Letter from Norm Lee to Editor, Tom King, Eastern Arizona Courier
January 3, 2003

Dear Tom -

I am not your enemy; I wish to be your ally. I had a legitimate grievance, having been treated so shabbily by you, Schneider and your Courier staff that it amounted to abuse. Now that my protest has been expressed, I resolve to let it be.

I do not accept abuse graciously, even as I understand that the abuser behaves so toward children as a direct consequence of having been victimized by his/her parents. I doubt that your childhood was more severe than mine. My mother abandoned me when I was age four, my father when I was age seven. So I was obliged to work for my keep from age 7 to 12. I was disallowed friends or playmates, and humiliated in school for my ragged clothes, bare feet, and odd behavior.

My nights, summer and winter, were spent in an unheated barn - this was in Northern Vermont in the Thirties, where winter temperatures routinely dipped far below zero. Bad enough to carry feed and water for cow, calf and pigs, I had to plant two acres of produce all spring, and haul a cart full of the stuff through the streets all summer, selling it door to door. Ostensibly, it was for income; its actual function was to cover for the illegal abortion racket for which I worked.

I was beaten brutally and regularly with a hardwood stick - not for misbehavior - I was far too defeated for that, but for the sin of being a child. It was then that I made my first Resolution: I would overcome the emotional scars inflicted by this tortuous treatment if it took me all my life. And it has. Then 40 years ago I made another Resolution: I would find a way to bring up children not only without spanking or other corporal punishment, I would develop, through academic and in-family research, a non-punitive approach to parenting that dispensed with ALL punishment. I did that, and proved its effectiveness with my two sons, now age 38 and 39.

I came to Arizona to save what remained of my lungs after those five Vermont winters freezing in a wet bed. I came to this valley, six years ago, because it was the narrowest valley I could find. In retirement from college teaching and magazine publishing, I made another resolution: I would occupy whatever years were left to me by contributing, without fee, my best to my adopted community. The most valuable thing I could give was my expertise in my new paradigm in childrearing, parenting without punishing. I would charge not one drachma for my know-how, hard-won over 40 years and terribly expensive in time, money and work.

Pro bono, as a professional I gave lectures, seminars, and worked on several committees, and created two newsletter and hundreds of articles and letters, and suffered abuse while handing out non-punitive literature at Wal-Mart doors. I knew better than to expect appreciation; for my efforts I was thanked exactly once: I received a certificate of appreciation from the local child protection office, the people your publisher regards as a threat to him, (as they are to all abusers). But not one word of encouragement have I seen, in these six years, in your paper. Which is quite acceptable. But when you cross the line into public abuse, as you have in the past month, you must be confronted. I took all the cruel treatment I could handle when, as a child, I quivered in terror receiving the blows of a psychopath who did not recognize the pain and fright a child endures. I have endured the worst - and you are not the worse. You are just closed-minded and closed-hearted.

My Resolution for 2002 read that I would STEP UP and intervene whenever witnessing someone hitting a child. Though I will be age 74 on March 2, I renew that vow this week.

My Resolution for 2003 is to make peace with Tom Jackson King, to become his ally and supporter - in all except his pro-spanking editorial policy. To assist and defend not so much Editor King as the 5-year-old Tom who was spanked by the very people he looked to for love and protection.

My best wishes for your happiness, Tom. And for the children, too. - Norm Lee


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