‘Baby in an oven’ photo: Grandfather plays a practical joke on son

Lia Grainger
Shine On

See this photo? No it's not a reenactment of Hansel and Gretel, just one grandfather's idea of a practical joke, and whether it's funny or not has created a sharp division in the online community.

The photo, of a baby squirming in a baby-sized pan inside an oven, first appeared online on the website imgur.com, alongside the caption, "My first time leaving her, and Dad decides this is the picture to send."

Now, are you belly-laughing and clutching your sides, or gasping in horror and clutching your pearls? Commenters on the photo seem to fall into one of the two camps. On imgur.com, where the photo has more than a million views, the top rated comment is: ""I understand your concern; there's not nearly enough gravy on that child, plus there should be tinfoil to avoid burning the top," while on Reddit, "I'm guessing he's not a seasoned chef; he left the diaper on!" was followed immediately by, "helps contain the juices."

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Others got literary about it, with comments like "I have a modest proposal for you," in reference to Jonathan Swift's satirical paper suggesting that the babies of poor people be cooked and eaten.

But others found the image less amusing. At the "married life" page on the online forum ProBoards, moms were not impressed.

"I know its harmless but that would freak me out. No bueno," wrote one mom, while another said "What's next, laying them down on a train track?"

Others were more pragmatic. One commenter thought it through thusly.

"I guess my question is... What's the real harm? The oven isn't on... There's no weird way the oven could accidentally turn on, the door shut by itself and the baby get locked in there. There's no potential harm in taking this pic."

This prank seems to have ended well, but for other parental pranksters, that's not the case.

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Back in May of this year, the Daily Mail reported on a YouTube video (it has since been removed) of a couple putting their baby son inside a washing machine at a laundromat and closing the door, only to have it lock automatically and turn on. The couple can be seen growing increasingly hysterical as they struggle to open the door. Eventually the child is retrieved and, according to the YouTube poster, sustained only minor injuries. Hee-larious.

And just this past Saturday, Chicago area dad Andre Curry was convicted of aggravated domestic battery and aggregated battery, after he posted a photo of his 22-month-old baby bound with blue painter's tape at the ankles, wrists, and mouth accompanied by the caption, "This is wut happens wen my baby hits me back" and a winking emoticon. The judge said in his ruling that "To use a child...as a toy or a prop in an odd attempt at humor is conduct of an insulting or provoking nature."

Is grandpa's "baby in the oven" photo "conduct of an insulting or provoking nature"? Andre Curry could face seven years in prison, though he has no previous criminal record. Does grandpa deserve a similar fate?