Why They Hate
Reading the comments section in the Knoxville News Sentinel, you would think we were some kind of whacked out cult trying to take over the town. The hate frequently froths over on the page and so many vile comments are left standing that I hate to imagine what the ones that the KNS decides to delete are like. Katie has been called everything from a drunk parent to an egomaniac, from an indifferent mother who couldn't be bothered to raise her kids to an overprotective mother who can't face the truth about her son. She's been accused of smothering Henry, coddling Henry, ignoring Henry, enabling Henry, and all because she stood up and said that the people who gave her son an overdose of drugs, and the men who beat and robbed him should face justice as provided for under Tennessee Law.
You would think that she's the one who committed a crime.
Where does this anger, this hatred come from?
Well, it turns out that Yoda was right. Anger and hatred find their roots in fear. And in this case the fear comes from the realization in the heart of every parent, whether we admit to it or not, that our children are independent agents, and that they will often make decisions that go against everything we've tried to teach them.
That's a bold statement, and I'm going to go even further. If you think your child is the exception to the rule, that you've raised them right and they would never ever do anything that you did not approve of, then you are either lying to yourself or guilty of child abuse.
Now that I've pissed a bunch of you off, let me explain. First a few questions.
How many of you can honestly say that your kids have never disobeyed you? That you've never had to discipline than in any way? Nobody, right? The biggest task in parenting is teaching our children right and wrong, using discipline to help them develop self-discipline, and training their young minds to think rationally and make responsible decisions. At the same time, we need to give them the freedom to develop, to become people instead of automatons. It is a delicate balance, setting boundaries without crushing independence, nurturing growth while maintaining respect, encouraging exploration while keeping them safe. It's not a science; it's an art, and we're all amateurs when we start.
My next question. For those of you who have raised your children through young adulthood, how many decisions have they made that you disagree with? Choices of friends, clothing, jewelry, etc. How many times have they made a choice that conflicts with the values you've tried to instill in them? How many times have you had to step in and manage the consequences of the choices they've made? Again, that's one of the biggest tasks in parenting. We don't want to isolate our children from the consequences of their choices, but at the same time we don't want those consequences to ruin them. So we do the best we can to teach them responsibility while trying to protect them until they achieve it.
And now my final question. For those of you who have raised your children to adults, when you look back over the job you did as parents, are there things you would change if you could? Do you see mistakes you made, things that held your child back, or hurt them in some way? Are there opportunities you missed, lessons you failed to teach, or examples that you regret setting for your kids? Take a good, long, hard look at yourself as a parent. Were you perfect? Or did you just do the best you could? Was it good enough?
If we are honest with ourselves, in our hearts we know that much of the time, we were just making it up as we went along. We took examples from our parents, added in our own beliefs, and did the best we could. We learned on the job, and one of the things we learned was that we were in competition with the rest of the world as we tried to raise our children. As our kids grow, they become exposed to other influences and those influences may or may not coincide with what we've been trying to teach them. There comes a time when our influence over our children goes from primary to secondary. Unfortunately, that time comes well before our children are capable of making fully rational choices. The decision making centers of the brain are not fully developed, and a code of behavior is not fully developed. Adolescents are still very impressionable, and the image impressed by our culture is not one that is safe.
Look at what's on TV, the lyrics in popular songs, the dress that is now acceptable, the behaviors that are now acceptable. Don't worry, I'm not going on a right wing rant about censoring things, just pointing out that the role models provided for our children today do not embody values that lead to responsible, mature, decision making.
It is this that causes the fear that lives in every parent's heart. We know that we've one everything we could to raise our children to be strong, smart, and responsible, but we also know that our influence diminishes as they get older, which is also at the same time as the risk grows greater. As out ability to control our children's lives begins to decrease, the potential consequences of their decisions increases. As our influence fades, the influence of their peers, their culture, and other adults in their lives grows. That plus the knowledge we have of the dangers waiting for them is enough to make the most secure parent fearful. Add to that our memories of the stupid things we did when we were their age, and it's a wonder we aren't all strapped into love-me jackets in rooms with padded walls.
To be a parent is to live in fear for your child, with the knowledge that the world we live in is a dangerous one that can destroy lives in a heart beat. We deal with that fear in different ways. Some of us turn to God, and place that burden on Him. (A choice I highly recommend by the way.) Some of us become obsessed and become helicopter parents, never letting their kids grow up. And some choose to deny the fear and pretend that it only happens to bad parents. We all deal with the fear in different ways, but all parents share it. We know that what happened to Henry can happen to any parent's child. We know that any feeling of security we have for our children is largely illusory, and that illusion can be dispelled forever by the simple sound of a ringing telephone.
And I really think that knowledge is what's behind most of the hate being poured out on Katie. She is standing up and forcing everyone to see that what happened to Henry was not due to bad parenting, or bad luck, or being born poor, or living in the wrong neighborhood. Henry's death rips away at the illusions, all the tricks we use to deny our fears and forces us to acknowledge that our children can be taken away from us despite everything we've done to protect them. That's a scary thing to admit, and since we don't like to be afraid, we get angry instead. We lash out at the cause of our fear, or if that is out of reach, at whatever causes us to confront that fear. In this case, Katie, by refusing to allow us to hide behind the blinders of "just another junkie overdose; nothing to see here," is forcing us to confront that fear, that essential powerlessness that comes with parenting a young adult, and that makes us angry.
And Katie wasn't just forcing us to face addiction head on, she was also forcing us to see that the people we put in charge of enforcing the law were not always worthy of the faith we put into them. That bad people could do bad things to our children and law enforcement would be almost completely disinterested in holding anybody accountable.
I have to be honest. I could very easily have been hiding behind those blinders myself, except that I had them ripped away the day Henry died. My son was in a car wreck that same day. He went to the same ER, the same ICU, even shared a nurse with Henry. As our family was gathering to wait and see whether Luke would live or die, (he lived, thank God), Katie's family was slowly dispersing home, to deal with their grief, to mourn, and to try to find a way to get through the rest of their lives with a large piece missing. There are no coincidences on this earth; I believe there is a purpose to everything, no matter how hard it is for us to see it and as I offered Katie my consolation as she left the hospital in tears, I immediately believed that Henry and Luke were linked.
My eyes were opened and when Katie began to post about her concerns, I saw the truth in her words. Because I was already living the parent's worst nightmare, I was beyond denial. I knew it could happen at any time, in any family. Whether through a drug addiction, a car wreck, or a random act of violence, our children, the ones we promised ourselves we would die to protect, can be taken from us and there's not a thing we can do to prevent it. All of our best efforts can still come up short.
And that, in the end, is why there's so much hate spewing. Katie is forcing people to face some very uncomfortable truths, and that always brings out the worst in some people.
Please contact us by email if you wish to comment and we will enter it manually
Your questions are spot on. Those comments over at KNS are amazing - "she kicked her kid out; what did she think would happen?" "she should have kicked him out sooner" That just says that there are no easy answers. We all would like to know that if we did or didn't do one certain thing that everything would be OK. It doesn't work that way and we all know it and it's scary.
You can't give up and quit trying, because you love your child and you want to help them. So you muddle through and hope that the next thing you try will be the one that works. The reality is that it's the addict's problem and they're the one who has to solve it. The rest of us can be there for support and assistance, but we can't solve someone else's problem for them.
Rich, I look forward to reading more of your commentary on this. I greatly admire Katie for not giving up and exposing the KCSO for what they are. It hasn't been easy for her, but she has done what is right. I am glad that she has such solid support from people like you in her community. I know that the two of you don't agree on everything, but you do agree on the thing that's most important - every crime deserves an investigation, no matter the circumstances or the people involved. Thank you.
As for the law enforcement involved in this case, that is a whole separate issue for the community, and one that should be addressed as the community looks towards making a dent in the drug problem.
We all have to face, as parents and as human beings, that we can never love our children "enough". Even though they are tiny extensions of our own souls, and the world we know would collapse without them in in it...we are not able to love them enough to keep them from making their own choices, their own mistakes,their own way in the world,regardless of what we wish they would do. No matter what we teach,preach, or show by example, there is no such thing as a perfect child with a perfect life. We can never, ever love them enough to make it all go smoothly. We should not try. Every pain is a lesson, given by the universe to make ourselves and our children fly toward our intended purpose with a better understanding of SELF.
What we can do instead, is love them "more".When "enough" is not possible, or even adequate, we love them more...more than our own anger, more than our disappointment in their actions. We can love them more than we fear for their well-being.We must love them even when they stubbornly refuse to be the people we "raised" them to be. We love them more than ourselves already...now we have to learn to love them more than we cherish our hopes for them. We have to let them become fully realized people, instead of what we "always saw them growing up to be".
Henry killed Henry. He chose to take drugs. He knew the risks. In fact, he googled whether 80mgs of methadone was a high dose before he took it and discovered it was. Despite this knowledge, he took it. Chose to take it, not forced to take it.
I think that many of the comments by the community reflect this sentiment--that Ms. Granju does not want to face the fact that Henry made the choices he did, and those choices led to his death. I am sorry for Ms. Granju's loss, but this does not change the facts.
I am not a coke addict. Nor am I a world-champion chess player. Why not? Well, in part because I never tried coke nor learned how to play chess. So I never had the opportunity to become either.
I read Katie's blog regularly, and I think she's accepted the fact that Henry chose to use drugs. It was something she struggled with, but something that was ultimately beyond her control.
I bet if she could change one single thing about Henry's life, she would have done everything in her power to keep him from ever having that first puff of pot. But she can't erase the past. So instead she's doing the next best thing. She's trying to hold dealers responsible so that some other kid never had the chance to get hooked on drugs.
Two, Katie very much does indeed, without a doubt "accept the reality that Henry made choices in his life and those choices led to his death". Take your hate blinders off and read her bogs and you will see that for yourself too. HOWEVER, Henry's choices do NOT in any way absolve those who participated in his death from their criminal liability.
Three, an addict - once addicted - has very little choice when confronting the source of their addiction. Once an addict, ALWAYS an addict. The lure of the drugs is far too often too strong for those made vulnerable by addiction. That's why rehab is most often a repeat performance.
Four, Henry took the first 80mg does of methadone and then returned to his friends' apartment, where he told them Yolanda gave it to him, told him 40mg was for his headache and 40mg was for a buzz. It was AFTER he took it that they researched it on the internet. Again, take the blinders off and READ. Further, the ME report indicates that there was a second dose of an opiate, likely methadone, taken between 2 and 12 hours before he was admitted to the ER.
The FACT, Michelle, is that YOU ARE WRONG, and Katie and her family are very, very face to face and accepting of the reality of what Henry did, and how that placed him where he was exposed to the people that ultimately caused his death by giving him a lethal dose of methadone.
Let me ask you this: if you go to a place that you know is dangerous, and you are very aware that people die there every day. And while you are there, someone causes your death - who killed you? You?
My reply to your other comment held the warning that we will NOT tolerate the kind of hatred you so gleefully posted over at Katie's. This is the very last warning you will get.
As for personal responsibility, I have a close family member who died of alcoholism recently. But I can't blame the liquor stores that sold him alcohol--he chose to drink. He had an opportunity to go to rehab and refused. He was an adult, he made his choice. Unfortunately, he died from it.
With regard to the dose of methadone, the fact is that whether is was before or after he took it, he still googled it and discovered it was an extremely large dose. Despite that knowledge, he did not take any steps to get help for himself. His "friends" that he went to dinner with didn't do anything to get him help despite the fact that he was falling asleep in his food. Do we hold them responsible, too? As for the second dose,unless he was forced to take it, he is still responsible. In fact, considering he was selling other drugs throughout that weekend, how do we know who supplied that dose?
Finally, if I play Russian Roulette with a revolver with one bullet and I kill myself, is the gun manufacturer or gun shop responsible? Of course not, I am. Because that is what happens when you are injecting opiates, you are playing Russian Roulette.
I have nothing but sympathy for the Granju family. It must be terrible to lose a child. I do not take "gleeful" pleasure in disagreeing with her. I am not sitting here and saying how wonderful it is that Henry is dead. That would be "gleeful hatred." I am simply offering another point of view. I fail to see how that is hatred in any way.
Let's say you are speeding on the interstate, and a drunk driver creams you. Since you were doing wrong, the drunk gets off. It's ALL your fault, right? You killed yourself.
Or let's say the drunk is from a wealthy and famous family, you ... not so much. So the authorities decline to investigate because ... you're not an attractive victim. But you'd be OK with that, right?
That's what you have been saying here, and it's wrong. EVERYONE deserves justice. It does not matter if they put themselves in a place in which a crime was committed against them, and giving someone 80mg of methadone - a lethal dose - upon which they overdose and die IS A CRIME.
Final word: you are saying things here that are hurtful to Katie and her family. Wrapping it up in false sympathy just makes it worse. You are the people this blog post was written about. You are entitled to think what you wish, although you are wrong, but posting such hateful and purposely hurtful things will NOT be tolerated on this site. Got it?
I think it all stems from her authorship of a child centered attachment parenting book, being intelligent finically independent women that is well employed, a liberal democratic view point on many social issues, has what looks like a charming handsome younger husband that is also well educated, and her concern for the less fortunate in our society.
All of these things are not considered virtues where she lives! Her life does not match up with the popular culture in her hometown, so she is an easy target for hate.
Interestingly, another case today brings that home:
What I don't fully understand in Michelle's reasoning is the notion that personal accountability is an either/or, zero-sum proposition. Why would holding Harper and Houser personally accountable for their actions prevent Henry from also being held personally accountable for his actions? (As if Henry had not already been held more than accountable...)
It simply does not make sense to me that blame in this situation must reside with only one party, so that "in blaming the drug dealer, [Katie] absolves Henry."
Somehow this notion of independent accountabilities does not register with many online commenters - nor, unfortunately, some law enforcement agencies - who seem to believe that a victim's own failings render the actions of his persecutors immaterial.
This is not the time or the place to engage in bashing of any group, whether racial, geographical, or political. Addiction does not recognize those boundaries, so why should we hamstring the fight by trying to impose them artificially.
Katie is an agent of change, forcing people to wake up from their warm cocoon of denial, and people resent that. It's human nature, not some geopolitical ideology.
That being said, there are a lot of hateful people everywhere, and having lived in the North (Saratoga NY), the South, (Knoxville, TN), the Pacific Northwest, (Bremerton, WA), the Midwest, (Youngstown, OH), and Fantasyland (Orlando, Fla), I can honestly say I speak from experience.
Let's leave the bashing behind and work constructively. The goal is to prevent what happened to Henry from happening to another person. Isn't that more important than scoring political points?
Several years ago here, there was a highway car accident with 4 high school students one of whom died. They were going to buy prom dresses and had told their parents they were going to a mall nearer to home, when they intended to go to a bigger store further away (an idea that had been nixed by the parents). There was NO drinking, NO drugs involved, and it seemed like a loss of control accident, not caused by speed or anything else.
Not only parents but even other kids (kids who did drink, use drugs and actually do dangerous things) were harshly condemning both the girls and their families. It was the oddest and most horrible thing to see. I've always remembered that and tried to at least notice about myself the tendency to do this -- to assign blame based on anything you can think of to magically keep your family safe. It seems to be instinct, but I do try to remember that it doesn't keep my kids safe to think badly of other people's kids.
It makes no sense, the bundle of laws it came from are being struck down and removed, and the 'advocates' for this case are NOT advocating for any addicts. ASK ADDICTS.
It is silly to say it is "fear" that make people disagree on this issue. And as to the egomania on display in the KNS board by the Gnomeslice writer- is that something being supported here?
Can we review the things she said?
Can I list them and see if this cause is being supported with good intentions and honesty and an interest in justice? I will gladly go over there and pull the comments from Gnomeslice/ Granju.
I think they did anger people over there. If anyone finds that a voice worth supporting, I'd like them to state so outright.
All the "spin" got tiresome for early supporters, many of whom lived through their similar losses and accepting responsibility for their children's addiction. To say it is fear after the fact is so silly- many of the commentators NOTE that they are ex-addicts or have lost their own child. I really recommend people do look over at the KNS stories- search for the topic- and see this for themselves.
This blog post is yet more spin. For what?