Punishment on the point of offense

Punishment on the point of offense is a principle sometimes applied in corporal punishment that says that the body part by which, or where, the offense was committed is the one that will be punished.


Examples are:

An interesting aspect is that the thinking behind such an approach can lead to the notion that the offending body part, not the offending person, is actually being punished. A funny extrapolation of this thinking is whenever an inanimate object is slapped, e.g. for being out of order or malfunctioning. Historically, there is the anecdote of Xerxes I of Persia, who after his failure to build a bridge over the Hellespont strait, ordered the sea itself to be whipped three hundred times.


Equally often, the punishment is given on a body part that has nothing to do at all with the offense - typically the back or the buttocks. Interestingly, even in those cases sometimes the uninvolved-in-the-crime body part is spoken of as being the offender, e.g. in the phrase "Your naughty bottom needs a good spanking!". Here, the adjective "naughty" is given to the offender's bottom just because it happens to be the body part that is going to suffer for his or her offense. Obviously, this practice helps in some way to overcome the subconscious feeling that it's "unfair" to punish an "innocent" body part — so if the body part is going to be punished, it helps to think of it as being "guilty" itself.