Spanking the Diaper

I don't know if you've heard about this, but its exactly the kind of news that compels perfectly sane people to throw their arms up in the air, bang their foreheads against brick walls, and devote the rest of their lives to eating raw cookie dough out of plastic tubs in the basement while watching Jessica Fletcher overturn police incompetence on the Biography Channel. And what the hell is "Murder, She Wrote" doing on the Biography Channel in the first place? But that diatribe is best left for another day.

Today's harangue concerns Democratic California Assemblywoman Sally Lieber and her plan to introduce a bill to the legislature ("hello bill," "hello legislature") that will make parental spanking a crime if the child is three years or younger, labeling it misdemeanor child abuse.

That's right, "spank your offspring, go to jail," is about to become law. "Neglect to stroke a pony, pay a fine" is on the docket for next year. And the "Polyester Banky Ban?" Still stuck in conference.

Now don't get me wrong, I understand Ms. Lieber's motivation. As a card carrying member of the Mommy Party, she is unable to control her insatiable urge to protect us from ourselves. And she's seriously anti- child abuse.

But then again, aren't we all? And that's a good thing. But come on. Do we really need a law here? Aren't most slaps to the bottom more of a Pavolovian response training exercise anyway?

Throw a tantrum, get a smack. Repeat until salivation occurs. Besides, unless its full, spanking a diaper is like dropping a dime on a pillow. And when full, its an exercise neither the spanker or spankee is likely to forget. Or more importantly, anxious to duplicate.

I'm curious as to exactly how the honorable Assemblywoman proposes parents discipline their darling nippers in the event they toss the toaster into the tropical fish tank.

Perhaps a squirt gun to the back of the head like you use to keep cats off of furniture? Or temporary exile to a terrarium upholstered in a fetching array of bubble wrap? Or replacing "Teletubbies" with tapes of the last season's "The Apprentice?" If Donald Trump doesn't constitute cruel and unusual, I don't know what does.

Mostly though, what worries me is misdemeanor rug rat abuse creep. How soon before the legislature is asked to outlaw stern looks, unseemly scents and substandard nose nuzzling? All very traumatizing to our miniature progeny.

Isn't the simple act of an adult walking past a crawling moppet sheer intimidation through sizism? Passing a toddler? Get down on all fours mister. And put that beer in a sippy cup. "A pacifier for all my friends." Not to mention the booming adult voice has to be a terrifying thing, so infractions of the decibel meter will be financially penalized via a complex geometric formula involving frequency and frequency.

Once you cross the cherub protection threshold, a gibberish translator to protect the little angel's fragile sense of self esteem, easily compromised by formalized language seems to be a logical leap. And picking up a wee bairn and thrusting them up towards the ceiling with extended arms or riding them on one's shoulders? Flagrant reinforcement of an overwhelming sense of powerlessness.

All I'm saying here is, its a slippery slope, Ms. Lieber. One that involves hunching way over and whispering and squirt guns and rampant sheep shearing and grown men sucking on nipples. And who wants that?

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.