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Is Spanking Your Child a Form of Aggression?

in Children's Rights, Liberator Online, Libertarian Answers on Issues, Marriage and Family by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

(From the Ask Dr. Ruwart section in Volume 19, No. 13 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

QUESTION: It seems to me that spanking your child is a form of aggression. Would libertarians agree?

SpankingMY SHORT ANSWER: Many do, but some do not. I personally see spanking as an utter last resort, only suitable for situations where the child might otherwise be greatly harmed or do great harm to another. For example, with a child who keeps running out in traffic, despite taking away TV privileges or using other deterrents, physical censure might save his or her life. Most of the time, though, a parent has better options; for example, keeping a child inside until he or she recognizes the dangers of traffic.

When we spank or beat a child, we are teaching that might makes right. We are also teaching that hurting someone smaller and weaker can be a “loving” gesture. Surely, as parents, we should be able to come up with a better teaching tool almost all of the time. Some psychologists — rightly, I believe — fear that any kind of physical punishment can create grave problems later (see for example, http://alice-miller.com/video.php). Punishing a child with verbal abuse creates problems too.

Libertarians believe in making victims whole, not punishing the aggressor. If children hit a sibling, a better method of correction might be having the offender do something special for the one who was struck. Responsibility and discipline are important lessons for children to have, but it’s best to teach them as gently as possible. A correction with an overlay of aggression, belittling, or hostility, will eventually come back to haunt, not only the child, but those with whom he or she interacts.

SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING ON THIS TOPIC by Liberator Online editor James W. Harris:

* “Does Spanking Violate the Non-Aggression Principle?“ by Stefan Molyneux. Molyneux goes into lengthy analysis of this question in a thoughtful and provocative article worth reading no matter what your position.

EXCERPT: “It is only within the last few decades that serious moral and scientific objections to spanking have spread within society, and patience and persistence is the key to convincing others of this essential and actionable moral reality.

“That having been said, however, now that you have read this essay, you need to refute these arguments and disprove the science, or stop spanking. If you lacked knowledge and clarity before, you deserve sympathy. If you cannot refute these arguments, and continue to spank, you have no excuse anymore.”

* “The Natural Rights of Children“ by Walter E. Block, Ed Smith, and Jordan Reel.

Libertarian theorist Block and his co-authors explore this topic: “What does libertarian theory, Murray Rothbard’s theory in particular, tell us about the rights of children? The two foundational principles of Rothbardian libertarianism are the sanctity of private property and the rule of non-aggression. Persons, including children, are ‘self-owners’. Yet children, at a young age, are not yet capable of functioning fully as ‘self-owners.’” Spanking, and a number of other issues, are examined.

EXCERPT: “But children are different than adults. They are not (yet) full rights bearing entities. If we leave an adult to his own devices, he is presumably able to run his own life, at least to his own satisfaction. But if a child is not cared for, for example, a three-year old, he must perish, since he cannot (yet) care for himself. Paternalism is not justified for adults, but it is for such youngsters.”

VIDEO: Does Spanking Violate the Non-Aggression Principle?  Walter Block Debates Stefan Molyneux.” The authors of the above two papers debate in this one-hour video. 

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You’re on Candid Camera!

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online by Sharon Harris Comments are off

Here’s a surefire tool that will get you off to a great start in any conversation about the ideas of liberty.

Start off with a

Simple
Movement
Into
Libertarian
Engagement

…better known as a SMILE! (Check out the first letters of that phrase.)

Yes, SMILE!

Scientists have been studying the power and benefits of smiling since the 1800s. Today there’s a great deal of science arguing for the social and personal benefits of smiling.

A smile is one of the best shields against hostility and one of the best ways to assure that the other person is open to hearing what you have to say.

A smile is contagious! People respond to smiles. The other person will often smile back, making the conversation much more pleasant.

The act of smiling affects your body chemistry in ways science is still trying to understand. But scientists agree that, for whatever reasons, smiling makes you feel good. And when your audience responds with a smile, they, too, feel good. Indeed, MRI studies indicate that seeing a smile activates the part of the brain that processes rewards. Thus a smiling person may be perceived as more attractive.

“Simply using the same muscles as smiling will put you in a happier mood,” says Dr Michael Lewis, psychologist at Cardiff University. “That’s because use of those muscles is part of how the brain evaluates mood.” Your listeners, too, will pick up on this.

Smiling can actually reduce stress and help you feel better in stressful conditions — like, for example, public speaking.

It’s important that your smile be genuine, not fake. Happily, when you talk about liberty, you’ve got something to smile about. You’re sharing the good news of liberty — ideas that can change lives and change the world in the most wonderful ways. It may help you to take a moment before speaking to reflect on the positive and beneficial nature of what you’re about to speak on. This can help you to make your smile genuine.

Like many seemingly simple communication techniques, smiling doesn’t always come naturally. You need to practice at it, and remember to use it, especially in political discussions.

That’s why I created this acronym. Use it to remind yourself to start your political discussions with this potent weapon: the Simple Movement Into Libertarian Engagement. Aka the SMILE!