The only person who seemed to be honest during yesterday’s enthralling ‘Balloon-Gate’ scenario was 6 year old-Falcon who was at the center of it all. That little kid sat up on national television and told the world-‘We did this for the show.’ And what a show it was. It had all the ingredients; roller coaster action, teeth clenching drama, intrigue and mystery-It was all there.
On top of it, seemingly everyone was in on what appeared to be a grand exercise in mass deception. That includes the McGiverist/Inspector Gadget-like father –Richard Heene who’s ‘acting’ abilities’ were atrocious. His tears and supposed outrage had me taking notes-‘Do not take lessons from his acting coach’. There was the overly eager ‘friendly’ next door neighbor, Marc Friedland who was on every news channel seemingly going for his sot at 15 minutes of fame by extolling the virtues of what many of us were seeing as a wacky family.
But perhaps the most dishonest were the news agencies who quickly cut away from President Obama addressing folks in New Orleans about Katrina recovery and followed the runaway balloon for two hours. During those two hours news channels tripped over themselves pulling out charts and graphs to give us reports about wind currents, high altitudes, temperatures and speculation about possible lightning storms. It was done in such a way that everyone at the airport stopped what they were doing and gathered around the TVs to watch. The deception was realized after the balloon landed and little Falcon was nowhere to be found. That’s when our favorite news channels trotted out all these balloon experts who repeated over and over, there’s no way that a craft of that shape and size could’ve carried a 6-year-old boys to such heights (10 thousand feet was one estimate) and at such speeds(85 mph was another estimate). In fact most said the balloon wouldn’t have flown at all.
We also came to find out that law enforcement agencies in Colorado had early on suspected that Falcon had either fallen out of the craft or was never on it. That vital information was communicated at least a good 15 minutes before the balloon landing but was not broadcasted. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. What ratings seeking news outlet would want to stop their coverage after drawing everyone in and getting them to watch for two hours? What news outlet in 2009 would have the courage to sit up and say ‘Sorry folks-false alarm, we assessed this situation wrong?’
Apparently none of our ‘trusted’ new sources. Instead giving us the full scope of what was taking place, what we got was a breath taking narrative that had us all at the edge of our seats as we watched the balloon make a soft landing and an undercover officer heroically dash out to make sure it didn’t take off again. Poor guy, I don’t think anyone had the heart to tell him there was no kid in the balloon because dude was running like there was no tomorrow.
As for the throngs of people watching intensely at Oakland Airport, they seemed relieved, I heard a few claps, and even saw a couple of high fives as the wall to wall coverage concluded and damage control procedures of reframing the discussion kicked in. It started with news anchors acting like they were just as shocked as we were to discover the little boy was missing…As we say back home ‘Negro Please’-translation-Please spare me the drama.
I wasn’t alone in my assessment as the twitter world was abuzz with folks pissed off that they were duped. One tweet summed it up best by noting the balloon escapade was phony and he wondered how many country’s were bombed while we watched this unfold. He noted that perhaps a bill was secretly signed reinstating slavery while we watched the balloon coverage…
What caught my attention in the aftermath was the instant psychological analysis that was quickly attributed to the little boy, especially after it was discovered he was hiding in the attic. These experts kept noting that ‘Little Falcon’ is a smart, precocious young man who may have been seeking attention. I heard words like ‘warm’, ‘loving’ and even ‘little genius’ being used to describe him. We heard police officers boldly assert that it’s not unusual for young kids to go hide in attics when people are looking for them after they caused a big mess. Empathy and understanding were the marching orders of the day and the themes directed at Falcon. And should they not? After all, he’s six years old and shouldn’t we see all six year olds with such loving gazes?
It’s hard not to think how the narrative would’ve been played out had it been ‘Lil Darnel’ or Lil Jesus from the inner city who caused this commotion. Would we have been as sympathetic and understanding or would we have seen him as a young uncouth troublemaker? Would the Nancy Graces and Gloria Allreds of the world been on TV calling for this child to be removed from the home and there be widespread condemnation of the entire community for the actions of one?
Before people get too bent out of shape and start rolling their eyes and mumbling ‘Oh brother here we go again’, keep in mind it was just a year ago that we had a spate of arrests and handcuffed placed on 5, 6 and 7 year olds all over the country for acts far less disruptive and costly then the ones caused by ‘cute, precocious’ Falcon. We even had one infamous incident in Pittsburgh, Pa where an officer saw fit to pull a gun and point it at the head of a 7 year old girl-Joshaly Lawton who wouldn’t stop crying when her mom was pulled over for a traffic violation. The mother Pamela Lawton was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct when she objected to the officer pulling a gun on her child.
Am I the only one who recalls the handcuffing and arrest of 7 year old Gerard Mungo Jr. in Baltimore for riding a moped on a sidewalk? Am I the only one who recalls school officials in St Petersburgh, Florida calling the police who then handcuffed 5 year Jiyisha Scott who they said was throwing a temper tantrum? Weren’t there similar incidents in places like Chicago and a couple of other cities that escape my mind? Am i the only one who recalls some of the same news outlets that encouraged empathy and understanding toward Falcon were justifying the arrest of these little Black kids who I guess weren’t seen as cute and precocious?
There’s many ways to look at what took place yesterday and attributed to larger societal problems. Lack of parental oversight, kids having access to too much, our society just getting more and more out of control are a few of the isms and schisms that can be conjured up.
Our kids are crying out and we keep failing them. We fail them with our less than stellar policies that suggest we won’t leave them behind, but in reality we do. We fail them when we require more and more in the workplace from overworked and underpaid parents, take away resources for support and then blame them for not being as responsible and ‘there for their kids as much as we would like them. We fail them when we grandstand and utter lofty phrases like ‘It takes a Village to raise a child’ and yet we don’t actively participate in the raising process by setting good examples for the young kids we say we’re raising to follow. In fact we don’t even take steps to childproof this proverbial village we like to talk about.
Sadly many of us can’t even tell when our kids are crying out for help. Was Little Falcon crying out for help yesterday when he hopped in the balloon, hopped out and hid in the attic while a massive manhunt kicked into gear looking for him? Most people including the newscasters who participated in this exercise of deception kept suggesting that Falcon’s actions were troubling and he needed help-and that’s probably true.
But lemme close by restating my initial remarks. The only person who seemed to be honest during yesterday’s enthralling ‘Balloon-Gate’ scenario was 6 year old-Falcon. Yesterday in front of a nationwide audience we heard him cry out for help and unfortunately I think it was ignored. So let me repeat his cry for help. Falcon said ‘We did this for the show.’ That was his cry for help.
Ladies and gentlemen our kids are not fodder for over-the-top dramatic news coverage, rating boosters for reality shows or poster children for fake ass politicians who use them as convenient backdrops while trying to push forth an agenda. Our kids are not show material. They are real, tangible beings who we all better be responsible for and I do mean all of us…
A troubled six year old today who’s issues aren’t adequately and lovingly address will one day grow up to be a troubled adult who will go to do things like shoot unarmed men in the back of the head at an Oakland BART station, look us in the eye and lie to us about weapons of mass destruction that don’t exist and send us off to war or violate our trust by raiding our banking system, tanking the economy and leaving all us in economic ruin.
A troubled kid one day becomes a troubled adult who will go on to do things like plow drugs and alcohol on an unsuspecting 13 year old, rape her, flee the country before doing jail time and will act incredulous and shocked when finally caught and forced to answer for his misdeeds. His equally troubled friends will actually defend him and claim he did nothing wrong. Troubled kids become troubled adults who lose all sense of civility and compassion and become hardened to the point of seeing no need for justice for those who have been egregiously wronged
A troubled six year old who is not fully cared for will one day grow up and become a troubled adult who will inappropriately use his kids to put on a good show…
something to ponder.