Outrage of the Weekend: Man Arrested for Duck Impersonation

Hi Readers!  This just in, from Free-Ranger Deb Turner, who asks: “If you were shopping with your nine year old, and a man approached you and your child and did a Donald Duck imitation for the child, would you call 9-1-1? This happened in my local area.”
‘Duck’ didn’t ruffle any legal feathers
 
The case of an Oriskany man accused of frightening children and parents at Wal-Mart with his Donald Duck impression was dismissed from City Court on Friday.
A charge of endangering the welfare of a child was dismissed against Martin A. Tuzzolino, 55, by Judge Daniel C. Wilson, prosecutors said.
The case was dismissed on a motion by the public defender that the crime didn’t fit the charge, that there was no danger in Tuzzolino’s antics, prosecutors stated. At about 5:30 p.m. April 28, deputies said Tuzzolino approached a 9-year-old girl at Wal-Mart on Rome-Taberg Road and began speaking like Disney cartoon character Donald Duck.
Deputies said the girl started crying, and her mother called 9-1-1 to report the strange behavior. Tuzzolino left the store, and was arrested later for endangering.
 
To quote another terrifying cartoon duck:  Th-th-that’s despicable! — Lenore
 

48 Responses

  1. Let’s look at the good side: The case was thrown out of court for being absurd.

  2. What the heck?

    It goes back to that stranger fear you talked about not long ago. Sad.

    How are today’s kids ever going to meet people if they don’t interact with anyone? Or distinguish a dangerous stranger from a harmless stranger?

  3. i have to be honest, i would probably cry too if someone came up to me and started talking like donald duck.

    but that’s no reason to call police.

  4. One of the dangers of too much computer interaction and not enought human interaction – people are losing their ability to read body language and intent through tone of voice, and facial expression…. since that never comes through the screen we use emoticons and abreviations to display our intentions. Perhaps we are losing the ability to read the kind/silly intent on some strangers face. I am sure the Donald Duck impersonator would have intent written on his face, if only the people would look, read, interact. If he truly was a creep, a simple get lost is likely enough.

  5. Totally ridiculous. And that poor guy probably had to post bail to get out of jail.

  6. To quote another terrifying cartoon duck: Th-th-that’s despicable! — Lenore

    Brilliant!

    I think we should protest by choosing a day where everyone chooses a cartoon character and only speaks in that voice all day.

    I choose the Road Runner.

  7. Someone did that with our baby once. Scared the living daylights out of here too. But the cops?

  8. No wonder people don’t even LOOK at each other anymore, let alone interact. If the child started crying, it’s up to the parents to help the child laugh it off, or at the very WORST tell the man to re-think his approach.

  9. TrinaMb, I think this has less to do with internet and more with the society of general fear we live in. I know people like to bag on the internet as reduce human interaction, but there are meet-ups every week for this internet community or that. People use the internet to get together in person. And some don’t. But, again I think this has to do with people being made to feel that everyone could be a terrorist, a pedophile, or a mutant child abductor from phobos.

  10. Aww, c’mon. If you are going to lift an entire newspaper article without attribution, at least link to it: ‘Duck’ didn’t ruffle any legal feathers.

  11. While I don’t think the police should have gotten involved, that’s pretty bizarre! I think a simple, “Leave my kid alone, you’re scaring her” should have done the trick. The guy does sound like a weirdo, though.

  12. Kind of irresponsible of the paper to print both his name and address I think. If there was nothing to charge him with, then what’s the point?

    And while we can relax that he charge was dismissed, this wasn’t ‘free’. This was all an unnecessary drain on resources, including 911 dispatchers and police.

    My son has a thing about dogs. He loves them from a distance, so people try to be friendly and bring them for a closer look, at which point he freaks. I wonder if I should call 911 every time.

  13. I’ve had a number of men (usually older) make donald duck voices to entertain my son. (He was a very outgoing baby and always attracted alot of attention) I realized the other day that my son, who is scarcely 2, has no idea who Donald Duck is! Those cartoons are never really on anymore.

    If I was a little kid and didn’t know donald duck, I would probably have been at least weirded out thinking the man had a very strange voice. But the mother should have known better. Good lord in a bucket.

  14. And I should add, what if he’d not been impersonating? What if he’d been a person with a tracheotomy or had some damage to his voice box that made him sound different? What a silly outrageous thing all around.

  15. At least the court threw it out.

    I think there are a whole lot of parents in the world that need a collective slap to the face. Maybe they’ll snap out of it… or maybe they’ll just sue us. :/

  16. While I don’t think the police should have gotten involved, that’s pretty bizarre! I think a simple, “Leave my kid alone, you’re scaring her” should have done the trick. The guy does sound like a weirdo, though.

    But a nine year old bursting into tears because some guy made a Donald Duck impression at her, that’s normal.

  17. Hyper-sensitive, over-reactive daughter of a hyper-sensitive, over-reactive mother. I sense a connection here.

    Although I have to admit, something smells funny if a 9 year old starts crying when one old man talks to her in a funny voice! She probably had some kind of nam-PTSD-flashback to one of mom’s good old-fashioned stranger warning lectures!

  18. Well, definitley kudos to the judge (or whomever) for throwing it out. Good grief….

    And Donald Duck cartoons are easily available on YouTube or from Netflix! My 3-year-old doesn’t know Dora, or whatever other cartoons are au courant, but she knows Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. For the record, I’m too young to remember them being very available on television, being still under 30 myself!

  19. Maybe Mom thought the guy was replaying duckjob.wav. (http://is.gd/2vmMR, not safe for work)

  20. Don’t play this Donald Duck impression for your kids. They won’t understand it, but they might quote it to someone who’ll be shocked.

    [audio src="http://d.peperonity.com/c/d/AF1E80/187913/ssc3/home/028/agustea/albums/duckjob.wav" /]

    (No idea who the voice is.)

  21. That duckjob.wav file may have just scared my inner child to death.

    The story doesn’t say so, but I’m wondering what cause him to approach the girl like that. I suspect she was probably trying to interact with him (as many children seem to like to do), and he responded with a voice that he suspected the girl would know and think was funny. Obviously, she didn’t know the voice (I’m not surprised), so she probably thought it was weird.

    Just my $.02 based on my experience. For some reason, I’m really popular with elementary-age kids and they’ll often wave or say “Hi” when passing me even if I’ve never met them.

  22. Sorry- why are we not trusting the 9 year old? Maybe he was truly scary. If my totally reasonable 9 year old was scared enough by a man who approached her to start crying, I might be alarmed enough to give the police a heads up. Teaching our children independence doesn’t mean we have to scorn a 9 year old girl and her mother when they get a bad feeling about a man acting strangely. He wasn’t making faces at a baby- he was teasing a 9 year old while she was alone.

  23. Oh so we go around arresting people and throw them in jail because they merely frighten our children? Wait till they toss you in the graybar hotel for not breaking the law.

  24. The judge made the right call. This is so absurd and a waste of tax dollars to bring to trial.

  25. Andrew, the link is there. Click on the blue “this” in Lenore’s opening comments and it brings you right to it.

  26. He wasn’t making faces at a baby- he was teasing a 9 year old while she was alone.

    Where do you get that she was alone?

  27. I was wondering the same thing, Uly. After that comment I went and read the original article. It never says she was alone.

  28. Can they PLEASE charge the woman for misuse of the 911 system?

  29. Forget quoting cartoon characters, let’s take it one step further and just drop an anvil on them. The Donald Duck impersonator might have been a bit off-center, and yeah, maybe that would freak some kids out. But I’ve known people who could just look at a kid–no funny voices or even funny faces involved–and make them cry. Should someone have called the police on them???

  30. Ohhhhhhh, I want to make a wisecrack about this so much that I might just ‘splode!

  31. its amazing……

  32. My daughter would be freaked out, too. But I wouldn’t call the police as a result. I mean, come on.

  33. What about the police and the prosecutor,’s responsibilities? The judge clearly did the right thing here, but an overreacting mom can’t bring charges all by herself.

  34. Katie…
    We have a 3 year old grandson with us, and so are getting familiar with the current cartoons. Well, some of them. I encourage you to look at Dora. Inclusive, interactive, and bi-lingual. I FAR prefer many of the newer shows, ones that don’t have the old perceptions of race etc., firmly integrated into them. Dora, Diego, Dragontales… all wonderful, also available on netflix, some streaming, and gentle, thoughtful, non-violent, and, perhaps most relevant to this site, adventurous kids who go things, on their own, in the outdoors! Awesome!

    My grandson has no freaking idea who Donald Duck is, other than his other grandparents sent a shirt with Mickey, Donald and Goofy on it. Generally not a Disney fan myself, especially of those old cartoons in the current world.

    I doubt, however, that he’d freak out at a Donald Duck voice. He’s a curious, and not-easily-shaken boy. Fearless. Both grateful and terrified by this🙂

  35. I encourage you to look at Dora. Inclusive, interactive, and bi-lingual.

    And irritating and annoying and featuring pretend interactivity. Blech. No thanks.

    If I must watch kid’s shows, I go with the Backyardigans. The music is strangely addicting.

  36. Irritating and annoying is in the eyes of the intended viewer. My son loves Diego. Sure, the interactivity is pretty lame, but what do you expect from a TV show? As long as it doesn’t have abundant hitting and yelling (Power Rangers anyone?) I’m ok with it.

    My vote however is for Curious George. Lots of Free Range lessons there! My only ‘con’ is that they keep calling George (a chimpanzee) a ‘monkey’. ARG!

  37. I’m having a hard time understanding why a 9 year-old would be freaked by a person talking in a funny voice. Even if they’d never heard of Donald Duck, why would they consider someone speaking in a silly, raspy voice so terrifying?

  38. I expect TV shows to not insult the intelligence of your average kid. But to each their own – and yes, if it does not have a tail, it ain’t a monkey, folks!

  39. It’s true I assumed she was alone, but why assume a girl and her mom overreacted if they were frightened? I’m trying to imagine this as a mom of an independent nine year old. What would I do if a man scared her? Just tell her she’s being silly? The police apparently agreed that he needed to be dealt with.

  40. Elena, I agree that the mom should trust her daughter’s instinct but in this case I think all she had to do was lead the daughter away from the man. Why call the cops? If he had grabbed her or tried to get her to follow him or something, fine call the cops. But for speaking to her?

  41. Sadly, the thing that bothers me is her calling the cops. If that happened to me, I’d likely simply say, “hey, you, knock it off.” Period. People are so passive aggressive and afraid of conflict. Just a simple, “What are you nuts to frighten my daughter? SCREW” and problem solved.

  42. And irritating and annoying and featuring pretend interactivity. Blech. No thanks.

    If I must watch kid’s shows, I go with the Backyardigans. The music is strangely addicting.

    Agreed. I wanted to like Dora for having a protagonist who’s (a) female and (b) not blonde, and for being bilingual, and for featuring independent adventuring — but I just couldn’t, because it was SO ANNOYING. I was incredibly grateful when my kid outgrew Dora, Diego, and all their works.

    And our whole family likes the Backyardigans. Okay, it’s equally formulaic, but the songs are fun (and a lot less saccharine) and the writers throw in a slightly more sophisticated joke here and there, which helps.

    Now the kid is seven, and we’ve largely moved on to various superhero cartoons, which at least don’t have the pretend interactivity requirement (I always hated that, even as a kid). Though I confess to some nostalgia for the old version of Spider-Man …

  43. It’s true I assumed she was alone, but why assume a girl and her mom overreacted if they were frightened?

    Because the facts I have say that the guy did an impression and then left the building. Not very threatening.

    I’m trying to imagine this as a mom of an independent nine year old. What would I do if a man scared her? Just tell her she’s being silly?

    If she is – sure. I wouldn’t call the cops unless he was breaking a law, though.

    The police apparently agreed that he needed to be dealt with.

    Doesn’t mean they were right. The judge didn’t agree.

  44. I don’t know. I agree with the charges being dropped. But I can visualize anything from:

    a) Older gentleman attempts to entertain passing child, unaware that modern children have no clue who Donald Duck is. Parent freaks out over nothing.
    through
    b) Strange man follows children around speaking to them in a cartoon character’s voice. Concerned bystanders call police in hopes that the man will be returned to his group home and have the rules of normal engagement gently explained to him again.

  45. […] hit the wires, but as I catch up on my blogreading it’s been brought to my attention by the Free Range Kids blog, an excellent resource for those who feel the current parenting climate is just a tad […]

  46. Thank you very much for your help, this has been a great respite from the books,

  47. That’s reduckulous!

  48. LOL… this guy tried to rob my house earlier this evening. I guess it has been all downhill from the duck incident.

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