The news today brings word that Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson has been charged with child abuse for using a branch to spank his son.
Obviously, on the heels of the Ray Rice story in which the Baltimore Ravens’ player was caught on video maliciously knocking his wife unconscious in an elevator, this is news.
Assault, especially on women and children, has risen to the top of our attention, where it should be. My former employer, The Post and Courier, did a masterful job of outlining the reasons South Carolina is among the top abusers of women in a recent five-part series titled, “Til Death Do Us Part.”
Clearly, beating up on anybody for any reason is a bad thing.
But does this really apply to giving a child a spanking?
In Peterson’s defense, a close friend said, “Adrian is a loving father who used his judgment as a parent to discipline his son. He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in Texas.”
Which brings us to the bottom line – if spanking a child is a crime, all our parents would have received lengthy prison sentences back in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
My father, a good man, would pull his belt from his pant loops, and I knew what that meant. A few good whacks across the butt and I was convinced my current course of action was ill advised. Once he whipped me with a Bat Masterson cane (of TV legend) because it was the only thing handy after I disobeyed a direct order not to leave the premises during an overnight camping trip in our backyard.
Worse, however, were the whippings I got from my nanny, a kindly colored lady named Annie Lou who looked after me during the day.
“Go on out yonder to the back yard and cut me a switch,” she would say when she was ready to tan my little behind for some minor misdemeanor.
Knowing what was coming, I’d walk out into the yard, crying, and cut the flimsiest switch I could find.
When I handed it to Annie Lou, she’d just shake her head and say, “No, no, little Kenny Burger, you march yourself right out there and cut me a real switch.”
Lord knows how much time she would have served if the politically-correct punishment police had been around back then.