The Reaction is Priceless

Just turn on the closed captioning, go to the 0:24 mark, and hear what little Elijah says to Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann:

(via Joe. My. God.)

***Update***: Many of you are wondering whether the child was coerced into saying this by his mother. I direct you to this screengrab from YouTube (Thanks to Drew):



About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Rich Wilson

    LOL!!!  Quick, where’s some sand I can stick my head in?

  • Rich Wilson

    Quick, where’s some sand I can stick my head in?

    (or where’s the Disqus discussion board to eat my reaction?)

  • http://www.diannaeanderson.net Dianna

    Ahahahahahahha oh the look on her face. Oh that is PRICELESS.

  • Becky Shattuck

    That was actually really touching.  Not Bachmann’s reaction, of course, but seeing the young, nervous (shy? scared?) boy standing up for his mother’s rights.

    • Kevin_Of_Bangor

      Well I want an answer from the gay mother to find out if she pushed him to make that statement. I won’t say anymore in this post until that comes fourth.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SU3L6O6MNAPXLBIGJGEX5NW5UQ jqb

        I want you to not be a jerk, but I don’t expect that to come forth (sic).

        • Kevin_Of_Bangor

          Beer is a magical thing when it comes to spelling words properly.

      • Drew M.

        I’m wondering the same thing myself.  If the kid blurted it out the way kids are wont to do, I wouldn’t question it. However, he does seem like he was pressured into it, IMO.

      • Gus Snarp

        You know, sometimes kids really say the most amazing thing and their parents just encourage them to repeat it, rather than training them to say something entirely concocted by the parents. Is it possible the kid was totally pressured into this? Sure, but you’re never going to know that, there’s no way to know that. Suppose the mother tells you she didn’t pressure him, are you going to believe her? Every once in a while it’s OK to just assume the best about people when it does no harm to do so. Of course, I’m sure Michele Bachmann had the exact same thought you did, so you can feel good about sharing her thought process.

      • Anonymous

        It was explained in the YouTube comments, but given the tons of idiots there making similar comments it got lost:

        “Elijah’s mom and I were standing in line, and we were going to say something to her… but we opted not to. We were about to leave the line, but Elijah grabbed onto his mom’s coat and said he had something to say to her.”

        The person making the video wasn’t even the mother, but someone else who was in line

  • Sliderossian

    Go ahead, Michelle. Tell the little boy how wrong he is, how his mother is living in sin.

  • Annie

    I was just thinking she showed her most human side when she was so sweet to the little boy… wanting him to tell her what he said.  And then, BAM!  He said what she certainly wasn’t expecting, and what she obviously wasn’t prepared to respond to… and that was it.  Personally, I think the little boy wasted his time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1017557312 Troy Gavazzi

    Ba-Bye, Michele. Your presidential aspirations have long been over and  I don’t think Minnesota’s 6th cares much for you any more either.

  • Caustic Agnostic

    Jeez!  She should get some sort of land speed record for how quickly she jumped away and Ba-byed that boy! 

  • THeHonestAtheist

    How long before Bachmann twists this to say the boy has been “indoctrinated” into the gay lifestyle? 

    #irony

  • C.W.K.

    Using children as political weapons. That’s cool. Nothing new here, folks.

    • Garren openID

      Agreed. It’s a shitty thing to make your kid parrot slogans and ‘zing’ politicians on YouTube. We should shame the parent for the tactic even if we agree with the statement.

      • Daniel Voisin

        Knowing how insightful and aware my own child can be, I don’t think we should immediately assume he is parroting anything. This could of been a result of something he said to his mother at home. 

        • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

          It was initially funny, and while I’d like to believe that the boy had told his mom on his own that he wanted to tell Bachman that, all his mom’s prompting and all his hesitation suggests to me that he was coached by his mom to tell Bachman that.  It just smells contrived.

          A very good statement, but using a kid as a loudspeaker for your own statements is not cool at all.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SU3L6O6MNAPXLBIGJGEX5NW5UQ jqb

            “your own statements” — you think the child doesn’t agree with the statement?

            • C.W.K.

              Maybe he does, but does he have good reasons? Is his opinion based on a well-informed and truth-seeking understanding of both the political problem he is addressing and the sensitivities associated with publicly voicing his opinion on the matter..?

              The child’s probably as mature in his actions as many adults, I’ll give him that, but  displays like this, while powerful to those already on the same page, beg for an equally simplistic and outrageous retaliation.

              • Gus Snarp

                Does he need good reason and maturity? There’s a point at which Michele Bachmann’s brand of hate is aimed directly at families like this and can hurt them. This kid has to grow up hearing the crap that Bachmann spews, and how he feels as a little kid matters. She needs to be confronted with that and forced to reconcile that kid’s love for his mother with her own hatred of homosexuals. As long as it’s his idea, then it’s fine, as far as I’m concerned. And I have no way of knowing otherwise.

            • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

              jqb, The boy probably does agree with the statement, but that is immaterial here, and the fact that the statement is correct in our opinion is also immaterial here. I suspect that it was not his own passion, motivation or  impetus that brought him to say it to Bachmann.

              Judging from his youth, his shy, mumbling reluctance, and his mother’s repeated urging him to speak up  in that scene so it could be recorded, I think that his motive was entirely from his mother’s premeditated and rehearsed coaching him, that she put him up to it, and he did it to please and appease her. 

              I think its very likely that his mother wanted to say “I’m gay and I don’t need any fixing” to Bachmann, but she decided that having the boy say it would have a more dramatic impact, especially while it was being videoed. It looked to me to be a contrived, pre-planned set-up, and the boy was a pawn. The fact that he probably agrees with the statement does not mitigate that this was a very inappropriate exploitation of a child’s loyalty and vulnerability.

              No one should use people as things, even for a “good cause.” Everybody thinks theirs is the “good cause.”

              • Gus Snarp

                I submit that you have no evidence for your hypothesis that cannot be just as easily explained by a kid who came up with this entirely on his own, but got shy in the face of a strange adult and needed encouragement. You suggest that the child was encouraged to speak up so it could be recorded, while Bachmann repeatedly said she couldn’t hear him. Is it not at least as likely he was encouraged to speak up so she could hear?

                • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

                  The evidence I responded to is exactly the same evidence that you are responding to, the boy’s shy reluctance, and the mother’s  repeated, insistent prompting.  Yes, it’s a hypothesis. That’s why I said that I suspect it is possibly what I described. I did not declare that this is the truth. Your hypothesis, your proposed interpretation, is as valid or as invalid as mine.

                  For the sake of the boy, I hope yours is the correct one. In our initial glee at seeing Bachmann embarrassed for her reprehensible demagogic bigotry, I just think we should not lose touch with the importance of keeping our tactics free of exploitation of innocent people. Mine is a cautionary statement, not an accusation.

              • Anonymous

                The mother wasn’t doing the recording and the one who recorded and uploaded it didn’t even know the family

          • A Portlander

            Strongly agreed. Using your child as your political sock-puppet is so wrong, it’s a WBC staple. You know you’re on shaky ground when you’re borrowing pages from that playbook.

          • Anonymous

            With you on this one. Now it’s just a matter of time, before Bachmann’s handlers puts some negative spin on this (“Using innocent children to push for the sinful lifestyles of their parents”, etc) and try to salvage the situation.

          • Gus Snarp

            There are basically three possibilities as I see it:
            1. The boy came up with this statement on his own, and said he wanted to tell Bachmann. Then he got shy and needed encouragement.
            2. The boy came up with the statement on his own, but it was the mother’s idea to tell it to Bachmann and the boy had to be encouraged to do so.
            3. The mother concocted the whole thing and trained and coached the boy into doing it.

            I find option 3 to be ethically wrong, option 2 to be ethically questionable, and option 1 to ethically correct.

            But which is the most likely? We certainly here and see cases of children coached into saying things, especially on television, but what do we see in our own lives? I see that my child could easily have come up with the statement on his own and even wanted to tell Bachmann, but would absolutely need at least that much encouragement to actually do it when he got there. I for one would not have made this whole thing up and put my kid through it for political theater. I don’t deny that that might have happened, but there’s no more evidence for option 3 than for option 1. 

            This is not a case where one of these should be the default position when there is no evidence, you simply choose one based on your view of humanity, or you withhold judgment entirely. I prefer to hold in my head the notion that this may not be as pure and innocent as it seems, but to enjoy at the same time what a beautiful thing it is if it is pure.  That’s my way of withholding judgment on this one. Assuming that option 3 is the case seems to me to suggest an entirely negative view of humanity, something I would not expect from you, Richard.

            • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

              Gus, please see my reply to you above. Like you, I  prefer to leave room for  the possibility of the positive motives in the incident. My “default setting” is usually to give people the benefit of the doubt, BUT having a suspicion of a less positive motive from my impression does not then indicate that my “entire view of humanity” is negative cynical. That assumption would appear to be one of yours about me.

      • Anonymous

        I agree with this.  I actually smiled when Michele told the kid her ears must have been too far away. 

        Kids just should NOT be used (more like pushed) to deliver messages like this; it makes the adults doing so look petty.  I’m reminded by the kids from westborough church holding those nasty, angry signs.  Or when my parents went to protest the addition of Playboy to the cable lineup.  They took me and made me hold a sign.  What I mostly remember is being scared because people yelled stuff at us.  I was around 8 and had no real understanding about what was going on. 

        Obviously this kid wasn’t that willing either and it took much pushing for the shy little boy to say what his mom wanted him to say to the strange lady.  Still, we can hope that perhaps his words may have had some positive impact on Michele.  Maybe for at least a few seconds she saw gays as something more than gay, but actually as people…people with families with shy, quiet spoken little boys.

        • Atoswald

          Actually, my first reaction was that Bachmann would take this moment as justification for her beliefs. She most likely felt that it was a perfect example of why homosexuals shouldn’t be permitted to adopt.  This could be seen as manipulative and exploitative treatment of a little boy. It’s not like a child that young has any real grasp on political views.

          I think it would have had a much greater, more positive result had the mother expressed her opinions to Bachmann with her son being present. Michele would have been forced to see a homosexual as a human being and a mother, and the child would have seen his mother acting courageously in the face of adversity.

        • Anonymous

          Or maybe some kids are shy around strangers, especially since he knows that Bachman is a nationally known and somewhat powerful politician. At that age, I’d have acted weird around her too

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SU3L6O6MNAPXLBIGJGEX5NW5UQ jqb

        A “shitty thing” is you and your comment. This child saying that his mother doesn’t need fixing is not a “slogan” and is not “parroting”. The appropriate person to shame is Bachmann, and you for attacking the mother, who has been “shamed” enough already for being gay.

        • Garren openID

          I’m not attacking her for her orientation. I’m criticizing her for treating her child as a billboard.

    • Ronlawhouston

      First comment knocks it out of the park.  Good job CWK.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    So the big question is…….. ???

    Was this child forced into asking her that question and if he was I have zero respect for the person that forced him to do so.

    While I really dislike her reaction children should never be used as pawns to push an adults agenda.

    I would really love if the gay mother would respond and tell us the truth because I’m not sure if I should be angry at Bachman or angry at his gay mother.

    • Gus Snarp

      Would you believe her if she said the truth was that it was entirely the boy’s idea?

      • Drew M.

        Assuming that Kevin wouldn’t seems to me to suggest an entirely
        negative view of humanity, something I would not expect from you, Gus.

        • Gus Snarp

          Touche. However, I’m not nearly as nice as Richard comes off in his writing here.

          More to the point, why would a person who would coach her son to go make her political statement for her be above lying about it after the fact? If one assumes this mother has poor ethics in the first place, then why would one assume she wasn’t just lying in her explanation? What value does her explanation have as evidence?

          • Gus Snarp

            Actually, yet more to the point, I asked a question, I did not make an assumption.

            • Drew M.

              Fair enough. I just couldn’t resist the opportunity. :D

    • Gus Snarp

      If you go to the very first comments on the video you’ll find a user named WeWatchBadMovies saying that she or he was doing the filming, that it was entirely Elijah’s idea, and that he wouldn’t let his mom take him from the line, he was determined to say it, and got stage fright when he got to actually speak with her. So do you believe that this person did the filming and is giving an accurate account, or are you still going to go with your assumptions about the mother? 

      • Drew M.

        I didn’t see that, but it’s good enough for me.

      • Drew M.

        So no one else has to go through the pain of wading through all the comments, I took a screencap:

        https://img.skitch.com/20111206-8w9wbp4me2w1buhifhih9rsy46.jpg

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

          Thanks — Added that to the post.

      • Kevin_Of_Bangor

        Thanks for clearing things up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stevepile Steve Pile

    I don’t see how the kid is being used as a “political weapon,” except that he is talking to a politician. There is nothing political about his statement. And so what if his mom told him to say it, what he said was true. Kudos to the mom and the child, but I agree, Bachman is a sitting duck at this point. Her career is over….and her husband is gay. obviously.

    • Anonymous

      Well, she did push the child to ask the question, filmed it, posted it on youtube and now we all are discussing it.  So, it does add up to the mother using the child as a political statement.  That seems intentional though it’s open to some interpretation until the mother confirms/denies her motivations.

      • Anonymous

        She didn’t film it. Someone else did. They didn’t know each other. The one who made the video explained it somewhere in the YouTube comments. The confusion comes from the fact that she apparently uploaded it herself

  • Rod Chlebek

    This doesn’t sit we’ll with me. I think the comment is something that would generally be beyond his natural capacity to reason and therefore not original.

    • Rod Chlebek

      Damn auto-correct.

    • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

      I agree. I hate when people use kids as tools to make their political statements. Go on Billy, go tell the bad politician their ideology is wrong and I’m going to hold this camera so I can catch the bad politician telling a poor innocent child they’re wrong. Look at that face, what kind of person would say you’re wrong? Only a very evil person. That’s who. Lets go make this politician look evil.

    • Gus Snarp

      Really?  “My mom is gay and doesn’t need fixing” is beyond his capacity to reason? Don’t spend a lot of time around kids, do you? 

      • Rod Chlebek

        I have, Gus. Mine turns 19 soon. I have plenty of nieces and nephews as well. And no, I don’t have reason to believe that his comment was original.

        • Gus Snarp

          Really? Because I think you’ve made a huge assumption and are making a pretty inaccurate assessment both of the statement  and of the cognitive capabilities of children in defense of it. My five year old says things at that level, and beyond, all the time. It’s been my understanding that my kid is not in the least exceptional in that. Did you ever hear the expression “kids say the darnedest things”? This seems like just a child with what is really a very simple view point, the kind that skewers straight through all the adult B.S. (and occasionally misses some really important details, though in this case I think he’s dead on).

          • Rod Chlebek

            I withdraw. Looks legit. Good for the kid.

      • Rod Chlebek

        Ok. I’ll give him the benefit of doubt. He is about my nephews age. He may have said it to his mom in private.
        The puppeteering is a separate issue… still disagree.

        • http://thelittlepecan.com/ thelittlepecan

          I have a four year old (almost 5), a 9 year old, 11 and 12 year olds.  I can guarandamntee you that all of them could come up with (my mother doesn’t need fixing).

          Hell, my four year old tells me that now, when I say I’m fat and need to lose weight. (Because I wouldn’t be me anymore, apparently.)

          The older kids would TOTALLY say this and say it to someone.  They might need encouragement, well, probably not.  They pretty much just blurt out what’s on their mind at any given moment.  All kids are different.  No reason to assume.

    • Anonymous

      He isn’t that young. Kids easily pick up on that stuff in the media and from other people

  • Rob Grikmeer

    While I agree with the sentiment expressed in these other comments, the child shouldn’t be used to make a point the really horrifying thing here is the look on Bachmann’s face when she hears what he says…

  • http://twitter.com/Ziggy66 Mark Heil

    The boy certainly looks uncomfortable, suggesting he was being prodded by mom do this.  But worse, the way she quickly led him out of the room without even waiting for Bachman’s response was cowardly and basically teaching her son the techniques used by internet trolls. She should have had planned a calm, rational statement of her own as a follow up.

  • Anonymous

    Very mixed feelings. I cannot stand Michele Bachman, but unless the child came up with this on his own, I don’t like it. It reminds me of how Ken Ham and his ilk get kids to do their “were you there?” routine.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ryurack Rebel Yurack

    So basically what I’m reading here in the comments is that no one here either was a shy child or has a shy child. Shy children have beautiful and miraculous ideas all on their own all the time, but lack the ability to vocalize them for one reason or another. The possible scenario that everyone here seems to be overlooking is that the child said “Mommy, you don’t need fixing” in response to something, and Mommy said “Do you want to tell her that?” and the boy was all excited until he actually went up to do it. Then his shyness took over and he shut down. What everyone is up in arms about, the coaching and “parroting”, might actually be this mother’s way of helping her son get over his shyness. Political gain? Possibly a desired side effect, but not necessarily a malicious intent.

  • TiltedHorizon

    Bachmann’s reaction could have been priceless had this not felt so staged and coerced,  instead of feeling angry with Bachmann I’m now holding a grudge against the mother for using her child as a political tool.

  • EJC

    Yes, by all means, talk about issues that are so petty so as to distract from the big issue that Bachmann wishes to restrict gay freedoms.

    But by all means everyone, squawk away about the kid and if he was coached.

    Jesus, how is the view from 1000 feet up? Try 40,000 feet up instead.

  • Kelli Smith

    I’m trying to picture my kid (8 years old) in the same situation, and I can definitely see him coming up with those words himself and then getting shy about it.  The other day he called me a big bag of gas.  It was both funny and true and I would definitely encourage him to repeat this to other people.  Maybe it was just Bachman’s crazy eyes that made him want to back off.  I do think his mom pushed him more than what was appropriate though.

    Ultimately, it’s hard for me to judge because Michelle Bachman is nuttier than a football bat and this was really, really funny.

  • Rich Wilson

    I don’t recall this many people complaining about the coaching in the Rick PerryIn Texas we teach Creatioinism AND Evolution video.

    Even if the kid was not coached in any way, he’ll pick up the conversation in the house.  If mom complains about how Bachman thinks gay people need to be ‘fixed’, the kid will hear that and feel upset at Bachman for saying mean things about his mom.  And he’ll use the language in his environment.  Is that so wrong?

    • Anonymous

      I think people underestimate his age a bit. He is eight years old. I thought he was younger too at first, but at eight years old I certainly knew what was going on around  me and thought for myself

      • Rich Wilson

        Eight?  Geez, when I was 8 I was walking down the street alone once (not unusual in the 70s) and came across some JWs pushing “Watchtowers”.  I don’t remember exactly what it was they said, but some sanctimonious ‘question’ like “Have you been saved young man?” pushed my button, and I started arguing with them (ok, maybe yelling.  And I didn’t spit at THEM, just the ground).  They were TOTALLY taken aback for a little kid to get so angry with them.  They packed up and left in a hurry muttering about how rude I was and where my parents were.  I really wish I had video of THAT.  My mother didn’t like door-to-door Christians, but I guarantee, that was totally me. 

      • http://www.allourlives.org/ TooManyJens

        I agree. My daughter is 4, and I have no trouble whatsoever believing she could come up with something like this in a few years.

      • imc

        I agree with Stev84 and Rich’s comments. I recall arguing with my class teacher at the age of seven that there was no reason to believe in God (I was into astronomy and cosmology at the time). She won that argument by asking the entire class if they thought I was wrong, and my seven year-old peers duly sided with the teacher.

        This all happened at boarding school, so you can discount any parental coercion. Kids really do have strong, clear opinions on things, especially if raised in an environment that encourages them to find out things for themselves.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marcie-Miller-Spence/1322445534 Marcie ‘Miller’ Spence

    Anyone else have issues with it saying CC is not available.  Help!  I want to know what was said.
     

    • Rich Wilson

      The boy says “My mommy’s gay but she doesn’t need any fixing”.  Michelle doesn’t say anything to that.

  • Gerry

    Jeez, I can’t wait til poor people start bringing their kids to Newt’s rallies!

  • http://kpharri.wordpress.com/ Keith

    I think it’s a little distasteful to gloat over Bachmann here. 

    Much as I disagree with her extreme, religiously fueled political views, she reacted like any of us would have if we’d unexpectedly been told something we strongly disagreed with (and we had a camera in our faces).

    And it’s precisely the sort of gratuitous vilification we see in the YouTube screen capture that has led to political stalemate in this country.


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