Colin Farrell, of www.corpun.com
Colin Farrell, of www.corpun.com, and the Videotaped Canings of Boys in New Zealand
Note: British spelling used by Mr. Farrell has been "Americanized" just to make it uniform and to let me check it with the spell checker. Correspondence from September, 2003. -Jeff
Mr. Farrell, author of www.corpun.com, wrote and kindly pointed out that the videotaped canings of teen boys at the boy's school in New Zealand, called "Rongotai College," were not necessarily bare butt, as I stated.
For my purposes whether the boys were "bare butt" when they were caned and videotaped at school doesn't matter that much, and only a few sentences needed to be amended. The nopaddle website updates slowly, but the references have been corrected to simply say that canings were videotaped, and even so more than a few parents seemed worried about the pornographic potential. In fact the pornographic element of videotaped school spanking, caning, and paddling sessions is extremely high, even when the adolescent victims are clothed, or partially clothed as the case may be.
In any case this gave me a wonderful opportunity to correspond with someone who has done some pioneering Internet work in collecting news stories about worldwide corporal punishment. He's not an anti-paddler, or anti-CP person, so I can't call him an ally, but his site is very interesting and helpful to all researchers, so in that sense he is an asset.
Mr. Farrell also thought that 12 or 13 canings a week in a school of 600 boys was a "moderate amount of caning." He pointed out that the videotaping of these canings with the large, obvious cameras of the day were openly done with the young adolescent boy's knowledge, although the videotaping at least was apparently done without any of the parent's knowledge or consents.
I am quite certain that many school paddlings in the US today are likewise secretly videotaped, but unlike those days, the victims have no way to see the cameras, and thus the parents have no way to find out about them either. The fact is that technologically today digital spy cameras are very tiny and easily hidden. They can look like cell phones, pagers, wall clocks, or hidden in the tiny holes in perforated ceilings. Curiously in the US, which seems greatly preoccupied with child porn otherwise, the laws in all 22 paddling states either explicitly or implicitly allow paddlings to be secretly photographed or videotaped without parent's or student's knowledge or consent. I suspect Mr. Farrell would acknowledge that these types of video have a high level of pornographic interest worldwide.
Mr. Farrell also pointed out the many news articles he had on his site about the event at www.corpun.com/nzsc8110.htm and www.corpun.com/nzsc8111.htm. His information came from those press reports, "plus a little bit of inside information from someone who was there at the time."
I noted, in my reply to Mr. Farrell, that whether the caned boys were clothed or not does not change my overall view of the pornographic problems. In some ways clothed videotaped beatings that made this kind of stir makes the case that canings are pornographic by nature even stronger. By taking away the "bare butt" aspect it makes the canings much more typical of American paddlings sexually, and it shows that the videotaping of those paddlings, even with boys only as victims, fully clothed, was seen as potential child pornography by at least some parents.
We do see that regardless of support for the caner, at the very least, the school was very uncomfortable with the videotapes, and wanted them destroyed (as well as all records of their secret hearings on the subject).
I complimented Mr. Farrell on his long-running website, and asked if he would allow some of his letters and interview here to be reprinted. Here is some of that correspondence:
[Colin Farrell's reply]
Thanks for your generous remarks about my website. I try to distance it from fetish stuff. I know there are some sexual sites that link to mine, but there's nothing I can do about that. I don't ever link to them.
I'm sorry [in a review on the corpun website] that I have not been so complimentary about your site as you were to mine, but at least I have agreed with your campaign to this extent, that if there are going to be paddlings of girls at all, they should not be inflicted or witnessed by male staff. I say this not because I'm necessarily persuaded that the abuse you complain about is anything like as widespread as you suggest, but because the accusation is made, the suspicion is there, and this policy should protect schools from such criticism. It might even enable those schools or school districts that so wished to continue to use CP (with parental consent) where otherwise they might feel obliged to abolish it.
Unlike you, I have no objection to reasonable CP for boys, especially if it is an option the boy himself chooses. In a free society I don't see why boys need to be denied the choice to be spanked and get it over with. I'm not so sure about girls, of which I have no experience and where I think other issues complicate the picture. Clearly, you and I must agree to differ on these questions.
I'm of course extremely familiar -- all too familiar -- with all the arguments on all sides. At least I can usually see where people on your side of the argument are coming from, even though I tend to be unpersuaded. On the other side, people who campaign virulently in favor of CP as if it were essential for the preservation of civilization are plainly barking (I'm thinking here mainly of the fundamentalist Christian crackpots on the far right, who seem to have a quite alarming degree of influence in the USA). I'm currently living in a European country where there has been no CP for at least a century. Is society here collapsing as a result? No, of course not.
But all of this, which is the main issue for you, is really a side issue for me. For one thing I am in Europe, where the whole phenomenon (as far as schools are concerned) exists only in the past, and I have never even been to the USA. I hesitate to be too dogmatic about a culture of which I have no personal experience. For another thing my website is not supposed to be a pro or con thing, though it is sometimes difficult to get that idea across to people who are fanatically committed to one or other side of the argument. Unlike them, and you, I don't actually think the "to spank or not to spank" issue is all that important one way or the other. I simply regard the subject as very interesting as a cultural phenomenon, but not a very important policy issue. Mainly I see myself as a sort of socio-cultural historian, just collecting and presenting facts, and trying to correct misstatements of fact, which are likely to become more prevalent as CP disappears further into the past for most people in most places. Hence my approach to you over Rongotai College. Where you are fighting against paddling, I am essentially fighting, if at all, against the rewriting of history.
[Here is an edited portion of my response to Colin]
I was not offended by your comments about my site. In fact, I got a kick out of it. I expected the nopaddle site to be controversial when I put it up. Even many of the anti-paddlers don't want to be associated with it, because it is a bit too crude and graphic for many of them. [Then again, "corporal punishment" is a crude and graphic subject.]
I would have agreed with you a few years ago that females paddling and witnessing females would be a good partial fix. Since then, however, I've come across so many women who are turned on with lesbian spanking fantasies. I've also heard cases of "butch" female coaches who may well harbor a male "mounting instinct" from a bit too much testosterone. Finally, with spy cameras everywhere, and considering that about half of spanking pornography is "Female/female" for whatever reason, I don't think female paddlers provides very much of a safety from sadism or sexual abuse in practice.
I don't know if I was projecting my own bias, but I got the feeling from your site somehow that it is more than a little pro-CP, although subtly so since it is mostly news articles, and also a bit "M/m" sexual in tone somehow. I strongly considered linking to your site, and asked the opinion of a few of my friends. We discussed the apparent spin of the corpun site, whether it was neutral or not, and most of my advisors thought I shouldn't link to it. But I do want to mention your site here, which is why I'm glad for the chance to give your name and site in the text of the book now. It has been a help to me many times.
[Excerpts from Colin's response to me]
Well, women with lesbian fantasies, maybe there is a problem. I really wouldn't know. I should have thought F/f spanking pornography was mainly aimed at heterosexual men just like most other lesbian pornography. I am given to understand that actual lesbians don't much go in for that sort of thing. These "butch" coach women you refer to, are you absolutely sure they're not mostly a figment of men's overheated imagination? I've been sent quite a few alleged anecdotes about this kind of thing going on in Texas, often sent in by people claiming themselves to be female coaches etc., but when I've tried to pin it down, or find out more, or get any sort of corroboration, a mysterious silence descends, and I've concluded that it's probably 99% fantasy.
Anyway, if it's really a problem, my preferred solution would be simply to abolish the paddling of girls by anybody. It always used to be accepted and understood by everyone to be a guy thing, and I don't really see why we can't revert to that, now that we've all recovered from 1970s/1980s feminist delusions and discovered that males and females are different creatures after all.
As to whether my site is pro-CP: it doesn't set out to be either pro or anti, and campaigning for or against anything is not its purpose. But I do reserve the right to add in my own comments here and there, which are always clearly labeled as such. And in the opinion pieces that I occasionally reproduce from a variety of news sources I make an effort to include items from all sides of the argument. As I tried to explain in my previous message, my own views are carefully nuanced, and I am as critical of crackpot half-baked pro-CP arguments as I am of some of the more extreme anti-CP campaigns. I do think most of the really committed people on both sides see the issue too much in black-and-white terms, where ordinary common sense -- a commodity that seems to be in increasingly short supply -- tells us that the truth is probably a series of shades of grey.
Yes, it is true that most of the material on my site is M/m or M/M. At the beginning, all of it was. That just reflected my own UK background and interests. When I started the website six years ago, I had no idea that females came so much into the picture in the USA. In response to immense popular pressure, I widened the scope to include material relating to female recipients. However, the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of official CP, whether school or judicial, in most of the world where it happens at all, is applied to males, and my website does continue to reflect that reality. This still gets me into trouble with some people, because there are people (men) who are so obsessed with the CP of females that they simply cannot accept the truth that it is much less prevalent than that of males.
I am of course very aware that there is a sexual element for some people, as you can see from my review of Ian Gibson's book at www.corpun.com/books2.htm. I just think the sexual dimension is nowadays grossly over-discussed and over-reported, and is largely irrelevant anyway. As I say in the review, there are a lot of people who are into BDSM who have no personal experience of CP at all in their upbringing, so it makes no sense to accuse CP of being the "cause" of such tastes, not that it would matter in my view even if it was, since all sexual tastes are equally harmless as far as I am concerned, as long as they do no damage to anyone else. Nor do I think it would even matter if it could be shown that a school headmaster took some pleasure from whacking his students, if the whackings were fair and reasonable in themselves. In other spheres of life we regard people who enjoy their job as an asset; why not in this case? Clearly it would be unacceptable if he were deliberately contriving to carry out punishments that were unjustified, just for his own amusement, but I really don't think that is or was the norm, despite what you say on your website. For instance I cannot believe that the headmaster at my UK boys' high school in the early 1960s took any conscious pleasure from the, perhaps, two or three canings he dished out on average per day in his study. He was a rampantly heterosexual rugby-playing no-nonsense macho married man who, I'm sure, was just doing what he conceived to be a headmaster's duty in the culture of that time and place. I find it completely implausible to think that he might have been secretly lusting over the boys he was caning (I'm sure he was much more interested in his nubile young female secretary), or that some sadistic impulse was making him use the cane more often than was justified by the prevailing rules. We would have noticed it if that were so. Schoolboys are mostly not fools; they sense what is going on.
That's really all I have to say about the sexual aspect of the thing. I realize some people get very excited about it, but I don't think it plays very much part in the real-life reality, and it is the real-life reality that I am trying to reflect in my website.