Thursday, June 07, 2012

A rancid style of politics

Over on A Bee of a Certain Age, Deborah takes me (and others) to task for my immediate reaction to Paula Bennett suddenly popping up with a blurt about preventing child abusers from having more children: that it was a deliberate distraction, designed to agitate the talkback morons and get them ranting about something other than the government's hypocritical plans to increase class sizes while sending their own kids to private schools. Ouch. For the record, I don't think this is "a minor matter", or that "women’s rights are always tradeable". Its a revolting suggestion, incredibly intrusive into people's lives, and laden with some fairly unpleasant assumptions about class and race. You don't have to be a civil libertarian to see that allowing the courts to issue orders deeming people to be "unfit parents" and banning them from having children gets us into some very unpleasant territory, and raises the spectre of our very own "stolen generation".

(It is also utterly redundant. As pointed out in the Herald article, CYFS already has the power to intervene when they believe a child to be in genuine danger. So what does Bennett's proposal add? Nothing, other than stigmatisation and injustice. The only kids it "saves" are those who weren't in danger. So what exactly are they being "saved" from...?)

At the same time, I can't help but notice the convenient timing of this outburst, and suspect the government's motives in raising it. Andrew Geddis makes the case here, and it is a strong one: this is a government which is not only willing to consider creepy eugenics, but is also willing to raise them purely for PR purposes, to distract from other issues. No matter which way you look at it, that's a fairly rancid style of politics.