March 23, 2006


Obituary of Lord Ackner (Telegraph, 3/23/06)

As a High Court judge, Ackner's penchant for plain speaking was evident at the trial of a schoolmaster accused of assault for breaking a pupil's jaw. The schoolboy had started the day with half a tablet of LSD and spent the morning break screaming obscenities at the teacher before kicking him in the stomach.

"Have we really reached the stage in this country," Ackner asked the jury in his summing up, "when an insolent and bolshie pupil has to be treated with all the courtesies of visiting royalty?

"You may think we live in very strange times. Whatever may be the views of some of our most advanced, way-out theoreticians, the law does not require a teacher to have the patience of a saint." The teacher was acquitted.

But Ackner's distaste for what he saw as a decline in the nation's moral standards could at times be controversial, and never more so than in 1987, when the House of Lords decided by a 3:2 majority to re-impose an injunction preventing newspapers from publishing excerpts from Spycatcher, the book written by former MI5 officer Peter Wright, even though it was widely available abroad.

"To refuse to allow the injunction to be continued," Ackner's judgment ran, "would have established a charter for traitors to publish on the most massive scale in England whatever they have managed to publish abroad. Fortunately, the press is, as yet, not above the Law, although like some other powerful organisations, they would like that to be so."

Another international precedent unlikely to be adopted by the Supreme Court.

Posted by David Cohen at March 23, 2006 10:34 AM

I used to get spanked by my parents and my teachers. I did not grow up in the States. My upbringing was an appalling mess and my education was a disgrace. In all that the spanking, often with a cane, was not a damaging memory for me and I had many damaging memories and many caningins.

A short hard spank to me mean - I am the adult. You with you able and insurrective mind may be able to argue well, but by this you know that you have done is wrong. You will understand, when, like me you are wiser. It made absolute sense at the time. It still does.

Posted by: exclab at March 23, 2006 11:35 AM

Please excuse the appalling grammar in previous email. ( Hangs head in shame).

Posted by: exclab at March 23, 2006 11:37 AM

Exclab, What you describe is horrible. Please break the chain with your own kids. Sparing the rod doesn't mean spoiling the child. Give your kids a lot of love and real interactive attention and misbehavior will be kept at a minimum. Although to protect my sanity, I kept a wooden spoon handy in the kitchen and when the noise level got too high, I slammed it on the counter. It got their attention and things got peaceful real quick.

One day when number two son was at least a foot taller than I, he spotted a wooden spoon in my hand as I stirred a pot on the stove and he looked at me and said, you never hit us with that did you? I just smiled and said I was still keeping my options open.

BTW - I'm only rude enough to "obsess" about spelling and grammar when trolls repeat DNC faxes verbatim. I've been around people whose English is mostly non-existent all my life and I have great respect and admiration for those who struggle with English as a second language. Here's a suggestion, it's a bit time consuming, but write your comments in a Word file, run spell check then copy and paste it into the comments box.

Posted by: erp at March 23, 2006 1:00 PM

Sparing the rod doesn't mean spoiling the child.

Er, generally it really does, anecdotal evidence notwithstanding. Just because it's possible to raise well-behaved children without spanking them, it doesn't make it a) wise, or b) likely. It's a lot like those folks who live to 100 on a diet of whiskey & cigarettes. Possible, but not something you'd want to bet your life on.

Posted by: Timothy at March 23, 2006 1:16 PM

I'll have to agree with Timothy and exclab. I got spanked across the bottom a few times in my younger years - always richly deserved. I bear no ill will towards my parents at all for this.

Posted by: Rick T. at March 23, 2006 2:43 PM

Timothy. I seriously beg to differ.

What does how adults abuse their bodies have to do with raising kids? And yes, I would bet my life that kids brought up with a lot of attention and love, will turn out just fine without the rod.

Smacking a child's butt when they're frightened and refuse to move fast enough to get out of a burning building and you can't carry them because you're nine months pregnant and going into labor or in a body cast -- okay. Other than extreme situations like that, when would you like to engage the rod? Never to teach them a lesson I hope.

Remember Christ only taught lessons with a whip to adult money lenders, never that I'm aware of, to children.

FYI - We all know that genes are everything. If you have good ones, you can almost do whatever you want and you'll live a long and healthy life. Have bad genes? It's sayonara city at a young age.

Posted by: erp at March 23, 2006 2:48 PM

If you had one question to determine whether a parent raised good kids, I don't think "Were the children spanked?" would provide any insight. ("Did you eat dinner together as a family every night?" would probably be a good one...)

Posted by: b at March 23, 2006 3:53 PM

b. Isn't having dinner together part of what a loving and involved family does together? And isn't that how kids learn table manners and how to talk nicely to everybody at the table, even their siblings, and help with chores and ... everything else it takes to grow up to be a responsible adult who carries on the same traditions with their own families?

Posted by: erp at March 23, 2006 4:00 PM

erp: I agree 100%--that's why I think that would be a good question to ask, perhaps the single best question to ask. The inclusion of "probably" was not intended to convey uncertainty so much as a bit of ironic detachment or something. Drat the internet and its inability to convey nuance!

Posted by: b at March 23, 2006 4:33 PM

The only way anyone ever got our attention was with a good swat.

Posted by: oj at March 23, 2006 4:35 PM

Rod nothing. My parents had a special paddle for such occasions, at least until it broke. On me. I plan to do the same, though preferably with a sturdier implement. I was taught plenty of lessons via the paddle, and it never did me any harm, so I can't think of any reason not to use it, and plenty of reasons to do so.

I'd wager that the correlation between spanking & meals together is pretty darn high. And that the correlation between families that do both and good behavior is even higher than that.

Posted by: Timothy at March 23, 2006 4:47 PM

Are you saying that swatting your own kids is part of your parenting program?

Posted by: erp at March 23, 2006 6:33 PM

A spanking isn't so bad. Its the other stuff that really makes the pain that a family can be. Now a days we are supposed to embrace the traditional family as the model. This is done without discussion or examination of particulars. Quite often by our bland and generalizing president. Family never worked as well as people say. And "returning to family values" sounds like nostalgia to me - a desparate grasp at something that may or may not be the way we remembered. Fiddle dee dee I say. People should talk about family in a way that is more realistic and not so banal and adoring.

And we can start with this spanking thing. The next time some kid is screaming his head off in a restaurant, think about civility.

Posted by: exclab at March 23, 2006 6:37 PM

Are you saying that swatting your own kids is part of your parenting program?

Of course. Well, not swatting, spanking--and with rules: the kid knows exactly why he's being spanked; never spank angry; affirm your love before and after. This isn't exactly a radical course of action. But it works.

Posted by: Timothy at March 23, 2006 7:40 PM

Kids acting up is a symptom of a problem that isn't resolved by spanking. You can see the pain in the eyes of small children who are being "disciplined" in public and you know that their young lives are made up of many chapters of parental lessons when it is the parents need that need to be taught a lesson.

Posted by: erp at March 24, 2006 11:32 AM

Corporeal punishment is a tool.

Like any other tactic, some parents are better at it than others, some kids respond better to it than others, and it can be abused.

No doubt we've all seen the product of parents who reject spanking - or any other kind of discipline.

Those kids aren't much better off than those who get paddled too often.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 25, 2006 12:30 AM