We’re going to discuss something in Baltimore. This little rant is not about Freddie Gray or the riots as a whole or racism or police brutality. No. None of that. This is about one kid named Michael Singleton. Sound familiar? He’s that 16 year old boy who got a can of whoop ass from his mother Tonya Graham. But he didn’t just get a can of whoop ass. He got a can of whoop ass gone viral (thank you, internet) which has been further provoked by the media.
The unmerited sensationalism this story is getting makes me vomit. It proves how little journalistic integrity the media has and how they have no desire to use what minuscule amount of intellect they may possess to uncover substantial, news-worthy world affairs. It also proves how backwards our society has become that we actually commend in awe the discipline Graham unabashedly and rightfully delivered her son. Yes, good for her. Can we all go back to our lives? Of course we can’t. Because a viral video of some kid getting smacked around by mama bear is more entertaining than significant events. God forbid we give this much attention to the 7,000 poor souls who lost their lives in Nepal or the hundreds of women and young girls just recently released by Boko Haram who could very well live the rest of their lives with psychological and physical scarring from their captors.
Michael Singleton’s viral video has received much attention because the media is comprised of inane yet conniving bullies. Their minds are too far underdeveloped to comprehend the basics of an ethics course, yet they know how to regurgitate the same story over and over again to keep the masses fat and stupid and distract them from more pressing matters.
I feel for this kid. What he did was foolish and punishment from his mother was called for. But, he is 16. Is there no other human being on this planet who has engaged in a mindlessly stupid activity when consequences of that action went unconsidered? Highly unlikely. Otherwise the world would be a different place. However, many people who have done stupid things have been exempt from public scrutiny and shaming. The media gobbled this trivial little piece of “news” right up because it is pure gold to them. And just as Singleton did what he did without considering the repercussions of his actions, the media perpetuated what happened without considering the repercussions of their actions. What kind of psychological damage could be done to an adolescent who is being laughed at by millions of people?
This article is not written with the intent of suggesting Singleton’s behavior be excused or state that the punishment he received from his mother was unjust. It is to encourage citizens of the world, but particularly the media (which, let’s be honest, this won’t happen) to exhibit compassion. We are all so humored and impressed by Graham, that we haven’t stopped to think about the immense humiliation this young boy is experiencing. You could say, “he shouldn’t have done it in the first place” or “he should have known better” or come up with a slew of other valid arguments. But the point is not to argue about it. And the point isn’t whether he deserves it or not. It is about remembering the importance of extending basic human kindness and mercifully showing brotherly love to a kid who messed up, rather than pointing the finger at him.
The media can continue to do this, but society is larger than the media. And if compassionate people can find a way to forgive Michael Singleton for his actions rather than laugh at him, then perhaps we have not entirely lost ourselves. If not, I weep for the shape humanity is in.