Sometimes you get a really pleasant surprise and I got one today from Garth George. I’m going to reproduce a pretty big chunk of his piece below because it is remarkably good.
Despite being a pretty old school conservative he gives a stunning rebuke of the knee-jerk authoritarianism/fascism/randianism that so often characterises the thinking of the Right these days and was recently highlighted by David Garrett’s call for sterilisation of the poor, which has been partially endorsed by several editorials and columnists that George describes as “extreme right”. Here’s the article:
We persist with the band-aid philosophy, even though over the years it has been proved, over and over again, to have very little, or no, beneficial effect.
One of the latest examples is the suggestion by the Act list MP, David Garrett, that parents with a history of child abuse should be given a $5000 incentive to be sterilised.
No one, apart from a couple of far-right columnists, took Mr Garrett seriously – and even he seemed to resile from the idea rather quickly.
But the mere fact that he came up with such an idea is typical of the way our politicians deal with such issues.
Apart from the fact that even voluntary sterilisation under such circumstances is a violation of what little is left of the moral and ethical framework of a civilised democracy, what would it achieve?
It would simply be another attempt to shut the gate after the horse has bolted – something at which we have always been adept – for the sterilisation would come after the abuse.
It would be accepted by only a handful of men and women, if that, since even the mentally challenged – as child abusers invariably are – would shrink at being reduced to sterility, robbed of the inalienable human right to reproduce.
It would, in short, do nothing whatsoever to alleviate the shameful and chronic diseases of child abuse and neglect that afflict this country. So what then? Compulsory sterilisation? Anyone with any knowledge of the history of the last century knows where that leads.
I have a dear friend here in Rotorua, a man rich in years, in experience and wisdom, strong and enduring in his Christian faith, who has spent a lifetime serving his God, his family and his church.
We talk often and at great length of the things of God and the things of the world. He contends, and I agree, that voluntary sterilisation amounts to self-mutilation and renounces the natural law of self-preservation.
“Every person and every society,” he says, “has rights, but equal and equivalent responsibilities go with them: the person to him or herself; to other people and to society; and the society to itself and its members.”
In history, he says, cruel practices such as mutilation and sterilisation have been used by governments to maintain law and order.
But history also shows that not only did they not conform to the legitimate rights of the human person but they were neither necessary nor effective. On the contrary, they led to further practices that were even more degrading.
So, the conclusion we arrived at – and it applies not just to child abuse but to all the other social ills that blight our society – is that we should invest heavily in methods of correcting attitudes and behaviour.
Advances in modern science in matters of cause and effect – particularly in the field of psychology – have clearly demonstrated these methods to be effective and it is our social responsibility to put these proven practices in place.
And that is the guts of the matter – we have to begin treating the causes and not just the symptoms.