Spanking law 'repugnant'
Letter to the Editor
The Daily Wildcat (U. Arizona), January 31, 1996


Wednesday's quote of the day, "Some people might say it's cruel, nasty and mean to have the sheriff paddle some kid's butt, but spanking has never done anybody a tremendous amount of harm if done properly." - GOP Rep. Richard Kennedy co-sponsor of a bill introduced in the New Hampshire state Legislature that would apply to the punishment of a good, bare bottomed, public spanking to convicted vandals age 12 and older. - made me stop and reflect for a moment. What's good about it?

The idea of publicly flogging a bare-bottomed child seems repugnant to me. It is cruel, mean and nasty! It harkens back to the medieval days of public torture. Even in our present century of civility and humanity people are executed for the public to witness. We modified our technique and began sending thousands of volts through our worst offenders. Today, we call it humane to inject poison into the veins of a convicted killer. How far removed from the criminal killer will be the executioner?

Perhaps the first victim of the legislation will be a seventeen-year-old girl (it does say ages 12 and up). The idea of a woman/child being forced to bare her behind to a crowd of onlookers seems in the least, humiliating. If a private individual forced another to do this, they would be called a child molester and they would themselves be facing the justice system of this "civilized country." They and their victims would be given psychiatric treatment. It is well known that sexual abuse and domestic violence carried out on a child causes mental anguish. Real harm, mentally and physically, takes years to overcome by even the strongest of character. How far removed from the child-molester will be the paddler? If it doesn't seem sexually abusive to you, think about this: a few parents have been arrested for "spanking." Their charge? Child abuse. How far removed from the child-abuser will be the paddler?

What if the first victim of this law is a young black man and his punisher is a white man? The image of a "slave" being beaten by a white "master" would not only be seen again in this country, but it would be sanctioned by our government. All of us should be repulsed by this imagery as were people who started and maintained the underground railroad for the runaway slaves of the 1800s. You may call this justice, but it is abuse.

Those who fought to abolish slavery would see this for what it is. It is public torture to humiliate the victim and serve as a warning meant to oppress anyone else. It didn't work for those who would enslave another against their will, it didn't work for those who would oppress their fellow human being by hanging them or burning them. Those who fight now to end child abuse will see the line between punishment and abuse about to be crossed. The child harmed by this punishment would forever be humiliated an d scarred. The harm caused to the criminal justice system would be irreversible as well. For now we have laws meant to protect children from the abuse of a perverted mind. But if we allow the government to sanction this act, who shall protect our children from those who would abuse this law and our children?

Samuel Lippse
Spanish senior

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