Friday, 17 April 2009

the yes vote

while we're on the topic of domestic violence, let me raise the issue of the proposed referendum on child discipline. i'm sure you'll all be familiar with it, but if not, the details are here.

a group of organisations that work with children have banded together to advocate a yes vote on the referendum. they include barnardos, plunket, save the children and unicef. the website advocating the "yes vote" can be found here.

i haven't yet decided how i'll vote on the referendum. the strongest part of me wants to boycott it, because i think the question is mischievous and wrongly framed. on the other hand, i'd also like to send a message that i support the modifications to s59 of the crimes act - in fact would have been happy for them to go further. and a yes vote seems to be the only way to send that message.

nonetheless, i've written a piece on child discipline from an islamic perspective for the website, which you can find here*. i won't reproduce it here, as i'd like to increase traffic to their site. however, they have comments turned off, so feel free to comment at the hand mirror. i hate to have to say it, but given my last post, let me state clearly that i won't be tolerating any islamophobic comments but am happy to engage in respectful debate.

*many thanx to my friend dave moskovitz for giving me the opportunity.


Dave Moskovitz said...

Anjum, my first reaction was also to boycott the vote, and then I got so angry I thought I'd spoil my vote and raise the number of "informal votes".

But at the end of the day, the only way to send a clear message to our politicians is A Yes Vote.

The question being asked is really stupid; if it were rephrased as "Should it be illegal for a manager, as part of good management practice, to hit an employee" we wouldn't be here arguing about it. Children deserve the same protection as employees, and so A Yes Vote is the best way to protect children's rights.

Fi said...

Brian Edwards said exactly what I was thinking: the ridiculous wording of the pro-smacking referendum is very reminiscent of that stupid "sensible sentencing" referendum in the 1999 election. I had to vote "no" on that one because, as he said, it was three questions in one (and I thought the terms "hard labour" and "serious violent offences" were too imprecise and used as buzz words).

It's particularly foolhardy because such poor wording gives a government good reason to disregard the referendum result altogether.

At the same time, though, I actually hope their tactics do backfire on them because, IMHO, the "right" to hit your kids is a particularly disgusting thing to be fighting for.

The ex-expat said...

I was another person who voted no in 1999 because the question was so stupid.

I'm glad to see that others are just as appalled about this question as well.

Julie said...

Chalk me up as another No in 1999er, and I intend to be a Yes in 2009er also.

I really like your rephrasing comparison Dave. We could do a whole post of unacceptable rephrasings alone, hmmmmmm, maybe I shall do that on the weekend, do you mind if I poach your idea?

Paul said...

I think I was the only voter in Epsom to vote no in 1999. I shall be voting yes in 2009.

"Should it be illegal for an interrogator, as part of good interrogation practice, to hit an interrogatee?"

"Should it be illegal for a child, as part of growing up, to hit a parent?"

Anonymous said...

Hey there is nowhere in the referendum question that talks about the right - or otherwise -to smack your kids. So they are not fighting for the "right" to hit kids. I think they are just wanting the law to reflect parliamentary intent - ie: parliament does not intend light smackers to be convicted for smacking so the law should make that clear rather than relying on police discretion.

If you believe that laws should be enforced, do you believe that parents who lightly smack their kids - thus breaking the law and committing an offence - should be prosecuted? If so why have police discretion? if not why have a such a law?

Paul said...

Well, no anonymous; the referendum question is far too sly for that. But if the law is amended to say that smacking is a normal part of family life, or whatever, then it implies a right to smack. It would be a rum state of affairs if no such right existed, despite recognition of the normalcy of smacking.

It would be more rum still if Parliament needed a referendum to express its intent. The intentions of Parliament are stated in the Bills it passes into Law, including this one.

What is often forgotten is that there is no anti-smacking law, despite the frothing of the child-beating lobby and our idiot media. There was an amendment to the Crimes Act, which removed a section that said the crime of assault would not apply to parents using corporal punishment on their children. This section was used by sadists who beat their children with weapons to avoid punishment: juries acquitted them, despite the evidence of violent assault on their children.

The section about police discretion was unnecessary but was added so that John Key could give his party the impression that he was doing something. It is there, so why have the referendum? Who knows? It makes no sense; it says very little. Perhaps the purpose of the referendum is so that the child-beating lobby can then demand that Parliament replace the section, so the can carry on beating, without fear of retribution.

hungrymama said...

There is space for discretion everywhere in the law. It's illegal to steal but no one's going down for taking a ball point pen. Public nudity is illegal but you're pretty unlikely to be charged over a wardrobe malfunction etc

Dave said...

But if the law is amended to say that smacking is a normal part of family life then it implies a right to smackLaws are not normative - they tell you what you are allowed to do,not what you should do. If I am allowed to smack my kids does not mean I should. It means I can do so without breaking the law. I used to be allowed to smoke in pubs. the old smoking law didn't mean I should smoke, but I that I wouldn't be breaking the law if I did so in pubs.

Your logic is pretty appalling, Paul.

The section about police discretion was.... added so that John Key could give his party the impression that he was doing somethingWrong again. It was Helen Clark that got Geoffrey Palmer to write this section of the Act and approached Key.

It is there, so why have the referendum? Who knows?I do.

Paul said...

How did logic come into this?

You are confusing rights with obligations. The Law prevents certain activities. By implication, those activities which are not prevented can by practised by right. The Law does not say one must practise these activities. One is not obliged to practice group sex merely because it is not illegal.

Helen Clark had the Bill amended, but for John Key's benefit.

Do tell us why we must have this referendum.

Dave said...

Not all laws prevent activities.Some laws actually allow certain activities. Civil Unions are an example. Helen clark had the bill amended for her own benefit - to get govt law passed.

Actually I don't think we *need* to have the referendum. National should just adopt Boscawen's bill as a Govt bill. In terms of why it may be a good idea, it is simply this:

A petition got the required number of signatures under the CIR Act , therefore is a democratic right for the petitioner to be granted a referendum.

Dave Moskovitz said...


Hey go for your life, poach away! Can I have mine on toast with some tomato on the side?