Verb trans. Mid-19th century.
[from the noun.]
Flog with a birch.
Also: birching noun M19
The action of the verb; a flogging with a birch.
"Bring back the birch!" is the oft-heard refrain of the morally-outraged tabloid-reader that ascribes virtually all of society's ills to immigrants, socialism and the abolition of corporal punishment in modern schools. Curiously, on Googling the phrase 'bring back the birch', the top three hits were for Wikipedia, The Daily Mail and The Sun; bringing back "the birch" (i.e corporal punishment) is also a stated policy of the British National Party. Hmm.
Interestingly, birching need not involve actual birch at all; rather, a birch rod can be a bundle of any leafless twigs so fashioned as to be a tool for corporal punishment. It was used as a judicial punishment in the United Kingdom until abolished in 1948 (presumably at which point society collapsed), although the Isle of Man (a Crown Dependency) has the bizarre claim-to-fame of only abolishing birching in 1976 (apparently the meddlesome European Court of Human Rights had something to say about it), although they only officially got around to repealing the law in 1993.
Do you long for an age when children will once again have their bare buttocks flogged with a birch rod?
Am I being hopelessly naive when, in fact, birching would be of great benefit to wayward modern youth?
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