Patton Oswalt on ‘Boy vs. Bachmann’

Comedian Patton Oswalt spoke to Keith Olbermann about the video featuring a young boy telling Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann that his lesbian mother “doesn’t need any fixing.” It gets to the point many of you made that the boy may have been coerced to say what he did by his mother:



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.

  • Vance Shaw

    What could Bachmann have said, anyway? “I’m sorry little boy, but your mother is going to hell and I’m glad”. Eye roll not withstanding, keeping her mouth shut was all for the best. Anytime. Really.

    • http://twitter.com/plrbrlvr Rob Carman

      But that is exactly what she says all the time! Why should she say something different depending on whether or not a gay person is right in front of her?

      • Erik Cameron

        Because when a parent uses a kid as a political weapon against you, it’s not okay to hit back. She did what was best for the kid and ended it there. The mother didn’t have the sense to leave the kid out of a hate filled political debate, Bachmann did.

        • EJC

          First of all, please provide proof the mother did indeed coach or prompt her child. G0 ahead, get the proof, I’ll wait……

          …..

          ……

          …………

          Couldn’t find any? Didn’t think so.

          You are arguing from a weak leg. You are making this positive assertion of something that may or may not be the case. Weak.

          Second, let’s play pretend that you assumption is correct. Is this the bigger issue? Or one GIANT NEON red herring swimming upstream? Yes, it is. The issue is not whether or not the kid was prompted, but that there is a harpy who is running for PRESIDENT and actively promotes intolerance and hatred to the LGBT community.

          But by all means, chase that herring. It really accomplishes a lot, don’t you think?

          • http://www.facebook.com/johnny5knives John Tucker

            It’s a straw man. Even in the hypothetical situation that the mother had, indeed, coached the kid, the point of the story is: Bachmann thinks there is something wrong with gays that needs fixing. Was it wrong for this kid to point it out? No. Period. Whether he conceived of this on his own, or as the result of some family talk, or even if the mother asked him to do it to make a more poignant point, it was not wrong for him to ask the question. The only thing wrong here is that a public figure would espouse such a hateful position based on ignorance, pseudoscience, mythology, and hatred.

  • Conspirator

    I see his point, and I agree that it was awesome to watch Bachmann’s reaction, she just didn’t know what to do and it was great.  But I still feel like the kid was used.  Yes, some 8 year olds can come up with stuff like that, certainly he could feel that way, but his mom had to drive him there and as was obvious in the video had to provide some coaching.  However she was up on that platform, and she appears somewhat tall, and an 8 year old could easily be intimidated so he might have needed encouragement no matter what.  But to me it still didn’t feel right.  Of course I’m also opposed to small children being used in modelling and acting jobs when they have no choice.  And they don’t get to spend that money right then and there, and that bothers me.  

    The best part about this was that Bachmann just couldn’t respond, unlike that b.s. answer she provided the girl from the GSA last week.  That was horrible, and someone else should have called her out there for not giving a real answer.  Instead all the adults just applauded all her crap.  If she had told that 8 year old that his mom did need fixing that would have done way too much damage.  Her only possible reaction was to say nothing, but that also made her look scared, which was great.  

    • Conspirator

      I should point that I’m not saying I feel he was coerced, forced, or anything like that.  Just encouraged or coached, perhaps and I feel that’s different and not as bad, but still I question the appropriateness of this, however I loved the result.  

      • Semipermeable

        Those are all good points.

        It is possible the boy saw/heard things on tv or from other kids and was upset enough that his mother decided to teach him how to respond to these things, ie, by going to speak to the politician. My own parents taught me this when I was a kid by helping me write letters to the local governor.  They are probably why I pay so much attention to local and national politics and always go out of my way to vote, make calls, sign petitions etc. However, it is also very possible that the mother video taped the event after strongly encouraging him to go.

        • Falconer33

          I’ve seen on this site how people respond positively to younger kids questioning religion. Whats the difference?

    • Yukimi

      For what I read in the youtube comments, they went there because the mother wanted to say something hersef to Bachman but when she got there she really wasn’t sure of what to say and then the little boy told her he had something he wanted to say so they let him and whne he shied away they told him it was okay and not to be scared (which I think it is a good advice because he shouldn’t be scared to speak his mind even if the other person is an adult and a powerful one at that).

  • RowdyStache

    I love how Patton insinuated that Rick Santorum was gay.  Haha, I hope someone shows him that.

  • Ronlawhouston

    Honestly it’s hard to get very worked up when someone so blatantly manipulates their kid to make a political point.  I’m a liberal atheist supporter of LGBT rights and I still think what that Mother did was not sound parenting.

    • http://www.facebook.com/johnny5knives John Tucker

      Where’s the evidence that the mother put the kid up to it? They are just offering up the hypothetical.

      That said, why would it be bad for the mother to encourage her child to stick up for acceptance and stand against misguided and discriminatory practices? Seems like an important and relevant issue, being the son of two lesbians. No?

  • Erik Cameron

    I don’t think we should be proud that Bachmann was unable to respond. How many of you would know what to do if confronted with a kid wearing a “God Hates Fags” shirt? Would you confront the kid with arguments? When someone hits us with their kids we don’t hit the kids back. Bachmann didn’t say anything because no response was the right response.

    • Writegurl

      Actually, if I were confronted by a kid wearing  “God hates fags” T-shirt, I would let that that kid know that I believe bigotry is wrong and is damaging. I think to not let the child know my opinion in that instance is wrong. If Bachman really believes homosexuality is damaging, she should be able to state her views simply and matter of factly to a child. That fact that she can’t in good conscience speaks volumes.

    • http://www.facebook.com/johnny5knives John Tucker

      I would ask the kid why he was wearing the shirt. And yes, I would take the chance to educate the child if it were something they came up with on their own, or otherwise even. More importantly, if the child said their parents made them wear it, I would take the opportunity to let the child in on a little secret: that his parents were ignorant, hateful, despicable people, and that he didn’t have to cling to their every word as gospel. It’s never too young to think for yourself, especially f your parents are that toxic. And if they are willing to let their child go out into public with such a hateful shirt on, they are inviting the public to respond.

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  • Rich Wilson

    The only person I think is more likely to be closet-gay than Rick Santorum is Marcus Bachmann.

  • Cat

    I don’t like Bachmann either, but I honestly feel that this was inappropriate. Really, we shouldn’t have to tactics like this. :

    • Writegurl

      I think she relies on the fact that people might feel uncomfortable “using tactics like this” as you phrase it, so that she doesn’t have to face people placing her in a well-deserved tight spot of her own making. If she is going around publicly and explicitly saying gay people are intrinsically wrong (with no evidence to back her assertions), then a child has a place to publicly tell her his mom doesn’t need to be fixed and wait for her response. The fact that she doesn’t feel comfortable re-asserting her position about homosexuality to this child’s face speaks volumes about the appropriateness of her position to begin with. If her position is fair and correct, why can’t she plainly assert it to this child?

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

    I’m almost certain the boy was coerced. The only question is by which mother… or both?

    Hurray for equality. It seems parents straight and gay alike will use their children as tools.

    • Rich Wilson

      Given the possibility that this was not coerced, and that the kid wanted to score points by putting it on youtube; at what age do we get our right to free speech?

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

        Do you have any evidence of that other than “the parents said so” or are you just pulling it straight from your ass?

        • EJC

          You are kind of an idiot, aren’t you?

          But, what could we possibly expect from someone sporting a Guy Fawkes mask thinking it is either: a- ironic or b-symbolic of revolution.

          In either case sweetheart, it is a double fail. Go check your “Guy Fawkes” history…oh, and move out of your parents basement….it isn’t becoming.

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

            Mmm love the smell ad hominem logical fallacies. A good sign of weakness of one’s argument is when they resort to petty personal attacks that have nothing to do with the issue. Good job.

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

            Mmm love the smell ad hominem logical fallacies. A good sign of weakness of one’s argument is when they resort to petty personal attacks that have nothing to do with the issue. Good job.

        • http://www.facebook.com/johnny5knives John Tucker

          What’s your evidence for it being coercion? Or is that just your gut talking?

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

            I’m not the one making an extraordinary claim here. I have nothing to prove.

            It’s amazing how unreasonably defensive people are getting about this. It’s a string of What-Ifs arguments that I’m supposed to disprove? why am I the one tasked with disproving any of it? The burden of that should be on the ones claiming it. You can’t just go “Well what if the kid came up with it by himself? And what if he asked his parents if it was respectful first? And what if someone not one of the parents filmed it? And what if that cameraperson didn’t know what the boy would say? What then huh? Either prove this isn’t what happened, or by default that is exactly what happened.” It’s so completely moronic it dives into religious defensive territory.

    • Pustulio

      Supposedly the video on Youtube was filmed by a third party, not the parents.

    • EJC

      Larry, who cares if you are “almost certain the boy was coerced”. Seriously. Who are you to this? And what special skills do you have that allows you to conduct forensic speech analysis via youtube videos? Because, man, I gotta tell you, market this shit soon because this is better than anything Uri Gellar ever hoped to do.

      I swear to humanity, ignorance and arrogance knows no boundaries….

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

        Lol, says the person who blindly accepts whatever the parents of this kid say only because it’s something you liked.

        • EJC

          Answer the question Larry. You did nothing but deflect.

          What special information are you privy to that makes you “almost certain this boy was coerced”. 

          For you to try and invert against those (me) asking for proof of your statement is shameful. 

          And why do you assume I am accepting blindly the word of the mother? I never said that, nor implied it. I asked you a question. Pure and simple.

          So answer it Larry. What proof do you have? You don’t have any.

    • EJC

      “It seems parents straight and gay alike will use their children as tools.”

      Funny you use the word ‘tool’, as how it relates to you is rather apropos….

  • Justin Miyundees

    Santorum needs a presidential acronym like FDR, JFK or LBJ to put him over the top.  Frothy Butt Juice does lend itself methinks.  Hail to the chief!  Ladies & Gentlemen, especially the ladies (it’s the way I am) I give you FBJ.

  • JoeBuddha

    I listened to a call-in about this (Michelangelo Signorile) and heard several people call in who claimed they would have done the same at the same age. Personally, I don’t think we give children enough credit. Sure, he could have been coached or even coerced, but he could also have done it of his own volition. I have to reserve judgement, as I haven’t seen enough evidence for any of these possibilities.

    • Rich Wilson

      As I said in the previous thread, I did stuff like this when I was a kid.  I never got the chance to go up against a big name like Bachman, but I challenged adults all the time.  And some of them didn’t like it.

      Frankly, I’m most disturbed by the number of people who seem to want to shut kids up.

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

        And frankly, I’m a little disturbed that you find it reasonable to twist “I don’t want kids being used as tools” into “I want kids to shut up.”

        • Rich Wilson

          Fair enough.  How would you handle it?

        • http://www.facebook.com/johnny5knives John Tucker

          I find it more disturbing that you would allow others to twist a kid asking valid question as “being used as tools”, regardless of his motivation.

  • Stan Brooks

    I think Bachmann acted proper and I don’t think for a second that she was at a lost for words. She could have gone off on that kid but didn’t. That was the right thing to do. You don’t tell other people’s kids that their parents are going to hell. I wouldn’t want some christian bigot (like bachmann) to do it to my kids.

    • Writegurl

      She realizes the assertions she makes to the public at large are incorrect to say to a child’s face. That should tell her something about the appropriateness of her assertions.

    • http://www.facebook.com/johnny5knives John Tucker

      I have never seen Bachmann act proper, so why would she start now? It was more o a desperate glare at her handlers for not vetting this child. She had no canned response that could apply, and for once – she shut her mouth. She should do so more often.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gtpooh Gwenny Todd

    The mother has addressed this in several places.  She says it was the child’s idea but he got shy when he got there.  

  • http://twitter.com/Jalyth JT the Girl

    I used to go door-to-door with the Watchtower when I was that kid’s age. Sure, ultimately it was my parent’s idea, but I felt very grownup doing it. Also scared and shy about it. I have no mental health issues surrounding it (altho I was not able to take a political canvassing job I was offered in part because of the similarity).

    Of course this kid is indoctrinated in tolerance. Thank liberals for parenting that teaches our values. Bachmann’s kids knew by this age that gay people were bad somehow. So even if he was pushed a bit, who cares? He will remember this with delight when he’s older; (I predict) he’ll brag about it to potential mates. 

    Don’t parents “coerce” their kids into eating vegetables? Teaching kids to do what’s right is what parenting is for.


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