religion, true crime

Louisiana Christian school leader gets arrested for “cruelty to juveniles”…

It always amazes me when I read or hear about certain “Christians” and their brand of Christianity. Some of them are capable of astonishing cruelty, particularly toward children. I have mentioned before that I was raised Christian myself, and the version of Jesus Christ I was taught about was a kind, compassionate, forgiving, wise, and loving leader. And yet, in today’s world, so many “Christians”, particularly among men, turn out to be mean-spirited, unforgiving, hateful, and cruel.

This seems to be an inappropriate reaction.

This morning, I read the story of 60 year old John Raymond, who worked at the headmaster of Lakeside Christian Academy in Slidell, Louisiana. On March 18, 2022, Mr. Raymond reportedly decided to use packing tape to tape the mouths of three 13 year old male students who were sent to him for discipline due to their alleged “excessive talking” in class.

According to a police report, Mr. Raymond wrapped the packing tape around the children’s heads, then sent them back to class for about 45 minutes. Another administrator, apparently uncomfortable with Raymond’s unorthodox punishment method, decided to remove the tape. Because the tape was wrapped around the children’s heads, scissors were required to remove it properly. The students stated that they had trouble breathing and the removal process was painful. I’m sure that getting the tape out of their hair hurt, because as we all know, adhesive sticks to things. If this happened the way it’s been reported, the kids probably lost some hair during the process.

What’s he got to smile about?

Mr. Raymond smiled for his mug shot, which can be seen on the Facebook post I linked. He’s also posted a lengthy “personal statement” with “facts” on the school’s Web site. According to his statement, the incident actually happened on March 17th, and involved five students. Raymond writes that the teacher was in tears, and threatened to terminate her employment, due to the students’ “disruptive” behavior. The students’ behavior had been problematic on many occasions in the past, and Mr. Raymond writes that he has had to “address” the class many times. Raymond writes that he gave the students the option of either calling their parents and suspending them from school, or wearing the tape on their mouths to “learn” how to be quiet in class.

Raymond explains that he didn’t wrap the tape around the children’s heads, nor was their breathing affected in any way. He claims that he asked them if they could breathe properly, and if they were in any pain. According to Raymond, the students did not indicate that they were in any distress; in fact, he claims they could have simply pulled off the strip of tape by themselves. Also, according to the headmaster, the tape was on their mouths for no longer than ten minutes, rather than the 45 minutes claimed in the students’ version of the story. Two weeks later, Mr. Raymond was arrested, when three of the students’ parents called to report the punishment to the police. The other two students have been attending school as usual.

Now… I don’t know exactly where the truth lies. It probably rests somewhere in the middle of this wild tale. It does seem crazy to me, however, that Mr. Raymond felt that taping the children’s mouths was a good idea in this day and age. Public humiliation of children is never a good look, nor would I say that it’s a particularly “Christlike” thing to do. It seems to me that the best course of action would have been to simply call the children’s parents, because obviously, they were going to get involved, anyway. Did Mr. Raymond really think that all of the parents of these kids were going to think his brand of punishment was appropriate? Now he’s being held criminally liable. I would not be surprised if there’s a lawsuit, too.

Honestly, shouldn’t the parents be notified if their children are causing so much disruption that a teacher is threatening to quit her job? This is a private school, yes? So why tolerate repeated disruptions in the first place? Disruptive kids don’t have to go to a private school. It’s supposed to be a privilege. I don’t condone allowing students to bully their teachers, but I do think that if students are so lacking in discipline that they make their teachers cry, their parents should be involved. And if the parents can’t effectively address the problem, then maybe they should find an alternative solution to educating their children. It isn’t fair to the other students to allow disruptive students to interrupt class. But in no case do I think it should be up to a principal, headmaster, or teacher to use physical punishments on students. It’s not their place.

I know a lot of people might not think this kind of punishment is a big deal. Personally, I am against teachers publicly humiliating kids or using “physical” means to discipline them. Back in 1980s era Virginia, I had a teacher who publicly paddled children in front of their peers. It happened to me once, and although I don’t remember the “paddling” to be painful, I do remember how very upsetting and traumatizing it was. In fact, when I think about that incident 40 years later, it still really pisses me off. I wish my parents had cared more that a man took it upon himself to paddle their nine year old daughter in front of other nine year olds. It certainly didn’t teach me “discipline”.

I don’t know what the laws are in Louisiana that pertain to how kids can be disciplined in school. It wouldn’t surprise me if corporal punishment is still okay down there (ETA: actually, this issue just came up in Louisiana and yes, corporal punishment is still allowed). However, from what I’ve read, most places where corporal punishment is allowed require parental consent. Moreover, psychological studies show that corporal punishment isn’t helpful or effective in getting children to change their behaviors. It does, however, teach them that might beats right, and authority figures are to be feared, rather than respected. There is a big difference between fear and respect.

Another fun fact about Mr. Raymond is that he was once a contestant on the reality show, Survivor. There are many telling Facebook comments by people who live in the community Lakeside Christian Academy serves. He appears to be a rather controversial figure who has a lot of local power. Many people seem to think he’s a real jerk. In any case, it always amazes me when I hear a so-called Christian say they “love” someone, but then they use pain, humiliation, and fear to teach them right from wrong. That’s not the way Jesus Christ would have handled a situation like this. Or, at least, the version of Christ that I learned about in my mainstream Presbyterian church when I was growing up, would not have handled a disciplinary situation in this way.

Isn’t it insane that an assistant principal in Mississippi gets fired for reading an awesome children’s book about butts to kids in school, but this “headmaster” in Louisiana is allowed to tape children’s mouths? I don’t envy the parents of today. Our schools are truly a mess.

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poor judgment, social media, videos, YouTube

More on Leon the Lobster… and a tasteless holiday greeting makes me crabby!

Once again, I’m struggling to decide what to write about today. I have a few topics in mind, but I wonder if want to go there so close to Christmas. Maybe I’ll wait until the first week of 2022. I’ll probably be extra cranky, since that’s when I plan to get my Moderna booster. I suppose it could end up being a Pfizer booster, too.

Anyway, I was happy to see that Brady Brandwood, who rescued Leon the Lobster from the grocery store, has posted a brand new video. I just discovered Leon on Sunday, so it was nice to get this update while he was still fresh in my mind (see yesterday’s post).

As you can see, Leon is doing very well!

Brady still doesn’t know if Leon is a girl lobster or a boy lobster. Brady is planning to get a new aquarium soon, so when it comes time for Leon to move to a new tank, Brady will find out what team Leon plays for. He does say that he will keep the name Leon, regardless. But if it turns out Leon is female, he says maybe he’ll call Leon “Celene Leon”, instead. I watch this, and now I want to rescue a lobster, too, but I don’t have easy access to lobsters, nor do I have the equipment or know how. So I guess I will just be content with watching Leon’s progress.

I’m astonished by how much I enjoy YouTube, especially some of the more creative original content. Who would have thought videos about a grocery store lobster would be this interesting? And, as I pointed out yesterday, I even went to the point of learning a little more about the bizarre mating rituals of lobsters! Who says you can’t learn new things as you get older? Brady does say that he can’t take Leon back to the wild, since he doesn’t live near the right habitat for lobsters. Maybe he’ll get him a friend soon.

MOVING ON…

Last night, as Bill and I were about to tuck in to our salmon filets, I noticed a photo in the Duggar Family News group. Someone had shared a potentially scandalous picture of a family at a Christmas tree farm. The dad and toddler aged son were smiling, and dad was holding up a chalkboard that read “Peace on Earth”. Mom and two little daughters were “gagged” with bright green tape and “tied up” with Christmas lights.

Naturally, there were a whole lot of comments about this photo. I will admit that I was shocked when I first saw the photo. I figured it was probably a joke, though, and didn’t take it too seriously. Other group members were a lot more outraged than I was, claiming that the photo was sick and abusive.

I decided to go Googling, and sure enough, I found out more about the source of the photo, which went viral in 2015. It seems this family had posed for photographer, Hannah Hawkes, who was based in Rosephine, Louisiana, and used the image for their 2015 Christmas card. The image promptly went viral, with many people seemingly very upset because they claim the picture promotes domestic violence, misogyny, and overall devaluation of females.

Personally, I would not go that far… I mean, yes, it’s a shocking image and, on some levels, I would call it potentially very offensive and problematic. But I can’t conclude that “the Johnsons” are necessarily a family in trouble, simply due to the controversial photo that floated around in 2015 and has now resurfaced in the Duggar Family News Group. I would need more information to come to that definitive conclusion. What I will state is that I think the picture is tone deaf, and it wasn’t a smart idea to put it on social media. Even if it was meant jokingly, supposedly as a dig at the stereotype of women nagging too much, when it comes to these kinds of images, particularly when children are involved, people are going to get upset.

Hawkes posted the following (now deleted) comment on Facebook in 2015:

I’m not sure this explanation necessarily helped her case…

There were also some responses to the photo back in 2015. For example, I found this blog post written by a woman named Deborah Cruz. Her opinion was titled “Why the Peace on Earth Holiday Photo Doesn’t Infuriate Me”– clever enough, I guess, since the photo did infuriate a lot of people. People, no doubt, eagerly clicked on that post just to read about, and indignantly comment on, what a misogynistic jerk Deborah Cruz really is (for not being infuriated)… only to find out that Cruz was on the negative side of the issue. She wasn’t “infuriated” about the photo; she was “saddened”, because she couldn’t imagine how anyone would think taking that photo was okay.

Again… I don’t think I would necessarily jump to negative conclusions about this family based only on the photo. It could have simply been posted due to ignorance or a serious lapse in judgment. But, the fact is, this joking image is reality for a lot of women in the world. There are many out there who are literally or figuratively bound and gagged, and they have no voice, because of their personal circumstances, bad luck, or even voluntary choices.

On the other hand, there are also women out there who actually enjoy this sort of thing– seriously— and are enthusiastic participants. But then, that particular “kinky” lifestyle choice does not seem to be what the photo is about. It seems to be about the joys of silencing women and girls, and that’s not cool, or politically correct, even in jest. I am not a big fan of PC culture, but I understand that it’s kind of the way of the world nowadays. If you don’t want to be PC, you can expect that a bunch of people will pile on you, especially on social media. Unfortunately, a lot of people have a tendency to react first and think later.

Regardless, I do not think it was a good idea to involve children in staging that photo. I’m not really a fan of kids being in a lot of photos online, anyway, but to show little girls being depicted as bound and gagged, even as a “joke”, is just a terrible idea on many levels. Especially when their little brother is not bound and gagged, and is shown seemingly cheering on his mother’s and sisters’ “predicament”.

It seems clear that the family was trying to make a lame joke and it really flopped, big time. I’m not sure I would make the automatic leap to domestic violence that some people made in 2015, and are now making since the photo resurfaced, at least not without more information. One person commented that it looked like this family kept having kids until they got a boy. I don’t know how that person jumped to that conclusion, not knowing anything about this couple. It’s entirely likely they always planned for three kids. Or maybe he was an “oops”, like I was. There’s really no telling, and I can’t make the leap based on one tacky holiday photo.

I have a friend who had two sons from her first marriage, then got remarried and wanted to have just one more baby with her second husband. Surprise! She got pregnant with twin girls, then in the six months after they were born, she got pregnant again with a son. She had her tubes tied when he was born, because she certainly never planned for five kids, and definitely didn’t want any more babies. But, based on that one commenter’s observation of that photo, my friend might have been trying for a boy. Even if it that were true, what’s wrong with it? Sometimes, I think people really go too far with the armchair analyses, although I suppose I am as guilty as anyone is when it comes to that.

A lot of people reacted to the photo with extreme negativity, and claimed that it “promoted abuse”. Even from a money making standpoint, it was a pretty bad idea. I don’t know if Hannah Hawkes is still in business, but it does look like her Facebook page is deleted. Based on her comment, it sounds like she got a whole lot of heat and the wrong kind of attention for taking that picture.

It may have gotten to the point at which Hawkes was canceled, or she may have decided to cancel herself. If that’s what happened, I think it’s a shame. I’m not a big fan of “canceling” people, since canceling people can have devastating effects on people’s lives that might not fit their “crimes”. I also dislike mob mentality, since I don’t think it should be up to private individuals to act as judge, jury, and executioner. Hawkes is probably a perfectly nice person who had a lapse in judgment. Hopefully she learned from it, and didn’t let this setback derail her career.

But yes, just for the record, I don’t think the photo was in good taste at all, and regardless of the family’s intentions, I agree with whose who deemed it a very bad, or at least unwise, concept. However, as shocked as I was when I first saw that photo last night, I can see on Pinterest, that it wasn’t even an original idea. Other families have posted similar photos of wives and daughters bound and gagged during the Christmas season, along with a sign reading “Peace on Earth” or “Silent Night”. And in one photo, the child is the one who has bound her parents in Christmas lights, but everybody’s smiling.

I guess this situation just goes to show that one bad idea preserved online can last forever…

AND FINALLY, ONE LAST TOPIC…

Sorry I didn’t mention this in the post title, but yesterday, I watched this outrageous video by Mama Doctor Jones, aka Dr. Danielle Jones, OB-GYN… She’s being taken to task in Alaska for her so-called “racy” content that “promotes abortion”. I’m not going to opine more about this video in this post, since I think this topic deserves its own post and plenty of rantings from yours truly. However, I did want to share the video with the interested, to give you all a chance to see it before I go off about it. I’ll probably write about it later today or maybe tomorrow, because people are just plain stupid. Especially conservative white men who have an anti-woman/pro-life/pro-gun agenda to push as they claim how much they “love freedom”.

People in Fairbanks, Alaska who are shitting on Mama Doctor Jones’s outstanding and informative YouTube channel need to get a life.

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