RWS Comment on Article: Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child

Note that the date of this article is March 23, 1969. Lennox E. Williams, who was a tireless
proponent of corporal punishment is still lobbying for use of the strap. Youth services director
O. J. Keller's career hangs in the balance in the controversy over whipping of boys. The
citizenry of Marianna should not have had the right to say anything about an ongoing
investigation involving the legislature of Florida. The fact that the state senator, representative,
county superintendent of public instruction, the mayor and local newspaper, only goes to show
how far the town of Marianna was ingrained into the dealings that went on at the Florida school
for boys.

O.J. Keller, backs up the statements made by some of the men who have a lately described the
condition that they were beaten and the results. Several made the exact statement that their
backside was completely turned back black, and tough as leather as flesh turned into crusty
scabs. Jack Blanton states that whippings invariably lead into savage beatings. The statement
made by many of the officials that carried out these whippings was that they did not care for
them and did not like whipping the boys. I have not heard one comment from any of the man
interviewed,that stated they saw any compassion whatsoever in the eyes of the man that beat
them. Instead, many speak of the gleam in their eye and a smug expression of self-satisfaction.
Given that much power over another human being inevitably leads to corruption. If you have
ever been in a fist fight and won, with your opponent laying bloody at your feet, the immediate
feeling is, I am God and you are not. The whippings became a drug to which these men
became addicted.

That there was continual trouble among the boys in 1969 is not surprising. This was at the time
when the schools were first being integrated, and was inevitable that racial tensions would
come into play. Most of the boys had been brought up on the racist ideals of their parents.
Racial change in this country has only come about after much strife, protests, marches, and
time itself. The Florida school for boys would have been a perfect microscopic example in which
the ugly head of racial injustice was bound to rear its head from the very start.

It is interesting to notice that right around 28% of the staff members at the Florida school for
boys did not join in signing a letter to the governor backing Williams bowed on corporal
punishment as opposed to director Keller and his textbook approach.