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Voice: Godsey has warped, sad ideas about what is funny

October 29, 2001

In his Oct.12 column, Jerry Godsey — who seems to aspire to be the religious right Kofford — wrote a screed about the best way to discipline a child.

I have several problems with the column. (l) Jerry, I know Bret Kofford, Kofford is a friend of mine (sorry Bret) and Jerry, you are no Bret Kofford. (2) Godsey expressed a wish to see a mother "take off a shoe and beat a child about the head and shoulders." Anyone who thinks it is funny to "beat" any child should resign his ministry, should not teach and definitely should never ever work for a law enforcement agency.

It is almost surreal that two days after Godsey's column, the Imperial Valley Press ran a laudable serious of articles on the evil of domestic violence, both physical and verbal. I am a teacher and one of my students pointed out the heavy irony of that coincidence.


Godsey rambled on about how the child had persistently demanded candy, and how the incompetent mom had surrendered to the child, and about how disappointed Godsey was that he didn't get to see Mom beat the kid, depriving Godsey as he put it of "the moment I had been waiting for."

I was raised by a fundamentalist Christian minister. My dad took his anger out on his kids and wife on a regular basis — sometimes verbally, calling us "dogs" or "devils" or "disgusting monsters." As often, the verbal abuse was not enough to satisfy his anger. I, and my brothers and sisters, have felt fists, gun straps, sticks, chairs, feet, and shoes around our heads, face, legs, backs and nearly every other part of our bodies as my dad sought to "rein in" our diabolical offenses.

In one seared memory, one 13-year-old body was knocked down the cellar steps into brief unconsciousness as my dad "disciplined" him with a 6-foot long two-by-four. The offense was smoking cigarettes at the church softball game.

The memory is searing. I witnessed my older sister at 16 whipped until long stripes were opened on her bare back because she dated a boy whose sin was that "he was not in fellowship with the Lord."

My older brother was beaten on the back, shoulders and legs so severely that another brother finally stepped in and took the gun strap from Dad's hand and told him never to whip that kid again.

I have forgiven my dad. Some years ago, I sat down with him and told him that the beatings he delivered were terribly wrong. He said he did it because God commanded him not to "spare the rod." I refused to accept that excuse, but I forgave my dad and I care for him today. Some in our family are unable to forgive, and I ache for them. I will never, however, forget.

There must have been many adults and kids who read that Godsey waited for the beating because as he put it "this was going to be good," and wanted to vomit, cry, rage or do what many of us did for years — just find a place to hide. If kids need to be disciplined, and it must be physical, nature made a place for it — and that, if at all, should never be more than a swat on the butt, and never in a rage. Never around the "head and shoulders."

Rape is never funny. AIDS is not funny. Beating kids is not funny. It never should be. Never.



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