Saturday, November 3, 2007

Dangers of Reading and the Bible Belt

Richard Drake's Street Jazz blog this week asked the key question, "Mike Masterson - what were you thinking?" His reference was to Masterson's whacked out column "Dads and Their Belts" in Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, wherein "Mike extolls the virtues of spanking kids. Well, not just spanking. No, Mike had to go skinny dipping in the moral cesspool of beating kids with a belt, taking the unsuspecting reader along with him."

"Like virtually everything in life, effectively disciplining a child is a matter of common sense and mature, loving discretion," Masterson wrote in his column that is available to innocent young children over the internet and in school libraries. "But I firmly believe that every parent in this society should remain free to administer reasonable discipline as he or she believes necessary to deal with the uniquely individual natures and willful states of one’s own children."

Masterson is particularly fond of using a leather belt to inflict discipline. "The fact is that being spanked with a belt or a paddle triggered not a whit of poor self-regard or an urge toward violence against others. I don’t know any adult who was spanked as a matter of discipline who is psychically deformed as a result. I certainly never felt I was being undeservedly disciplined because of parental rejection or a lack of love. In fact, I believed just the contrary." He liked it and felt loved?

Here's the weird thing. In today's column Masterson says, "I can imagine few things worse than abusing the love and trust that dogs instinctively feel for us humans." He is against abusing dogs, but earlier he scoffed about the case of a father facing a trial over the beating of his son. "I’ll wait to hear more details before I form a final opinion, but if it turns out that he spanked on or around the boy’s bottom to convince a willfully defiant son to change his ways, I’ll likely be remembering my own family’s history and not feeling much sympathy for the tax-paid government prosecutor," he said.

Now, this is the same Mike Masterson who took up the school library censorship cause of Laurie Taylor and argued that reading books about spanking monkeys could be harmful to young children. What about the dangers from reading your column, Mike? Do you think you have no responsibility for the consequences to innocent children from people who get excited by reading your column endorsing taking a belt to the bottom of young children with "mature loving discretion" to deal with their willfulness?

This morning's Northwest Arkansas Times reports on the arrest of Nikos Lamar Palmer of
Fayetteville on two felony charges of second-degree battery for whipping a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old with a leather belt, only two days after your column appeared. I suppose you're not feeling much sympathy for the tax-paid government prosecutor who will seek a conviction and punishment for Mr. Palmer. Do you have as much concern for abused children as you expressed for dogs? As Richard Drake said, "Shame on you, Mike Masterson." Someone should take a belt to you.

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