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Peas in a pod: Family Fist, National, DPF

Written By: - Date published: 4:10 pm, February 26th, 2008 - 55 comments
Categories: child discipline, dpf - Tags: ,

National Party blogger David Farrar points to a criticism of the repeal of s59 by Sacha Coburn (“a Christchurch businesswoman, lawyer and mother”):

The Government should read this column and be afraid… The whole column is worth a read. And Sacha Coburn will not be an exception – there will be many more like her – left leaning liberals who don’t like this law.

I’m sure there will left leaning liberals who don’t like this law but what about being true to principles every once in a while? You might think this is an especially good idea when kids are being beaten to death rather more frequently than we’d like. Perhaps political pragmatism is all National does now.

Of course Farrar is free to peddle the party issue of the day, but it’s worth noting his selective reporting – conveniently ignoring this from last Thursday where Professor Yanghee Lee (not a Christchurch businesswoman, probably not a lawyer and I’m not sure whether she’s a mother or not), the United Nations’ new Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child congratulates New Zealand on our stand against violence to children.

“I applaud all politicians who supported the new law and thank you for your excellent leadership and example to other countries,” Professor Lee says.

“New Zealand’s pioneering tradition in advancing human rights is well known.

“I believe its influence on other countries in the region and throughout the world in bringing about the new legislation will be considerable.”

55 comments on “Peas in a pod: Family Fist, National, DPF”

  1. slightlyrighty 1

    Again the spurious argument.

    Parents who beat, bash, burn and kill their children, who use unreasonable force on their children, will continue to do so regardless of the law. It was wrong before section 59 was repealed, and is wrong now.

    The law as it stands has the potential to criminalise parents who have done no more than use a reasonable amount of force. Force is always necessary when you are trying to impose your will on another human being, be that a child or another adult. That coersive force does not have to be physical but there has to be an allowance for the fact that children do not have the reasoning capacity of adults and as such have a special status in our society.

    Children cannot be held criminally liable. They do not vote, they have no voice and do not need one. The politics of the playground do not concern themselves with housing prices and macro-economics and it would be wrong of us to pollute thie childhood with such thinking. It is our role to train, guide, direct and protect, and one of the biggest things we have to protect our children from is their own misjudgement.

    The problem is that section 59 was improperly applied and throwing it out completely is a mistake.

  2. Daveo 2

    SR- Riding crop lady.

  3. Ruth 3

    I do hope this is not National’s position. If Key looks to repeal this amendment I won’t vote for him.

    Farrar has always been opposed to this – he appeared to soften his stance when Key changed his tune. I admire Key for that. But since then DPF has taken nearly evey opportunity to bash (so to speak) the law, which is working perfectly well.

    When Family Fist and other groups care about a life when it is OUTSIDE the womb they may be taken seriously. Typical Right – love your foetus–hate your kid.

    And that woman who wrote the column in The Herald is a disgrace. As if you should have to hit your child to get them into a car seat.

    But don’t get me started.

  4. Patrick 4

    I really find it amazing that there are people out there who are arguing to re-instate the right to beat their children. It is utterly disgraceful.

    What’s next? Removing the rights of women and Maori to vote? Somehow I would not be surprised to see someone arguing for that on Kiwiblog.

    While the applicaiton of Sue Bradford’s bill may not have been perfect, I can’t see anyone making any *logical* arguments for it’s repeal.

  5. higherstandard 5

    Yeah right Patrick people want to reinstate their right to beat their children grow up you arguements are childish and inane – the purported purpose of this bill was to decrease the level of child abuse it is not achieving that goal and to accuse the large number of people who have issue with the legislation of being child beaters is bombastic drivel.

  6. tom-tom 6

    Placard ideas please – Bring Back the Smack – Raise a Hand to Your Child – I’m with the Pro-Smackers – Smack, Smack, Smack, Bring it Back!

  7. Ari 7

    SR- if people weren’t being excused for beating their children with pieces of piping or riding crops, I might be inclined to agree with you. However, we’ve had some very dodgy cases that look quite transparently like abuse get excused by a jury because of the reasonable force defence.

    HS- The purpose of the bill was not to effect the level of child abuse. That problem is not going to be solved just by making abuse clearly illegal. It was to draw a line in the sand to make it clear where abuse starts. The law doesn’t explicitly defend violence against adults, yet we don’t get prosecuted for playing a game of rugby and tackling someone. Likewise, it doesn’t have any practical issues for good parents who decide for whatever reason to lightly tap their child’s wrist or whatever.

    Accusing people of writing drivel isn’t a very good way of living up to your name, incidentally. Most commentators on blogs say things because they truly believe things- even if they’ve got their facts wrong, or there is sharp disagreement on an issue. A little civility wouldn’t go amiss.

  8. Did you guys actually read the article before you shot the messenger?

    It began:

    “I agree with Bob McCoskrie and Larry Baldock. Eight words which churn my stomach as I write them. When left-leaning, social liberals like me are forced to align with the fundies speaking in tongues and organising petitions, you know our little country at the bottom of the world has gone mad

    The problem for me is that I love the law and the democratic process. As a lawyer, I understand the benefits of obeying the law and the potential consequences of disregarding it. I want to parent within the law and I want to be able to use smacking as one of many parenting tools

    I don’t believe smacking is for every parent or every child. I don’t believe that it’s an effective tool once children get beyond four or five. I wouldn’t insist that you smack your child, but I don’t believe Parliament fixes anything by taking away my right to smack mine.”

    It’s not actually about “peddling the party line” -it’s about the freedom to hold and the freedom to express an opinion. Sacha Coburn has expressed her opinion, and David Farrar has considered that opinion newsworthy enough to include on his blog, which is his right. Not everything is politically motivated!

  9. tom-tom 9

    Smack ’em up! – Jesus WOULD have smacked! – Mary smacked little Jesus!

  10. westmere 10

    National will not change the law, if elected.

    But it’s useful to let people think they MIGHT do it. That stops the Kiwi Party and others getting any momentum, and taking National votes. They could lose one or two seats because of “wasted” votes for so-called Christian parties, so a little ambiguity on the issue is useful. David Farrar is smart enough to try and keep the issue alive (and the votes on board for National), while Key commits his party to nothing. Basic “Big Tent” strategy – give your radicals an outlet instead of a promise.

    And of course the pro-smackers are stupid enough to fall for it.

  11. the purported purpose of this bill was to decrease the level of child abuse

    Actually it was to stop people who beat their kids from being able to walk away scott free and it’s done that.

    Time will tell whether the increased threat of conviction makes people think twice before taking to their kid with a riding crop, length of four by two or whatever else these psychos like to avail themselves of but as a rightie I would have assumed your belief would be that tougher law acts as a deterrent.

    I would also have thought you would be all for the government being harder on crims. I guess not.

  12. westmere 12

    Inventory 2, David Farrar understands politics far better than you do!

  13. BTW – is that a typo in the heading (Family FIST), or are you guys no different to the Kiwiblog Right you pilloried in the thread headed “Filth”? Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways.

  14. higherstandard 14

    You’re drawing an extremely long bow Ari to suggest that the bill draws a line in the sand to make it clear where abuse starts – I’m certain that the vast amount of people on both sides of the debate are caring parents, uncles, aunts etc but the bill seeks to tar all with the same brush while not solving the real issue which is the scumbags who really do abuse their children.

    Accept my appologies for my less than polite response before.

  15. Higherstandard 15

    Rob

    I’d avoid labelling prople as leftie, rightie or whatever I tend to judge individual politicians and politics on merit. There are persons on either side of the house that do a good job but they are far outweighed by the dross on both sides and in the middle who sit on their backside and live off the taxpayers rump.

    Yes I would like to see tougher penalties for criminals, however my position is the vast majority of parents who do give a child a smack on the bottom when the kids are clearly out of order and aren’t reposnding to other means are not criminals can we at least agree on that ?

  16. what – DPF/National whipping up ferment amongst the RWNJs for political gain – surely not?

    as has been said before, National are going to make a lot of enemies very quickly if they do gain power then reneg on their “commitments” to the ultra-right fundies.

  17. Higherstandard 17

    r0b I’d suggest that many ordinary parents do feel criminalised/marginalised. All the while we’re still seeing kids being hospitalised and their caregivers couldn’t give a flying for legislation forgive me but I can’t see how the legislation is going to do anything to stop these people at the fringes behaving like animals

    While it’s easy to admire the intent of the legislation it was poorly conceived and written and certainly it didn’t help when Sue Bradford and others continued to berate anyone who disagreed with her that they were supporting beating their kids.

  18. r0b 18

    Accept my appologies for my less than polite response before.

    Well HS I don’t agree with your politics, but I admire your attempt to raise the tone of your contributions. Would that we all did the same!

  19. Higherstandard 19

    Fair enough Rob

    But I would answer the questions differently

    1 What does the politician intend to do – yes we are agreed that the intent is fine

    2 Does it work – No I don’t believe it does

    3 see 2 above

    The legal defence arguement as the ratioanl for repeal of S59 is a red herring even though some members of the judicary are indeed hopeless if a child is beaten and the parents are in front of the judge they are going to get convicted this occured before S59 was repealed and will still occur (assuming the judge is not senile,demented, drunk etc.

    Despite our differences I suspect we are not poles apart it’s just sad that there is no easy answer to stop the real thugs out there on either side of the political spectrum.

    Although I would be support any party that made certain that once someone was convicted of this kind of crime they never got the opportunity to do it again.

  20. r0b 20

    HS: I’d avoid labelling prople as leftie, rightie or whatever

    OK. I do use such labels, and my initial reaction to your posts and your somewhat pretentious choice of nickname puts you (in my mind) to the right of the spectrum.

    however my position is the vast majority of parents who do give a child a smack on the bottom when the kids are clearly out of order and aren’t reposnding to other means are not criminals can we at least agree on that ?

    I’m think everyone agrees with that – I certainly do. But this legislation was never about criminalising ordinary parents, that’s just a “straw man” scare tactic.

  21. r0b 21

    r0b I’d suggest that many ordinary parents do feel criminalised/marginalised.

    HS, if that is the case, then those who opposed this legislation should look to their tactics and their rhetoric for creating this false impression.

    I can’t see how the legislation is going to do anything to stop these people at the fringes behaving like animals

    Neither can I in extreme cases. But I do see how it removes a legal defence of their actions that seemed to be used too generously. And that may be enough to affect less extreme cases.

    While it’s easy to admire the intent of the legislation

    Ok, good!

    it was poorly conceived and written and certainly it didn’t help when Sue Bradford and others continued to berate anyone who disagreed with her that they were supporting beating their kids.

    That may be true – I didn’t follow it all that closely. But please get back to the intent of the legislation, on which we are agreed.

  22. r0b 22

    I’d avoid labelling prople as leftie, rightie or whatever I tend to judge individual politicians and politics on merit.

    I’ve been thinking about this further HS, and I wonder if it is as true as you would like to believe. In terms of S59 you seem to be hung up on lots of irrelevancies (many created by the bill’s opponents) rather than judging it on its merits (its intentions, which you admire).

    Truly judging things on their merits is an excellent strategy, and I try to apply it too. My questions:

    – What does this politician / legislation intend to do?

    – Does it work?

    – Does it help people or harm people?

    For me these questions help cut through a lot of the irrelevant BS. The answers to these questions in most cases lead me to overall support and work for parties on the left of the political spectrum.

  23. r0b 23

    2 Does it work – No I don’t believe it does

    We can all of us believe whatever we like (note that a majority of child support organisations believed that it would help). The only way to find out is to try. Isn’t it worse to do nothing?

    The legal defence arguement as the ratioanl for repeal of S59 is a red herring

    Why exactly? (It is all that the legislation does, after all.)

    Got to go, but it’s been good chatting to someone who seems open to reasonable discussion!

  24. Tell me pleaase – is that a typo in the heading (Family FIST), or are you guys actually no different to the Kiwiblog Right you pilloried in the thread headed “Filth’? Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways.

  25. Simeon 25

    No Inventory2 That is not a typo.

    Family Fist

  26. Simeon 26

    and no I shouldn’t add links with my comments. The moderators hate it

  27. Simeon 27

    Robinsod,

    Can you give some idea of the number of parents who walked away “scott free” under the original S59.

  28. Strange then isn’t it that they chastise the “Kiwiblog Right” – here’s the opening sentence of that thread I was referring to:

    “It looks like the nasty little insecure creeps who inhabit the Kiwiblog Right are creeping into the mainstream.”

    Filth

    And IrishBill’s first post says:

    “And before any of you little pricks start I should warn you that my tolerance for your filth on this blog is now zero.”

    ….then they maliciously change the name of Family First to Family FIST. There’s a word for that kind of behaviour – in fact there are lots of words – but the one that I’m thinking of is…..HYPOCRICY.

  29. AncientGeek 29

    lowerstandard:

    the purported purpose of this bill was to decrease the level of child abuse…

    The stated objective of the bill was to remove a defense ‘reasonable force’ for people assaulting children. That defense had been abused in the courts, and was preventing judges from giving punishments appropriate with the crimes.

    It made no difference to the ability of the police to decide whom to arrest and charge for assaulting children. It simply removed an impediment to their conviction.

    Since the number of cases that this affected was pretty low in the first place, as the police decide what is appropriate course of action (and always have done so). It was never expected to make much difference to the number of cases being brought forward. What it will do is to assist in conviction and sentencing.

    In other words – you are full of crap….

  30. AncientGeek 30

    Just to clarify where I personally stand on this act.

    My original position on this bill was that it was not required. The opponents of the bill convinced me otherwise. Frankly a lot of them make me afraid for any children around them. They still do.

    Sue Bradford went up considerably in my opinion after fighting this bill through the mob frenzy, to get it voted for by almost every MP.

  31. AncientGeek 31

    Actually after reading the article, I’m also terrified of people like Sacha Coburn. She seems to be saying that she doesn’t discipline her kid when it is clearly dangerous – riding around in the back seat of a car without a seatbelt. The excuse that she gives is that section 59 lets her off the hook.

    That is simply a cop-out, she is simply avoiding the responsibility of caring for her child.

    Legally, she is no more likely to be arrested or convicted for smacking than she was 5 years or 10 years ago. Especially in the case where danger to a child was involved. Unless of course she was using a piece of 4×2.

    As I said earlier, some of the opposition make me afraid for them to be around children.

  32. randal 32

    its just a red herring to beat the government with and also to allow the right wing old testament patriarchs to indulge themselves in their beating fantasies and proclivity’s

  33. Daveo 33

    I think it’s fair to call an organisation that defends violence against children in the home “family fist”.

    McCroskie and co have gone out of their way to defend riding crop lady and various other child beaters.

  34. westmere 34

    If anybody has a problem with the term “Family Fist”, they really, really need to find out who that group have supported and defended. Some background here:

    http://www.publicaddress.net/system/topic,957,hard_news_not_so_much_ironic_as_outrageous.sm

  35. r0b 35

    Iv2, Simeon, the world would be a pretty poor place if we did away with satire as a tool for making a political point. The question is, when does satire cross the line and become personal abuse?

    The authors of The Standard clearly believe that “Family Fist” falls on the OK side of the line (no individual is targeted), and the Castro cartoon does not (Clark is targeted, arguably with very unsavoury dog-whistling).

    If you want to draw the line somewhere else, fine for you, go start your own blog.

  36. Higherstandard 36

    Sue Bradford fighting the mod frenzy !! that would be a first her history has been littered with inciting mob frenzy.

    Ancient perhaps you are guilty of gorging on your own crapulence.

  37. milo 37

    For the record, I support this law. Good on Sue Bradford for introducing it, and Labour for supporting it.

    I think there are challenging political issues around it, but what the hell. It’s a good law.

  38. Dan 38

    John Key grew in many people’s estimation when he brokered the compromise with Labour and the Greens. He spoke sense, and spoke to the middle ground that the Nats so desperately need. What happens now that there is pressure to allow the “spare the rod” brigade back in? Was he making his call on principle, or was he plugging the most politically expedient for a short term political gain, before reverting to his tendency to the right closer to the election?
    He has lost a lot of votes (not yet registering on opinion polls) when Rich left; he will lose even more if he tampers with a sensible law for the protection of children. Sacha Coburn, get a life. Sue Bradford, take a bow.

  39. Matthew Pilott 39

    Milo – I’m taken aback, but I appreciate your attitude! It seems to me that too many pepole are taking a shallow view of this law – that it makes ordinary parents criminals.

    While I accept that this is an issue (no law is perfect), I believe that the compromise legislated at the 11th hour simply codified what was always going to be a reality. As Ari aid, you don’t get prosecuted for tackling someone in a game of rugby!

    Perceptions may be reality, but law cannot be drafted to cater for this phenomenon.

    I support the law change for two specific reasons I’ll put forward, which, in sum, far outweigh any objections I have seen by others, or personal misgivings I have.

    1 – Police are more likely to prosecute cases where they feel abuse has occured. Police stated, in the months leading to the law’s enactment, that sometimes they would not prosecute because of S59, despite believeing that an incident of ‘punishment’ had constituted abuse.

    2 – Changing attitudes. In a recent court case, a chile was briused after a parent lost their temper. The judge stated that the defendant “could have gotten away with this before, but not now” – concrete evidence the law is working. The debate has also shifted to non-violent forms of discipline – there is no way this can be a bad outcome for children.

  40. Matthew Pilott 40

    P.S Simeon – the number of parents walking free under S59 is not possible to count, as I mentioned under my first point – there’s no way to tell how many cases were not brought forward due to S59’s very existance.

  41. Camryn 41

    I’d be happier if the line around what’s acceptable was actually clarified. “Police have discretion not to arrest or prosecute” doesn’t tell me anything about what I can or cannot do to avoid the legal system getting involved.

    We definitely moved the line – no major problem with that – but it was from one vague situation to another vague situation, really.

  42. r0b said “If you want to draw the line somewhere else, fine for you, go start your own blog.”

    I have! I was merely pointing out the irony of you taking the moral high ground on one hand, and getting on your high horse (moral or otherwise!!) on the other!

  43. AncientGeek 43

    Cam:

    I’d be happier if the line around what’s acceptable was actually clarified.

    But that is the case with all law. In the end it is up to you to decide what you do.

    For instance, the law doesn’t say that you aren’t allowed to speed, thieve or murder. It just says that if caught there will be consequences. The consequences are often vague (there is a lot of sentencing discretion). The probability of getting caught is not really well known.

    It is up to each person to decide what they consider to be acceptable behavior and risk levels. The legal system just provides a framework for judging those risks.

  44. r0b – satire is fine, and as you say, there is a fine line. I’m sure I’ve crossed it myself, but from enthusiasm rather than malice.

    BTW – did you see that Family First are now admitting that they were wrong to be so supportive of the woman from Timaru? At least they are publicly prepared to ‘fess up.

  45. I think the issue is IV2, that they are not ‘fessing up so much as denying they ever supported her at all. In a sane world that would discredit an organisation but it seems the memory hole has no limit.

  46. vto 46

    The state physically disciplines people constantly. They should stop beating these people with horsewhips and police fists. Bring in a new law.

  47. Matthew Pilott 47

    So Bob is now pretending he didn’t support the case in Timaru? He is scum. Family First is a mindless, reactive organisation with no scruples and it/he will say whatever it has to in order to discredit and denigrate this law. Bob McCoskrie came out swinging for the case I mentioned above in Masterton, until the truth came out. Then he went silent, obviously lurking until the next case he can try to trump up. When is this travesty of a human being going to realise that:

    A) the law isn’t making good parents criminals;
    B) the law is working to prevent child abuse, and increase its reporting rate;
    C) law can’t differentiate between ‘a loving smack’ and a parent losing their temper and smacking their children in anger, thus opening the way for more serious forms of child abuse?

    He disgusts me and given the above, I think it os more of an ego thing. I hope he gets his fucking referendum, and gets thrashed in it by honest New Zealanders who put children’s welfare before their own egos.

  48. r0b 48

    I have!

    So you have, good for you.

    I was merely pointing out the irony of you taking the moral high ground on one hand, and getting on your high horse (moral or otherwise!!) on the other!

    I only count one hand there Iv2, but I think I know what you mean. There is no inconsistency in supporting and using political satire but not crossing the line into personal abuse.

  49. Tim 49

    I don’t actually believe the repeal of s59 was necessary and it’s not going to stop child abusers hitting their kids, but what really frightens me is how worked up some people (eg Family First) get about it. I mean, honestly, aren’t there bigger things to worry about in the world today than whether you can smack your kid or pay for sex? A billion starving people for example?

    I don’t actually see what’s wrong with the Clark/Fidel cartoon, all politicians should be legitimate targets of mockery. While it might be offensive, satire has always been a part of the political process. It’s a moronic cartoon anyway, comparing Clark to Castro is a bit like comparing Key to Chavez.

    Equally, “Family Fist” is fine with me and other similar groups like the “For the Sake of our Children Trust” (wtf?) should be subject to continual mockery to expose the shallow inanity of their policies and purpose. People should be as free to mock religion as they are to believe in it.

  50. r0b 50

    r0b – satire is fine, and as you say, there is a fine line. I’m sure I’ve crossed it myself, but from enthusiasm rather than malice.

    After your piece on HC’s birthday yesterday I’m prepared to believe you on that.

    BTW – did you see that Family First are now admitting that they were wrong to be so supportive of the woman from Timaru?

    No, I didn’t catch that, this is not an issue I follow closely.

  51. Aj 51

    “”Police have discretion not to arrest or prosecute’ doesn’t tell me anything about what I can or cannot do to avoid the legal system getting involved.”

    Don’t assault anyone, including your kids?? !

  52. “I’m a left leaning liberal but…”

    Kind brings to mind “I’m not racist but…”

    (indicently I’m finally back into my blog!)

  53. higherstandard 53

    Where’s the sense in this

    You get arrested for clipping the ear of a ten year old, but leave a 2 year on the street naked while you go to the pub and that is okay. (so long as you don’t smack them)

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4440229a11.html

  54. Pascal's bookie 54

    HS.
    On the face of it I’d say it’s ridiculous.

    But then again, police often use their discretion about who to charge and who not to charge based on the totality of the facts. Which is IMHO a good thing.

    For various reasons they choose not to share all those facts with journalists, who write stories anyway. As is their right.

  55. higherstandard 55

    Pascal

    On Monday, police said the woman locked her two-year-old daughter and 10-year-old nephew out of her house to go the pub.

    Despite the decision not to prosecute the parents, police will not explain why the parents are not to face charges.

    They deny the reason is because they got the initial facts wrong.

    Police also back the mother’s claims to them that she did not call the Waikato Times this week saying she had been “given the bash” by her partner.

    One can only say God help the children in this family

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