Jordan Riak's letter to editors of Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel,
March 3, 2000
Dear Editor:

(Corporal Punishment Defined--March 2, 2000) American courts can be trusted to side with child abusers virtually every time. A more honest ruling by Maine's Supreme Judicial court in the case at hand could have been worded thus: "If the kid ain't in the hospital or dead, it ain't abuse."

My hunch is the justices had over-punished childhoods themselves. This probably was the driving force that propelled them toward the only profession which would allow them to direct the punishment of others on a full-time basis. A more accurate, but less dignified, job description might be, "professional spanker." This role implies virtual immunity from ever (again) being on the receiving end. Now they are safe. But not entirely. The sound of the 'S' word instantly plunges them into an uneasy, confused state, rendering them incapable of fairly hearing any case involving assault on a person who happens to be younger than 18, where the assailant happens to be the victim's parent or guardian. Like every other professional group, punishers feel honor-bound to defend punishers. Here was no exception. The justices should have recused themselves.

Your writer claims the court's ruling was "doubtless well-intended." That assumption is over-generous. The justices must have known that their ruling would do absolutely nothing to protect those most in need of protection, and, moreover, that it would bring a smile to the lips of every child batterer in the state of Maine. I suspect they must feel very relieved now to be done with this embarrassing business, with all it's dark, unseemly reminders, and to have returned to their adult world, safe and secure.

Jordan Riak, Executive Director
Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVE)

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