Citizens of Las Cruces, NM and protectors of decency everywhere are outraged after a photo surfaced in which Chuck E. Cheese, known mouse pizza mascot, appeared to be giving "The Finger" while posing for a photo with a 4-year-old boy.

The innocent child, known as Corbin, was at the local Chuck E. Cheese ballpiteria to celebrate his birthday, adding special insult to injury. The lad has remained mum about this incident, but his family is speaking out.

His father:

Why would you do that? If you don't like your job, there is somebody else out there who would love to do what you do. You can go somewhere else to flip somebody off. That's inappropriate.

His grandmother:

All Corbin really wanted was a hug from Chuck E. Cheese. You know how little kids are with their idols.* But it seemed like [Chuck E.] did not really want to be there.

His mother:

I was mad. I still am. That's his 4th birthday picture, and it's ruined. That was no way to treat a child.

So as you can see, a family is shattered, and presumably a community now questions where to go from here. For their part, the Chuck E. Cheese corporation — which advertises its restaurants as places where "a kid can be a kid" and, I guess, where a kid can get flipped the bird while trying to be a kid — has tried to explain the rude gesture away, citing a problem with costumery:

He has big wide paws, like a glove, and they're lumpy and not clearly defined. His glove is a thumb and three fingers, so what you see is his index finger extended - not his middle finger.

A likely story. Why is big Cheese trying to cover up this sordid incident? Are there more disgruntled Chucks fingering children — er, giving children the finger — elsewhere in this ever-troubled nation of ours? As if we didn't already have enough to be afraid of, there's now this. [Las Cruces Sun-News via allyzay]

*If your child's idol is Chuck E. Cheese, you have bigger problems to worry about than a mouse giving your kid the finger. Just saying.

[Mascot photo via Las Cruces Sun-News. Photo of another Chuck E. Cheese via Ken W!/Flickr]