Sunday, July 04, 2004

Limited smacking

A beauty contest for goats in Croatia, because even Croatian goat-herders need love. No picture of the winner.

Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who may have the most English English accent ever, has actually admitted that he was wrong to assert before the war that Saddam Hussein had huge stockpiles of WMDs. “We were wrong on the stockpiles; we were right on the intention,” he now says. Saddam was indicted for these thought crimes last week. The problem with this “right on the intention” argument is that it paints him as so incompetent--not a single vial of anthrax, not even a teeny bit of yellowcake in spite of his intentions--that he must have been even less of a threat.

There must be a good segue between that item and the next, which is the ongoing debate in Britain over child-beating. Some people are now advocating a compromise, known as “limited smacking,” which in Victorian times was known as “reasonable chastisement” (and applied to wives as well). Reasonable chastisement still exists in law as a defense for causing your children actual harm; the limited smacking approach would remove this as a defense. In a choice of language that might make the Brits think about their child-rearing practices, a ban on smacking would be attacked as redolent of the “nanny state.” And the parties are allowing MPs a free vote, in a procedure known as “removing the whip.”

The real military danger in Iraq may be in the Coca Cola cans, which turn out to be better equipped than the Iraqi army ever was. There is a promotion, and some Coke cans have GPS devices and mobile phones, which the Pentagon worries could be used to track soldiers down, or which soldiers could use to listen in on their superiors. Here’s a sentence you never expected to see in a news story--or maybe you did: “The Coca-Cola company said the prize cans posed no threat to national security.”

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