If you haven’t seen the viral video entitled, “Autistic boy left in tears at Thanksgiving play after teacher snatches microphone away him”, you may soon find yourself in a dwindling number of people — not long after being posted onto Facebook, the short recording became one of the top trending posts on social media and quickly spread around the globe.
The morning of the Nutter Fort Primary School’s Thanksgiving performance in Harrison County, West Virginia, not a single staff member could have anticipated the level of attention their tiny performance would receive from millions of individuals around the globe.
No one could have imagined that video recorded during the play would be featured in an episode of Inside Edition; however, a split-second decision by a life-long educator, caught on camera, forever altered the course of what was supposed to be just one out of thousands of elementary school performances taking place around the country.
Posting the video under the title, “Mom Outraged After Teacher Snatched Mic From Son With Autism During Play”, Inside Edition’s clip has garnered nearly a half-million YouTube views.
Inside Edition used the following words to describe the video to their 573,678 online subscribers:
“An autistic little boy was left in tears at his school play when a teacher snatched the microphone away from him as he tried to speak. Furious parents Kent Squires and Amanda Riddle shared footage of their son Caleb sobbing following the incident at his Thanksgiving performance on Wednesday.
“The six-year-old, who is described as having high-functioning autism, played a turkey in the production at Nutter Fort Primary School in Harrison County, West Virginia. Dad Kent posted a 17-second clip on Facebook showing first-grader Caleb stepping up to the microphone as a teacher grabs it away. The child is seen to be visibly distressed as he grabs the microphone stand and cries out to the teacher before bursting into tears.”
As you can imagine, this teacher pretty much sounds like the worst human being on the planet, and as you can imagine, the Internet wasted no time in letting her and everyone alive know this to be the case.
“That teacher can kill her self” wrote one commenter to the video- as of early Thursday morning, this single comment had been “thumbs upped” by 326 people.
In another post of the same video, a commenter wrote, “That b*** needs to be fired! My wife told me of this story and I looked it up. It makes me sick to see this video. If she treats this kid like this in public, I wonder what she does in private. The principle needs to get some balls and stand up for the kid. It’s clear as day she takes the mic from him.”
These are just two of the milder excerpts from the +4,000 Inside Edition comments.
Across the Internet, blogs, online news organizations, social media users and a dizzying cast of individuals grabbed their megaphones and began denouncing this woman as being Satan incarnate.
However, as we awake to the morning sun on Turkey Day, there seems to be another side of the story coming to light — perhaps things weren’t exactly as they appeared.
At least one individual, Susan Shannon, is claiming that the general public may have been deceived as to the events concerning the video.
In a post entitled, “Caleb’s Mother Lied And Really Needs to Apologize to Mrs. Lindsey”, Shannon writes, “I just wanted to know why Mrs. Lindsey pulled that mic. But no one else seemed similarly interested! Just the rush to judgment… And, wha-lah, the facts do come out. It appears that Caleb’s mother insisted that her son be put into the show on the very day of the show. She never filled out a permission slip and had never taken Caleb to a single practice… In any case, the teacher agreed to allow Caleb to participate so that he wouldn’t feel left out because she was nice, but apparently agreed on the condition that Caleb would have no speaking lines. Remember, this is because he was entered at the last minute and didn’t even know the play- not because he was autistic or because the teacher was mean. It was a way to allow the child to participate without much disruption to the play.
“That means that Caleb didn’t have a line that said, ‘Gobble, gobble!’ which means that mom must have made it up and told him he could say it. If so, it would mean that mom had no respect for the play, the other kids , the teacher or the school, for that matter. She just thought that it would be cute for her kid to say, ‘Gobble, gobble’ at the end of the play… During the show, it became clear that mom did nothing to ensure that Caleb understood this. If you watch the full video of the show, you can see that Caleb actually broke this rule and spoke several times when he wasn’t supposed to. And he aimlessly walks around on the stage because he doesn’t know what to do- of course! And I would say that it had nothing to do with having autism- it was due to never going to practice and having no clue what the play was even about. Whose fault is that? Mom’s.
“At the times when Caleb makes these understandable mistakes, people in the audience and kids laugh at Caleb- some of it seems unkind. You can even hear Caleb’s mother bemoaning the laughter and some of Caleb’s actions. Well, the mother states that the teacher ‘snatched’ the microphone ‘before he could say ‘gobble, gobble’, but that is completely disingenuous, isn’t it? The teacher had no idea what he was doing or what he was going to say considering that he no speaking parts. She didn’t have a crystal ball to know that this was ‘all’ he wanted. Also, were other kids allowed to continue speaking into the mic after the play was over? Does autism mean that you can do whatever you like, no matter what? Does a teacher setting limits for an autistic child equal cruelty just because that child cries and the mother goes into hysterics? I don’t think so. The teacher could very well have been trying to prevent more laughter at Caleb’s expense. In fact, I believe she was doing her best to end the play in the least embarrassing way for Caleb and everyone else as possible.
“Since all of this has gone down, other parents and teachers from Nutter Fort have come forward with the truth of the situation. Almost none of it is getting through the noise of the mob, though.”
Others are beginning to question whether the event occurred exactly as it has been portrayed to the public.
Another commentator writes, “What is interesting to me is the mom’s voice during the recording. There’s a point early in the play where she says very flatly, dejectedly even, ‘Yeah, that’s Caleb.’ Her emotion for how her child is perceived can be felt through the recording. She doesn’t like the laughter. She pleads in a whispered prayer for him to get his fingers out of his mouth. She knows he’s being laughed at and that he isn’t even aware of the ridicule and it breaks her heart. I don’t necessarily blame her for her reaction. I hurt for her. But I also think she is being unreasonable and is irresponsible in her demand for revenge. Not justice. Revenge. Her actions are not going to make the school a better place. They are keeping other parents from being able to contact the administrator about equally important issues. They’re broadcasting to thousands of people the faces and location of dozens of other children. They are dragging the school into what will be months of a public relations and HR nightmare, which will distract from the school’s fundamental purpose. And, they’re firing up a hateful, irrational mob. Sadly, the end result will most likely not be a better learning environment for Caleb.
“Here is what should be terrifying for all educators. 30 seconds, on film, taken out of context, could end careers and destroy lives. Show me a teacher who has never snapped at a child in exasperation, has never misinterpreted a situation and doled out improper consequences, has never erred in judgment, has never wished they could take back a word or action and I will show you a tap-dancing unicorn. The same could be said for parents. There are some pretty unrealistic expectations for educators. Very few teachers enjoy being on display at public events. Teachers get stage fright, just like everyone else. I get sick to my stomach and lightheaded and my thoughts and words get all tangled anytime I have to face a full auditorium of parents, students, and coworkers. I know every avoidance technique to get out of speaking publicly. But I’m a good teacher. A really good teacher. I have made some horrible public blunders, including a Steve Harvey moment in which I awarded a prize to the wrong student. It was a dozen years ago and I still wilt each time I remember it.”
Are these new developments accurate? Should young Caleb’s mother actually be the one to apologize to the teacher for ruining her career without just cause? Are these just educators circling the wagons around one of their own? Is the teacher as terrible as the World Wide Web says she is?
I don’t know. I simply don’t know.
And guess what. You don’t either.
Neither you nor I know what the teacher’s motivation was in taking the microphone. And sadly, neither do the hundreds of thousands of social media armchair parents and teachers calling for this woman to be immediately fired at the very least and in many other cases to “do the world a favor and just go kill herself.”
But that’s the problem altogether in 2016: No longer is an individual innocent until proven guilty.
No longer do we live in a society where even the worst of humanity is entitled to due process.
In modern-day Western Civilization, an individual is considered innocent until a viral online post is published… once this happens, you’re done. Your career is ended and your life is ruined.
As you gather around your family to eat Thanksgiving turkey and announce what you’re thankful for, perhaps you should include the fact that your worst moment wasn’t recorded by a cell phone user and then published onto Facebook or that a moment in which you were perfectly above-board wasn’t taken out of context and shared around the globe.
We are living in frightful times. As a society, we are becoming no different than the individuals carrying pitchforks in Salem, Massachusetts, 300 years ago.
Though we’re not burning people at the stake, we’re still doing what amounts to be the same thing – we’re destroying lives in a mob mentality… The only difference is that the mob in Salem did take the time to offer a trial first.
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