Thursday August 02, 2007
The merciless abuse of two Rotorua tots is not a scandal. That is far too mild a word to describe such atrocities.
Nor is it enough to call these a national disgrace or national shame. They are both, but the nearest anyone has come to an adequate description is Michael Laws who, writing on Sunday, described them as "evil".
He is right, but I'll go further: they are positively satanic, for only the Prince of Darkness could so corrupt a society that it could breed Homo sapiens who get sadistic pleasure in torturing and injuring their own young.
And take it from me, the Devil is just as alive and kicking today as he was in Old Testament times. He remains, after all, the prince of this world. What is a scandal are the nonsensical knee-jerk reactions of politicians and others and the ideas they come up with.
This has happened before several times, the last the furore that followed the deaths last year of the Kahui twins. But as Peter Dunne says, all that has been achieved is "a large amount of hand-wringing and navel gazing".
The stupidity of the Government's first initiative is almost incomprehensible. It proposes to have all women visiting public hospitals asked about family violence. What that hopes to achieve is beyond my grasp.
Acting Social Development Minister Steve Maharey says frontline health workers in hospitals will try to find out whether there is violence in a family and whether any kind of assistance can be given.
This is preposterous, and if those frontline health workers have a grain of sense they will not have a bar of it.
Otherwise, they'll wear it, for I can imagine the reaction of a number of my female friends if they were asked such a question when turning up at accident and emergency for treatment, for instance, of a cut finger.
And imagine what such questioning might do to a woman who has been admitted to hospital having been diagnosed with a dread disease and who is in a state of acute anxiety, fear or even shock?
In any case, the last thing the very women who are targeted by this absurd proposal are going to do is to admit to anything to someone they don't know and probably don't trust.
And rightly so. To whom do these inquisitive front-line health workers report if their suspicions are aroused? To some social worker, perhaps, who might misconstrue the patient's responses and try to interfere when no interference is necessary?
What about privacy concerns? Are communications between patients and medical professionals no longer privileged?
Meanwhile Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro throws up her hands in horror and rabbits on about the need for educational programmes. Which is all very well, except that the sort of mental retards who abuse and kill children are ineducable.
Then there's the Maori issue, for there are five times as many Maori children abused and killed each year than in any other ethnic group.
Maori Party leader Pita Sharples whines that he feels ashamed and guilty over these latest abominations but in the next breath insists - in spite of all the evidence - that child abuse among Maori is not a problem that can be reduced to ethnicity.
Wrong, Dr Sharples. If Maori are killing Maori children then it could well be an ethnic problem and it is time that he and the entire leadership of the Maori race took ownership of it.
Maori activists are always crying out to be allowed to find Maori answers to Maori problems. Well, here is one of the biggest problems facing Maori today and their leaders had better get off their butts and find some answers.
And I mean answers, because all we have seen up to now is the usual - trying to apply sticking-plaster solutions to symptoms instead of diagnosing and organising treatment for the causes. These are always much more difficult and expensive to treat but, that aside, the trouble is that most of those in political, social and ethnic leadership wouldn't recognise the root causes if they jumped up and bit them.
Things like the breakdown of families (whanau included), neighbourhoods and communities. Poverty and welfare dependency running from generation to generation. An exploitive low-wage economy. A nanny state that interferes with parenting. A disinclination to enforce the laws on school attendance. A drinking age that's too low and a drug supply that seems to grow exponentially. Continuous sex and violence on television and in movies. And a public morality that says anything goes, including open-slather abortion.
That's just some of them. And even if by some miracle our leaders did begin to understand that these sorts of things lie at the root of our national malaise, it would still take a least a generation to even begin to fix them. Then again, perhaps it's already too late.