Louise Gordon Louise Gordon's Letter to the Editor of the Boston Herald
re: "Time to Spare the Ron," Mike Barnicle, Nov. 16
November 19, 2004

To the Editors:

Mr. Barnicle's article titled "Brookline, time to spare the Ron" is one of the worst pieces of so-called reportage I've ever read. I'm sure Barnicle has taken advantage of the fact that he can call names and publish a character assassination because Goldman is a public figure and would have a difficult time suing for libel, even if he wanted to. The article is little more than a series of ad hominem attacks, strung together with glib and wildly uninformed opinion on the subject of corporal punishment.

Barnicle maligns Ron Goldman as a publicity hound without giving any reason for this repeated name calling. He attacks Goldman again by saying that he has no children. Well, golly, Mr. Barnicle, according to your logic this would mean that unless one had fought in battle, one would not be qualified to speak out against war crimes. Need I cite more examples to convince you of your nonlogic?

We were all children once and one doesn't have to be a parent to know that hitting children is not the way to teach them the difference between right and wrong; rather, it teaches them fear and that physical coercion is an effective means of dealing with problems. In other words, parents love children, but if children are doing something the parent views as misbehavior, the loving parent will hurt the child.

This drivel would be bad enough, but Barnicle goes on to call Goldman's statistics on infant abuse totally bogus without providing contrary evidence, and concludes with a scurrilous attack on Goldman's character, suggesting that his interest in helping children become free from corporal punishment is an indication that he may enjoy sadomasochism. What a pitiable way to try to refute Goldman's arguments in the resolution that was under consideration.

At the same time, Barnicle spouts conventional opinion on the good old days, while condemning Brookline residents as world-class busybodies. Some people shouldn't be allowed to have children? That's what Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. thought as well, when the "Indiana Procedure" came into vogue, and a great number of the mentally retarded were sterilized.

Barnicle apparently also knows more than many Brookline citizens and longs for the days when people deemed abusers would be roughed up by their neighbors. How bold, how courageous to take this stand for children while ridiculing the work of people who are trying to improve children's lives by teaching them through example that violence doesn't solve problems but creates more.

I suggest that the editors of the Boston Herald and Barnicle investigate the issue of corporal punishment in the home and in twenty-two states in the United States where it is permitted in school. For example, read the work of Alice Miller, Jan Hunt and Irwin Hyman, founder of a center for the study of corporal punishment and author of "The Case Against Spanking" and "Reading, Writing and the Hickory Stick." Interview Harvard psychiatrist Alvin Poussaint and a sk him what he thinks about the "quaint" practice of spanking. Then compare their work with that of family advice giver James Dobson. Compare it with that of authors Michael and Debi Pearl, who wrote "To Train Up a Child" and "No Greater Joy." These three parental advisers all give "lessons" in how to spank, whip or "rod" children, although Dobson's lessons on spanking are different from those of the Pearls.

I would think you would be humiliated to have published such a piece of subliterate, malicious, cowardly writing in your newspaper. Barnicle writes like a bully, not a reporter or "journalist." And I bet he wrote the article all by himself.

Yours truly,

Louise Gordon
Cambridge, Massachusetts

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