Tuesday, 23 June 2009

LIBERTARIAN SUS: Assaulting adults

Susan Ryder smacks a few politicians wriggling amid bogus ambiguity.

Last Sunday marked the second anniversary of what is commonly known as the Anti-smacking Act, (ie the amendment to section 59 of the Crimes Act), just a few days after the announcement of the upcoming referendum on the Act by postal ballot.

A lot can happen in a few days and it did. Hell seemed to break loose. Seemingly every man and his dog pronounced the referendum question “confusing” and “ambiguous”. The cost of the referendum popped up, too. Oddly enough, the people in that camp were opposed to any law change. “The law is working well!” they cried. “Nobody’s been criminalised! “It’s not an issue anymore!”

All that huff and puff demands a good look at the question:
Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?
Because you’re confused, children – er, adults – I’ll explain it to you. You have two choices of response: Yes or No.

Yes, it should be a criminal offence, (or)

No, it should not be a criminal offence

So far, so good; not a lot of confusion there. And as for any ambiguity, if anything it favours the Act’s supporters whom we’ll call the pro-Antis, for the hell of it.

The cost of holding the referendum is estimated at approximately $8 million. Comparatively, the estimated cost of the proposed national cycleway is $50 million. Well, the Greens like bikes so no problem there. And a whopping $550 million was buried deep within the recent budget as being earmarked for ‘climate change’. Whatever that entails, it’s reasonable to believe that the Greens won’t be averse to it. The state-worshipping pro-Antis – never ones to worry about taxpayers as a rule – will have to come up with a better reason than expense.

Having said that, it is worth remembering that the referendum wouldn’t have cost an extra cent had it been added to last year’s general election voting papers as suggested at the time. But Helen Clark was quick to quash that suggestion as being “too confusing”. I have no doubt that, based on every poll taken prior to the Act’s passing, the result of ..
“Do you approve of Sue Bradford’s Anti-Smacking Act – yes or no?”
.. would have been a virtual smack for both Helen Clark and John Key. And we know that politicians of any colour cannot bear to lose face.

Speaking of colour, in its press release last Sunday, the Green party said that the law was working well, giving “children the same legal protection from assault as adults”.

I think we should send a copy of George Orwell’s 1984 to the Greens. They appear to need a reminder of the dangers of Orwellian Newspeak, ie language revision. They have forgotten that assaulting children was always a crime. They have forgotten that those parents who used section 59 in defence of their actions were always in danger of having to explain themselves in a court of law. They have forgotten that a smack on the hand is not synonymous with brutality and never has been. And in their self-importance to proclaim their role in protecting the ‘chooldren’, they miss the irony in their blatant assault upon parental rights to child discipline within the bounds of the law, as it stood for so long.

It is also worth recalling the original intention of Sue Bradford’s private member’s bill: to ban smacking outright. This aim is in keeping with her Marxist philosophy of state control in all facets of life. The bill was controversial from day one, with polls overwhelmingly opposed.

According to a Family First press release from last week, John Key said this at the time:
"The Labour government [said Key] has shown utter contempt for New Zealanders and the democratic process with its plan to railroad the anti-smacking bill through Parliament. The Labour-led Government knows the measure is deeply unpopular, so it plans to act against the wishes of the majority of Kiwis and ram the bill through under urgency. This is a deeply cynical abuse of power as Labour tries to clear the decks on the controversial issue. Helen Clark has refused to let her MPs vote the way they really think on this bill. To ram it through under the cover of urgency shows just how out of touch her government has become."
That was what John Key said then. Then National MP Chester Borrows jumped in with a proposed amendment. Bradford saw red – appropriately – and swore to “pull” her bill if any amendment was forthcoming. What happened next was pure politics with quiet deals being done and before you could say ‘flip-flop’, the Borrows amendment was adopted, Bradford was buttoned and Clark neatly shifted the argument to being one of “stopping the heinous abuse”. The bill’s passing was all but guaranteed when John Key bought into it, ignoring his prior rhetoric.

Two years down the track and the abuse has not stopped, mongrels having little time for the law. And political mongrels show no sign of altering welfare laws that pay people to have children they neither want nor care for.

It is crucial to note that those opposed to the Bill are not necessarily in favour of smacking children as a form of discipline, nor are they necessarily promoting smacking as a form of discipline.

The issue here is one of state interference and what it can lead to. As such, I remain staunchly opposed to this Act and shall be voting NO in this referendum.

Those who believe in the virtue of limited government can only do likewise.

* * Read Susan Ryder's column here every Tuesday at NOT PC * *


  1. John Key must be feeling supremely confident of his position in politics, not to be concerned about the loss of goodwill that will eventuate with his crawling supplication to Bradford, possibly the most despised politician in government, not to mention the insult to our intelligence that the referendum question is somehow 'ambiguous'.

    He is treading on very thin ice. I for one am getting very, very grumpy.

    Mrs Danvers

  2. I am so sick of this crap. How dumb are you if you hit a kid in front of people? About as dumb as the people who want to waste money and time on this.

  3. Aha! I see a dumb anonymous poster who stated that, "How dumb are you if you hit a kid in front of people?". This is the point of the debate dumb anon! Shall I give you a demonstration of what a hit and a smack is? The reason you're so dumb is, because you can't differentiate between the two, can you?

    I can give you a live physical demonstration on yourself if you wish, to show you what is the difference? Are you up for it? I bet you won't because you definitely know that hitting a child and smacking are not the same thing, are they?

  4. While I agree with your conclusions, I beg to dispute (slightly) this version of events...

    SUS wrote: What happened next was pure politics with quiet deals being done and before you could say ‘flip-flop’, the Borrows amendment was adopted...

    The Borrows amendment was NOT adopted. That amendment was a total anathema to Bradford, as you point out. Why? Because it addressed the real issues, and not the fictitious ones that Bradford was raising to hide her true motives.

    The Borrows amendment is still a sensible option. It had 3 aims:
    * To send a message that child abuse is wrong
    * To stop parents who moderately and seriously assault their children from hiding behind Section 59
    * To not criminalise good parents who occasionally smack their children without overdoing it

    But now, the govt has everything to gain, and nothing to lose, if they offer to return to the Borrows' amendment, if the "No" vote prevails. They can reclaim the moral high ground (and public support):

    * To not be accused of being a "nanny State" party
    * To be the only party to listen to the public in a referendum

  5. Hi WW: if wrong, I stand corrected.

    So you're saying that the amendment that was adopted was in fact a watered-down version of the (original) Borrows suggestion?

  6. The Borrows amendment is summarised on Kiwiblog.

    As for what was actually passed... I haven't found the actual wording. But it was not a "watered down Borrows". She would not even agree to the original John Key compromise -- that everyone appears to have forgotten!

    Here is Stephen Franks assessment of the Bradford total victory.

  7. Thanks for that. I suspect the amendment was the result of a motley collusion between Clark & Key.

    Spkg of Key, I take issue with this, from his compromise:

    "We all agree that the purpose of this legislation is to reduce New Zealand’s terrible rate of harming children .."

    That was bullshit, given Bradford's original intention. More, it shows Key's duplicity for all to see. It suited him to copy Clark.

    But it's essential to not miss the fundamental point: that there was no need for Borrows or Key to jump in with their bit in the first place; the bill was an affront to freedom and should have been thrown out, period.

    It's an old ploy:

    1. initiate an extreme proposal, guaranteed to upset people

    2. modify it, so that the unthinking, rather than demand its dumping, say "oh well, at least that's an improvement on the first idea" ..

    And so it passes. And once passed, it can be extended at will.

    Very neat. And insidious.

  8. Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?

    The problem is not that the question is ambigous as such, but I still disagree with the wording.
    It assumes that smaking can be part of good parential correction.

    Bradford would argue that a smack can NOT be part of good parental correction.

    I am not arguing either way, but that issue is a matter of opinion, and it shouldnt be assumed. In fact all those who vote "yes" probably believe that the question is invalid and that a smack can not be part of good parenting.

    despite the fact that the "no" campainers may be correct, the wording of their refferendum assumes that they are right. The question should be open but not assume the answer.


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.