Walking out of the store and down the street, I heard a gasping wail. Looking up, I saw a woman with two children in hand attempting to jaywalk in the middle of the street.

The wail prolonged and repeated. It was hysterical crying, coming, probably from both, but primarily for the older child, probably about seven, who was being dragged, feet dangling, by his wrist. It was a murderous cry. A desperate, all-out scream, rattling over and over again at the limits of breath.

Some children can make that noise because they’ve been denied a 23rd viewing of the Pokemon movie. Most people, however, reserve it for when they are being burned alive. It was hard to tell, at that moment, where on the scale this child was.

The mother stopped, transfixed momentarily by the glances of the people around her, and looking distractedly in either direction, dragged her children haltingly across the street, appearing not to notice as traffic stopped to accommodate her. As I walked closer, I heard her muttering in what might have been heavily accented English. Then it happened.


She had delivered a close-fisted blow to the head of the child. The screams intensified. Shouting unintelligible curses, she began hitting him repeatedly, still holding him up with her other arm.

whack. whack. whack. whack. whack. whack. whack.

She was hitting him with steady repetition, muttering and shouting things I was grateful I could not understand. A man ahead of me with a stroller and an older child of his own turned and furtively stared. There were glances from across the street. As I walked around the corner, she was shaking him, and smacking him in the face. The noises coming from his gaping mouth made me wonder at what point he might injure himself from screaming, or faint from not breathing properly. The more he cried out, the more vigorous the blows.

I wondered, shivering, as I stepped out of sight, whether or not it would eventually work; perhaps if she drove him unconscious, or the shock would overwhelm him, and eventually quiet him. I understood from her blankly murderous glance at me as she met my eyes that she could do that, beat her child half-unconscious on the street, without incurring comment from the horrified onlookers.

People don't seem to understand why I wrote this or what it means. I'm relating something that happened to me the day I wrote this, which made me think: how valid or genuine is anyone's concern over the lives of "unborn children" when we let the world work this way for the born ones? If you consider all of the energy various forces dedicate to ending abortion, while there is a shortage of foster homes, decent public schools are a myth, and good higher education has become impossible except for the exceptionally wealthy... let alone all the problems with the world into which we "precious" children grow up... a fixation on ending abortion starts to appear peculiar.