I hate corporal punishment. I was fortunate to have parents who did not believe in it and have never used it on my own children. I did go to a private boys school in Sri Lanka that allowed its principal and vice-principal to cane students and there were some teachers who also hit students with rulers or slapped them even though they were not authorized to do so.
I was never hit by a teacher, but I was caned on one occasion by the vice-principal when he punished the entire class for making too much noise in the absence of a teacher. I was not traumatized by this, maybe because the vice-principal never seemed to enjoy caning people. This may be because his punishments were not in response to anything done to him directly but as part of the responsibilities of his office. He caned people matter-of-factly, not in anger. He was also much respected personally as a great and caring math teacher who instilled in me a love of the subject.
But there was one teacher whom I distinctly remember who would get really angry with a couple of students and slap them hard and repeatedly, while insulting them verbally. He seemed almost out of control when he did it, with a venomous look in his eyes, and it was quite frightening. He was also a very ‘Christian’ man, frequently giving little homilies at school assemblies using biblical texts to make his points.
In the US, corporal punishment seems to have largely disappeared, except in the context of sports teams. We have the recent spectacle of the Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice who had been abusing his players (physically and with homophobic slurs) for a long time, known to the athletic director and the university president, but only got fired when video of his appalling behavior appeared online. Rice’s behavior reminds me of the out-of-control Christian teacher.
What is astonishing to me is how three Fox News personalities (Sean Hannity, Eric Bolling, and Michelle Malkin) defended Rice’s actions and said that firing him was a bad thing, a symbol of the ‘wussification of America,’ and that they were hit by their parents and feel they benefited from it and now do it to their own children.
As Jon Stewart of The Daily Show says, this confessional may explain a lot about their behavior on TV.
(This clip was aired on April 4, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)