Friday, March 30, 2007

Lucia Chris Trotter on the Failure of Sue Bradford's Repeal of S59

Chris Trotter's interesting, that's why we keep commenting on him. He's like an indicator of where the left could go, given half a chance in NZ, and he does have an uncanny political nose. So, here's his piece (Dom Post, March 20, 2007, From the Left) telling Sue to withdraw her bill because the of the damage it will do to the Left.

Withdraw your failed bill, SueWe have failed. The opinion polls released this week confirm that fact with crushing finality. It is now indisputable that four-fifths of the electorate is opposed to Sue Bradford's "Anti-Smacking Bill". No one's really surprised. The poll results were just another couple of stalks in the veritable blizzard of straws in the wind that has been blowing for weeks on this issue. The Left already knew the voters weren't convinced. Why? Because it simply hasn't bothered to convince them.

Consider the last great successful battle against against ingrained public prejudice: the legal emancipation of gay and lesbian New Zealanders. How was that achieved? By a private member's bill, yes, but was that all? No. The fight for gay and lesbian rights had been going on for years before Fran Wilde introduced her Homosexual Law Reform Bill to Parliament in 1985.

The struggle against homophobia had gone on in students' associations, unions, government departments, private business, and on the streets. There were journals and newspapers devoted to the cause. And, in the mainstream new media, a constant barrage of letters, feature articles and documentaries steadily chipped away at public ignorance.

The gay rights movement had its own icons, its own heroes, and even its own "Gay Pride" week on the nation's university campuses. Fran Wilde's bill came at the end of a multi-faceted political campaign for change - not at the beginning.

Nothing on this scale has preceded the campaign to end violence against children. Certainly, there are lobby groups devoted to advancing the rights of the child, but their efforts have almost exclusively been devoted to securing the backing of decision-makers especially MPs. No one, to my knowledge, has set out to secure the backing of the public in the way that gays and lesbians did.

And now that failure to win over at least a substantial minority of the public, before proceeding to the legislative phase of the reform process, is generating a backlash of extraordinary power.

In a way that few, if any, of the bill's supporters anticipated, the notion of criminalising the "correction" of children has awakened fears and resentments from the very deepest recesses of the New Zealand psyche.

It's more than the New Zealand public can deal with right now: those conflicted emotions toward parents and siblings; those painful childhood memories of sudden and inexplicable violence; those overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame. All the unacknowledged pathologies of family life which Sue Bradford's bill requires New Zealanders to recognise and address - it's too much. They want the bill out of their faces NOW!

And, in a curious way, they're right. Because the sequencing, when you think about it, is all wrong.

How can we ask people battling to keep a roof over their heads; people holding down two minimum wage jobs to put food on the table; people struggling to pay mortgages, rates, power bills and school fees; people so tired they forget to talk to their kids, make love to their partners, or keep in touch with their family and friends, to do what Sue is demanding? To somehow locate the calm centre of their beings; that strong and secure sense of self which is the key to constructing loving and non-violent relationships?

Is it really fair, in a society which never stops doing violence to them, to suddenly demand that parents stop doing violence to their children?

This legislation needs to be withdrawn, immediately. And its supporters (among whom I include myself) need to acknowledge their failure. Not just their failure to build a mass movement against the violence done to children, but their failure to sustain the movement which their parents and grandparents built to end the economic and social violence daily inflicted upon working families.

You cannot help the kids if you will not help their mums and dads.

By refusing to recognise the sheer magnitude of the opposition to this bill, the Left has forfeited the electorate's trust. Sadly, withdrawing the legislation is now a necessary precondition to rebuilding public confidence in progressive politics.

Because, mark my words, if we do not acknowledge our failure and set about reclaiming the trust we have lost, it will be given to others.

Passing this legislation now, over the objections of four-fifths of the electorate, will not settle the matter. The people will punish the Left and themselves by voting the far Right into power.

And how will that help the children of New Zealand?

2 comment(s):

Barnsley Bill said...

I find myself descending into an almost rage like state when i read anything written by trotter. His sixth form socialist dogma and eat the rich drivel make him the very worst msm commentator in NZ today. With that off my chest i was shocked to see him singing out of tune on Sunday. When chris trotter tells helen and co (in such a public way) that they have lost the confidence of a majority of kiwis and they should drop this ridiculous meddling now then they must listen.

ZenTiger said...

And his post is filled with the usual self-righteous bigotry.

He's lost because the majority of parents opposing the bill are apparently too stupid to understand the unrelenting propaganda from the Children's Commissioner etc.

And smacking in discipline is "violence". Yes, it's the same type of violence that sees some of these people want to ban contact sports. And that's on their horizon as step by step they shape the world to fit their view of utopia.

Contrast the evils of a smack on the hand with a wooden spoon over the unrelenting nagging an "anti-violence" parent that delivers their teachings to children as sugar-coated assaults on their confidence and feelings of self-worth. No comparison.

And the mistake is to look at either of those situations and make them illegal with threats of children being removed for "bad parenting". That is a mis-use of the law and an over-reaction to the real problem - child abuse in a much smaller number of families.

Educate. Lead. Entrust.

One does not pre-emptively punish abuse by going after a smack.

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