The below video shows Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge, William Adams of Texas, reminding his 16-year-old daughter, Hallie, of the apostle Paul’s commandment to obey your father and mother (see 4:20 in the clip) as he beats the living shit out of her for downloading music from the Internet. He didn’t know that his daughter’s webcam was on as he was beating her. The video is from 2004. Hallie is 23-years-old now and posted it to YouTube to bring awareness to child abuse.
So, as you watch this, know that it’s not just Judge Adams who’s administering the beating. In the shadows is God. And his Law. And the words of the apostle Paul. As Judge Adams beats her, he also alludes to other ideas readily associated with biblical discipline (such as female submission, another Pauline favorite—not to mention a favorite of Islamists).
The overwhelming initial response to this video has rightly been outrage. But expect right-wing traditionalists to soon assert themselves and defend the judge for upholding “family values”—the father’s lordship and prerogative over the control of his household. The judge has already been quoted as saying it’s no big deal, and he is, to date, unrepentant. He thinks of his daughter, even as an adult, as a problem child.
In terms of counter-sympathy, the judge is likely betting on the Bush-Cheney Orwellian torture effect to kick in: if torture can be redefined as enhanced interrogation, why can’t child abuse be redefined as godly discipline? Here’s one of the child correction passages in the Bible (for those interested):
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. (Proverbs 13:24, KJV)
Imagine how many children, throughout the millenia, have been maimed, and even killed, under the provocation of such “sacred” passages.
Sometimes it’s hard not to agree with Christopher Hitchens that religion poisons everything.
Here’s Forbes magazine explaining that Judge Adams is unlikely to be prosecuted for his behavior, and how the incident is likely to stir up the U.S. home-schooling community:
The statute of limitations for inflicting bodily harm on a child is five years in Texas, so the Judge will unlikely face criminal charges.
But whether Judge Adam is punished will, in time, become secondary to the much-larger debate over corporal punishment. As the Ending Corporate Punishment in Schools Act sits in Congress, there remains a whole school of thought in conservative circles that advocates for corporal punishment. Conservative Christian home-schoolers have been called out for following the draconian tenets of the book, “To Train Up A Child,” which has been implicated in the death of 13-year-old Hana Williams, an adopted child from Ethiopia living in Washington, and four-year-old Sean Paddock, the adopted child of Lynn Paddock of North Carolina.
And here’s the video:
Texas Judge William Adams:
As a footnote, this whole abuse story suggests to me, in a weird way, that the world is actually becoming a better place. Throughout much of human history, such violence was the norm. It’s now generally considered deviant. That’s progress.