I wonder what it must be like to be a guy these days. What with so many high profile child molestation cases in the news, do you feel under scrutiny? Everywhere, I see adverts for 'female babysitters' or 'female day care providers.' I guess the whole male race is now being watched in case they are potential abusers.
Take yesterday, I was at the park with my kids, when I see this man wandering about the playground, who, actually, I have talked to a few times. Apart from being quite dull and telling me in a rapid fire way about the fascinating topic of computer programming, he seems like an okay dad to his seven year old son. Well, today it looked like he was in the park without his son, or at least, that was what it looked like. I didn't think twice about him. Several of the other parents at the playground, however, did. People stared at him, as he circled the playground, staring up at the clouds.
"Who is that guy?" they whispered to each other.
"Do you think he's a pervert?"
"Why doesn't he have any kids with him?"
"What should we do?"
In the end, someone said they were going to call park security to get the matter dealt with. Meanwhile, the man had wandered off down the hill, in the direction of a stream, which is often frequented by kids, who like to toss rocks into it.
A few minutes later, a security car pulled up and the parents gave an audible sigh of relief. The security guy then simply sat in the car for a few minutes and then drove off, which was a good thing, I suppose, because I would have hated for the computer nerd to have been arrested, for what exactly? For having a wierd way of talking and wandering around a playground looking a bit eccentric?
Eventually, because people were still going on about it, I turned to one mom and said, "Look, I think that guy's all right. He has a son. I don't know him that well, but I think he's okay." But even as I said it, paranoia gripped me and I thought, "What if I am defending a paedophile?" I guess I'd got caught up in the playground hysteria.
The woman replied, "Oh, they all have families, that doesn't mean a thing."
Later, the computer nerd came back up the hill with his son, who must have been playing down there. I guess I felt sorry for the guy, because he'd been proven guilty without any proof. Of course, none of parents talked to him and gave him a wide berth.
I think the media has a lot to answer for, because it makes people read guilt into the most harmless situations. In this hyper paranoid age, people will see what they want to see. What do you say?