The "feel-good," "they-know-what's-better-for-us-than-we-do" crowd is at it again spearheaded by California State Assemblywoman Sally "Nanny State Maven" Lieber a Democrat from Mountain View in the Bay Area, who is writing legislation to outlaw spanking children.
California is supposed to be the leader of kookie legislation, but recently New York City joined the feel-good legislating crowd with its transfat law, and the Los Angeles City Council is planning on following suit.
Not to be outdone by any legislature, if California pass a 'you can't spank you kid law', it will be the first state to do so.
First it was the no smoking Nazis, followed by the fat fascists, the junk food fanatics, the obesity obsessed and now it's the "whip spanking" supporter. What's next? The panties on dogs dogmatics? The sanctimonious sugar scorners?
I don't know how legislators think they're going to stop overreaction or overindulgence by passing laws. Last year alone, the U.S. Congress drafted 75 anti-obesity laws, with only two surviving for a vote.
The ink isn't dry yet, nor is Lieber's bill fully drafted, but the response to her proposal has gained attention, not only in California, but nationwide with commentary on major news programs and talk shows. While some of that attention from so-called experts in child psychology and pediatrics has been mixed, most parents have come down the on the side of "butt out", with no buts about it.
It's not enough that Lieber is butting in where she doesn't belong -- in how we rear our children and how we admonish them -- but she throws around inflammatory, button-pushing language: Beat, whip, strike, corporal punishment, smack, hit, punch to get our attention and support for her bill.
As the parent of three, I found that the most direct path to teaching an "I'm gonna do what I want," asserting his rights two- or three-year-old in a dangerous situation, went directly from my open hand to a well-padded diapered tush.
There is no reasoning with a tot. They are simply too young to understand the subtleties of a well-reasoned argument when you are trying to get through to him that a couple of swats are nothing compared to being hit by a car or reaching for the allure of the glowing red coal in the barbecue.
You can take all the time you want, and have all the patience in the world with little Malcolm when it comes to putting away toys and a myriad of other things, but not with the "it will really hurt you" things.
When it comes to running in the street; loosing himself from your tight grip in a busy parking lot; fiddling with the power mower; or helping mom-chef in the kitchen by grabbing the pot handles, nothing says, "I love you more than life itself" than a swat on the bottom, followed by lots of hugs that he'll immediately understand rather than explanations, which he won't get for another year or two.
By her ill-conceived logic, this married woman but having not one iota of experience raising a child -- in short, she has no children -- feels it's necessary to tell us how to bring up our kids. Lieber's logic tells her all we have to do is pass another "feel-good" law and child abuse will instantly disappear and parents will magically become exemplary, gold star-winning, "Father Knows Best", "Leave it to Beaver", Ozzie and Harriet-type child rearers.
With that said, I have no doubt that Lieber deeply, truly and with all sincerity believes in her legislation, while completely forgetting that ever since the first hominids crawled out of the primordial ooze there have been people who should have been banned from procreating.
I'm not going to try to psych out where Lieber's brainchild came from. Maybe she saw a parent overly admonish a child in public, or perhaps one of her constituents asked her advice about a neighbor whom they thaught is an abusive parent, or maybe it was something she read or saw on television.
The answer to abusive parents does not lie within another law; there are already plenty of laws on the books that cover child abuse.
A better route would be to add parenting to high school sex education classes. After all, frequently one leads to the other. Maybe if we could give young people an inkling of insight into what good parenting entails, it might reduce child abuse. Although trust me, there's no substitute for "having been there; done that."
Parenting classes certainly couldn't hurt; we have classes for every other occupation in the world, so why not more parenting classes?
Some child-rearing insights instilled into our future parents might avoid some far off pitfalls, such as emulating the parent who hung his kid over a balcony to wave to adoring fans; or the gun-wielding father who used his infant as a shield between him the police, with disastrous results for him, and especially for the resulting death of his innocent baby.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he is open-minded about the bill, while hinting at concerns about the bill's enforceability since most spankings take place in the privacy of the home, and children under the age of three- or four- years are incapable of reporting it.
If approved, California would become the first state to explicitly ban parents from spanking their toddlers
Lieber remains optimistic that lawmakers will find her proposal hard to resist, and I am hopefully optomistic that lawmakers are keen enough to know there are far more urgent problems facing the State and its citizens, and that a groundswell of citizens will continue to say "butt out of our personal lives."