ethel’s words

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If there is torture, there is a torturer and a torturee. The torturee may be a newborn baby or a dying old man.

If pain is inflicted to cause suffering, not as an unavoidable part of a treatment, it is torture. There is torture to force compliance, and there is torture to satisfy sadism.

The most prevalent category of torture--and no doubt the least discussed--is that inflicted on infants, children, and adolescents by various controllers of their lives: parents, caregivers, teachers, policing personnel.

The most horrifying torture is the battering and maiming and killing of infants by caregivers who have no basic intelligence, no understanding of infant needs, and apparently no compassion or affection, though obviously equipped with physical capability of reproduction--with less parental feelings than any animal--or even arachnids. Broken bones, lacerations, skull fractures, internal injuries, and even burns attest to repeated torture--and nobody hears any crying or screaming? Amazing. Amazing.

This torture, most of it delivered as “punishment” for perceived sins, misbehaviors, or crimes, and intended to “teach” compliance, to break any spirited resistance to regimentation, discipline, or rules in general. What it teaches is obeisance and defeat. Or, when to rebel.

What it does not teach is critical thinking, analysis of problems, the need for and acceptability of obeying rules and laws to achieve to achieve safety and harmony in society; that to achieve order, there must be some established reciprocal expectations within bounds of tolerable regimentation.

Compliance is best achieved by rewards or praise or both. Surprisingly, this seems to work with adults as well as the immature.

Exceptions do not prove any rule.

Ethel C. Hale