Below is a text from an e-mail I received. It is, needless to say, utter rubbish. My informal response is given below it, and then a short philosophical response. This is not a formal essay and may be slightly inappropriate for sensitive readers.
School 1960 vs. School 2007
Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.
1960 – Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up mates.
2007 – Police are called, SWAT team arrives and arrests Johnny and Mark. Mobiles with video of fight confiscated as evidence. They are charged with assault and both are suspended even though Johnny started it. Diversionary conferences and parent meetings conducted. Video shown on 6 internet sites.
Scenario: Jeffrey won’t sit still in class, disrupts other students.
1960 – Jeffrey is sent to the headmaster’s office and given a good caning. Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2007 – Jeffrey is given huge doses of Ritalin. Counselled to death. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADD. School gets extra funding because Jeffrey has a disability. Drops out of school.
Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his neighbor’s car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.
1960 – Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2007 – Billy’s dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. Psychologist tells Billy’s sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy’s mum has an affair with the psychologist. Psychologist gets a promotion.
Scenario: Mark, a college student, brings cigarettes to school ..
1960 – Mark shares a smoke with the school principal out on the smoking area.
2007 – Police are called and Mark is expelled from School for drug possession. His car is searched for drugs and weapons.
Scenario: Vinh fails high school English.
1960 – Vinh goes to Remedial English, passes and goes to college.
2007 – Vinh’s cause is taken up by local human rights group. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that making English a requirement for graduation is racist. Civil Liberties Association files class action lawsuit against state school system and his English teacher. English is banned from core curriculum. Vinh goes to college anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.
Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover fireworks, puts them in a model plane paint bottle and blows up an anthill.
1960 – Ants die.
2007 – Security and the Anti Terror Squad are called and Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism. Teams investigate parents, siblings are removed from the home, computers are confiscated, and Johnny’s dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.
Scenario: Johnny falls during playtime and scrapes his knee. His teacher, Mary, finds him crying, and gives him a hug to comfort him.
1960 – Johnny soon feels better and goes back to playing.
2007 – Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces three years in prison. Johnny undergoes five years of therapy. Becomes gay.
1. 1960- Mark and Johnny would not end up mates. They would hate each other for months if not years, and continue fighting whenever they have a disagreement. This could lead to them seeing violence as an acceptable response and possibly beat their wives and children without any remorse.
2007- The fight might be recorded onto Youtube, but SWAT would not be called. That is not a normal or common response to children fighting. SWAT teams are used for extremely dangerous situations such as raids against organised crime and terrorists, not children. The videos can be taken down.
2. 1960- Jeffrey is cruelly beaten by a man he doesn’t know who thinks that causing pain and physical damage to a child is a “good” caning. This sociopathic behaviour only serves to oppress the child with fear of bodily harm instead of any attempt to reason with Jeffrey, so Jeffrey still doesn’t know why what he did was wrong, he hasn’t learned any lesson other than that you shouldn’t get caught breaking the rules. The only thing stopping him from behaving badly again is the threat of punishment, and as soon as the threat is gone he will goo back to behaving badly. He wasn’t taught to respect or understand the rules, and following the absurdly presumptuous logic of this text, he’ll end up being a corrupt policeman who breaks the law and uses his position to make sure no one finds out.
2007- Jeffrey is not given huge doses of a drug, he is first told to stop, and if he does not listen is given detention as a -non-physically harmful- punishment. Because we’re not savages that resort to violence as a first resort, and we’re not so cynical to just assume that children will only respond to violence. If they still behave badly then they are sent to the counsellor to see what the problem is, because children have issues like anyone else that need to be addressed. If the counsellor is not corrupt, they will deal with the issue or send the child to a therapist. if and only if they are corrupt or inept, they will prescribe Ritalin without justification. If they adeptly diagnose the child with ADD then Ritalin or other alternatives might be beneficial to the child, in the proper doses. If that proves too difficult to do, they might be sent to the headmaster to be told their behaviour could get them expelled. If this threat is not sufficient then they had been warned and would be expelled.
3.1960- Billy is traumatised that one of the only people he has ever trusted and loved would so ruthlessly and intentionally cause pain to him, because his father is a terrible person with no regard for others but tells himself it’s for the child’s good even though that’s illogical. Beating the child makes him compliant and scared, never trusting his father again, and always seeing him as a threat to be avoided. This causes Billy to have trust issues, and doesn’t really love his wife because he’s internalised his beatings as meaning that no one in the world really cares about him, so he has to look out for himself and no one else can be trusted. Consequently he has no issues beating his family and accidentally kills his wife and goes to prison, leaving his children in foster care.
2007- Billy’s dad is tried for child abuse, because he did in fact abuse his child. If adults are arrested for hurting each other, then the same logic would apply to adults that beat people who can’t defend themselves. Billy is not sent to foster care (the author was completely wrong about that) because he has a mother, who doesn’t have an affair with the psychologist, because that doesn’t make any sense. Psychologist doesn’t tell Billy’s sister anything false because that’s unprofessional and harmful to his sister’s psychology. Again the author is making up whatever irrational stories they like to justify their nostalgia and violence.
4.1960- Mark dies a slow death due to lung cancer because the principal didn’t try to tell him the dangers of it, or even try to stop him or help him in any way because he doesn’t care about Mark.
2007- Police are not called, why would they be? Cigarettes are dealt with internally in schools. He’ll be given detention or suspended. They would have no legal justification to search his car, and cigarettes are not drugs, so he can’t be arrested for drug abuse.
5. 1960- Vinh goes to remedial English and goes to college.
2007- Vinh goes to remedial English and goes to college. Don’t make up ridiculous stories. There’s no civil rights at stake here. The author clearly doesn’t understand what civil rights are.
6. 1960- Johnny blows his hand off, is given a very stern talking, and ants die.
2007- Johnny blows his hand off, is given a very stern talking, and ants die. No anti-terror services are called because theres no terror threat. At -most- police are called and determine that the explosion did not use illegal materials, and no charges are filed.
7. 1960- Johnny soon feels better and goes back to playing.
2007- Johnny soon feels better and goes back to playing. Since when are hugs sexual abuse? Show me even one example of a teacher getting fired for that. Better yet, show me a pattern of this happening so much that it’s worth writing a stupid right wing, Conservative, non-sequitur, presumptuous, biased e-mail that serves little purpose other than to make yourself feel better about your worse childhood using glorified nostalgia, and to vent your outrage at a better age where kids are hurt by scraping their knee and not by the people who are supposed to protect them. Just because you’re jealous or don’t understand it doesn’t mean you have to fight against it. The kids are better off, don’t try to pull them down to what you think worked. Maybe she doesn’t hug him then, no loss. Billy doesn’t turn gay because people don’t just turn gay as if homosexuality were some kind of disease or disorder.
Punishment instils obedience, and obedience kills creativity and freedom. I’d rather have a rebellious child that can think for themselves than one that obeys whatever orders they are given and never has an original thought or opinion. I’d rather have a child that knows the difference between right and wrong. I’d rather a child that doesn’t break rules because they know why it’ wrong over a child that doesn’t break rules because they live in constant fear of being violently beaten. The latter see rules as oppression and don’t mind breaking rules as long as they don’t get caught. Punishment doesn’t teach kids to be good, it teaches them to obey like slaves or to not get caught like criminals.
If we don’t reason with children, they won’t learn how to. Everything we do teaches children the fundamental ways they view life. A basic understanding of chaos theory should be enough to see this. Obedient children will lack the reasoning required to progress in life, since they’ve been taught that they should do things without knowing why. Children who learn to not get caught to avoid punishment won’t care about the reason for why they should do things and instead will use reasoning to figure out how to get what they want without getting punished, since they were never taught why they should do good things or not do bad things.
Willingly hurting someone, -especially- when that is not the only or best choice, indicates poor judgment. More importantly, to do so without feeling bad about it is sociopathic behaviour since it shows a clear lack of empathy. Such a person doesn’t care about the pain an suffering of others. Some may try to justify it by saying it benefits the child in the long term, but as explained above, the long term results are obedience or corruption. To think it would help them is cynical, lazy, and presumptuous. There are better methods, don’t be too lazy to try them, or too cynical to believe they might work. Even if the child isn’t pushed to one of these extremes, they might justifiably resent the person for having unnecessarily beat them. Beating children is harmful and unnecessary, since reason is demonstrably effective and safe. Spare the rod spare the child is just alliteration, not wisdom, or even true.
Political correctness is bad, but these are not valid examples of it, and it seems there is a more sinister, or just less intelligent agenda here.
Be a good person, be a reasonable person, teach people to be good and to reason and understand why they should do things. Don’t obey, don’t submit, don’t be a slave to others, in society or in childhood.
Punishment will make someone not want to break rules, but will never allow them to know why.