Thursday, February 22, 2007



A referendum on child-beating?

Having seemingly lost the battle in Parliament over smacking, the fundies and child-beaters (fronted by former United Future MP Larry Baldock) are now planning to try for a referendum under the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993. Naturally, and in keeping with previous referendum proposals, their preferred questions are extremely leading one-liners, rather than a specific piece of legislation. But fortunately, it has little chance of success. Their previous attempt - challenging prostitution law reform - fell 70,000 signatures short, and I don't really expect this one to do any better.

30 comments:

My first impression was that the question was a leading question. but It is actually hard not to be leading...

Larry Baldock's question is classic motherhood, but Sheryl Savill's question doesn't seem that bad.

the word good is a bit leading (and will be confusing in a sense if we declare in law in the mean time that there is no such thing as good smacking) But there is some sort of a consensus on what is 'good' (not that I smack - but I know what would and would not disturb me) and what other word can you use?

Does anyone have an idea for a better question?

* I am presuming the alternative is a clarification of what reasonable force is, things are different if they are suggesting (ie the referendum will result in) rampant childbeating as you imply.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/22/2007 08:33:00 PM

Children are born with the devil in them and need to be beaten regiularly to bring to God. More worrying has been the loss of a man's property rights over his wife and servant, both of whom should be thrashed for the slightest infraction lest the fabric of our society fall apart in a welter of political correctness and its fellow traveller, Marxist-Leninism.

Posted by Sanctuary : 2/23/2007 07:34:00 AM

> fundies and child-beaters

I/S, are you arguing that all people who support the right of parents to use corporal punishment are (or support) "child-beating?"

It looks like you're equivocating between discipline and abuse.

Posted by Duncan Bayne : 2/23/2007 08:57:00 AM

I'm with Jim Hopkins.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/466/story.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10425293

Posted by muerk : 2/23/2007 10:04:00 AM

This post (by Mike) from see-attle.tribe.net illustrates why I disagree with referenda:

I kinda wish our elected officials would, you know, do the hard work that we pay them to do and make the decisions for which they're supposed to have the expertise and insight.

That is, afterall, why we go through the whole vetting process we charmingly call an election.

Direct democracy of this sort is inevitably a disaster. The voters want everything and they don't want to pay for it; that's the way things are. They'll vote for $30 tabs and to call tim eyman an ass, they'll vote for sports palaces every which way you look, but they won't vote for an income tax despite that it will actually LOWER most people's tax burden and still be revenue neutral.

The people are going to vote for the prettiest, shiniest quadruple-decker 8-lane freeway tunnel they get presented, and then when financing falls through or the inevitable cost overruns happen, they're going to be shocked...shocked! at how such a project could get out of control. And the city and state legislature have shirked on their responsibility to lead and now can point to the people and say "well, they voted for it! blame them!" and wash their hands of the whole thing



I agree wholeheartedly!

Posted by Rich : 2/23/2007 10:07:00 AM

How about: 1. Should there be a legal defence to the assault of a child in your care?

That is the issue, warts and all. I'm tired of this wishy washy "a smack isn't that bad and assault has such nasty conotations so we should differentiate between them", respectfully, that is BS. A smack is an assault, simple.

How primitive is our society that zero-tolerance to violence does not extend into peoples homes? The very place where 90+% of all serious violence occurs?

I'm sure all the Graeme Capill's of New Zealand are opposed to the samcking ban, good Christian "I own my family" types.

Posted by james cairney : 2/23/2007 10:12:00 AM

> A smack is an assault, simple.

No, because children do not have the same rights as adults.

Posted by Duncan Bayne : 2/23/2007 11:19:00 AM

Why have CIRs become the almost exclusive instrument of reactionary groups, increasingly right? I've not paid attention to many of them, I had a connection with the Next Step in the mid-90s, but most seem to be designed to fail.

Posted by backin15 : 2/23/2007 11:30:00 AM

Duncan, kids might not have the same rights as adults but they are owed no less a duty of care - are you arguing that kids have lesser rights? Different, I'd agree, more even, but not lesser.

Posted by backin15 : 2/23/2007 11:35:00 AM

A smack is an assault, it is that simple.

Go next door and smack your neighbour's child and you will find that they do have rights, and it is assault.

Section 59 justifies an assault on a child in your care. A smack is an assault, and 59 allows parents the luxury of losing self control and committing assault when parenting their children, so yes, children in your care do have less rights and protection at law.

The Borrows amendment mantains this luxury of losing ones temper, and Bradford desires a higher societal standard.

Posted by james cairney : 2/23/2007 11:43:00 AM

While we are at it we should also change the law against what age children can be charge with a crime.

The agreement on this site seems to be an assault is an assualt regardless of who is doing it.

So if a ten year old hits an adult, that child should face the same penalities if an adult was to smack a child.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/23/2007 12:09:00 PM

> Go next door and smack your
> neighbour's child and you will find
> that they do have rights, and it is
> assault.

No, in that case you are breaching the rights of the parents - to decide how their child is disciplined - not the rights of the children.

Posted by Duncan Bayne : 2/23/2007 12:57:00 PM

Duncan, you are quite wrong on this. You cannot hit a child and not expect to be charged with assault. I suggest you re-read the Crimes Act.

Posted by backin15 : 2/23/2007 01:15:00 PM

"No, because children do not have the same rights as adults."

No, children have the same rights as adults, they do not have the same responsibilities.

Before you start to use the obvious examples. I am married, therefore I have no right to marry someone else until my current marriage is ended under the law. I have no right to drink alcohol, the bar actually has a responsibility to ensure that I do not get served while intoxicated (however well this is observed in practice). I certainly have no right to have sex, not even with my wife if she doesn't consent.

James' question is the right one, as it is specifically what Bradford's bill is doing - removing a legal defence (reasonable force) for the assault of a child in my care. Problem is it doesn't write a headline like "anti-smacking" does

Posted by Pablo : 2/23/2007 01:21:00 PM

backin15,

Are we talking about discipline (e.g. smacking), or assault? There is a difference, both morally and under law, at least until this bill passes.

Posted by Duncan Bayne : 2/23/2007 01:47:00 PM

"Why have CIRs become the almost exclusive instrument of reactionary groups, increasingly right? "
I disagree. The only 3 CIRs to be held was one on the number of firefighters, one on getting tough on crime, and one on reducing the number of MPs. These issues (except perhaps tough on crime) are hardly right wing or reactionary.

Posted by Nicholas O'kane : 2/23/2007 01:59:00 PM

Rich,
Yeah, the average citizen is an idiot (not to mention the below average citizen). Which is really a problem for democracy as a whole as well as things like the RMA and citizen juries, but we have to work with what we have got.

James,
I thought of that - but your question is actually worse.

imagine the very similar "Should there be a legal defence to killing a person"...

would you really want that one to go out to a vote?
Soon you'd find that anyone charged with killing a person would go to jail for life.

2) you use even more leading words than the other person did (assault).
The problem with that is that while you have a certain definition of assault in mind it is different from that held by the public at large. if you want to use that definition you have to spell it out or people won't understand your question.

> zero-tolerance to violence does not extend into peoples homes?

we dont have anything like zero tolerance to violence. Would be nice if we did.

GNZ

Posted by Anonymous : 2/23/2007 02:02:00 PM

Nicholas, although only 3 CIRs have been held, more have tried to reach the threshold and failed - my recollection, particularly of being pestered for my signature, is that many of these were for absurd causes.

Duncan, I may well be mistaken but I don't believe that the current law permits anyone other than the parent or caregiver to use any physical contact as part of discline. I've not followed this closely however, so perhaps there is some obscure justification for random individuals smacking errant children?

Posted by backin15 : 2/23/2007 02:12:00 PM

GNZ. The truth is, CIR's are only worth anything when the are accurately worded to a -specific- issue, and timed alongside a sub stratum of facts and debate about the issue in question.

Your murder example would be fine in such an environment.

Any question that sacrifices accuracy to pander to perceived ignorances is not worth the paper the signatures appear on.

Posted by james cairney : 2/23/2007 02:31:00 PM

Pablo: I think you will find that if you purchase a case of vodka and take it home, your right to keep drinking it will not be curtailed except by your body losing the ability to open the bottles.

Posted by Rich : 2/23/2007 03:02:00 PM

> Your murder example would be fine in such an environment.

If all citizens were ideally informed that would make it easier, of course. In that case you could word it anyway you liked because the wording would be superceeded by the debate as a whole.

However, that will not happen of course.

> Any question that sacrifices accuracy

Beyond the obvious issues with any of these questions, Your question seems to apply to if section 59 should be repealed (whih I presume is going to happen) their's applies to if there should be an ammendment.

Two NO's would presumably be somthing like a Borrows amendment.

GNZ

Posted by Anonymous : 2/23/2007 03:53:00 PM

From Duncan Bayne: "children do not have the same rights as adults."
- don't they? Why shouldn't they?

and here's another doosey from him: "Are we talking about discipline (e.g. smacking),..."

- since when has discipline anything to do with 'smacking'? - look it up.

aladin

Posted by aladin : 2/23/2007 07:07:00 PM

I/S. Oh come on. Fundies and child beaters? Considering the seriousness of this issue, it would behoove you to try and grasp the opposition's position better.

I'm against all forms of child coercion. That includes smacking, time-outs, compulsory schooling etc. I don't need any laws banning smacking, time-outs, and whatever for me not to practice these on my daughter. I have been persuaded by argument.

Nevertheless I recognise that other parents do have quite different beliefs about bringing up children and I know that there is a difference between smacking and assault (for which our laws are already adequate). To criminalize parents for something that is not assault and that was probably done with good intentions is bad for families and causes more problems than it tries to solve.

If you are serious about the well-being of children you might consider the harm wrought by our coercive state education system.

I don't practice any form of coercive learning on my daughter, yet she is doing just fine. I resent it however when others try to use the power of government to coerce me.

Prostitution law reform was correct because it was a step in the direction of freedom. Yet it decrimalized something that most people regard as wrong (and in most contexts prostitution is indeed morally wrong). The smacking law is in a different direction. It seeks to criminalize something that some people (me included) regard as morally wrong.

Posted by Brian S : 2/24/2007 09:00:00 AM

Not all the opposition may be fundies and cild-beaters, but all are apologists for violence in the home.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/24/2007 02:42:00 PM

To take my example

"Should there be a legal defence to killing a person"

anyone who opposed (let's say) a death sentence for killing someone no matter what the circumstances (e.g. self defense insanity etc) would be an "apologist for murder".

Sounds bad eh?

Posted by Anonymous : 2/24/2007 03:28:00 PM

"I know that there is a difference between smacking and assault (for which our laws are already adequate)"

Paul Litterick quotes (courtesy of Barnados) a list of cases where abusers were acquitted under the current laws:
http://fundypost.blogspot.com/

the current law is clearly *not* adequate at making the distinction.

Posted by Huskynut : 2/24/2007 08:41:00 PM

HuskyNut,

Those decisions do appear questionable, but I don't see that as indicating the need for a law change.

Judges and juries are fallible - not to mention corruptible - so there will always be some questionable decisions. That is so irrespective of the law. And that, incidently, is the primary reason I oppose the death penalty.

Laws can be improved, I don't dispute that, but a blanket ban on smacking will lead to similar injustices against good parents and their children. Smacking, like many issues to do with morality, is best dealt with by persuasion and not by force of government.

If smacking is assault then time-out is imprisonment.

So, to be consistent, time-out should be banned. But I don't see anybody here calling for this.

Why not?

Posted by Brian S : 2/25/2007 09:40:00 AM

Oh, I think PsychoMilt had a good point on the thread you linked to HH. Basically that those cases may also be indicative of the juries unwillingness to convict and that tightening the law will make them even more unwilling.

Posted by Brian S : 2/25/2007 11:43:00 AM

BrianS,

You make a very good point ... interesting to note the silence with which it's greated by the anti-smacking brigade?

(Perhaps, as we're apparently all "fundies and child-beaters", they could be "hypocrites and pacifists?")

Posted by Duncan Bayne : 2/26/2007 12:13:00 PM

I'm in definite favour of
abolishing the Citizens Initiated
Referenda Act at some point in the future. What do the rest of you think?

Craig Y

Posted by Anonymous : 2/27/2007 01:04:00 PM