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Jury Of Listeners Oppose Judge Hitting His Teen


And now, it's time for BackTalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get to hear from you, our listeners. Ammad Omar is with me. He's an editor here at TELL ME MORE. Welcome back, Ammad.

AMMAD OMAR, BYLINE: Thanks, Michel.

MARTIN: Now, I understand that our parenting conversation this week got quite a response.

OMAR: That's right, Michel. On Tuesday, we talked to our moms about a video of a Texas judge hitting his teenage daughter repeatedly with a belt. That video has millions of hits on YouTube. He said he was punishing her for illegally downloading files.

Now, most of the guests you spoke with found the video to be very disturbing and called it abuse, but one of our regular moms, Dani Tucker, defended the judge's actions. Here's some of what she said.

DANI TUCKER: Now, the child was not - did not need to go in an ambulance. The child was not laid out bleeding or bloody. She got a spanking. OK? She got a spanking. If she didn't want to get a spanking, she shouldn't have done the crime.

OMAR: Many people in our jury of listeners said the judge was on the wrong side of the law and that Dani was on the wrong side of the issue, as well. R. David Smith(ph) wrote in from Batesville, Mississippi. He writes, quote, I was appalled that one of your regulars, Dani Tucker, would defend such brutality as the beating of this 16-year-old girl by her father by calling it a spanking. This was abuse of a child and Ms. Tucker should be ashamed to defend such behavior as part of her, quote, big mama discipline, as she called it, unquote. He goes on to write, and this is in all caps: Frankly, I think that someone with such a callous and cruel attitude as Ms. Tucker would not be someone who deserves being a regular on your program, unquote.

Michel, Dani wasn't the only one that got called out. Some people thought it was our fault for putting her on in the first place. Debra Myer(ph) in St. Louis, Missouri, says, I'm sickened by the show I just heard. She goes on to write, everyone involved in it should hang your heads in shame.

MARTIN: Well, I appreciate all the comments. I've already answered many of them directly - those who wrote to me personally. But I don't see any reason for shame here. On this program, the whole purpose of conversation is to hear different points of view. Alternate points of view, those represented by the people who objected both to the judge's actions and to Dani's perspective on it were amply represented in the program. I think that is the purpose of conversation, of elucidating different points of view, and that we did.

And I also want to point out that Dani has many people who support her point of view, even if they don't choose to express themselves in this particular forum. So I appreciate everybody's comments, but the conversations will continue, even when people don't agree with what everyone has to say.

OMAR: Well, some listeners did appreciate that passion in the range of opinions we had in the conversation. Here's a comment from Ellen Kennedy(ph). She's a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

ELLEN KENNEDY: I heard only part of the discussion while driving, but I found the discussion's differences so interesting that I watched part of the video on YouTube and listened again to the discussion. What happened to that girl was not discipline, but abuse. It was assault and battery, I think. It is unacceptable that a man capable of this violence against his daughter should be a judge with jurisdiction over family law disputes.

MARTIN: And I have the feeling we'll be talking more about this in the future. Thank you, Ammad.

OMAR: Yeah. And thanks to all of the people for writing in on that topic.

MARTIN: Anything else?

OMAR: Well, we got some nice feedback on a segment we did on protest music on Wednesday.


EDWIN STARR: (Singing) War, huh, yeah. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Uh-huh.

OMAR: You spoke with the author Dorian Lynskey about how music has been used to protest in this country by everyone from slaves to the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators. And we got a lot of positive response on our website and by email.

This is from Esaped Shahid(ph) in East Point, Georgia. He wrote: I rarely agree with your topics. Nevertheless, your segment on protest music struck a chord. I'm old enough to relate to all of your examples from Billie Holiday to Gil Scott Heron to Public Enemy. My foray into rap music as a child was via the Last Poets by way of an older sibling. Billie Holiday was via my mother. At any rate, this message is sent simply to say job well done.

MARTIN: Well, thanks for that, Mr. Shahid. Anything else?

OMAR: Yeah. We've got a few quick updates on some political issues and races we covered.

MARTIN: Last week, we talked about an initiative to implement stricter voter ID laws in Mississippi that passed. Also in Mississippi, Republican Phil Bryant defeated Democrat Johnny DuPree for the governor's office. That race got national attention because Johnny DuPree is the first African-American to win a major party nomination for statewide office in Mississippi.

OMAR: Yeah. We also discussed the fight over redrawing political districts in Texas earlier this month. Well, a federal court on Tuesday said Republican lawmakers in Texas used an improper standard to determine whether the new political maps were fair to minorities. The new maps have been thrown out and now a lots up in the air about those political boundaries for these upcoming elections. So we'll definitely keep an eye on that, as well.

MARTIN: Well, thank you so much for those updates, Ammad.

OMAR: Thank you.

MARTIN: And remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. Please remember to leave us your name. You can also find us on Twitter. Just look for TELL ME MORE, NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.