Once, when I was a kid, my Sunday School gave me and my sister and three best friends the chance to run it for a session. It was probably meant as a beautiful gesture that would help us realise we were good and responsible and would forever more behave ourselves. But what happened is that, while the five of us were sitting around planning it out, we got into a massive argument (“NO, NOT A HYMN THERE, A PRAYER!” “A HYMN!” NOOOO, A FRIGGING PRAYER!”) and I ended up grabbing the nearest thing and walloping my sister right over the head with it. The nearest thing? Er, well it was a Bible. One massive Bible. Wallop.
Those were my Bible-bashing days. *comedy drum noise*
But seriously, no, truly, really, serious now… *Serious face*
The absolute worst case of Bible-bashing I have ever seen has galloped into the lime light over the last day or so: a book available on Amazon, entitled To Train Up a Child, written by a pretty famous Christian author, that advocates some incredibly serious physical discipline. I used the Look Inside function and was horrified. One paragraph that I read with my six month old baby Juno grabbing at my phone advised wiggling your glasses in front of your BABY to tempt them, then when they grab for them, as babies instinctively do, slap their hand. Continue to do this until they learn not to touch precious things.
There is so much to say about this, SO FLIPPING MUCH, about how parents who take this advice are effectively training their child out of all of their natural, wonderful urges. About how it is simply parenting by fear alone. About how if this was being advocated as an adult to adult interaction it would be seen as entirely absurd and outrageous, but it has wallowed so long, and he has been taken seriously as an author steadily for many years, simply because it is violence against children who must be something other than human.
I can not fathom physical discipline. People mindfully hurt their precious children? It goes against both love and logic. The things we sow in our children’s lives will be reaped by society later. They will learn violence and cruelty, I am absolutely sure. But this book goes way beyond even smacking. It suggests using implements, pinning down. It is undoubtedly abuse.
Banning books though?
Sally, of the top blog Who’s the Mummy posted about this yesterday, making the point that books shouldn’t be banned for having an opinion different to yours. Of course not, and there is some very serious contemplating to be done about banning books (I found Mahfuzur Rahman a bit persuasive on this…. Just not enough.)
However, I am also a pragmatist and this is a parenting manual. Written and marketed as a guidebook for parents. Sales of this book result in children being physically wounded and damaged for life. The presence of this book influences parenting norms; it impacts the whole sphere of parenting making mere smacking seem moderate. Children are often powerless and often voiceless and sometimes harsh action is required to protect society’s most vulnerable. This book incites violence and should actually be seen as law breaking, and treated as such.
I could go on and on. But I think instead I will simply suggest you take a look at the Look Inside function, decide how you feel about this book, and book banning in particular and then, if you want to, take action. What is with me and book activism at the moment? It is like becoming My Thing. I don’t know how I feel about that. Saaaave meeeeeee.
I haven’t blogged about this book before as I just felt a bit hopeless. I was fairly sure that Amazon wouldn’t listen. That it was a thing so deeply embedded in American culture that it couldn’t be touched. But with the force of Nadine Dorries’ office behind it- she has been calling Amazon all day- I think Amazon might respond. It’s the perfect case of people campaigning quietly for many years and then a politician giving it just the momentum needed. And we live in such a globally connected world that I am ADAMANT that a big hooha here can nudge away at parenting norms in other corners of the world.
5 ways to take action and help get this book banned
Milli Hill of the excellent blog The Mule, first brought this to my attention last year and she created a petition. Sign it here.
Email Amazon asking the title to be removed. There is an inspiring letter to get fired up on over at Spencer’s blog
Tweet about it, the hashtag #lovenotbeat is being used.
Tweet Nadine Dorries a bit of encouragement, she won’t give it up if she feels there is a crowd behind her and she will be certainly picking up some major flack over it from the ban-the-book-banners posse.
Facebook about it- share this post to give people the low down and ideas for action.
Get on this banning band wagon before this Bible bashing horse bolts the stable.
(Lulastic: messing up metaphors since 2011)