Listeners Speak Out On Antoine Dodson, Child Discipline

Listeners and blog readers dish up love for Antoine Dodson, offer thoughts about child discipline.

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ALLISON KEYES, host:

And now we turn to Backtalk, where TELL ME MORE lifts the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blog universe, and where we get to hear from you, the listeners, where producer Douglas Hopper is sitting right here with me.

Hey, Douglas.

DOUGLAS HOPPER: Hi, Allison. Welcome back to the host chair.

KEYES: Thank you. I know you're going to talk about the response to the Antoine Dodson interview, but what else are people talking about on our comment thread?

HOPPER: Well, Allison, there was a good amount of feedback on our moms discussion this week about when, if ever, it's appropriate to step in when you think a parent has gone too far disciplining a child. Case in point, a mom on a recent Southwest Airlines flight allegedly smacked her 13-month-old in the face. A flight attendant got in the mix and actually took the baby from the mom.

KEYES: Uh-oh.

HOPPER: One of our regular moms, Dani Tucker, says she's been on both sides of the situation, and sometimes, she says, you just got to step in, but with tact.

Mr. DANI TUCKER: As a young mother, when my son was young and I snatched him up in a grocery store, I'll never forget it, but the mother that helped me was nice. She said, you know what? I understand what you're doing, but let's go to the bathroom and do that. Just like the mother that did it to me, it's all in the way that you do it.

KEYES: So what did listeners have to say?

HOPPER: Well, we heard from plenty of parents and non-parents who said there was absolutely no excuse for ever slapping or spanking or snatching your kid. But here's another perspective from Penny in Orville, Ohio. She says the problem is that we put too much pressure on children to act like adults.

PENNY: Young children, especially under the age of five, are constantly drug around from store to store, strapped in and out of car seats and thrown into shopping carts. And the children, well, they're just expected to sit there and behave.

KEYES: Douglas, I have to ask about Antoine Dodson. We spoke with him earlier this week from Huntsville, Alabama. He's the man made famous after appearing in a local newscast because he fought off his sister's attacker.

Mr. ANTOINE DODSON: Obviously, we have a rapist in Lincoln Park. He's climbing in your windows. He's snatching your people up trying to rape them, so y'all need to hide your kids, hide your wife and hide your husband 'cause they're raping everybody out here.

KEYES: The broadcast and a music video based on Mr. Dodson's words has garnered more than 10 million hits on YouTube. I asked Antoine Dodson about his sudden fame.

Mr. DODSON: Everywhere I go, somebody stop hey, you're the YouTube guy or you're Antoine. Oh, you're my hero. And that's pretty cool when people can sit there and say you're a hero, you know, like, that's really cool.

KEYES: Lots of love for Dodson in the comment thread. What about his instant celebrity? What did people have to say about that?

HOPPER: Well, after hearing from Dodson himself, we turned to two commentators, tech blogger Mario Armstrong and writer and comedian Baratunde Thurston. They talked about whether Dodson was what some have described as a caricature of a black and openly gay man whose family lives in public housing. Basically, is America laughing with or at Antoine Dodson?

Casey Young(ph) heard the discussion and appreciated what they had to say. But Casey was disappointed we didn't keep Dodson in the conversation. Quote, "I know he was interviewed beforehand, but it was telling that one of the concerns the guest had was that Antoine would be essentially objectified. And yet he became just that in the conversation that followed his interview: an object to discuss, rather than a person with whom everyone should've conversed.

KEYES: Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. And thanks, Douglas.

HOPPER: Of course.

KEYES: The conversation on TELL ME MORE never ends. To tell us more, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. Remember to leave your name and tell us how to pronounce it. You can also log on to our Web site. Go to NPR.org, click on Programs and then on TELL ME MORE. Blog it out.

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