Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Hole In the Moral Ozone: Can You find It?

There’s a hole in the moral ozone, and if we don’t work hard to repair it, we will sentence ourselves and our children to a future filled with scandal, instability, and downright stupidity. A couple of recent stories in the news have shown me how bad we, as a country who is a "model" to other nations, doesn't really have a clue when it comes to parenting. Here's one fine example from the wonderful city just up the 14-Freeway called Palmdale, California. A mother of eight was arrested on suspicion of driving her teenage son's friends to shoot up a reputed rival gang member's house. Now that's a fine example of a "responsible parent" on.

The shooting, captured on videotape by a neighborhood resident who was suspicious about a car that drove up with its lights off, was in retaliation for an earlier shooting. Michelle Wright, 37, of Palmdale was arrested on suspicion of shooting at an inhabited dwelling and was being held in lieu of $250,000 bail at the Palmdale Sheriff's Station. No one was injured in the 1:20 a.m. Monday shooting, which broke a bedroom window at a house in which a teenage girl was looking out a window when a car pulled up outside. Then, a teenage boy got out and fired a sawed-off shotgun at the window. The teenager got back into the car, which was driven away by the mother. When sheriff's deputies surrounded the home Tuesday night, about six people ran out to the back yard. Three teens ages 15 to 17 were arrested, including Wright's son and the alleged gunman. When Wright arrived at the house and learned her son had been arrested, she became irate and accused detectives of harassing her children. She told detectives her son was the victim and members of a rival gang had shot at her family and one also pulled a gun on them at a Park in east Palmdale. She told police she was "sick and tired of the Sheriff's Department not helping, so she decided she was going to do something about it herself."

So what? You're tired that the police can't stop gang violence. But then you set a good example for your kids by taking them out and allowing them to do a driveby? Oh yeah, the genetic cesspool is churning now. Now here's another good story from the LA police files. Once again, this responsible parent is teaching her kids some important lessons in life.

A 42-year-old mother has been arrested for chauffeuring a tagging crew of juveniles around the Silver Lake area as they repeatedly vandalized private and public property. Two of the taggers were her sons. On August 22, Victoria Villicano and five others were arrested for vandalism. When police arrived, they saw fresh spray paint on a wall, bearing the letters "HIV" in black. As officers were conducting the investigation, they received an additional report of spray painting suspects near Sunset Boulevard and Rosemont Avenue. The officers responded immediately. They found and arrested Villicano, the driver of an SUV, and five subjects with paint on their hands. Witnesses came forward and identified all subjects as those who had spray painted the letters. One of the witnesses saw Villicano driving the SUV and allowing the subjects to paint graffiti at multiple locations. The witness followed Villicano's vehicle and called police to report the crimes. The graffiti primarily contained the letters "HIV" or "HIVC" at more than 100 locations. A preliminary estimate of the damage was "tens of thousands" of dollars.

And her's one more good one. And there is even a photo for you to the right. This is my last example of good parenting. I mean, hey, I smoke. It's a bad habit and I don't condone it for anyone. But check out one of Hollywood's big celebs Melaine Griffith after she was snapped outside a Beverly Hills boutique lighting a cigarette for herself and then her teenage daughter Dakota. Like here, in the US you are not legally allowed to smoke until you're over 18. Does this make the blonde beauty a bad parent? Hmmm.

Do parents have a moral obligation to impose standards on their children that they themselves did not follow when they were kids? Is it ethical for parents to lie to a child about their youthful experiences? It’s a parent’s duty to teach, enforce, advocate, and model good behavior for their kids. It would be easier if we never did anything we’re uncomfortable with, but judgment and responsibilities grow as we mature. Good parenting would be impossible if we were disqualified from setting and demanding high standards of prudent and ethical behavior because we had been foolish when we were youngsters. Our duty to be a good model concerns the present, not the past. And this responsibility should not lay on our school's either. But like it or not, character education will take place in classrooms, sports fields and buses. The real issue is whether the school will acknowledge its role, consciously choose the values it wants to instill and provide training to teachers, coaches and staff so they teach those values intentionally and effectively. Being a parent isn't just a's a responsibility. It's time for some parents to step up to that plate and grow the $#@! up! Got that?

Hey, I'm definitely not perfect, and I’ve never wanted my children to think I’m better than I am. But I would want them to know I’m struggling to be better than I was!