January 12, 2011

LENORE SKENAZY: Eek! A Male! Treating all men as potential predators doesn’t make our kids safer.

Last week, the lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, Timothy Murray, noticed smoke coming out of a minivan in his hometown of Worcester. He raced over and pulled out two small children, moments before the van’s tire exploded into flames. At which point, according to the AP account, the kids’ grandmother, who had been driving, nearly punched our hero in the face.

Why?

Mr. Murray said she told him she thought he might be a kidnapper.

And so it goes these days, when almost any man who has anything to do with a child can find himself suspected of being a creep. I call it “Worst-First” thinking: Gripped by pedophile panic, we jump to the very worst, even least likely, conclusion first. Then we congratulate ourselves for being so vigilant.

For some meanings of “we.” People who act like the grandmother should be treated as unreasoning sexist pigs. Because they are.

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