Clearly, the remit of the European Union’s representative in Barbados is to impress upon us, while suppressing our tradition and culture, that it would be wise to buy into his no flogging mode and retribution revolution. Ambassador Mikael Barfod, for all the applause shared between himself and our Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, will find that the more rational, reasonable and sensible thinking among us Barbadians will not be so easily repressed.
There was the time when children the world over were taught and encouraged to be children, growing up in anticipation of being well-disciplined, mannerly and courteous adults, and then free to do adult things. Children were allowed to be children –– nurtured in good habits, and set examples of proper public behaviour, like respect for self, decency and an appreciation of other people’s space and property.
In some cases flogging helped; in most cases, the fear –– or avoidance –– of being flogged for wrongdoing kept our children on the straight and narrow.
In such case, the simple state of knowing the punishment for one’s ill conduct reinforced the respect for the principle of accepting the consequences of one’s actions.
Today, buoyed by a misbelief that children are now more naturally mature in thinking than ever before, some parents and guardians expose their charges to all manner of ill-suited discussions and Barfod-style commentary, confusing them over their true role, purpose and expectations, and thwarting their proper and positive development.
Corporal punishment by responsible parents, first of all, is a last resort, after much warning and counsel; and is not a “beating” as the Barfods would conjure up in the minds of the unenlightened and gullible. Responsibly and appropriately applied, corporal punishment is a spanking or flogging for the serious wrongdoing of a child.
In short, children who are made to understand that inappropriate conduct will not be tolerated, and that good behaviour and obedience to authority are rewarded, will more surely come to grasp social skills that will last them a lifetime –– and keep them out of prison.
Such young persons are much more likely to successfully manage conflict resolution among themselves, as they share that respect for authority and what is socially –– not politically –– correct. Truth be told, the last thing we need is the Attorney General and the Ministry of Education being accessories to power struggles between children and parents, children and teachers, and children and school principals.
Disciplinary authority must not be undermined! Its consequence can only be young adults walking around armed with illegal firearms, and fatally shooting others in a wink when they are angered, or merely bothered.
Which then brings us to the point where more Barfod-type advocates present the case for the well-being of the adult guilty, particularly if put on death row, and the welfare of their offspring –– no way figuring in their mandate consideration for the solace and security of the victims and their progeny.
It is crucial to remember that people sent to prison generally have been incarcerated for having committed a crime against fellowman and the society; and that the purpose of this imprisonment is to protect the community by separating the offenders who may be a grave threat to the security and lives of fellow citizens; and to condemn a behaviour or conduct that the offender’s peers consider to be grossly unacceptable and a serious violation of basic values and other people’s rights.
Without a doubt, many people –– perhaps most –– see imprisonment as retribution: punishment by incapacitation, possibly some deterrence. It would be reasonable to assume that were there no prisons at all, lawlessness would be more prevalent and the security of law-abiding citizens could not be assured.
When we look at the more serious act of blatant murder of others, it is incongruous to posit that one who wantonly and brutally takes the life of another should have his own guaranteed under the untenable notion and codswallop that hanging –– or capital punishment –– is barbaric.
And if there be those among us who would seriously believe that its abolition would make us as “forward-thinking” as Europe –– which still boasts of murders –– the question which would have to be answered is: how independent in thinking are we really after nigh 50 years of nationhood?
Perhaps, we need to do much more reflection than celebration for our 50th year of Independence!