By Ben Sullivan

Leave it to former Sixers great Charles Barkley to take an out of the box position on child abuse.

Barkley stepped forward to explain the arrest of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, saying that “whippin’” is a Southern tradition.

Barkley, TNT’s NBA analyst, was part of a CBS round-table discussion on the Peterson and Ray Rice issues and he was, as usual, outspoken about the distinction between child abuse and child discipline.

“I’m from the South,” he said (via “I understand Boomer’s [Esiason] rage and anger … but he’s a white guy and I’m a black guy. I don’t know where he’s from, I’m from the south. Whipping — we do that all the time. Every black parent in the South is going to be in jail under those circumstances.”

Jim Rome countered that “it doesn’t matter where you’re from: Right is right and wrong is wrong” and Barkley replied: “I don’t believe that because, listen, we spank kids in the South. I think the question about whether Adrian Peterson went overboard — Listen, Jim, we all grow up in different environments. Every black parent in my neighborhood in the South would be in trouble or in jail under those circumstances.”

Peterson was charged with recklessly or negligently injuring a child in connection with allegedly leaving his child covered with welts and cuts on his legs, arms and genitals after striking him with a switch. “I think there’s a fine line. Jim, I’ve had many welts on my legs,” Barkley said. “I’ve gotten beat with switches — and I don’t even like the term. When the media talks about it, ‘beating a child’– we called it ‘spanking’ or ‘whipping’ our kids.”

Rome equated “open wounds or bruises on a body” with “a beating.”

“I think those pictures [of the child] are disturbing,” Barkley said. “And I think Adrian said, ‘I went overboard.’ But as far as being from the South, we all spanked our kids — I got spanked, me and my two brothers”–

Rome: “But then, Chuck, not now, right? 1964 is one thing, 2014 is another. Maybe we need to rethink this thing.”

Barkley replied, “And I totally agree with that. But I think we have to really be careful trying to teach other parents how to discipline their kids. That’s a very fine line.”

And, as for Rice and how the NFL handled the issue, he had this to say:

“The NFL obviously fumbled the entire Ray Rice situation, but we are bringing awareness to domestic abuse, that’s a good thing. … Most men would not ever try to get any type of mental help if they felt like they needed it. Those are two positives that can come out of this.”

“Listen, you can’t hit a woman. I feel bad that that tape was ever shown. Ray Rice made a tragic mistake and he has to live with that. But I do hope some owner has the courage — and it’s going to take tremendous courage — to give Ray Rice another chance.

Peterson’s arrest on a charge of reckless or negligent injury of a child sparked a debate on the difference between child discipline and child abuse. Peterson is accused of striking his child with a switch (a tree branch stripped of leaves) and leaving him with welts and cuts on his arms, legs and genitals.

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