Susan Ryder explains that no doesn’t mean yes, Mr Key.
After weeks of debate about it, the Smacking Referendum had incredibly slipped my mind. I’d been tied up playing tour guide to friends on their first visit to this country, thus paying scant attention to news reports and political blogs in the interim. “Well, that’ll set the cat amongst the pigeons!” I thought. “What are you going to do now, John Key?!”
What indeed. U-Turn Boy has been backed right into his own corner, leaving no wriggle room. That the referendum is non-binding is immaterial. The electorate has clearly shown the politicians the proverbial middle finger.
The reaction from the Anti-Smacking Act’s architects and supporters has been predictably unpalatable. Stunningly, Sue Bradford called it “inconclusive,” showing once again the authoritarian love affair with language-revision.
National party stalwart Richard Griffin, when asked if would it be “plain rude of John Key to ignore” the vote, said “Not at all. This is not a major political issue. This government is driven by other criteria; there are far more important things to deal with. This government is about global trade relationships. It’s not about social engineering.” Well, all the more reason to repeal the Act then, eh.
His political radio counterpart from further left, John Pagani, said of the 1.4 million-plus voters who returned a “no” vote, that “the question posed isn’t the same as what the referendum advocates are calling for.” That because the wording on the ballot paper never said to change the law, the “no” voters “have no idea what the law should be changed to.”
And the Prime Minister went even further by stating that it would “derail Parliament if it went back to the House for a vote” and that the voters “didn’t necessarily say they want the law changed.”
I have news for Bradford, Griffin, Pagani, Key and the myriad of commentators who insist upon wrongly referring to the 1.4 million-plus voters as “the pro-smackers.”
This issue, as noted again on this blog yesterday, was never about smacking or not smacking children. It was never about preventing or not child abuse. It was about opposing state intrusion into private lives, period.
Notwithstanding the previously-stated shortcomings of referendums per se, the overwhelming “No!” vote is a lonely victory for individual freedom in this increasingly centralised country, made all the more astonishing in the face of a surreptitious campaign to deter voters from bothering to return their ballot papers at all.
Regarding the latter, John Key lead the charge by channelling Helen Clark in his arrogant assertion that nothing would change as a result of the referendum. He stubbornly insisted that the law “was working,” a mantra that was echoed by some in the media, along with playing the “referendum-question-is-confusing” record on high rotate.
And the Greens, in a world-first, harped on about the “wasted cost to the taxpayer” of $8-9 million; the same Greens who were only yesterday grizzling about cuts to Adult and Community Education totalling, according to Russel Norman, “only $13 million; (which is) pretty small in the scheme of things for government funding.” But then the Greens love people who want more government. The opinions of the 100 or so who attended the public meeting in Wellington to force others to fund their Night Classes are far more important to the Green party than those of the thousands who opposed the Bradford Bill. Further, the Greens conveniently forget that they were part of the Government that refused to allow the ballot to be inexpensively held on Election Day last November, citing “voter confusion.”
Meanwhile, the child abusers continue to freely inflict their torture upon little children, with not a peep from Saviour Sue on the horrific occasion of every new case.
The Referendum question was not confusing, nor do the “no” respondents, of which I was one, have “no idea” what they want from the result. On the contrary, the legions demonstrating on the streets and in every poll ever undertaken knew exactly what they wanted prior to the Act’s arrogant imposition: ‘No’ to the Bradford/Clark/Key Rewriting of Section 59 of the Crimes Act.
Section 59 should never have been repealed, child abuse always being rightly and properly prohibited. If creating legislation was the key to solving problems, the Soviet Union would have been a paradise. It wasn’t. However Bradford had a firm ally in Clark, who was looking to a future that figured the United Nations and to hell with the wishes of New Zealanders.
John Key, conversely, ought to take note. The law is decidedly not working when citizens are fearful of authority. He should remember who works for whom. If his government is not the Nanny State government, he can demonstrate that by repealing the Anti-Smacking Act.
It shouldn’t take long. I’ll happily provide the match.
* * Read Susan Ryder’s column every Tuesday here at NOT PC * *
Dear Ms Bradford,
I am writing to register my dismay that, despite a 9:1 rejection of your
"anti-smacking" law, you seem unwilling to concede that the overwhelming
majority of New Zealanders do not support your position. Rather, you choose
to insult us by insinuating that the result was skewed because we apparently
could not understand the question and voted the wrong way. Now I can
appreciate that you might find the question difficult or confusing, but I
would submit that is more a reflection on you than the general New Zealand
I lived for seven years in a country where smacking was banned and I
witnessed firsthand some of the consequences. Among other things, my wife
was assaulted by a 10 year old boy while 5 months pregnant: kicked at full
strength in the lower abdomen because the child did not want eye drops put
in his eyes. It took both parents to hold the boy down and hold his head
still for the drops to be administered, while the child screamed and fought
every inch of the way. Everyone in the department could hear what was
happening including other patients. It was a humiliating and degrading
experience for all concerned, including the child.
Why did this happen? Because the parents, like so many other parents in that
country, had had no control over the child since the day he was born. It was
a topic much discussed in the general society: there was real confusion and
uncertainty amongst parents about how to cope with their uncontrollable
children, and yet the government trumpeted the virtue of the wonderful,
enlightened law they had foisted on society.
I would respectfully submit that that government, like you, was blissfully
out of touch with the realities of daily life and the consequences of such
unwanted and unwarranted governmental intrusion into our daily lives.
In conclusion, I would appreciate a public apology for the gratuitous
insult you have delivered to the 87.6% that voted against your law, and an
acknowledgement that it is not the government's role to interfere in how we
raise our families.
UPDATE 2: As has been said before, the problem with Bradford’s law is not just that it is non-objectively derived (i.e., smacking is not beating) but also that it’s non-objectively articulated. As Professor Jim Evans said not so long ago of the Bradford/Clark/Key law:
This is not clear legislation. In creating this law, Parliament abandoned its constitutional responsibility to say with clarity just which conduct is criminal.
The section results from a political fudge. Whatever other views one takes about the topic of smacking, that much at least ought to be kept clear.
Evans’s point: no-one has a bloody clue in`advance of acting what’s legal and what’s illegal -- and new “guidelines” sent to the police isn’t going to change that.
It’s a bit like rugby’s rules on what you can do in the ruck, eh. New guidelines sent to referees isn’t going to make things any clearer for the players heading at full tilt into the next contest; only a fully objective rule change is going to help.
Madeleine has a post on the sort of change that’s needed to bring clarity to the dog’s breakfast of Section 59: Dear Cabinet . . .
UPDATE 3: A lot of well-articulated anger directed at the Prime Minister this morning for the arrogance of not listening (now doesn’t that remind you of another Prime Minister).
- From the MacDoctor: “John Key claims that, with respect to the anti-smacking bill, the “law is working” He is right. The repeal of Section 59 was designed to criminalise using force to correct children It is working very well indeed. Most parents are now criminals. All the ones who have smacked their child within the past two years…
But the law is working well.
No, we don’t smack any more. We no longer have any control over our children in a public place. Yesterday, I saw a woman attempting to “persuade” her child out of her tantrum. It was very sad. A grown woman reduced to begging her two-year-old. I saw the look of triumph on that little girl’s face and knew she was doomed, her only means of learning self-control removed by the power of this law.
Still, the law is working well.
That nice Mr. Key says so.”
- Lindsay Mitchell: Go ahead - break the law - “I am unspeakably angry at the government's, no, John Key's reaction to the referendum. But I shouldn't be. Smacking is effectively against the law and that is how it will stay. But those authorities that administer the law are being told to act like it isn't.”
- Oswald: What an opportunity lost for the Nats - “With an 88% backing, a great opportunity was lost to score some serious points.You stand up in public and state "Now that you have spoken, we understand the true extent of your feelings on this isssue and we will move to repeal this law immediatly."But no, you screwed the pooch.”
- Liberty Scott: Child abusers need to be bribed - “So is the philosophy of leftwing columnist John Minto. After bemoaning child abuse figures in his Stuff blog, he has found a magic solution for it - give them more unearned money.”
- Liberty Scott: Ready to punch your kids? - “Presumably the vote on the badly worded smacking referendum means that New Zealanders predominantly want it to be legal to punch your kids in the face or smack them over the head with concrete - that's what you voted for, right? With this sort of nonsense from the child nationalisation lobby…”
- NZ Conservative: Changing the smacking law would derail parliament! - “On NewsTalkZB this morning John Key said that if they changed the smacking law, it would "Derail Parliament."
- NZ Conservative: John Key Lied Today - “John Key lied today, as reported in this mornings DomPost. He said words to the effect that "smacking is legal". This is what the act says:
(2) Nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.
How clearer could this possibly be? . . . We need to respect the laws, not be told to ignore them. If this results in injustice, the law must be changed to be just.
It is hard to debate when even the Prime Minister willfully misrepresents the facts.”
It’s that “even the Prime Minister” bit that gets me, as if things were going to be different with the Blue Team in charge.
No comment, of course, from Adolph’s No Minister blog apart from this piece by Lou Taylor that slipped through on Saturday. Since then they’ve been as silent on the issue as Labour’s Red Alert blog. (Now there’s an irony for you.) No surprise of course, If Adolph was a woman he’d be queuing up to have John Key’s babies.