Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Never in Anger

I glimpsed some Christians on Channel 5 last night, American and British, who were saving themselves for marriage. The young American couple had been together for three years and had never kissed, only holding hands after they got engaged. They had not spent more than a couple of hours alone ever and were filmed choosing a bed for when they were married. The Brits were slightly more sophisticated, they had kissed, but I think they had waited a year, and the girl said it would be catastrophic if smacking were ever banned outright in the UK. It would be madness, she said, there would be no way of disciplining children. Then there was Joey, the American who made smacking paddles because God had told him to. He gave them away free on the internet so people could smack their children. He stamped the paddles with 'Love from Joey' and 'Never in Anger'. The motto of those who use the paddles seems to be 'never in anger'. You only hit the children when you are calm.

I just don't get it. Any of it.


Böbø said...

So not making love is a act of love, and hitting a child with an unyielding piece of wood is also an act of love.

Hmmm. I'm with you. It's not a love I recognise or embrace. It is not a love of positives, but of negatives. A "love" that punishes.

I want to call them "fuckwits" and sneer. But if I allow myself to walk with them for a bit, I just get this sense of how scary the world is for them, and how they are ever vigilant of the rules and how oppressed they are (and how they oppress their children) into keeping those rules.

Then I feel sad for them in their prison of fear, and angry that instead of trying to escape, they have turned gaolers themselves.

Anonymous said...

It is quite scary and I am glad that you don't get it. I don't, and I suspect God wouldn't either.

It is funny how some Christians latch on to such absurd issues like the smacking of children or homosexuality. They get such bees on their bonnets about it all.

I think if you need to administer violence to your children to discipline them, then you are seriously bad at parenting.

nmj said...

Hey Bobo & Mr Z, That's it exactly, Bobo, a 'love of negatives' to express love... The sex thing, I suppose that is entirely their thing, up to them, but it just seems such a waste of passion, I could never have done it. The smacking thing is scary, not just because of what it is, but because they claim they are taking instruction from the bible. They obviously think they are good parents, and that they are doing the best for their children, one woman used a switch 'lightly'. I didn't actually see any people who used Joey's wooden paddle.

Mr Z, Can I ask you about Prison Break, I caught some of it last night, for the first time ever, it was kind of soothing after watching the documentary above. The man with impossibly blue eyes and rosebud lips had escaped with his brother & he got a phone call at a hospital from some woman with a key. Then they were in a car with a guy who had just spoken to the president, he seemed very dodgy, but I don't think the brothers know. Blue eyes said that soon everything would be over one way or another. Can you please just tell me briefly who the woman is & who the man in the car is? Then I can watch next week and actually know what is going on!

nmj said...

Oh, & the crazy man in the boat going to holland? and the guy in mexico?

Anonymous said...

NMJ, I'm afraid it's all a bit late for you, you are halfway through the second series and quite frankly it's not as good as the first.

Funny that I am watching the series via download and I watched the very same episode last night.


You need to go back to the start, if you like that sort of thing.

However, the woman is in love with Schofield (blue eyes) and he with her. She was the prison doctor of the prison where he and his brother (unshaven tough guy) were held.

It's all a big conspiracy thing, probably based on truth, judging by George Bush's White House.

The dodgy guy is very dodgy. Scorned by the President (who he loves) he's trying to get revenge, but then she phoned him to either (a) bring him back in on side, or (b) trick him.

My money's on (b).

That's so pants said...

Here's the bit I don't get - don't you ONLY feel like walloping someone when you are really mad at them?

nmj said...

thanks, mr z - you are kind.

exactly, pants, but in their eyes, smacking is the only sure way to discipline your kids, so you smack when you're calm. a very fucked up philosophy.

Rob said...

I don't smack my own daughter and don't think it's particuarly effective.

However when you look at the severe problems we have in the UK, the lack of discipline, the violence on the streets and insecurity among young people etc, I wonder what form of discipline can be made effective and make a real difference to society.

I felt the programme was like many sensationalist TV documentaries. It trivialised the issues by focusing on quite extreme situations and it polarised these issues - either you are with the smackers or you are with the trendy "time-out" crowd. It didn't examine the social climate, the likely pyschologicfal effects of different punishments, or anything that might have approached solutions to difficult parenting decisions.

It was simply "Gawp at the Fundamentalist Christian Zoo" TV, and let's feel self-righteous that we are not like them. Just as Supernanny is "Gawp at the Hopeless Parents" TV, and thank God we are not like them either. Who are we going to gawp at next week?

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi nmj - did you ever see the episode of The West Wing when Bartlett was challenging an evangelical christian? Along the lines of "the bible tells me that I can stone my neighbour to death for working on the Sabbath. Tell me, do I have to do the stoning myself, or could I pay someone else to do it for me?" Fabulous.

nmj said...

hey rob, i didn't see all of the programme, but i didn't feel self-righteous, more sad & uncomprehending...there is definitely a discipline problem in the UK just now, i can see that outside my flat any day of the week, and it makes me think what has broken down to make them have such little respect for people/property. i don't know what the answers are but religious zealotry is definitely not, however i'm sure there are parents who smack and who are not Christians ...i don't watch supernanny, i find it distressing that parents would want to film their difficult children like this...it is such a personal issue how you discipline your children, and i speak as an aunt not a mother, but this ritualised smacking scared me.

hey ms m, can you believe i never really watched west wing??!!

Ms Melancholy said...

Oh, nmj, I'm sure you would love it. It is funny and warm and lovely and about serious things too. Do you want to borrow the dvd?

nmj said...

Oh, Ms M, what sweetness, but I don't have a dvd player, occasionally, I watch them on my laptop, but I have such excellent arthouse cinemas literally five minutes from me that I don't really feel the need (for player), & I reckon if I miss something great on TV it is my own fault for not realising it was great...but thanks so much, I did see a few glimpses here & there, but don't really know the characters x

Rob said...

nmj - in case I'm misinterpreted - I didn't mean that you were self-righteous, but that the programme was intended to instil such feelings in its viewers, rather than tackling the difficult issues at stake.

I think the desire of the Christians was to bring up their children radically differently from the child-rearing norms present in society today, which they can see clearly are failing.

I don't think things are so simple. It's not just a question of discipline. Nor is there really a parenting manual present in the Bible. There's a whole cultural and social baggage that needs to be dealt with, and there are no easy answers.

nmj said...

hey rob, thanks for clarifying, yes, i can see how the fragments of the programme i saw were perhaps manipulative.

i know it is not only a question of discipline, but what i saw was centred on discipline (and no sex).

i also realise there is no parenting manual in the bible, & i think most people who read this know that! i think the joey character made reference to the bible when he was talking about his paddles, but perhaps i was flippant in my reference.

i agree with you, there are no easy answers, but i can feel distaste for 'organised smacking' (for want of a better word) without feeling i've been manipulated. the fact remains these people use such methods, whether the programme addressed it in a sophisticated enough way is another question.

Digitalesse said...

OMG, smacking paddles??!! I shudder to think what must be going on in that man's head if he says God told him to make them.

Years ago, I saw a copy of 'Plain Truth' which had an article on how to smack children, no so hard as to injure them but hard enough to make them cry, at which point, the righteous parent was advised to tell the child about God being angry with them.

My sisters never smacked their kids, my sister-in-law didn't either. None of those kids have ever been in trouble and have grown up to behave responsibly. Not that it was easy, I've witnessed how those kids would really push at the boundaries, but there's more to discipline than smacking or not.

I went to school when corporal punishment was the norm, and yes, I did get the belt on quite a few occasions but it only made me feel insecure at school, knowing that the adults who were responsible for us could inflict pain at will. The first time was in primary school and the teacher asked who had been talking when she left the room, and about half the class admitted it, so she lined us up and gave us all the belt. We were 6-7 years old. These adults were supposed to protect us and encourage us, not hit us.

nmj said...

Hey dig, yes, he was adamant that it was God who wanted him to make paddles. I also got the belt at primary school - for crossing the road without the lollipop man once, everyone did it, but someone grassed on me & the headmaster came to the class to get me, I was about eight. I was terrified and wouldn't go with him, and he told me it would be alright. Afterwards, I was so embarrassed about crying that I told people I'd had an injection. I never forgave that bastard man.

Rob said...


I pretty much agree with your assessment of the programme. It was centred on discipline and the attitude to sex was weird. There is something chilling about the cold-blooded calculation of it all, the cool desire to inflict physical violence on a child, as opposed to spanking a child in the heat of a moment, which I bet even the most ardent opponents of corporal punishment have probably done.

As a parent, I’m not convinced by the populist attitude i.e. the Supernanny approach. But the spanking paddles were outrageous and the fundamentalist Christians in the programme didn’t come over well at all.

Mind you, not quite as badly as these women who forced toddlers to fight and videoed it. Wait until that gets leaked to YouTube, or ends up in a Channel 5 Documentary.

nmj said...

hey rob, when i read about this toddler fight yesterday, i didn't know how to react - hard to know what emotions to have really. (ah, maybe there is a use for joey's paddle after all! i mean, what the f*** were those women thinking?)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

It's amazing the kinds of nonsense people attribute to God.

Their rigidity about romance and sexuality isn't hurting anyone else, but it is never right to hit children.

I'm sure they feel terribly smug and superior not doing so when they are angry, but there is something even more chilling about administering physical and emotional pain to ones own children with deadly calm.

I think that these so-called Christians should try to emulate Christ a little more for everybody's good.

nmj said...

hey sanfran, they didn't áctually come across as smug & superior, more convinced that what they were doing was the absolute path to raising good children. & joey, who made the paddles, allowed that if he had been wrong, God would tell him when he died.