This student was writing about a man who killed his son in order to “save” him from a life of drug addiction, although at the time, according to the man himself, his son was not an addict, but just a user of marijuana and “cheap wine.”
The judge sentenced the man to five years’ probation, which is what I ask students to write about—lately I ask them to defend the sentence, a task that produces some pretty interesting answers (and some pretty funny ones, although that’s not my intention).
The author of this sentence was defending the judge by defending the father’s act. Here’s her reasoning:
“He came from a simpler time, an easier time. In his day sons respected their fathers, and if they didn’t they were to be lashed. There were no liberal laws preventing a father from disciplining their child.”
I’m choosing to ignore the “their” this morning, because it’s really small potatoes here even to those of us who can’t stand seeing “their” used with a singular antecedent.
“Liberal laws” is ambiguous. It would seem that she considers laws that prevent somehow “liberal”—”marked by generosity, open-handed”? A generous law prevents? Well, certainly preventing discipline could be considered generous to the undisciplined, unless the law permitted open-handed hitting…. I think she was actually using “liberal” to refer to that vile political party that wants to destroy our freedoms (we’re told) by letting all the evils in the world have their way (we’re told).
Well, in either case, let’s see what those “liberal laws preventing a father from disciplining their child” have put an end to: lashing. Wow. Those sure were simpler, easier times, when a father could keep the kids in line by the simple, easy application of the cat-o’-nine-tails to their little backs…ALWAYS the way to instill respect. Look what it did for slave-drivers—and the British Navy—and the pyramids-construction project.
What could she have been thinking? What did her mind’s eye see? Me, at the first sight of that whip I’d call for some liberal legislators to pass a law to stop it.