“Laptop Homicide” – A Post on Discipline

There’s a new viral video in town, perhaps you’ve seen it?

In this video, a frustrated and angry father uses tough love to address his daughter’s immature rant against her parents on Facebook. Throughout the reading of her note you can hear his voice quaver and shake, a likely mixture of extreme anger, throbbing hurt and deep disappointment.

His daughter had done this before and had suffered consequences for it, but apparently they didn’t stick. So for all 452 of her friends to see, she essentially called her parents jailors, slave drivers and harsh, unloving lords over what she deemed was an unfair lack of freedom.

At the end of the video, the father stands up and points to his daughter’s laptop sitting in the grass, which, as he had earlier explained, he had just the day before spent $130 cleaning up and loading with new software. He then pulls out a pistol and proceeds to put 9 bullets through her laptop, a definitive sign that when he said the consequences the second time around would be worse, he actually meant it.

Parenting at its best? Or at its worst?

For those who immediately jump to conclusions that this man is obviously disturbed and he has forever and irreparably damaged his relationship with his daughter, just hold onto your judgement for a second and read this from Tommy Jordan, the father in question (this was taken from his Facebook page and is his response to questions from a reporter named Anita Li of the Toronto Star):

Q: Why did you decide to reprimand your daughter over a public medium like YouTube?

A: Well, I actually just had to load the video file itself on YouTube because it’s a better upload process than Facebook, but the intended audience was her Facebook friends and the parents of those friends who saw her post and would naturally assume we let our children get away with something like that. So, to answer “Why did you reprimand her over a public medium like Facebook” my answer is this: Because that’s how I was raised. If I did something embarrassing to my parents in public (such as a grocery store) I got my tail tore up right there in front of God and everyone, right there in the store. I put the reprisal in exactly the same medium she did, in the exact same manner. Her post went out to about 452 people. Mine went out to about 550 people… originally. I had no idea it would become what it did.

Q: How did your daughter respond to the video and to what happened to her laptop?

A: She responded to the video with “I can’t believe you shot my computer!” That was the first thing she said when she found out about it. Then we sat and we talked for quite a long while on the back patio about the things she did, the things I did in response, etc.

Later after she’d had time to process it and I’d had time to process her thoughts on the matters we discussed, we were back to a semi-truce… you know that uncomfortable moment when you’re in the kitchen with your child after an argument and you’re both waiting to see which one’s going to cave in and resume normal conversation first? Yeah, that moment. I told her about the video response and about it going viral and about the consequences it could have on our family for the next couple of days and asked if she wanted to see some of the comments people had made. After the first few hundred comments, she was astounded with the responses.

We agreed we learned two collective lessons from this so far:

First: As her father, I’ll definitely do what I say I will, both positive and negative and she can depend on that. She no longer has any doubt about that.

Second: We have always told her what you put online can affect you forever. Years later a single Facebook/MySpace/Twitter comment can affect her eligibility for a good job and can even get her fired from a job she already has. She’s seen first-hand through this video the worst possible scenario that can happen. One post, made by her Dad, will probably follow him the rest of his life; just like those mean things she said on Facebook will stick with the people her words hurt for a long time to come. Once you put it out there, you can’t take it back, so think carefully before you use the internet to broadcast your thoughts and feelings.

This is only a small piece of his response. The rest is up for you to read if you want and for now I’m going to finish the post with a question.

Update: Tommy Jordan has posted a new note to his Facebook page and I have to say, I like a whole lot of what he says. While this man’s reaction to his daughter’s public temper tantrum is not something I agree with, I have deep respect with the way he is handling the fall out. It says more about him as a father than the short video he posted did. I hope we all won’t be so quick to judge without knowing the full story.

What are your thoughts on this situation?

I will be back next week with my own, but I’d love to hear feedback first.