Friday, February 23, 2007



Lobbying on Section 59

While Sue Bradford's Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Bill now looks set to pass, we shouldn't take it for granted. The fundies and child-beaters will be pulling out all the stops to try and persuade MPs over the next three weeks, and so if we want to see the bill become law, those of us who support it need to do the same. So, if you'd like to improve the odds and shore up support, try contacting these MPs and urging them to vote against the amendments and for the bill:

If you're concerned, you might also want to contact the Maori Party MPs: Tariana Turia, Pita Sharples, Hone Harawira and Te Ururoa Flavell, or some of Labour's social conservatives (e.g. Harry Duynhoven) as well. I'm fairly certain they'll support the bill unamended, but it won't hurt to thank them for their second reading vote.

While I've included email addresses, the best way of lobbying MPs on this sort of issue is a letter. Just address it to [MP], Parliament Buildings, Wellington, and it will get there. And remember, no stamp required - postage to Parliament is free.

Do people think I should set up a pledge on this, to try and push people who would otherwise waver?

8 comments:

I'm a tad curious:

Do you think that this legislation will prevent Kahui style killings?

Do you think it'll be a good use of limited police resources to attend everytime a kid is given a light smack on the thigh, bum or hand?

Do you think all the opposition to this bill comes from serious fundamentalists and child-beaters?

Do you think it is wrong for a parent to cause their child 'transitory and trifling discomfort'?

Posted by Oliver : 2/23/2007 01:10:00 PM

I think a pledge would be an excellent idea I/S :)

Posted by zANavAShi : 2/23/2007 01:19:00 PM

Oliver,

1. Do you think that this legislation will prevent Kahui style killings?

On its own, no. However extending zero tolerance to violence into the home (where -almost all- serious violence occurs) is desirable in itself. Further, countries that have outlawed smacking do have higher standards of all round child welfare, so it is merely one part of a much bigger picture. To ask the Kahui question (people with apparently little concern for any law) is really just silly. The law has much wider benefit in terms of raising the standards we require of all parents, that is, removing the luxury of a defence to the assault of your children when you lose your temper under the inevitable stresses of parenting, parental accountability is not an end to be so flippantly ignored.

2. Do you think it'll be a good use of limited police resources to attend everytime a kid is given a light smack on the thigh, bum or hand?

Any person who believes the Police would attend for every light smack has only a slight connection with practical reality. However, any violence towards a child, that is practical to attend, should be attended by the Police, as it would be a crime. This same argument was forwarded when the right to use force to correct ones wife was removed "How will the constabulary manage to attend every time one man cuffs his wife in correction for disobedience?" Naturally (and only very recently), society wants and requires the Police to act in such situations. It is about setting a higher societal standard.

3. Do you think all the opposition to this bill comes from serious fundamentalists and child-beaters?
I would add the groups "wife beaters" and "backwards thinking dinosaurs" (like the we 'own' our family brigade), however I believe you are after I/S's opinion.

4. Do you think it is wrong for a parent to cause their child 'transitory and trifling discomfort'?

Yes. A taser is transitory? and one could argue it to be trifling, the Borrows amendment would let a jury decide in such a situation, and oh what wonderous results they throw out. So you personally might think it isn't 'trifling' (what an odd word), but no one cares what you think (unless you get on a jury for one of these), as it becomes a question of fact for any given jury in any given situation.

And how does one measure 'pain' or 'discomfort', if , for example a parent manages to violently assault their child without doing any tangible physical damage? Such acts may even be ok under the Borrows amendment, we wont know till they get to court. Reasonableness may in fact protect children more out of the two.

Also, the Borrows Amendment requires the 'causation' of some kind of effect on the child (that effect could be required to be extreme or whatever pain threshold any given jury decides is allowable in any given situation), it does not in any way address violence by an adult. So, an adult can even escape liability if an attempt at serious harm to the child (an assault if on an adult) only results in mild trauma to the child. It censures the result, not the act. And throws up even more loopholes. Would you would care to imagine "I only wished to exercise my right to administer trifling and transitory pain and in doing so accidentally ..." keeping in mind intent is crucial in the criminal law. Yuk.

The Borrows amendment is a complete dog.

Posted by james cairney : 2/23/2007 02:05:00 PM

James,

I think the intention of the borrows amendment is to permit a smack but not anything more.

1) the court should take that intent into account, the jury might still get that wrong but that is an issue with using juries in general. If you don't like it you should be worried about the hundreds of other things they make decisions on too.

this is a bit similar to the 'police will charge every parent' argument anyway.

2) the poor wording argument is a technical one, I welcome the proposal of an ideal amendment.

GNZ

Posted by Anonymous : 2/23/2007 04:10:00 PM

GNZ, the intent that matters is that of the parent who causes pain to the child.

The court will find the law in the words used in the light of Parliament's purpose, ie to allow the parents to use pain to punish, if they only wanted to allow a smack, they would have stated that.

The poor wording cannot be fixed by allowing violence against children, unless you wish to remain with the unsatisfactory status quo (unsatisfactory in the eyes of nearly all New Zealanders, hence the support for Borrows as well as Bradford). Borrows wants to define an elephant, reasonableness is not as straight forward as you think, and I can assure you that 'trifling' is no better, it simply misses the point, allowing violence against children.

As for a better worded amendment, that would be Bradford's Bill, clean in law, it does not leave juries defining elephants, and it censures violent acts towards children, no matter how 'trifling'.

I'm not normally one for anecdotal evidence, but I just heard a story about a Korean father who continually slapped his 13 year old daughter about the face (on the golf course, infront of other players), because she kept mis-hitting chip shots (she was a competetive golfer). Correction that is both transitory and trifling.
One could make a lame argument about the 'correction' being less than sufficient, but it is an argument that should not even be being had.

Posted by james cairney : 2/23/2007 05:13:00 PM

> if they only wanted to allow a smack, they would have stated that.

Are you disputing that is what he wants ? i.e. calling him a liar?

And it seems to apply the other way too... do they want this enforced or not? What parental techniques do they explicitly permit? which do they want to be charged?

> unless you wish to remain with the unsatisfactory status quo

I think that is a dead duck. Once the debate is opened it would be hard to end with 'let's just leave it ambiguous'

> it simply misses the point, allowing violence against children.

to clarify, what definition of violence are you using? (with any luck it will lead to us having a good amendment!)

> but I just heard a story about a Korean father who continually slapped his 13 year old daughter about the face (on the golf course, infront of other players).

Would that father be charged with assault without s59? what about with the amendment? would he be convicted?

what will the golf players think of his actions if s59 is repealed? what if it is repealed with the amendment?

Another interesting thing is that poor parenting and most 'normal' assault are different sorts of crimes in terms of what is required to prevent them. One might want to address them separately as opposed to being so hell-bent on merging them.
GNZ

Posted by Anonymous : 2/23/2007 06:49:00 PM

Here is an example from my experience.

My baby and my pet for unknown reason like each other, the baby likes the pet in particular. The baby if given the chance will approach the pet and play with it eventually pulling its fur and generally inflicting considerable pain on it.

The pet will eventually move to defend itself and it will be more than a match for the baby.

Now my policy is to just be vigilant enough to keep them apart (which since pet can move right across the house in a few seconds’ means he spends a lot of time locked out). I have no plans of starting smacking.

BUT - some parents might smack the child when it starts to hurt the pet.

Should I do that?
Should I not be allowed that tool?
What if I find being vigilant isn't enough and baby starts to get hurt?
Will it be my fault for not smacking earlier?
Do I have to kill the innocent pet? (Sending it to the SPCA would be a death sentence)

GNZ

Posted by Anonymous : 2/23/2007 07:11:00 PM

The law has much wider benefit in terms of raising the standards we require of all parents,

Here are some of my standards as a parent:

1. No smacking.
2. No time-out.
3. No confiscation of my child's property.
4. No forced attendence at school, with a home schooling an option.
5. Common preferences, not compromise.
6. Not my way or the highway.
etc etc

These standards are based on the principle that coercion is harmful. Now, is this what *you* mean by setting the standard higher? Because if it is you should be calling for the abolition of our coercive schooling systems. And if it is not, then drop the "we".

Now are you actually calling for the abolition of compulsory and coercive schooling, you who profess to be so interested in child childfare?

And do you know how much the State actually gets in the way of parents like myself who have fully taken on-board the principle of non-coercion?

I would love to see a revolution in the way we school children and that non-coercive child-rearing be the norm. But this isn't going to happen by passing laws - it has to happen by persuasion.

Coercing parents to be non-coercive. Kinda ironic isn't it?

that is, removing the luxury of a defence to the assault of your children when you lose your temper under the inevitable stresses of parenting, parental accountability is not an end to be so flippantly ignored.

Ignored by whom?

Posted by Brian S : 2/25/2007 11:23:00 PM