were unavailable for legal purchase at the time. She has had ataxic cerebral palsy from birth that led her to a passion for technology, which was strictly forbidden by her father’s backwards views. The judge’s wife was emotionally abused herself and was severely manipulated into assisting the beating and should not be blamed for any content in this video. The judge’s wife has since left the marriage due to the abuse, which continues to this day, and has sincerely apologized and repented for her part and for allowing such a thing, long before this video was even revealed to exist. Judge William Adams is not fit to be anywhere near the law system if he can’t even exercise fit judgement as a parent himself. Do not allow this man to ever be re-elected again. His “judgement” is a giant farce. Signed, Hillary Adams, his daughter.Maryland Juice is on the road right now, and this is perhaps the only time I get to read USA Today (it is usually given away by major hotel chains). One article today really jumped out at me: Beating video sparks talks on discipline of children:
A video of a Texas judge punishing his daughter has led to investigations of the belt-wielding father and also launched a national conversation about discipline and spanking.
The graphic video of Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams hitting his then-16-year-old daughter for seven minutes as discipline for her use of an illegal computer file-sharing program has been viewed on YouTube more than 2.4 million times. Hillary Adams, now 23, posted the 2004 video.
There are several truly amazing elements to this shocking story:
First, the extended abuse proves this idiot to be a true sadist, and it really make me wonder how common this sort of thing is. Second, the fact that his daughter knew this beating would happen and planned to tape it makes me wonder how frequent this abuse was and why his daughter felt the need to insure herself by making this tape.
No matter what this young woman did, I find this behavior beyond the pale. It may be especially shocking to me, because I'm not sure I've ever truly "laid a hand" on another human being (if you exclude playground wrestling from elementary school). That's something I'm quite comfortable with. In the meantime, how many children are out there "waiting for Superman" to save them from this kind of existence?
The Internet continues to change this world, and this is just another way. The USA Today article concluded with this thought:
"Many people would be surprised at how many teenagers are spanked and whipped. It's more frequent for younger children, but it's not by any means rare for teenagers," says David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire....The logic for corporal punishment is about as justifiable as the MoCo curfew proposal, and I think we should stop giving it a fancy name. I prefer to just call it "using violence to express yourself." Abuse victims: you have a new tool (YouTube the violence and send it into the iCloud).
Finkelhor says digital media can protect kids: "I think thousands if not millions of parents are going to be put on notice that their brutal treatment of their kids could end them up in the public eye."
P.S. Episodes like this also remind me just how human "parents" can be and whether we do a disservice to society by encouraging 100%-blind parental obedience (which I'm sure many parents seek). Perhaps we also need to teach children to actually live by the values we preach -- even if their parents do not. After all, 20% of America still thinks Barack Obama is a Muslim terrorist, born outside of the United States. If I wouldn't want those people raising my children, why would I want society telling people to be 100% obedient to their parents? Sometimes a healthy dose of skepticism, and maybe even whistleblowing, is good for the soul.
Heck, I'm Asian American, so culturally I've had to fight Asian notions of the role of family my whole life. That may be why I see the Tiger Mother's call for more submission to authority and convention as a real threat to the evolution of Asian Americans in America.