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Laptop-Shooting Dad Ignites Parenting Debate

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Chances are you’ve seen the YouTube video of Tommy Jordan, the North Carolina dad who shot his teenage daughter’s laptop. Viewed more than 22 million times in one week, the video has sparked passionate debate across the Internet.

Jordan’s 15-year-old daughter posted an angry, hurtful rant on Facebook about having too many chores, and Jordan—who’d spent hours the previous day updating her laptop—was furious that this was how she was using it. “Today was probably the most disappointing day of my life as a father,” he says at the start of the video. He reads his daughter’s post to the camera and then shoots her laptop eight times.

Comments on YouTube are split: Many say Jordan’s reaction is too extreme or criticize his use of a gun. But many others praise his tough-love approach with comments like “Give this man a medal” and “Tommy Jordan for President.” On Time.com, columnist Susanna Schrobsdorff notes that many parents of teenagers dream of doing what Jordan did:

It is both disturbing and so deeply satisfying that you can’t watch it without reliving every fantasy you’ve ever had about hurling one of your teen’s gadgets out a window or under a car after they’ve used it to ignore you or deceive you, or distract themselves from something they’re supposed to do.

KJ Dell’Antonia of the New York Times Motherlode blog writes that “Mr. Jordan acted childishly,” but she says she’s felt his anger: [I]f you’ve grounded a kid in anger, or yanked an arm or felt an ugly expression on your face and heard a tone in your voice that you’ve never used with anyone other than your beloved child, you know what I mean. Our children infuriate us like no one else.”

Jordan hasn’t spoken to reporters, but he has posted comments on his Facebook page. (He says child protective services did pay him a visit, and found his guns stored securely.) He also mentioned lessons he and his daughter have drawn from the experience. From the Los Angeles Times:

“We’ve always told her that what you put online can effect you forever,” [Jordan] said. “She’s seen first-hand through this video the worst possible scenario that can happen. One post, made by her Dad, will probably follow him the rest of his life; just like those mean things she said on Facebook will stick with the people her words hurt for a long time to come. Once you put it out there, you can’t take it back, so think carefully before you use the Internet to broadcast your thoughts and feelings.”

Readers, what’s your take on the laptop-shooting dad?

Image: Tommy Jordan screenshot via the Los Angeles Times.

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