Nanny state strikes, er, spanks again

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It is both touching and unsurprising that an anti-spanking bill should be dropped into the state Legislative hopper by a Bay Area assemblywoman. Mountain View Democrat Sally Lieber, predictably enough, eased the daily burden of several of the nation’s talk show bookers by drafting a parent-directed law, to wit: Swat your kid’s fanny, go to jail.

A few observations concerning the proposed Lieber Law, these springing from The Examiner’s ongoing solicitude for the Bay Area’s reputation:

1. “Progressive” opinion since the mid-20th century holds that spanking — defined as flat of hand descending swiftly, sometimes repeatedly, on child’s soft-tissued backside, producing a smacking sound somewhat muffled by thickness of child’s pants — should be included among punishments deemed inappropriate. Indeed, anti-spanking activists consider the act tantamount to child abuse.

2. This opinion is not to be confused with evolving child psychology, whose practitioners number among them many who are capable of distinguishing between the ancient disciplinary form and actual, unmanaged violence.

3. Though Assemblywoman Lieber’s intervention does invite the “only in the Bay Area” ridicule to which we’re all accustomed, the fact is that 15 nations have banned corporal punishment of children. These countries, of course, are mostly European, which many contemporary historians see, not so much as pinnacles of progress, but as decadent and delusional, as opposed to …

4. The productive and family-oriented cultures of Latin America and Asia, where ancient forms of child-raising remain much honored and which are spreading through West Coast America faster by far than current European fashions. None of which is to suggest that the newer arrivals are benighted, indeed they may be wiser, but they do present for Assemblywoman Lieber problems of both a multicultural and an enforcement nature.

5. And just how, wonders Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a cultural if not political convert to anti-spankism, are we to enforce these essentially private ideals? We wonder, too, how we are to enforce the Lieber Law without ceding parental responsibility to the state. After all, when parents are made less responsible they are made, well, less responsible. The threat of a $1,000 fine does not help a family’s budget, nor does a year in jail served by a parent conduce to a family’s welfare.

6. “Everything out to sea but the ships,” a British wit once described the state of his country. The thought does come to mind when contemplating the exquisite paradoxes wrought by modern “progressivism,” which cannot countenance the spanking of a wayward child but does seek to initiate coercion in so many other aspects of our daily lives. Just try, for one example, to decline an invitation to participate in universal health care. That won’t be a slap to your posterior you feel.

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