Thursday, April 9, 2015

Is it better to be a Victim or Van Halen?

Sammy Hagar, incidentally, wants to be neither Victim nor Van Halen; 
he wants to be David Lee Roth. 

This story is a little old, here is a short recap:
  • In 2011-2012 a 14 year old male student at middle school in Texas develops feelings for his 28 year old female teacher.
  •  He informs her of these feelings, and she reciprocates.
  • They begin a physical relationship
  •  The parents discover it and get the teacher hauled off to jail.
  •  For bonus points, they told their son that he was wrong and they shamed him.
    • On National TV.
All of this happened and was covered by ABC 20/20.  I suggest you read the article and watch the video of the 20/20 piece.

20/20 claims the male student is now depressed and suicidal. If this is true, the fault lies entirely with The Parents.


The idea of the male student being hot and bothered for the female teacher has been around for quite some time in culture. Van Halen wrote a song about it. On the off chance that a male student is successful in having relations with his teacher, that would presumably be met with congratulations. “He did it! He fulfilled the fantasy. David Lee Roth is envious of his prowess!” or simply “Fuckin-A Dude!”

In fact, there are historical examples of a similar set up being outright encouraged. Politician Newt Gingrich was so successful at persuasion that he married his former High School Geometry teacher when he was 19. (She was 26)

But, unfortunately, in the age of narcissism, some parents will take this otherwise impressive behavior and instead condemn and shame it, as long as it generates an interview with 20/20 and allows them to talk about themselves.

To begin with, let’s all agree that the female teacher was wrong in both a legal and moral way. Morally, she took advantage of someone who was clearly immature and unable to handle/understand adult relationships. Legally of course, she committed statutory, so she’s wrong in that regard as well.   
I’m not debating her wrongness. She’s wrong. Let’s move past it.

Now the parents of this student want this relationship to end. This is logical. They presumably want what is best for their son. They’ve decided that having a relationship with people his age and immaturity level seems to be a preferable path to growing up.

So they want the relationship to end. They must now communicate this to their son. They have two ways of doing so.
  1. They could empathize with him, point out that he didn’t do anything wrong; they could even risk being labeled as misogynist and say “Good job son! Fuckin-A!” They could then reason with him as to why relationships with people his own age would be more beneficial to his long-term health and growth.
  2.  Or they could convince him he was a victim, that he was wrong for acting on his (perfectly natural) impulses. They could then shame him and tell him it’s his entire fault. In addition, they could then parade him around on national TV as a confused/damaged child without any sense of self/identity.
I assume you know which one they did. This is an actual quote from the 20/20 video.
“They [the parents] have repeatedly told their son he should have never crossed that line and that regardless of what that teacher told him, and wrote to him in those notes, none of it was right.”
In the long term, which do you think is healthier for this young man’s well being? Being told he’s a victim, or being told he’s totally normal? Moreover, in either case, is it healthy for him to go on national TV and talk about it?

I’m not asking whether he actually is a victim or not. I’m asking which it’s better to tell him he is.

The parents went for shaming him. Moreover, they did so because they are entirely self-absorbed and saw this incident not as an important (though difficult) event in their son’s life, but as an event that reflected on them, and could get them on TV.

If you doubt the parents outright narcissism check out these two quotes:

Supposedly the parents took their kid to a psych ward. And they made sure to talk about how that made them feel.
“Reporter: Alex, what's the hardest part for you? You're dropping off your kid at a psychiatric ward. And he's trying to kill himself and he believes his life is worthless. You feel so helpless. It's a feeling that no parent should go through.” 
The last time the teacher was arrested, when caught with the son, the parents showed up not to fetch their son, but to make sure the teacher saw them. It’s all about the parents after all.
“Reporter: Were you there? Yes. Reporter: When she came out of that house? Yes. Oh, yeah, we were there. I wanted to make sure she'd see us.”
No wonder the kid is depressed. His ‘parents’ don’t treat him as an individual, he’s just an extension of them. What does the tryst with the teacher say about them?
One could argue it says they’re bad parents because their son did a ‘bad’ thing. So, being narcissists, they have to go on TV to try to repair the image, despite the damage a TV appearance would do to their sons already fragile psyche.

So this poor young man, for the rest of his life, is now the victim, and that what he did was wrong. That is his identity now. His permanent personal brand. He can’t escape that, ever; because his name and image is now property of ABC and 20/20.

With a little bit of parental care and better decision-making he could have instead been a lucky guy who fulfilled a common teenage fantasy. Now he’s a weak suicidal victim dweeb.

But hey- at least the parents got to play parents on TV.  And really, isn't that what matters?

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