Friday, November 11, 2011

Fairy Tale with a Moral

Once upon a time,

There was a young woman who lived in a giant castle, all by herself.

She had once been married to the prince of the kingdom, but all of them had ridden off to battle to stop the giant orcs who were attacking from the south. Her prince had fallen in the first day of battle, and the king, to keep the princess safe, had sent her to the lonely castle in the highlands. Since orc spies were in the lands, it was thought best that she be put in the castle by herself so as to not draw attention to her hiding place. And so in the castle she remained, while the bitter wind blew through winter nights.

After a few weeks of living in the castle, a particularly bad storm started up. There were drifts piled high against the northern gate of the wall. The wall was ninety feet high, but by the end of the fifth day of the blizzard, the drifts had scaled the wall completely. The young woman kept warm in the kitchen of the castle, stoking the oven's stove for heat and for cooking her meals.

Across the way, a woodsman saw a trail of smoke coming from the chimney. He had seen it before, but could never get into the castle due to the moat and the castle walls. But now, the drifts were high enough. Curious as to who could be squatting in the king's old hunting castle, the woodsman hefted his ax and made his way up the frosty slope to the top of the castle wall. He caught a glimpse of warm light from the window of the kitchen, and made his way toward it.

He peeked in and caught sight of the woman. Her back was to him, and he quickly ducked out of view again. She was wearing a beautiful red dress and jewelry from the king's supply. At this, the woodsman grew upset. A peasant woman had broken into the lodge and stolen the king's bounty! The woodsman walked through the courtyard of the castle while he wondered what to do.

At last, he stumbled across the carpenter's hut and found the needed supplies. Taking boards and nails, he moved to the kitchen door and began to nail it shut. If the peasant woman wanted the kings supplies, she could just stay in there forever! Inside the kitchen, the young woman heard the bangs as the first nails were driven into boards at the front door. Fearful, she rushed to the pantry and looked for a weapon, but all she had were pans and a bread knife--all the sharpened cutlery had been transported back to the king's palace and they hadn't thought to return it when she came to live there.

When the noise at the kitchen door stopped, the woman made her way to the door. She quickly realized she couldn't get the door open, and then a sudden bang came from the dinning room door! The woman rushed up the stairs through the servant's entrance to the main chambers of the castle. She reached the balcony outside the main hall and looked down as the woodcutter finished the dining room door.

"What are you doing?" she demanded.

The woodcutter remained silent. There was no sense talking to peasants. "If you do not leave at once, you'll be cast into the dungeon!" the woman continued.

The woodcutter knew that was an idle threat. This castle was never used during the winter months, and besides when the authorities came back they'd be tossing the peasant woman into the dungeon anyway. There was only one more entrance into the living quarters of the castle. The woodcutter made his way to the final door and waited. Sure enough, the woman appeared in the doorway, fuming in anger.

The woodsman held his ax up: "Stay where you are."

"You dare not speak that way to a princess!"

The woodcutter scoffed. "A princess? Alone in this castle?"

"The king--my father-in-law--will see you hanged for this!"

The woman gestured with the bread knife she still held in her hand.

The woodcutter laughed at the pitiful weapon.

"We shall see what the king says," he replied. "He's sure to get here by the end of spring."

"So we shall," she responded.

The woodcutter motioned with his ax and waited until the woman had stepped far from the doorway. Then, he lowered the ax, picked up a board and fastened it to the door. When he was finished, he looked up and saw the woman standing at the balcony once more. "There's not enough supplies for me to last until spring," she called out.

"That's because no one is supposed to be in the castle," the woodcutter said. He was proud of having done his civic duty to defend the throne.

"Do you know why I'm not concerned about that?" the woman shouted back. She seemed almost gleeful and proud. "No, and I'm not interested." "Because the king knows I'm here and knows I'll need supplies. Those supplies will be arriving any day now, and when they get here, you'll be dead!” The woodcutter laughed. "You should fear more for your own neck." And with that, the woman retreated inside the castle and the woodcutter climbed back over the walls and returned to his cottage.

The king's envoy did arrive a week later. They found the princess in the castle, bored but otherwise fine. They searched for the woodcutter to arrest him, but the woods were vast and the woodcutter, having seen the coming envoy, knew enough to realize he'd made a mistake.

A few months later, the campaign against the orcs was ended, the king victorious again.

And the events after that cold winter's day slowly faded from the memories of all who were involved.

Even so, at the time,

it had been the most important thing that had happened in the wood.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Argument Clinic

Note: I found a couple other scripts for this part of the sketch, listed online, but they were not even close to being accurate word for word. Here is what I believe to be the most accurate transcription of the famous Monty Python Argument, from their sketch: The Argument Clinic.

Man: *Knocks*

Another man: Come in.

Man: Is this the right room for an argument?

A: I've told you once.

M: No you haven't.

A: Yes I have.

M: When?

A: Just now.

M: No you didn't.

A: Yes I did.

M: Didn't

A: I did!

M: Didn't!

A: I'm telling you I did!

M: You did not!!

A: Oh, I'm sorry - Is this a five minute argument

or the full half hour?

M: Oh, oh. Just the five minute one.

A: Fine. Thank you. Anyway, I did.

M: You most certainly did not.

A: Look, let's get one thing quite clear:

I most definitely told you.

M: You did not.

A: Yes I did.

M: You did not

A: Yes I did.

M: Didn't.

A: Yes I did.

M: Didn't.

A: Yes I did.

M: Look, this isn't an argument.

A: Yes it is.

M: No it isn't. It's just contradiction.

A: No it isn't.

M: Yes it is!

A: It is not.

M: It is! You just contradicted me.

A: No I didn't.

M: Oh you did!!

A: No, no, no, no, no

M: You did - just then.

A: No, no, no – Nonsense!

M: Oh look, this is futile!

A: No it isn't.

M: I came here for a good argument.

A: No you didn't; you came here for an argument.

M: Well an argument is not the same as contradiction.

A: it Can be.

M: No it can't. An argument is a collected series of statements

to establish a definite proposition.

A: No it isn't.

M: Yes it is! It isn't just contradiction.

A: Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary


M: But it isn't just saying 'No it isn't.'

A: Yes it is!

M: No it isn't!

M: Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just

the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person


A: No it isn't.

M: Yes it is!

A: Not at all.

M: Now look--

A: *Rings bell*

Thank you. Good Morning.

M: What?

A: That's it. Morning.

M: But I was just getting interested.

A: Sorry, the five minutes is up.

M: That was never five minutes just now!

A: Afraid it was.

M: No it wasn't.

A: Sorry; I'm not allowed to argue anymore.

M: What?!

A: If you want me to go on arguing, you'll have to pay for another five minutes.

M: But that was never five minutes just now. (pause) Oh come on!

A: *Hums*

M: This is ridiculous.

A: I'm very sorry, but I told you I'm not allowed to argue unless you've paid.

M: Ah, all right. *pays money* There you are

A: Thank you.

M: Well?

A: Well what?

M: That was never five minutes just now.

A: I told you, I'm not allowed to argue unless you've paid.

M: I just paid!

A: No you didn't.


A: You didn't.

M: I DID!!

A: You didn't.

M: I DID!!!

M: Look, I don't want to argue about that.

A: Well I'm very sorry, but you never paid.

M: Aha. Well if I didn't pay, why are you arguing? Got you!

A: No you haven't.

M: Yes I have. If you're arguing, I must have paid.

A: Not necessarily. I could be arguing in my spare time.

M: Oh I've had enough of this.

A: No you haven't.

M: Oh Shut up.

*Man leaves*

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Spanking: Appropriate or Harmful?

Note: As a student pursuing my Bachelors in Psychology, the topic was sure to come up. So here are some of my thoughts, as presented in a paper I was assigned to write.

Some studies lump all types of spanking and corporal punishment together, and have shown that, all together, it's not emotionally or psychologically healthy for children. One study discriminated a bit more between types of corporal punishment, based on frequency and intensity, and discovered that occasional and mild spanking of preschoolers is harmless.(Ballie, 2001) Studies that discriminate more between types of corporal punishment are needed to debunk the myth that all spanking is either abusive or damaging to the child. True abuse is defined as follows: the willful infliction of a cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or any injury that results in a traumatic condition.(California "Child Abuse" & Corporal Injury Laws, n.d.)

Now I need address the following terms, for the sake of clarity: discipline, punishment, positive discipline, and corporal punishment. Discipline is the process of teaching someone and raising them up to follow a specific path; this is similar to discipling someone, or discipleship. The word discipline, though, is most often used to refer to negative consequences that lead to appropriate learning. Positive discipline is a subset of discipline, and refers only to discipline that helps children feel connected, is respectful and encouraging, is effective in the long-term, teaches, and invited children to discover their capabilities.(About Positive Discipline, n.d.) Punishment, on the other hand, is more of “this for that,” or “an eye for an eye.” The attitude of “You destroyed my property, so I will hurt you.” This is a different motivation from the desire to train up a child. Finally, corporal punishment is the intentional infliction of physical pain, and can be for punishment or discipline, and can be harsh or gentle.

Today, in fact, a news article came out surrounding a situation in which this very question came up: At what point does discipline move from corporal punishment to physical abuse? A video of a Texas judge beating his 16-year-old daughter with his belt went viral, and while some think that it's acceptable discipline, a large group of people have responded with outrage.( I think that the situation fell on the side of “physical abuse” rather than appropriate discipline. Where is the line drawn? I believe that the line should be drawn with consideration to six aspects:

  • Length/Intensity: Obviously, if a spanking is too long, it no longer serves the purpose of teaching or training, but just inflicts pain. A seemingly endless spanking also can quality as cruel and can result in a traumatic condition. An appropriate length might be 4 swats, or for a really serious offense, 12, but not more than that. Intensity refers to how hard the child is hit, and with what instrument. Belts and wooden items are much more dangerous than hands or rods which are flexible and designed not to cause damage to a child. However, on very young children, even a flexible rob would be way too intense.
  • Anger: This is extremely important. Disciplining a child in anger does sever the connection there, destroys trust, and is more about calming the parent than growing and teaching the child. The example given, that “a parent might lose patience, respond with anger, and spank the child” would be completely inappropriate. If the parent is angry, they must wait until they are not angry before attempting any manner of discipline, save for restraint.
  • Unpredictability: I also cannot overemphasize the importance of this aspect. There are two elements of predictability. The first element is that the child knows that a spanking will follow, if they break whatever rule is involved. The spanking cannot be a surprise, or it seems unjust. Additionally, it's very important that the child know how long the spanking will be. There's a huge difference between 4 swats and 39, and if the child doesn't know which they are going to get, it can be completely terrifying and leave the child feeling powerless. Predictable punishment, though, seems much more reasonable and just to a child.
  • Purpose: This goes back to the whole discipline/punishment idea. If the purpose is to train the child, the child senses that, and it's part of the connection between parent and child. It will also lead to reasonable measures of discipline which are only designed to help the child. For instance, at the of time of discipline, the parent should talk over with the child what was done wrong, why it was wrong, what should be done differently in the future, and should address the child's thoughts about any difficulties that might get in the way of better behavior in the future. If the purpose is punitive, the child will sense this also, and is more likely to be resentful. Also, the punishments are more likely to be unreasonable, and based on the irritation of the adult. Additionally, it should never be about control, but about teaching and growth.
  • Opportunity for reconciliation: After discipline, it's important that the child have the opportunity to receive comfort and reconnect with the adult, and feel completely forgiven. Re-establishing this connection is crucial to the child's development and feeling of being loved and belonging. This helps let the child know that he or she is loved and accepted, even though the behavior in question was not acceptable.
  • Age: The question of “when is a child too old to be spanked” is a good question. I don't know exactly, and I think it would depend on the maturity level of the child. Ultimately, though, as children grow to be adolescents, pre-teens, and teenagers, the dynamic between parent and child changes. It's no longer just a “command-obey” sort of relationship. Young adults are trying to figure out who they are, as separate from their parents. Spanking pre-teens and teens can be devastating to the relationship, and can cause humiliation, mental distress, and embarrassment. It breaks trust and leads to a lack of respect.

These are the six aspects that mark the difference between long-term effective and ineffective physical punishment, and between abuse that tears a child down and discipline that builds the child up. I have based this on reading I have done, and also on a lot of personal experience and things that I have personally witnessed in the lives of others. More research needs to be done regarding spanking, and it needs to be research that discriminated between the types of spankings. For example, angry spanking should not be measured together with calm and forewarned discipline. Needless to say, though, there are many other methods that can be used to train and to discipline children besides corporal punishment. Having the child practice a better way of doing things, giving the child additional chores, time-outs, having the child make restitution or apologize, having the child do 10 pushups, or other techniques can also be precisely what is needed.


About Positive Discipline. (n.d.). Positive Discipline - Solutions for Parents and Teachers to reate Respectful Relationships in Homes and Schools. Retrieved November 4, 2011, from

Argosy University, (2010). Module 1. Retrieved on October 30, 2011 from

Ballie, R. (2001). Spanking study gets big play in the media. American Psychological Association (APA). Retrieved November 3, 2011, from

California "Child Abuse" & Corporal Injury Laws | Penal Code 273d pc. (n.d.). California

Dowd, N. E., Singer, D. G., & Wilson, R. F. (2006). Handbook of children, culture, and violence. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.

Marshall, M. J. (n.d.). Stop Spanking. Stop Spanking. Retrieved November 3, 2011, from

VIDEO: Family law judge beats his disabled daughter over downloaded music. - Local News - FM News 101.1 - Chicago. (2011). Home - FM News 101.1 - Chicago. Retrieved November 4, 2011, from