On Being An International Criminal
I only have time to write a few words before I catch a truck to an undisclosed border crossing, where I will begin my new life as a fugitive from international justice. The jig is up, as a law professor at Michigan State University declared in her recent letter to The Atlantic Monthly:
- Corporal punishment of children—regardless of how “moderate,” and no matter by whom dispensed—is considered a violation of international human-rights law. The practice violates at least six human-rights treaties: the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the American Convention on Human Rights; and the European Social Charter.
Moreover, a rapidly growing number of countries have outlawed all physical chastisement of children. As of this writing twelve nations—Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Romania, Sweden, and Ukraine—have banned spanking by law. Israel has done the same by a judicial decision of its highest court. . .*
****, and Austria always topped my list of potential hide-outs, what with its Sound of Music scenery and fine tradition of economic thinking.
That’s right, I’m a spanker. I haven’t gotten around to gassing ethnic minorities or starving religious dissidents yet, but six human rights violations has got to be up there on the Crimes-Against-Humanity Scale. And as the author herself notes (“at least”), there may be more. Perhaps she’ll send a follow-up letter once her research assistant has scoured the minutes of august bodies with names like the Transnational Union of Enlightened Academics and the International Quorum of the Internationally Minded.
And I’m ashamed to say that there’s more than just the spanking. Sometimes I put the kids down for a nap when they aren’t even sleepy. Who knows how many U.N.-divined rights are being transgressed as they lie there on their little beds, staring up at the ceiling?
I also make them eat all their salad, which surely is a violation of some international proclamation against forced ingestion, not to mention the purchase of non-union produce. Not letting them leave the table until they’ve finished, after all, is really no different than loading a bag of lettuce onto the end of a plunger and ramming it down their gullets, by the logic of the learned professor.
It’s all becoming clear now. I thought I was being a good parent, but in reality I am the Butcher of Virginia. How benighted I have been!
And now I see the wretched but deserved future that awaits. Crouching in the hazy lobby of some nondescript South American hotel, playing chess with decrepit former SS guards and junk-bond traders, nervously watching the door for U.N. authorities on a righteous quest to bring me to justice for forcing my children to say “yes sir” and “excuse me.” Oh, the humanity. How did I come to this? What pain and suffering might the world have been spared, if only I had secured a J.D. and an internship with the Public Interest Law Initiative!
Spankers of the world, disarm. Embrace the Time Out and the Positive Affirmation, the Disciplinary Hug and Television Deprivation (although if your kid wants to watch PBS, I think there’s a U.N. Declaration somewhere that says you have to let him). Just turn back, before it’s too late.
Otherwise I’ll see you in Guatemala. Or Chile. Or Ecuador. Actually, I’m not at liberty to say where, but be sure to brush up on your Spanish, and your chess. I’ll be the one in the dark glasses, clutching a copy of Chicken Soup for the Human Rights Violator.