Monday, May 16, 2005



No pity for sadists

When Rodney Hide and Judith Collins used Parliamentary Privilege to allege that David Benson-Pope had seriously assaulted students while a teacher in the 80's and 90's, I suggested they take it to the police. Several of the students have now come forward and repeated the allegations to Three News, and I urge them to do likewise. I have no pity for sadists, and what Benson-Pope is alleged to have done clearly constitutes assault, even by the standards of a time which allowed corporal punishment. The allegations should be investigated by the police, and if there is a case, Benson-Pope should be charged and tried. In the meantime, he should be stood down from his ministerial role until the public is satisfied that there is no case to answer.

As for the Prime Minster's concerns about "digging up the past", too often corporal punishment served as a cover for sadism, and I am more than happy for elderly teachers who were too eager with the cane and who went beyond the bounds of the law to be dragged out into the light of day and prosecuted.

17 comments:

Agreed. But the point is that he is a hypocrite not that he should be prosecuted.

The fact is only sadistic teachers ever caned. Hiding behind the "it was school policy at the time" that BP does is indefensible. It is illegal because it was torture. Was then, would be so now.

I listened to the bill banning corporal punishment passing through parliament in 1989 with Trevor de Cleene banging on about how it never did him any harm. As a student at the time who had never been quite bad enough to warrant the strap (or was it the cane - I can't remember which torture device was used at the time) it was important to me. That legislation was one of the great modernising reforms of the last twenty years.

I feel satisfied that the publicity of his past is satisfactory punishment than the rigmarole of a prosecution.

Posted by t selwyn : 5/16/2005 07:35:00 PM

I fully support taking it to the police, that is the proper thing to do, not make a political news story out of it.
DBP has stepped down for an inquiry, good, it will hopefully clear him.
I do have to question the motives of those who have spoken out, surely if DPB was a sadist then more people would have come forward, secondary teachers deal with 100+ kids each year, it is perfectly reasonable that five would hold a grudge big enough and long enough.

Posted by Greg Stephens : 5/16/2005 07:54:00 PM

Greg -

I'm sorry to lower the tone, but people like you fucking make me sick. (Sorry, Idiot, feel free to delete this if you like but I've had it.) People like you are exactly the reason why I didn't report the fellow student who raped me at boarding school twenty years ago - because my motives would be questioned, that I had to have an agenda or a grudge that I could only satisfy with a false allegation of sexual assault. Because I must have done something to deserve it, right?
Because I thought I was the only person this had ever happened to - and I found out years later that was far from true.

Do you actually care whether the allegations are true or not, or only how damaging they might be to your precious Labour Party? I've lived in a culture where bullying and petty sadism were the norm, and people like you where just the enablers who kept the wheels turning.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 5/16/2005 09:43:00 PM

Idiot- i commend you for posting on this issue (didn't think you would). Nothing has been said on here about misleading the house though, which is, sorry Greg..... a political news story!

Posted by Sector 7G : 5/16/2005 10:22:00 PM

Inquiries exist to inquire, and if a trial is called for then trials exist to separate the guilty from the innocent. It's waited for decades, give it a few weeks.

But Greg, while I agree that prejudging him is unwise at this point, the same is true of prejudging his accusers.

t selwyn, your comment that 'only sadistic teachers ever caned' does not match my experience. Perhaps you are too young to have seen the caning culture in full flight. It was simply normal.

Posted by Icehawk : 5/16/2005 10:30:00 PM

Greg: The guy is a government minister. Politics is inescapable. We just have to make sure that they are not allowed to influence the inquiry into his actions.

And just to make this clear: any inquiry has to focus around criminal wrongdoing. If Benson-Pope simply "administered corporal punishment in line with school policies" back when it was legal, then that is not a crime (and while it makes him a bad person IMHO, he has changed his mind, and I can accept that). But some of what is alleged went beyond the bounds of the law even in the benighted 80's - and if it is substantiated, he shoudl be prosecuted just like any other criminal.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/16/2005 11:43:00 PM

Idiot:

Indeed. I find it rather ironic that BP's defenders claim on the one hand that he's entitled to natural justice (which I agree with) but on the other question the motives, integrity and honesty of his accusers.

As you also pointed out, if even half of the allegations are proved to be true they are way beyond the law at the time. If gagging and binding students was legal - or part of Bayfield policy - I'll eat all my hats with a nice cheese sauce.

BTW, sorry for my earlier post. Shouldn't type while angry. :)

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 5/17/2005 06:10:00 AM

With regards to implementing corporal punishment in line with school policies (e.g., in the 80s), I seem to recall that this was a job requirement for some teachers, and in particular for the "tougher" male teachers.

If this was the case, then it was not solely the realm of sadists ... it may have been part of the "sanctity" of the employment contract? Not that this made it right, but it does provide context.

Posted by dc_red : 5/17/2005 08:22:00 AM

I've heard a lot of comments about caning the last days, and it seems the issue wasn't the caning, but the guys who liked to cane. Who took sadistic pleasure in it and did it at every opportunity.

If Abu Pope had just caned, there wouldn't have been any issue at all.

Of course, teachers all alone by themselves shouldn't be allowed to cane, but that's a different issue.

Posted by Berend de Boer : 5/17/2005 08:42:00 AM

The production of any number of accusers from someones past who can present trumped up allegations may be suitable for a Stalinist show trial (which is what a lot of so-called scandal actually is these days - media driven Stalinist show trials), but its disgraceful in a modern democracy.

I would argue that what DBP did or did not do as a teacher and its relative morality in the context of the time is now unknown and unknowable. More importantly its impossible now to pass sensible judgement. I find idiots attitude of generational witch hunts laughably inconsistant to his vigorous defence of due process and noble impicit belief in the power of individuals to learn and change through redemption and life.

At the end of the day, for every accuser there can be a nay sayer, a person who will say x or y was a fair and good individual. Lets not allow show trials and witch hunts to set the agenda of those willing to enter into public service

We should never forget that Churchill, a magnificent hedonist, had 20 years from his death already drunk enough Champagne to fill half a railway carriage, ate voraciously, smoked, hunted and shot. He would never win an election if little men and poisoness blue rincers like Rodney Hide and Judith Collins had been around with their mate Duncan Garner in the 20's and 30's.

Hitler, of course, would have made the perfect modern politician, a decorated war hero, a teetotalling, vegetarian non-smoker who passed three animal protection laws in his first months of power and promised that after the war he would "see to the problem" of his countrymen's eating and drinking habits.

Personally I think this current debate is showing the worst of a media witch hunt, a trumped up series of unsubstantiated allegations by grubby muckrackers and disgruntled individuals supported by a frothing media frenzy of faux hypocricy and I personally find the whole affair disgusting.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/17/2005 09:29:00 AM

Perhaps you shouldn't be accusing other of running 'Stalinist show trials' and 'witch hunts' while posting anonymously. One might just be opening oneself to charges of hypocrisy.

BTW, thanks for bringing up Churchill. I think you have a lot to learn from this great man if you see no difference between liking a drink and a smoke (which were very well know habits of WSC) and a teacher ball-gagging and tying down a student.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 5/17/2005 10:07:00 AM

Good on you I/S for expressing your opinion and not following a "party-line" on this issue. Bloggers from both camps would do well to follow your example.

respect from the right.
spector

Posted by spector : 5/17/2005 10:26:00 AM

well the tying down with tape thing just doesn't pass the sniff-test to me.. logistically I can't imagine it, and it's just too *weird*. Maybe it's been misreported.
I have no time for real abusers, but you gotta be extra-careful about judging yesterday's behaviours by todays standards.. let's not forget back then smacking kids was pretty well mainstream, and the nuns at my primary school routinely strapped an entire class at a time.. seems pretty weird looking back, but that's just how it was.

Posted by huskynut : 5/17/2005 01:47:00 PM

Anon: of course its knowable. If we accept that we can come to a just verdict in historical cases of sexual abuse n years after the fact, then we can also do it in cases of assault.

As for "generational witch hunts", I want the sins of the past to be fully accounted for. I take it as a given that the full protections of due process and natural justice should apply - as they should in every other case. But if, within these limits, we can prove that a teacher abused their authority and engaged in punishment which was criminal by the standards of the day, I want them to receive the appropriate punishment for it. And there's nothing inconsistent at all about that.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/17/2005 01:49:00 PM

I hope Hide and Collins are absolutely spotless in every respect in their personal and political lives, going way back to the year dot. I hope Labour's digging up everything it can on these two. They deserve all they are going to get.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/17/2005 08:52:00 PM

Anonymous -

So do I - the hypocrisy would be too delicious for words. Yet again, I also find it rather sweet that this kind of post always comes from A. Nonymous.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 5/17/2005 11:40:00 PM

Craig: I think it goes without saying that if you dig up other people's dirty laundry, you'll get your own excavated in return. Not that any skeletons in anyone else's closets can excuse Benson-Pope if these stories are substantiated and the behaviour found to be criminal.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/18/2005 12:53:00 AM