Although the Republican Party has been an easy target in recent years, it’s important to remember that there is plenty of criticism to go around. My last post dealt with the feasibility of a third party having any realistic hope of influencing national politics in any kind of meaningful way. I more than alluded that no real difference exists between the Republican and Democratic Parties; a position I still hold. However, in respect to isolated policies, certain positions can be attributed to one party or another.
Even with a Republican governor, California is a state dominated by the Democratic Party. Indeed, in many respects, it has earned the moniker, the “left coast.” In fact, had Governor Schwarzenegger originally run in a conventional election with the closed primary system California uses, it is highly unlikely he would have gained his party’s nomination - he’s far too moderate to have made it to the general election. It was only because of the nature of the recall that he was able to appeal directly to the more moderate masses in the recall election.
Last week, as reported in the Sacramento Bee, Assemblywoman Sally Lieber (D, Mountain View) proposed a law that would criminalize the spanking of any child under four years old. Her proposal would make it a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $1000 fine and/or one year in jail. "To my mind, there's no amount of physical force that's appropriate on a child 3 years old or younger," Lieber said. For the record, Lieber has no children.
My youngest child is 17. His brothers are 19 and 22. They are too old to be spanked and quite frankly, financial coercion is far more effective at their age. Whether they were spanked as children or not isn't relevant. That I had the legal right to choose how my kids were disciplined without government intervention, however, is. Lieber claims, “"The only thing a child learns by being beaten is that it's OK to beat or dominate children or animals that are smaller." Apparently "beating" is the same as spanking, at least under four years old.
Besides taking the legislature’s attention off the real problems that this state faces, her proposal is aimed at addressing child abuse, which, by the way, is already illegal. Her agenda is, of course, myopic and not so hidden - her law is an attempt to redefine abuse. It's based in the firm belief that we, as individuals, do not know what’s good for us and if the state doesn’t regulate our behavior, all hell is going to break loose. Coincidentally enough, she is also in favor of a recent ruling in California that lethal injection might be cruel or unusual. And of course, according to Planned Parenthood, she has a “100% pro choice” rating.
The contradiction is striking, but not surprising. And it’s interesting that each party has its own set of issues about where to get involved in our personal lives. On both the right and the left, our elected officials just know what’s best for us. I’m all for protecting the defenseless, especially children, but it could easily be argued that restricting parents’ ability to discipline their children is harming the children even more. And as far as those many, many laws already on the books that are for my own good - don’t even get me started.
I don’t like being told what to do; not as a parent and not as an individual. Where my actions in either capacity might harm my children or another person, there is moral and legal justification for society to provide consequences for such behavior. Those bases, however, are pretty well covered. Our civil liberties are constantly being threatened by not only those that mean us harm, but also by those that mean only the best for us. I don’t want to live in a bubble. I don’t want to be insulated from risk. I don’t need to be told not to abuse my children and I understand that if I do there are consequences. Spanking is not abuse, whether Lieber thinks so or not.