My Battle

My Battle

 

(That properly dead and gone swine can’t own those two words forever, can he? 10,000,000 lives AND an important pair of words taken out of circulation forever? No. Hell, no. We can’t get the lives back, but we can damned sure reclaim the words. I’m not famous or anything, I’ll do it first. You’re welcome.)

The point of this post will be to define my argument with the world, to try to establish my position (in opposition to any sort of punishment, especially of children) and to glean the position of those I might hope to convince. Suffice to say, I hear the objections a fair amount, yet I still can’t credit where the supporters of punishment are coming from as a considered position, it seems rather an un-focused one. That position is occupied by most of the world, though, so I guess it’s always going to be a moving target for me, no slight on anyone.

But I am getting a little desperate here.

In order for me to win this debate, there needs to be one. If the world of normal parents can’t see fit to choose a champion, block off some time and sit down with me to work through this, then, strange and counterintuitive as it may be, I guess I’ll have to help you, make your points for you, if necessary. Maybe if I misrepresent the POV, someone will be motivated to jump in and correct me.

It’s me against the world, of course it is. Even among the No Punishment folks, the few out there, there isn’t a lot of common ground. (The only other person I found with that search, ‘No Punishment,’ seemed to have no interest in my offered support for his position and only reacted to me as though I were either one of his students who needed correction, or maybe as though I were some sort of threat, as though I were his competition. Funny thing was, after his rebuff, I wanted to be. I got over it, though. Maybe he was just being a good critic. My first attempt at a book on this topic – being anti-punishment – which I sent him really was crap. He reacted as a prof., marked my book (a fail) and rejected my emotional support for his cause. It hurt me that my support for what I know to be a very unpopular POV meant nothing to him, he didn’t need or want it. It still rankles.) Maybe we get so used to hostility, opposition, and a lack of will to even try to see our stance that we end up so invested in our own status as outliers that agreement becomes a threat to our perceived uniqueness.* That is definitely part of the deal for me, so maybe not only me. Try as I may to assure myself and you all that it’s all about the content for me, all about the ideas themselves, I know I must always be aware that my personal need  for a unique identity is there, and makes for a conflict of interest.

Of course, these sorts of personal, internal conflicts of interest are everywhere. If you’re with me on this, then you may applaud my due diligence, the full disclosure. If you’re against me, then I guess to put it in fighting terms, I just gave you my back. That’s either a bad decision I’m making after taking a few hard shots, or it’s supreme confidence, make your own interpretation. I may be dumb enough to offer my back, but I don’t plan to give away the whole game plan! It’s a little of both, of course. Plus, the haters gonna hate anyway; he who has ears to hear, let him hear. That’s a lot of metaphor, but this isn’t math and rocket science, either.

So maybe it’s me against the world. Maybe it’s personal, as I said somewhere else, ‘the rantings of a developmentally arrested person,’ I mean, of course there is some component of that, but maybe that’s mostly what it is. That, however, may or may not matter; it depends on whether the ideas produced from this dysfunction stand on their own, doesn’t it? Many ideas we have, many good ones have likely evolved through error, but when the evolved idea works for us, who cares? If the idea has merit, the source isn’t important. If the idea is bad, the source may also not matter - we’re dancing around the logical fallacy of Appeal to Authority here. Just as a bad idea is a bad idea and selling it on the basis of its author’s good reputation is fallacious that way, so too is dismissing a good idea from an unknown source. So here’s my developed idea, which may or may not have come largely from my narcissism, as well as the opposing social idea, whose origin may also not be derived from either a divine or provable hard-scientific process:

MINE: (as well as a small percentage of people’s here in the US and Canada, I can’t speak to elsewhere. It seems, un-alienated aboriginal peoples the world over don’t beat their children as much as developed people, and besides Scandinavia’s improvement on our numbers, there may be other places in the world where the aboriginal attitude has survived better than among those of us from Europe and the middle East. I understand Hinduism and Buddhism to be a sort of evolution of aboriginal religion, still somewhat connected to natural systems. I don’t say most people practice it, but I think those religions haven’t ensconced corporal punishment of children into Holy Law at least.) Sorry – again:

 

MINE:

Punishment is a source of psychological and social damage because it causes harm, by definition. The harms caused to people when we hurt one another are not limited to illegal, proscribed practices. When we harm one another for what perceive to be good reasons and for good purposes, we are still harming each other, and this harm stays with all of us. This is not only regrettable, I think it isn’t inevitable. I think we can get around it. If we did, I think we’d be amazed at what human beings with far less damage can do.

 

SOCIETY’S: (for lack of a better term. I’m going to bundle up what may be a large variety of attitudes not all of which will apply to everyone. The only criteria is that they don’t involve the complete abolition of punishing in 99% of its forms, as I do. I’ll try to control myself, but maybe you should expect to be insulted. Apologies in advance. Here’s the bias: I’m not going to try to make sense of it; this is not my side of the argument, I couldn’t do it justice, and why would anyone ever believe I did, or tried? I’m going to do the sad, cynical thing, present my side in as good a paragraph as I can muster at the moment, tied up with a positive  ribbon and bow – and present my strawman opponent’s view in a list of unconnected talking points. It’s not a dirty trick if I point it out, right, full disclosure? Fair again, or fair enough? Anyone who wishes to take up this side of the debate is invited to make the sense of it that they can, in as artful a way as they wish. Please do: if you believe it, you owe it to yourselves and your cause. Personally, I feel someone owes it to me! On the one hand, my opponent in this debate is so big he doesn’t even know I’m here, but on the other hand, I’m battling a phantom, an idea expressed so vaguely that it can’t be held in one place long enough to beat it.) Sorry again – again:

SOCIETY’S:

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->Punishment is an important and useful tool for:

<!--[if !supportLists]-->o   <!--[endif]-->Controlling bad behaviour and crime

<!--[if !supportLists]-->o   <!--[endif]-->Encouraging good behaviour and morality

<!--[if !supportLists]-->o   <!--[endif]-->Protecting ourselves from violence and crime

<!--[if !supportLists]-->o   <!--[endif]-->Promoting the society’s values

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->Punishment, when administrated properly doesn’t cause permanent harm

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->Children need to learn about consequences

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->Children need to learn right from wrong

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->Children need to learn to listen, so that they will in an emergency, to keep them from a road, a cliff, or a river

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->Punishment “works” where nothing else does

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->Punishment is “natural;” other animals use punishment

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->A program of punishment is required to “civilize” human beings, otherwise they will behave badly

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->Not all punishment is physical

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->Non-corporal punishment is not harmful

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->Punishment and abuse are different things, qualitatively, the difference is not simply a matter of degree

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->Not Punishing is negligent – there is a moral, social and/or religious obligation to respond to misbehaviour with unpleasantness

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->Punishments reinforce deterrents, stopping crime and misbehaviour before it happens

 

 

Wow. That wasn’t too bad for a guy who’s not down with this side of the conversation. I still wouldn’t count on me, I can be very devious. Trust, as some powerful swine once said – but verify. Still, a fuller and less abrasive list than I expected myself. Having said all that, beware, no waiting: here’s the trap.

I have arguments for everything on the ‘society’s’ list, except that I’ll allow one and one-half bullets from the very first thing on the list. Don’t get me wrong, that list looks great, and if half of the things on it were true, ah. What a wonderful world that would be. The thing is, if those things were true, someone out there, some Defender of Normal Parents Everywhere should be able to deconstruct them for me, show me why they’re true, how they work. Because I have done my own deconstructions of these scenarios, and I can’t see any way all that stuff could ever possibly work.

(Except, as I say, for some caveats contained in the very first point of the list:

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->Punishment is an important and useful tool for:

<!--[if !supportLists]-->o   <!--[endif]-->Controlling bad behaviour and crime

<!--[if !supportLists]-->o   <!--[endif]-->Encouraging good behaviour and morality

<!--[if !supportLists]-->o   <!--[endif]-->Protecting ourselves from violence and crime

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->The confinement part of the criminal justice system undeniably makes us safe from a particular convict for a particular time, true. That is not the same as saying the prison system makes for a safer society in general.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->o   <!--[endif]-->Promoting the society’s values

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->This also is certainly true, punishment can indeed be used to promote and even enforce a given society’s values and morals. That, while true, would be true of any society, some of which we may not approve.

So even those two aren’t as true or as powerful as my hypothetical proponents of punishment may have hoped.)**

 

For the rest? Pick one, somebody, please, and let’s break it down, see how it works. Or maybe, I’ll make a series of this, one point at a time? I’ll do it, you know. Don’t think I won’t.

So, thanks for reading, and please, share and retweet . . .

Jeff

 

* Anyone know ‘Little Britain?’

J

 

** 725 of 1860 words between parentheses! Like, 40%ish. That must be a new record for me.

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Comments (33)

  1. scarletts_letters

    You know its a lot like the atheists and the theists, the atheists think they can remove relgion with logic – the militant ones, they present a great case, just look at history, terrorism, fanaticism, and lets face it – look at america. But the think is relgion, as is violence is a type of meme, its just accepted and people swear that in x situation its warranted. I happen to agree with you, though in many instances I’ve had ‘sense beaten into me’ which means – talk again and I hit you again, did it make me a better person? No, it made me hate them, but I shut up because it hurt.

    May 29, 2015
    1. Neighsayer

      Oh, I know, pretty pointless, except that while I’m putting it down, I get to feel like a writer. But yeah, all these points in the ’society’s’ list I hear pretty regular, but to get it explained? – yeah, you’re right, of course, same as with the theists. Empty talking points, learnt by rote.

      May 29, 2015
      1. scarletts_letters

        Is it pointless though? It takes some one to come up with the ideas before change happens. I imagine that the cake eating peasants thought the same in pre-revolutionary france. Chin up

        May 29, 2015
        1. Neighsayer

          thanks, Luv. That is the present operational mission.

          May 29, 2015
          1. scarletts_letters

            The thing is, you’ve thought it out, researched it, it makes sense, I’ve never seen a reply that was much more than an expression of tradition or a IMHO answer.

            May 30, 2015
  2. killingtime

    Neighsayer I respect your right to state your opinion. Sadly I believe that your way does just as much damage to children as beating them. Don’t get me wrong, when I say beating them I am not talking about spanking them. I’m talking about actual abuse.

    May 29, 2015
    1. Neighsayer

      I’m not sure I actually ever tell anybody what my way really is, though, isn’t that right, all I ever do is try to say why we shouldn’t do only this one thing? I should try to give an example . . . I mean, if I found my three year-old torturing the cat somehow, if it was bad, if the cat was getting hurt, I would totally allow the kid to see my emotional reaction – horror and confusion, not anger and intimidation, more of a scream than a shout – and what I would say would match: “Honey, what are you doing, aahhh!! Don’t do that! You’re hurting him! Stop!” Plus the explanation: “Honey, you’re hurting him, he’s crying. Poor little guy, you’re way bigger than him, you can’t jump on him, you’ll kill him.” In the event of potential real harm to the cat, I would happily pull the kid off of the cat and set the cat free, while delivering the freakout and the explanation.

      See that? Not so different, really. All I’m not doing here is finding a way, a smack, a threat or something to hurt the kid somehow (loved toy, time-out) for the crime of hurting a smaller creature than himself. That’s all I’m really asking for.

      May 29, 2015
      1. killingtime

        That’s all I’m really asking for
        .
        As I remember it your comparing spanking to abuse, any spanking. That’s the part that I will NEVER agree with. I spanked both of my kids when they needed it. Oddly they know that there were limits so I didn’t have to spank them very often (from 9 on I doubt that I spanked them more than once IF THAT). Throwing around the “abuse” label will always get a reaction from me.

        May 29, 2015
        1. Neighsayer

          I know, I know. But there’s what I’m really advising. Of course we didn’t not teach, of course we didn’t not scream and freak out when expensive stuff got destroyed, when a glass of milk gets poured into the rug, we screamed, we got sad, even mad – but we tried not to direct any mad at the kids until they were older, like 7 or more. We gave the lesson, explained it to them, told them why. Not punishing doesn’t mean not doing anything.

          May 30, 2015
          1. killingtime
            Sadly I believe that your way does just as much damage to children as beating them.

            .
            OK I finally get what your replying to (the above statement). Although (like I said) I do feel that your way of punishing children does just as much harm as actual abuse I really don’t care. I am not some crusading person that believes that he can change the whole world. I believe that each parent has to figure out what they feel is best for their child & employ that method. So what you do (even if it’s as harmful as I think it is) is up to you.
            .
            No what I strongly object to is that you seem to feel (& express it often) that anyone that spanks their kids are abusing them & that is (in my view) NOT the truth. So each time you start a child abuse crusade against people that spank their kids I’m going to speak up. I think it’s bull. I’ll also point out the damage that I think your methods do.
            .
            And just to let you know (when expensive stuff got destroyed, when a glass of milk gets poured into the rug, we screamed, we got sad, even mad – but we tried not to direct any mad at the kids until they were older, like 7 or more) to my way of thinking that’s all part of normal childhood & my kids didn’t even get yelled at, much less punished.

            May 30, 2015
            1. Neighsayer

              ‘Harmful!" MY kids are 17 and 20, it’s done, no apparent harm.

              May 30, 2015
  3. gingernice

    neigh, a very good post, we have talked before on this subject. I have spanked all my children one time. My spanking is a good swat on the behind. All I had to do it was one time when nothing else would work.
    There is so much killing and just everything in the world today, do you think that has come about by people being spanked or do you think it is from people letting kids do what they want? yfgn

    May 29, 2015
    1. Neighsayer

      definitely the first thing, because I don’t think that we’d necessarily be bad if we were simply left alone. Thanks – the post was clear, you think? Just kind of laying out the debate?

      May 29, 2015
      1. gingernice

        Yes it was very clear. So if I understand you, you think that any kind of hitting is bad? I say this because I never have taken spankings off the table with my kids or grandchildren, yet it is always and could be if. I do agree that this would be a much better world if people treat each other with respect and kindness, but what of those that do not?

        May 29, 2015
        1. Neighsayer

          actually, I’m even crazier than that! I think any kind of punishing is bad, even if it isn’t hitting. That means, time-outs, taking away a toy, sent to bed, grounded, restriction of privileges like TV or other screens – any punishment at all, which means anything we do to the kid because he doesn’t like it. That’s what punishment is: doing something to somewhat that they won’t like to get them to change their behaviour.

          And I’m agin’ all of it.

          May 29, 2015
          1. gingernice

            So what did you do when your kids did not do what they were asked?

            May 31, 2015
            1. Neighsayer

              talk, talk, talk. And because we never punished them, thy always stayed in communication, they never have to lie to us about anything.

              May 31, 2015
  4. wirelessguru1

    So what should I do to change your behavior!?

    May 29, 2015
    1. Neighsayer

      burdening me with large, unweildly sums of cash usually works

      May 29, 2015
      1. wirelessguru1

        It would change you into a worse person…

        May 29, 2015
        1. Neighsayer

          true

          May 29, 2015
  5. killingtime

    Harmful!" MY kids are 17 and 20, it’s done, no apparent harm.
    .
    Well Neighsayer if that’s all the proof you need, my kids are both in their 30’s. They have established lives (where your’s are just starting out) & they were spanked & they no harm at all. Wouldn’t that prove to you that spanking is just fine? Probably not. But again the point isn’t which way is better because we both seem to know that. The point is that you come on here and say that people that spank their kids are abusing them. And we will keep having this same discussion every time you do.

    May 30, 2015
    1. Neighsayer

      Jeez,kt, you got it up in another window, from the first time, copy and pasting in the same text every time? I’m busting my butt here, trying to go at this thing from many angles, trying to pick it apart, see how it works, trying pretty hard to make it a little different every time.

      .

      You, on the other hand are simply repeating the same talking points endlessly, and apparently are counting on repetition and firmness to explain it. If you can’t break it down a little for me, explain why my way is dangerous, tell me why hurts are a binary thing – either abuse or not, no gradient – like I am begging folks to do with this post – then you lose the argument, because if it’s just rote, and you can’t make it make sense, step by step, explain it, then it can’t be right. At the very least, a partial judge could never know if it’s right or not. You are not making any sort of case, you are not helping your side of the conversation.

      .

      Tell you what, I’ll get you started.

      Let’s go with, ‘I spanked my kids and it didn’t hurt them,’ OK? That goes with one of my points in my ’Society’s’ list, “- Punishment, when administrated properly doesn’t cause permanent harm” so I wanted to talk about that.

      First, for me would be to ask – how do you know? Are your kids completely unhurt, perfect, flawless? So that we can know no-one and nothing has hurt them, spankings included? Or like all people are they hurt? We all have problems, right? So we can agree they’re not made of marble, they probably have some hurt?

      May 30, 2015
      1. killingtime

        Ok Neighsayer I get your point. But you don’t understand that I don’t care if you get why it’s bad or not. You believe the way you do & that’s just fine with me as long as you stop condemning others for believing & doing different (& saying that they abuse children). I learned a long time ago that your not going to change someone opinion on anything over the internet so I am certainly not going to waste my time trying with you. I will waste the rest of my life defending those people that choose to spank their kids from being called abusers by you.

        May 30, 2015
        1. Neighsayer

          all-righty, then! You know I’ll only use you, as an excuse to keep talking anyway, but no matter.

          .

          I’m not trying to change opinions. I’m trying to provide some knowledge, so that the the opinions that sometimes derive partially from knowledge begin to change. I, as you know, am not of the opinion that this or very many other things are merely a matter of opinion, as if the real world out there doesn’t matter, think what you like. That seems fatalistic to me. But, you know, Im’a be me, you carry on, as you were.

          May 30, 2015
        2. Neighsayer

          it’s not about me getting it, it’s about whether you get it. If you did, you could spell it out for me and your readers.

          May 30, 2015
          1. killingtime

            Neighsayer I’ll repeat for the last time that nobody is going to change their views because of something that someone posts on the internet. It is a total waste of time trying to get them to. Posting references is also a waste of time because the other person can just blow them off for any reason under the sun. I don’t care what you believe. I don’t even care if I am right & it does turn out to be abuse the way you treat your kids. I can’t change that & I’m not going to waste time trying or feeling guilty for not trying. I do care what you say when you attack others. That I will defend & show that there is another side to the discussion.
            .
            It seems to me that when issues like this come up someone wants to feel superior with a battle of wits as if that settles anything. I’m not interested in playing that game because it’s unimportant. Find someone else to play verbal chess with cause I don’t want to play. I’m at the stage in my life that the minutes are to damned valuable to waste trying to move a stone wall with my mind. If you were really interested in understanding the other side of the argument all you have to do is sit down & reason it out. It pretty damned obvious & logical why it could turn out badly for the child when they become adults.

            May 30, 2015
            1. Neighsayer

              I’m not attacking people with this! I’m trying to help us, is that not obvious? MIsguided maybe – but doing this with bad intent? Are you serious? From my perspective, kt, we are * *all victims, because we were all raised this way that I’m complaining about, all of us were kids. I would have saved you some pain in your childhood if I could have. (Please, spare me. No pain in your childhood, right? You knew it was good for you and you were glad to have it.)

              .

              I have and I will continue to “sit down & reason it out,” on my own, of course. Certainly you’re no adjectival help. You know, your attitude about people on the internet, and about people absorbing knowledge in general, about anybody ever learning anything – I think you’re seeing your own reflection there.

              .

              That whole last paragraph – a lot of fancy sounding crap to let you run away from a debate you haven’t the depth for. I’m a little frustrated these day, kt, I must be getting too good at this, because it’s like Spiderman’s life. Always some punk with an attitude who thinks because he thinks what everybody else does that he’s figured it all out, that he ever, ever put a moment of his thought into it who wants to argue. Then they realize they got nothing, no supporting reason, and they make an passive-aggressive excuse and run away. Fine. Off with you. Next!

              The internet has enough people on it with nothing but an ill-considered opinion and talking points.

              see you next time?

              May 30, 2015
  6. Neighsayer

    saving you for last, my Dear.

    - would if I could – that’s why dudes get married.

    - you mean the subtle way in which I kick a misbehaving cat across the room and off the wall?

    You’re right of course, I have the default setting too, I just immaturely insist that default doesn’t mean built in, hard-wired or inevitable, and I repeat my oft-repeated line: ‘Human Nature’ is nothing but a set of empirical observations. It doesn’t speak to causes, it doesn’t answer ‘why’ we do anything (nouns rarely are satisfying answers to questions like ‘why,’ or other questions about moving, changing subjects) and it furthers our knowledge not one whit to talk about it as though it were an explanation of anything.

    Tell you what, though: I have just received Steven Pinker’s “The Blank Slate” from Amazon, and it’s in the library for me to read for two minutes a few times a day for the next year before I put it in a biohazard bag and throw it out . . . sorry. That is apparently the gold-standard book and person for debunking the Blank Slate zombie theory and showing us how much of our stuff really is hard-wired, programmed by evolution and genetics. It’s a must read for me, right up my alley. I’ll let you know if one of the most influential minds of the last few generations can change mine!

    Man, I am on fire!

    May 29, 2015
    1. Neighsayer

      sorry. Back later . . .

      May 30, 2015