Save the Smoke-Free, Unspanked Queen
by Mad Dog
For 144 years
parents have had the right to smack children as “reasonable
chastisement” if they misbehave. In non-legal terms, that means if the
kid deserves it.
||England is a country based
on tradition, whether it be tea and crumpets in the afternoon, the
changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, or supporting the royal
family in a style to which only they’re accustomed just to ensure that
the tabloids have plenty to write about. That’s why it’s
disheartening to see so many of their traditions in danger of biting the
The first one under fire is fox
hunting. This is the sport in which grown adults wearing silly red coats
and sillier black hats ride big, powerful horses chasing a pack of
hungry, howling dogs which are pursuing a poor little fox that’s too
busy running for its life to wonder why it’s the one with the
reputation as being crazy. Without getting into the question of whether
it’s cruel, it’s more important to wonder why they find it fun.
Unless, of course, I’m missing a critical component, like say, lots of
Tanqueray and tonic. It’s obviously not a sport or it would be an
Olympic event right next to badminton. Or at least they’d show it on
ESPN. Of course it’s true that it may be included in next year’s X
Games, but that’s because they’re replacing the horses with
skateboards, the course is down Lombard Street in San Francisco — the
so-called Crookedest Street in the World — and the part of the fox
will be played by Ashton Kutcher. Naked.
For the third time in recent years,
Parliament is debating the issue. A couple of years ago the House of
Commons voted to ban the practice. Then the House of Lords voted to
allow it as long as it’s limited and regulated, citing the long-held
legal tenet that anything should be allowed as long as the government
has its grubby mitts in it. In the meantime, Scottish Parliament voted
to ban it — fox hunting, not the House of Lords — so there’s
increased pressure in England to do something. Anything. They’ll
probably take the easy way out and ban the Fox Network. Hey, now
there’s a good idea. Hang on while I email Michael Powell. I’ll be
baby, a box of disposable nappies, a tiny T-shirt that says ‘My
parents went to the hospital and all they got was a crying and pooping
machine,’ and this pamphlet, 1001 Bloody Good Reasons to Smack Your
Meanwhile there’s a movement to ban smoking in English pubs.
Greasy fish and chips are okay. Drinking plenty of intoxicating
beverages is encouraged. But please, what’s with that blue haze? Some
pubs are testing the water and banning smoking but it’s tough to keep
it up when your pint glasses have an inch of dust on them and your beer
taps are rusted shut. The possibility of a ban is very real, since
it’s now illegal to smoke in pubs in Ireland. I’m glad I’m not the
one trying to enforce that in Belfast.
Another law the English Parliament is
batting around is the one about smacking, which is what we in the United
States call spanking. For 144 years parents have had the right to smack
children as “reasonable chastisement” if they misbehave. In
non-legal terms, that means if the kid deserves it. I’m not sure if
they have a list of deserving and non-deserving offenses, but you’d
think after 144 years they’d have some pretty good guidelines they
could hand out to new parents. “Congratulations Mr. and Mrs.
Thornapple. Here’s your baby, a box of disposable nappies, a tiny
T-shirt that says ‘My parents went to the hospital and all they got
was a crying and pooping machine,’ and this pamphlet, 1001 Bloody
Good Reasons to Smack Your Child’s Bum.”
The House of Lords had to choose
between a law banning spanking completely and one that allowed it as
long as it didn’t cause physical or mental harm, which they defined as
bruising, scratching, reddening of the skin, or unsightly facial tics
later in life. They chose the second option by a margin of 226 to 91, so
as long as the House of Commons approves it, England will have a brand
spanking new law soon.
We all start out life as clean slates. Some of us are
blackboards, some whiteboards, but we’re all clean in the
There is, naturally, a big debate over whether spanking is a good
punishment for children. A study by the University of New Hampshire
Family Research Laboratory found that spanking can backfire and push a
child into delinquency. Another, by the Institute of Human Development
at the University of California Berkeley, says mild spanking doesn’t
cause any lasting harm. Maybe what we need to do is all sit down and
calmly watch The Secretary.
Hey, I saw the movie, I know what
happens to people who weren’t spanked when they were young, they need
to make up for it later. See, we all start out life as clean slates.
Some of us are blackboards, some whiteboards, but we’re all clean in
the beginning. At certain predetermined points in our life we need to
have had a reasonable amount of experiences, such as joy, pain, sorrow,
and listening to Kenny G, which you would think falls under the pain
category but is actually a separate subcategory of anguish. Not quite as
bad as having to watch Andy Richter’s new TV show, but close. At these
points, if we haven’t been getting enough of something, we go out of
our way to add it to our life. Thus, people who don’t get enough
affection may become promiscuous, those who haven’t had enough pain
turn to drugs, and those who weren’t spanked go to clubs like Bondage
a Go-Go in San Francisco. Don’t ask me how I know about this or I’ll
have to spank you.
I sure hope English Parliament
considers all of this well, or the next thing you know you won’t be
able to hunt foxes, smoke while you drown your equestrian sorrows in a
Guinness, or be legally spanked if you get caught doing either of them.
But at least there’s still high tea and the royal family. Some things
really are sacred.
©2004 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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