Saturday, July 4, 2009


(The letter "ADVOCACY OF REMOVAL OF CP (CORPORAL PUNISHMENT) SENSELESS" appears in the Guyana Chronicle of April 8, 2008; and also online at

Dear Editor,

I refer to the letter by Michael Hackett (SN 28/03/08) captioned “The Christian position on corporal punishment is anything but uniform”, and would appreciate the opportunity to rebut. Hackett’s letter is remarkable in the amount of issues it avoids.

The caption is unfortunate, since the issue at stake is not the defence of Christian “uniformity” on the issue of CP, as much as it is about addressing the nexus between secular research and the compelling Biblical position on corporal punishment (pages 25-27 of the online Dossier “THE CASE FOR CORPORAL PUNISHMENT IN GUYANA; ); and so the senselessness of advocating the removal of CP from a range of disciplinary measures available to the teacher and parents. In this latter regard, David Benatar ( ) is blunt:

“.... In the first instance, my arguments, although lengthy, have been directed against a radical yet commonly held view -- that corporal punishment should never be inflicted. I have sought to show that this position is untenable, even though the arguments for it do show that frequent and severe physical punishment is morally wrong … My view is that the empirical data, insofar as I have understood them, are insufficient to defend the extreme view that physical punishment should never be administered....”

Radical view? Extreme view? The bigger “CRC” picture seems lost to pro-ban activists. In fact, Hackett and Radzik et al never address the fact that UN General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of December 14, 1960, reiterated in General Assembly Resolution 52/119 of December 12, 1997, says that "Nothing contained (herein) shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter". They do not challenge these resolutions.

It gets worse. Radzik et al, and now Hackett, never deny that the Heritage Foundation has revealed that ".... the UN's longstanding respect for the right of soverign nations to set their own domestic policies has yielded to a new countercultural agenda espoused in UN committee reports and documents particularly those relating to the implementation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC)...." , articulating its stunning evidence in Patrick Fagan’s meticulous report: "How the UN Conventions on Women's and Children's Rights Undermine Family, Religion and Soverignity" ( ). They do not challenge a single point of this report. This is grossly inept scholarship, or else deliberate misinformation.

Hackett never addresses Dr. Mark Hartwig’s diagnosis of an assault on sovereignty and the granting of undue influence to special interests that seems integral to local CRC ambitions (“False Promises: How the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child Undermines National Sovereignty, the Legitimate Role of Parents and the Well-Being of Children“; ), implying that at least five local NGO’s closely associated with the NCRC may have “consultative status" with the body, and could therefore be seen to be seeking to usurp the Ministry of Education’s outlook and legal authority on the issue of CP. He chooses to “ignore” the implications.

While we note Hackett’s, and Radzik’s careful avoidance of the term “CRC” in this latest attack, neither of them challenge any of Dr. Hartwig’s contentions that the provisions of the CRC are unacceptable because of the following five reasons:

(1) They allow excessive breadth of interpretation;
(2) They give the Committee on the Rights of the Child virtually unlimited jurisdiction;
(3) They give undue influence to special interests;
(4) They undermine the legitimate role of parents; and
(5) They advance policies that intrude on national sovereignty.

Hackett never denies that dossier’s account that the Convention itself also stipulates that due account must be taken of “the importance of the traditions and cultural values of each people for the protection and harmonious development of the child”, and that the guidelines for the corporal punishment of learners set out on page 21 of the Guyana Ministry of Education’s “Manual of Guidelines for the Maintenance of Order and Discipline in Schools”, published in April 2002, adequately addresses the Convention’s call. Withdrawing CP from a range of disciplinary measures serves no useful purpose! Outstanding scholars have been produced by Guyana in an environment of caring but firm discipline.

Hackett, in his treatment, denies the dossier’s position that Robert Larzelere’s report “Sweden’s Smacking Ban: More Harm than Good” ( rudely illustrates the astonishing fact that Sweden suffered a 519% increase in child-on-child assaults after the ban in the 20 years following (Wittrock 1995). Hackett never challenges Darren Bahaw’s account of an urgent call for CP in the Trinidad Express, Port of Spain, 17 June 2004 ( ). He ignores the evidence the dossier provides!

Readers should understand that a formidable array of resources and academic opinion exist on the issue of corporal punishment (see "Resources: Corporal Punishment of Children" by Dr. Paul Poelstra at the URL These generally support the Judeo-Christian position on corporal punishment, and Hackett is deceitful in inferring otherwise.
The Judeo-Christian position advocates freedom to choose to not use CP, but compels Christians and citizens to be cognisant of its rightful and justifiable place in a scheme of disciplinary measures.

Good law is based on good data, and this is precisely what the online dossier “THE CASE FOR CORPORAL PUNISHMENT IN GUYANA” ( ) seeks to provide for the legal and political community in Guyana. Hackett usually uses jingoistic sound-bytes to further his causes, but a closer look at his work usually reveals a shocking lack of detailed treatment.

It is imperative as we mature as a nation that we adopt social policies consistent with a sound awareness of current issues. Anything else cheapens the effort of heroes in our past, and makes us seem incompetent to future generations.

Yours faithfully
Roger Williams
April 5, 2008

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