Spank the pope

And while we’re on the subject of today’s Constitutional Court ruling which once and for all outlaws the spanking of children by their parents, here’s something I wrote four years ago.


Dear Comrade Pope,

You said the other day that it’s okay to spank children as long as it’s done with dignity. At first I thought, hmm, that isn’t a very Christian thing to say. I mean, what happened to all this turning the other cheek and forgiving those who trespass against us? Never mind the lying down with lambs and whatnot.

Then I went to a shopping mall and remembered why children needed to be spanked. Dignity be damned. Grab the little fuckers by the throat and thrash them with a bicycle chain right there outside Game.

But that’s just me. If I were sufficiently evolved, emotionally and theologically, to understand why spankings should be administered in a dignified fashion, I’d be pope and you’d be a columnist clinging on by his fingertips.

I have always considered spanking to be a fairly undignified practice. Sure, you can have the pink fur-lined handcuffs, imported latex rubber cat suits and whips fashioned from the entrails of newborn turtles, but does that really make it any more dignified?

Regardless of accessories and mood lighting, there is going to be blood and screaming and, quite possibly, blaspheming. I am speaking from personal experience. When someone hits me – and not necessarily in a sexual way – I cannot help myself from taking the Lord’s name in vain.

“Jesus Christ!” is most often what I shout. A lot of men shout the same thing when they summit the peak of carnal pleasure – or so I have heard – but you will be relieved to know that I am not one of them. I shout “Judas Iscariot!” Fortunately, I am usually alone when this happens.

Too often, parents lash out at their children because they have made a mess of their own lives and they need to take it out on someone who can’t lay assault charges because they’re too young to drive to the police station. This random violence is probably not what you had in mind, but not a few ill-bred and poorly read mothers and fathers – stupid people, in other words – will rationalise the abuse on the grounds that the pope said it was okay.

The beating of brats is a difficult matter. It isn’t just one of your holiday games. I don’t know what you had in mind, but I have a few ideas you might want to kick around with the cardinals. Many children claim not to know why they are being spanked. I have heard it all.

“It wasn’t me.”

“I didn’t do it.”

“Who are you?”

So, for starters, we need to get the feral little felons to admit to their crimes. Parents might want to consider building confessionals in their homes. They needn’t be anything fancy. Poorer families could use the dog box. If they can’t afford a dog they shouldn’t be allowed to have children.

Perhaps poor parents could take their children to be spanked in rich people’s houses – people who could afford the fancy confessionals and cathedral-like trappings that would afford a damn good spanking the dignity it deserves.

Hang on. Would it not, Your Magnificence, be easier if we brought the loathsome striplings to churches to be spanked? You already have all the dignifiers in place. Mass is pretty damn dignified, right? You could call this Critical Mass. It would have to be in a separate part of the church, obviously. Nobody wants to be distracted by the wailing of freshly whipped children while they are opening their hearts to allow God in.

One could perhaps have their paddies whacked, so to speak, in a sound-proofed annexe around the back. There could even be a bit of an aisle for them to walk down. That would draw the process out and give them time to reflect on their misbegotten ways. There’s a reason cows are made to line up at the abattoir. Beasts know what they have done wrong and by the time the bolt is fired into their brains, they have had time to make peace with their deeds and are grateful for a quick death. I am talking about cows, here, not children.

Have you thought about opening up the Vatican to weekly spankings? Italian children are, next to Indian children, the worst behaved in the world. It would be a huge money-spinner for the Church.

Obviously I will want my cut. Shall we say ten percent per dignified spanking? Or, as you people would have it in Latin, spanko dignificio.

If I don’t hear from you by Friday, I’m taking my idea to the Islamists.

Yours in Christ,

Father (of one) Ben Trovato

PS. I am in Cape St Francis at the moment. He was one of yours, wasn’t he? Walked around with badgers and wombats on his shoulders, if I recall. Spoke fluent pigeon. Good for him.

If you can’t join them, beat them

“The Constitutional Court on Wednesday upheld an earlier ruling by the High Court to do away with the common-law defence of reasonable chastisement when spanking a child.” In other words, parents no longer have a defence if they are accused of assault for smacking their children at home.

Today’s court ruling reminded me of something I wrote two years ago.


Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini says the problem with education today is that teachers are no longer allowed to beat the children. Speaking at a gathering of principals and school governing bodies recently, the patron of education in KwaZulu-Natal emphasised that children needed to be corrected.

The best way to do this is not to put a red line through an incorrect answer, but to leave a red line on the idiot’s bum. That’s a mark he won’t forget in a hurry.

My school in Durban North was a hotbed of thrashings. I don’t know how the staff found the time to get any teaching done. Around every corner there was a line of boys waiting to be ordered to bend over and take it like a man. I grew up thinking this sort of thing must happen to men all the time. But it doesn’t. I have never once heard an interaction of that nature between two adult males. Well, there was this one time in a nightclub … never mind.

Another favourite method of discipline was throwing things. You’d be staring out of the window wondering who would win in a fight between a kangaroo and an ostrich and for no good reason at all, a blackboard duster would be launched at your head from close range. I got hit so many times that when I finished school I was diagnosed with minimal brain damage and had no alternative but to pursue a career in journalism.

The use of corporal punishment in schools has historically been justified by the English common-law doctrine in loco parentis, which means parents are morons and as a result teachers have the right to punish children in their care.

King Zwelithini said children were motivated to do their best simply by seeing a stick. Obviously this won’t work if they don’t make the connection between pain and the stick. It’s no good just showing them a stick and hoping it will act as a deterrent. All that will happen is they’ll go, “Oh look, a stick” and continue with their experiments in human sacrifice and adolescent impregnations.

Everyone must therefore have a taste of the stick for them to understand what it represents. Children are no different to hamsters or rats when it comes to learned behaviour. And the king is right when he says the stick needs to be seen. What better place to put it than on the education department’s logo? Right now the logo features a lion with a spear and a wildebeest with a knobkierie fighting over what looks like a giant Easter egg. My money’s on the lion. I can’t read the motto on this internet image. It’s too small and my eyes are too weak. Or maybe just lazy. They deserve to be beaten. But whatever it is, it needs to be changed to something in Latin, a language born from blood. Ledo illis non cognoscere, vel ad fugiendum has a nice ring to it. It means, Hit them until they learn or run away.

Thing is, the use of the rod is, I don’t know, so very apartheid era. The king needs to move with the times. Sticks are all very well, but they are dull and commonplace and wielding one requires no skill at all. Besides, bludgeoning is heavy work and teachers in humid KZN wouldn’t want to get their Pep shirts all sticky with sweat and maybe even blood. So instead of beating kids with sticks, I suggest we use stun guns or Tasers in urban schools and cattle prods in rural areas.

Teachers could also use pepper spray to help children understand the importance of looking at the blackboard instead of their cellphones. And reusable sound grenades delivering a 130 decibel sonic blast will get any kids’ attention, no matter how ADD they are. Using these modern methods will send a message to the world that we are technologically advanced and not to be trifled with.

King Zwelithini doesn’t say whether corporal punishment should be administered across the board. Or across the gluteus maximus, for that matter. Some teachers might prefer to whack an outstretched palm while others might express a preference for the soles of the feet. What I’m saying is, should girls be treated the same as boys? I don’t think it’s a good idea. Girls have an insatiable desire for revenge. Smack her and years later she will hunt you down and kill you and then kill your entire family and your family’s friends and all their pets. If you don’t believe me, you obviously haven’t watched the documentary Kill Bill.

Quite frankly, I don’t think the king takes it far enough. Why stop with wayward kids when we have so many ill-disciplined civil servants? When I first heard there was something called a Chief Whip, I assumed his job was to flagellate the buttocks of backsliding members of parliament.
There’d also be a lot less malfeasance, negligence and general time-wasting if each department was overseen by a Director of Punitive Measures who dispensed floggings to the incompetent and the crooked on Friday afternoons.

Our former police minister, Fikile “Fokofpolisiekardashian” Mbalula, once urged cops to slap suspects, run them down, return fire with fire, crush their balls, make them drink their own urine, and, if they still hadn’t learnt their lesson, follow him on Twitter. Presumably we are entitled to do the same to corrupt cops.

In this country, it’s not the children whose behaviour needs modifying.