Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Herald Launches Attack on Democracy

The headline for the editorial in the NZ Herald today reads "Spare us a smacking referendum".  The story is utterly biased in favour of the minority of Kiwis who support the law, and as Bob McCoskrie of Family First says, "an extraordinary attack on Family First NZ and signatories to the petition demanding a Referendum on the anti-smacking law."  Below are some excerpts from the poorly-researched story, with my comments in bold.

Family First, a group that campaigns for the right to smack, has commissioned a survey that finds 48 per cent of parents of children under 12 have given them a smack in the year since the law was changed. Spokesman Bob McCoskrie said he was surprised to find so many admitting they flouted the law. It indicated "just how far out of step with reality this law is", he said.

It indicates nothing of the kind. It shows that, contrary to the alarmism of Family First, the removal of the parental defence to assault has not deterred reasonable practice. Nearly half the 1018 parents surveyed still resort to a smack on occasions. Had the police enforced the new law with the rigour that Family First feared, parents would not be as relaxed about it as they plainly are.

1. The anonymous author of the article acuses Family First of alarmism, when in fact they are simply speaking up for the majority (83%) of Kiwis who oppose the new law.

2. They are also incorrect when they claim that "Nearly half the 1018 parents surveyed still resort to a smack on occasions."  Not everyone who was surveyed would necessarily tell the researcher over the phone if they were actually using an occasional smack in the discipline of their children.

3. No, the police have not enforced the new law with rigour.  Yet.  But why do you continue to ignore the fact that this bad law makes good parents criminals under the law?  With the law now in place, it opens up the door for the police to step up the rigour with which they apply it.

Why, then, is Mr McCoskrie's group unable to let this unpleasant subject rest? Why is a petition circulating to put the issue to a referendum that could be held with the general election this year? The public must be heartily sick of this non-issue. Smacking children is simply not worth further debate. There are, as every sensible parent knows, better ways to correct bad behaviour, but if parents sometimes use more primitive means the law can be reasonable.

I think the Herald must have pulled a high-school kid off the street to write this article.  Why is the petition circulating? - because 357,000 Kiwis have already signed it, and we are going to honour them - and the rest of New Zealand by holding a referendum at which all of us can vote on the issue.  Yes, the public is sick of this issue - but is that any reason to ignore it?  The public is sick of a Government who consistently ignores them, and they want this bad law to be repealled.  What does the Herlad mean by "the law can be reasonable"?

Now, having changed the law, there is no more reason to meddle with it than there was the first time. The law has sent the message that violence is not the ideal way to correct children but that police have a discretion they can exercise with common sense.

The police have always had a discretion which they can exercise with common sense.

Ms Bradford notes that a similar survey taken just after her bill was passed last year found 78 per cent of parents saying they would smack their children if they thought it reasonable to do so. If only 48 per cent have done so a year on, quite a number must have changed their minds about what is reasonable or necessary.

No.  48% of parents with children under the age of 12.  They are here comparing two unrelated statistics which is extremely ametuer.  A quote from Family First's press release on the research states:

"85% said that the new law should be changed to state explicitly that parents who give their children a smack that is reasonable and for the purpose of correction are not breaking the law (up from 82% last year)."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Apparently the article was written by a Herald photographer - in the darkroom where they develop the negatives!!!!!