News about another case of child abuse has brought the Anti-Spanking crusaders out of the woodwork again. Now they're quoting all sorts of studies which claim that spanking causes everything from poor impulse control to poor brain development, and of course leads to child abuse. I notice that they carefully tiptoe around the fact that spanking is mostly practiced in working-class and poor families, while Other Methods are practiced by middle-class and rich families. Nobody mentions that the supposed ill effects of spanking just might be the results of poverty itself.
And, of course, the people conducting the studies are middle-class or above themselves. The few exceptions that I know of were writers. G. B. Shaw once commented: "Never strike a child except in anger, even at the risk of maiming it. A blow in cold blood must never be tolerated." R. A. Heinlein spent half a chapter of his novel "Starship Troopers" explaining why spanking is healthy and realistic, and anti-spanking is subtly dangerous. Interesting, considering that it's writers who usually turn a keen eye on class differences, class prejudices and class assumptions.
I've noticed myself that an awful lot of social science is affected by the class prejudices -- "ethnocentricities" is the official term -- of the social scientists themselves. I don't think anybody needs to be reminded of the piously proper medical researchers of a century ago who claimed that the "Negro brain" was "less developed" than the proper Caucasian brain. Looking back from today we can readily see the blatant errors in logic of those Terribly Proper studies, but nobody has noted the glaring logical errors of our modern social scientists whose findings support and agree with the prejudices of our current middle and upper classes. Here's one: when people protest "Hey, I was spanked as a kid, and I did all right", the anti-spanking pundits reliably answer "If you think spanking is acceptable, then you're not all right". That's a classic example of circular logic. They might as well say outright "If you disagree with me you're insane." Uhuh.
Well, I was not spanked as a child, and I was not all right until I got away from my parents. The reason is that, as I've noticed elsewhere, parents who don't spank use nasty psychological torments instead to enforce their will. My brother and I learned to be actually relieved on the rare occasions when we could provoke our parents to lose control and physically smack -- partly because, not having practiced spanking, they didn't know how to do it right and would miss as often as they hit, and partly because afterward they would feel attacks of Liberal Guilt and would refrain from the psychological punishments. Honest spanking would have been kinder. Pain is only pain, and the memory of it fades quickly, while psychological scars can take years to heal. ...Needless to add, I grew up to be a rebel -- and learned martial arts.
Here's another case, which the anti-spanking crowd will no doubt call "merely anecdotal" (that's what bigots call evidence contrary to their prejudices, until the number of "anecdotes" drown them). Back in post-revolutionary Russia there lived a middle-class Jewish family -- safe from Soviet government harassment because the father worked for a government bureaucracy -- who earnestly believed in all the "progressive" biases. Among other children, they had two daughters: call the elder Katya and the younger Anya. Katya was a practical cynic while Anya was an idealist. Being middle-class Liberals, the parents did not spank; instead, they used psychological punishments -- while telling the children they should be grateful for such treatment. For example, whenever their cousins came to mooch a meal, the parents would hand over the babysitting of the cousins' retarded child to their daughters, telling them they should be grateful for a chance to display their virtue by "caring for the unfortunate". As soon as the adults were out of sight, Katya would foist off the job on Anya.
One day the girls disobeyed an order -- making beds, IIRC -- and their mama decided this required severe punishment. She ordered the girls to each bring her their favorite toy, and she said they wouldn't get the toys back for a full year. Katya handed over her least-favorite toy, a worn-out doll, on the theory that she wasn't going to do without her favorite for a year, and mama wouldn't know the difference. Anya handed over her favorite toy, a mechanical bird, on the theory that after anticipating it for a year, regaining the toy would be that much sweeter. Well, the year passed and the day came. Instead of giving back the toys, mama admitted that she'd given them, the very day she got them, to the local orphanage -- and the girls should be grateful that they were able to give joy to the "disadvantaged". Katya gave a dutiful smile to her mother, and a knowing smirk to her sister, and went off to play with her favorite toys. Anya decided that she hated her mother, and hypocrisy, and self-sacrifice, and the "disadvantaged".
Katya went on with her family-planned life, but Anya concentrated on her schoolwork. She specialized in techniques of film, and eventually got herself a scholarship -- and government permission -- to leave Russia, go to America and go to Hollywood to study filmmaking. As soon as she got there, she renounced her Russian citizenship, applied for American citizenship, got a job as a script-girl and worked up to script-writer. She also changed her name -- to Ayn Rand.
Yes, that Ayn Rand. She spent the rest of her life writing scripts and influential books in which she denounced progressivism, and self-sacrifice, and hypocrisy, and altruism. We don't know what happened to her family back in Russia when World War Two broke out, or after, but none of them wound up with Ayn Rand in America. She also took care never to have children of her own.
Sure, all this is "anecdotal", but the moral is clear: don't spank your kids, and you'll wind up with extremists and rebels. Then again, seeing the "ethnocentricities" of the middle and upper classes, maybe this is a good thing.