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Rev. Dobson on Rev. Dobson: “I had seen this defiant mood before”

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The surly and strong-willed James Dobson is now daring Senators to question him after being caught in a lie. What kind of advice do Dobson’s books offer the Senate? “A little bit of pain goes a long way” in teaching “how to submit to other forms of authority … -- his teachers, school principal, police, neighbors and employers." Look out, Sen. Specter: this could be a rough ride.

I wouldn’t want to mischaracterize the Reverend/Doctor on the subject of physical violence and corporal punishment. He hasn’t advocated the physical beating of adults - as far as I know. He confines that practice to small children, in books like “Dare to Discipline” and “The Strong-Willed Child.” And he’s generous enough to allow that “it is not necessary to beat the child into submission,” just that “the spanking should be of sufficient magnitude to cause the child to cry genuinely.”

Dobson became infamous when he recounted how he handled a dog that he considered disobedient:

"I had seen this defiant mood before, and knew there was only one way to deal with it. The ONLY way to make Siggie obey is to threaten him with destruction. Nothing else works. I turned and went to my closet and got a small belt to help me 'reason' with Mr. Freud …

What developed next is impossible to describe. That tiny dog and I had the most vicious fight ever staged between man and beast. I fought him up one wall and down the other, with both of us scratching and clawing and growling and swinging the belt."

Fortunately, we live in a civilized society where many people react to Dr. Dobson’s ideas – about young and old, gay and straight – with appropriate revulsion. His behavior is repellent to the civilized mind. That’s lucky for him. He wouldn’t want the Senate to respond the way he advises parents to do: “When you are defiantly challenged, win decisively.” A Contempt of Congress charge can sure cramp a guy’s dog-beating style.

A Night Light