Day Seven: God Help Me.

It was a quiet Friday afternoon in the local Caribou Coffee. I was working on the Santa website for the North Star Santas, and sipping something hot and caffeinated. The woman down the bench from me said, “When will men ever stop this?”

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I knew it couldn’t possibly be my behavior, and I suspected I’d have to listen to a rehash of the whole sordid Ray Rice escapade. I was wrong. It was worse.

Adrian Peterson has been indicted for child abuse. There is a picture at the site I just linked, and it’s not the worst one by a long shot. But it’s horrific.

At first I thought she’d said the boy was twelve years old. Not that that would make the abuse any more palatable, but I’m pretty sure my parents wanted to kill me a time or two when I was twelve. Looking back, I’m lucky to be alive – hormones kind of got the best of me. But this child is four years old. The age where they come and sit on Santa’s knee and are too shy to do anything but whisper in the old man’s ear about their hopes for the toy pile.

I ran across the pictures by accident. I didn’t go looking. I was too busy updating our background check policy and insurance page. And I almost laughed at the irony of the whole thing. Until she asked another question, “Why won’t men speak up about this stuff? I don’t understand it.”

My answer was to come later. “It’s because they stand to lose too much. Because they’re invested in the team. Because it would be … expensive.” At that moment I knew that I was either going to speak out about the incident or I was going to be a coward and say nothing. Since I pride myself on not being a coward, I guess I better say something. So, here we go:

I, Joseph Courtemanche, abhor and condemn the person who abused this little boy. I understand spanking, it’s the fear and shock factor that has the beneficial impact. But when you leave broken skin and marks behind, it’s abuse. Same goes for men who hit their women. Punks. Swine. Chickens. You might think it’s just fine, but the cold fury of punching your wife in an elevator and then dragging her out into the hall is unjustified.

Yes, there is mutual combat on occasion. I understand that fact. I don’t like it, but it does happen. And I condemn women who cheap shot their men from the blind side as well. It’s all bad.

Where does that leave me? As a guardian of children I’m going to make this my policy:

If you beat your woman, abuse your kids, or torment your dog you are not welcome to sit on my knee. You are not welcome to be in the picture with me. You are welcome to a pair of handcuffs and a trip to the booking desk. You are in line to take whatever punishment your employer has for your actions. You are not in line for the family photo. This is not a proper method to form discipline in your children, gain respect from your wife, or train your dog. It is torture.

So to my friends that are defending Mr. Peterson based on being fans of the team, racial identity, or any other misguided basis, I’d like to point out that I don’t give a rip what your skin color is when you beat a kid, woman, or a dog: you’re a loser.

In answer to Mari’s question earlier tonight of “When will men speak out on this issue?” the answer is today. And for the rest of my life.

Abuse is not going to happen on my watch. You are not welcome to be around me until you get help, serve your time, pay your penance. I will eventually forgive you when the Heavenly Father does. But until that time, I am setting my boundaries and you are outside the circle.

Santa Out.


Day Seven: God Help Me. — 2 Comments

  1. I’m proud of you for speaking up, Joe. I just heard about this last night from my husband. It’s a sad reality that children are abused, when they should be loved. I look at my four year old twin boys and I see the complete love and trust they have for me–I can’t imagine what a child feels when he looks at a parent who is abusing him. It’s terrible. Thank you for taking a stand.