Mississippi’s business and civic leaders want to sell the Magnolia State as a great place to do business, to raise a family, to educate children. So excuse them for the revulsion they must feel at the cell phone video that aired on CNN, YouTube and everywhere else the last couple of weeks.
Viewing a belt-wielding adult lashing a bent over youngster inside Jackson’s Murrah High School gym had to draw a range of reactions — horrible, terrible, disgusting, pick one. It’s equally as hard to shake the sound reverberations that come with a belt striking skin, time and again. That popping sound, like a firearm going off, gave testament to the pain the adult inflicted on the child.
The leaders knew in that instant that with each strike, the image enhancement they’ve managed for Mississippi suffered some. How do you sell the state as an economic development destination when it is portrayed from Boston to Bakersfield as a condoner of violence against children and an employer of bullies?
As for countering this sort of thing, let’s start with the Murrah basketball coach, school officials and the daily newspaper putting the euphemisms back where they belong, back where they can’t do any harm.
When Aunt Tillie dies you can say she “passed away.” That harms no one and still reflects the finality of her departure.
When you pull out a five-pound weightlifting belt and start wailing on a child, you aren’t “paddling” the child. Nor are you administering “corporal punishment.”
You’re whipping the child. You’re abusing the child.
Fact is, you’re assaulting the child.
Business must make it its business to emphasize that message to school officials across the state.