0:00:00.1 Michael: In this episode, we're gonna be talking about what amounts to physical abuse of children. So if that's something you're sensitive to, you might wanna sit this one out, or take care when listening.
0:00:14.0 Speaker 2: We'll hear arguments next in 6527, Ingraham against Wright.
0:00:25.8 Leon: Hey, everyone. This is Leon from Fiasco and Prologue Projects. On this week's episode of 5-4, Peter, Rhiannon, and Michael are talking about corporal punishment. Despite a steady decline in the practice of spanking children in schools, the practice remains legal because of this ruling from 1977.
0:00:44.0 Speaker 4: The court said the spanking of students was rooted in the American tradition, but said if overdone, parents could still bring charges in the state courts.
0:00:52.8 Leon: In this 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that public school teachers beating kids does not violate the Eighth Amendment, which is supposed to prohibit cruel and unusual punishment. The ruling created a bizarre situation in which students have more legal protections against physical abuse if they find themselves in a prison cell than they do when they're in class. This is 5-4, a podcast about how much the Supreme Court sucks.
0:01:20.2 Peter: Welcome to 5-4 where we dissect and analyze the Supreme Court cases that have spread the seeds of hopelessness across the country, like wind to a dandelion. I'm Peter, I'm here with Riannon.
0:01:31.0 Rhiannon: Hey. Hi, everyone.
0:01:32.5 Peter: And Michael.
0:01:33.5 Michael: Hi. Hi.
0:01:34.9 Peter: Really wanna stop doing the metaphors. Unfortunately, whenever I bring this up, the hardcore fans are all like, "We will stop listening if you stop."
0:01:44.6 Rhiannon: Yeah, they're up in arms defending the metaphor. They demand the metaphor.
0:01:49.5 Peter: I'm pretty sure the casual fans would love it if I stopped, though.
0:01:53.3 Michael: The Supreme cases that have strained the back of American life like the 150th metaphor that Peter's...
0:02:00.7 Rhiannon: Right, right. That's a good one. Write that down, Peter. Write it down.
0:02:07.1 Peter: Today's case is Ingram v Wright. This is a case from 1977 about corporal punishment in schools. Corporal punishment, of course, is when a child is punished using a little bit of violence, traditionally, either by a tall, humorless man or a stern matronly woman.
0:02:29.6 Michael: That's right. That's right.
0:02:30.5 Rhiannon: 'Cause that's what the movies would have you believe.
0:02:32.2 Peter: That's right. In the past, corporal punishment was prevalent in schools, of course, including public schools. And some enterprising lawyers asked themselves whether it might be against the Constitution. After all, the Eighth Amendment forbids cruel and unusual punishment. This is punishment being imposed by the government on students via its schools, and perhaps beating the shit out of children qualifies as cruel, right?
0:02:58.6 Rhiannon: Yeah, maybe.
0:03:00.3 Michael: Interesting thought.
0:03:03.0 Peter: But the court says no. They're not having it. They say that corporal punishment in schools is an American tradition, and that the Eighth Amendment does not apply to school children. So Rhi, wanna give us some background for this one?
0:03:19.5 Rhiannon: Yeah, let's jump in. I have the story of how this lawsuit is brought, and also just a little bit of information about the use of corporal punishment in American schools. So yeah, this lawsuit is brought by two students at Drew Junior High School in Dade County, Florida, who say that they were harshly punished to the point of significant injury by school administrators using corporal punishment.
0:03:45.0 Rhiannon: So in 1970, Roosevelt Andrews is a ninth grader at Drew Junior High School, and James Ingraham is an eighth grader there. And even though there were rules at the school about when corporal punishment could be used against students and how... For example, there were rules about how big this flat wooden paddle could be, it had to be less than two feet long. And for example, the normal punishment would be one to five licks with the paddle, also, corporal punishment could only be used after consultation with the principal. Even though those rules were in place, Andrews, the ninth grader says that over the course of a couple of weeks, he was punished by paddling several times for just minor infractions, and that those punishments happened without consultation with the principal.
0:04:32.9 Rhiannon: And he also reported that he was beaten on his arms, which at one point injured him so badly that he could not use one of his arms for a week. In Ingraham's case, the eighth grader, he said that a teacher sent him to the principal's office after he was slow to comply with some silly command, something like getting off the stage in the auditorium, he just didn't do it fast enough for the teacher's liking.
0:04:56.5 Peter: Classic troublemaker.
0:04:57.5 Rhiannon: Right. So he gets sent to the principal's office, and there he denies the accusation, and he declines to submit to paddling. And so then he was forced face-down onto a table and was paddled more than 20 times. He suffered a hematoma as a result, and he missed 11 days of school. So that's where the lawsuit comes from. But just a note about the use of corporal punishment in American schools, obviously, the use of corporal punishment on school children has declined drastically in the past few decades. But it's important to know that in terms of Constitutional Jurisprudence on the issue, this is the existing rule, this case that allows it. So as we talk later on about conservative ideology as it relates to school and kids, that's important to keep in mind.
0:05:47.3 Rhiannon: Also while I was prepping for this episode, I found some numbers, which I found pretty surprising. According to reports that were submitted to the US Department of Education, in 1976, more than 1.5 million students at public schools were paddled. But by 2006, that number had dropped to about 220,000 students. But there are important racial and economic disparities in the use of paddling. So if you were a poor student at a poor school, you're more likely to be paddled. And children of color are more likely to be paddled also.
0:06:22.7 Rhiannon: So for example, during the 2002-2003 school year, 9% of students were paddled in Mississippi. It's a small number, 9%, but that's nearly one in 10 kids, right? In the 2004-2005 school year, nearly 50,000 students in Texas were paddled. And then, an article I looked at from 2009 that had sort of aggregated a bunch of data from the early 2000s, showed that Black students comprised about 16% of American public school kids. But Black students comprised 34% to 39% of students receiving corporal punishment at school. In South Carolina, for example, just one state, Black students made up about 40% of the student population in 2006, but received 73% of paddling. So just really important, I think, things to keep in mind, issues to keep in mind up top, as we go through what the Supreme Court has to say about how corporal punishment is not a big deal in public schools.
0:07:26.7 Peter: So the legal question here is whether corporal punishment either generally or as applied by the school violates the Eighth Amendments prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. There's also a 14th Amendment question, which we'll get into later. But first, the Eighth Amendment. So what the Court does here initially is an assessment of both historical and contemporary views of corporal punishment in schools. They say that corporal punishment in schools dates back to the colonial period. And moreover, they make the point that it's still widely accepted and practiced in the modern era, even as education has shifted from a largely private endeavor to a compulsory system revolving around public schools. They point out that public and professional opinion has been sharply divided on the matter, for what they say is over a century. And finally, they say that they can "Discern no trend toward the elimination" of corporal punishment in schools. A lot going on here.
0:08:26.9 Peter: First thing I'll talk about is how big of a swing and miss that last part is. "They can discern no trend toward the elimination of corporal punishment." Again, this is 1977. And the court is stating that they don't believe that corporal punishment is declining in any meaningful sense. In the years immediately following this decision, the use of corporal punishment fell off a cliff. Between 1974 and 1994, 25 states banned it, in public schools at least. So here you have the Supreme Court declaring that they saw no trend in corporal punishment at a time when they basically could not have been more incorrect. And I think they fucked it up so badly, because their analysis is just looking at the wrong things. The court tries to measure society-wide sentiment towards corporal punishment schools by looking at state laws, and they were like, "Well, only a handful of states ban it." But what they don't point out is that even at this point, when this case comes down, corporal punishment was rare. I think it was applicable in only about 4% of schools across the country. So what they're missing is that whether or not it was technically legal, the vast majority of society had at this point already rejected the use of it. I would also point out that they are pretty thoroughly understating the state of expert opinion on this matter. They're like, "Oh, it's split. The experts can't agree."
0:09:58.5 Rhiannon: That's just wrong.
0:10:00.5 Peter: No, it's just not correct. It's just not correct. Even in the '70s, the reason that corporal punishment was declining was because this sort of confluence of things, but one of them was experts pushing that they believed it was both harmful and ineffective.
0:10:15.1 Rhiannon: That's right.
0:10:15.8 Michael: No pedagogical benefits, they're just damaging kids.
0:10:19.9 Rhiannon: Yeah, you're just hitting children.
0:10:21.6 Michael: That's what I was gonna say, it's like we're using the term corporal punishment. But like Peter highlighted at the top, what we're talking about is beating kids. That's what this is, beating kids.
0:10:30.6 Peter: And in particular, what the court does... The court talks about corporal punishment very generally. These kids got the shit beat out of them with fucking wooden paddles. It's a little bit disingenuous to talk about the practice broadly when the facts are as brutal as they are here. So next, the court turns to the Eighth Amendment itself. Again, the initial legal question is whether this may qualify as cruel and unusual punishment. And the court says, "No, it doesn't, because the Eighth Amendment only applies to punishment for crimes." And they mostly base this on their interpretation of the intent of the Amendment.
0:11:12.1 Peter: Now, this is interesting to me, because I don't think you can accept so quickly that there's a meaningful difference here. Crimes are essentially just things the government has given itself permission to punish you for. And if the state is beating up kids in school as a form of discipline, that's not very conceptually different at all.
0:11:30.5 Rhiannon: Exactly.
0:11:31.7 Peter: A lot of the majority opinion is predicated upon the idea that punishment for crimes and punishment for discipline in school are two completely different things. And I just don't think that's right. The irony is that, if you think corporal punishment is essentially unaddressed by the constitution, you've created a situation where every citizen is guaranteed due process and proportionate punishment except for kids. What the fuck is that? More specifically, if you are a child, your rights are in many ways more secure under this decision if you're arrested for a crime than if you're being disciplined at school. And the majority actually kind of tries to address this, they try to highlight the difference between school and prison.
0:12:20.0 Michael: Yeah, it's incredible paragraph.
0:12:23.8 Peter: It is. So they say, and I quote, "The school child has little need for the protection of the Eighth Amendment. Though attendance may not always be voluntary, the public school remains an open institution. Except perhaps when very young, the child is not physically restrained from leaving school during school hours, and at the end of the school day, the child is invariably free to return home. Even while at school, the child brings with him the support of family and friends, and is rarely apart from teachers and other pupils who may witness and protest any instances of mistreatment."
0:12:56.1 Rhiannon: Yeah, except when you're taken into the principal's office and forced against your will, and then beaten in that closed room.
0:13:03.3 Peter: Yeah. Look, first of all, the court is expressly saying that we don't need the protections of the Constitution in schools because we can rely on other children to be whistleblowers? What the fuck is that? What the fuck is going on with that? How is that an actual rationale? And even if you put that aside, none of these differences explain why the protections of the Eighth Amendment shouldn't apply here. They're just saying like, "Here are some differences. You can go home at the end of the day." Now, why does it matter that the kids in this case, who were violently beaten, could return home at the end of the day? The court doesn't to explain why that difference matters. And what's the point of saying that the students have the support of their families when their families are literally trying to sue, and you are, as we speak, tossing their suit out of court?
0:13:48.0 Rhiannon: Exactly. Say that, yeah. And this totally highlights a sort of blind spot, not even a blind spot because it's so purposeful. But there is a sort of dearth of protections for the rights of children in modern Constitutional Jurisprudence. So not only does this not count as an Eighth Amendment violation just because it's happening at schools, but kids also do not have the same Fourth Amendment protections in schools that adults do. Right?
0:14:17.0 Michael: Yeah. And also, this comparison between schools and prisons, even taken on its own terms is pretty misguided because the implication, if not the outright statement seems to be that the Eighth Amendment is needed in prison because there are no other protections. There's no one around to protest. You don't get to go home to your parents and tell them the guard was mean to you or whatever, so we need the Constitution there. But that's an artificially limited description of the way the Eighth Amendment works. Under that reading of the Eighth Amendment, there'd be no application for it in sentencing, for example, and onerously long sentences, because courts are open, people can go in and watch you sentence someone to life for shoplifting or whatever, and they can protest to their representative.
0:15:10.2 Peter: You've got your family supporting you. They're back in the gallery.
0:15:12.9 Rhiannon: Exactly.
0:15:13.5 Michael: Yeah. It's totally like, it's nonsense. It's just total nonsense.
0:15:19.6 Peter: And before we move on I wanna quickly point out, if the limitation of the Eighth Amendment to situations where someone is being specifically punished for a crime has much broader implications than this. What if a police officer decides to, without cause, not because of a crime you committed, but just brutally beat you. They're saying, "Well, that can't possibly be cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment," because it's not punishment for a crime. That's where that logic will get you. I think there's a real slippery slope danger there. You can, of course, argue that maybe the Fourth Amendment would apply in that situation.
0:15:58.7 Michael: I think, as a result, that's how we say that's an unconstitutional seizure, which is such a stupid way to think about someone beating you. It's not that it's cruel and unusual punishment, it's that you've been seized. What the fuck is that?
0:16:13.9 Peter: I agree that that's probably why we read the Fourth Amendment like that, and it makes so much more sense to think of excessive force by police in the Eighth Amendment context, because the rule is meant to be that the government cannot use disproportionate force, and that's the framework that the Eighth Amendment offers. So it's bizarre to sort of discard it and say that it's only limited to this very narrow context.
0:16:38.0 Michael: Yeah, agree. So turning to the other part of the opinion, they talk about... Setting aside the Eighth Amendment, there's also a 14th Amendment sort of due process claim, where the students who were saying that, "Look, if there's gonna be a beating, you should have a hearing or something in advance." There needs to be something more than just a teacher being like, "Oh, they're acting up. Send them to the principal for a paddling." So the 14th Amendment, the due process clause of the 14th Amendment says that "The states cannot deprive you of life, liberty or property without due process of law." And the kids are saying, "Look, getting beaten with a big wooden paddle is an imposition on my liberty, life, liberty, and property." And the court agrees with them. The court says, "You're right, there is a liberty interest at play here. But the question is, what process is due before that liberty is infringed upon?" And they say, "Look, there's statutory and common law protections here. The statute says that any school beatings have to be reasonable." So that limits the harshness of the punishments. And then the common law provides for monetary damages for excessive beatings, which they think is more than adequate deterrence. They say this is a "Although students have testified in this case to specific instances of abuse, there is every reason to believe that such mistreatment is an aberration." What reason? What possible reason?
0:18:10.2 Peter: All of them, Michael. Didn't you hear?
0:18:13.6 Michael: They say every reason, and the only one they provide is the monetary damages, which is an insane thing to say when you have a record of abuse before you. It's like saying, "Oh, I woke up in a good mood. And when I do, it never rains, so it's not gonna rain today." Well, it's fucking pouring outside. What are you talking about? You have over a dozen cases of documented abuse here, and you're like, "It's very unlikely that there will be severe reviews." It's insane. It's an insane portion of the opinion. It's maddening to read.
0:18:48.0 Peter: And there's just something so lazy about, well there's already laws making this illegal to some degree, so we don't need the Constitution here, and it's like the whole point is that we shouldn't have to be reliant on statutory law. That's the point of the Constitution, is like...
0:19:05.8 Rhiannon: Exactly.
0:19:06.4 Peter: This sort of backstop for your rights. Laws can be repealed. Laws don't exist in the same form in every state right?
0:19:15.0 Rhiannon: Yeah.
0:19:15.1 Peter: The point is that there's a baseline for your rights that you can rely on in the Constitution. So to say, "Well, there's some laws, this is technically illegal in most states, so we don't need to worry about it from a constitutional perspective." It's like, no, that's just not how the Constitution works.
0:19:30.9 Michael: Yeah.
0:19:31.1 Rhiannon: This feels like a good time to take a break. And we are back.
0:19:36.5 Michael: So I have some local color on this actually, 'cause it's originated in Dade County, which is now Miami-Dade County.
0:19:43.4 Peter: This is where we reveal that Michael was in fact one of these...
0:19:48.5 Rhiannon: One of the petitioners.
0:19:48.9 Michael: Michael is a nom de plume. My real name is Roosevelt Andrews.
0:19:57.1 Michael: No, I'm from South Florida as is my dad, and so he went to high school in Dade County in the '60s, and he taught in Dade County in the late '60s and early '70s. And my mom worked in the school system as a counselor as well in that time. And in fact, my dad taught at the elementary school that fed into this junior high.
0:20:17.1 Rhiannon: Oh my gosh.
0:20:18.2 Michael: Which is kind of wild. It's possible the younger of the two was at his elementary school when he was there.
0:20:24.2 Rhiannon: Yeah.
0:20:24.6 Michael: So I talked to them both about what it was like for my dad in high school growing up there, what the schools were like when they were there.
0:20:30.7 Rhiannon: Yeah.
0:20:33.5 Michael: And so one thing is that there's a degree of arbitrariness to it, which I think already raises constitutionally suspect considerations. If you're lucky enough to be at this one school, the elementary school where my dad taught, he said it was run by a nice Jewish lady, and so they didn't use corporal punishment, so if you're lucky enough to be there, then you don't worry about it, but if you're at the next school over with a asshole, then the punishment is gonna be very different for you.
0:20:58.5 Rhiannon: Right.
0:21:00.1 Peter: Right.
0:21:00.9 Michael: And like Rhi sort of previewed at the top, there are racial and class components. This school was in Liberty City, which is almost entirely black. The school where my mom worked was out in Western Miami in Hialeah, which was all like poor white and Cubans, and there was severe corporal punishment there as well.
0:21:20.5 Rhiannon: Yeah.
0:21:20.5 Michael: And so the dean at my dad's high school, he said was a mean son of a bitch and a bigot, so you can imagine how beatings were meted out there as well. And like Rhi said today, most kids who are subject to corporal punishment are black or minority, twice as likely as white kids nationwide. So the court says due process is satisfied here because monetary damages are available to students subject to excessive corporal punishment and it's worth contemplating how available you think that is to a black student against the white school administrator in the '60s and '70s in the South, 'cause that's what we're talking about here. That's the actual scenario. And the idea that that's what's protecting due process here is a fucking joke. It's like an absolute joke.
0:22:10.6 Rhiannon: Yeah, really good point, Michael. So we should turn to the dissent. There is a dissent, this opinion is 5-4, four justices in dissent here. There's a lot of stuff to say in dissent, I think, except there's not much to say substantively about this dissent, because even though four people, powerhouses, John Paul Stevens, William Brennan, Thurgood Marshall... I don't know who the fourth one is. [laughter] Even though those guys all join in dissent here, the whole dissent is literally three sentences long.
0:22:48.3 Michael: Yeah.
0:22:48.9 Rhiannon: All it says is, "I dissent," basically.
0:22:50.4 Michael: It is. They say "The majority held the Eighth Amendment doesn't apply."
0:22:54.7 Rhiannon: Right.
0:22:55.6 Michael: "The majority held due process doesn't apply." That's sentences one and two.
0:22:58.5 Rhiannon: There you go.
0:23:00.5 Michael: And sentence three is, "We disagree."
0:23:01.5 Rhiannon: "We disagree with that."
0:23:02.7 Michael: "So we dissent. [chuckle] We dissent." It's fucking king shit.
0:23:06.8 Rhiannon: Yeah there's really nothing to say about this dissent.
0:23:08.7 Peter: I'm telling you, we've talked about this before, being a Supreme Court justice used to rule.
0:23:12.7 Rhiannon: I was about to say that. There's nothing to say about this except being a Supreme Court Justice is the easiest fucking job in the whole world.
0:23:22.2 Peter: And if, Joe Biden, are you listening? If you nominate one of us, this is what we will bring to you, the short opinion.
0:23:28.9 Rhiannon: Yes.
0:23:31.4 Michael: Yeah. [chuckle]
0:23:32.3 Peter: So let's take a big step back here. Early in the 1900s and into the mid-century, there was a shift in this country to compulsory public education, and with that came the rise of conservative fears that liberals will use this new monolithic education bureaucracy to impose their agenda on children. And so the backdrop to a lot of reactionary thought about public schools, both then and now, is this idea that they, the paradigmatic conservative parents are being stripped off their ability to raise the children they want to raise. Their kids' upbringing is being tainted by liberal notions of discipline and so forth. And I think more broadly, modern reactionary thought has always viewed education and academics itself with a sort of skepticism. The dismissal of universities and social sciences as sort of high-minded nonsense is something that has been part of reactionary thought for a long time. They often perceive academics as frivolous, and a large part of that is because education is perceived as having a progressive, or even like a liberatory component, widespread education can and does undermine existing power structures, and certainly existing cultural norms. And so to reactionaries and more specifically to fascists, [chuckle] education isn't about learning things per se, it's about social control.
0:25:00.0 Michael: Yeah indoctrination.
0:25:00.7 Peter: Right. You can gaze out upon the current right-wing moral panic about critical race theory, etcetera, where you're seeing the banning of books and other attacks on public school curricula, I think to a lot of liberals it can be baffling to witness that because of how transparently bad faith it is. These people are clearly not interested in education as a virtue in and of itself, they are trying to build a world in which they are in control, and their grip on power is not under serious question. And so buried in this case is this seed of conservative resistance to what they perceive as like a hegemonic liberal educational order. There's an underlying question about who gets to shape the younger generation, and there is a right-wing fear which still exists today, that it's not going to be them.
0:25:51.9 Michael: Did you guys see the movie Snowpiercer?
0:25:53.7 Peter: Yeah.
0:25:54.7 Rhiannon: No.
0:25:55.2 Michael: I feel like you might like it. Peter, you talking about education just reminded me of the education scene in that, when they get to the train car with the kids and the level of indoctrination going on, and also like the real message that this is where the real violence is. You're seeing the kids both turned into the faceless oppressors and the teacher literally at one point pulls a fucking gun out and starts shooting at them as like Bong Joon-ho being very explicit like, "This is where state violence starts, It can start right there."
0:26:28.3 Peter: Korean cinema is light on metaphor, in my experience.
0:26:34.9 Michael: That movie rocks. Everyone should see it.
0:26:36.2 Peter: Yeah, it's great.
0:26:37.3 Michael: So I do think the timing on this case is also sort of significant in a different way, like the events in question happened in 1970, and the decision came out in 1977, and this is when the white evangelical movement is beginning to mobilize as a political force, and doing so, not just about Roe v. Wade in opposition to desegregation and the permissive cultural excesses of the '60s, free love, free thinking. It's sort of like the '60s were counter-culture, and this is like the counter-counter-culture movement, right? It's like a moral authoritarianism that's in opposition to that permissive-ness, that sinfulness. And so in 1970, there's this guy named James Dobson, who publishes a book called Dare to Discipline, about bringing parenting back to biblical norms, and this is how you were supposed to raise kids to avoid them lapsing into the sinful excesses of the '60s in the Free Love Movement. And he turns into a giant on the right. He found focus on the family, which is still sort of a big player in right-wing politics, made a ton of money, published more books, spawned a lot of copycats, he had a radio show. And corporal punishment was a big part of this, not just in schools, but at home. And you can sort of see how it's diametrically opposed here, how it's about obedience and disciplining non-conformance, right?
0:28:13.2 Rhiannon: That's right, yeah.
0:28:14.4 Michael: And it can't be overstated how fucking gross this shit was. Dare to Discipline suggested beating kids start at 15 months.
0:28:23.1 Rhiannon: Oh my God.
0:28:24.3 Michael: There was another book that suggested starting as early as five months.
0:28:26.8 Rhiannon: What?
0:28:27.9 Peter: Five months? Bro, you could kill a baby with a straw at five months.
0:28:33.6 Rhiannon: Yeah.
0:28:34.4 Peter: I honestly wonder if some of that is just them trying to own the libs with that shit. They're like, "Yeah, five months, fuck it. We'll do whatever we want, it's our kid."
0:28:42.8 Michael: I think it's called The Strong-Willed Child" or something, some shit like that. All the names are fucking horrific on these books as you can imagine.
0:28:49.0 Peter: God.
0:28:49.5 Rhiannon: Right, and otherize children.
0:28:51.7 Peter: I love Dare to Discipline.
0:28:53.3 Michael: Dare to Discipline. [chuckle]
0:28:54.6 Peter: Even in 1970, they thought they were oppressed. They're like, "Dare to discipline this act of bravery that you're doing, beating your kids."
0:29:00.9 Rhiannon: Stand up for your rights as an adult to beat a child.
0:29:05.9 Michael: Yeah, [laughter] exactly, exactly. This is shit by the way, that's banned entirely in 63 countries. Forget about in fucking public education, period. You don't hit kids in most countries.
0:29:18.4 S?: Right.
0:29:20.0 Michael: They recommended severe regular beatings, like any non-compliance, any sort of disfavored behaviors, beat your kids into submission.
0:29:28.2 Peter: This is particularly triggering to me as a troublemaker. I was a young troublemaker. If I was born into a society like this, I would be a career criminal right now. [chuckle] There's like...
0:29:44.2 Michael: Peter was talking about how badly they missed the mark on the expert consensus, but you can kind of see the parallel where there's this little right-wing echo chamber even back then about the importance of corporal punishment that's standing in opposition to the consensus, but these fucking jackasses on the Supreme Court don't know how to differentiate between the two, the same way, they might say that vaccine science is still controversial, or global warming is still up for scientific debate or whatever, right? So this is very much in that tradition of prioritizing right-wing bullshit, and it still is present in modern evangelical culture. Something like 50% of evangelicals strongly approve of corporal punishment, and you can see it sort of echoes in the way they treat... Gain trans issues with conversion therapy and things like that. There's just like this disrespect for people's autonomy and their liberty, their right to be different.
0:30:50.3 Peter: You're putting your finger on this separate conservative ecosystem that does fake social science, right?
0:30:57.7 Rhiannon: Yes, yes.
0:31:00.6 Michael: Yes.
0:31:00.6 Peter: And that exists now too, because like... I mean the irony is that if they really valued education, they would maybe be more present among the ranks of academics and teachers and administrators and whatever and have more influence than they do now, but sort of long ago, they decided that was not a fight worth fighting, and instead we are going to create this insular pocket of people who believe what we believe, and they get fed money and given platforms, and that's how they chose to operate. They willingly exited the boundaries of the traditional marketplace of ideas and started their own marketplace and went at it from that angle, it's... You see it across all these different disciplines and sciences, etcetera.
0:31:48.4 Michael: So reading about this evangelical approach to parenting, it reminded me of that, the groundskeeper, Willie, in The Simpsons, but un-ironically, like, "Oh you mouth off to your mom? That's a paddling."
0:32:01.9 Peter: Right, right.
0:32:03.0 Michael: "You track mud in on your shoes? That's a paddling." "You don't say sir when addressing your dad? You better believe that's a paddling." Right? But like for real, for real, that's what they're saying that's how they should raise their kids.
0:32:15.0 Rhiannon: Yeah exactly.
0:32:18.1 Peter: One of the interesting things about this is you can see the sort of psychology that conservatives have here, where the facts of the violence are almost less important than the existence of the violence, meaning like they're not particularly interested in whether these administrators cross the boundaries, because I think to them, corporal punishment is not about fairness per se, it's about instilling a level of fear that can ensure obedience, and that can be accomplished whether or not the administration of paddlings, etcetera, is fair. And in fact, it can arguably be accomplished better when it's not fair. And of course, this is not something that they expressly say, but I think the fact that they never once dive into the facts here in any substantive way and try to relate them to the law, maybe speaks to how little they care about what actually happened to these kids.
0:33:19.8 Rhiannon: Exactly.
0:33:25.9 Peter: Next week, a premium episode about the Lochner era, the period of time in the early 1900s when the Supreme Court led a charge to advocate for child labor... [laughter]
0:33:41.5 Michael: Yes.
0:33:41.6 Peter: And other abuses of workers by creating a right to contract between employers and employees. We're gonna talk about that and talk about how the modern court is perhaps rebuilding that era. Follow us on Twitter at @fivefourpod, subscribe to our Patreon, patreon.com/fivefourpod all spelled out. Premium episodes, ad-free episodes, access to our Slack special events, all kinds of shit. We'll see you next week.
0:34:11.0 Michael: Bye.
0:34:13.3 Rhiannon: Bye.
0:34:14.2 Michael: 5-4 is presented by Prologue Projects. This episode was produced by Rachel Ward with editorial support from Leon Neyfakh and Andrew Parsons. Our artwork is by Teddy Blanks at CHIPS NY, and our theme song is by Spatial Relations.
0:34:35.2 Michael: And that's a wrap. [laughter]
0:34:37.8 Rhiannon: Yeah, that's it.