Back in July, I was listening to NPR while I was on my way to the library. This was in Utah, so I was listening to a KUER radio show called “Radio West.” It’s hosted by Doug Fabrizio, who is the executive producer of the show. Dave loves to make fun of this show because of some of the recurring themes that Doug likes to explore, but I really enjoy listening to it because I think that it brings up a lot of interesting issues that deal specifically with Utah life.
Anyway, that day it was being guest hosted by Jennifer Napier-Pearce. The topic of the show really caught my attention that day because it was about corporal punishment, and not just any corporal punishment, but flogging!
The writer who Jennifer was interviewing, Peter Moskos, wrote a book called In Defense of Flogging. And he was saying that because our prison system is so messed up, we would get better results and take on fewer difficulties if we reformed the law system to include an option for corporal punishment. The criminal could either take jail/prison time, or they could choose to be flogged.
Honestly, I was pretty astounded. My reaction was that this sounded partially like a really crazy idea from someone who likes to hurt people, and partially like a joke. When they asked listeners to call in with their reactions, I decided to call and let them know my opinion.
I compared the book to Jonathon Swift’s A Modest Proposal. I said that while he may be serious about his proposal, I thought that the most that it could do would be to promote interest in some other, more moderate reform of our prison system.
He responded by saying that he hoped people did take his book literally and that flogging really did become an option. He thought it was a good idea to propose and he wanted to be taken seriously. I may have made him mad! But it was a fun experience to call in and have my opinion taken and responded to. If you want to hear the interview you can find it here. Go to minute 16:38 to hear my comment and his response. And, as a small disclaimor, I said that Swift wrote A Modest Proposal in the 1800s, but it was really the 1700s. :D
Something else fun happened that day. When I went in to the library, I went to a table to set up my computer to get to work. There was a stack of books on the table. It looked as if someone were doing research and had left their stack of books on the table so they could go find more related books. I happened to glance at some of the titles on the books, and I was surprised to find out that they were all about corporal punishment (in the context of parenting). I had a good little laugh to myself about the coincidence.
So what do you think about corporal punishment? In parenting or in the criminal justice system? And have any of you read Peter Mosko’s In Defense of Flogging? Or books that talk about corporal punishment in parenting? I’m going to reserve finalizing my opinion until I can get a chance to read it, but my initial reaction is what I’ve stated above: I just don’t think that it’s a rational solution that Americans can take seriously in the context of reforming the criminal justice system. However, I do agree with the premise that we do need reform, and I hope that this book brings about more awareness to the issue.