In Juarez, Mexico, women are routinely abducted, raped and killed. Their dismembered bodies are left by the roadside in the desert.
In New Orleans, where the official death toll of Hurricane Katrina just passed 400 and will rise much higher, thousands are without homes and destruction is everywhere.
In Alamo, Calif., Jordan Riak is taking a stand — against spanking.
Riak is the Executive Director of Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education. He also manages their Web site, Project NoSpank.
NoSpank gladly accepts donations and even has a Board of Directors — it’s not exactly a small organization. According to their mission statement, NoSpank strongly believes that “children should no longer be excluded from the legal protections against assault and battery that apply to adults,” and that kids should in fact have even more protection because of their vulnerability. You would be hard pressed to find someone who would disagree with that.
The Web site talks about how Riak and his group have worked to remove paddling and other forms of violence from schools — a worthy cause, indeed.
But the site presents quite a few mixed messages. Interspersed among cartoons of paddlings and pictures of the devices and the ones who have wielded them are articles about why spanking your children is wrong and how it will cause them to have violent tendencies and sexual fetishes when they grow up.
I think the people at NoSpank are a bit confused. Yes, hitting a child at a public school with a blunt instrument is a terrible thing, and it’s good that it was put to an end. But a paddling by the principal is a far cry from a spanking from a parent.
I’m not taking a stance on whether spanking is right or wrong — I don’t have kids, so what do I know? NoSpank clearly has a stance, however, and it’s great that they are exercising their First-Amendment right to talk about it and put information about spanking on the Web. But NoSpank doesn’t stop at putting the information out there — they take it one step farther.
This is how I gather, just from what I’ve seen, that Project NoSpank works. Riak gets up every morning and runs a Web search on the word “spanking.” If he finds anybody out there who disagrees with him, he fires off that person’s opinion to a woman named Alice Miller, an “internationally-renowned” psychotherapist. Together, they craft a harassing — and from what I’ve seen, “harassing” is putting it lightly — e-mail and send it to the offender.
Yes, school paddling was bad. No one’s fighting you there. But spanking? With so many terrible, terrible things going on out there, at home and abroad, is battling spanking really at the top of our “To Do” list?
Our world is not a cute and fuzzy place. If it were, then maybe giving money to an anti-spanking advocacy group would make sense. But the real world is a pretty heinous place, and there are much, much bigger fish to fry than parents who discipline their kids.
Groups like NoSpank, not to mention those who fund such groups, need to forget about the little problems that they think are a big deal and look at the big picture. Quit wasting your time and money and focus on problems that actually matter.
Jason Roberts is the Editor in Chief of The Daily O’Collegian. He can be reached via e-mail at PigeonRanger@yahoo.com