Thursday, April 26, 2007



Some "compromise"

Yesterday, Sue Bradford and John Key met to discuss the latter's desire for a "compromise" on the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Bill. The discussions were not fruitful. Those wondering why need only consider the amendment [DOC] Key was proposing:

Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of a child is justified in lightly smacking the child in the course of their parenting duties if the smacking used was minor and inconsequential

As I noted earlier, this isn't an offer of compromise - it's a demand for surrender. It is explicitly counter to the purpose of the bill ("abolishing the use of parental force for the purposes of correction"), and Bradford was right to reject it. We should not be enshrining violence against children in law, any more than we should be allowing husbands to use "minor and inconsequential" violence against their wives, or Pakeha to use "minor and inconsequential" violence against Maori.

14 comments:

I/S - you want the bill to be about abolishing all parental force for the purpose of correction, but Sue Bradford and Helen Clark and others have stated explicitly that they do not want to criminalise parents who lightly smack.

In light of this the purpose of the bill ought to be read as "abolishing the use of parental force for the purpses of correction in a manner that does not make light smacking illegal".

I'd supported the Borrows' amendment, but this proposal is far superior. Does Bradford still hold that to adopt this amendment would be worse than the status quo?

Posted by Graeme : 4/26/2007 10:02:00 AM

has anyone seen the examples used on tv of 'light smacking'? They are ridiculous! Little more than a touch is what they are - to me they look more like 'copping a feel'.

How such a thing would be useful in disciplining a child i do not know. So why would people insist on the right to use such a tool?

Posted by Anonymous : 4/26/2007 10:19:00 AM

Graeme: Does Bradford still hold that to adopt this amendment would be worse than the status quo?

Clearly, she does, and I agree. We should not be legitimising violence in law, no matter how trivial. We don't do it for assaults against adults, and children are worthy of the same legal protection.

Anon: they're not. The proponents of "light smacking" are advocating the ordinary hitting of children. The "example" footage is deliberately downplayed to ridiculousness to disguise this.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 4/26/2007 10:53:00 AM

You (and Sue) don't think the current s 59 legitimises a level of force/violence against children?

Posted by Graeme : 4/26/2007 11:18:00 AM

Idiot/Savant. What better compromise can you propose?

Posted by Nicholas O'Kane : 4/26/2007 02:07:00 PM

It's smart politics from Key. If the bill passes, he can then present himself as Mr Common Sense Compromise at the next election.

He'll probably win the election and then not bother repealing or amending Bradford's law after all. Any half-decent political reporter would actually ask him about his real intentions, and pin him down on a commitment to repeal. If it's such a bad bill, why wouldn't he make that pledge? (The answer, of course, is that once the hysteria has faded, the law could well turn out to be perfectly workable and he would prefer the option of leaving it alone).

But he can't be blamed for scoring easy points as long as the supine media let him.

Simon

Posted by Anonymous : 4/26/2007 04:00:00 PM

Graeme: I think the proposed s59 (c) and (d) allow far too much, but the opposition and fear spewed by the pro-smacking crowd have helped convince me that it is at least a step in the right direction (and obviously I'll be pushing for more progress the moment it looks politically possible).

Nicholas: What better compromise can you propose?

None. I am not interested in false "compromise" on this matter, or in giving ground for the sake of it. Why would I be? The bill already has the numbers, and absent a major upset, is going to pass comfortably.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 4/26/2007 10:25:00 PM

Anon: I think the reason no-one wants to ask him about repeal is in case he gives an answer (though solid answers on policy are not really Key's - or national's - style). But yes, he's raising expectations around repeal, and if he continues to do so, he may find himself with a PR problem if he wins the government benches. But then the crude political calculation will be that they can be safely ignored - after all, they're hardly going to vote Labour, Green, or Progressive (and the same goes for any rival political vehicle they establish).

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 4/26/2007 10:32:00 PM

"I think the proposed s59 (c) and (d) allow far too much,"

Oops, sorry I/S, I meant the law as it currently stands - I can see that the law now (i.e. since 1961 and before) "legitimises" the use of reasonable force.

I think both Key and Borrows' amendments would have lowered that force, and hence should be viewed as better than the status quo by someone of your or Bradford's view.

Have you some reason for believing that the current law (as opposed to the current proposed law change) legitimises no violence, such that the light smacking proposal of Key is worse than what we have now?

Posted by Graeme : 4/27/2007 12:41:00 AM

Graeme: the existing s59 clearly does legitimise violence against children - which is why people want to get rid of it. But why would we accept the Key amendment, when there is a much better option available and no need to weaken it?

(Looking back, I misinterpreted "status quo" in your comment; I keep thinking of the unamended bill as the default situation to compare against - not the law as it stands at present. I should also point out that regardless of what Bradford and Clark say, the purpose clause makes no exception for light smacking, and under Standing Orders can not now be revisited. You've lost that battle; get over it)

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 4/27/2007 01:32:00 AM

Hey I/S,
given that you have said there is nothing to compromise over, why then did you say earlier that this bill “does not deserve to pass”? You obviously don't want the bill to be pulled, you don’t want any changes and as you say the bill does not deserve to pass can I assume that you don’t want it passed in its current form?
cheers Dave @Big News

Posted by Anonymous : 4/27/2007 10:12:00 AM

"But why would we accept the Key amendment, when there is a much better option available and no need to weaken it?"

That I can understand. My issue was with Sue Bradford's position that if Borrows' amendment succeeded she'd withdraw the bill because that would be worse than the status quo because it would legitimise a level of violence against children (implying that the current law does not do this to an even greater extent than Borrows' ever could).

It could be revisited with leave - which, if the Government supported it, Bradford might be foolish to oppose granting.

Posted by Graeme : 4/27/2007 10:22:00 AM

We should not be enshrining violence against children in law, any more than we should be allowing husbands to use "minor and inconsequential" violence against their wives, or Pakeha to use "minor and inconsequential" violence against Maori.

I was under the impression that women and Maori were fully autonomous adults who don't require disciplining, but perhaps I/S doesn't think so and is suggesting that they be made to stand in the naughty corner instead?

Posted by Peter : 4/27/2007 12:52:00 PM

Excellent comment there from Peter!

Posted by plague : 4/29/2007 08:08:00 PM