The Internet is a Pit of Depravity

I have to talk about a lee-tle something that's been going on in the Blogosphere. Not that I know that much about the Blogosphere but even I, who spend most of the day trying to figure out why I walked into the room I walked into, have not been able to escape the hubbub over a tiny toy duck.

But wait, since I'm going to talk about something a tiny bit disagreeable, let me borrow a page out of the Yarn Harlot's book and show you something pretty first.

Look at the detail!

Aren't they beautiful? I finished them today while I was sitting for TWO AND A HALF FREAKING HOURS waiting for the brain trust at Wal-Mart to put tires on my van. Finished those and cast on two more pair. But this is not about THAT.

This is about this woman, Kristin, who inadvertently stole a toy duck from the Gap while shopping with her newborn and her toddler. The duck ended up in her stroller and she discovered it when she put the kids in the car. She took it home with her.

Now, you know me. I believe that there is altogether too much judging going on between mothers and that we would all do better to cut each other some slack and band together for the things all mothers want: quality education and health care for our kids, for example. But I just have to say something.

First, look at this: it's the label from that gorgeous hand-painted yarn I used on those socks.

It was the prettiest yarn I've ever used and it made it totally possible to sit in the waiting room at Wal-Mart for TWO AND A HALF HOURS, accompanied by a television with horrible reception that was tuned to some soap opera. Feast your eyes on that and then, well, look at this: isn't that lovely?



Go pour one for yourself. It's okay, I'll wait.

So, anyway, she took the toy duck home and then she wrote about it and suddenly, one of those strange Internet things happened and readers started doing the equivalent of the mob standing below the suicidal jumper and yelling, "Keep it! Who cares? Keep it!"

But a few people said, "Well, um, if you keep it, doesn't that mean you're, well, you know, STEALING? I mean, I'm just saying..." and then some other people said, "Listen, you are going straight to hell and I am not because I would never do anything like this. I don't even ever exceed the speed limit (editor's note: yeah, right --oh, sorry. Trying not to judge here.) and PLUS, I'm a better Christian than you are."

Here. Look at the cute kitty and calm down.

But THEN, see, everyone starting calling those people "holier than thou" and deriding them for being, well, honest. Actually, I think most people who are normally honest took this opportunity to lash back at those prissy people who have been making them feel bad for years now because they don't homeschool or make their own bread or breastfeed until their children get driver's licenses. And that made me really sad because even though I don't choose to do some of those things, I have loads of friends who do (well, not the breastfeeding thing --that was an exaggeration) and I think we have mutual respect. I think. I hope.
[I need to add a note here because I heard from a reader who interpreted the above paragraph to mean that I was slamming people who did those things--the bread-baking, breastfeeding, homeschooling group. Those of you who have read my stuff for years know that nothing could be further from the truth but since I have a lot of new readers, let me 'splain. *I* do some of those things, too. I'm not saying that ALL people who do those things are prissy and self-righteous. But we've all met people who are. And those people tend to be loudly critical of those who make other choices. I think some of the "Keep the Duck" people used this incident to strike back --it wasn't that they suddenly took leave of their morals. They just used the situation to send a "lighten up" message. That's all I was saying. Here look at Scout plotting where next to pee in excitement]

Anyway, I want to say something about all this because I think there's another angle that's not being discussed and that it this:

No, wait, let me tell you a funny thing first so you're not cranky. Last night, my husband told me that he's been talking to our older daughter (Ana, 9) lately about opening a bank account. She called him yesterday on his cell phone and left him a message asking how she should go about getting FDIC insurance. I totally cracked up.

And then I thought, um, just how much money has she saved anyway?

Okay, here's my point:

My thing is that I don't want to ever judge another mother. But here's a clear instance of a teachable moment, you know? She could make a field trip with her toddler to show how mistakes happen but you have to try to make them right. Because ultimately, what moral ground do you have to stand on when your child steals something for the first time if you, yourself are guilty of petty thievery?

And the other issue is this: It seems as though the people discussing this issue think it's okay for her to take this duck home because she didn't really take it on purpose and she could have paid for it if she had wanted to. But the issue of right and wrong isn't based on NEED, you know? And I really hesitate to think what would have happened and what people would have said if this had been a low-income minority woman. I doubt that everyone would be urging THAT woman to keep the duck under the pretext that it's FUNNY and the store can afford to lose $7.

I'm just saying that maybe we've lost sight of the central issue here amidst all of these slings and arrows. Taking something that doesn't belong to you is wrong, even if it happens on accident and even if you get away with it. I once accidentally shoplifted $50 worth of fish from our supermarket. I had Jane in her carrier seat and the fish got wedged underneath it and I didn't see it until I got out to the car. I didn't go back in right then but I DID take all the label of the fish with me the next time I went to that store and had them ring it up so I could pay for it. (The clerk looked at me like I was some sort of idiot but dude, my brain is too full to add more unnecessary guilt.)

I'm not preaching and I'm not judging but I am saying, "Do the right thing and take the duck back. Or pay for it." It's not that big a deal, unless you factor in the cost of your character.

Look, here's a picture of me from 1996 in a cow costume.

Comments

Sheila said…
Nice socks. Great colors. Like the cork. Nice touch.
April in SC said…
Great Socks! :c) A well written blog post, I really enjoyed it.

My personal opinion on it though is that whatever she does, its not our job to judge and honestly its not our business, even if she blogged about it. We can hit the back button, forward button, and heck, some of the new computers may even have a "new" button *g* to get away from her blog... To many people judge others actions or tell them what they should or should not do, about there morals and character..blah, blah, blah...If its not rape or murder (and a few other serious crimes), she needs to make the choice herself, and we need to except it unconditionally, that's what friends do, even internet friends. :c)

Again, I love the way you wrote up your blog, it DID help with my blood pressure while reading it...fantastic!! lol
RockStories said…
April, I couldn't disagree more. Friends don't pretend things are okay when they're not. It might not be rape or murder, but theft isn't a "victimless crime" and the proliferation of the idea that it's okay to take what you want and put your own convenience before honesty and obligation is a dangerous one to advance. You're right--we have the option not to read her blog, but that doesn't really address the issue, does it? I have the option not to walk past the drug dealer who hangs out by the high school, too, but that doesn't mean I should mind my own business about him being there. Petty theft may not in itself be one of your "serious crimes", but the kind of serious crime that destroys lives--mortgage fraud, con games that swindle the elderly out of their life savings, etc.--are founded on the idea that it's fine to be dishonest if that's more convenient or gets you what you want. Encouraging that idea is a disservice to society as a whole, not just the person or company your friend stole from.
Are you going to put a cork with all of your projects from now on? Cause that'll just make you even more of a Wino.

this blog seems rather ADD...
Pennie said…
Cute socks . . . enjoyed reading your blog too
Damsel said…
Great post - I 'specially loved the inclusion of the animals (great shot of the cat!) and yummy wine.

I agree with you on the duck issue. I've been in a similar situation with a toy that Jet was holding and I totally forgot about it. We went back in and paid for it. Yes, it's a pain.

Like I said on one of Kristin's posts - if doing what was right came easily, then everyone would do what was right, and this world would be a much better place. But it's not easy, and people are inherently lazy, so the world's going to pot. It's those same lazy people who like to complain about how the world is going to pot, too.

April, Kristin's original post, if I'm not mistaken, ASKED what we would do in that situation.

Barb, I would have treasured those two and a half hours *by myself* in WalMart - I take a good book to read! :P
Barb, thanks for your comment at MGM. I characterized those commenters as "holier than thou" because I believe they took their statements to ridiculous extremes and in some cases, criticized Kristen based on erroneous information (e.g., her daughter had no knowledge of the duck).

If you read the rest of my post, you'll see that I've written before about the importance of telling the truth - a tenet that was impressed on me since I was a child. You'll also see that my objections to such harsh judgment of others are borne out of my own, documented-in-my-blog judgmentalism - specifically, where I railed against people who don't RSVP, and then I inadvertently ignored an invitation myself.

My point (to those commenters, not to you) is that it's never really advisable to get all high and mighty about what you've done or what you would do. First, feeling smug and superior is not a way to earn friends. And second, you truly never know when the shoe will be on the other foot.
Brendy Vaughn said…
Thanks for the laugh! That really cracked me up. I mostly look at artists blogs but have been looking forward to reading your posts.

Man, that 100 things post. You are brave!
Brendy Vaughn said…
Ummm, it just occured to me that you are an artist just in a different medium than my own. Sorry. Since I don't knit, I mostly come here for the laughs although the knitting is beautiful. Ok, rambling here, probably should have just deleted the first post!
Knitman said…
First of all I musn;t forge tto sy the socks are beautiful.

Secondly, I completely agree: the duck ought to be paid for. No judgment of the person at all.
The BlogHore said…
You knew I’d reply, didn’t you?

If there are any new readers who don’t really know Barb well and are maybe questioning her “goodness”. Like maybe you’re thinking “No way she actually went back and paid for that fish….” Let me tell you a funny story and for those of you who may have read my comments on Barb’s 100 Things post, this is one area where we are so not the same - but in a funny way.

Barb and I and our friend Trish spent a few days together in NYC a few years ago. It was such a fun time and remains one of my favourite memories (that’s favourite with a U!). It was late one evening and we were out walking (because I was too afraid to get into the back seat of any more cabs) and we decided to stop at Starbucks. If I remember correctly it was not very busy but the service was extremely slow. While we waited for our orders, Trish picked up one of those CD’s that Starbucks always has sitting around the cash area. I think it was a Stevie Wonder CD. We were all talking and pointing things out and giggling and FINALLY our coffees were ready. We added our milk and sugar and popped on the lids and walked out. About a ½ a block away, Trish realizes that she still has the CD in her hand.

So, just like in the cartoons where there’s an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other shoulder, Barb is adamantly telling Trish that she needs to return the CD to Starbucks (which I regularly call 4Bucks). “Trish!!! That’s stealing!!” I, on Trish’s other shoulder, am telling her, to keep it. “It’s not like Stevie Wonder needs the money”.

It was very funny. There we stood in the middle of the street arguing basics of right and wrong. It took Trish a little while to decide…..just like in the cartoons. Which shoulder should I listen to?

I guess Barb’s argument was better than mine (I really couldn’t have cared less either way) because Trish returned the CD…..and all the 12 year old staff smiled politely and thanked her.

Did I tell the story right Barb? Did I forget any details? It was a few years ago but it’s such a great story. We’re best friends and we have so many things in common except for our interpretation of the law and our values! LOL!
Sarah said…
Just goes to show you the insanity the internet can breed.
But socks are beautful! And the cow costume, um, well.....
Bloggrrl said…
Oh lordy. Been there with the breastfeeding people. My rule is if the kid can pull up the woman's shirt and say, "I want some titty", then it is time to stop. Yes, I actually witnessed this, and yes, the woman was one of those righteous types. I have a problem with the righteous attitude (and the hour-long lecture that she gave me before this occurred) way more than the kid's words. Or seeing a five-year-old suckle at the park. Whatever.

I got distracted. I had a "duck" situation of my own at Target. I went back to return the item, and the guy at the door said that if I returned it, they might accuse me of stealing it, and it would create this big hassle, and I should take it home and not worry about it. Okay then...

You knit. Cool. You are so lucky to live in a city with a most awesome yarn store. Here we have Walmart. I can't do socks because I curse too much in front of the kids.
hokgardner said…
I was at Hobby Lobby with my 6-year-old, and we knocked over a picture frame and broke a corner off. I decided it was a teaching moment, and I took it with us to the cashier, explaining to my daughter that if we break something in a store we have to pay for it (although I was sorely tempted to put it back on the shelf with the other broken frames). It took me four tries to explain to the puzzled cashier what exactly I wanted to do - "No I don't want you to find an unbroken frame. I broke this one and want to pay for it" - before she finally said, "Oh, you're trying to be honest!"

My daughter was thrilled that we got to take home the chipped picture frame. It still sits on her dresser. The killer for me was that it is awful and tacky and it cost $12.
DK said…
I have so many things to say. But all I'm gonna is, I might have to steal that technique with my therapy patients. "Now, let's discuss how you really should give up the crack. But first, look at the cute doggie! Isn't he a cute doggie? Feel better? Soothed? Take a breath. Ahhhh...Cute doggie...okay, now, crack...."
Dana said…
I used to work at Burger King and one day this guy walks in and asks to speak with the manager. That happened to be me. Then he gave me ten dollars. He said that he had been there earlier in the day and gotten a sandwich. Later, when he got to work, he realized he had more money than before he purchased the sandwich which really shouldn't normally happen.

He deduced that the girl at the register had made change for a 20 instead of a ten. So he came back 12 hours later to give us the ten.

As I gave him a free drink for the trouble of coming back, he made a comment that stuck with me,

"My conscience is worth a lot more than ten dollars."

Hmm. That made me start thinking about all those little things a little differently.

And just for my little two cents that wouldn't quite purchase a duck...little toddler will quickly learn he gets to keep things he takes. I used to give my little brother candy bars to take bites out in the aisle so my parents would have to buy them. Sweet rewards...