Brian Edwards Media

Punishers’ Parade

 

bob20head20colour1

 

 

 Bob McCoskrie: comfortable with the wooden spoon

 

 

 

Kenny Rodger - NZ Herald

Kenny Rodger - NZ Herald

 

 

Larry Baldock: even smacks his grandchildren

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Mike Knott

Photo: Mike Knott

 

 

 Garth McVicar: tent prisons and chain gangs

 

 

 

 

Now here’s my take on Western democracy. Once every three, four or five years, according to where you live, you get to vote for the political party you’d  like to run the country. Unless you’re a closed-minded bigot, it’s likely that you won’t approve of absolutely everything the party you voted for believes or intends to do, but you’ve got the good sense to understand that it’s a package you’re buying and not everything in it is going to please you. So you live with it and if, after those three, four or five years, you feel they’ve let you down, you vote for the other lot.

Meanwhile, a significant proportion of the voting public is lumbered with a government they didn’t want at all. But they live with that  too and start working to get their lot back in three, four or five years time. They don’t go around bitching that it wasn’t fair and if somebody doesn’t hold another election right away they’re going to hold their breath till they turn blue.

That’s Western democracy – we elect politicians to govern us for a finite period and, unless they are corrupt, we accept that we’re going to have to wait till the end of that finite period before we can chuck them out.

What the people marching through Auckland on Saturday want is to be able to hold a mini election on any issue where they feel the government has let them down. And they want the result of that mini election to be binding on Parliament. This is their definition of democracy: government by the people, in the most literal sense, but on an ad hoc basis. They’re impatient these people. They don’t want to wait for the process to run its course.

The trouble with this is that it would make it virtually impossible for governments to govern. In the interests of political stability we accept that once a government has been elected, we have to allow it to get on with the job for a reasonable period and if, at the end of that period, we aren’t happy, we can throw them out.

It works. The checks and balances inherent in the system mean that, with the possible exception of the Lange/Douglas administration, we don’t have governments running amok or ignoring the will of the people.

And if we aren’t happy, we can grizzle and complain and write letters to the paper and lobby and campaign to get the buggers out next time and organise petitions and referenda and protest marches down Queen Street.

And the purpose of  all of that is to let the government know that you aren’t happy and, if they want your vote next time, they’d better have a rethink. In that sense, I can see citizen-initiated referenda as legitimate and valuable. It’s when you start to insist that the results of those referenda must be binding on Parliament that you run into trouble.

In a true democracy law-making is the prerogative solely of Parliament. What the people marching on Saturday want is to appropriate that right for themselves. The so-called ‘anti-smacking law’ is a case in point. Parliament voted, almost unanimously, to remove the ‘reasonable force’ defence in child abuse cases from the Crimes Act.  Effectively it made hitting children a crime. If the results of the citizen-initiated referendum on the issue had been binding, the will of Parliament would have been frustrated. Parliament would have had to change the law on hitting  children in a manner which it was opposed to. This is not democracy but the antithesis of democracy – anarchy.

Binding referenda must be either initiated by parliament or, if they are citizen initiated, endorsed  by act of Parliament. The idea that any parliament would have agreed to accept either the Sensible Sentencing Trust’s 1999 referendum or the more recent referendum on the ‘anti-smacking’ law as binding is simply preposterous. Both referenda were dishonest and the wording of both made them meaningless.  

The designers of these two referenda were either stupid or deceitful. Not once but twice they devised highly emotive questions that effectively offered the respondent Hobson’s Choice. If you were in favour of more support for victims of violent crime you also had to be in favour of stiffer penalties and ‘hard labour’  for serious violent offenders. If you thought smacking was incompatible with ‘good parental correction’, you could not sensibly answer the question at all. Both were questions designed to bamboozle the public. And, by their wording and emotional context, they succeeded.

To me Saturday was a day of shame for New Zealand. There we were telling the world that this was a country that favoured the inhumane treatment of violent offenders and, in a wonderful irony, violence against children. The driving forces behind both referenda are all men – Bob McCoskrie, Larry Balcock and Garth McVicar. I often wonder what their wives have to say about their punishment-based morality. Mr McCoskrie has expressed himself comfortable with the use of a wooden spoon to discipline a child; Mr Baldock boasted on television that he even smacks his grandchildren; Mr McVicar is in favour of chain gangs, tent prisons and even capital punishment if it could be shown to be a deterrent to homicide. He has, in my view, done more damage to New Zealand society than any other public figure I can think of.

And, in the end, the march itself was dishonest, a punishers’ parade disguised as a pro-democracy protest. One can only hope that John Key has the spine not to be moved by this charade.

, ,

47 Comments:

  1. The picture of Baldock speaks several thousand words!

    • The picture of Baldock speaks several thousand words!

      Baldock makes the point that his gesture was merely one of celebration. But what he has to say is enough for me. I can tell you that if either Judy or I smacked our grandchildren – and it’s simply not something we can imagine – we’d have to reckon with their parents, our children. But smacking is presumably something that runs in families.

  2. I don’t think you are being entirely fair here. Just FYI I’m not a fan of binding referendums, I want to see laws made in a considered way with advice from legal experts as to how the law would in practice work. I think that the system we have now is fine for making law.

    However, citizen-initiated referenda (CIR) are are clear indication of the will of the people. At present the questions posed in past referenda were never designed to create law but merely to show the political will of the people. Hence the questions could be fuzzy in a way that law could never be.

    If CIR were to be binding then the formulation of the questions would have to dramatically change in order to conform to legal expectations. Just because the previous questions were poorly expressed does not mean future binding referenda would have to be so.

    My next point is that I think it’s entirely fair for people to protest because governments have ignored the expressed will of the people they answer to. There is a danger for governments to become elitist and to act as they see fit rather than enacting legislation that the majority of people want. All the major parties wanted the removal of s59 leaving voters without a lot of options to express their disagreement at election time.

    As a parent of four boys the removal of s59 concerned me because I do occasionally smack. With the removal of s59 I am liable for an assault prosecution and my children would quite probably be removed and placed into foster care (where children are sometimes sexually and physically abused). I know I’m a good parent and that my children feel loved, secure and and in a positive environment. I don’t think a light smack should be criminal – I’m not saying it’s ideal, but then neither is yelling or being inconsistent or favouring one child over another, yet all these are legal and sadly parents do these things frequently.

    The point is I made my beliefs known via the referendum and it has been ignored. Since I could not bear to lose my children I have stopped smacking because it is now illegal. I can tell you now my boys would rather have a light smack than miss out on their dessert or do extra chores. There were no tears from a smack, but boy missing out on dessert means there are wails of distress.

    • I don’t think you are being entirely fair here. Just FYI I’m not a fan of binding referendums, I want to see laws made in a considered way with advice from legal experts as to how the law would in practice work. I think that the system we have now is fine for making law.

      I think you’ll find that the first part of your comment exactly reflects what I said in the post – referenda are a useful way of letting governments know what people think. And yes, if referenda are to be binding their wording must be precise, unambiguous and unemotional.

      There’s no evidence of any of the things you fear if you smack your kids actually happening to parents. The law is working, and has not impinged on good parents like yourself. The previous law allowed bad parents to claim “reasonable force” as a defence when they abused their kids. And they did. And many of them escaped penalty. Not a good situation.

      I want to live in a country where it is illegal to hit kids, just as it is illegal to hit adults. No room for misunderstanding there.

  3. what puzzles me is where these right wing fanatics
    get there money from? They certainly do not work
    because every time I put on the TV there they are. McCoskie seems to be on the verge of a stroke and Mcvicar looks as if he’s pooped himself.
    I cannot believe the publicity these nobodies are given. Who is behind their movements and has any one ever questioned just what their membership number is. I must admit I am fed up to the teeth
    with these three angry men dominating my TV watching.

    • I cannot believe the publicity these nobodies are given.

      I absolutely agree. McVicar in particular is treated by the media as if he were a world authority on crime and punishment. He’s asked to comment on every case of violent offending. The effect of this is to spread the already existing social panic about violent offending. And the media feeds this panic. Saturday’s Herald devoted most its front page to quoting the assinine comments of a South Auckland judge who intends to add a year to the sentences he hands down to violent offenders on the basis that this will act as a deterrent to others. The man is a fool. All the research, including the Justice Department’s own research over half a century, indicates that violent offenders do not dwell on the consequences of their actions. The idea that someone high on P who is about to rob a dairy, thinks to himself, “Oh, I better not do this, because I’ll get 6 years instead of 5″ is simply ludicrous.

  4. A good post Brian. Binding referendum are ridiculous and dangerous tools and as you suggest, go against the very concepts of western parliamentary democracy.

    If a binding referendum were held at the time women got the vote, women wouldn’t have got the vote. Abolishing slavery wouldn’t have happened if the US had used a binding referendum to do so. I could go on. Laws should be made by a process of rational analysis, research and debate, by people who are qualified to do so.

    And if we MUST have referenda, they really ought to be scientific poll style questions, which have passed through university style ethics committees to ensure they are not leading.

    I do find it interesting that radio NZ reported ‘around 1000 people took part’ while the Herald says ’4000-5000′. There were also a reasonable amount of people taking part in order to take the piss, with banners suggesting things like “down with this sort of thing” and “I demand the right to bash kids”.

    I would think that at the many hundreds of thousands of dollars of set up and advertising cost this march took to organise, the thousand (or few) supports who turned up have made this event a horrible and embarrassing failure for the organiser.

    Therefore, I don’t think it’s a day of shame at all, but because we rejected it so resoundingly, Saturday was a day we can all be proud of.

    • I do find it interesting that radio NZ reported ‘around 1000 people took part’ while the Herald says ‘4000-5000′. There were also a reasonable amount of people taking part in order to take the piss, with banners suggesting things like “down with this sort of thing” and “I demand the right to bash kids”.

      Yes, the media assessment of the number of people taking part in demonstrations is always haphazard at best. And I would agree with your point about it not being a day of shame if I thought that the hoi polloi wouldn’t vote in exactly the same way again, if the referendum were repeated with the same question. I’d like to believe that most people aren’t stupid, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult.

  5. “I want to live in a country where it is illegal to hit kids, just as it is illegal to hit adults.”

    Would you include a light smack (no marking, no bruising, no pain) as hitting? What I want to see is support for parents to do a better job.

    Positive parenting courses are great, so are flexible work hours and for a parent who wants to be able to stay at home to be financially able to do so. Paid parental leave is a massive help and so are making things like education and health for kids free/very cheap. I want to see more drug and alcohol programs for parents struggling with addictions and help for warm dry housing to keep families well. But all of these things cost money which as a society we don’t seem able or willing to get behind spending.

    I know there have been terrible cases where parents have really hurt their kids and then got off because of s59 and I agree, that had to change. But it worries me that parents who do now lightly smack are criminalised along with abusive parents. There is no legal leeway other than discretion by the police and then courts. Just because something hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it’s impossible to occur.

    • Would you include a light smack (no marking, no bruising, no pain) as hitting? What I want to see is support for parents to do a better job.

      I’m with you on that and I believe the law should be administered reasonably, with compassion and common sense. That seems to be what has been happening. But as a nation our position has to be that it is against the law to strike a child.

  6. “with the possible exception of the Lange/Douglas administration, we don’t have governments running amok or ignoring the will of the people.”

    The Lange/Douglas administration was re-elected in 1987 which indicates that they had popular support for much of what they did in their first term.

    • The Lange/Douglas adminsitration was re-elected in 1987 which indicates that they had popular support for much of what they did in their first term.

      I would say that a booming world economy and public affection for Lange were significant factors in that. It wasn’t long before people began to realise that all that “trickled down” from the Douglas reforms were the crumbs from the table. And the whole edifice was already beginning to collapse in ’87. It took people a while to get wise to Douglas, but they did get wise. After 1990 Labour would be out of office for nine years. Very few people now look back on Rogernomics with affection.

  7. “It took people a while to get wise to Douglas, but they did get wise.”

    Not wise enough, Ruth Richardson got into power and her policy was Douglas’ on steroids – shudder.

  8. When you lined up your gallery of shame I expected to see ‘The Bishop’ there amongst the godlet-squad pissing contestants. Oh well, he can’t win ‘em all.
    It’s certainly depressing to witness such emotional over-reaction, wilful misinterpretation and lack of respect for hard research, and to see certain media parasites excitedly reporting the myths as some obscene version of statistical fact.
    Perhaps it might be useful to ponder the era of witch burning, torturing and drowning which took place over several centuries … at a time when ignorance was explained by superstition fuelled by religious fundamentalism, despite condemnation by academics, intellectuals and humanitarians of the time.
    My despair is for the obstinate resistance to change in an undoubtably charged and somewhat irrational sector of the populace, and I hope Key has sufficient intellect combined with the integrity to not squirt oil on the squeakiest wheel. We’ll soon find out I suppose, National has always tended to be punitive towards the lower socio-economic ‘class’, instead of educating them liberally (and subsequently raising the general IQ of the nation) – so we won’t have to tolerate public displays of anti-social dogma driven by some medieval-grade ignorance and fear.
    And then there is the media ‘problem’ …

  9. When the change in the law was first mooted I had concerns; I feared good parents could be criminalised and I was also slightly resentful of parliament telling me how I should bring up my children. However the antics of Baldock and co have convinced me that the law change was the right thing to do. Perhaps when Baldock is in his dotage and has entered his second childhood – assuming he is not already there – perhaps his grandchildren may feel it is right for them to administer a smack on the back of his legs because he does not do as he is told.

    On the matter of binding referenda I do not wish to be governed by the ‘sans culottes’ thank you very much. Like you I elect a government every three years and if I do not like what they do I try and change the government. One only needs to look at California to see the chaos caused by binding referenda.

  10. I wonder how many of the ‘irate’ people who marched on Saturday will work to vote out this ‘unresponsive’ government?

    • I wonder how many of the ‘irate’ people who marched on Saturday will work to vote out this ‘unresponsive’ government?

      Possibly not many. Those who see punishment as the answer to society’s ills come generally from the political right or far right.

  11. “Possibly not many. Those who see punishment as the answer to society’s ills come generally from the political right or far right.”

    What, you mean like Joseph Stalin? Why does everything have to be reduced to political labels. It is intensely irritating. The far right has no monopoly on violence against children. Neither does the far left have a monopoly on compassion. On various blogs I have been labelled far right AND far left according to whoever happens to disagree with me. Cannot one have a mind of one’s own regardless of what part of the poitical spectrum one happens to fit in? Does one have to swallow 100% the mantras of the left or right?

    I consider such levels of debate to be asinine and am surprised you of all people should use such debating cliches.

    • What, you mean like Joseph Stalin? Why does everything have to be reduced to political labels. It is intensely irritating.

      Your blood pressure, Ben, think about your blood pressure. And when you’ve calmed down, I suggest you take a look at Fox News to get a clearer idea of the divide between left-wing liberals and righ-wing conservatives. Or, closer to home, ask yourself whether it is mere coincidence that the misnamed ‘anti-smacking bill’ was born from the informal Labour-Green coalition rather than the political right. Almost by definition conservatives take a more traditional line than liberals on issues such as child-rearing and law and order. Whether you regard it as a good or a bad thing, they’re considerably less permissive.

      And why take your argument to these ridiculous extremes. Joseph Stalin? We’re not talking about monsters of history. We’re talking about attitudes and beliefs.

      And do you really believe that McCoskrie, Baldock, McVicar and the rest of the people behind the two referenda and the so-called ‘march for democracy’, could possibly be or ever have been supporters of the Greens or Labour’s ‘nanny state’? I think not. Politics isn’t just a matter of teams, it’s about deep seated feelings and social attitudes.

  12. “Politics isn’t just a matter of teams, it’s about deep seated feelings and social attitudes.”

    Too true.

    I’m Catholic and I strongly oppose abortion and euthanasia. I disagree with using contraception and I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. I hate embryonic stem cell research, I don’t even morally agree with IVF because of embryo destruction. Right now that makes me a right-wing extremist.

    Yet I have in the past voted Green because I agree with their environmental and fiscal policies. I believe in a strong welfare system with access to health, education, housing and social programs to better people’s lives. I think that we have to bite the economic bullet and take care of the environment. I’m a fan of public transport, including a state owned rail system.

    If I vote left then I’m voting for social policies that I find abhorrent but if I vote right than likewise. My main concern is a good life for all, where people can grow healthy and happy and reach their potential. Abortion kills people, but then so does poverty and lack of health care.

    I’m neither left or right.

  13. My blood pressure is fine thanks, and there was an element of facetiousness and hyperbole in my response; it may not have come through but it was there in my mind! That is the problem with these electronic communications.

    The essence of my argument though remains that just because one is far right one does not necessarily support hitting children. Likewise the far left frequently like to portray themselves as the guardians of compassion and peace. I think it is fair to say also that the Labour Party alienated a section of its electorate; those one might describe as left if not far left. And I am sure you know that there is nothing as conservative as the left wing working class vote.

    Whilst I know it is not the case with you, far right, far left are used perjoratively by those who are intolerant of any views but their own

    • The essence of my argument though remains that just because one is far right one does not necessarily support hitting children.

      And with that I entirely agree.

  14. “There were no tears from a smack, but boy missing out on dessert means there are wails of distress.”
    I don’t think withholding food as a punishment, sends the right message to children to be honest
    And if a smack doesn’t bring tears then what is the point ?

    • I don’t think withholding food as a punishment, sends the right message to children to be honest. And if a smack doesn’t bring tears then what is the point ?

      I suppose the pro-smackers would say it’s not meant to bring tears. It’s meant to indicate disapproval. (Then why not just say, “I don’t like you doing that. Don’t do it again.”) Or perhaps to serve as a warning (But of what?).

      As to withholding food, I don’t think forced starvation is proposed. Normally it’s just pudding. Remember Pink Floyd: “If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?”

  15. And do you really believe that McCoskrie, Baldock, McVicar and the rest of the people behind the two referenda and the so-called ‘march for democracy’, could possibly be or ever have been supporters of the Greens or Labour’s ‘nanny state’?

    And do you really believe that Brian Tamaki was a high-school dropout and unmarried teenage father?

    Or that David Garrett was a strong supporter of the anti-nuclear movement?

    Or that Don Brash (and Stephen Franks?) were socialists?

    Or that Bill O’Reilly opposes the death penalty, supports abortion rights and favours allowing gay marriage?

    etc.

    Even your ideological opponents are complex individuals. We do ourselves (and the public discourse) an injustice when we conclude this isn’t so.

    • Even your ideological opponents are complex individuals. We do ourselves (and the public discourse) an injustice when we conclude this isn’t so.

      Well that’s all very noble. But this sort of logic, where you point to individual examples that defy the generalisation, really isn’t very helpful. And then all of your examples, with the exception of O’Reilly are in the past tense. I’m afraid I have to deal with these people on the basis of how they present themselves today. Of the four people you mention, I have respect only for Stephen Franks and something bordering on contempt for the others. I’ve based those judgements on their recent words and actions and I don’t have too many doubts in these particular cases that I’ve got it more or less right.

      I accept of course that (excluding obvious extremes) an individual’s politics will not be an absolutely reliable guide to their personality, moral codes or treatment of others, including their children. I think of my friend Michelle Boag, who could barely be further right (in New Zealand terms), but who is one of the most exceptionally generous and charitable people I have ever met. But I’ve also never said that conservatives or right-wingers were bad people, child abusers or even smackers. I did say: “Those who see punishment as the answer to society’s ills come generally from the political right or far right.” And I did say that I thought it unlikely that McCoskrie, Baldock or McVicar would have been supporters of the Greens or of Labour’s ‘Nanny state’. I think that’s probably right too.

  16. Jez that’s where I went wrong.
    If only I had stopped the puddings
    All that talking and explaining to the kids was a real time waster and think of all those extra puddings I could have had

  17. While my great-grandfather spins relentlessly in his grave (see last few comments for November 16′s “Confessions of a rugby-hater” post), I’ll just make a few comments here:

    (HOMEPADDOCK) “The Lange/Douglas administration was re-elected in 1987 which indicates…popular support for much of what they did in their first term”
    (1) Significant swing from Labour to non-voting in safe Labour seats in 1987. Clearly blue-collar voters were not impressed. Labour held on partly as a result of wealthy neo-liberal Nats swinging to Labour (for instance, Remuera, one of Nat’s safest-ever seats almost fell to Labour).
    (2) Labour’s highly-popular anti-nuclear policy played significant role in its re-election (especially shoring-up trad Labour vote).
    (3) During 1987 campaign, Lange repeatedly acknowledged pain caused by “Rogernomics” and emphasised again and again that re-elected Labour government would focus on more trad Labour policies / increased social spending on health and education.
    (4) Most of the key and more extreme neo-liberal policies of Fourth Labour Government were, in fact, enacted in the early phase of its second term (which, of course, ultimately led a shame-faced Lange to call for a “tea-break”).

    (BE) “It took people a while to get wise to Douglas, but they did get wise”.
    (TESS) “Not wise enough, Ruth Richardson got into power and her policy was Douglas on steroids”.
    (1) Look at details from opinion polls and, in particular, university-conducted voter surveys during 1990-1991 and you’ll find that the vast majority of those who swung from Labour to National in 1990 rejected Rogernomics and believed Bolger government would move decisively in opposite direction (easy for those of us who are more politically-aware, especially Lefties like me, to scoff, but many voters genuinely fell for Bolger’s 1990 campaign rhetoric).
    (2) Most substantial swing in 1990 was Labour to non-voting, not Labour to Nat.

    (BE) “After 1990 Labour would be out of office for 9 years”.
    (1) Yep. And let’s remember that as a result of Ruthanomics, Nat’s vote slumped about 13 percentage points at 1993 election to 35 percent (but thanks to FPP the buggers were re-elected).

  18. >>Even your ideological opponents are complex individuals. We do ourselves (and the public discourse) an injustice when we conclude this isn’t so.

    >Well that’s all very noble.

    I agree. It is.

    >But this sort of logic, where you point to individual examples that defy the generalisation, really isn’t very helpful.

    Who says it’s not helpful? It seems very helpful in exposing your occasional tendency to be judgemental and cruel.

    > And then all of your examples, with the exception of O’Reilly are in the past tense. I’m afraid I have to deal with these people on the basis of how they present themselves today. Of the four people you mention, I have respect only for Stephen Franks and something bordering on contempt for the others. I’ve based those judgements on their recent words and actions and I don’t have too many doubts in these particular cases that I’ve got it more or less right.

    I don’t really know where to start. These people are somehow from the past tense ? And yet at the same time you are judging them from their recent words and actions ?

    If you really have something bordering on contempt for Don Brash, I think that says a lot more about you than him. He’s hugely respected for his work ethic and his intelligence. People who have worked with him are inevitably effusive in their praise. No doubt he has his flaws, but who amongst us doesn’t ? Could it be that his real sin in your eyes is simply that he sees things from a different perspective that you ?

    Incidentally, in case it’s of interest, I actually agree with you re Baldock, McVicar et al. It’s your attempt to extend your generalisations ad infinitum that I find troubling.

    • Who says it’s not helpful? It seems very helpful in exposing your occasional tendency to be judgemental and cruel.

      If you say so.

  19. And then all of your examples, with the exception of O’Reilly are in the past tense.

    I was responding to a comment which asked “… or have ever been”, so I gave answers across the spectrum.

    I’d note that David Garrett is certainly in the present tense too. The anti-nuclear movement just hasn’t held many wharf-side vigils near visiting US ships recently :-)

    Perhaps I can use Don Brash, co-founder of AI’s Freedom Foundation (NZ); Board member of Presbyterian Support Services and the Plunket Foundation. Or Stephen Franks, campaigner against battery hens.

  20. “I don’t really know where to start. These people are somehow from the past tense ? And yet at the same time you are judging them from their recent words and actions ?”

    Read the thing properly. The apparently contrarian stances of those listed by the poster are all stances taken IN THE PAST and no longer adhered to by these people.

  21. >If you say so.

    I am guessing you have taken offence and now I feel guilty. Perhaps I have been judgemental myself. I should have restricted myself to simple logic. Graeme challenges your generalisations by pointing out counter examples. Your response is to describe such counter examples as “not helpful”. Not helpful to your argument perhaps but otherwise very helpful. Just one man’s opinion of course.

    • I am guessing you have taken offence and now I feel guilty. Perhaps I have been judgemental myself.

      No need to feel guilty. My point was simply that a generalisation may be true, even though there are exceptions to the generalisation. If I say, for example, “dogs make good family pets”, it will not be long before someone reminds me of all the children mauled by the family pitbull. But the original generalisation remain true. This is why I suggested that naming some right-wing politicians who had done good things was not a helpful (or persuasive) argument against my generalisation that right-wingers tend to take a more conservative view of child discipline than left-wingers. I may be wrong of course, but citing Tamaki, Garrett, Brash and O’Reilly doesn’t prove it. A properly conducted survey might.

  22. “The essence of my argument though remains that just because one is far right one does not necessarily support hitting children.”

    I think this is a key point. The organisers of this march seem to have been appealing to Christian groups for numbers. They are far something, but not necessarily far right.

    In this respect, it seems to me to be part of the moral outrage / energise base support tactics I have seen used by Christian groups before. The premise runs – Society is in peril though moral decay owing to lack of connection to God via the Bible. Therefore, the rank and file are energised into (usually futile) anger. During this period of anger, the rank and file can demonstrate how connected to God they are, they can pay their tithes, and even occasionally purchase guides published in the U.S. about “how it was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”, or whatever the moral outrage is this year.

    Looking at examples I can think of from the top of my head, there was moral outrage over various issues, some issues being quite petty on reflection: Section 59 reform, Richard Dawkins, Civil Unions, Rap music, Homosexual Law Reform, Punk, Dungeons and Dragons, the Beatles, Little Richard, Unions, mixed marriages. The only thing these issues have in common is that somehow they all could be called ungodly at the time.

    I wonder what would happen if the moral outrage wasn’t there, maybe numbers on pews would drop as the opportunities to make the message vary from Sunday (or Saturday) to Sunday varied. Or perhaps believers would swap between churches to see if there was the possibility to earn extra salvation points for activities at other venues.

  23. I may be wrong of course, but citing Tamaki, Garrett, Brash and O’Reilly doesn’t prove it. A properly conducted survey might.

    This began as a response from me to your query:

    do you really believe that McCoskrie, Baldock, McVicar and the rest of the people behind the two referenda and the so-called ‘march for democracy’, could possibly be or ever have been supporters of the Greens or Labour’s ‘nanny state’?

    My answer was basically “yes”. I do believe that it’s possible that some of those behind these referenda may have been left-wing in the past (or may even be left-wing now). I don’t know enough about Bob McCoskrie, Larry Baldock or Garth McVicar (or the others behind these referendums) to know about them, so I used other people I do know a bit more about to make that point that most people are complex people with varied histories and life-stories etc.

    Do I think Bob McCoskrie used to support Labour? No. Do I think it possible? Yes, if unlikely. Do I think it possible that among the many people behind this march and these referendums that some come from left-ish backgrounds in their early years – or even might be inclined that way now, but for their views on this issue? Yes, and perhaps even probable.

    Why would I assume that there are no people opposed to Sue Bradford’s amendment like Taito Phillip Field – working class, unionists, but church-going social conservatives – involved in these protests? The slightly more strident versions of Chris Trotter on this issue.

    Revelations like those around Don Brash (Patron of Amnesty International Freedom Fund) and David Garrett (deep involvement in the anti-nuke movement) are the type of thing that leave me open to expecting the unexpected among others, including my political opponents. They don’t prove anything about the political history of a Baldock or McCoskrie, but they’re evidence for the potential in just about anyone.

  24. “The organisers of this march seem to have been appealing to Christian groups for numbers.”

    The large Christian denominations actually were in favour of repealing s59. Certainly the Catholic and the Anglican leadership were.

  25. That’s true Tess. And these are the denominations that don’t tend to get swept into moral outrage issues I mentioned before.

    I believe a key difference between the leadership of the Churches that backed the repealing of s59 is the education of the priest/ministers, and a level of engagement with social issues via long established charity arms.

    In short, for a person to become a Catholic priest, or an Anglican, Presbyterian or Methodist minister, a high level of education, which includes analytical thinking, is required. So leadership of these churches are able review social issues with a broader view than straight quoting the bible.

  26. I agree Sean. I also think the reason why these churches were okay with the repeal of s59 is because they deal directly with the results of family violence through their charitable work. Whilst I don’t want good parents criminalised for a light smack on the bottom, what I do want to see is vulnerable children being kept safe and healthy.

    Too many children are raped, beaten and murdered by their families and that’s an evil that we have to address as a society.

  27. Tess, reinstate pudding! Go back to smacking your boys!

    The law states clearly that the Police have discretion not to prosecute you, “where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution.”

    I very much doubt a light smack – trifling and transitory – so slight it does not induce crying – would result in an investigation let alone a prosecution. There would be no public interest in your children being removed from your care under these circumstances.

    The recent review of how the law is working affirms this.

    The Police issue a report on child assault complaints, investigations and prosecutions every six months; it is available on their website.

  28. Molly: “I very much doubt a light smack – trifling and transitory – so slight it does not induce crying – would result in an investigation let alone a prosecution”.

    If a smack doesn’t “induce crying” — or, at the very least, tears through pain, then the parent might as well give a hug and plant a smooch on the kid’s cheek. A fat lot of good, that is.

    You anti-smackers make my stomach turn, with your hand-wringing angst. Not seen the appalling stats, as to the ever-decreasing age of the child-killers? All comes down to lack of responsible parenting, which includes some real medicine. Trust me: a sound hiding “induces” behavioural correction, much better, than withholding the custard from the pudding.

  29. Common Sense, perhaps you could provide a link to show the stats about these child killers? And while you are at it see if you can find some sound, peer reviewed research to support the sound hiding idea.

    It seems to me that the definition of ‘Sound Hiding ‘may be the problem.

  30. Common Sense, I was replying to Tess, who commented that the smacks she used to give her boys were light and did not induce crying. She is not anti-smacking.

    As for irresponsible parenting, I was given hidings from my father and all it resulted in was a loss of respect – me for my father – and anger towards him. Perhaps in the short term there was some behavioural correction, but it was begrudging and simmering under the surface of apparent acquiescence was rebellion and resentment.

    As for the efficacy of withholding pudding, it all depends on how attached the child is to their pudding. As any parent can attest, that will be different for different children :-)

  31. It all gets a bit wearying, because everyone’s traversing the same terrain over and over again. And everyone’s pov is so dogmatic and righteous, that it borders on intractable. But, for the record: I,too, was given “hidings” from my parents, and it went way beyond smacks or a ‘clip across the head’. The hidings were real – box wood timber and leather straps from suitcases, easily falling into the realm of “parental assault” by of any of today’s yardsticks.

    Paradoxically, I’m a firm advocate of a parent’s right to punish their kids, by physical means. Albeit, not at the level that I and others, suffered from.

    I see a strong corollary between the wanton behaviour of today’s youth – boy-racers, street party bottle-throwing, fake IDs being presented — and the lack of firm parental discipline.

    While, you can never be sure of “the efficacy of withholding pudding”, you sure as hell can see the effects of a measured-and-controlled hiding, by way of few red welts on the leg and some real tears. It offers the parent an empirical certainty as to the effectiveness of punishment, which a denied pudding can not. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about.

  32. “a sound hiding “induces” behavioural correction”

    Ugh :( And FYI I voted to not criminalise smacking – maybe I shouldn’t have given the attitude you have displayed.

    Parenting is far more than just behavioural correction, it’s about boundaries, consequences, love and respect. Sure, I could really physically hurt my children in order to make them behave in a certain way, but that’s hateful and harmful.

    My light smack makes a point without actually physically harming my kids. Likewise no dessert sends the message that parents are in charge and boundaries need to be respected. Works for us. No “hidings” required.