Posts Tagged ‘Dominion Post’


Monday, July 27th, 2009


By Stephen Dol NZCBC, Research Analyst.
Michael Jackson sung the song “Bad”, which really meant “Good”. That’s confusing and so is the opposition to the referendum. To clarify this it is important to highlight two separate issues in the debate – 1) dysfunctional violent abuse and 2) the purpose of authority within a family to govern and when necessary, enforce. The confusion has been created by the violent abuse lobby who have merged the assumption that physical discipline to correct boundary and  behaviour encroachments is dysfunctional violent abuse, which it is not.
The question is…
Let’s use the dictionary definition for abuse i.e. “to treat badly”. The question then becomes “Is physical discipline bad treatment of a child”. To answer this we need to assess the outcome, i.e. how well will a child who is loved and  disciplined transition into adulthood as a responsible balanced citizen? and what is the effect of a smack on this transition? The outcome shows the violent abuse theory to be out of kilter with reality, regarding boundaries and behaviour development, in caring homes. Why? Because till now, too many kids coming from these homes are succeeding in life. To spurn the collective wisdom and observations of hundreds of generations of families is to say that they got it wrong. This is crazy talk.
The ugly picture
What constitutes abuse, are cases such as Nia Glassie, the Kahui twins and similar reports. There is no question about these delinquent, evil and wicked cruelties and they must be dealt with. But this is not what the authority to govern in a family is about and the examples given are tactical manipulation because they muddy relatively clear waters.
Our beloved schools
What ever the view you take, the school system is the best recent example of what happens when the authority to govern is removed from the governing body. This happened in the 1980’s and almost 30 years later we are clearly seeing the effect of that change. The DomPost (24 June 2009) reported in the article “Mother punches school head”, that there were 6995 violent incidents this last year by students in schools, of which 815 were inflicted on teachers, (part of the governing body). On top of this there is no account for the daily foul gestures, verbal, manipulative, behavioural and psychological abuses. The report went on to say, “…fortunately these events are relatively  infrequent”. I don’t know about you, but 41 acts of violence per school day (5 directed at teachers) is not infrequent. The mechanisms for dealing with it are toothless (ask your teenage college kids or other students, I did. They think it is a joke). In today’s pop culture, violence in schools seems to be considered normal and par for the course of being a teacher. The estimated cost of this abuse to the tax payer, is $6.2m per year in ACC claims and medical costs (this does not account for expenses associated with the violence such as lost teaching time, counselling and time wasted dealing with the problem or the families who are unable to control their kids). This rouses no reaction, disgust or shame from the “yes” vote referendum campaigners, yet we are asked to shoulder this burden, every year without complaint. Is this right?
A parking lot at home
Worse than this, the school experience has been permanently embed in law with regard to family governance and that is discouraging and outrageous. We can expect in due course that the school experience will park itself in our homes, as the tweenies, twitters and tweeties enjoy the protection of the enforcement arm of the law to freely in some cases, turn their violence on their parents. In others to roam unrestrained in their anti social behaviours. Why? Because central government does not appreciate the effect of what has happened as a result of usurping the support the families need for authority in order to govern and enforce. Parents have a responsibility at times to enforce good behaviour in and outside their homes. The government would never dream of taking away such authority from the police and the far stronger measures of enforcement, such as pepper spray, handcuffs, tasers, riot gear, the AOS, etc. That is the real world we live in, but at the back of my head I hear the shout about alternative discipline advice. The problem is, on its own, it is not working at school and it isn’t working at home.
The death that ended the war
Violent abuse is a real issue. The attempt to address it however, is directed at the wrong cause. It is a social issue that has gained momentum on the back of the Culture Wars of the 1960’s & 70’s.  The DomPost (02 June 2009) reported in the article “A death (Michael Jackson) that ended the great war”, that it is now considered a war won by popular culture and its associated values.  What is popular culture? – among many other things it is: “I disregard authority; I have the rights; don’t restrain me in any way whatsoever; promises are for breaking; commitment is a big word;
and what defines a family anyway? ”What it ought to be is: “Respect for order by respecting authority; acknowledging my responsibilities; restraining my base desires for the good of the community; making honourable commitments; action not intent; and reinforcing family structure”. The drinking age debate and the associated property, violence and sex crimes (reported DomPost 13 July 2009, “Dark side – Girls night out”) is just one of many examples of the cultural confusions we have inherited from this “victory”. The “safe everything” message is another.
The cultural abuse instrument
So, what about the abuse? The Cultural Revolution has become the abusive instrument (bad treatment of others) because of what it stands for and what it promotes, what it sows and what it then reaps – and that issue is not being accosted. On this basis (yes even in the absence of smacking), the issue that is trying to be addressed (abuse) is self defeated by pop cultures new moral baseline and that will go on unabated until we stop and take stock of what has happened. I suspect it will be with us for some time to come – till society can bear it no more.
“Do as I say not as I do”
As for the detractors of the referendum, there isn’t much to say really except, it is not enough to, “Do as I say and not as I do”. Pop culture will turn a blind eye to behaviours regarding leadership and consistency. Bill Clinton is the classic pop culture politician who demonstrated his cock up and avoidance through technicalities in his embarrassing string of public denials. Such world views make it necessary to adhere to the “Do as I say” adage. But true public leaders, in all facets of life must lead by example. Too many bear the opposite hallmark, and so they credibly can’t. By the next election numerous will have fallen – it has already begun. Not getting caught doesn’t make the erosion any less cancerous.
Muted criticism and deflating support
Finally John Key responded to the referendum question, leading up to the last election, by saying and I quote, “That National’s view on S59 was clear but the issue for us in this case is about democracy – the right of the people of New Zealand to be heard whether or not politicians like what they are being told. Helen Clark has again demonstrated arrogance with her use of a technicality to not let New Zealanders have a say on the matter”. The question now is, has John Key been poisoned by the same political wine and become drunk too, with that power? He stood shoulder to shoulder with the detractors, to mute the descent and deliberately deflating the support for the referendum by saying “We don’t plan to change anything anyway”. How discouraging for confidence in the democratic process of this country. The recent folic acid in bread reports demonstrates how stupefied and impotent central government has become. The government can’t even resist the demands of another country. They have been hijacked by cretins who are more interested in bureaucratic participation in the meddling of foreign nations in our affairs, than they are in the interests of the people they govern.
Let Right be Done
Now we all have to decide and choose. I have said before “Let Right Be Done”. It needs to happen now. It’s time to start the process of taking back our country from this new breed of Monarchy and Lords. – It seems that “No” might still be in fashion after all.

© July 2009, Stephen Dol. All rights reserved.
You are free to disseminate this document provided it is cited in context and due credit is given to the author.

(dis)Honest to God: How Not to Argue about the Smacking Referendum

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

(dis)Honest to God: How Not to Argue about the Smacking Referendum

Dr. Glenn Peoples responds to liberal Ian Harris.

Liberal Ian Harris displays dishonesty and nastiness toward Christian parents. Ian Harris tells us (“Honest to God,” Dominion Post, [Dominion Post. Saturday July 11, 2009. Page B5], reproduced at the YesVote website at / that we should reject the “harsh views” on child rearing found in the Bible.

( <<< Click on image to view full size)

Mr Harris, unfortunately, joins many of those who promote the criminalisation of good parents by muddying the waters. He notes, for example, that someone who defends the right to use physical discipline also believes that children (like adults) are sinners. He then announces that since “progressive” Christians (by which he seems to mean those who no longer accept Christian theology) realise that this is based on an antiquated view, we should likewise reject the right to use physical discipline and we should criminalise those who do.

It is difficult to interact charitably with those who support the ban on smacking if this is the contorted way they are going to reason about the subject. Whether or not one thinks the theology held by some supporters of the right to use physical discipline is correct is quite a different matter from whether or not one thinks they ought to be made into criminals, surely!

Unfortunately again, Mr Harris attempts to use his platform as a mouthpiece of liberal (what he calls “progressive) Christianity to give credence to scientific claims that are obviously subject to great dispute. He makes the sweeping claim that this nebulous thing called “modern research” (while he cites no actual studies) shows that although corporal punishment does help bring about short-term compliance, it does not help a child to “internalise positive values for the longer term.”

I am constantly bemused by the way in which conservative religious spokespeople are ridiculed even when they do cite research, but obvious nonsense like this can be peddled by the liberal voices without so much as a single scholarly citation, and nobody is expected to bat an eyelid.

But even if what Mr Harris says is correct, the implication is that corporal punishment in and of itself has short term benefits and no long term ill effects. Hardly something to be prosecuting people for! The reality is that the effects he cites are perfectly compatible with the good of corporal punishment. Such punishment usually is administered to children when they are not willing to reason or reflect on the long term consequences of their actions. It is for when children are being unruly and unwilling to listen. Circumstances in which they are willing to do so are the circumstances under which corporal punishment is less necessary (meaning that the older a child becomes, the less frequent a smack will become). None of this gives the careful reader any reason to think that the occasional smack is immoral, much less worthy of criminal prosecution.

Bereft of compelling moral or scientifically grounded arguments, Mr Harris turns instead to arousing prejudice against the religious convictions of those who disagree with him about child discipline. Unable to find anything strong enough in what all Christians consider their holy book, he reaches into the book of Ecclesiasticus (part of the so-called “apocryphal” writings that did not make up part of the Hebrew canon) to find the claim that “he who loves his son will whip him often.”

But not only has Mr Harris strayed into literature that the so-called “fundamentalists” (most of whom would identify as conservative Protestants) that he attacks do not even regard to be part of the Bible at all, he has clearly sought out the most extreme translation of the verse that he can find. He conjures up grizzly pictures of leering parents towering, horsewhip in hand, over the broken and bleeding bodies of little children with misleading language like this.

But just a few minutes research would dispel this attempt. The New American translation reads, “He who loves his son chastises him often.” The Douay Rheims translation (the Catholic Bible, which does include this book as part of the canon) reads “He that loveth his son, frequently chastiseth him.” The old King James version, the one that “fundamentalists” are most likely to read if they read this book at all, reads “He that loveth his son causeth him oft to feel the rod.” Of course, because it’s a metaphor for physical discipline that’s probably still too much for Mr Harris, but needless to say, it robs him of his “whipping” bogeyman.

After the rhetorical debris is stripped away, all that’s really left is a string of namecalling and fearful language. He calls the views of his opponents “repugnant.” He calls them “fundamentalists” with “antiquated” views that are opposed to “progressive” thought. But where’s the actual substance? Like much of the rhetorical fireworks that is being leveled at those who want the law changed to a common sense view that refuses to place thousands of good parents in the criminal category, Ian Harris offers more heat than light, and manifests just the sort of shallowness and bias that this debate could do without.

Glenn Peoples

Dr Peoples’ specialist area of research is the role of religious convictions in public life. He runs New Zealand’s top philosophy and theology podcast, Say Hello to my Little Friend.