On a week when it seemed half of America was weighing why French parents were superior, the other half was cheering for "laptop-shooting dad."
The irony can't be missed. An essay by Pamela Druckerman, based on her new book "Bringing up Bebe," was the most popular story on the Wall Street Journal's website all week. It extolled the virtues of teaching kids patience and of learning the value of a firm, quiet "no."
On the other hand, Tommy Jordan, angry dad from North Carolina, became an overnight Internet folk hero for meting out gunslinging justice to his rebellious 15-year-old, who had recently posted a disrespectful update on her Facebook page. On Thursday night, he posted the act of discipline on his daughter's Facebook wall, and on YouTube. By Monday morning, a stunning 21.4 million people had watched it -- far more than watch an episode of “American Idol”or even NBC's “Today” show. We’ll hear Jordan’s reaction to his viral sensation -- and whether he’d change anything about the incident -- in a moment.
While experts interviewed by msnbc.com were highly critical of the public nature of the discipline, the vast majority of parents expressed enthusiastic approval for Jordan, most pointing out that it's high time "someone stood up to these spoiled kids." An unscientific poll of 93,000 voters on Today.com found 74 percent agreed with Jordan's brand of discipline. Some avid supporters even urged Jordan to jump into the presidential race. He demurred, but publicly endorsed Ron Paul.
Jordan has also used his newfound fame to publicly endorse a website in which he has a financial interest, a classified-ad service called Another Man's Junk. He's encouraged visitors to donate money to the Muscular Dystrophy Association and says he's helped raise $5,000. And, he's monetized some of that YouTube traffic by adding an advertisement at the beginning of the now famous video.
"To those who are pissed because the copyright statements are on the video and it's been monetized.... well, I've got to pay for the attorney's somehow. Get over it," he wrote on his Facebook wall on Saturday.
He needs lawyers because Jordan's opened a Pandora's Box with his video. There is a small army of imitators making parodies, and Jordon expressed fear that some parent may carry gun-wielding discipline too far, and he might get blamed. He's also instructed lawyers to protect his copyrights and threatened to sue others who repost his video without attribution. He's facing some Internet-style harassment himself -- someone posted a good bit of personal information about him on a website.
He was also visited by the police and Child Protective Services during the weekend.
"Of course they came. They received enough ‘Oh my god he's going to kill his daughter’ comments that they had to," he wrote. He made light of the visits, however. The police congratulated him, he said, and one officer added that he planned to use the video in presentations he does for the school system.
The social worker interviewed Jordan and his daughter separately and was satisfied, Jordan wrote.
"At the end of the day, no I'm not losing my kids, no one's in danger of being ripped from our home that I know of, and I actually got to spend some time with the nice lady and learn some cool parenting tips that I didn't know," he wrote.
Despite the surprising notoriety, Jordan said he'd do it all over again in a statement designed to answer questions posed by reporters. (He’s so far not responded to msnbc.com’s request for an interview.)
“If I had it to do again... let's see... I'd do it almost the same," he wrote on his Facebook page in a note addressed to Anita Li of the Toronto Star. He wouldn't be smoking in the video, he said, then added, "I'd have worn my Silverbelly Stetson, not my Tilley hat, if I'd known that image was going to follow me the rest of my life and I'd probably have cleaned my boots. That's it."
More of his response:
"To answer 'Why did you reprimand her over a public medium like Facebook' my answer is this: Because that’s how I was raised. If I did something embarrassing to my parents in public (such as a grocery store) I got my tail tore up right there in front of God and everyone, right there in the store. I put the reprisal in exactly the same medium she did, in the exact same manner.”
Did the video have the intended effect?
"I think it was very effective on one front. She apparently didn’t remember being talked to about previous incidents, nor did she seem to remember the effects of having it taken away, nor did the eventual long-term grounding seem to get through to her. ...This time, she won’t ever forget and it’ll be a long time before she has an opportunity to post on Facebook again. I feel pretty certain that every day from then to now, whenever one of her friends mentions Facebook, she’ll remember it and wish she hadn’t done what she did.”
Jordan said he and his daughter have talked about the video and reached a "semi-truce," and that when he showed his daughter the comments that Internet users left on the YouTube page, she was "astounded."
"People were telling her she was going to commit suicide, commit a gun-related crime, become a drug addict, drop out of school, get pregnant on purpose, and become a stripper because she’s too emotionally damaged now to be a productive member of society. Apparently stripper was the job-choice of most of the commenters. Her response was 'Dude … it’s only a computer. I mean, yeah I’m mad but pfft.' She actually asked me to post a comment on one of the threads (and I did) asking what other job fields the victims of laptop-homicide were eligible for because she wasn’t too keen on the stripping thing.”
And on the biggest lesson learned through the incident:
"She’s seen first-hand through this video the worst possible scenario that can happen. One post, made by her Dad, will probably follow him the rest of his life; just like those mean things she said on Facebook will stick with the people her words hurt for a long time to come. Once you put it out there, you can’t take it back, so think carefully before you use the internet to broadcast your thoughts and feelings."
More on parenting from Today.com