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Jim Hopkins: All this whipping to stop smacking is wasting time.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on March 16, 2007

Using whipping to ban smacking:

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

Jim Hopkins: All this whipping to stop smacking is wasting time.
Friday, 16.03.2007, 05:57am (GMT12)

4:57AM Friday March 16, 2007
By Jim Hopkins 

What a silly old duffer that Voltaire bloke was. Truly!

You can imagine what the homme in the Rue or the femme on the Marseilles Omnibus would’ve said to Mr Clever-clogs Voltaire if they’d ever bumped into him in the drive-through at McGuillotines (great burgers, by the way).

“Vous etre une cilly old du-fere” (cos that’s how they pronounced duffer) is what the homme in the Rue or the femme on the Marseilles Omnibus would have said to Voltaire.

“Vous should non ce, ‘I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it’.”

“Non. Non. Zat est outre date, Monsieur Voltaire. Vous should ce what la grande dame Suzette Bradford cez, ‘I disapprove of what you do and I will defend to the death my right to pass a law against it’.” Ahh, but of course. Mais oui. Oui can all imagine the homme in the Rue or the femme on the Marseilles Omnibus saying that, can we not?

Well, ummm, no, we probably can’t. In fact, if we imagine anything, it would more likely be, “Mindez vous votre own business,” Or “Deplore, oui. Law, non!” Or possibly, “There is a limit to the legitimate and proper use of legislative coercion,” assuming you came from l’academie tertoise.

“I think you’re trying to defy human nature,” is how the Prime Minister described it in an interview before the election, and most people would say she was absolutely right.

Yet she’s about to do exactly that. Like some behavioural Canute, she’s prepared to defy the tide of human nature.

Well, perhaps she’s changed her mind, you say. Fair enough.

Perhaps she has. But others haven’t, among them some in her own party. Six Labour MPs, including Harry Duynhoven, Damien O’Connor, Dover Samuels, George Hawkins and Mahara Okeroa, have been named as being privately opposed to Sue Bradford’s bill.

But they’re being forced to vote for it. “Smacked” into line, regardless of the dictates of their conscience in what is supposed to be a conscience vote.

So it’s not just parents who are being told what to do. It is, oh, finest of ironies, politicians as well. Could someone please rush some spare spines to the Supine Six? Or knee pads to ease the pain of grovelling.

Damnit, men, if you don’t own your own conscience, you own nothing!!! Go and join the Army. That’s the proper place for chaps who like obeying orders.

It’s harder to know what the proper place is for a party that won’t respect the conscience of its own members (let alone anyone else’s) although Zimbabwe does spring to mind. “Whipping” people into line is something Robert Mugabe would surely applaud.

Ironically, all this whipping to stop smacking may be a waste of time. If we’re to believe Sue Bradford, the real reason we should pass this law is because no one’s going to do anything about it.

The police won’t investigate or prosecute “minor or technical” offences. The worst parents can expect is … errrrr. a smack on the hand with a wet statute.

Oh, Susie, Susie, Susie. Why didn’t you say so earlier? Why didn’t you tell us you only wanted to pass a law because it wouldn’t be enforced?

While you’re at it, let’s have an identical one about paying taxes. Or taking you seriously.

Which is hard to do when the best reason you can offer sceptics for supporting your new bill is that the Old Bill are going to ignore it!

Look, you’ve undoubtedly got good intentions but they are what pave the road to hell. Blunt instruments aren’t only found in parents’ hands. You’re wielding one too.

Not every “violent” act is violent.

You may be appalled to see someone beating the chest of another – until you discover the person being beaten has just had a heart attack. You might object to a slap across the face – until you learn the recipient was so hysterical that all other attempts to calm them had failed.

Motive does matter.

It does alter the character of the action, between adults and between adults and children, where there’s a clear imbalance of experience.

And you should allow for that.

No one disputes that parental power should be limited.

“A lot of people are uncomfortable with the beatings,” is what the Prime Minister said before the election, but so too should the power of politicians. There is a line the law should not cross.

For better or worse, parents are entitled to a conscience act, as Parliament is entitled to a conscience vote, and the latter should not dictate the former.

Those enjoying the privilege of power are sometimes obliged, however painful it may be, to accept their own limitations. Or ponder something else that Voltaire said, more in sorrow than in anger, you would think: “Men will always be mad and those who think they can cure them are the maddest of all.”

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