Tuesday, March 13, 2007



Borrows' amendments will fail

The media last night and this morning has been dominated by worries about Sue Bradford's Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Bill, and whether it would pass unamended or whether Chester Borrows' amendments (which are a modern-day version of the old rule that you could beat your wife provided you used a rod no thicker than your thumb) would pass. The Maori Party has been a key player in this, with last minute wavering by co-leader Tariana Turia giving Borrows' camp some hope. But the Maori party has no clarified its position, and made it crystal clear that they will be backing the bill in its unamended form. With their four votes on board, the passage of the bill is virtually guaranteed (Brian Donnelly and possibly one other NZ First MP is expected to oppose the amendments, while they will be joined by at least two National MPs for the third reading). So, while there will no doubt be some heated exchanges in the debating chamber tomorrow, it looks to be in the bag.

28 comments:

You're right. Beating your wife with a rod no thicker than your thumb is exactly the same as smacking your child, with only your hand, causing triffling & trival harm.

Of course, no-one is allowed to say 'smacking', its ALWAYS beating.

Posted by Spam : 3/13/2007 01:42:00 PM

I thought this whole debate had been entirely overshadowed by the use of the term "smacking". This morning I heard the bill referred to as "anti-child violence" on the radio and I realised it was the first time I hadn't heard it called the "anti-smacking" bill.

Posted by Span : 3/13/2007 01:50:00 PM

Spam: it doesn't sound any better if you talk of smacking your wife instead.

I've made the connection to the rule of thumb because the bill is effectively a modern-day version. It has a different target, and indeed a different rule, but at its heart it serves the same purpose: to license and legitimise violence. The difference is merely one of degree, not of kind.

The primary purpose of the state is to protect its citizens from violence - not legitimise the violence of the strong against the weak. Borrows' amendments are an abomination, and I am very glad they will fail.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 3/13/2007 01:59:00 PM

Span:

Here lies the fundamental dishonesty of Sue Bradford's Bill. The Bill does nothing at all to prevent serious harm against children. Current law gives no protection to parents who seriously physically assault their children.

It is completely dishonest to claim that the Bill will somehow have an impact on those who commit outrageous assaults against children.

At the most, what it achieves is a legislative marginalisation of those who occasionally smack their children.

Posted by Insolent Prick : 3/13/2007 02:02:00 PM

agree Span - it *is* anti-violence, in spite of those on the right of the political spectrum tellimg me smacking and hitting a child is not an act of violence. I don't know what type of brain damage it takes to argue *that* with a straight face.

I never thought I would be supporting Bradford in any endeavour...striking children is a violation of two fundamental human rights: respect for human dignity and physical integrity and to have equal protection under the law. The State has an obligation to ensure these rights for children. Being young is not a reason to endure violence.

Children’s rights to life, survival, development, dignity and physical integrity do not stop at the door of the family home.

I hope this legislation is in the bag so we can show our future that we really do care about what is best for them -- not what is best for who's biggest, strongest, and most wilfully ignorant.

Posted by Ruth : 3/13/2007 02:08:00 PM

I predict that despite all the noise here nothing will change.

People who smack their children will continue to do so.

People who hurt their children will continue to do so.

People who murder their children will continue to do so.

People who don't do any of the above will continue not doing any of the above.

Its another typical example of the lefts love of appearance over substance.

NZ has a terrible rate of child abuse - and after this bill is passed it will continue to have the same terrible rate of abuse. Most NZ's can see this, which is why even though they love their children, they are against this change.

Sb

Posted by Sb : 3/13/2007 02:13:00 PM

Yes, we must do something about New Zealands child abuse, which is why the only sensible thing to do is oppose any law which legislates against the abuse of children . . .

Posted by danyl : 3/13/2007 02:42:00 PM

I was convinced by Graeme Edgeler's comments over on the very, very lengthy debate at public address.

If I recall it went something along the lines of: the bill criminalizes "light smacking" causing trifling harm and yet most of its advocates (and even its sponsor?) do not want criminal prosecutions of parents who engage in such light smacking.

This is a rather moronic way of writing legislation I would have thought.

The Burrows amendment appears more honest in its intent (and still an improvement on the current state of affairs).

It is also honest to say that children should not be smacked, lightly or otherwise, and those that do so can face prosecution (which is what I/S is saying, I think).

But the Bradford bill seems to be stuck in a pretty crap half-way house position on this issue: the Bill suggests one thing, and its advocates another.

As noted above, actual changes in the real world of parenting practices are likely to be few and far between, at least at first ... but that's never stopped legislators (and nor should it necessarily).

Posted by dc_red : 3/13/2007 02:52:00 PM

Do try and keep up Danyl.

Nobody is opposing "any law which legislates against the abuse of children" people are opposing this particular law change.

Most people I know who are against it are against it because they think it will do nothing to prevent abuse of children.

Your comment is typical of people who are supporting this bill though. As I said appearance over substance!

Posted by Sb : 3/13/2007 02:53:00 PM

I/S:

That argument is a fallacy.

Children are NOT adults. Adults are NOT normally at the centre of custody battles. Adults actually have the cognitive ability to reason and be reasoned with (well, some of them....) Adults have personal responsibility.

Face it - "beating" is an emotive term, used because its an emotive term, not because its an accurate one.

Posted by Spam : 3/13/2007 03:17:00 PM

Spam: children are people, and as such entitled to equal protection under the law.

At present, you are not permitted to beat animals. but you are permitted to beat children. That has to change.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 3/13/2007 04:22:00 PM

spam,

Smacking, whacking, hitting, walloping, beating, thrashing, I don't care what you call it.

You obviously think there's an important moral difference between them. Me, I don't see it.

And before you ask: yes, I have kids. And no, they aren't angels. Or devils. They're just kids. I see no reason why anyone should be given a legal right to inflict physical pain on them.

sb,

You claim to oppose it on the grounds that it will make no difference. That seems an absurd reason to either support or oppose something.

Posted by Sean : 3/13/2007 04:41:00 PM

"the bill criminalizes "light smacking" causing trifling harm and yet most of its advocates (and even its sponsor) do not want criminal prosecutions of parents who engage in such light smacking."

Thats my argument too. So I/S, if we have a law that say you are not permitted to "beat children" as you put it, why the hell don't you support parents having a criminal conviction for breaking the law when undertaking light smacking - because the politicians don't?

Posted by Dave : 3/13/2007 04:44:00 PM

Bullshit, Idiot.

It is not currently unlawful to give a dog a light correctional smack. It is unlawful to beat the crap out of a dog. It is not currently unlawful to give a child a light correctional smack. It is currently unlawful to beat the crap out of a child.

Sue Bradford's dishonesty is to lump occasional light smacking in with serious child abuse.

I don't personally agree that smacking a child actually achieves anything. I'm not in favour of beating children. I am, however, in favour of beating the crap out of pinkos, but that's another matter entirely, and not for correctional purposes.

I don't think, on the whole, that a law allowing occasional smacking of children is necessary. But I think that the Government, and Sue Bradford, are being totally dishonest in claiming that it will lead to a reduction in harm against children.

The real risk to children is poverty, welfare, poor education and health outcomes, exposure to crime, and the scourge of domestic violence that accompanies it. That should be a far higher priority for the Government than making hundreds of thousands of New Zealand parents criminals for the way they discipline their children, when they happen to otherwise raise their children effectively.

There is no public mandate for this legislation, it creates criminals out of otherwise good parents, and doesn't do anything to protect the most at-risk children in society.

Posted by Insolent Prick : 3/13/2007 04:44:00 PM

Sean,

Yes, I see a moral difference between it. I also think there is a difference between a light slap with your hand and stabbing a child with a knife, or belting them around the head with a block of wood. Apparently, I am in the minority on this though, and we need this law change so that i can be educated into seeing that there really is no difference.

Posted by Spammer : 3/13/2007 04:51:00 PM

"This morning I heard the bill referred to as "anti-child violence" on the radio and I realised it was the first time I hadn't heard it called the "anti-smacking" bill."

It's good to see that the media are finally beginning to see through the disinformation on the part of the bashers that this bill is all about banning "smacking". Hopefully the politicians will also see through this disinformation and send the bashers a powerful message.

Posted by Spectator : 3/13/2007 06:46:00 PM

Nothing is funnier than family law.

In Rome you were alowed to kill your kid. It was sort of socially not the thing to do, but the law had nothing to say about it.

"Good" parents don't smack thir kids.

People who hit children are scum. The sentence should be, someone much bigger than you are will come round and beat the shit out of you while you squeal and try to get away. In particularly egregious cases we'll do it in front of other people so you're also humiliated.

Let some "loving parents" see what it's like and they'll soon adjust the focus on their rose-tinted glasses. I guess not enough of you were beaten yourselves to have much perspective.

Posted by Ruth : 3/13/2007 07:20:00 PM

Excellent concept, Ruth - if the cops were willing to give me a smack on the bum instead of arresting me and making me answerable to a court of law, I'd take it like a shot. Perhaps this could form the basis of Bradford's next shot at equating adults and children.

Posted by Ian : 3/13/2007 07:29:00 PM

To me the most important aspect of this law are
1) the principle that it will make a large amount of things illegal in order to be sure it can drive a general change in society and
2) how it empowers police against average citizens

Let me give a few examples of potential laws.
A) making marijuana or party pills illegal so you can prevent people moving to harder drugs
B) making various unusual sexual practices illegal to make it easier to charge for non-consensual sex.

Secondly it empowers police because if you imagine the police as "out to get" a certain person, in modern NZ they have an uphill battle - they need to prove a crime and gather evidence and so forth. What this law seems to want to do is to create a back door where they can take a behavior that is considered something that should not be prosecuted and prosecute it in place of another action.

So my examples for this are
A) putting a man in prison for murdering his wife by proving he hit her
B) putting a man in jail for 7.5 years for damaging a painting because it is a sign of treasonous will

If pass enough of those laws you effectively take a back door out of presumption of innocence. And have hugely disproportionate punishments for minor events. It is interesting that one can get the liberals to swallow that sort of line.

GNZ

Posted by Anonymous : 3/13/2007 07:37:00 PM

This news has made my day/week/month. That's all.

aladin

Posted by aladin : 3/13/2007 08:54:00 PM

Me too, aladin. My admiration for Pita Sharples and the Maori Party is growing daily.

Posted by Deborah : 3/13/2007 08:58:00 PM

This legislation is simply a continuation of our human progress as we continue to develop our understanding of what it means to be a humane and just person.
It used to be the case that a criminal could be hung drawn and quartered. To suggest that is acceptable "punishment" now in any society would be completely laughable. Slowly our attitudes to violence towards one another have changed until now its time to remove one of the last acts of permitted violence remaining in our society. The Bill only brings New Zealand into line with other European countries who have already seen the error of behaving violently towards children. Children have been the last in our society to be protected in this way because many still see them as possessions just as wives were seen as possessions in days past. They are not. We are entrusted with their care and protection until they reach their maturity. This Bill is the least we can do to protect them.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/13/2007 09:48:00 PM

What is interesting in this debate, is that the 'anti-bill' crowd continually say they deplore child abuse but have never offered any solution to the issue.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/13/2007 11:13:00 PM

"The Bill only brings New Zealand into line with other European countries who have already seen the error of behaving violently towards children."

I'd be interested to know which democracies have made a similar law change, and then changed it back. If Bradford's bill is so bad, have European/other governments seen the error of their ways and reverted to something like our status quo?

Genuine question, because I can't be bothered to do the research (but you can do it for me!).

Simon

Posted by Anonymous : 3/13/2007 11:18:00 PM

> What is interesting in this debate, is that the 'anti-bill' crowd continually say they deplore child abuse but have never offered any solution to the issue.

I imagine some dont think there is a big problem (like gordan) but in general the proposal is to tighten up the definition of smacking so that the law matches the publics general opinion - ie a smack that is done with restraint and intent NOT to harm (ie a light smack) is ok but one that is done with a riding crop is not ok.

Other than that there are lots of solutions..
You could introduce the death sentance for major child abuse..
You could make alcohol and drugs harder to get...
you could provide more dicipline in schools...

Anyway, half the policies proposed by politicians have somthing vaguely related to reducing violence.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/14/2007 07:36:00 AM

Sue Bradford's anti-smacking bill is a good start, but it doesn't go far enough. Under current law, an adult who locked his wife in their room or forcibly placed them in the naughty corner could be charged with assault or unlawful imprisonment, yet parents can do this to their children with impunity. Obviously, it's an outrage that the law allows parents to treat their children in a way that no adult would put up with. We can't hope to reverse our awful child abuse statistics until our legal system treats children exactly the same as adults.

Posted by Peter : 3/14/2007 11:30:00 AM

In before the obligatory 'my mum smacked me when i was a kid and it didn't do me any harm.' In before the obligatory 'my sweet old dear old mum is not a crim'. lol - yes she is!

Posted by idiotboy : 3/14/2007 11:44:00 AM

the 'anti-bill' crowd continually say they deplore child abuse but have never offered any solution to the issue.

I thought the Bill with the Burrows amendments would have been a good start, actually.

Posted by dc_red : 3/14/2007 01:26:00 PM