Jamie Foxx remembers boyhood whippings
Correspondence between Donald T. and Jordan Riak re: Jamie Foxx's Oscar acceptance speech

Donald T. writes: Jamie Foxx, in his acceptance speech, said: "And when I would act the fool, she would whip me. And she could get an Oscar for the way she whipped me because she was great at it. And after she would whip me she would talk to me and tell me why she whipped me, that `I want you to be a Southern gentleman.'"

Does this affect (either change or reinforce) your views regarding the efficacy (or lack thereof) of corporal punishment?

JR replies: Thank you for asking, Donald. My reaction to Foxx's tearful endorsement of whipping was disappointment but not surprise. During all the years I've worked to promote nonviolence toward children, I have heard variations on that theme more times than I can count. They are the standard script of erstwhile abuse victims who have never been able to examine and resolve the painful truth about their own early mistreatment by beloved caregivers. I was disappointed, as I always am, whenever I hear an endorsement for child beating by someone who is in the public eye. There's no telling how much extra abuse was suffered by children the day following the Oscar presentations thanks to Mr. Foxx's loose words, and no way to estimate how many child beaters will remember those words and recite them when the occasion demands. I once asked the late Adah Maurer, a pioneer in the movement against spanking, if she could explain why so many people wax nostalgic over their early experience of mistreatment. She said she thinks some of them are just fishing for justification for their current mistreatment of their own children. I don't know how Mr. Foxx treats his daughter, but I sincerely hope he does not follow Grandma's recipe in every detail. I am sure that by now he has listened to some well-deserved criticism from people who have access to him -- friends who don't share his theories on the subject of child management. If I could get his attention long enough to give him some advice, I would encourage him to carry on making great films and giving the movie-going public the benefits of his extraordinary talent. But I would also respectfully suggest that before he ventures again into the field of child psychology with a primetime TV-viewing world as his audience, he should sit down for a long, serious tete-a-tete with Dr. Alvin Pouissant.


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