[This is the column version of this post. I write a column for a local editions of a suburban Cincinnati newspaper chain.]
I hadn't really listened to ESPN radio personality Colin Cowherd since January, 2006. That was when he cracked that Peace Corps volunteers are losers and declared that life isn't about serving others, but pleasing oneself. It hit me wrong on so many levels.
But I listened to Cowherd one recent Mondy. I was driving from Good Samaritan Hospital, where a friend had just undergone surgery. I flipped on my car radio. Unable to find anything to listen to, I scanned through the stations until I came to the faint signal of the ESPN affiliate in Hamilton. Cowherd was on.
I listened for maybe half a minute. That was all I could take.
This is what got to me. Cowherd talked about his kids. Apparently, he spent more time than usual with them over the preceding weekend and the munchkins exhausted him. A few seconds into a rant about the experience, he said something like, "I love kids and stuff. But sometimes the best thing to do is duct tape them and stick them in a closet."
Maybe at one time I would have laughed at that statement. I mean, nobody really would duct tape a kid and stick him in a closet, right? And, in fairness to Cowherd, his crack isn't much different from one attributed to Mark Twain with regard to teenagers. You know the one: "When a child hits the age of fourteen, he should be put in a barrel with a hole in it. At eighteen, the hole should be closed."
These are the sorts of exagerrated remarks that frustrated--but loving--parents have made for centuries.
But, last year, in a well-kempt middle class home one-quarter of a mile from where I live, David and Lisa Carroll, with the apparent help of Amy Baker, wrapped three year old Marcus Feisel in duct tape, threw him in a closet, and left him there to die while they went to a family reunion in Kentucky.
All of us in the Tri-State have been dealing with the tragedy ever since, of course. The Carrolls are in prison. As I write this, Amy Baker awaits extradition to Kentucky on charges of tampering with evidence related to the case. Also as I write this, the state is attempting to revoke the license of the agency which placed Marcus in the Carrolls’ home.
Some have used the tragedy as incentive for doing something positive. For example, our congregation has gotten involved with CASA for Clermont Kids!, an organization that advocates for and serves foster children. Our youth pack duffel bags with items donated by our church members. The bags are then given to children taken into foster care.
I didn't laugh at Cowherd's comment. Both literally and figuratively, it hit too close to my Clermont County home.
After I turned off the radio, I wondered, "Was I being too sensitive?"
Maybe. But I don't think that the image of duct taping a child and throwing him into a closet will ever be funny to me.
[Mark Daniels is pastor of Friendship Lutheran Church.]