Disciplinary Action: Blindness & Ignorance
By Bart Vogelzang
© 2011, All Rights Reserved

What exactly is discipline? The dictionary gives us a clue, but by no means does it provide clarity. Amongst various answers, we have two that stand out:
*Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behaviour, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement.
*Punishment intended to correct or train.

It is clear that the object is to improve moral or mental capabilities, and that punishment is the method used. Of course punishment can run from a ‘nasty’ look to death, with the latter obviously going too far to produce the improved mental state, except maybe in those who fear it.

What is forgotten, or conveniently ignored, is that some people are not capable of being induced to improvement by this punishment mode. Of course, I’m talking about those of us who have conditions which preclude training or learning by standard means, those with mental differences, whether they be the so-called ‘mentally handicapped’, or autistics, or dyslexics, or others with similar challenges.

These are not people who find it impossible to learn, or train (or be trained) to behave in societal accepted ways; they just can’t do it by the traditional methods. They require specialized procedures, usually not even that involved, but definitely needing a different perspective and understanding of how they see and experience the world.

If one looks at how they experience the world, then develop a strategy to show how that world can be modified to improve their place in it, and end up starting appropriate training, things will improve for everyone involved. However, if the wrong perspective prevails the training method will be imperfect at best and disastrous at worst, and things will simply get much worse for everyone.

I will try to explain by using a physical example, rather than a mental one; mental examples don’t work for the very reason that nobody can actually see them. If you were dealing with a boy who cannot walk, nor even stand up, due to paralysis and atrophied muscles in his legs, you may be able to help tremendously by selecting an appropriate training to strengthen his arms for using a wheelchair, or even some kind of prosthetic legs. However, bullying him, beating him, applying ‘corporal punishment’ and berating him for his inability to walk normally is not going to help him. It will likely end up causing untold harm, as you would effectively be punishing him despite his efforts to do what is demanded. He’d only learn that efforts result in punishment, thereby mentally crippling him as well.

Demanding that someone see well when they have a vision problem, or that a deaf person must ‘listen better’ when they are incapable of hearing in the first place, and then punishing them for failure to comply with the unreasoning and unreasonable demands will result with the same end; a bitter, crushed, perplexed, or hostile victim of bullying.

Now, after some ‘physical’ examples, you may understand that the same issues apply to those with mental differences. If someone cannot ‘see’ body language, and cannot ‘feel’ emotions, or cannot untangle a jumble of letters on a page, beating them, whether you call it corporal punishment or something else, will never produce a positive result. The discipline is completely wrong, as it is not actually training anything. It takes more than compliance or willing effort by anyone to produce a result; it takes the ability as well. With the ability not there, even whipping unto death will not produce compliance.

Sadly, some people cannot see beyond their own blindness and ignorance, which is sad enough, but when these people are our so-called “leaders” as elected members, we have a severe problem.

“Wyoming state Rep. Bob Nicholas explained his behavior by saying his son, who has a condition similar to autism, was being combative during lunch, and that he needed “corporal punishment.” He has no intentions of resigning. “I don’t think I committed a crime, so why would I?” he said.”

So here we see an elected individual literally beating his own son for behaving in the only way he can. Rather than providing caring guidance, he violently assaults his own offspring, and doesn’t even have the smarts to realize he has broken the law, and worse, he has broken what should be his vow to love, protect and teach his child. It is the ultimate betrayal in that he condemns his son, attacks him, and offers only pain to someone who needs help, not brutality. Rep. Bob Nicholas has no intention of resigning? Pity, because ‘fathers’ acting like that really can’t be much of a leader.