One Year Later: Remembering Harambe and the Danger of the “Entitled Breeder” Mentality

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One year ago, an unattended (yes, I said it) 3 year old boy fell into the enclosure of the Cincinnati Zoo’s gorilla exhibit, the home of local animal celebrity Harambe, a 17 year old western lowland gorilla.

What followed was an unfortunate and tragic but ultimately necessary action to end Harambe’s life. There were no other viable options that did not pose great risk to the child.

Following Harambe’s death a storm of memes and activism (both tasteful and disgusting) plagued computers and smart phones for the rest of the summer (I won’t even get into the “dicks out for Harambe” bullshit, because I am not a fucking 15 year old).

But a debate also started, one that led to a term I started using to identify a scary societal trend – one where someone’s child can cause any amount of damage and the parents will be excused because “kids just do that.” The term came to be known as “the entitled breeder” whose child is more important than anything, including anything important to you.

Imagine if that had been my response. Imagine if my senile grandmother caused property damage or death of a pet and I had some nonchalant, half-assed response to that what is my responsibility; the causing of harm or damage to your property. Imagine if my response was, “I am sooo sorry! I took my eyes off her for a second. I can’t tell you how sorry I am. She just got scared and that’s when she hit your dog with her cane … but senile old people just do that kind of stuff.”

I am going to take a wild guess that you would want compensation; you would be well within your rights to want charges filed against me for not being a responsible caretaker. So why is this so blasphemous when it comes to children?

I would never expect a child to be held accountable for a tragedy like this; I wish to state that right now.

Most in the science community say full abstract reasoning isn’t even possible much before the age of 14-15… so yeah parents, I get it!

But this standard of tolerance to the damage a child can create when not properly supervised is dangerous. Not just that, it puts the financial costs of the damage on the owner of said property (in this case, Harambe) while exonerating the faulty parent.

So I began using the term “entitled breeder” in debates on Harambe – this did not go well.

I was quickly flooded with sad stories of “muh kids,” it got redundant quickly.

I downshifted to the fact that childless men (like me) are paying to educate most of these kids.

I downshifted (or so I thought) and brought up that if they were forced to pay for my dad or my dogs that they would be pissed. I was convinced this would open their eyes and they would say “okay, you got me there” but again, I was wrong.

So, to the entitled breeder I say this: on behalf of child-free men and women across this country – stop making your responsibilities our responsibility! Put your kid on a leash (they literally make them). Rule your house with an iron fist and make sure they know it! And good Lord almighty, for fuck’s sake, if you got four kids and there is only one of you, don’t go the zoo that day. The rest of us would appreciate it.

* Bryce Jackson is a cook and writer from Chelsea, Vermont, who lives in Woodstock where he takes care of his two rescue dogs and his 71-year-old Vietnam veteran father.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. I was intensely watching a baseball game one day, when the refreshment vendor caught my eye for a split second. BAM! Right in the eye went that ball. If only I had eyes on all sides of my head, thought eye. Can’t turn my back for a second said I. Maybe baseballs need leashes. sure would save a bunch of running and bruised eye sockets. Everybody say aye!
    or not.
    I don’t care.
    I’ll just lobby for legislation.

  2. Love the term “Entitled Breeders”! Hit the nail on the head with that one. Didn’t catch it in your article, though, but I’m assuming that since you were saying “didn’t go well”, I’m guessing some people were saying that your term for people of this caliber was a racist term? NOT IN THE LEAST! I say, because there are “Entitled Breeders” of ALL colors, shapes, sizes, & wealth classes. People DO need to WAKE UP & fathers DO NEED to go back to the old fashioned values of running their houses as biblically stated…by first off STAYING AT HOME & BEING A FATHER…SETTING THE EXAMPLE! Don’t be off in “another man’s pasture” cause the grass ain’t no greener over there. Be at home, setting rules & taking interest in your kids activities! THATS being a father…not just the ability to have intercourse with a woman until she pleasures you…a drunken bum can do that. Had this kid had a “normal” family make-up back home….that poor gorilla wouldn’t be dead. And as Forrest said in a movie once….”That’s all I got to say about that”.
    But, no…actually, one more thing….
    “Entitled Breeders” (no matter what shape, color, age, wealth class) are the reason I, a 30 yr kitchen veteran….SIMPLY REFUSE to work in a PUBLIC restaurant ANYMORE! The way people allow their kids (& Hell, sometimes even their own selves) run over restaurant employees is 100% totally uncalled for.

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