Tuesday, August 25, 2009

LIBERTARIANZ SUS: No means no! [update 3]

Susan Ryder explains that no doesn’t mean yes, Mr Key.

susanryder “88% VOTE NO IN REFERENDUM” screamed the newspaper headline last Saturday evening when I ducked into the supermarket for a few things.

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
public.
    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.
    Sincerely,
    P----- P----

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."
        Derail Parliament???
        Unbelievable!”
  • 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.

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60 Comments:

Anonymous Redbaiter said...

Great post.

I'd only add one thing-

Kudos to Larry Baldock for organising such a monumental smack in the face to the socialist totalitarians.

8/25/2009 07:55:00 am  
Blogger KG said...

A fine post Sus. I see Adolf has a post up at No Minister claiming that Key is playing some kind of subtle long-term game.
Well, he is--but it's not what Adolf thinks it is.

8/25/2009 08:03:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

You're not going to get any rational analysis from that direction, are you.

If Adolf was a woman, he'd be standing in line to have John Boy's babies.

8/25/2009 08:17:00 am  
Anonymous B Whitehead said...

Good post Susan, it's notable that the insistance that the "legislation is working" is just crap.
There has been little or no change to the child abuse statistics .
They claim that no one has been prosecuted, but thats irrevelent.
The minute a smack is reported, the family is then subjected to Police & CYPS investigations & then possibly dragged thru the court system.
It costs hugely in time,money & disruption to your familys well being.

8/25/2009 08:27:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all - it's 1.4 Million not just thousands.

Second those people voted that smacking is part of Good Parental Correction. We fo need to change the law - to make parental responsibility clear. If your kid is being disruptive and you don't smack them then you should have cyfs breaking down your door!

8/25/2009 09:10:00 am  
Blogger K said...

I humbly and respectfully submit that there must be something fundamentally wrong with the structure of the NZ government to allow that kind of disconnect with your governing political class.

When, or if ever, the friends of liberty and freedom once again gain ascendancy, I would suggest that some urgent major and fundamental changes be made before things really get out of hand and the nanny state starts installing cameras in the living room.

8/25/2009 09:24:00 am  
Blogger Mark Hubbard said...

Parliament abandoned its constitutional responsibility to say with clarity

Not 'trying' to change the topic, but if anything typifies out various taxing acts and legislation, it is this, and the cost on lives is huge.

But back to the matter at hand, great piece Sus. I especially appreciated your colleague's letter.

8/25/2009 09:33:00 am  
Blogger Madeleine said...

Thanks for the link Sus and well said!

Like I said in my letter to Cabinet, if I find myself before a court or investigated by the police or a state agency it is the black letter of the law I should be able to reach for to know whether I stand on the side of guilt or innocence not some pamphlet or tv campaign or media release or report.

While a law stands on the books that can be interpreted either way and that law can reach into such a vast number of homes, promises from a government that may find itself sitting in the opposition benches one day are never going to equate to reassurance as to what the law really means.

8/25/2009 09:36:00 am  
Anonymous Redbaiter said...

" I humbly and respectfully submit "

When it comes to NZ politicians, there's very little need for humility and absolutely no need for respect.

Least of all on this issue.

I'd say there was a lot more need was more for anger and disgust.

Docility is why we're where we are now.

8/25/2009 10:13:00 am  
Anonymous Sus said...

Thanks all, with a couple of clarifications:

Madeleine/Mark: links & updates courtesy of PC - I can't take credit. ;)

Anon: Firstly, I am aware of the numbers. Read the *context* carefully. Secondly, the NO vote was *against* making a parental smack an offence, which is not necessarily the same as being in favour of the practise.

8/25/2009 10:33:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sure hope that the next round of opinion polls show at least 10 points off National.

I won't be voting for them again, not even my constituency vote.

8/25/2009 10:57:00 am  
Blogger KG said...

"Docility is why we're where we are now."
Amen!

8/25/2009 11:01:00 am  
Anonymous ACT Youth said...

Haha, look at those whinging bloggers at NZ Conservative, they have been pro-Key prior to the Election day and still do even today , despite Mr. Key's dishonesty about the anti-smacking law.

We warned those Nats to vote for ACT, because we knew then, that Mr. Key had no political philosophy at all. He just wanted to be a PM from a very young age as something of a personal satisfaction but have no political vision at all.

For those misinformed Nat voters who are now very disappointed with Mr. Key's weaseling should vote ACT, next time.

8/25/2009 11:23:00 am  
Blogger KG said...

Oh yeah, because ACT would be such a huge improvement and they're so trustworthy..
/sarc

8/25/2009 11:29:00 am  
Blogger The Tomahawk Kid said...

This bloody stupid referendum is not about making it LEGAL to smack.

Its not saying that to be a good parent you must SMACK

It is that is should not have been made ILLEGAL in the first place.

If it had not been made illegal by Sue Bradford, and the National Party voting it through - like Bob Clarkson standing on the steps of Parliament and facing the crowd saying he didnt agree with it, and then VOTING FOR IT, then none of this would be taking place.

There were already laws in place for assault and battery, and a smack is NEITHER.

All this nonsense has come about due to people like Sue Bradford who cannot tell the difference between a smack, and assault

8/25/2009 11:44:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

"All this nonsense has come about due to people like Sue Bradford who cannot tell the difference between a smack, and assault."

To be strictly accurate, all this nonsense has come about because Sue Bradford wanted to use those who cannot tell the difference between a smack and assault to advance the state's control over families.

Never forget that Sue is still at root a Marxist -- and Marx called explicitly for the nationalisation of children and the abolition of the family.

In Marx's famous fourth thesis in his 'Theses of Feurbach' he announced that "the family must ... be destroyed in theory and in practice."

And in 'The German Ideology' he declared that "with the abolition of private property, it follows that ‘the abolition of the family is self-evident’."

And in 'The Communist Manifesto' he insisted that "the bourgeois family will disappear as a matter of course" with the smashing of capitalism -- and stated flaty that that the activist must work toward making this happen, work towards a communist society that "does away with private property and educates children on a communal basis, and in this way removes the two bases of traditional marriage, the dependence, rooted in private property, of the woman on the man and of the children on the parents."

It is no accident that we are in the mare's nest that Bradford began. That's exactly what she intended, and of which Key is completely and criminally unaware.

8/25/2009 12:28:00 pm  
Anonymous Sus said...

PC, that last comment of yours is dead right. And even though the points have been noted many times over the last few years, they remain more timely than ever.

I'm going to send it (via post) to John Key -- and I call on others to do so.

8/25/2009 12:37:00 pm  
Blogger KG said...

"...of which Key is completely and criminally unaware."
I'm beginning to wonder if he's unaware..or complicit.

8/25/2009 12:40:00 pm  
Blogger Ruth said...

There is nothing sacrosanct about 'the family'.

No doubt Conservatives see the family as the fundamental unit of society.

For libertarians - or for the libertarians I know at least - the fundamental unit is the individual.

You won't get any truck with Key over this. He's made an executive decision and that's that - a business cannot be run by consensus and he's not running the country that way either.

8/25/2009 12:46:00 pm  
Anonymous Sus said...

"the fundamental unit is the individual."

And how exactly is Key demonstrating his respect for that on this occasion?


"He's made an executive decision and that's that .."

And remind me again for whom he works?

8/25/2009 01:38:00 pm  
Blogger KG said...

"He's made an executive decision and that's that."
No doubt Josef Stalin's lickspittles said something similar....

8/25/2009 01:40:00 pm  
Blogger KG said...

"..a business cannot be run by consensus."
Has to be one of the most brain-dead comments I've read so far.
This country is not a 'business' and if the owner of a business tells the manager to run it in a particular way then that manager is obliged to comply--or resign.

8/25/2009 01:44:00 pm  
Blogger Clunking Fist said...

I recycle my comment from DimPost:

On Morning Report, DepComm Pope said few parents were prosecuted. He started to say that they were dealt with using other methods, but trailed off. Unfortunately Gentle Geoff failed to ask him what those “other methods” were. An offical warning? Diversion? Public caning?

Just the fact that police received a complaint against the parent means that there is a record created, data held, police notes, maybe even an arrest and a recored interview. But the parent shouldn’t feel like a criminal through all that, of course.

8/25/2009 01:48:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What part of 87% don't you understand Jandal John?

All 87 of them by the look of it.

Go get a spine transplant. We are quite over misfit controlling women with balls and men with none.

George

8/25/2009 02:23:00 pm  
Blogger Ruth said...

This country is not a 'business'

Really? Shows how much you know about globalisation.


Key is CEO - he is not obliged to buy into the 'tyranny of the majority' or to 'respect' anyone. You as shareholders are welcome to leave the country or vote him out next election if you don't agree.

Where is the libertarian outrage about the nationalisation of NZX that your conservative friends have lobbied for I ask you? That is far more important to the country's future than this nonsense.

8/25/2009 02:42:00 pm  
Blogger KG said...

No, Ruth it shows just how little you know about the difference between a society and a business.

"Key is CEO - he is not obliged to buy into the 'tyranny of the majority' or to 'respect' anyone"

You really are an effing fool. As an elected politician he most certainly is obliged to buy into the tyranny of the majority. It's that very tyranny that got him elected. Unless you're suggesting that after being elected he's free to behave as a dictator?
I guess you are....
And he most certainly is required to respect the people who pay his bloody wages--otherwise he's taking money from people he doesn't respect in order to ignore their wishes and treat them with contempt.
And what does that make him and the desperate hero-worshipers such as you? (other than equally contemptible.)

8/25/2009 03:32:00 pm  
Anonymous Sus said...

Key's riding roughshod over the individual -- yes, individual -- is now "nonsense", is it? NZX is another issue, Ruth. Stick to this one.

We know about 'tyranny' thanks, whether by majority or minority. We've had enough if it already.

I'm glad the ref was non-binding for that reason. But it categorically showed the bastards to be out of step with the very people they purport to represent.

The 'we know best' argument isn't sticking. You're backing yourself into the same corner as he is.

Oh, and if JK really was running the country like a business, he'd be cutting costs right now. Don't see a lot of that going on, either.

8/25/2009 03:37:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

John Key is a "businessman"- surely that's bullshit. He's a bureaucrat.

Vote National- NZ the way you want it!

LGM

8/25/2009 04:00:00 pm  
Blogger Ruth said...

In reply to KG - there is no such thing as 'society'. I wonder if KG has ever read Rand. I doubt it. I am unashamedly a hero-worshipper. I don't consider Key a hero but with regard to his pay - he would pay more tax pa than you earn - so who owes what to whom? Unfortunately you cannot present a point of view without profanity or abuse.

Sus I hold dear the non-aggression principle. Libertarianism provides a moral basis for the belief that initiating physical force against one's children is wrong.

In any case JK's position WILL stick. There will be outrage for a week or two, then it will be forgotten by most.

Conservatives who feel most strongly about this will never vote libertarian - they will form their own 'Family First' party no doubt.

Regards.

8/25/2009 04:56:00 pm  
Blogger KG said...

"In reply to KG - there is no such thing as 'society'. I wonder if KG has ever read Rand."
He has. Is it a requirement to agree with everything she ever wrote? Compulsory, perhaps?
"he would pay more tax pa than you earn - so who owes what to whom?"
He owes his position to a whole lot of people who earn less than he pays in tax--your point is? Are you suggesting there ought to be some kind of heirarchy based on how much tax people pay? Or how much tax they avoid paying?
And what the hell does that have to do with the central issue anyway?

"Unfortunately you cannot present a point of view without profanity or abuse."
Well, I can but fuckwits tend to have that effect on me. :-)

8/25/2009 05:06:00 pm  
Anonymous Sus said...

"I hold dear the non-aggression principle .."

As do I, Ruth. And, for example, you have argued in favour of the gangs' right to wear their patches before, as I have -- as much as we might find those same individuals not to our liking (or to my mine, vile).

Can you really not see adults being subjected to similar state aggression here? Can you really not see the consistency?

8/25/2009 05:19:00 pm  
Anonymous Sus said...

Correction: my mind

8/25/2009 05:21:00 pm  
Blogger Ruth said...

Sus I will repeat what I said on Brian Edwards blog:

If the role of government is truly to protect its citizens from the initiation of force, then Libertarians should recognize that a parent initiating physical force against their child is no less an initiation of force then if a another person initiated force against the child.

It is *you* who should consider the blatant hypocrisy exhibited by a libertarian parent who would profess to oppose the initiation of force against individuals, and yet initiates force against their children.

The primary role of govt is to protect its citizens from the initiation of force. If there is no protection from force or violence the whole concept of freedom is meaningless. And the home has certainly not been an example of freedom over the centuries - certainly not for women and children.

That is my position and am not going to engage any further on it.

8/25/2009 06:14:00 pm  
Anonymous Russell W said...

Ruth, I'll answer here as Brian Edwards probably won't appreciate Liberatrianz banging on, on his site. Now what’s all this Libertarian Right; “republican..,” thingy? Firstly, to cover that bit: To qualify Peter Cresswell as a libertarian right-winger is disingenuous of you to say the least, and you know it. As you well know he subscribes to freedom from - what convention would suggest - both the left and right wing perspective. Namely, Peter is a champion of a totally free economy, regulated only by the market (normally - but wrongly - considered a right wing position). However, he also subscribes to freedom of association & the freedom to do what you want with your own body; a few examples: the state has no business sticking its nose into your bedroom i.e., homosexuals’ rights to be left the hell alone, & prostitution i.e., a combination of the free market & sex; and of course the total legalization of all drugs - these would all be considered left wing freedom issues.
Now as for the so-called Libz contradiction re the non-initiation of force principle when it comes to child smacking, I’ll try and clear that up for you: there are two ways in which people can deal with each other, Force or Reason. Now using reason would pre-suppose that the one being reasoned with has the ability to reason themselves, for instance one can’t reason with a dog, or cat, or severely retarded adult (see redbaiter), or an adult after half an hour of taking more than his share of a trip; children at the earliest stage fit in to this broad category. Of course, in the first instance it is good parenting to set an example by trying to reason with an errant or in-danger child, but children being at the still developing mental stage that they are, often are impervious to reason and need physical correction or restraint e.g., my 5 year old daughter really didn’t want me to pull the rusty nail from here foot – but I did contrary to her wishes (or perhaps as you would say “Her Right" to keep the nail in her foot); and she thought putting a fork in the socket was her right, as the protest she made when I smacked her hand after her second attempt was very Germain Greer.
Should I be arrested for the above mentioned transgressions of “Bradford’s Law”? Do you really believe it is an initiation of force to restrain a child when they need to be? Does it constitute illegal-force to smack my daughters hand because she has a *right* to poke the dog’s eye out, a *right* to pull stuff off the shelves at the shops, or a *right* to electrocute herself?

This law was never about protecting children, it was about interfering in the family unit; and Sue knows it for she lives for Marxist doctrine.
If these pro-interference people really do believe in stopping the abuse – which *WE* Libertianz wholeheartedly do - then war must be declared on welfare; not good parents!

8/25/2009 09:42:00 pm  
Anonymous Brian Scurfield said...

Russell - When you say a child is impervious to reason, could it be that the true situation is some combination of these: (a) you don't understand the
child's reason, (b) the child has a reason you don't agree with, or (c) the child does not understand your reason. And also: Surely it is not unreasonable that a child would be curious about plugs: he has seen adults sticking things in them and wants to try it himself.

Being a good parent, why did you not anticipate that the child might be curious about sockets and secure them? Then, seeing the child's curiousity, why did you not find some safe ways for the child to learn about electricity? How does spanking convey to the child the remotest understanding about electricity and why it can be dangerous?

8/26/2009 06:28:00 am  
Blogger Greig McGill said...

Brian - nobody is perfect, and will foresee everything. Given that one can't foresee every possibility, when something unexpected arises which might result in hard to the child, should one a) quickly correct the child using minimum force required to do so, or b) let the child suffer the injurious consequences? Which of those two situations is the more abusive?

Sure, there might be a third option, involving restraint, but in the heat of the moment, it might not be readily implemented. It also wouldn't teach anything, which was your objection.

8/26/2009 09:11:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"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"

Smacking DOES NOT stop tantrums. The correct response is to ignore the child. (not "reason" either)
So what if its embarrassing to have your child scream and writhe on the floor of a supermarket. Just let them do it. They will stop eventually and then when they do, re-engage with them and carry on. Works well for my kids.
Half the problem here is that most NZ parents know buggerall about parenting.
If you have the right techniques you shouldnt need to smack much if at all.

8/26/2009 09:34:00 am  
Anonymous Notanat said...

I would like to know how the yes-voters would respond to the content of PP's letter (update 1) to Mr Key.

8/26/2009 09:34:00 am  
Blogger Greig McGill said...

Anonymous - that's fairly inconsiderate of you. Do you know how annoying it is to have shopping ruined by somebody else's screaming and undisciplined brat? It's not just "your embarrassment" that's the issue here. Have some consideration and please discipline your child (or follow Brian's method, and make DAMN sure the child knows how to behave by any more enlightened method before you bring them in the store).

8/26/2009 10:46:00 am  
Anonymous Russell W said...

Briane: It should be noted the examples I gave weren't actually true regarding my daughter, neither she nor her younger brother were any problem at all; but it is true & common for many people.
However, as Greig said "nobody is perfect, and will foresee everything" Brian I can only add that, you're going to continue down the same line - regardless - that children are rational adults; and I'm bored with you now. SO fire away with the usual "your walking away from an arguement" stuff

8/26/2009 11:14:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greig,
My children have never had tantruns in supermarkets. They are well behaved. All acheived without smacking. (naughty step, time out and withdrawl of privelige)
But that aside, go f**k yourself.

8/26/2009 03:48:00 pm  
Blogger Alexander said...

The problem with spanking/smacking etc.. is that even though you may get them to "act the right way", they are not acting in the right way because they understand why it is right, but because of fear of pain.

It is very important, that you constantly explain to your child, why the thing he/she did was wrong, and that you dont leave it just because he stopped doing it because he feared your punishment.
It is possible to get children to act in a right way, but it is of no long term value to you or the child, if he does not understand himself why it is right to act in that way.

There's some interesting research [see "Influence" by Cialdini], where they found that threats and explanation, both produce decent short-term compliance. [This was telling young boys not to play with a particularly tempting toy when the researcher would leave the room.] However, explanation produced significantly higher longer-term compliance than threats.

In general, the child understands spanking and bribing as unrelated or external to the action-consequence which the parent is seeking to control. Even a good explanation can appear to be a rationalization if it is accompanied by a spanking or a bribe.

The same can sometimes hold true at an adult level, where high salaries do not work as well to motivate performance as does a genuine belief in the organization's mission.

BTW i have no children of my own so take this with a big grain of salt

8/26/2009 04:35:00 pm  
Anonymous Sus said...

Well, let's hope that your child-rearing is better than your spelling, Anonymous, but the fact is that no libertarian is telling you that you MUST smack your child.

On the contrary. How you raise your children is your business. They're simply asking you to allow them to do the same.

A fact lost on many, it would seem ...

8/26/2009 05:47:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Alex said...
they are not acting in the right way because they understand why it is right, but because of fear of pain.

Aha, you're talking about human learning process (without you knowing it, perhaps). I described on the other thread about learning via reinforcement (trial & error) and also self-discovery (unsupervised). Humans use these forms when face with situations of the unknown (ie, when there is no knowledgeable person there to show them the way - supervised or guidance). What you would frequently encounter in these types of learning is that physical hurt is a natural consequence of it. You will frequently get hurt when you try to figure out something new that you haven't experienced before. You give a kid some nails and a hammer and you disappear for a while then come back later to find him/her crying and you would be certain that he/she must have tried to bang the nail with the hammer and perhaps missed it, thus striking his/her finger/s. But you know that if you leave them alone, they will keep hurting themselves but some are still insist on doing those activities, despite the hurt until, they perfect it.Viola! The kid found out (knowledge being acquired) of how to hit a nail with a hammer (thus avoid hitting the fingers) on his own without being taught by a knowlegeable person (ie, supervised learning or learn by being taught by someone else who is knowledgeable compared to the learner him/herself on that specific knowledge nugget).

Even with the small physical hurt that they get during supervised learning via smacking (ie, to teach them that something is bad) it is still the natural way of how human learns. Whether it is Supervised, Unsupervised or Reinforcement is adopted by the learner, hurt is a natural consequence and it is unavoidable. Leave them to learn via reinforcement or unsupervised manner, they will surely hurt themselves on their own (given that the situation is non-fatal). Similar situations that happen in the playground. Some kids will experience frequent fall, but the hurt they experience as a result, will make them alter (or vary) the way of how they climb in order to avoid the hurt (or lessen the frequency of fall). They become better and better in climbing, because they have learnt via reinforcement. Good technique of climbing will give rewards and at the same time reinforce the kid's mind that such climbing method knowledge must be acquired (since it has rewards in form of less fall or successful climb), and the wrong technique is being discouraged from being used again in the future (penalize) since it leads to more fall and more hurt.

By the way, I am not a psychologist since I've never studied the subject before but I came to be aware of these learning methods via writing software (machine learning) in which they're being applied in this area (not quite as human full capability for learning, but similar concepts are adopted).

I hope you now get the point?

8/26/2009 06:24:00 pm  
Blogger Greig McGill said...

Anonymous - why so impolite? There's no need to tell me to go fuck myself. You presented a scenario. I (incorrectly) assumed you were speaking from experience. Either way, you were advocating something which impinges on my enjoyment of shopping by having someone's (not necessarily your) child scream and throw a tantrum in a supermarket while someone (not necessarily you) just ignores it. That's all very well for you, what about me?

Please do me the courtesy of answering politely, as you'll note I'm not insulting you.

8/26/2009 09:01:00 pm  
Anonymous Alexander said...

I think it would depend on the age of the child whether he should be left unsupervised with a hammer and nails.

Doesn't mean you necessarily have to explain everything, but um - why wouldn't you show the child how to perform the action, and then let him do it. Leaving him to do it does not in my view mean you leave him alone literally, just that you don't keep interfering and micro-managing how he works to hold the tools and use them.

8/27/2009 06:03:00 am  
Anonymous Brian Scurfield said...

Russell -

People often object to libertarianism because it assumes "everyone is perfectly rational". It's funny that a libertarian - and I assume that you are one - should put up that argument, for that is what you are doing.

Rationality is something both adults and children are capable of, and to varying degrees, and no-one's capability for rationality is fixed in stone. As the posts on this blog attest, adults can be highly irrational. It is anti-human to think a child cannot be rational.

8/27/2009 08:54:00 am  
Blogger Clunking Fist said...

"As the posts on this blog attest, adults can be highly irrational."

When you are not in receipt of the full facts of someone's life, how can you judge them/their choice irrational?

8/27/2009 04:23:00 pm  
Anonymous Brian Scurfield said...

 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.

Let's see, why did this happen? Could it be, perhaps, that the child did not want eyedrops put in his eyes? Could it be, perhaps, that nobody tried to find the reason he did not want eyedrops put in his eyes? Could it be, perhaps, that when it became clear that nobody was listening to him and that force was to be used against him he did the only thing that he could think to do - fight back? Smacking a child because he does not want things involuntarily put into his body is totalitarian and making someone put things into their body involuntarily is, in other contexts, called rape. What happened had nothing to do with the fact that smacking was illegal in the country concerned.

8/28/2009 08:54:00 am  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Anon said...

So what if its embarrassing to have your child scream and writhe on the floor of a supermarket. Just let them do it. They will stop eventually and then when they do, re-engage with them and carry on.

Yep, that's right. The supermarket is not your property, so that sort of behavior is intolerable to other shoppers and the management/owners of the business.

Anon said...
Works well for my kids.

Human behavior is not a Universal law, like physics is. Atoms behave the same on the surface of the earth, on the surface of the moon, underneath the sea in a submarine, in your bedroom or wherever in the universe, provided that other physical conditions are kept the same (ie, pressure, temperature, and so forth). So, what's work for your children, won't work for other children (provided they're being subjected to the same social environment). There is always differences, because our behavior is not universal.

Anon said...
Half the problem here is that most NZ parents know buggerall about parenting.

Really? So, I take it that you imply that most NZ parents are dumb, heh? So, these parents need to educate themselves to PhD level in physics or maths to be knowledgeable in bringing up their children, correct? Look, there is no such thing as dumb parenting and intelligent parenting, since you don't need a PhD. There is only good and bad parenting. Good parenting often discipline via smacking and those parents are still good parents. Bad parents will go on abusing their children and there is no law that is going to stop that.

Anon said...
If you have the right techniques you shouldnt need to smack much if at all.

There is no such thing as right or wrong, you get it? WHY? Because human bahavior is not some universal law like physics, that what works in situation A, will be guaranteed to work in situation B, C, D, etc,... provided they're being subjected to the same environment. Every parent must tailor-made the way they want to raise their kids according to their own specific needs. Some kids need smacking and some don't including yourself as you described and good on you, but it won't change the fact that there is no right or wrong at all, ie, there is no universal law. You adapt your parenting as you go depending on the situation at hand in relations to disciplining your kids.

8/28/2009 11:09:00 am  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

us I hold dear the non-aggression principle.

Libertarianism provides a moral basis for the belief that initiating physical force against one's children is wrong.


Ruth, working with absolute principles is fine, so if one is unable to *initiate* force in any circumstance, we cannot legally perform CPR, we cannot allow children to play rugby; we cannot allow them to receive a vaccine; and we cannot use the law to make threats of force, even in the protection of other people's rights.

Unless you qualify *initiate*. Do children actually *initiate* an action that meets an allowable response? Force is pulling a child away from a power point; it may be required to force them to eat healthy food; it may be required to underscore an important lesson.

And again, a smack is not child abuse. Being told to go to bed against one's will is not child abuse, and being told they must eat a vegetable before they leave the table does not require a signed form of consent with 4 witnesses.

8/31/2009 01:07:00 pm  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Sus said: 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.

I wasn't meaning this in the context of whether blue or red is in charge, more so the requirement of honesty and integrity the position of Prime Minister entails.

As for the person who thinks my criticism of National is "payback" for voting them in, I will continue to reaffirm that even this price is less of a price to pay than having Labour returned to power. This was the first time I ever voted National, and it was ONLY to ensure a Labour/Greens coalition did not get back in.

8/31/2009 01:13:00 pm  
Blogger KG said...

"Smacking a child because he does not want things involuntarily put into his body is totalitarian and making someone put things into their body involuntarily is, in other contexts, called rape. What happened had nothing to do with the fact that smacking was illegal in the country concerned.'

oh FFS! I hear of people ringing the E.D. Dept. of our local hospital all the time, asking for help because their kids "refuse to take the medicine". Are you seriously equating forcing a child to take the medicine it needs with rape??
So, rather than force (rape?) them, the parents are supposed watch the kid suffer or die while they work out ways of cramming a quick course in physiology, pharmacology and perhaps epidemiology into a four year-old's head....

You urgently need a bloody reality check.

8/31/2009 03:32:00 pm  
Anonymous Brian Scurfield said...

KG - The quoted passage says:

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. 


The child was thoroughly humiliated and degraded, and for what: to administer eyedrops? I don't care what name you want to attach, what happened was bad for the child.

Here are some better solutions than pinning the child down like that:

1. Try persuasion!
2. Ask the child if you can put the eyedrops in while he sleeps.
3. Find out if there is any other medicine available for the child's eyes such as a pill or swab.
4. Wait. Give the child time to think. It's not like the child is going to die without the eyedrops.

These things aren't difficult to think of.

8/31/2009 08:21:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

Brian

Some while ago I witnessed a fairly impressive traffic accident. One of the victims was trapped in a vehicle. She had light injuries, non-life threatening. As it happened she was a teen, a little older than the children being discussed here. Still, the incident is worth consideration. The girl was approached by a medic who assessed her and decided that she needed to come out of the car so she could be taken to a local hospital (the car was teeter-tottering on its side and one of her arms was partially exposed outside). He explained what was going to be done. She was not panicing or hysterical but she did not want them to do anything. She'd worked out that the extraction would be painful I guess. She refused intravenous pain management because she was afraid of needles and didn't want any of "your drugs".

The road was blocked. Road workers, police, ambulance officers and traffic were waiting to complete their tasks. Traffic was backed up. She refused assistance- an irrational decision. After about ten minutes of this the workers moved in and despite her active opposition they removed her from the car, patched her up and stuffed her in the ambulance. The road was cleared very quickly after that and everyone moved on.

The girl yelled and ranted and abused the very people who were there to assist. When she was being medicated she struggled so it became necessary for three other people to hold her still. When they put her in the ambulance she quietened down some. That may have been the drugs kicking in or it may have been due to being separated from the emergency workers- those she'd called every obscenity unhung.

You could say she had force applied against her. Certainly what was done was against her will, no doubt about that. I don't know what her guardian or parent had decided or whether they were present.

In the end things had to be accomplished. There were people there who needed to get on with their work. There were people there who needed to get moving past the scene and go about their daily business. No-one was interested in attempting to persuade her over an extended period of time. No-one was interested in waiting until she went to sleep before moving her. No-one was looking for an alternative to getting her out of the car (like say dragging the thing to the side of the road and leaving it there until she changed ger mind). The job was accomplished in opposition to her desires by force.

So the girl was humiliated and degraded for what? To get her out of a car so that other people could get their jobs completed and so that other people could go about their daily business unhindered.

Sometimes it is necessary for those responsible for a person's well-being to make decisions on that person's behalf.

Take homes message for you is that force is a part of human affairs. It is part of human nature. It's application should be according to specific civilised rules.

LGM

9/01/2009 08:02:00 am  
Blogger Clunking Fist said...

“1. Try persuasion!
2. Ask the child if you can put the eyedrops in while he sleeps.
3. Find out if there is any other medicine available for the child's eyes such as a pill or swab.
4. Wait. Give the child time to think. It's not like the child is going to die without the eyedrops”

Why do you assume that these weren't tried first? I can't work out whether your argument is irrational or you are merely obtuse. (And whilst the child may not die, they may go blind, which is not in the child’s interest, is it?)

Adults are responsible for their actions, under threat of force: the police can FORCE an adult to stop smashing windows, stop assaulting someone, stop driving whilst drunk, confiscate infested fruit at the border, eject trespassers, etc. A child does not have responsibility for their actions or their own well-being: their parents or guardians do. So rather than call the police every time little Lucy bites her brother, the parents have the right and responsibility to intervene, using force if necessary (and by force I mean “restrain” perhaps “smack”, but not “bludgeon”, “place in dyer”, kick to the head, etc).

9/01/2009 01:02:00 pm  
Anonymous Sus said...

"Sus said: 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."

Correction: Not my words, Zen - (although I do agree with them).

9/01/2009 03:03:00 pm  
Blogger KG said...

"Take homes message for you is that force is a part of human affairs. It is part of human nature. It's application should be according to specific civilised rules."
Exactly.

9/01/2009 03:14:00 pm  
Blogger KG said...

"It's not like the child is going to die without the eyedrops.'
Brian, I said suffer or die.
At least try to be honest in your responses.

9/01/2009 03:17:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greig and Fala Fulafisi
Are you related to this man? Good friend maybe.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/oddstuff/2830188/Stranger-accused-of-slapping-crying-child-at-store

9/03/2009 10:59:00 am  

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