Richard knows best

By Beth Broeker

By Salon Staff
Published August 25, 2000 7:30PM (EDT)

Read the story

Richard Hatch is a gay man. A single father. And he's caught in a Catch-22. In the world according to Beth Broeker, if Hatch defends himself against charges of child abuse, he's even more of an abuser. Does Broeker really believe that to have Hatch just say, "I'm innocent" without elaboration would be a sufficient defense? After all, he's already been sent to the gallows by the likes of her. From watching "Survivor," she's somehow divined his true character. "His tattling merely confirms what we already knew about him from 'Survivor' -- Richard looks out for Richard," she writes from up on high. But Broeker doesn't know Richard Hatch -- she's been watching a man play a game on TV for 13 weeks, and has decided to condemn him because he didn't play "nice" and because in TV interviews he's dared to defend himself of the most heinous, hurtful charges that can be aimed at -- especially -- a gay male parent.

Somehow, I believe Hatch revealing vague, sketchy details of his child's background is less harmful than Broeker's further stigmatizing Hatch as an "abuser." No one's going to remember that this child was troubled a month from now; these allegations of abuse will haunt Richard -- and his son -- for the rest of his life.

-- TS Faull

Beth Broeker really crosses the line with her pop psychoanalysis of a person she largely forms her impressions of from a television show. If there was abuse in the home, I certainly am not here to defend it, but it's hard to imagine that she's is in any place to ascertain this. Certainly, her article is short on evidence and long on conjecture and personal attacks.

It's one thing for the American public to critique and judge the characters presented on a show like "Survivor," despite that fact that we've never met them. It's quite another to assume that these crafted portrayals are in any way relevant to determine whether abuse has occurred. If you don't like the guy and how he behaves in the media spotlight, that's fine. But if you're going to accuse him publicly of child abuse, I think it's fair to ask that you leave your interpretations of a TV show out of it.

-- John Wright

If Broeker even bothered to research this story she would know Hatch did not launch his child's foster status and troubled past into the national spotlight -- the national media and the state of Rhode Island did. The state publicized the child's troubled past when it, or someone employed by it, illegally released the story to the tabloids and national press. Hatch simply defended his child and his actions on a night before he knew his face and his child's story would be on every newspaper, television show and news station in the nation.

The hypocrisy of Broeker criticizing Richard Hatch for actions that she herself makes a living off of just astounds me. Perhaps if Broeker were so concerned for the welfare of this child and his right to privacy she, other members of the press (of which I am one too) and the state of Rhode Island would cease printing stories about Hatch and his son's situation.

-- Randy Weston

In Beth Broeker's essay on "Survivor" winner Richard Hatch's response to child abuse charges, she claims that it is always in the best interest of children to keep past pain and abuse hidden and behind closed doors, that Richard's interview was unfair to his son because he told the truth about the past abuse he had suffered.

Pretending that past pain and trauma didn't really happen, or at least keeping that ugly news out of the neighbors' view, seems the most harmful thing you could do, implying that the kid is somehow in the wrong here. If Hatch just denied the charges, as Broeker suggests, he implies that the kid is a rotten liar. By explaining things in the interview, he took the heat OFF of his son. From what we can see from the outside of that family, it looks like the right thing to do.

-- Tina Fetner

Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------