09/15/14

Spare the Rod

When disciplined, my dad had to go out in the yard and pick a long slender limb as a switch for his own beating. Sort of like picking your favorite dog bite.

It’s a weird thing, parental autonomy over a child’s body. It’s a fairly recent regulatory phenomena for the State to violate it. The area of family discipline has been sacrosanct.

So as Adrian Peterson’s choices about parenting with a switch are put on public and literal trial, we are asked to reexamine that sort of line of scrimmage between discipline and abuse.

But there’s an evolution to moral behavior. In the paraphrased words of Sam Harris, if morality is fundamentally about human well being, then as our understanding of what makes humans healthy improves so does our capacity for moral choice. (Unfortunately, there’s a lot of personal dissonance in this statement for me presently.)

We can say with some scientific clarity that a steel chair across the back of a child effects a kind of physical and psychological harm inconsistent with well being. This doesn’t upset the ancient idiom that to spare the rod is to spoil the child. The principle still persists. But, maybe the implement, or switch, can be switched — so to speak.

teacher-west

Performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced by dj clutch. Lyrics here.

Today’s blong here:

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