Conservative commentator believes in smacking because his instinct says so

According to Andrew Lilico at ConservativeHome, you don't need to bother about the evidence when it comes to smacking. We beg to differ.

 

In a bizarre column on ConservativeHome this morning, Andrew Lilico, better known as a professional economist, comes out in a rousing defence of parents’ right to smack children.

His argument basically runs as follows:

1) Whether the evidence suggests smacking is good or bad for a child is irrelevant, as there’s no such thing as a perfect parent anyway, and evidence-based policy-making when it comes to smacking leads to a totalitarian state.

2) There may be no disciplinary alternative to smacking, so the choice for many is smacking or no discipline whatsoever

3) “Instinct, in all human societies, tells us that smacking delivers something.” [direct quotation]

4) “I smack my children as an expression of my special parent-child relationship of touch…Smacking, done properly, is an authentic expression of love in touch.” [direct quotation]

The logical structure is fairly straightforward. By saying in 1) that the evidence doesn’t matter, it allows Lilico to indulge in the cod psychology of 2,3, and 4. It is fairly reminiscent of the Stephen Colbert line:

“That’s where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. Now, I know some of you are going to say, “I did look it up, and that’s not true.” That’s ’cause you looked it up in a book. Next time, look it up in your gut. I did.”

However, there is something bizarre about a free market economist, who presumably signs up to the rational choice model of economics where we trust humans to act rationally, to expect them not to do so with the most important task of thier lives.

For those readers interested in knowing whether physical punishment for your children can harm them beyond the initial physical damage, here is a round up of some of the evidence:

Evidence that smacking three-year-olds leads higher rates of children being more violent towards other children, from Tulane University, New York State University and Wayne State University

Evidence that smacking is linked to higher levels of violence in society from the University of New Hampshire

Evidence that corporal punishment is “positively correlated with youths’ intentions to fight and fighting, bullying, and violence victimization” from the University of Minnesota and John Hopkins University

• In an analysis of 88 studies by Columbia University that corporal punishment is correlated with ten negative behaviours, such as antisocial behaviour, while one of the strongest associations was with corporal punishment and physical abuse

Evidence that corporal punishment leads to higher rates of adult alcoholism from Peking University and Wayne State University

See also:

Maryland madness: 14-year-old girl’s birthday wish? “Ban gay marriage”Shamik Das, February 2nd 2012

When a liberal is mugged by realityBen Mitchell, August 11th 2011

Barnardo’s: The age of criminal responsibility should be raisedPuja Darbari, November 21st 2010

Defending Sure Start against vicious right-wing attacksShamik Das, March 18th 2010

No escape for Cameron on importance of povertyWill Straw, January 12th 2010

30 Responses to “Conservative commentator believes in smacking because his instinct says so”

  1. Robin Shields

    Conservative commentator believes in smacking because his instinct says so: //t.co/y1FBEO9Q by @DanielElton #truthiness

  2. Political Planet

    Conservative commentator believes in smacking because his instinct says so: According to Andrew Lilico at Conser… //t.co/zlhzH4kg

  3. Lukey Stanger

    Conservative commentator believes in smacking because his instinct says so: //t.co/y1FBEO9Q by @DanielElton #truthiness

  4. Patron Press - #P2

    #UK : Conservative commentator believes in smacking because his instinct says so //t.co/dQtNTia4

  5. Lord Blagger

    So lets see.

    Fred the Pleb causes the problem at RBS.

    Hester comes in to sort it out at Labour’s request.

    Labour then goes an attacks Hester.

    So have Labour been smacked and is this a result of that smacking?

  6. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – Conservative commentator believes in smacking because his instinct says so //t.co/oyW4rzMn

  7. Pulp Ark

    Conservative commentator believes in smacking because… //t.co/Fe4H0BiM #Good_Society #Andrew_Lilico #David_Lammy #muslim #tcot #sioa

  8. PoliticsUK

    Is smacking an effective way to discipline children? //t.co/lXZtTbiH

  9. Yrotitna

    Conservative commentator believes in smacking because his instinct says so: //t.co/y1FBEO9Q by @DanielElton #truthiness

  10. John Rentoul

    RT @leftfootfwd: Conservative commentator believes in smacking because his instinct says so //t.co/KDBjTeY2

  11. Redriderr

    RT @leftfootfwd: Conservative commentator believes in smacking because his instinct says so //t.co/KDBjTeY2

  12. Hetty

    Good for him. I completely and utterly agree with him and no one on this planet is going to change my mind. Bring back smacking!

  13. Ed's Talking Balls

    ‘here is a round up of some of the evidence…’

    You’ve listed very brief summaries of five studies/pieces of research. Fair enough. I’ve not read them and don’t have the time or inclination to do so, and am perfectly happy to assume that you’ve summarised them correctly.

    However, I have a simple question: is that a representative summary of ALL the evidence?

    I would presume that if ALL research indicated that smacking children inevitably leads them to become violent alcoholics most states would have banned the practice by now.

  14. Newsbot9

    Violence, death, bloodshed. The three responses of the right.

  15. Anonymous

    Like Tony and Gordon.

    How many wars? Yeah more than any other British prime minister.

    Then we have the left and their record in general.

    Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Hitler, … all socialist scum – all mass killers.

  16. Anonymous

    Like Tony and Gordon.

    How many wars? Yeah more than any other British prime minister.

    Then we have the left and their record in general.

    Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Hitler, … all socialist scum – all mass killers.

  17. Thornton

    Hahahahahaha. Thanks for that. I needed a good cheer up. Hitler left wing? I suppose those left wing Apartheid governments in South Africa too. Mussolini was a top chap? Franco? Antonescu? And what about in South America? Islamic fundamentalists? The USA…

    To try take moral high ground for right-wingers is priceless

  18. Cameron Julius II

    Why? Drinking alcohol spreads violence and that isn’t banned. If only we did do things for the benefit of the people…

  19. H. O.

    RT @leftfootfwd: Conservative commentator believes in smacking because his instinct says so //t.co/VtkF9p36

  20. Ed's Talking Balls

    Free societies tend to allow adults to do harmful/potentially harmful things to themselves but still often draw the line at allowing them to do the same things to their children.

    Of course not everything which might lead to harm should be banned. If you think I’m some illiberal proponent of the nanny state, I’m afraid you’re barking up the wrong tree.

    I was simply asking a question of the author: do studies unequivocally show that smacking does more harm than good?

  21. Anonymous

    Put some numbers to the number of people killed.

    South Africa? How many?

    Stalin, Hitler, Mao dwarf all mass murderers in history. All Socialists.

  22. Newsbot9

    As usual, deny any responsibility for the blood on your hands. And it’s not historical blood, your hands drip with FRESH blood.

    Oh, and attacking socialism when I’m from an entirely different part of the left won’t work on me.

  23. Anonymous

    So what are you?

    Communist? Put you down with Stalin then.

  24. Patrick

    Really? Now I’m intrigued. According to Wikipedia, there are Communists, Trotskyists, Maoists, Anarchists. (There is also the ‘soft-left’ and ‘centre-left’ and ‘democratic socialism’, but going by some of the statements you’ve made on here I think we can safely discount those).

    So which kind of extremist are you?

  25. Anonymous

    I think I know the answer Patrick. One who has realized that the state won’t be able to use violence to get their gold platted pension when it comes time to sail off into the sunset.

  26. Newsbot9

    I’ve said nothing on here unreasonable for the centre-left, you’re simply using hyperbole. So I will as well. Bashed a Jew lately?

  27. Newsbot9

    Yes, yes, you oppose pensions for the poor. And you’re stuck on the myth I have a pension, which you’ve created and insist on, denying reality with the force of your WILL! RAA!

  28. Newsbot9

    Yes, and I’m sure your buddy Hitler will appreciate your commitment. Woo, see, I can say stupid overblown hyperbole as well!

  29. Anonymous

    Completely the opposite. I support pensions for the poor, and in particular funded pensions. That results in the poor accumulating wealth, and insulates them from the thieving state.

    We can add Greece to the list. They have just confiscated private pensions to fund government debts.

    That’s what will happen here, and it will be the poor that are hit.

    Given that for a median worker, 26K a year (and that isn’t rich by any means), would have had 19K RPI, joint life, retire at 65, if they had put their money in the ‘risky’ FTSE.

    Instead they have 5K.

    Now you want to force the poor to take the state option, which is 5K. I want them to have the 19K a year.

  30. Anonymous

    National SOCIALIST.

    Still sore that you won’t get your gold plated pension, because its going to go on poor people?

    Tut tut.

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