Thursday, September 18, 2014

It's not OK

Despite living on the West Coast for more than a year now, I still forget how early Monday Night Football comes on. I turned it on at 8:45 Monday night and the commentators were deep into their post-game show. Ray Lewis was emotionally addressing the Adrian Peterson child-abuse allegations. Lewis hasn't been the most scandal-free player himself, but his points were pretty good. I was glad to see the ESPN team openly tackling controversial issues, just as other network personalities have been doing.

I'm also encouraged by the backlash against "my parents did it, and I'm OK." More often than not, when I've heard someone say that, it was with a combined tone of anger and defensiveness — a tone that suggests the person is anything but OK. They might be lovely, rational, thinking adults most of the time, but there's that terrifying lapse in patience that's ever-present. It can manifest itself in numerous ways. Spanking. Switching. Even harsher forms of physical punishment. Some exercise the mildest forms occasionally and regretfully. Others are harsher and see no problem with it. Still others boast of their use corporal punishment with inappropriate pride.

As someone who is opposed to spanking children, let alone the use of switches, I'm happy to see that Peterson has few apologists. Sure, people should have been outraged long ago, and many of us were, but all we can do now is stay vigilant about such practices in the future. Not because our pro heroes are doing it, but because anyone is.

I realize that many good people differ with me on the issue of spanking. But to me, the issue isn't the severity of the physical approach so much as the trigger in an adult's mind when they find it necessary to strike a child. It is against the law to strike another adult the same way, so why should we allow it from parent to child? And why be OK with spanking if the wounds Peterson inflicted to his children are so abhorrent? The anger in the adult and the trauma to the child are where the real scars form. So it all needs to stop.

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