(Interview Winter, 2003, all names changed)
Three-way interview with Ron and Lisa: Texas Male Principal Paddling Cheerleaders to “Promote Decency”
Ron: “My view of the US before this time was very limited and false, based mainly on TV shows and films. Like most British people, I thought of America as being more liberal and advanced than the UK. It was surprising to learn that American schoolchildren could receive corporal punishment.”
Jeff: How do you feel about Texas school law that specifically allows school personal to videotape students without their or their parent's awareness or permission? Would it bother you to find out your paddlings had been videotaped and distributed to perhaps several dozen, or several hundred, men?
Lisa: What? I had no idea that this was the case. I definitely think it’s wrong. I would be horrified to find out my paddlings had been taped. No-one should be able to do that.
[Ron’s initial letter]
I recently read your website, www.nopaddle.com, with great interest. My name is Ron. I'm 23 years old, from Scotland. My father works in the oil industry, and as a result I spent two years, mid '95-mid '97, living in Texas. I attended a public school there, in which paddling was commonplace. I have several points I want to tell you about, but I'll start with my own paddling experiences.
During my two years in Texas, I was paddled three times. Twice I got four swats, the other time I got five swats. These paddlings hurt, but did not leave me with any long lasting injuries.
My own paddlings were pretty unremarkable. I hated getting them, but I don't feel as if I was a victim of abuse or anything like that. However, I do feel that other students at my school were being abused by the paddlings that they received. In particular, I believe that certain girls were singled out and repeatedly given abusive paddlings. My feelings about this come mostly from the experiences of a girl called Lisa. She lived across the street from me and was my closest friend during my time in America. We kept in contact when I came home to Scotland, and she continued to tell me about her paddling experiences.
I would describe myself as a fairly average boy. I was not a troublemaker, but I was no angel either. I got three paddlings in two years, which is a rate of 1.5 paddlings per year. I would say Lisa was likewise generally a well-behaved girl. Nonetheless, she got 17 paddlings in four years of high school, which is a rate of more than four paddlings per year.
Although, like me, she deserved some kind of punishment for a few of those infractions, as you bring out on your site, I feel very strongly that most of her paddlings were given for no other reason than to fulfill the sexual or sadistic desire of a male administrator to paddle her. The majority of her paddlings were given for very trivial offences, such as being a couple of minutes late for class, minor dress code violations, or car parking violations. It seems to me that one man in particular eagerly looked for any opportunity to paddle her, often quite severely, no matter how minor the offence.
There are many things about her paddlings which I find particularly suspect. For example, of her 17 high school paddlings, only five were given by Mr. Harkins. The other 12 were all given by Mr. White, who was the man I believe most “looked for reasons” to paddle her.
Only twice was Lisa’s witness a female, and both of those times were when Mr. Harkins administered the paddling. Men witnessed the other three of Lisa’s paddlings by Mr. Harkins, and men witnessed all of Lisa’s 12 paddlings by Mr. White.