Michael Pearl and his wife Debi were in the news last week for their controversial publications which encourage corporal punishment and do so with an emphasis that the punishment inflicts pain. One couple took their teachings seriously and actually beat one of their children to death for which they are now looking at decades in prison. Their web site is entitled No Greater Joy and if you check it out it is apparent that there is not a whole lot of joy around that domocile.
Pearl and his ilk represent one of the extremes that our culture permits to the great detriment and abuse…and even death…of our children. One essential theme in that mentality is that children belong to them, especially the father as the “head of the home” and that it is his responsibility as head of the home to “train up a child in the way he should go.” And, an important dimension of this is that to “spare the rod is to spoil the child.”
Now it won’t be in my lifetime and probably not for a long time thereafter but we are going to have to realize that children, in an important sense, belong to all of us and that we cannot allow them to be abused or even born into abusive, stupid, hell-holes like that of Pearl and his ilk. Yes, yes, yes, this will involve “government intrusion” but there are circumstances where government does need to intrude. We did it with domestic rape! I remember when the notion of “domestic rape” was just being toyed with and was, in my youth, given pause with the reasoning, “Well, doesn’t a man have the right to have sex with his wife?” Well, now it is a no-brainer to myself and to most people that “No” he doesn’t if she says no. Why was it ever otherwise? Well, the answer is that women were property and being a sex object was a huge part of their role in life. But our government has intruded and in doing so has changed reality on the issue, by and large. And what about race? When I was a child, blacks were inferior and were looked upon with scorn in the deep South where I was raised. The government intruded and changed reality and had they not done so blacks would not have the equality that they have today.
Yes, government intrusion can go too far. But there are instances in which it does not go far enough. And when it comes to child abuse and maltreatment, I really think we should get heavy-handed about it.