A Dose of Stupid v.70

It happens every day. In fact, it is pretty hard to avoid it. There are some things that can only be understood with a slap on the forehead. Things so mind-boggling that one wonders how humans managed to evolve thumbs while being this mentally inept. Case in point:

Barnes and Nobles kicks man out of the store for being alone in the children’s section

This is the kind of things men deal with on a daily basis:

Omar Amin claimed a store worker told him a female shopper had complained he was in the children’s area in the store in Scottsdale, The Arizona Republic reported.

The 73-year-old, who was alone at the time, said he was in the store to buy books for his two grandchildren, who live in Wisconsin.

He told the newspaper, “Men alone cannot be by themselves in the children’s area.”

Let us work through this logic. In order for any of this to make sense we must conclude:

  1. Old men are suspicious
  2. Old men in bookstores are suspicious
  3. Old men in the children’s section of a bookstore have no good reason to be there
  4. Old men in the children’s section of a bookstore by themselves could not possibly be shopping for books
  5. Old men are likely child abusers
  6. And it is perfectly reasonable to think all of the above

While I do not want to harp on this point, we should note that both the complainer and the worker who booted Amin out were women. It seems less likely that a man would have immediately assumed that a 73-year-old man buying books was creepy or suspicious.

It makes no sense to randomly suspect the guy, particularly since his only “crime” was simply being in the section. I could see if he had been there for some time or if he was talking to children. But the article makes it sound as if the woman just did not like that Amin was in the section, went to complain to a worker, and the worker told Amin to leave without asking why he was there in the first place. That is plain discrimination.

Barnes and Noble’s vice president apologized for the incident, and I doubt it is a common policy at the stores to kick old men out for being in the “wrong” section. Nevertheless, it does reflect a sentiment in our culture that men who are around children are abusers.

Coincidentally, when I used to take my godson to Borders (before they closed) only women would approach him. I loved his response to strangers randomly talking to him: “I can’t talk to you because I don’t know you.” That never stopped any woman from talking to him, and my godson is a people person, so he did not really mean it any way. A couple of times, women even asked him to follow them so they could show him a book. That he would not do, but I was surprised by how comfortable women felt asking a child to do that. Most of the time I would have to go over to my godson for the women to back off. I have never seen nor has my godson ever told me about any strange man approaching who either did not have kids with him or did not work at the store.

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16 thoughts on “A Dose of Stupid v.70

  1. He said he was looking to buy books for his grandchildren in Wisconsin…

    And we wonder why boys have problems….

    What frustrates me about this is how the conversation never goes to what really would be protective of children. How old was your godson in those situations? It makes sense to me that he wouldn’t enforce his “no talking” policy with adult women, and I doubt it too with adult men. And what would it say if he did? Children are vulnerable. It’s up to adults to protect children, not children to protect themselves.

  2. Given these circumstances and “[a] couple of times, women even asked [your godson] to follow them so they could show him a book.” it seems justifiable to have those women arrested for attempted child abduction.

  3. Allan, my godson is 12-years-old, so this was not long ago. Today he is more careful and wary of people. But he is still likely to talk to people he does not know because that is just how he is. Fortunately he is not over-trusting. If anyone wanted him to go with them, he would say no. He just likes to talk to people.

  4. Rev, I was rather blunt with those women. If they tried anything they would not have gotten far. I doubt any of them wanted to snatch him, but I do see a difference in the way women will approach children compared to men.

  5. @ TS: “I doubt any of them wanted to snatch him…”

    I doubt that too TS. But think if the grandfather in AZ had asked a child to come see a book with him. He may very well have been arrested. Look what happened to him for just being there minding his own business.

  6. TS, I’m glad your godson has you in his life teaching him… how to be safe, … and talk to strangers! Someday, maybe some stranger will tell him about the job opening he’s looking for.

  7. “Don’t talk to strangers” is useless and even dangerous advice. In the real world, nearly every child who is ever abused in any way, is abused by someone who is not a stranger, most frequently the abuser is a close friend or family.

    The much better advice is to be somewhat careful, but not paranoid. If a person in a bookstore notice you looking at a certain type of book, and offers “If you like Harry Potter, you might enjoy Inkheart too — it’s over there”, there’s no reason to do anything but smile and say “thanks, I’ll have a look at that.”

    Meanwhile, if you’re out walking by yourself in the evening, and someone walks up to you and out of the blue asks if you would be interested in earning some free candy, you’re probably better off declining.

    The thing is, if children could generally do these evaluations, they’d not *be* children. “approached and abused by a random stranger in an average shop in broad daylight” is a scenario that’s so rare that I think ignoring the possibility entirely as long as there’s no particular danger-signs, is the only sane policy.

    I talk to people all the time, including children. Why wouldn’t I ? I’m human.

  8. Clarence, my main problem with the grooming behavior theory is that most of what it entails is normal dating behavior. The pursuer buys the pursued gifts, takes them places, pays for their way, pretends to care about their interests, and so on. It makes no sense to me to pathologize something most people do. The issue is not what they are doing but who they are doing it with.

  9. I think the guy should bring them to court. Just because we’ve seen enough examples like this where a man is suspected of “Creepy” behaviour when it wasn’t the case at all and is tossed out without any explaination or chance to defend himself. Just to show that this won’t be tolerated anymore. Again, no way would the employee have batted an eye if a woman were in the children’s section doing something “Creepy”.

  10. Toysoldier:
    Here’s my take on how to deal with grooming -which I think is both over-defined and over-used to the point of abuse.

    A. The behavior should be connected somewhat close in time to the alleged offenses. A few weeks or months, or even over the period of a year is one thing. Though I must stress that if we are talking more than two or three months, I’d make it a repeated pattern. Ridiculous crap such as something 5 years prior basically makes defense impossible and – how many predators are really super patient and plotting like that?! If I buy her/him a lollipop at 5, and get him/her that bike at ten, she’ll give me a blowjob at 15?!

    B. The behavior should be more SEDUCTION type of behavior. Which means minor caresses /hugs, general gift buying – all that would be off limits to be charged as grooming. It’s normal behavior and doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with sex or trying to get someone to date you. On the other hand buying a sheer negligee (as an extreme example) for a 12 year old girl, yeah that would be considered probable grooming should sexual misbehavior ever be alleged. Right now, grooming can be almost any gesture of kindness to the child or underaged teen at all, and that’s just so much BS.

  11. When it comes to protecting children from those who stalk them, better safe than sorry.
    I would rather see 1000 old men kicked out of the childrens section unfairly than to read even one more report of an old man lusting for younger males and getting one.
    Of course I’m the kind of man who would like to see organized religions abolished if for no other reason than the fact that they hide pedophiles from the law.
    Seperation of church and state was never intended to make it easy for criminals to hide inside of a religion, nor were our freedoms intended to induce mens fleshly desires.
    Until we start convicting openly gay priests, for example, of statutory rape rather than simple child molesting, there will simply be no true justice for the rape victims.

  12. No Philip, it’s rapists and sexual abusers who should be convicted. Not openly gay priests. And a society that willingly kicks 1000 old men out of bookstores because, and only because, they are men is a society that has much deeper problems than sexual abuse.

  13. Keeping reading and learning about this issue Philip. You have a lot to learn. Look at StopItNow.org for example.

  14. Philip: “When it comes to protecting children from those who stalk them, better safe than sorry.”

    Are you kidding me? You’re lumping this old man’s behaviour with those who stalk kids?

    This was a grandfather looking to buy his grandkids a book or two. All he’s guilty of is being the scapegoat for viewpoints similiar to your own. So you’d rather have his rights trampled than energy being spent on actual leacherous old men.

    Philip: “I would rather see 1000 old men kicked out of the childrens section unfairly than to read even one more report of an old man lusting for younger males and getting one.”

    This is the same mentality used for falsely convicted men of sex crimes.

    Fine, you be the vigilante. Meanwhile, I’m going to stick to the tried and true method of “Innocent until proven guilty” along with many others.

    I better hope you’re trolling. Because if you aren’t, god help you.

  15. Hey phillip, why not travel that line of logic down a little farther and see where it leads you, after all black and latino men are statistically more likely to commit crimes in this country than everybody else.

    After all what, objectively, is the difference between profiling races and profiling genders? (other than the fact that gender would persecute far more people than race ever could.) And what if, someday, the man who was restricted from finishing his business was you? Would you be so concerned about protecting hypothetical children then?

    Just how far should we go in the name of “Oh won’t somebody PLEASE think of the children?” Shall we make it so that men are no longer allowed in public without female escorts?

    And if you think I’m being ridiculous just remember- it’s your logic, I’m just following it to its inevitable conclusion.

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