Thursday, November 11, 2004

Not exactly sure why anybody should care what I have to say about this, but I just finished writing an article and I feel like spouting some bullshit that has no relation to my life whatsoever. So bear with me, or just skip this. So Josh Marshall quotes a chap by the name of James Dobson, who apparently is a very important guy in America these days. Here's what Dr. Dobson has to say about corporal punishment for children: "It is not necessary to beat the child into submission; a little bit of pain goes a long way for a young child. However, the spanking should be of sufficient magnitude to cause the child to cry genuinely." And: "two or three stinging strokes on the legs or buttocks with a switch are usually sufficient to emphasize the point, 'You must obey me.'... By learning to yield to the loving authority...of his parents, a child learns to submit to other forms of authority which will confront him later in his life -- his teachers, school principal, police, neighbors and employers." It's not necessary to beat the child into submission? OK, doctor. Thanks. Will take that under advisement. Wait, there's more: "Real crying usually lasts two minutes or less but may continue for five. After that point, the child is merely complaining, and the change can be recognized in the tone and intensity of his voice. I would require him to stop the protest crying, usually by offering him a little more of whatever caused the original tears." Thank you for your careful study of the matter! You want some more of this? That'll learn 'em to shut up!

Thing is, I actually do think that kids should be whacked around a bit. At least the ones that deserve it. But they way he describes it here is pretty revolting, no? A kid should be punished so he doesn't go through life acting like an animal, not so he learns to submit to the police and ... his neighbors? Huh? And the second thing: This pain of which you speak.... I was indeed spanked by my parents, but I actually don't ever remember feeling much pain from it. The terror, as I recall, was almost entirely psychological. If one of my little friends had come up to me and hit me just as hard, I probably would have laughed and hit him back. But parental figures are a different story. When they hit you, it's scary, even if it doesn't hurt. I therefore suspect that Dr. Dobson's views have nothing at all to do with love and everything to do with sadism.

His ministry runs a program called Love Won Out that seeks to convert "ex-gays" to heterosexuality. (Alas, the program's director, a self-proclaimed "ex-gay" himself, was spotted at a gay bar in 2000, an episode Dobson downplayed as "a momentary setback.")
We're meant to snicker. It's pretty funny, after all. But still. I wonder if we shouldn't be doing something other than laughing. (Like, say, crying?)


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