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Song for Matthew Parsons

In the early fall of 1991, news of a horrific case of child abuse and assault came to light in Everett, WA, with the hospitalization of 12-year-old Matthew Parsons, who had been beaten into a coma, with severe brain injuries, by his father and his father's girlfriend, both of whom served prison sentences for second-degree assault. In 1992, new legislation inspired by Matthew's case created new requirements for the trial and sentencing of child assault cases. Matthew was later transferred to a nursing facility in Tucson under his mother's custody, but he never regained consciousness. He died on Tuesday, February 11, 1997 at age 17. Three years later, on April 25, 2000, a park dedicated in memory of Matthew Parsons was opened near the Snohomish County Courthouse.

This song was written in 1992, with a new verse added recently, in August 2002. It takes the viewpoint of a childhood friend of Matthew Parsons.

Words and Music 1992 and 2002 by Karen I. Olsen

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I sing for Matthew Parsons, 'cause he was a friend of mine.
Now he's lying in a coma, and forever will be blind.
But though I've nearly lost a friend, one lesson I have gained:
That your respect should only be exchanged for the same.

Matt's dad and his dad's girlfriend figured they were so damn good,
They'd beat him up for anything, or nothing if they could;
And they fed him all those dog-eared lies of how it caused them pain--
But Matt's respect could only be exchanged for the same.

The woman snapped one morning, as Matt stood his ground once more;
She knocked him from his chair, and slammed his head against the floor.
Too bad he couldn't get away before she crushed his brain;
'Cause your respect should only be exchanged for the same.

Now, Matt was taught the same as me, that kids should not resist;
It's the reason he was nearly killed--he dared to block her fist.
And his dad said she went crazy, but I say they're both to blame--
Now, my respect shall only be exchanged for the same.

Now, I've heard it taught in Sunday School, in Bible verse and song,
That "thou shalt honor parents, that your days on earth be long";
But where is my protection from the crazies without shame,
Who don't know respect can only be exchanged for the same?

So I say this now to parents, to the cops and teachers too:
If anyone treats me like dirt, contempt shall be their due.
They are not gods of their own worlds, and "kid" is not my name,
And my respect shall only be exchanged for the same.

So Matt, your friends remember you, although it brings us pain.
Now we can see how power makes some grownup folks insane.
So we put them all on notice, and we shout it in your name:
Our respect shall only be exchanged for the same.

Our respect shall only be exchanged for the same.
Our respect shall only be exchanged for the same.
My respect shall only be exchanged for the same.

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