How appropriate. Just as Congress passes the Torquemada Act and we hear that the head of the GOP Missing and Exploited Kids Caucus is a known (to the GOP anyway) sexual predator, we get this headline in the New York Times on Saturday: “In Many Public Schools, the Paddle Is No Relic.”
“[…] used properly, along with other punishments, a few pops can help turn a school around.” So says Anthony Price, the Principal from Fort Worth, Texas, who poses menacingly with his Migthy Spatula of Redemption (hat tip to the General for that one) on the NYT cover. Is it just me, or does it sound like Mr. Price fully embraces the culture of compassionate conservatism, the same culture that says “used properly, along with other weapons, a few cluster bombs can help turn the Middle East around”? Other than their big donors, did current-day Republicans ever see a human being they didn’t want to kill, molest, maim, cheat or at the very least humiliate?
I’m not claiming to know anything about Mr. Price’s personal politics. I’m just saying that he’s echoing a sadly familiar mindset that currently runs things around here.
But of course; just because the rest of the civilized world (even the British, who for the longest time held some sick pride in caning their school kids) has come to realize that beating kids into submission is, well, counterproductive and wrong, doesn’t mean that we here in the United States of Ignorance and Denial shouldn’t continue to try to whack our way to compliance and comprehension. No Child Left Unharmed and all that.
Tina Morgan, who works on a highway crew in rural North Carolina, gave permission for her son to be paddled in his North Carolina middle school. But she said she was unprepared for Travis, now 12, to come home with a backside that was a florid kaleidoscope of plums and lemons and blood oranges.
“This boy might need a blistering now and then, with his knucklehead,” Ms. Morgan said, swatting at him playfully, but she added that she never wanted him to be beaten like that. “I’ve decided, we’ve got to get corporal punishment out of the schools.”
Good for Tina for seeing the light; let’s assume she didn’t really think thru the whole notion of corporal punishment before she allowed her “knucklehead” son to test it with his own body. I mean, other than the sadly deranged Bible thumpers who take the “spare the rod…” nonsense at face value simply because it appears in their favorite fairy tale, what parent signs a piece of paper that says: “yes, you as an authority figure may beat up my kid?” What’s the kid to think of his parents when he realizes that they’ve authorized the humiliation and pain that he or she is put thru at school?
I much prefer this notion, from the Christian Science Monitor (quoted here):
The fundamental need of American education is to find ways of engaging today’s children in the thrill of learning. Fear of pain has no place in that process.
And this one from none other than Dr. Spock (quoted here):
If we are ever to turn toward a kindlier society and a safer world, a revulsion against the physical punishment of children would be a good place to start.
The National Coalition to Abolish Corporate Punishment in Schools has more, as does this piece. Corporal punishment of kids in any setting is abhorrent, barbaric and plain ol’ wrong. Moreover, studies have shown that corporal punishment leads to lower IQs, psychological disorders later in life, more aggressive behavior and acceptance of more aggressive behavior, including support for the death penalty. In short, beating kids in school increases the risk of them turning into Republicans later in life. That alone, I would argue, should be reason enough to oppose the practice.