Norman Rockwell Spanking Painting

Matt Smith, of, left this thoughtful comment in response to my post on Zbigniew’s views of the Middle East Conflict.

Yes, Hezbollah exists because there is resistance. But perhaps the Necon goal is not to crush it, but to fuel it. Fueling it means more shipments of arms to Israel, more shipments of arms to Isreal means greater corporate profits for the defense industry. General instability in the middle east results in restricted oil supplies, a la Iraq. Restricted oil supplies result in higher Oil Company profits – just take a look at Exxon. Crushing Hezbollah is just a cover story.

I’m not quite willing to be so cynical (though perhaps I should be). I think something else is going on. And the analogy that I’ll make is to a legislative challenge going on in New Zealand right now. There is a parliamentary committee considering repealing a section of the law that currently makes spanking legal. (Americans: read “smacking” as “spanking.”) Bear with me.

Here’s an excerpt from an article in the Sydney Morning Herald by Anna Chalmers and Mathew Torbit.

A New Zealand Christian group urging parents to smack their children, using discipline sessions lasting up to 15 minutes, has been accused of promoting what amounts to child abuse.

Family Integrity has produced a controversial eight-page booklet on how to use physical punishment under the present law.

Parents are told that smacking can be a “10-to-15-minute process” and that if a child reacts angrily, such as by slamming doors or “pouting”, they should be smacked again.

“Smacking is meant to drive the foolishness, the sinful manifestations, out of the child’s personality so that they do not become permanent fixtures,” it says.

Smacking is justified because children younger than age eight “do not think straight” and lack a developed sense of fair play and duty.

The Family Integrity booklet, written by Craig Smith, says the Bible and section 59 of the New Zealand Crimes Act allow parents to use reasonable force to discipline their children.

Family Integrity says it is an informal group of families and individuals independent of any political party or church. The group believes “it is right and wise to bring our children up with loving corporal correction” and is opposed to “unjustifiable government interference” in family life.

Children’s Commissioner Cindy Kiro said Family Integrity’s suggestion of a 10-15-minute discipline session was “completely off the wall”.

“The idea that children are sinful and that they need to be beaten in order to be moral beings is fundamentally wrong.”

The Christian Group is trying to throw it’s weight behind opposing the repeal of a law “Section 59” which makes domestic abuse legal in certain circumstances. It has apparently been used to justify the use of bamboo canes and riding crops in alleged child abuse court cases.

I see a strong parallel in the way that the Israeli leadership and the Bush administration are viewing this conflict: they believe that Hezbollah is evil, and they may drive the evil out of Hezbollah by spanking it out of them.