Are These Things Connected?

Belt.jpgSpanking lowers a child's IQ, according to recent studies.  An article in the LA Times discusses work by long-time writer on corporal punishment, Murray Straus of the University of New Hampshire.  Straus and a team of researchers tested children at age 2-4 and then again four years later at 5-9.  "The more spanking, the slower the development of the child's mental ability," Straus said.  Additional research also shows a link between early spanking and aggressive behavior later on, at least in white children.  (Spanking in African-American families tends to make for more passivity, as it is likely intended to do, as a kind of preventative medicine so young black men don't draw attention to themselves later on.)
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This article might not have caught my attention except for two things.  A long-time friend, Sally Giovine-Kerr, now deceased, used to talk a lot about how destructive corporal punishment was and Sally was a damned good observer of people.  Then, earlier this week, I heard Max Blumenthal, author of the new book "Republican Gomorrah" talk about the history of "stupid" that has come to dominate the Republican Party.  I will probably talk more about his book once I read it.  I was struck by the connection that Blumenthal made in his talk between the belt-wielding, child-rearing practices recommended by child psychologist James Dobson, whom Blumenthal sees as the very center of the Right-wing Christian movement, and the growing teabag/anti-Obama/anti-government anger.  Blumenthal talked about Eric Fromm's take on the movement.  He said it was a combination of sado-masochism toward others designated as "less-than" and prostration toward the big macho guys.  He also said it generally had to be beaten into people, literally.  

Others, including George Lakoff, have talked about the linkage between child-rearing practices and one's politics as an adult.  Blumenthal pulls no punches and he backs up what he says with a prodigious amount of research into the Right-wing Christian movement.  Had I read this article on spanking prior to listening to him the other night, I would have asked him, "Does this early spanking/beating account for some large portion of the aggressive stupidity that we are constantly baffled at that comes from this group of people?"

I'd also like to see the statistics about spanking children broken out by state or county and correlated to voting patterns.  


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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Allen published on September 26, 2009 10:23 AM.

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