September 26, 2002

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if spare the rod, spoil the child was the theme for our penal system? It seems that if this time tested slogan for raising children has gotten so many parents through what likely is more difficult than any hard time a prisoner can serve, then why shouldn't it be carried over into the real world? If it's good enough for our kids why do we stop there?

I was pondering this idea as I watched in horror that now famous tape of the woman punching her four-year old child in the back seat of her car at the grocery store. PLEASE don't take my initial analogy wrong here. I'm definitely not stating she was right. As a matter of fact she was dead wrong and that is what I'm talking about - the justice system should not spare the rod on her. I know I've suggested this in the past, but is an eye for an eye such a bad thing? I'm not saying she should be tied up and used as a punching bag by her four-year old daughter, but I don't think some form of corporal punishment is way out of line.

Remember the famous incident when Michael Fay, an American was sentenced by a Singapore court to a couple dozen lashes after he was convicted of vandalizing cars? It created such a stir in 1998 when it happened. I bet that boy never damaged any other cars in Singapore with the threat of another caning hanging over his head.

Again I'm not saying this woman should be beaten violently about the head like she did to her daughter. Instead I would suggest bringing my third grade teacher out of retirement along with "Mr. Hand," his trusty inch-thick wooden paddle.

As our jails become more overcrowded the judicial system is forced to hand out weaker and weaker punishment for crimes. So why not make a change. Instead of giving these drug offenders a slap on the wrist, why not sentence them to a few wraps on the behind. Better yet have this duty performed on the front steps of the courthouse for the world to see and the media to record. Obviously they don't mind paying the fines, that's not stopping them from breaking the law.

These folks that can't stop beating up on their spouse or significant others - put some boxing gloves on them and let them take on each other. Here's an idea - hire an ex-boxer and put him in the ring to do battle with four or five recently convicted wife-beaters. Shoot you could probably get it televised on pay-per-view (most boxers today are criminals or ex-cons) and use it as a fundraiser for the local battered spouse service.

You've seen the Highway Patrol rollover simulator or the crash dummies they use to safety test cars? Well if a person keeps getting DWI's why not put them in one of those for 30 seconds (make sure they not only are stone sober but preferably have a terrible hangover). That way they'd know what it's like to be on the other end, like the thousands of people that have been in accidents because of drunk drivers.

I was also going to use the example of the father and son idiot tandem that charged onto the baseball field in Chicago last week and attacked the Kansas City Royals first base coach. That doesn't work because I guarantee that the entire Royals baseball team definitely did not spare the rod. Those two bare-chested hooligans are just fortunate that when the team came to their coach's rescue that they were not bearing ball bats because the mob of players was definitely a little upset with those two and got plenty of blows in to make the next bunch of dummies think twice before trying something like that.

Okay I realize these all represent cruel and unusual punishment and it's against our constitution. But then again I don't imagine the founders of our great nation had too many nightmares worse than that few seconds of video caught by the store's security system. It turned my stomach and boiled my blood. I'm fortunate I was not her arresting officer because then I would have been the one getting the lashing.

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