Is Violence Sometimes The Answer?
A Good Christian Smack In The Head
Two very different stories got me thinking about the very valuable nature of a good smack upside the head. The first story is about the last Catholic high school in the US has finally done away with corporal punishment. The other about a very rude person who got his comeuppance.
Oh, I know that in our enlightened society, hitting anyone for any reason whatsoever is considered the height of barbarism. It is a wondrous thing that a society such as ours which routinely sacrifices its young at the altar of convenience without raising an eyebrow can still be so rigorous in observing the proprieties, no? And while hitting is not the answer to everything and oft abused, perhaps a zero tolerance policy is not the answer. Perhaps sometimes a good smack, punch, or cuffing is the right thing to do, and sometimes perhaps even a mercy.
For sure there are abuses, so stipulated. But maybe all hitting is not bad.
When I was in high school, I had a bit of a fresh mouth. (I know, can you believe it?) One day I very rudely mouthed off to my French teacher at my Franciscan run school. As it happened, the dean of students strolled by the open door of my classroom had heard my rudeness. He immediately walked into the classroom, stood me up, and smacked my face in front of everyone. Then he apologized to the teacher on my behalf and dragged me to his office to work out my detention.
After the initial shock of the incident, I had time to reflect as I sat in the ante-chamber to his office, alone. Thinking, thinking about the injustice that had just been done. And after some more thinking, I came to a singular and inescapable conclusion. I did the injustice and justice had been done to me. I had it coming and I knew it. I deserved it.
I look back on that incident with a mixture of shame and pride. Shame for my deplorable behavior and pride that my 16 yr old self recognized his own fault. A well deserved smack did that for me. I am grateful for it. It was a mercy.
So when I read a story like that of the Navy Seal punching Jesse Ventura for suggesting that his Navy buddies deserved to die for their service, I know without a doubt that he had it coming. I hope that Mr. Ventura took the time while lying on his back to reflect upon the poor choice he made and the fair consequences thereof. I hope.
Looking at the larger sociological picture (Oh how I do love to play sociologist) I don’t think that we are better off when no one fears getting smacked upside the head. Such a zero tolerance policy would surely lead us to tolerate an awful lot of bad behavior if being a jerk is risk-less behavior.
Upon reflection—that’s what I do, I reflect (see 16yr old self above)—upon reflection, I think of a good punch as I l think of concealed-carry gun laws. In most places in which laws have been put in place to allow citizens to carry a concealed weapon, violent crime has gone down. One is given to understandably pause in consideration of attackin’, when the helpless target may be packin’.
So too a good punch. The idea that rude behavior may result in swift and deserved recompense is a natural constraint on such rudeness. A society that does not tolerate such acts of fair recompense must undoubtedly tolerate much more.
So next time you see some outlandishly bad behavior think “Does this person deserve a good Christian smack in the head?” But before you make up you mind remember this. Jerks sometimes hit back. Let’s call that a natural restraint on the abuse of the privilege.