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Reaching out to the ‘No’ vote

Written By: - Date published: 12:21 pm, August 27th, 2009 - 41 comments
Categories: child discipline - Tags:

I must confess that Key’s position on the repeal of s59 has puzzled me from the moment he started cooperating with the Labour government to get it passed. It’s a principled and evidence based position in stark contrast to his usual ideological blinders and populist posturing. Or perhaps it’s based on a deeply personal conviction. Whatever the reason, on this issue Key has made the right decision, in the face of considerable pressure, and I applaud him for it.

In the aftermath it’s obvious that there’s a lot of irrational anger and bluster out there — on both sides of the Yes No fence. While it’s tempting to sit back and enjoy the spectacle of John Key getting lambasted by much of his support base (and a small but highly visible nutjob fringe), fanning the flames in any way is actually not doing the country any favours. Time to cool things down, if we can. So this is my appeal for us leftie Yes vote activists to make peace with the other side.

I have never been comfortable with characterising the No vote as “beaters” or “monsters”, labels that rightly apply to only a tiny minority. 1.4 Million people voted No for a range of reasons. One of those reasons was the unfounded fear and distrust whipped up by the American fundamentalist funded No campaign, seeds sown in the fertile soil of “Nanny State” hysteria that National worked so hard to cultivate for the last several years. Another significant reason was that the leading question invited a No vote (prior to the referendum the question that was used polled 86% No, while a neutral question polled 50% No). There will be many other reasons for No votes, and very few beaters or
monsters among them.

So if we leftie activists can dial back the rhetoric a bit, that might help grieving and agitated right wing activists calm down, and speed the process of putting all of this behind us. Then one day we might be able to have a rational discussion about the causes of child abuse, and what to do about it.
— r0b

41 comments on “Reaching out to the ‘No’ vote ”

  1. Mark M 1

    “I have never been comfortable with characterising the No vote as “beaters’ or “monsters’, labels that rightly apply to only a tiny minority.”

    excellent comment guest poster and the most sensible comment thats come out of the yes side.

    Im sure a lot of people voted no simply because they were irritated by the constant carping that, vote no and you become a child beater / molester.
    Another large proportion probably voted no , as I did , not because I want to smack my children , but because I dont need to be told how to raise my family.

    The law as it is dosent seem to have prevented a host of child murders either.
    We need to have a law that is clear and enforceable and comes down like a ton of bricks on any one who breaks it.

    Having a law that we are told will only be enforced at the ” discretion” of others is hardly a good way of instilling respect and perhaps a little fear of the law

    • r0b 1.1

      Thanks for the kind words Mark M. One thing:

      but because I dont need to be told how to raise my family

      Are you comfortable with laws that require you to provide appropriate levels of care, send your children to school, use child restraints or seat belts in cars, or not supply them with restricted drugs? Are you comfortable with restrictions imposed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (to which NZ is a signatory)? Are you comfortable with laws that impose restrictions on families that aren’t like yours – is it time to do away with the restriction on gay couples adopting?

      • Swampy 1.1.1

        Are you comfortable that the UNCROC convention was signed without any electoral mandate?

        Are you comfortable that the Labour Party and fellow travellers take contradictory 180 degree positions on the Auckland supercity proposals (Must have a binding referendum etc etc) and the Section 59 issue (must be able to completely ignore public opinion, including a referendum)

        It’s extremely obvious that in the case of the Auckland Supercity, the issue is about Labour’s political power base, while in the Section 59 issue, the party ideology is sacrosanct and can’t ever be challenged or revoked regardless of what the electorate thinks.

        • BLiP 1.1.1.1

          Its extremely obvious that it is The Goober himself who is saying Section 59 is sacrosanct and can’t be revoked and, in fact, National Ltd are trying to undermine the Labour voter base in Auckland with its ACT-driven Super City asset stripping.

        • Pascal's bookie 1.1.1.2

          Another one that’s not too clear on the meaning of ‘Non binding’.

          It’s extremely obvious that in the case of the Auckland Supercity, the issue is about Labour’s political power base,

          is that so? If true then it must equally be true for National and ACT. Are you saying that Nact’s policy is specifically aimed at weakening Labour’s power base? Shocking.

          while in the Section 59 issue, the party ideology is sacrosanct and can’t ever be challenged or revoked regardless of what the electorate thinks.

          There is nothing Labour or the Greens or the mP can do to stop Nact + Dunne from changing the law swampy.

          John Key and National think the policy is working, that’s the standard he set before the election, and that’s the mandate he’s got. If you have a problem with that, take it up with national. It’s got nothing to do with labour or the left. The left lost the election last year, remember?

          • kaya 1.1.1.2.1

            The unelected, no mandate marxist Bradford introduced it, Labour supported it to hang onto power. The insipid Key tried to please everyone by brokering a compromise and failed miserably. (and will suffer for it) It is all to do with Labour and the left, it is why I didn’t vote Labour for the first time in almost 30 years.
            The Labour movement I knew has been hijacked by ideologues and academic idiots. It has forgotten it’s traditional working class roots. Many will not come back until they sort this out.

      • kaya 1.1.2

        WTF is this rOb, “good cop, bad cop” routine? You wrote a sensible piece at the start and then totally undid your good work with the next comment. As for the UN, that is the most corrupt waste of space we have ever seen. Anything they say should be completely ignored.

  2. hear hear!

    I’ll avoid the dig at Key at the top but you are on the lolly elsewhere.

    I haven’t yet had a reply to the comment that most here demand that the Govt listens to the “people” on the super city yet conversely demand (and IMO rightly so) that Key ignores the clamour over the No vote.

    I think you last comments are particularly valid. Those who “lightly” smack are outraged that their generally positive parenting is being linked to the extreme cases that hit the media. I realise it’s not black and white and it is much easy to legislate no smacking than some. As such, this issue has been more about perception than anything else.

    Likewise, as you note, people can be against something for many different reasons but not agree on what they are for.

    Nice job r0b

    • felix 2.1

      “I haven’t yet had a reply to the comment that most here demand that the Govt listens to the “people’ on the super city yet conversely demand (and IMO rightly so) that Key ignores the clamour over the No vote.”

      You’d have to pose an equivalent hypothetical supercity question to measure the response though Dave – what question are you suggesting we compare it to? I can’t imagine many here suggesting that the govt should take note of a supercity referendum if the question were to be framed in a similar way to that of the smacking one. Probably quite the opposite.

      e.g. the smacking equivalent of “Do you support the supercity proposed by the govt?” would be “Do you support the S59 Amendment Act 2007?”

      Apples with apples.

      Ask a straight question on either issue and I expect you’d see a wide public consensus that the govt should take note of the result.

    • r0b 2.2

      Cheers Daveski.

      I’ll avoid the dig at Key at the top

      Sorry – contractual obligation – you understand…

      I haven’t yet had a reply to the comment that most here demand that the Govt listens to the “people’ on the super city yet conversely demand (and IMO rightly so) that Key ignores the clamour over the No vote.

      I tried to answer that question (as put by Rex) over here.

      Likewise, as you note, people can be against something for many different reasons but not agree on what they are for.

      Now ain’t that the truth!

      • Rex Widerstrom 2.2.1

        r0b:

        I missed your reply to that, sorry. I’m glad we can continue the debate here. First, congratulations on not only avoiding the rhetoric spouted by the majority of people in favour of the retention of Bradford’s amendment, including Bradford herself.

        Second, I agree with you completely — it’s time to reach out to the “No” vote because, as I pointed out yesterday, if you combined it with the people who want a referendum on the “supercity” (and aspects thereof, like Maori seats) I suspect you’d have a clear majority of NZers ranging from dreadlocked hippies to pinstriped businessmen and every cliche in between.

        The simultaneous refutation of the “No” vote and refusal to even have a referendum on the “supercity” offers a unique opportunity to form a coalition of groups and individuals to demand that their voices be heard, and heeded, on these and other issues. If that means swallowing a dead rat (or perhaps half of one — support the Borrows/Boscawen amendment as a compromise) — then IMHO it’s worth doing if the result is we gain greater input into the political process.

        felix:

        the smacking equivalent of “Do you support the supercity proposed by the govt?’ would be “Do you support the S59 Amendment Act 2007?’

        Agreed entirely. But for either of those questions to produce an intelligent result still requires an understanding of the underlying issue(s).

        No referendum question can ever explain the issue at stake and encompass the arguments for and against. To produce well-reasoned and thus intelligent result requires that those voting have taken the trouble to inform themselves adequately and at least considered the point of view opposed to the one which they’re first inclined to take.

        So, while I do think most people who voted on S59 knew roughly effect they wanted a “no” vote to have — overturning Bradford’s amendment in some way — regardless of the imprecision of the question, I would grant you that only a portion of them had gone through the thought processes I’d hope they’d have gone through before voting.

        So I come back to my “multi-choice non-partisan questionnaire before voting” idea. Perhaps it’s time to disenfranchise the indolent and the stupid?

        [I’ll go hide now]

    • nic 2.3

      Hear hear on [the writers on] The Standard’s cognitive dissonance towards democracy concerning the Super City and democracy on the “smacking” debate. Like you, I strongly oppose the idea that parents should be free to beat their children.

      Still, I’d like someone to lay out what the rules are for whether or not a governmen has to respect the voice of the majority.

  3. Ianmac 3

    I guess some of the anxiety is not just the YES/NO vote but my perception that we ordinary folk are being manipulated by “the unfounded fear and distrust whipped up by the American fundamentalist funded No campaign” or the Textor mob for that matter. Is it possible that the flow on effect of the election tactics is still visible, but not now directed against Helen but ironically John.
    Quite happy to back off from an admittedly moderate position thanks Rob.

    • r0b 3.1

      Cheers Ianmac.

      Is it possible that the flow on effect of the election tactics is still visible, but not now directed against Helen but ironically John.

      I think that’s dead right. It’s poetic justice in one sense (and I feel guilty for enjoying the irony), but in my opinion these tactics are a step backwards for democracy in the bigger picture. Look to America.

      • Swampy 3.1.1

        The American states have binding referenda for significant issues, much more democratic than NZ. The courts can even challenge the government’s laws.

    • Swampy 3.2

      This is typical xenophobic hysteria (especially against Americans) being whipped up by the usual sources.

  4. greenfly 4

    Tempting to say “No”.

  5. bobo 5

    I take it the majority of Labour voters voted no like I did? The party needs to accept the view of the general public on this and move on. I like Sue Bradford as she has done alot for NZs most vulnerable but I disagree with her on this issue in the same way I disagree with her on hers parties view on legalizing cannabis, but it’s wrong to call people monsters for lightly smacking and laying on some guilt trip.

  6. RedLogix 6

    Those who “lightly’ smack are outraged that their generally positive parenting is being linked to the extreme cases that hit the media.

    Which while it’s perfectly understandable, still seems to me a less than self-honest response. I’ve always tried to use the word ‘hitting’ because it’s a more or less neutral term that covers the whole spectrum from the trivial and tolerable smack, all the way through to the most horrendous abuse that we all universally condemn.

    It’s more or less the same with say alcohol. We all recognise the enormous harm and costs the abuse of alcohol imposes on us as a society, yet whether it’s one harmless glass of red with dinner, through to a rage fueled blind-bender… it’s still the same thing. Most people can drink responsibly, but some cannot, and the two groups are indissolubly linked. As long as the majority continue to assert their ‘right’ to a few harmless drinkies, then we will always have with us the alcoholics who will cause so much grief.

    When the Americans imposed a Prohibition on alcohol (because of the enormous harm it caused), it didn’t work because so many people were not ready to admit to the connection between their casual acceptance of getting a little bit drunk and destuctive alcoholism… and carried on obtaining alcohol anyway. In many ways the reaction to the S59 repeal has been very similar, because so many ordinary people are not ready to honestly examine the role of violence and abuse in our society… in ALL it’s forms.

    It was of course always wrong to label as ‘child beaters’ ordinary parents who smacked their kids from time to time, equally as it was counterproductive to label the S59 repeal the “Anti-Smacking Bill”. Neither label was ever accurate or fair.

    Yet in all the shouting past each other, I would dare say we have all learnt a thing or two, and maybe been forced to be a little more honest with ourselves. I know for certain that there were a couple of incidents with my own children, that in retrospect were mistakes. Just as I think all sides in this fractious debate have made some bad mistakes.

    Time for a bit of graciousness, and some proper listening.

    • Daveski 6.1

      If i start agreeing with r0b and redLogix, i should be banned 🙂

      I had the same views on alcohol which I was thinking of adding and came to similar conclusion.

      I largely agree with your other comments particularly the use of labels which turned the whole thing into an emotional charade rather than an attempt to improve the way we parent. There are serious issues which the charade is covering over.

      I’ll ban myself for the rest of the day to protect the credibility of r0b and RL!

      • r0b 6.1.1

        I’ll ban myself for the rest of the day to protect the credibility of r0b and RL!

        Well goodness yes, we don’t want peace and goodwill breaking out all over, wherever would it end???

        • RedLogix 6.1.1.1

          Well r0b, there is no end anytime soon, as it fairly puts the onus back on the left to re-frame this whole ’emotional charade’… as Dave accurately puts it… into terms that the majority of people will accept.

          Until then all this pointless policy squabbling about bottom spanking won’t get us very far.

  7. toad 7

    Yeh, I agree rOb that Idiot/Savant probably went a bit far with that post.

    But I also know how easy it is to get wound up by the vitriol and disinformation spewed by Baldock, McCroskie & Family Fist, and their wingnut supporters over at Farrar’s troll farm.

    I agree that we can make peace with the middle ground of the No voters, but not with those who argue that parents have a duty to beat the sin out of their children with the rod of correction. They must be marginalised as the extremists.

    • r0b 7.1

      You’ll notice in the call for peace missive I did still call Farrar’s crew the “nutjob fringe”. I was expecting to have been called on my inconsistency by now.

      So I agree, there are some who are beyond reason and their extreme views should be pointed out. It’s the angry alienated middle ground no voters – as you say – that we should be reaching out to. That didn’t come out right in the last paragraph of the original post.

      • So Bored 7.1.1

        I for one never thought that the ‘smacking issue” was ever a left / right division across the board. There are control freaks with punative mentalities living at the extremes of both left and right, and if one side percieved the other to be telling it what to do it was always going to start a fire.

        And I have never thought that the majority of “no” voters want to beat their children. They just dont want the state interfering in what they percieve as their domain as parents.

        If the majority on both sides might agree that assaulting children is totally unnacceptable in any context (in the same way that assaulting adults is) then the views of punative control freaks at both ends of the spectrum can be marginalised. And we can get on with giving our children the expectation of a safe and loving environment free from adult violence.

  8. the sprout 8

    that’s a very generous stance you’re taking r0b, good for you.
    i think a lot of the animosity has been fuelled by a great deal of misinformation and ignorance.
    a softer approach would probably be helpful for reaching some kind of resolution. from my experienc of talking to a LOT of people who were very upset about the s59 amendment at the time, once they understand a bit more of the arguments for and against they do calm down and see things differently.

  9. randal 9

    I wanna give bosco a few taps around the chops to see if he likes that.
    okay?

  10. Jeremy 10

    I actually never got a ballot, but then I’ve actually never seen any evidence at all that the local postie can read.
    I think the amended section 59 is about as confusing as anyone ever claimed the referendum question was. Hence so many people thinking it outlaws things that it probably doesn’t. Even without that confusion, most people don’t like letting facts get in the way of a good rant.

  11. “Time to cool things down, if we can. So this is my appeal for us leftie Yes vote activists to make peace with the other side.”

    Sorry r0b i don’t agree with you on this one. Any slippage will be pounced on by the opposition. The debate is a personal freedom debate now, hopefully us left/yes advocates will be able to be more successful on this battlefield but i don’t really believe it.

    Why are you suggesting this? for the good of the country?

    Try to get the left to take their foot off the maori party throat would be a better way to go ‘for the good of the country’ IMO

  12. BLiP 12

    Yeah – what is the Goober up to with this one? It gets curiouser and curiouser. The performance of Crusher, Basher, Chopper, Folly Acid, and We’llmissya Lee indicates that National Ltd are not in anyway interested in attracting the female vote.

    Given that Key’s a money-changer, there’s little room in his psyhe for humanitarian principles, let alone morals. This smacking position and his “Prime Ministers Fund For Unfortunate Children” is getting more than just a little creepy. But, rather than assume the most sinister, on this occasion, I will take it that Key realises most people didn’t understand the referrendum question or the existing law and, further, that the upcoming holiday camps for kiddies will be good for tourism and assist greatly in the transfer of the provision of social services to the private sector. Plus, the Old-Testament-spouting knuckle dragging testicle bearers really don’t have anywhere to go if they spit the dummy at National Ltd.

    As an aside – while its good to see young Patrick Gower doing a half-decent job on covering Crusher’s attempt to bully the unions, what a shame to see Armstrong on the same page is running his “dolla-a-tug-job” franchise from that grotty little caravan he’s got parked up permanently at Premier House.

  13. roger nome 13

    “So if we leftie activists can dial back the rhetoric a bit, that might help grieving and agitated right wing activists calm down, and speed the process of putting all of this behind us.”

    You’re assuming that these right-wing activists are against violence and abuse. I’m not so sure that they all are. Many of them may crave the power they feel when throttling a defenseless child. Many more may feel that some things written in the bible give them the right too abuse, while still more may just find it too hard to change their behaviors.
    They’d rather cling on to harmful practices than admit that they are wrong and change their ways. There are a hell of a lot of people out there that just can’t admit that they way they’ve been living is wrong. You see this particularly on the conservative right with issues like climate change and smacking these conservative, macho types so often see admitting mistakes as a sign of weakness.

    • kaya 13.1

      and any possible consideration I had thought of giving to the original piece has just slid down the toilet bowl along with that dribbling shite, just reminded me that there are jsut as many nutjobs on the left as on the right.

  14. side show bob 14

    “”There are a hell of a lot of people out there that just can’t admit that the way they’ve been living is wrong”, well done roger spoken with the authority of a true socialist. The world will be a much better place when you tell us all how to live, just don’t get do you. Sad really.

  15. ak 15

    Then one day we might be able to have a rational discussion……

    ahhh, rational….that’s the trouble r0b: we’re not talking about rational adults here. And in this busy world of shiftwork, mortgages etc (and often with both standardistas working), there’s often simply not the time, and a good sharp clip round the ears of these commenters is exactly what’s called for. Never did me any harm.

    But seriously folks, this entire issue is quite simply the ugly, straggling tail of an insane hysteria that has gripped this country since 2005. How such “issues” as “speedgate”, “paintergate”, “bulbgate”, “EFAgate”, “NOcardgate” etc could have gained political traction at all – let alone provoked the reaction they have – is utterly surreal. Practical, down-to-earth kiwis reduced to a paranoid stocking up on incandescent light bulbs. A loving smack.
    The extreme of what we have witnessed over the last four years is currently on display in the US: apparently rational and intelligent individuals openly labelling Obama a N*zi. Conspiracy whackjobs and the poison-pen letter gone mainstream.

    And as in the current melee here (over an “issue” the almost exact equivalent of the law forbidding driving over 100k), the finger can be pointed directly at the media. Talkback and shallow sensationalism are our own petit – Fox News: spewing fear and confusion into the void created by increasing societal anomie. For many, “their” talkback host is quite literally their best friend.

    So sure, r0b, time out and talkies for behaviour correction. But for insanity, strong medicine is sometimes needed to stall the metastasis. I’ve found the “Baby-bashers-for-Jesus” pill shakes up the grey matter of all but the terminal quite nicely – with intriguing side effects.

  16. JD 16

    “Many of them may crave the power they feel when throttling a defenseless child. Many more may feel that some things written in the bible give them the right too abuse, while still more may just find it too hard to change their behaviors.”

    Did you glean this insight from your upbringing?

  17. Swampy 17

    You could start by dropping all the claims against the referendum question. It apparently took Sue Bradford over a year to decide that the question was confusing or inappropriately worded, and that the matter only surfaced on the eve of the referendum itself appears to be a late smear tactic by her camp.

  18. BLiP 18

    Do you live under a rock? The Green Party has been calling that duplitious question “confusing” since it was formulated.

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  • Speech to Aotearoa Refugee Hui
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