December 30, 2007

We never dreamed that a little girl might lie to get something she wanted.

The store Club Libby Lu gave a big prize — a trip for 4 to a Hannah Montana concert — to a 6-year-old girl for writing an essay that began: "My daddy died this year in Iraq." Now, the girl and her mother are being publicly humiliated because, apparently, there is no dead soldier dad.

Well, of course, it was bad of the little girl to lie, but little kids lie. Making a spectacle out of disgracing a 6-year-old is disgraceful. After failing to check the very checkable fact that made the company think of her essay as the best, it should have quietly resolved the matter with the girl's family — probably by sending her on the trip anyway — and given the prize — the honor of winning plus the trip — to someone else.

77 comments:

rhhardin said...

``My Dad Died Today, Or Was It Yesterday'' is not a prize winner.

Give the little girl credit for knowing the empathy strings that adults work by.

James said...

Mom should be ashamed. Lying about something like that...just pathetic.

Eva said...

I think it was her mummy that wrote and submitted the essay. Still little point in publicly humiliating the family, but really, how calculating! What an interesting example to set.

Props to rhhardin for the Camus reference. My best friend in high school carried that book around for 4 years. Wonder where he is now.

rastajenk said...

They sure do grow some odd parents in Texas.

Franco said...

I disagree that they should have sent her anyway. That sends the wrong message to everybody.

Recruiters from the Columbia School of Journalism want her to apply when she comes of age, she's destined for the AP Reuters or the Grey Lady.

Jason said...

Her mom was quoted as saying, basically, "we did what we had to to win."

The 6 year old is not disgraced. The parent is.

I think they should raffle off the prize and give the proceeds to a charity that benefits children of deceased servicemen.

The six year old will understand.

Mom never will.

Bob said...

I disagree. I think the girl learns more of a life lesson that honesty is the best policy by getting her trip taken away and Mommy publicly scolded for behaving in such a fashion. Giving the girl the trip only teaches her that gaming the system is worth the risk.

rightwingprof said...

Consider this. Had she been sent on the trip, and the lie later exposed, would you want this girl in one of your classes?

Pogo said...

GARLAND, Texas (AP) A 6-year-old Texas girl won't get to see Hannah Montana after all.
... The contest's sponsor, a store chain named Club Libby Lu, has taken back its prize and awarded it to another contestant. The chain says it wants to "revive the intended spirit of the contest."
**

The mother here deserves to be publicly mocked for this. The sins of the mother are then visited on the children, who though innocent themselves, suffer all the same.

A painful lesson, but one that must be learned. No society has ever persisted where morality was not enforced by shame.

Ann Althouse said...

My point is that the store was negligent in failing to check (and for giving the prize for a fact about a person's life instead of for the quality of the essay). I think because they are at fault, they should not have resorted to public humiliation, which is a punishment way out of line for the little girl. Obviously, her mother is to blame, but nevertheless, the shame is being visited on the little girl, and I think this is wrong, given the fault of the store in judging the contest. I think the store should have tried to suppress the whole story, and if that had been handled properly the bad message would not have gotten out.

Gahrie said...

I disagree with Althouse entirely.
Her reasonong has helped to bring society to the point where a mother was willing to commit this shameful act, without feeling any shame.

Shame serves a powerful purpose, and the whole concept of shame and embarassment needs to be revived.

Should the mother be prosecuted? Of course not. But in the abscence of shame, that is the only recourse for punishment left.

Thus I fully endorse publically shaming and embarassing the mother (if she is capable of embarassment) and hopefully she, her daughter, and everyone else, will learn a much needed lesson. Lying about a father dying in war in order to win a contest for concert tickets is wrong.

Troy said...

Sending her on the trip anyway sends out a message. Even if it is limited to just a handful of people.

Shame being visited on the kids? That's life. Everything we do as parents is reflected in some way on our kids -- divorces, affairs, bankruptcies, crimes, etc. All that is reflected on kids too. Perhaps if people thought about the collateral damage of the bad things they do, this would be a better place. I'm with Pogo.

It sucks for the kid to be sure, but she'll get over it. She's 6 though -- no one will remember her as soon as the next Spears fetus pops up -- especially if she lives in a bigger city.

Gahrie said...

My point is that the store was negligent in failing to check

Don't you see how this line of reasoning promotes the whole "if you can get away with it, it's OK" line of thought? You're putting the onus of regulating behavior on the store, instead of on the individual where it belongs.

I think the store should have tried to suppress the whole story, and if that had been handled properly the bad message would not have gotten out.

I'm glad the story got out, so that it will hopefully provide an example of how not to behave to others.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Little kids do lie, so I made sure my sons figured out quite early in their lives that they would get in far more trouble for bullshitting me than for whatever they actually did.

Not only did it make parenting (much of it alone) substantially easier, but three decades later I count my sons amongst my genuine friends and cherish the warm, genuine, open ... honest ... relationship we have.

SteveR said...

rastajenk said...
They sure do grow some odd parents in Texas.

Other than being a rude and ignorant statement (and certainly not funny) and one I personally take offense to, how is Texas any different from say Ohio?

Bob said...

Ann Althouse said:

My point is that the store was negligent in failing to check...

Sounds like you would have made a good tort attorney.

Pogo said...

the store was negligent in failing to check

I think the store was naive to believe that little kids weren't going to lie, or thinking that little kids (and not their parents) would actually write these things.

But some people are that naive. I don't believe that meets the legal definition of "negligence", especially because this was a contest by some goofball store called Club Libby Lu which is apparently a "special secret club for super fabulous girls can get makeovers parties, play games, get advice, and find really cool princess paraphernalia ". !!!

I mean really now. The very nature of the store itself is denial of adult reasoning. I would not doubt that they practice the mission "every girl is a princess" so much they they themselves believe it. Or did, before this.

People are forever clamoring for corporations to practice "social justice". And now they are, at least this once. And it gives me a bit of peace to see that small evils like this are still rejected by people.


In the style of "Drop Dead Gorgeous", I would like to make a fake documentary about the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. The greed and politics of the small is similar there, where dads create these wonderful and fast little crappy cars, and shamelessly claim their sons made them.

Troy said...

There's precedent for this. Cinderella was a liar liar pants on fire. Ariel too. Being a princess is all about denying your true origins and being something you're not.

George said...

Should have been handled quietly.

Why embarrass a six-year-old who has no idea what Iraq is?

I'm surprised only one person has commented on "Club Libby Lu."

This is yet another ghastly child-oriented business that has sprung up in the last few years. Look....

"The girl-centered environment of Club Libby Lu includes a palette of pinks and purples, accented by glitter and sparkle. Each store is sectioned into key shopping zones:

•The Style Studio – During a “Libby Du™,” girls dress up as pretend characters such as a rock star or princess.
•Sparkle Spa – Includes all bath products, cosmetics, fragrances and the “Create-your-own” stations where girls mix spa products like “Soapy Sundae” Body Scrub and “Kool Karma” Body Spray.
•Ear Piercing – A simply “Ear-isistable” experience at Club Libby Lu includes a song, sticker, certificate and free Libby Charmette™.
•Pooch Parlor – Girls can make their own furry pup or kitty to take home in a fancy carrier.
•Shopping/Products - Designed around what is important to tween girls – their rooms, sleepovers and cool apparel."

Dress up, sure. But body spray? For a six year old? Mock ear piercing? For a six year old? The website says tweeners, but the entry-level target is younger.

It's mall-based, but the hook comes online. Over and over, the website tries to get kids to enter their names and addresses so it can put their parents on mailing lists.

Just as wretched is Disney's Club Penguin. It entices children to click through various play areas. These areas have limited offerings for free use. Then the goal is to get the child to beg the parent to sign up for a monthly subscription! It gives access to deeper more addictive on-line avatar play.

And, Prof, it's not too early for you to start selling stuff, either. People could subscribe for deeper, more advanced levels of commenting....

Middle Class Guy said...

Can anyone here spell due diligence? The store should have checked. It should have been handled quietly. No matter who is to blame, parent or child, this situation was handled very badly by all parties concerned, including the media.

Pogo said...

Can anyone here spell due diligence?
Can anyone here recognize why people sometimes hate attorneys?

The store should have checked. It should have been handled quietly. No matter who is to blame,
But there is someone to blame here. The mother. She is more blameworthy than a stupid kiddie princess store having the naiveté to believe that a little girl just wouldn't -couldn't- lie about her dead father.

I hate hate hate this sort of legally imposed moral relativism, where the public is really at fault when people act like assholes.

Jennifer said...

That headline was written by someone who has never had a child. lol

I don't have a problem with the Mother being shamed this way. Its too bad the child can't be separated from that, though. I'm certainly glad that a different child was awarded the tickets.

As the mother of a child whose father is in Iraq and who just asked me last night if Daddy was going to "get dead" this time, I am unbelievably disgusted with this mother.

Joan said...

I disagree with Ann for the reasons already enumerated.

Club Libby Lu is a trip, that's for sure. I had never heard of it until a few years ago when my daughter discovered it at Downtown Disney. After some thought, I've decided it (the chain itself) doesn't bother me, surprisingly; as far as I can tell, it's girly-girl stuff for the elementary school crowd, and mostly, a sign that the economy is doing just fine.

PatCA said...

Absolutely the little girl and her mother should be shamed and receive no gift whatsoever!

Mama ought to be glad she wasn't arrested for something! I'm sure the kid will be uncomfortable for a while, but so what--it may prevent her from growing up to be like her mother.

john said...

Pogo,

You sound a lot like the dad who made crappy slow cars for his son's Pinewood Derby. You just built them according to the instructions, and he got last place cause the wheels and axles weren’t polished and balanced. The car didn’t even make it to the finish line. And he didn’t really forgive you that whole year, even though you both said "That’s OK son/dad, it's just a silly contest."

And you silently cursed that other dad who worked in a precision machine shop with a windtunnel. But you never thought to bring any shame on that guy, the biggest dad in the pack.

Been there, done that. A couple times.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Troy: I disagree about your take on Cinderella and Ariel. Cinderella was of noble birth, but relegated to scullery maid status by her tyrannical step-mother. The invitation to the ball was for "all eligible maidens," and she surely was that. She was helped in her appearance by her kindly fairy godmother, but she didn't lie about who she was. She ran off before the prince asked her who she was.

Ariel, also of noble birth, made a bargain with the sea witch in an effort to get Prince Eric to fall in love with her. The bargain was her voice in exchange for legs, and then only for a few days. She was rendered mute, but was still able to get Eric to fall for her. The liar in that scenario was the sea witch who used Ariel's voice and similar looks to fool the prince into who she was. Either way, both young women were willing to live with the bargains they made [stroke of midnight-->clothes become rags; sunset on third day-->her soul goes to the witches purgatory].

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

I would say that if a store runs a contest and invites people to spend their time writing essays and getting their hopes up, they have a duty to have some standards in judging. Before giving the prize to a girl who said her father died in Iraq, they should have checked, and they would have easily discovered it was false. Therefore, the store is at fault, and it wronged everyone who entered the contest other than the girl who won. To try to remedy the failure by publicly humiliating the girl and her mother is wrong. They are trying to distract us from what they did wrong.

Pogo said...

1. You sound a lot like the dad who made crappy slow cars for his son's Pinewood Derby.
LOL. Guilty. I had two sons go through that. Both finished in the middle of the field or next to last. Both made their own cars, me cutting the major pieces. They sanded, cut, painted, etc. I did research it, but briefly, and soon discovered the nutso world of dads-living-out-their-fantasies-through-their-sons, this time in miniature wooden car races (but first noticed in the slam-bang, live-on-the-razor's-edge, laugh-in-the-face-of-death world of junior league soccer).

2. "they have a duty to have some standards in judging"
What duty did the mother have?
To her daughter and the rest of us?

Why did you let me lie cheat and steal, huh? It's all your fault I'm an asshole!!
or
You shouldn't have worn that short skirt, lady.

What the contest did wrong was minor in comparison to what the mother and girl did wrong.

Ralph said...

I think the girl and her mother should be given front row tickets to all Hannah Montana concerts as punishment until they can no longer hear high frequency sounds.

I don't see how you can equate being fooled with doing something wrong.

Trooper York said...

The worst part of the whole story is the second page of the letter where the kid claims she was best female friends with Benazir Bhutto and that she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary. It is kind of sad when little girls lie.

Iapetus said...

Perhaps we should acknowedge that Prof. Althouse writes from the perspective of a college instructor who ALWAYS makes sure that the students in her classes hand in their own work and are not cribbing from the Internet. Why expect less from Club Libby Lu? Classroom of proto-lawyers?...Public essay contest?...Is there any difference in the temptation (or the profit thereby) to cut corners?

former law student said...

Club Libby Lu was wronged here, because the girl's mother violated the implicit covenant of good faith and fair dealing that every contract contains, good faith meaning behavior that doesn't violate community standards of fairness, reasonableness, and decency. Claiming the father of your child died a hero's death to obtain concert tickets grossly violates common standards of fairness, reasonableness, and decency, because it is a lie, because it engenders unwarranted sympathy for the child, and because it trivializes the real sacrifice of families who have lost parents and spouses in Iraq.

carly said...

I totally disagree that the store bears ANY responsibility for this. Sure, kids lie. But who would imagine a child would lie about the death of a parent? That's too monstrous to even consider.

No, I don't think the store has anything to account/apologize for. The mother, on the other hand, has much to account/apologize for--as a horrifically misguided PARENT as well as a twisted, overly competitive CHEATER in a contest for kids. Does anyone doubt it was the mom who figured out how to scam this contest???

Trooper York said...

I think that the store was quite diligent in policing this contest.
When Caroline Giuliani wrote that she wanted the tickets because her father was dead, the company wrote back to gently tell her no because wishing doesn't make it so.

Ann Althouse said...

Pogo: "What duty did the mother have? To her daughter and the rest of us?"

The mother was wrong, but I care more about what the company did here. To say the mother was wrong -- indeed, much more wrong -- is a distracting, and the company is trying to distract us. I stand by my position that the company did wrong in judging the contest and in reacting to the problem. If you are running a company, you should see it as a bad example for what you should do.

Ralph said...

It may not be the kind of PR they were hoping for, but they can show other parents they have some standards. CNN doesn't say how the lie was discovered. The idiot mother should have picked a real dead soldier's name.

That's too monstrous to even consider.

For all we know, the mother lied to the child about her absent father.

peter hoh said...

So how does this rank on the mommy wall of shame? A year ago, weren't we discussing the case of the mom who sent her daughter to the American Girl Doll Store with a knock-off doll, only to have her daughter humiliated because the store wouldn't give her knock-off doll the salon treatment?

Jennifer said...

Ok, I hadn't actually watched the video before. According to CNN, the girl's mother did most of the talking for her daughter. The girl's mother made up a name and a unit for this dead Daddy. It sounds like the store did do some fact checking once they got the details from the mother, and realized that they had been duped.

Gahrie said...

the store is at fault, and it wronged everyone who entered the contest other than the girl who won. To try to remedy the failure by publicly humiliating the girl and her mother is wrong.

I really don't understand your position here Althouse. It must be a lawyer thing.

The store didn't wrong the other entrants, the lying mother and daughter did.

How anyone can see this as anything other than the most shameful behavior possible on the part of the mother is beyond me.

Do you think the other parents should sue the store? Perhaps the lying mother should sue the store, since the store didn't specify that you couldn't lie about a dead father?

Jennifer said...

Wow, this gets even more disgusting. Here's more info.

Quotes from Mommy Dearest:

She said she made up the story to win the contest. No one asked her if the story was true, she said.

Ceballos told contest organizers her husband was killed April 17, 2007, while serving in Iraq.

We did the essay, and that's what we did to win. We did whatever we could do to win[.]


Gah. On second thought, maybe they should give that poor little girl those tickets. Having this mother seems more than punishment enough.

Jennifer said...

Has anybody seen the original contest rules? I can't seem to find them.

Ralph said...

Perhaps the lying mother should sue the store
Don't give her any ideas. That's probably why the store hasn't already revoked the prize.
Someone check the contest rules to see if it requires the essay be non-fiction.

Pogo said...

Ann,
I think I understand that argument, and agree on that point.

"From 1998 through 2006, Saks managed its stores through two operating groups: (a) SFAE, which included the Saks Fifth Avenue luxury department stores and the related Off Fifth outlet stores, and (b) the Saks Department Store Group, which consisted of several regional chains (including Proffitt's and Carson Pirie Scott) and Club Libby Lu."
SEC v. SAKS INCOPORATED

If I were an investor, or even CEO/CFO, I would have been pissed at this degree of incompetence, turning a positive ad event into a negative one.

But I do not think they wronged the public about the contest. The common man understands the event was not about writing the best fictional girl's letter; requiring that that be spelled out submits to deceit being the expected behavior, rather than honesty. The mother's own comments substantiate that she knew this was meant to be truthful full well, but she took advantage that the rules did not so state.

Disgusting.

Ralph said...

One look at that mother's eyebrows (Jennifer's second link), and I'd have checked the story. At least she didn't persist in the fabrication when asked, if the reporter is accurate.

Ann Althouse said...

peter hoh..."So how does this rank on the mommy wall of shame? A year ago, weren't we discussing the case of the mom who sent her daughter to the American Girl Doll Store with a knock-off doll, only to have her daughter humiliated because the store wouldn't give her knock-off doll the salon treatment?"

I think the American Girl Doll Store is entitled to and should enforce its rules that you have to bring only their dolls into the salon. Stopping cheaters at the door is fine, but it should be done tactfully -- and certainly without making a press event out of it. If, however, they missed fake AG dolls at the door and later noticed a child with one inside, they shouldn't kick the child out. That's abusive and a stupid business practice.

Synova said...

I agree with everyone who is piling on the mother.

And I'm not sure what Ann is trying to get at about the store.

MY take on the store is that picking the dying kid (or the one who's daddy died in Iraq) is dishonest. Course, I didn't read the rules for the essay contest. I figure that a contest should be fair. Course, my opinion is colored by a raffle that was held when I was a kid and seeing my sister win (because she'd been in the hospital for lots of surgeries) and a kid with leukemia win because she was dying. A RAFFLE. If they wanted to give a prize to sick kids they should have just given toys and a puppy to sick kids.

Nothing stopped them from doing that, so why pretend a sick kid actually won a raffle people bought tickets for?

If they wanted to give concert tickets to kids who's mommy or daddy died in Iraq they should have just given concert tickets to kids who's mommy or daddy died in Iraq.

Granted, this isn't saying that an essay contest is somehow legally *wrong* if they pick the kid who pulls their heartstrings the most.

But I don't have a lot of sympathy for the store, either.

Jennifer said...

If, however, they missed fake AG dolls at the door and later noticed a child with one inside, they shouldn't kick the child out

They didn't kick her out. They just didn't want to style the doll's hair since they didn't want to be liable for what may or may not happen to unknown materials on an unknown doll. They weren't stopping her from doing anything else in the store with her knock-off doll.

The mother's own comments substantiate that she knew this was meant to be truthful full well, but she took advantage that the rules did not so state.

That's clearly the case. If the mother truly believed a fictional account was fine, she would not have gone to the trouble of making up all the details like date of death, etc...

I wonder if this mother had to face children who actually lost their parent in Iraq, would she feel bad about what she's done...? I think probably not. I'm so appalled. I can't even type straight. DISGUSTING.

john said...

Jennifer,

Little correction here, folks: The mom did not say she lied about her daughter's dead daddy. She actually said that the "essay was untrue". That's a big difference; it's called the "third-person-passive responsibility shift".

Give her a break; for all we know that essay wrote itself.

Kirk Parker said...

Ann,

Despite any other disagreements, I think we all can certainly go along with, "If you are running a company, you should see it as a bad example for what you should do"!

PatCA said...

I would guess also that the mother is or was in a gang, since she has the cholo makeup look.

Jennifer,
If it's any consolation, stuff like this makes us appreciate people like your husband even more.

PatCA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
George said...

A hard-hitting bulletin from KFDW TV

Priscilla Ceballos, the girl's mother, telephoned FOX 4 reporter Brandon Todd Friday night to clear up what she said were misconceptions about their side of the story. She claims they never represented the essay as truth, and claims she stormed out of a media photo opportunity in Garland on Friday only because a reporter "accused" her of lying.

"When [contest organizer Robin Caulfield] asked me if this [essay] was true, I told her no," Ceballos said. "We never said this was a true story. We do essays all the time. My daughter does essays at school all the time. It never did say it had to be true, but [Robin] said, 'That's what we expected.'"

Link takes you to an "interview" with the grandmother.

Perhaps if these TV reporters keep up the good work, one day they can write about sock puppets for The Washington Post.

ricpic said...

Ralph at 1:53 nails it. But, of course, we're not supposed to draw conclusions from appearance. That's prejudice don't ya know. Better a sheared sheep than a - horror of horrors - bigot! That mother, by the way, is representative of an invading army of amorals. But let's not go there either. Let's just ignore the nature of the invaders and...what? Hope for the best like the good little sheep we are.

Jennifer said...

lol john.

Thanks, PatCA. I'm sure most people (with the clear exception of this lady) realize that there are a whole lot of little boys and girls out there who are living this "Christmas story" and who wouldn't dream of trading on that.

tightspotkilo said...

I would say that if a store runs a contest and invites people to spend their time writing essays and getting their hopes up, they have a duty to have some standards in judging

I say that what they needed to have were standards in their rules altogether, right from jump. Was it ever said beforehand that whatever you kiddies write it better not be fiction? Did they ever say that the essays have to be true stories? It appears not. Write a story, win a prize. That was the deal. That's what the mother said too. They never said it had to be true and they never asked her if it was, either. And the mother knew what would win. She knew what story to tell to win it. It was only after the fact that the store said, in effect, "King's X", and said they wanted a true story, not a fictional one. They made up those rules after the fact.

If I was the mother I'd be talking to a lawyer.

Synova said...

She knew what would win because she *knew* they would assume it was *true*.

If a lawyer got her the prize back it would make no difference whatsoever about her essential nature as a liar.

JCooperNYC said...

Ann

you would favor the fox over the fool. That is why some lawyers have bad reps. Let's not talk about the letter of the law but the spirit. The mother had her daughter lie and she was caught. The news caught on to the story and ran with it. What are you going to do. the prize was not of such value that the company won't sue her for the return of the make over. But if this was a million dollar lottery and the ticket was forged and honored and at a latter time the state wanted the money back. Your defense would be, "No one told me a can't forge a ticket.
Do they teach ethics at law school or just rules.

Bob said...

I hope Mom is forced to pay the expenses back. If the store is savvy then have them fund a trip for a family whose Dad or Mom was in fact killed in Iraq. I can't fault the child but the Mom committed fraud.

PS: just what is it about people that makes them feel they can pass themselves off as a vet or spouse of a vet? There has been a huge increase in phony vets these past couple of years. One is getting prosecuted in federal court in southwest.

Middle Class Guy said...

Pogo said...
Can anyone here spell due diligence?
Can anyone here recognize why people sometimes hate attorneys?


Sorry to disappoint you Pogo, but I am not an attorney. The real problem here is not only one of law, but of responsibility.

The family refuses to take personal responsibility for their dishonesty and using a child. The company is eliding responsibility because it did not perform due diligence.

It seems that expecting people to take personal responsibility for their actions is an anathema to many people.

Trooper York said...

Rocky: Here they are again, folks! These wonderful, wonderful kids! Still struggling! Still hoping! As the clock of fate ticks away, the dance of destiny continues! The marathon goes on, and on, and on! HOW LONG CAN THEY LAST!
(They Shoot Horses,Don't They? 1969)

Pogo said...

"The company is eliding responsibility because it did not perform due diligence."

The 'hate attorneys" comment wasn't directed at you personally, but at your full embrace of the easy lawsuit as a useful answer to simple questions such as this.

Due diligence?
Criminey. It was a kid's essay contest, not a contract. They can run it any way they damn please.

I misspoke. This type of thing leads me not to hatred of lawyers, but to blanket misanthropy.

Mike said...

I think this mother and daughter should be made to spend a day with a mother and daughter who actually DID lose their husband/daddy in Iraq.

Perhaps that would help them understand the level of their offense.

Mike said...

I think this mother and daughter should be made to spend a day with a mother and daughter who actually DID lose their husband/daddy in Iraq.

Perhaps that would help them understand the level of their offense.

zzRon said...

I would be willing to bet cash money that in this case most "conservatives" blame the mother while most "liberals" blame the store. Its the classic battle of individual responsibility VS any and everything else. To me, its a no brain-er. The mother should be stoned ...oops, I mean shamed (heh heh) enough so that she at least has a clue about right and wrong.

For those who tend to question Althouse's liberal credentials, well, IMO the proof is in the pudding of this post and comment section. You can let her back into the club now :-).

peter hoh said...

zz, are liberals really blaming the store?

It doesn't do the store any good to play the blame game. Unless it embraces the idea that there's no such thing as bad publicity, the store should want to make sure that it is not in this situation. As such, it ought to exercise a bit more diligence than it did in this case.

Fen said...

Ann: I think because they are at fault, they should not have resorted to public humiliation

I disagree. Vehemently. This goes back to the problem of stolen laurels. There are some boundries that, when crossed, should never be forgiven. Yes, the store was also at fault, but the primary "sin" is laying claim to sympathy that never belonged to you. Think of all the other little girls who lost a parent in Iraq, who refused to exploit it, and who will now be suspect if they ever bring it up.

Its no different than the damage a false rape accusation does to the real victims of rape.

zzRon said...

"It doesn't do the store any good to play the blame game....""

Agreed. But to me, the gist of the whole moral argument was who is to blame for the lie. Actually, it makes little difference to me how the store did or did not react once the lie was out there.

former law student said...

Was it ever said beforehand that whatever you kiddies write it better not be fiction? Did they ever say that the essays have to be true stories? It appears not. Write a story, win a prize. That was the deal. That's what the mother said too. They never said it had to be true and they never asked her if it was, either. And the mother knew what would win. She knew what story to tell to win it.

So any first-person story writte to evoke sympathy would be fair game, without a disclaimer? Why not have the little girl write about being routinely sodomized by her daddy, until the fateful day when, while daddy was passed out after mainlining heroin, the little girl found the strength to get daddy's gun and blow his head off? Wouldn't that rank higher on the sympathy scale?

Jennifer said...

Don't forget, former law student, to be sure and use babygirl's Daddy's real name and then have Mom make up dates and physical details to feed to the contest sponsors. That's just like writing a short story. Right?

peter hoh said...

And to think that the momma did this after Oprah shamed James Frey about making up stuff.

tightspotkilo said...

If a lawyer got her the prize back it would make no difference whatsoever about her essential nature as a liar.

Most of what passes for art these days is a fat lie.

Kev said...

All I can say is that I'm embarrassed that this story came from my hometown, and in a shopping center only a few minutes from my house to boot.

And add my voice to the chorus of those who are saying that, OK, the store may have handled it clumsily, but the mother definitely deserved to be shamed. A bit more shame, a bit less moral relativism, and we'd all be better off.

terrance said...

Here's how Ann would handle it:

Dear Little Girl:

Congratulations.

It is customary in these sorts of matters to require proof that you are who you say you are and that your father died before we release your prize. Therefore, could you please send us a notarized copy of your birth certificate and a notarized copy of your father's death certificate for our records.

Please expect to wait six to eight weeks after we receive the documents for receipt of your prize.

Thank you for participating and, again, congratulations.

Sincerely,

Ann Althouse
Professor at UW-Madison, Attorney at Law, and Blogger

Fen said...

Was it ever said beforehand that whatever you kiddies write it better not be fiction?

No. It also wasn't specified that they couldn't hire Glenn Greenwald to be their ghost-writer, or knee-cap any other little girls who made the final cut...

Did they ever say that the essays have to be true stories? It appears not. Write a story, win a prize. That was the deal. That's what the mother said too. They never said it had to be true and they never asked her if it was, either

Ah but they did, finally. She lied to them when asked to present specifics re the fake father. Thats what wrote it in stone for me - she knew getting caught in a lie would disqualify her, so she fabricated more lies. It was all premeditated: when she started this, she knew a dishonest story would be rejected.

willwisp2 said...

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/22502162/

The way I see it, this mother is not only teaching her daughter that the best way to attain priveleges is to lie, but that the line between fact and fiction is gray. An essay is a work of non-fiction, and if this little girl has to write them in school all the time as her mother has said, then the girl should know that. Before you say I'm going over the kid's head, keep in mind that at that age, one of the core things a child learns is the difference between what is real and what is not. By inserting such blatantly disrespectful lies like her own father being dead and participation in a made-up military unit, this mother is teaching her child that writers (and people in general) have no responsibility and can make up whatever they want. Under more serious circumstances, the man who is alive and well could sue them for libel.
She is also teaching her daughter that it's more important to go to some stupid concert than it is to be a good person. What is this child really missing out on if she doesn't win some Hannah Montana contest? Parents of daughters, please raise them to have more substantial interests than celebrities. No one is saying the simple truth: this woman is trashy and her daughter, if the behavior is rewarded rather than punished, will be the same way.