(AA) ++ Corporal Punishment (in UK skools)

esperanto (lingvoj@lds.co.uk)
Sat, 16 Nov 96 23:37:35 PST

16TH NOV 1996

We are in favour of spanking, so long as the
participants are both adult, and both having fun.
Erotic delights are more varied than the prudish
care to admit. Abelard and Eloise, the famous
medieval lovers who got into trouble for publishing
the intimate details, enjoyed occasional whippings.
So did and do many lovers who prefer to keep the
details private. As the old saw has it, unnatural
practices is only natural.
What is indefensible is getting one's kicks by
spanking an unwilling victim, and this is
especially true when the unwilling victim is a
The current enthusiasm for restoration of
corporal punishment in schools is difficult to
understand except as erotic desire. Yet the current
debate, on both sides of the argument, is
wondrously coy about it.
Of course it is not the case that every
practitioner of spanking enjoys it. The loving
parent who clouts her child in a temper feels no
joy at all, erotic or otherwise, but only remorse.
She will be forgiven, because children know what it
is like to have a tantrum, but it is ridiculous to
say that such blows are given with love. They are
given in spite of love.

Readers old enough to remember when every teacher
had a cane or tawse will remember that it was used
more often when a teacher was in a ratty mood,
taking revenge on the kids for something which had
nothing to do with them. Sir or Miss obtained some
relief from this bullying, but the joy was not of a
sexual nature.

There was also the genuine belief that corporal
punishment of chlldren acted as a deterrent to
unacceptable behaviour. Although in practice the
same children appeared for punishment again and
again, and the deterrent elfect was indiscernible.
George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury,
contributes his opinion that slaps administered
with love have a useful deterrent effect, but as
the journalist Francis Wheen wrote in The Guardian
(31st October):

"I find it inconceivable that George Carey would
take a swipe at an Archdeacon who had been
'misbehaving'. The disciplinary code observed by
grown-ups doesn ' t allow recourse to physical
assault. Why, then, do we believe we are setting
children an example, and preparing them for adult
life, by whacking thcm every time they stray from
the path of righteousness? The answer is
depressingly simple: because we know we can get
away with it. If George Carey saw a pet poodle
piddling on his carpet at Lambeth Palace, perhaps
he would administer one of his 'loving slaps'; if
the miscreant was a sabre-toothed rotweiler, he
might think twice. It is nothing to do with
'discipline' and everything to do with the balance
of power."

So there are various reasons for causing pain to
children. But perhaps the most important, reason,
the sexual gratification of the torturer is the one
least mentioned. During the debate on corporal
punishment in the 1970s it was suggested that
naughty children might be tortured by means of mild
electric shocks from a cattle prod. This would have
advantages over the cane, that the amount of shock
might be measured and the child not hurt more than
intended, and that it would not leave marks. The
advocates of corporal punishment were angrily
dismissive of this suggestion (which was indeed
made by opponents), but did not explain why.

The likely explanation is that there is something
erotically satisfying about the swish of a cane.
There is in fact a pornographic magazine called
Swish, though this deals with 'corporal punishment'
or 'CP', which in the jargon of pornography means
men beating women. Women beating men is called
'correction'. The considerable pornographic
literature of adults beating children has no
particular name, because the pornographic
description, like the political debate, is wrapped
up in nonsense about beating the child for the
child's own good.
The best-known cases of caning freaks come from
the memoirs of famous men who attended posh
boarding schools in their youth. The late Dr
Chevenix-Trench, in his day a highly respected
public school headmaster, did not even pretend that
the beatings he loved to give were punishments. He
told applicants for admission to his school "I' m
afraid you did not quite pass the entrance exam,
but I will let you in if you will agree to take a
beating". Another keen flogger of children was Dr
Fisher, later to become one of George Carey' s
predecessors as archbishop of Canterbury. But the
privilege of being beaten for teacher' s pleasure
was not just for fee-payers. Anyone old enough
remembers teachers, men and women, who got a buzz
which we perceive by hindsight to be a sexual buzz,
from causing pain and fear. We have to suspect the
motives of Education Minister Gillian Shepherd, and
all the other politicians who want corporal
punishment back in schools.

A lternative sanctions for unacceptable behaviour
are difficult for anarchists to discuss, since we
the participants are both adult, and both having
hool against their will. But anarchism is
compatible with 'exclusion', not as punishment but
as allowing people to do what they like, provided
this does not interfere with the activities of
other people.
Children enjoy learning, which is how they manage
to learn so much even in hostile environments like
rigid, sadistic schools. Disruptive behaviour
usually indicates that pupils are not enjoying the
lesson, so their own education, and everybody else'
s, will be better served if they are allowed to go
and find something which interests them more.