Don't get the wrong idea. I love blogging as much as ever. A bombastic big-mouth by nature, I always have something to type. The problem is this damn time-sucker, Call of Duty 4. It is a black hole and I'm a helpless beam of light. I can't escape the gravity. How many times I've began writing a post only for the following thought to seduce me: “You could be killing ex-soviet bloc terrorists right now.” I succumb to temptation. And consider this particle of irony: the same egoism that drives me to blog, drives me to practice my skills at the first-person shooter, Call of Duty 4.
And even as I type, my PS3 is downloading SOCOM 5: Confrontation (released 15 Oct.). Long-time readers may remember that SOCOM is where my devotion to first-person shooter games began. Non-gamers won't understand the pull of COD4, just as non-drinkers fail to understand the gravity of alcohol. And after all, it isn't “Call of When-I-Feel-Like-It” or “Call-of-Just- a-Video-Game.” It's Call of DUTY.” Alas, it's my duty to kill.
Today's post is about punishment. I find it a fitting theme given the results of the presidential election.
Our Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. Yet ironically, the punishments courts apply in lieu of cruel and unusual punishment are crueler and more unusual. Consider what we do to criminals: prison -- we lock them in a cage. Often we don't let them out for years. Serving time, inmates ward off abuse from the guards, violence from other inmates, and an occasional lunging hot dog. I can't think of too many penalties crueler than that. Look at what 10 minutes of “time-out” will do to a youngster. Now imagine 10 years. Most of us wouldn't lock our pets in a cage.
As cruel as prison is, it proves to be a dismal deterrent. Recidivism rates among criminals are high. Prison lacks something important. To be effective, punishment must have an element of humiliation. Many convicts wear their prison sentence as a badge of honor. Prison is a criminal's Valhalla. This is counterproductive. That's why I'm an exponent of public flogging. You can't beat a flogging in terms of cost-effectiveness and expediency. And it humiliates the subject just as an effective deterrent requires. One must understand the machismo that so often occasions the criminal mind. Criminals' minds don't work like ours. Sensible, law-abiding people imagine having to serve a lengthy prison sentence and consider committing hari kari. But criminals, ipso facto, don't consider the future; they don't think in terms of “quality of life.” Instead their thoughts never stretch beyond intoxicants, mixed martial arts broadcasts and women of absent virtue. That's why we need public floggings. Flogging is a here-and-now thing. It's a language thugs understand. A few years in prison makes little impression on a hardened criminal. But bind his wrists, pull his pants down to his ankles and spank him in front of every lady in town, and he gets the message. He's scarred for life. It's tough to pull off the whole bad-ass criminal image once you've received a bare-bottomed spanking before the public you aim to terrorize. That'll learn ya, macho man.
Do you remember years ago when an 18-year-old American punk named Michael Fay embarrassed our nation by vandalizing cars in Singapore? Authorities caught the “Spray Paint Picasso” and promptly sentenced him to half a dozen canings. Predictably, Americans were up in arms over it. I guess locking him up in a cage for 2-3 years was the “humane” thing to do. But Singaporean justice called for an ass-whipping. And that's what our precious Michael got. I personally supported Singapore's notion of justice. During the 1994 controversy, I wrote my congressman requesting that America lend, as a conciliatory gesture, professional athlete Jose Conseco to administer the flogging. Strike one, strike two, strike three – you're out, you little bitch.
American objections notwithstanding, Singapore gave Michael his comeuppance. How effective was the public flogging? Fourteen years later, Michael not only hasn't vandalized another vehicle, he's afraid to paint the aluminum siding on his house. He doesn't dare to click the icon for Microsoft Paint. Recently, Michael suffered an anxiety attack while attempting to spray Pam in the frying pan before cooking eggs. No thanks, man. I've got a spatula. I'll just scrape the shit off afterward.
That's effective punishment.
Consider the gamut of inexpensive and effective punishments we pissed away because Dr. Spock wrote a couple of books. Flogging, tarring and feathering, the stockade, eye-for-an-eye sentencing, ostracism, bombarding with rotten fruit – all wasted resources. Dr. Spock has a lot of explaining to do. Regarding the “time-out” craze sweeping child psychology literature. It's bunk. What is a time-out? It's making the kid remain quiet and motionless for a spell. Do you see the error in that? If we could quiet and still the child, we wouldn't need the time-out! Kids occasionally spin out of control. When it happens, adults need to escalate punishment to bring them back under control. Even when you can force a kid to submit to a time-out, what's the punishment? What's the message? Now that you've exhausted yourself with your tantrums, antics, hijinks and conniptions, I'm going to force you to rest in peace and quiet! Deterrence, indeed.
When it comes to raising children, our brains have taken a time-out. Don't get me wrong, the intent is admirable: mold kids' behavior without traumatizing them. But logically, the center doesn't hold. And ironically, limiting our kids to time-out deterrence sets them up for that big house of time-outs with the grey bars and metal toilets.
I digressed into child rearing. Let me return to public floggings. Some may still not be convinced that public floggings are worthwhile. Corporal punishment offends their sensibilities. I ask these people to consider Catholic schools. I know Catholics for whom corporal punishment was part of daily life. Two choice punishments come to mind. The first involved an architect's scale ruler. It's a three-sided ruler that stands on two base sides while the third points upward. Imagine a ninja star for nerds. Anyway, when you misbehaved, the teacher had you kneel on your scale ruler for several minutes, so that the edge of the ruler gouged into your knee caps. How's that for good measure?
Should that fail to bring the student's behavior back into code, he or she would make a mandatory visit to the gymnasium, where he was outfitted in boxing gloves and deposited in a boxing ring. His opponent was Father Pommeling, the gym teacher and amateur boxing champ, who would kick the holy crap out of the unruly student. That's how we used to deal with kids who dared to backtalk or chew gum in class. Pain.
If schools were to administer such punishments today, Einstein's theory that matter cannot travel faster than the speed of light would be disproved by child welfare agents and tort lawyers zooming toward the superintendent's office at Star Trek Warp 10 speed. Do you suppose we could put lawsuit-abusing lawyers in time-out for a couple of decades?
The time to honor our Constitution's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment is now. Contact your congressman and ask him to introduce public flogging into the criminal code. If time and resources permit, ask him to see about tarring and feathering, the stockade and ostracism. Remind him how much money we'll save by keeping prisons virtually empty. Also, give him a slogan. All political movements need a good slogan. Here's one for starters: Break the Law and Your Ass is Raw. That would fit nicely on a bumper sticker!