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More blogs on Section 59 – listed at

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on April 23, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

More blogs on Section 59 – listed at
Saturday, 21.04.2007, 10:47pm (GMT12)

David Farrar writes:

Blogs on Section 59

Some excellent well researched blog posts on the Section 59 debate.

A plague on both their houses destroys the myth that smacking is already illegal, and hence this bill will not ban smacking. He makes the point that there are three possible responses to whether this bill will ban smacking:

* the brave response (yes it does and so it should)
* the under enforcement response (yes it does but no-one will be charged)
* the no new criminality response (smacking already is a crime)

He labels the brave response as legitimate, the under-enforcement response as evasive and unconvincing, but the no new criminality response as “outright deceitful”.

This is why John Key will probably not be able to find a compromise. Clark and Bradford’s public statements on their bill are basically deceitful.

Plague also does a first class job in showing how much of the research cited by anti-smacking groups is flawed.

Also Richard at Philosphically, et cetera makes a useful observation on the Section 59 debate:

Frankly, I’m amazed there’s any controversy here at all. Given that no-one really wants to prosecute all parents for smacking, outlawing it just seems like an obviously bad idea, for two reasons. (1) It’s patently unjust to remove a legitimate defence merely because the occasional “false positive” lets guilty people go free. Surely, if a defendent’s use of force really is reasonable, then it’s not abuse or assault. Justice demands that our legal system recognize this.

(2) As a general principle, it’s always a bad idea to have unenforced (or inconsistently enforced) laws. (It’s asking for trouble to grant such discretionary powers to the police. Much better to leave them with jurors.)

In terms of those false positives, they’re looking damn low. It’s been one every two years on average. Family First point out that just in the last fortnight there have been three successful prosecutions of parents for assault, despite Section 59. So the false positive rate could be under 1%.

Richard also makes a useful observation when he says:

Given the social controversy over what constitutes good parenting, it seems entirely inappropriate for the state to be mandating any particular answer. Of course there are limits, as all reasonable people agree: we shouldn’t tolerate serious abuse, or other gross harms. But smacking is plainly not in the same league. It’s a trivial harm, if it’s any harm at all. Bradford’s proposal is like passing a law mandating what parents must tell their kids about Santa Claus (“Santa is a lie, and lying is wrong, end of story”, blah). It’s totally inappropriate, even if they happen to be right about what “the perfect parent” would do. It just isn’t their place to say.

And this is indeed correct. Clark and Bradford are using their positions as legislators to mandate a particular view on how children should be raised. If they did not want to do so, then they would vote for either the Borrows amendment, or a similar one which would prevent smacking being criminalised.

Richard concludes:

In a liberal democracy, the government shouldn’t try to micromanage people’s lives. It certainly has no business foreclosing public debate over such a contentious cultural issue, mandating one particular parenting style over another. For issues where reasonable people may disagree, the appropriate response for a liberal state is to uphold autonomy and pluralism. Let parents decide for themselves how best to raise their own children. I expect they’ll do a better job than the government would.

Hear hear.


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One Response to “More blogs on Section 59 – listed at”

  1. Jay said

    I watched Bradford on the Sunday Programme last night. Gezz she waffles off some crap.
    The another part of the section of programme was about some prat who whacked
    the hell out of some kid .
    With out without the changes to the law, it would have happened anyway.
    Appearently Aussies have changed their laws to similar as to what we already have and they are well satified.

    As I often say:
    Do not go looking for a motor, when you have no car to put it in.
    Sort the problems not the projected outcome.
    Or as they said back in the day: Do not try to put the cart, before the horse!

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