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What We’re Up Against

Written by Katrina Moncure Jan 10, 2008

First, look at this news story.

It was early last month when Jane Hambleton of Fort Dodge found the bottle under the front seat of her 19-year-old son’s pride and joy.

Her next move was a call to The Des Moines Register’s classified advertising department:

OLDS 1999 Intrigue

“Totally uncool parents who obviously don’t love teenage son, selling his car. Only driven for 3 weeks before snoopy mom who needs to get a life found booze under front seat. $3,700/offer. Call meanest mom on the planet.”

The son soon found himself on foot. And the meanest mom on the planet became the target of accolades from across Iowa and beyond.

Hambleton, 48, a disc jockey, said she has fielded more than 70 telephone calls from emergency room technicians, nurses, school counselors and even a Georgia man, who wanted to congratulate her.

“The ad cost a fortune, but you know what? I’m telling people what happened here. I’m not just going to put the car for resale when there’s nothing wrong with it, except the driver made a dumb decision,” Hambleton said. “It’s overwhelming, the number of calls I’ve gotten from people saying, ‘Thank you, it’s nice to see a responsible parent.’ So far, there are no calls from anyone saying, ‘You’re really strict. You’re real overboard, lady.’ ”

Steven Hambleton, a freshman business major at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, obviously was not one of the callers. And he didn’t feel much like talking when contacted Tuesday.

“I don’t think you can print” his response to the ad, his mother said. “He’s very, very unhappy.”

Jane Hambleton described her son as a great kid who does excellently in college and is active in church. But she’ll stick to her guns, even though Steven Hambleton said that the bottle of alcohol wasn’t his, and that someone else had left it in his (former) car.

For the record, Mom believes him.

But she and her husband set two rules when they bought the car at Thanksgiving: No booze, and always keep the car locked. The car sold within two weeks, but Hambleton said she will continue the ad for another week – just for the feedback.

“A couple in Hubbard bought it for their 19-year-old son,” she said. “I told the kid when they were leaving, ‘Do not have any booze in that car. And if you do, don’t hide it under the front seat.’ “

When you are finished vomiting, come on back here for commentary.

Basically some self-righteous mother decided to sell her 19-year-old son’s car because she found an alcohol bottle in it. If that weren’t enough, the ad she put in the newspaper to sell the car explicitly stated she was doing this to get back at him, that he had “violated her car rules” so she was punishing him.

So let’s review. No indication that he was actually drinking and driving. She saw something in his car she didn’t like and decided he wasn’t allowed to have it anymore, so she sold it, something he loves (and who can blame him, I love my car, too!) behind his back and without his consent. She found an alcohol bottle, so she decided to make his life hell.

If only it stopped there! Because of the little ad she put, explaining what she was doing and why, a lot of people decided to call her up and congratulate her! She was being this big bad “tough disciplinarian” on her (adult) son, so everyone thinks she’s some kind of hero. At first, I thought this was just a lot of media exaggeration, until I went to the article itself and saw the comments. I’m still having trouble keeping my lunch down after reading that.

So what does this mean? It means it is socially acceptable to publicly humiliate a teenager. I mean, what if this woman had done this to her husband instead of her son? Would you be congratulating her? Might be some, but there’d be a lot more people probably complaining to her that she had no right to do something like that to a “grown man”. That would probably not even be newsworthy. But humiliating your son gets you national commendations.

I mean, I can’t imagine how he feels right now. His mother betrayed him, stole and sold something he loved, and now the whole state and beyond is laughing at him and saying he deserved it, that his mother needed to be strict with him. Betrayed by a loved one, lost a major cherished possession, and publicly humiliated and called out.

And what for? Because there was a beer bottle in his car and he’s under 21? Has our society gotten so hysterical over the thought of anyone under 21 even being near alcohol that this sort of widespread mocking is called for? I mean, if he was actually drinking and driving, maybe, but it was not stated if he was in the article, and it would have said if he had, so I’m going to assume he is innocent of that.

This is the power parents have over their children, even ones over age of adulthood. It is appalling. It is inhuman. Worst of all, it is a disgusting perversion of the concept of love in our society. To love is to make someone miserable based on your own personal morals? Well, if that someone is under 21, then yes, I guess it is.

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