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Legal child abuse

In 1995, before the violent and bloody Bryan Singer film, “The Usual Suspects” had won two Academy Awards, I sat in a theater in San Francisco waiting for the lights to go down when a family of five – comprised of what appeared to be grandparents, parents and a young girl about 5 years old – walked down the aisle and took seats several rows down and directly in front of me.

I didn’t yet know enough about the film to understand what profoundly bad judgment was seated before me, but not long after the feature unfolded and the blood began flowing, the girl began crying, her voice rising to a keening wail.

Instead of leaving the theater, someone put a coat over her head and the family stayed through the entire film, an exquisitely-crafted, R-rated, 106-minute mystery, punctuated by murder, mayhem and buckets of blood, profoundly inappropriate for any child.

Afterward I confronted the family. They responded with embarrassment, even shame, but one explained their behavior by saying, “We just didn’t know.”

The theater manager later explained he had no authority to stop them from bringing the child, but admitted perhaps someone should have tried to explain to the family it was a mistake.


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