Friday, January 19, 2007

Standing up for their right to hit babies

Sally Lieber's plan to ban spanking children younger than three is probably not going to pass the State assembly, would be incredibly difficult to enforce and arguably will distract the legislature from more important legislative work.

But that's not what its detractors are saying. Instead, they are attacking Lieber, a former Mayor of Mountain View and the second ranking Democrat in the assembly, for being childless. (I'm still waiting for Tony Snow and Fox News to leap to her defense).

It turns out that Americans have a surprising predilection for hitting small children. At Palo Alto Online, Diana Diamond proudly tells the story about a "swat" she gave to her 13-month old, which doesn't seem like the kind of thing most people would brag about.


Mike Laursen said...

Aaagh! You just gave two prime examples of the kind of political discourse I can't stand.

First: Sally Lieber's opponents made all the arguments against her idea that you listed AND pointed out that she has no children of her own. You cherry-picked the one criticism that is personal and hits below the belt, as if it were the only criticism.

Second: You hint, passively, that any parent who balks at the idea of Sally Lieber telling them how to raise their kids is probably a child beater. If that's what you think, say it explicitly. If you don't really think that, don't hint at it. You're adding to this country's vast sea of disingenuous political debate.

By the way, love your blog! Read it every day!

Nemesis of Evil said...

Alright. You nailed me on the first one, sort of. I should have added a few qualifiers in there.

If (and only if) you don't count the readers who have been posting anonymously on the Mercury news site and at Paloaltoonline, Lieber's opponents are legitimately attacking this idea as big government. I didn't just pull that list of criticisms out of thin air, after all. Hopefully I'm more accurate about that in my future post on the campaign to save the Cuesta Park squirrels.

As for the second point, I didn't mean to be hinting at that at all. I am truly surprised at the number of people who are arguing that they think hitting toddlers is a good idea.

I don't remember much from before I was three (and am myself childless), so maybe I'm being too judgmental. I am pretty sure my two little brothers got smacked around from time to time, although not by their parents.

One comment over at Palo Alto Online suggests this could be the end of Lieber's political career. Doubtful, given her track record and the way politics works in California. But this hasn't been her greatest run of publicity. The previous two times I've seen Lieber getting attention from the press it hasn't been the flattering kind (reportedly taking more campaign money from outside her district than anyone in the state and seeming ready to join the battle over where the 49ers will play home games). Probably the worst thing that could happen for her politically is that her bill passes (assuming she submits it). Luckily for her she's got more than a year before she has to run against Liz Kniss for County supervisor.

Mike Laursen said...

It is somewhat amusing that all this fuss is over a bill that hasn't even been submitted.

When I started writing a political blog, I would post about this or that crazy-ass politician (can you say, "Sensenbrenner") who submitted some crazy-ass bill. I stopped doing posts like that, because every time I would follow up on what happened to a bill a few months after it was introduced, I'd find out it hadn't gone anywhere.

What bothers me most about Sally Lieber is how casual she is about using government power to interfere in peoples' lives. The story line on this issue seems to be: Lieber goes to a cocktail party; some child psychologist tells her there's no reason to ever spank a child; Lieber goes back to her office and drafts a bill, not thinking about (a) how it would be enforced, or how expensive it would be to enforce; (b) how intrusive it is on peoples' freedom to live their lives according to their own judgement; (c) that there are already laws against child abuse; (d) that she might want to seek out the opinion of others, including other child psychologists.

Kathy Schrenk said...

And now your new favorite newspaper is weighing in! Joy: