There’s a lot of talk about torture and reasonable ways to get information from enemy combatants. What is excessive? What is acceptable? There’s definitely a large gray area that needs to be explored. I’ve never been in the military nor trained in police interrogation procedures, but I do watch 24 every week.

Is it accurate? I have no idea. Does the torture seem terrible? Sure. When Jack Bauer grabs a cigar trimmer and goes after the pinky of a bad guy, deep down inside where it counts, do I give a shit? Not really. If I’m honest, I figure the nukes are moments away from detonating so cut off his fingers AND his toes.

But then again, I’m watching the show and saw the clip where the “bad guy” talks in Russian to the other “bad guy” and the sub-titles clearly reveal that they’re both sinister and up to no good. So I figure that when bad guys choose to be a criminals they take the risk that someone will not choose to be a victim and might actually try to stop them. Of course in the real world there aren’t Emmy award winning writers, sub-titles and plot thickening devices. In the real world you could be wrong and lop off the digits of a perfectly decent good guy which is why the grey area of torture needs to be further explored by those in the know.

However, when it comes to parenting, I wonder if lesser forms of torture might be okay? As a child of corporal punishment parents I know that clearly, it works. Growing up I could push the limits but when Crazy Ken started to undo his belt buckle I did whatever I was told, correctly and in a timely manner. Because he wasn’t afraid to use the belt on occasion, he eventually graduated to “I just have to look at my kids and they straighten the fuck up” status which as you know is the pinnacle of the parental mountaintop.


When Ken was away, he left his minion, Micki, aka “The Slapper” in charge. Like my brother’s Stretch
Armstrong doll growing up, her hand could reach the most far away of places and seemed to come out of nowhere to crack me and my brother in the ass, skull, arm, back, or thigh. You could usually figure out when the slap was coming and run (unlike the bad guys in 24 my brother and I weren’t tied to chairs) but since we were moving targets we never knew where the slap would land and what body part to protect. I will say she never hit us in the face and expert as she was she never left a mark. Since there was no evidence, there was no crime and her reign of terror lasted well into high school.

As unpredictable as The Slapper was, she had a high rate of return in terms of making people talk. She could literally beat the story, the truth, the problem, the issue at hand right out of me. Eventually I just told her what was going on in my life and left out the middleman. But unfortunately, me and my brother were sort of like those dogs in shelters that have obviously been beaten – we tended to flinch first and relax later. An extended arm offered as a hug could be a quick crack, so we were always on the ready to hit the deck just in case. We suffered from severe nervous ticks because it was the 1970’s when every kid got their ass beat in the middle of the cereal aisle of the grocery store or a shoe thrown at them because cordless phones hadn’t been invented and mom didn’t want to interrupt her conversation.

As my eldest daughter creeps closer toward adolescence I see how easy it would be to become Slapper Jr. Like Jack Bauer I could make her talk, force her to do it my way, get her to haul ass when it was time to clean her room, and ensure that she only earned straight A’s. There are times when answers like I dunno, nothing, and whatever can send me over the edge and I think, A few good cracks in the skull and this conversation would have been over with 20 minutes ago. We could have moved on to problem solving mode.

The problem is, I would never be a controlled corporal punisher, someone that calmly used a paddle as a disciplinary device. My version would be much uglier. I would ask nicely, be ignored, get annoyed, yell, get more annoyed, yell louder, get angry, scream, get pissed, THEN hit. I would hit out of anger and my own frustration not to make my kids more disciplined. The slap would be for me not them. Once I gave myself permission to hit, I would be out of control and my method of discipline wouldn’t inspire my kids to be better but simply keep then in line out of fear that at any moment I could be going off the deep end.

That’s why I don’t beat my kids. Not because I’m the world’s greatest parent or have it all figured out, but because I can go from zero to foaming at the mouth in about 10 seconds. But sometimes, I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t mind giving it a try. I guess I’ll just have to live vicariously through my man Jack.

I’ll be watching 24 tonight as I do every week. If Jack has to do something terrible to the Chinese that are holding Audrey hostage so be it. I’ll just sit back, sip my wine and think warm and fuzzy thoughts about home sweet home and the good old days.


2 responses to “Torture

  1. I think we were parented by the same man. I had no slapper second, though. They played us good cop, bad cop.

    And it worked.

  2. I bet it did. The paddle at school worked too, if I remember correctly. Kept me in line, that’s for damn sure.

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