This is a billboard that is displayed on a prominent roadway in my city and every time I look upon it I am forced to make vomit noises until it is several blocks behind me.
In this billboard, you can see someone -- a mom? a grandma? -- kneeling on the floor on what appears to be a grocery store. She's holding on to a little boy's upper arms and she appears to be bawling him out for some reason that's probably connected with the food items spilled on the floor beside the two of them.
The lettering on the sign reads: "Be Human. Be Humane. You can do something to prevent abuse of children and animals."
Now, there is a possibility that I am interpreting this billboard incorrectly. I am wrong sometimes. (I know! It surprises me, too!) But here's what I see: A little boy shopping with his mom in the grocery. Little boy is acting like a chimpanzee just brought in from the jungle because he knows his behavior is pressing mom's buttons, like, crazy-fast. PRESS! PRESS! PRESS! PRESS! He also knows that she may well offer a bribe, say, a toy from the toy aisle or some candy, perhaps, if he'll just stop it.
Mom continues along with her rotten little offspring, nerve endings twanging like the strings on a cheap banjo. Junior is stravaging along at a slow pace, running the tips of his fingers along a shelf full of pickles. Junior wonders just how hard he can run those fingers on the pickle jars without knocking one onto the floor and at a slight increased pressure from his hand, a jar goes plummeting onto the cement floor with a crash and a splash and then Mom just LOSES IT.
So you know what she does? She gets down on his level and grabs him by the arms to prevent him from taking flight and....SHE YELLS AT HIM. Because he's been acting like a brat and now there's going to have to be a clean-up in aisle four and she's put up with a LOT ever since they left the car but she's not putting up with any more, young man, and THERE WILL BE NO X-BOX TONIGHT OR FOR THE REST OF THIS WEEK.
Gosh, it's almost like I've done this before.
Yes, I have yelled at my kids. To be honest, I've never yelled at the in the grocery store, but that's only because my own mother taught me this really neat way of smiling a friendly little clenched-teeth grin while saying under the breath, "When we get home you are in so much trouble, oh, you just can't even believe the amount of trouble you're going to be in."
I've yelled at my kids at home, too. I mean, full-on banshee mode. I have sent them to their rooms, I have threatened them with impending doom, I have screamed that I am sick of their quarreling/loud music/forgetfulness when it comes to chore-doing and other things. I HAVE USED THEIR FULL NAMES. Countless times.
And get this: I've also yelled at my dogs. Just today, the UPS man came up to the porch and the dogs were acting like the Hillside Strangler accompanied by Marilyn Manson and Lawrence Taylor had just tried to tear down the front door. I told them to hush, then I snapped at them to be quiet and then I hollered at the top of my voice, "SHUT UP, YOU STUPID IDIOTS!"
So. Enroll me in a twelve step program or something. My name is Shelley and I am some kind of abuser who shouts at the naughty and the noisy who walk among us. At least I do at those who live under my roof.
What I don't understand is why yelling at someone is now considered abusive. I mean, I totally agree that we should all try to keep our tempers and be nicer and not call people morons, chuckleheads or horse stealers, but seriously. SERIOUSLY. Abusive? Really? Scolding someone in a raised voice is inhumane?
Because in my years as a teacher, I saw some abused children. And what they went through was so far beyond what's happening in the picture on that billboard, it really just offends me that the experiences are being given the same name. What's going on in that picture? That is NOT child abuse. True child abuse, whether emotional or physical, is so far beyond what's happening in the picture, it's like comparing above-the-knee leg amputation with clipping one's fingernails.
So! Once again, political correctness, which I perceive to be one of the scourges of post-modern America, has once again reared its ugly head to tell us that we are bad, bad people for YELLING. We should be open and inclusive and tolerant of any and all CRAP that society and/or young children care to dish out, or we're going to be branded as INHUMANE and ABUSIVE. And OH, HERE I AM YELLING IN WORD-FORM AND I SHOULD BE CARTED AWAY TO THE ZOO BECAUSE I AM NOT A HUMAN BEING ANY MORE.
I've got a billboard suggestion myself. I think there should be a billboard with this same picture, only the wording should be changed to read something like: Children. You can prevent grocery store meltdowns. Stop your whining. Quit fighting with your sister. And don't you dare even think about poking your finger through that plastic bag holding the dried lentils. Behave yourself like a civilized child and Mommy will not lose her temper with you.
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