Child Beaters: Adrian Peterson's Four-Year-Old Obviously Had It Coming

[There are some fucked-up pics in here, FYI.]

Minnesota Vikings f'ball man Adrian Peterson did not play f'ball on Sunday because he was indicted for child abuse on Friday. The abuse charges were brought in Texas, a state that isn't exactly known for being unfriendly to corporal punishment, and resulted from a May 18 incident in which Peterson "disciplined" his 4-year-old son for pushing a sibling off a motorcycle videogame. In classic Old Fashioned Hypermasculine Parenting style, Peterson beat the boy with a small tree branch from which he had removed the leaves -- which he stuffed into the boy's mouth during the beating. The whipping left welts on the child's legs, ankles, back, buttocks, and scrotum.

After Peterson returned the child to his mother in Minnesota, she saw the injuries and contacted police in Texas. And on social media, people who care deeply about children (and would probably want prison for anyone who would assault a stranger's child) carefully explained that beating the living crap out of children is good for them because it keeps them out of trouble. Indeed, Peterson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, defended the beating as just like what Peterson grew up with:

Adrian is a loving father who used his judgment as a parent to discipline his son. He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in East Texas.

And look how well Peterson grew up -- he's an NFL star! Also, says Hardin, Peterson "never intended to harm his son and deeply regrets the unintentional injury." Whoops.

Just so we're all on the same blood-flecked page, here are photos of the boy's injuries, which look to our untrained eyes like evidence of something a bit more -- let's use the Pentagon's term -- kinetic than the average spanking:

That's a four-year old with scabbed over wounds. According to police reports, the 4-year-old was reluctant to talk to police about the incident because "Daddy Peterson might hit me in the face." His mother's statement to police said that the boy had told her "Daddy has a whooping room."

And here are a few expert opinions on the matter, from child-rearing experts on Twitter:

And there were also some Noted Professionals who weighed in, like comedian D.L. Hughley, who said on Facebook,

Adrian Peterson was indicted in TX for swatting his son with a switch! Who knew that was illegal, cuz my mama would b in jail!

That was followed by lots and lots of comments in a similar vein, with some genuinely fond reminiscences of beatings past, which had to have made the writers better people, otherwise what were they for? Also, kids today don't know what discipline means and that's why they're all getting in trouble. In between, there were a few people pointing out that this wasn't a spanking, this was a beating of a four-year-old, but there's oddly little discussion. Our favorite comment, which surely must fill in someone's bingo card somewhere, was a guy who figures it's all part of a white plot to destroy the black family:

Just expect everything that black folk do on a regular bases to become illegal at some point. They gotta fill those "for profit" prisons somehow.

Former Sportsball Man Charles Barkley also thought there wasn't anything wrong with LEAVING SCARS ON THE BODY OF A FOUR-YEAR-OLD, and we are resorting to all-caps because for chrissake we are talking about a preschooler. On CBS, Barkley calmly explained to sportscaster Jim Rome that that's just how it is in the South, and you can't judge:

Barkley: I don't know where he's from, I'm from the south, whooping, we do it all the time. Every black parent in the South is going to be in jail under those circumstances.

Rome: It doesn't matter where you're from, right is right and wrong is wrong.

Barkley: Nooo...I don't believe that. We spank kids in the South.

And maybe leave scars. That might be OK, too, said Barkley:

Rome: I don't want to tell anybody how to raise their kids and I don't really want anyone telling me how to raise mine, but let's make a distinction between child rearing and child abuse.

Barkley: That's very...

Rome: That's child abuse. There's no fine line here.

Barkley: I think there's a fine line. I've had many welts on my leg.

Rome: Welts like that?

Barkley: Oh yeah, I got beat with switches.

In fact, said Barkley, he doesn't even think we should say "beating" children. It's just "spanking" or "whooping."

Over at rightwing site PJ Tatler, Super Tea Partier Rick Moran (who is so colorblind that he worried that Michelle Obama would make the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education about race) carefully avoided suggesting that what he calls the "culture of whooping" is an artifact of race. No, he says, probably more about economic class and region, and while he doesn't think that Peterson's discipline was appropriate, he also can understand that's just what he grew up with. But Moran, to his credit, doesn't think that "discipline" is any excuse for child beating. His readers were, for the most part, not pleased, pointing out to him that corporal punishment -- including beatings -- is what made civilization the fine place it is:

  • Pretty much all human progress was accomplished while corporal punishment was an accepted form of discipline. Our lapse into degeneracy and the culture of feral humans began when corporal punishment as an accepted form of discipline ended; thank you Dr. Spock and modern mommies.
  • Anyone who thinks that a child can be reasoned with and taught about "greater good" and "social contract"...probably has other dangerous misconceptions. The way children learn is through their own experience, and nothing tells a child that something is wrong like a warning, a threat, and then following through with that threat as punishment. This man has helped his child, not harmed him. I wish more people spanked their children, so those children could grow up aware of their actions.Every work with prisoners? I have. They're not really bad people...they're just rotten children, big enough to inflict serious harm on others. They've never been paddled.
  • Let me get this straight: a man of color who is successful, disciplined and has risen to the peak of his profession and society was disciplined with a switch when he was a child. However, when this same man disciplines *his* child with a switch in today's society, he is arrested, shunned, humiliated and may end up in jail and/or fired. Today's society would rather he ignore the behavior of his child, which could very likely lead to said child running amok through a parking lot in Memphis stomping on some random "white dude".

That last one is some pretty impressive fortune-telling -- a black preschooler who pushes a sibling is almost certain to end up murdering whites. Really, it's just logic.

Then of course, there's the Second Worst Possible Reaction of all to the story: Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White, who you'd think would be too busy with actual f'ball to be worried too much about fantasy f'ball, tweeted Friday in response to Peterson's being sidelined: (deleted, of course, but captured for posterity by CBS sportswriter Will Brinson):

White later apologized, of course, saying that he understood "the strong feelings about this issue."

The Worst Possible Reaction? This nice lady who was photographed tailgating at the Vikings game Sunday, wearing an Adrian Peterson jersey and holding a switch:

Lady? You are making America worse.

And finally, a word to everyone who'll spend this week making excuses for Adrian Peterson: If you say that you got that kind of treatment as a child and it never did you any harm, the very fact that you're finding justifications for beating a four-year-old so hard that it leaves bloody welts suggests that it left you pretty damaged.

[Slate / PJ Tatler / Deadspin / Crooks & Liars]

Follow Doktor Zoom on Twitter. He never beat Kid Zoom, but the boy has somehow avoided a life of crime anyway.

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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