Thursday, July 9, 2009

ZenTiger Message for Goff - Wake Up and Quell the Poseurs

"Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"

They say the wording is hard to understand. Some want to answer a different question, believing the question asked is irrelevant. Residing in that particular camp is opposition leader Phil Goff.

He says he would not vote in the ballot because the question did not make sense.

"The question implies that if you vote `yes' that you're in favour of criminal sanctions being taken against reasonable parents actually nobody believes that."

Mr Goff, read some of the anti-smacking commentary. People DO ACTUALLY believe smacking should be a crime. People DO ACTUALLY believe a message needs to be sent. The law change to Section 59 specifically bans reasonable force for the purposes of correction.

The excuse that reasonable force was too hard to define is a red herring. The law still allows reasonable force for a range of other reasons, just not correction.

There are a large group of people, and many powerful organisations and lobby groups that believe smacking is wrong, it is immoral and it doesn't work. They continually equate any form of smacking with child abuse and want to see it banned permanently. They want to use the State to impose their will rather than educate parents to have the necessary skills of discernment. The law change unnecessarily interferes in the lives of good parents, and as time goes by the cries for tougher measures on any form of discipline will become more strident, and rather than spending time preventing child abuse, we as a society will be fixated with preventing physical discipline, as if that is somehow the cause of child abuse.

So Mr Goff, if you believe that criminal sanctions should not be taken against parents, then vote NO. That's what the question asks. If you don't vote NO then you are effectively voting YES and it will be on your head, as a law maker, when the laws you support are interpreted as they are written, not as you believe.

Wake up and quell the poseurs Mr Goff. Vote NO.

Related Link: Goff off in Nevernever land

7 comment(s):

David said...

"The law still allows reasonable force for a range of other reasons, just not correction."

Yes but it's much easier to define "reasonable force" with regards to the actions listed in subsection(1). The amount of force required to perform the actions listed is far more clear cut compared to the more subjective assessment of what's reasonable for "correction".

The problem with the current legislation is with subsection(3). It should be changed to something along the lines of,

"Subsection(2) prevails over subsection(1) if the level of force is more than what is required to perform the acts justified by subsection(1)"

- in order to better differentiate between what the legislation views as "correction" and the acts layed out in subsection(1), some of which could be viewed as "correction".

ZenTiger said...

Sounds like you are making my point David: The law bans physical discipline. It's one thing to have a preference not to smack - it's another to ban it outright.

ZenTiger said...

Actually, my point was a bit more specific. Phil Goff can't imagine that people seek to ban all physical discipline, even though that's what the law change specified.

David said...

That's an interpretation of the law, sure, but it's a weak one. Afterall, why write subsection(1) at all if you're just going to contradict it with (2) and (3)?

Language isn't as clear cut as we might like it to be. It requires a bit of thought, but the interpretation that subsection(1) is relevent and does allow reasonable force under the circumstances listed, as long as it doesn't go beyond that, is far more reasonable than the the interpretation that it bans force outright. My suggestion simply takes it from "fairly obvious" to "bleeding obvious"

I once read that trying to define a law is like trying to define an elephant. You can describe something grey with four legs and a long nose, but unless you've actually seen one, it can be a bit hit and miss as to what kind of description is adequate.

ZenTiger said...

Firstly David, let's stick to the basics. Physical discipline is explicitly outlawed.

This is not a "weak interpretation" of the law David.

Apart from the explicit terms stated in the law itself:

(2) Nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.

(3) Subsection (2) prevails over subsection (1).

Let's look at the title of the bill:

Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill.

Look at the contents of the bill:

The effect of this amendment is that the statutory protection for use of force by parents and guardians will be removed. They will now be in the same position as everyone else so far as the use of force against children is concerned. The use of force on a child may constitute an assault under section 194(a) of the Crimes Act,

Look at how they defined the purpose of the repeal of section 59:

The purpose of this Act is ... abolishing the use of parental force for the purpose of correction.

So, given physical discipline is clearly prohibited by law, relying on the other provisions to argue that a parent who was smacking their child was actually doing something in another subsection is to make a mockery of the law.

You don't craft laws that have to last many many years and tell the people "just pretend that smack you did was not actually for the purposes of correction, and you'll probably be let off".

The rest of your theorising about elephants and how hard it is to make laws is besides the point (and debatable). You make a valid suggestion about subsection 3, but guess what - that's just an idea. All we have right now is what the law says, and it says explicitly that physical punishment is illegal.

This is a law written to last for the next 50 years. It's social engineering where one opinion (physical discipline is wrong) is being mandated because they think "that there is a connection between the physical disciplining of children and child abuse [Bill preamble].

They may not intend to prosecute minor infringements, but they certainly reserve the right to, AND their game plan is bigger - abolish all forms of discipline, because like mass medication of folate in bread to help a few pregnant women not on a healthy diet, they are blind to the possibility of damaging other sections of the population.

My point is that physical discipline has been explicitly outlawed. Furthermore, that many people, including those in significant lobby groups believe that ANY form of physical discipline constitutes violence against children, and wish to see this punished. Third, that Phil Goff doesn't believe any of this.

David said...

I'll ignore the "social engineering" rant and focus on what I've already said,

"The purpose of this Act is ... abolishing the use of parental force for the purpose of correction."

I've already stated why I support this, the issue for me is that "correction" was not properly defined. "Discipline" could just as easily be a separate concept from the acts layed out in subsection(1).

As I said before, your interpretation is weak for the simple fact that it makes subsection(1) completely redundant. you're basically saying that the people who designed the law intentionally wrote subsection(2) and (3) to contradict (1) under all circumstances. It's not reasonable. I can only assume it's because your opinion of those people is so low.

Anyway, I'm repeating myself, so I'll sign off from this discussion now, cheers.

ZenTiger said...

David, yes the law is unreasonable.

However, my interpretation is not weak. Subsection 1 is allowing reasonable force for purposes other than correction, so it is not redundant. Since your argument rests on this point let me quote to you from the final Ammendment Bill Preamble the reason they have this "redundant" subsection 1 included :

The new section 59 clarifies that reasonable force may be used for other purposes such as protecting a child from harm, providing normal daily care, and preventing the child doing harm to others. We consider that this amendment provides for interventions that are not for the purpose of correction by parents and every person in the place of a parent. Additionally it will address a gap in the law, as under the current wording of section 59 the application of force from any motivation other than correction may amount to an offence.

So your assumption about what I think of them has no bearing on the stated purpose of subsection 1.

And subsection 2 and 3 absolutely, categorically make physical discipline illegal.

Read all of my quotes again - I provide ample proof that physical discipline is being explicitly made illegal. The language is very clear, very precise. It will be language that will determine how the law is applied today, next year and many years later. And physical discipline is illegal.

You support a blanket rule because you are not able to draw the line between "reasonable" and "unreasonable" force. Lets ban alcohol and driving then because it must be too hard to set limits on what is safe or unsafe...

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