In My Opinion

Celia Rivenbark: Hey kids, 'emancipate' yourselves

August 31, 2013 

It has been a few weeks since that kid from Connecticut famously goofed on “Jeopardy!” (barely) misspelling the word “emancipation” and losing his final “Jeopardy!” bet. The story has “legs” as we say in the news business. Or maybe that’s the red wine business. People are still buzzing about it.

The dilemma is whether or not the kid was mistreated by the judges.

After all, Thomas Hurley, grade 8, nailed “proclamation” so it was obvious what he meant. It’s not like he scribbled “I Like Pig Butts I Cannot Lie,” which I saw on a ball cap worn by the guy ahead of me at the grocery store. And, yes, I totally want that cap.

Thomas had a tiny meltdown after the show and said that he’d been “cheated” by the judge’s decision. This led to a huge chorus of outrage on both sides and his mama admitting that the whole episode left her son “stunned” and “embarrassed.” Facebook, the smiley place for outrage and dunderheaded comments, lit up. The consensus seemed to be that Thomas might as well learn now that life would feature plenty of disappointing crap when he got older that would make this whole misspelling kerfuffle look like a trip to Dizney.

Yes, on Facebook, when things go right, it’s all pretty pictures of last night’s pot roast and potatoes. But when things go wrong, like an adolescent boy momentarily whining about his “Jeopardy!” appearance, things get ugly pretty fast.

I bet you’re wondering what Dr. Laura would say about all this. She’s a radio advice-giver of some renown in sanctimonious circles. Sometimes I like to listen to her when I want to feel like I’m not the worst person in the world.

A lot of Dr. Laura’s callers preface their questions with a giddy admission that “I know what you’re going to say!” That’s because she has a way of getting into your head like an earworm and all the Debrox drops in the world won’t wash her out. That’s how I know that she’d tell young Thomas: “You accepted the rules of play and now you’re complaining the rules aren’t fair. Shut up. Now go do the right thing.”

The earworm has spoken and I basically agree with it. Her. Thomas agreed to play by the spelling rule when he signed on for the show.

Being a kid didn’t make him exempt or special in any way. It’s not like if you go to, say, a major league baseball game and you actually manage to catch a fly ball and, sure, it’s really yours to keep but everybody around you is chanting “Give it to the kid!” because there’s one sitting in your general area with his stupid glove looking all baleful and stuff. Not that anything like that has ever happened to me.

Besides, if Thomas wants to sue “Jeopardy!” and his parents don’t agree, he can always file for emanciptation. Yeah, I couldn’t resist that.

celiarivenbark.com

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