What is Happening to Society

What is Happening to Society

diner ownerby Diane Robertson

A restaurant owner in Portland, Maine has gotten national attention and sparked a debate after yelling at a screaming 21 month old baby girl in her restaurant and then ranting about it on Facebook.

The owner, Darla Neugebauer, asked the customers to leave, and when they didn’t she yelled at the child. Tara Carson, the child’s mother later got onto the restaurant’s Facebook page to complain. She wrote, “This lunatic of an owner behaved in the most unbelievable manner by screaming in the face of my child and kicking her out of the restaurant.”

The owner’s response is shocking and laced with profanity. She ranted: “After your third attempt to shut her up I asked you to pack up either your rotten child or take the so important pancakes to go… but noooo you just sit there and let your f—- screaming kid go!” The post ends with, “Yes I am f—- crazy & you are lucky I didn’t get really f—- nuts because being physical is not something I cower from.”

The whole exchange has sparked national attention with people coming in on both sides. Some saying that kids will be kids and other’s saying that parents need to teach their children better.

Even the people that support the parents are saying that parents ought to teach their children to behave and not throw fits. For example, Shahidah Bass wrote on Facebook, “Not excusing the parents…but the business owner was way out of line. She could have handled it better.”

Most agree that it would have been better if the parents left and settled the child down. But, here’s the clincher, Neugebauer, threw a bigger fit than the 21 month old baby. She even hinted that she would have felt fine if she had resorted to physical abuse (we can hope not with the child).

What is strikingly obvious is that good behavior was neither expected nor promoted for the adults. Everyone seems to agree that children need to learn to behave, but this was a baby, not a 4 or 5 year old child.

The child annoyed the woman, so the woman screamed, yelled, swore, and later stated that they were lucky she only went that far. Yes we ought to be teaching our children to do better than that. But it won’t happen if we cannot do better than that ourselves. In cases like these I always think, “Your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear your words.”

Reading this leaves me wondering what is happening to society. Why would anyone think that the sort of behavior displayed by this restaurant owner is ever appropriate? People rallied to her side. She took down her post, but publically concluded: “I’ve gotten a lot of support from my regulars, I’ve gotten support from away. I was looking at Facebook and thinking, ‘I might be a local hero’”.

Where are our moral bearings? I know that moral relativism is the guiding light of so many today– how a person feels is more important than anything else. Darla Neugebauer felt annoyed so she yelled and screamed and swore and behaved worse than a fitful baby waiting to be fed. And plenty of people thought that was ok. Which is too bad. I would hope a local hero would be more than an adult screaming like a baby. We need to get rid of this idea that whatever a person feels is right. Obviously moral relativism does not call for good behavior when a person doesn’t “feel” like it. This will not do. We ought to go back, and teach moral absolutes. And we ought to behave the same way we want children to behave.




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