Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Smacking is not beating

It is insane that an MP promoting a Bill to ban smacking one's own children is completely unable to distinguish between smacking and beating, between smacking and violence. Insane, just insane.

Her Bill she said removes "an excuse for violence towards children," and it does it by criminalising those who, in her words, "beat, assault and hit their children." This is how she characterises smacking: as beating, assaulting and hitting children.

But smacking is not violence, smacking is not beating or assaulting children -- failing to distinguish between smacking and violence is a failure to distinguish at all -- and a failure too to understand that there are already laws on the books against beating, assaulting or inflicting violence against children, but those who do beat their children simply ignore them. A new law criminalising smacking is utterly unlikely to influence those parents who do inflict violence towards children; instead, it will criminalise parents who don't.

UPDATE 1: I was interested in this comment below: " Smacking is morally wrong, as is a ban on smacking." Some people won't understand that comment, so a link to this article might help, explaining the difference between persuasion and force. As the author Mark Skousen says, "persuasion instead of force is the sign of a civilized society." Read the piece to see just what he means. It's not quite what you think. ;^)

UPDATE 2: Given that Bradford is a Green MP, would anyone like to explain the connection between the environment, and having smacking banned?

UPDATE 3: You may choose to take it or leave it, but if you're struggling to answer the above question with anything other than "no idea," then the explanation is surely that she's not in the Green Party for the environmental politics. This, remember, is the woman who left Anderton's hard-left New Labour Party in 1990 because she saw a "definite move to the right."

Two blogs have some relevant background:
Writing at his Whoar blog last year in the midst of the Greens's co-leader's contest, Green member Phil U. warned of the left acquiring a "death grip" on the party. [Punctuation has been somewhat cleaned up to make it readable.]

I’d like to finish with what I think is a telling anecdote. I was present when Sue Bradford and Catherine Delahunty made their first appearance at a green party meeting, this after both being hounded out of the alliance part of the alliance by Jim Anderton -- it was at his feet they learnt their organisational ‘chops’(and it shows...) -- the left are very ‘top-down,’ bordering on control freaks.

The Green Party at that time was a very low-key affair, [with] meetings held in the low-roofed attic of a bookshop on K. Road. At this meeting, Bradford said to me out of the corner of her mouth (I had known her for some years) that “this party is ripe for taking over” -- and she wasn’t wrong.

Later in that same evening I approached the then-leader of the Auckland Greens (a lovely lady but lacking that political killer-will), and told her that “that woman over there is going to take your job." This duly came to pass.

And if Trevor Loudon is correct in his five-part exegesis of Bradford's history, the environment was the last thing on Bradford's mind for which she was "taking over" the Green Party: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

Her Green party bio states: There are three ways to make radical social and environmental change. 1) Working within the system; 2) throwing rocks at the system from outside; 3) building new organisations within the shell of the old system.

Which of those three ways do you think she is working on here with her anti-smacking Bill? She is intent on removing parents' hands from their own children; but she has no problem with governments getting their hands on children's minds, or even getting her hands on them herself -- as Catherine Delahunty, her co-trustee at the Kotare School -- "a centre for radical and liberating education for social change," she says -- makes clear enough in this speech outlining the Kotare School's aims. Part 2 is here.

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-Greens, Smacking

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29 Comments:

Blogger Josh said...

I really dislike this characterisation of the issue -- I find it uncharitable bordering on actiuvely dishonest. No-one is actually promoting a law to "ban smacking", are they? They're promoting a law to remove an existing law that provides a defence against assault on a child; the removal of which will mean that children have the exact same rights regarding assault as adults have always had. If you take that to mean that the law will say that there's no difference between smacking and violence, then that's what the law has always said with regard to adults -- how oftne are people charged with assault for smacking another adult, or giving them a clip around the ear, or a punch in the shoulder, etc?

The claims that if this law goes through, parents will be getting locked up left, right and center strike me as nothing other than hysteria.

2/21/2007 09:41:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

"No-one is actually promoting a law to "ban smacking", are they?"

Well, since that would be the effect of Bradford's Bill, yes they are. The amendment will criminalise smacking. You may dislike that characterisation, but that's a fact.

Bradford insists that isn't the case, but the claim is as fatuous as her conflation of smacking and beating -- or your conflation of adults and children.

Chester Borrows is correct on this when he says: "“Any parent who smacks a child will commit a criminal offence and has no defence to a charge. Do I think that police are going to be running around kicking doors in and arresting parents for smacking their kids ? No. But some parents will be charged and appear before the court, and because the offence of assault requires only the least degree of force, they will probably be convicted.” Such charges can carry a prison sentence of up to five years."

Like it or not, it will criminalise normal parental behaviour as it is practised by about 80 per cent of New Zealand parents, and it will have a chilling effect on any parent who chooses to smack.

But Bradford suggests, and perhaps you agree Josh, that there's no need for those parents to worry, since police will "exercise discretion" the same as they do with "other trivial offences."

Put the words "police," "exercise discretion," and Clint Rickards together, and see what you get. Sue's Bill will give people like Clint power over parents -- and you're in favour of that?

And leaving aside for a moment Bradford's promotion of this on the one hand as a serious issue, and then on the other to suggesting it is a "trivial offence," her statement quoted above is simply a wish, it's not a promise.

It's only a wish, because once passed she herself has no control whatsoever over how her law will be used, and what her Bill would do if passed is give absolute power to police to do what the hell they like.

That is not objective law.

2/21/2007 10:06:00 am  
Anonymous Sus said...

Josh: 'how oftne are people charged with assault for smacking another adult, or giving them a clip around the ear, or a punch in the shoulder, etc?'

Josh, you're a bloody idiot.

Adults and children are NOT the same which is precisely why they are treated differently.

If it's appropriate to say - as you are - that we should make no differentiation toward our treatment of adults and children, then, by definition, you are also saying that it is appropriate for an adult to have sex with a child. Don't argue. You can't have it both ways.

Your thinking is skewed. The ramifications of this bill are truly vile - and, as PC says, will do *nothing* to stop a mongrel from brutalising a child.

"No-one is actually promoting a law to 'ban smacking', are they?"

For fuck's sake, how stupid are you? Bradford is a totalitarian! This appalling proposition is about state control. Police will be required to 'investigate' any incident of smacking, such as a smack on the hand when a toddler plays up in the supermarket; the 'complaint' laid by a busybody who will of course remain anonymous. Hi, Hitler Youth!

Jesus. Get a fucking brain. Or at least read some 20th century history before you open your mouth.

Angry? You better believe it.

2/21/2007 10:09:00 am  
Blogger Josh said...

Sus: That level of vitriol doesn't really deserve a level response, but I will note that I made a point of saying "exact same rights regarding assault as adults" - nowhere did I say that adults are exactly the same as children in all respects, or that "we should make no differentiation toward our treatment of adults and children". (Now who's conflating?)

At any rate, educate me - what is the relevant difference between adults and children that means they should have differing rights with regard to assault?

2/21/2007 10:46:00 am  
Anonymous george said...

What goes round, comes around.

May the supporters of this bill be troubled by their own [and other]undisciplined chidren into a long and disturbed old age.

I have never seen such a determined attempt to wreck the future. Perhaps the unhappy Ms Bradford can now work on removing the restrictions on driving, drinking, firearms ownership, voting, sexual activity and all the other things that discriminate against our little adults.

The woman appears embittered, possibly mad.

2/21/2007 11:02:00 am  
Blogger Brian S said...

Smacking is morally wrong, as is a ban on smacking.

2/21/2007 11:02:00 am  
Anonymous Sus said...

Read the damn post again, Josh. Adults are adults and children are children, period.

We blanketly distinguish between the two for one very good reason: the ability to reason which comes with maturity.

Children do not and cannot have the ability to *reason* like adults. It's why they don't have the vote, for example!

But let's not split hairs. Essentially, the decision to smack or not smack is not for the state. It's parental.

Oh, and as for 'vitriol' .. you better believe that it's warranted with regard to instances such as this, because the ramifications are so damned serious.

Only the truly stupid can't see that.

2/21/2007 11:10:00 am  
Blogger Brian Smaller said...

I would have thought that the reason Sue Bradford and the Greens want to progress this legislation is that they are really Reds. More state control of our every day lives. Speakers on the walls that you cannot turn off broadcasting whale songs will be next.

2/21/2007 12:09:00 pm  
Blogger Josh said...

We do not "blanketly distinguish between the two" - we do in some cases, and we don't in others. For instance, we treat adults and children the same with regards to being raped or murdered (abortion aruguments notwithstanding) -- in fact, if there is any differentiation in those cases, it's that children are regarded as needing more protection from those things.

To return to my question, I didn't ask why children can't vote; I asked why children shouldn't have the same rights as adults when it comes to assault -- is this a case where we should distinguish between the two or is it a case where we should treat them the same? But if you see this as "splitting hairs", I guess there's not much point in going further.

2/21/2007 12:11:00 pm  
Anonymous Sus said...

Josh, we're going round in circles. I've tried to be as brief as possible, but in so doing, I obviously still haven't made my point clearly.

Children are already, quite rightly and properly, protected legally from force. As are adults obviously.

But Section 59 of the Crimes Act also, as it stands this morning, allows provision for parents to use reasonable physical force when disciplining their children. Children. As opposed to adults. Got it?

So what's *reasonable* force? If you have to ask that, you have a problem. Those who cannot distinguish between 'beating' (Bradford's favourite word right now, surprise, surprise) and a smack on the hand should be kept as far away from children as possible, because they're patently clueless.

Incidentally 'reasonable' is a word beloved by the left. Much of Margaret Wilson's legislation is peppered with the word, so they obviously have no problem with its definition.

I speak of splitting hairs because there's a danger in being sidelined and missing the real point of Bradford's exercise ... which is, simply, yet more state control.

I must get back to work. Somebody's got to pay Sue Bradford's wages.

2/21/2007 12:47:00 pm  
Blogger Eric Olthwaite said...

Josh:

There are three important principles to keep in mind when examining law.

1) Forget about motives and intentions, just look at what will actually happen.

2) Never trust the Police with "discretion".

3) Never trust the Police.

The law will ban smacking. At present you have defence under section 59, if this bill passes you will not, and so just as how smacking adults is already banned, so will the smacking of children be.

Also, parents may not find themselves getting locked up left right and center but they could face a deeper circle of hell, that of CYPFS.

Asking "how often are people charged with assault for smacking another adult" is disingeneous. Adults have the know-how to bring charges themselves if someone else smacks them.

Children on the other hand need the help of adults for almost everything, certainly wading through the legal system. I would say that it would be more than likely that one could bring a charge against another adult for smacking a child with or without the child's consent.

And to answer your question, children should not have the same rights as adults regarding assault because adults are responsible for children's well-being, they are not responsible for other adults. I am not responsible for making sure you have enough to eat, or for not walking blindly across the road or sticking a fork into an electric socket.

I am responsible for making sure my child has enough to eat, and basically stays safe. With that responsibility comes the right to use light assault in circumstances where the alternative is a child that you are responsible for being hit by a car or drowning.

Also, assault is not limited to smacking, it is any unwanted physical contact. I could come up to you, do nothing more than place my index finger on your shoulder, and you could charge me with assault. If children are to have the same rights as adults in this regards then what you are saying is that it should be a criminal offence for a parent to touch a child without the child's consent, which is simply absurd. When I was very young I got Gingivitus and my parents had to brush my teeth against my will - technically assault.

So, if it is to be a criminal offence to touch your child against their will, which is what children having "the exact same rights regarding assault as adults" means, then what would you do with your child if he gets gingivitus and refuses to brush his teeth, and you are responsible for his well being.?

2/21/2007 01:18:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Eric Olthwaite said...
There are three important principles to keep in mind when examining law.

All very good points, Eric.

2/21/2007 01:38:00 pm  
Blogger Josh said...

Also, assault is not limited to smacking, it is any unwanted physical contact. I could come up to you, do nothing more than place my index finger on your shoulder, and you could charge me with assault.

I could accuse you of assault; whether you would be charged with assault is another matter. And in any case I wouldn't, and neither would any other human being, and neither has any human being in the history of law as far as I'm aware.

If children are to have the same rights as adults in this regards then what you are saying is that it should be a criminal offence for a parent to touch a child without the child's consent, which is simply absurd.

But the identical, currently existing situation for adults isn't? Let's add to it: assault is defined as "intentionally applying or attempting to apply force to the person of another". It doesn't even have to involve physical contact - it can techincally be assault to make someone think you're about to hit them. And I don't see "consent" actually mentioned anywhere in the definition, which makes B&D assault, too...

And yet, as I've said before, the streets are not awash with assault convictions.

Sounds like what we need is not exceptions that say "it's OK to 'assault' a child if..." but rather a proper definition of what constitutes assault, which applies to everyone. I'd support that.

2/21/2007 02:26:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Sounds like what we need is not exceptions that say "it's OK to 'assault' a child if..." but rather a proper definition of what constitutes assault, which applies to everyone. I'd support that".

Exactly.

It's wrong to use "pain as discipline" on a child.
Smacking is the infliction of physical pain as punishment.

Where do "healthy families" draw the line between "reasonable" and unreasonable infliction of pain on a child? How much does a child's body have to hurt before smacking slips over the line into physical abuse? Red, stinging flesh?
Is there a certain amount of time the pain has to last afterwards? How does an adult gauge the damage he or she is inflicting on that little body? How well do they gauge that damage when they are angry or frustrated?

What child ever believed that he was receiving pain, any level of pain, for his own good?

If you should have the right to hit your child because he's misbehaving and have no fear of legal action against you, then anyone should have the right to hit you if you're misbehaving. A child is an individual, not a chattel.

2/21/2007 02:49:00 pm  
Blogger Josh said...

But there's more! Don't forget that Section 59 only applies to "using force by way of correction", so a tousle of the hair or a pinch of the cheek is technically assault right now. And yet the streets are not awash etc tec.

2/21/2007 02:59:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Josh said...
And yet the streets are not awash etc tec.

There would be some unintended consequences such as a court battle between the parents to see who is going to be awarded the custody of the children. It is quite common these days that the weapon used by parents to accuse each other is molestations of the children. Often these allegations are manufactured by either one of the parents. They coached their kids to say things as inappropriate touch.

If this law is passed, then we will see this smacking assault allegations awashed the streets.

2/21/2007 04:15:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Anon said...
A child is an individual, not a chattel.

Correct. But as Sus said, there is a difference between an individual that has the full capacity to reason (adult) and one where the capability to reason is still under development (child). So, in my own words, an adult is a full individual and a child is half an individual.

2/21/2007 04:21:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Anon said...
What child ever believed that he was receiving pain, any level of pain, for his own good?

I figured out that Mrs Anonymous is actually Ruth. She had the same words stated above exactly as in DPF blog on the same subject.

2/21/2007 04:39:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Josh said:

I could accuse you of assault; whether you would be charged with assault is another matter. And in any case I wouldn't, and neither would any other human being, and neither has any human being in the history of law as far as I'm aware.

Which is probably because adults are capable of 'reason'. Children are not. I watched a very interesting documentary on puberty and the ability to reason the other night (put out by the BBC). It is not actually until puberty that children actually learn complex reasoning. The case study they gave was where they asked a number of pre-pubescent children whether it would be OK to steal money to pay for medicine to save their parent's life. They all said "no, because stealing is wrong". The post-pubescent children were able to reason that this stealing could be justified.

Where am I going with this? The point is that there are children who are old enough to attempt to manipulate their parents, but not old enough to reason through the consequences of it. There will be children who WILL report their parents for light smacking (because, for example, they don't get their own way), because they don't reason as to the consquences (which could quite likely be them being forcebly removed from their parents by CYPFS.

I don't know if you've ever raised children, but I have first-hand knowledge of just how manipulative they can be. By the way - I have a stepdaughter whom I have NEVER laid a hand on (smack or anything else), but that didn't stop her telling her mother that I did, after I denied her ice-cream one day. Fortunately, the truth came out before my wife threw me out.

Now, she threatens to leave us and go live with her father if she doesn't get X, Y & Z bought for her, along with "I'll tell Dad that you hit me". Fortunately (again), we can call her bluff and deal with it, but this sort of thing puts us in a very dangerous position.

I predict that this will become another weapon used by parents in custody battles.

2/21/2007 05:57:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To take two points that have already been mentioned (trivial assaults and police discretion in charging)and elaborate on them:

try complaining to the police about a trivia touching (say with the point of a finger to the shoulder). They will tell you to get a life.

Touch a policeman in exactly the same way and you'll be charged with assaulting an officer.

Think I'm exaggerating. Spend a day in a busy courthouse in a major city.

2/21/2007 06:22:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh boo hoo to be outed by you FF.Farrar is a decent man who respects my opinion so I include my name. Whereas you are just another bully.

Yes other anon - I have had experience with young step-children and I would never have tried to impose my will on them, much less hit them. That is why they are now my friends, not adversaries.

If children are old enough to report parents for smacking they sure as hell are old enough to not be smacked - they are old enought to be reasoned with in an adult manner.

When your children get older all you have is your relationship with them- you cannot control them.

Check out Ian Grant and Parenting with Confidence website you people. I have zero tolerance for pain as discipline - as does he.

2/21/2007 07:25:00 pm  
Anonymous george said...

"I have had experience with young step-children and I would never have tried to impose my will on them, much less hit them. That is why they are now my friends, not adversaries."

Thank you for doing your part to turn the younger generation into a pack of self-centered shits. Just what NZ needs.....wunnerful work there anonymous!

If you havn't the guts to impose your will and correct your child you should not be a parent.

2/21/2007 07:41:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Ruth said...
Whereas you are just another bully.

Ruth, could you please Google for me, where on earth that Falafulu Fisi had ever bullied you in the past? Just point me out to a link that shows FF had done so, if you care? I never bullied you any time in the world of blogoshere. I think that you associate everyone who posts here with Peter. Your fight is with Peter and not with the people who posts here.

2/21/2007 08:15:00 pm  
Blogger KG said...

"If you havn't the guts to impose your will and correct your child you should not be a parent."

too right!

2/22/2007 06:49:00 am  
Blogger Josh said...

I just realised why this discussion feels so weird - the Libertarians are arguing from consequences, and the people opposed to them (including me, a consequentialist) are arguing from principles. Something's gone horribly wrong...

2/22/2007 09:12:00 am  
Anonymous Sus said...

Josh, please tell me you're not on a benefit! Do what you like at your own expense, but I couldn't stand to think that I was paying you to piss me off! :)

This argument *is* about a principle. The principle that the individual must control the state, and not the other way around.

May I suggest that you read this morning's post on this blog outlining the clear link between Kiro and Bradford.

Two proponents of state control, funnily enough ...

2/22/2007 09:42:00 am  
Blogger Josh said...

I'm just making an observation about what people have been saying here. I'm also more than sick of putting up with your shit.

I'll go back to my full-time job now, and you can maybe learn how to disagree with someone without acting like a petulant teenage fuckwit.

2/22/2007 10:07:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

Josh, can you spell 'irony' for me?

2/22/2007 11:17:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It strikes me that while child abuse is attempting to be stopped by the anti smacking law, it seems rediculous that the most blatant child abuse that many people seem totally blinded/deliberately head in the sand to is the the ultimate abuse of killing children before they have a chance to beat them. The PC word is abortion because it doesnt sound as bad as killing your child, or chopping them up. We have lost the plot when evil such as this is overlooked and the good of loving parents having the option to use some sort of reasonable force seems bizzare. I know my daughter will lovingly have reasabnle force exereted on her when she is about to put her hand in the fire, or thinking its a game (as they do, do something for parent reaction that may be harmful)
Lets stop the real child abuse, and ban abortion (by the way the impact on the mother is now clearly understood to be majorly negative) so we can have a win win here. Lets remove children at least temporarily and possible benefits we are paying for from repeat offenders where beatings/injury are inflicted beyond reasonable justification.

3/07/2007 12:35:00 am  

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