Kiwi Polemicist

December 7, 2009

• Anti-smacking law: Key’s words don’t match his actions

Filed under: Anti-smacking Law, Politics — Tags: , , , — Kiwi Polemicist @ 8:13 pm

This is from the NZ Herald:

Prime Minister John Key has reiterated his belief no change is needed to the anti-smacking law after a new review found cases were being dealt with properly.
[…]
“Lightly smacking a child will be in the course of parenting for some parents and I think that’s acceptable,” Mr Key said.

Asked if he had just said it was acceptable to lightly smack a child, Mr Key replied “Yes, I think so” and said the law was clear that such matters should not be treated as a criminal offence [that is only true if the smack is not for the ‘purpose of correction’ and is given for one of the permitted reasons].

“It’s up to individual parents to decide how they’re going to parent their children. My view is that it will depend on the circumstances and how you want to raise your child,” Mr Key said.

“Some people will continue to lightly smack their child for correction, some will not. It is up to them to decide.”

Let’s get this straight: Key is endorsing a law that specifically makes it illegal to smack a child ‘for the purpose of correction’ whilst also saying the following:

  • “Lightly smacking a child will be in the course of parenting for some parents and I think that’s acceptable”
  • “It’s up to individual parents to decide how they’re going to parent their children”
  • “Some people will continue to lightly smack their child for correction, some will not. It is up to them to decide”

Mr Key, I am very glad to hear that you agree that light smacking is acceptable, and that you think it is up to parents to make a choice about smacking for the purposes of correction. Please tell me why you continue to support a law that is contrary to what you say you believe, because I and, I suspect, a great many other New Zealanders are confused about the difference between your beliefs and your actions. I urge you to put your beliefs into action and change this law; this would also be a great way of showing respect to the 1,470,755 Kiwis who voted against the anti-smacking law in the recent referendum.

Related post:
Referendum on anti-smacking law: John Key gives the finger

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Here’s the full text of section 59 of the Crimes Act:

Parental State control

(1) Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of the child is justified in using force if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances and is for the purpose of—

(a) preventing or minimising harm to the child or another person; or

(b) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in conduct that amounts to a criminal offence; or

(c) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in offensive or disruptive behaviour; or

(d) performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting.

(2) Nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.

(3) Subsection (2) prevails over subsection (1).

(4) To avoid doubt, it is affirmed that the Police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against a parent of a child or person in the place of a parent of a child in relation to an offence involving the use of force against a child, where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution.

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November 21, 2009

• Right to silence under threat

A crucial freedom is under threat. This is from the NZ Herald:

Momentum is building for a law change to prevent families from stonewalling police when a child has been assaulted or killed.

Public outrage over cases such as the unsolved death of 3-month-old twins Chris and Cru Kahui [what public outrage? I certainly haven’t seen any – have you?] has thrust the issue into the spotlight, and the Government will soon have a report from the Law Commission suggesting what should be done.

Meanwhile, a senior Christchurch policeman who has overseen child murder cases has put forward his own proposal.

This would see New Zealand follow in the footsteps of Britain, where parents and caregivers who withhold crucial information can be jailed.

On Wednesday, a coroner’s inquest in Christchurch heard that the shaking death of 7-month-old Staranise Waru in February 2006 remained unsolved as the child’s parents were no longer willing to co-operate with police.

The parents, Nyree Hopa and Robert Waru, repeatedly chose not to answer questions at the hearing into their daughter’s death on the basis that they could incriminate themselves.

Justice Minister Simon Power told the Weekend Herald he had asked the Law Commission to speed up a review of the law that dealt with assault, injury and homicide.

“I understand that the commission’s soon-to-be-released report includes a new provision to better address situations where it’s difficult to identify the responsible offender within the family context and ensure that those responsible for protecting vulnerable children are held to account.”

The proposal put forward by Inspector Malcolm Johnston, of Christchurch, is similar to the culpable parenting law in Britain.

The right to silence would be removed, and parents or caregivers would be forced to co-operate with authorities trying to determine how a child has been harmed, and who did it.

I believe that the right to silence and the right to avoid self-incrimination [1] are essential ways of protecting individuals from the overwhelming power of the state. When the state can compel you to talk under threat of imprisonment there is no privacy left, and the police are experts at twisting what you say. Quite simply, you are screwed. Watch this video and you’ll see what I mean.

If you’ve studied logic you will know that it is impossible to prove a universal negative, e.g. ‘there is no life on other planets’ [2]. It is extremely difficult or impossible for a defendant to prove a negative, i.e. ‘I didn’t do it’. Positives can be tested and proven or disproven, e.g. if I claim that there is a copy of the Eiffel Tower on the moon it is perfectly reasonable for you to ask me to produce evidence to support my claim. Similarly, if the state is claiming that someone committed a crime (a positive) then the onus should be upon the state to prove that its claim is correct.

Removing the right to silence and the right to avoid self-incrimination simply makes it easier for the state to prove its claim that you committed a crime. When the state already has overwhelming power, an unlimited budget, and the individuals involved in prosecuting you have a personal vested interest in proving you guilty (it’s good for their careers), then removing those rights is dangerous in the extreme.

Already there are limited circumstances in which people have no right to silence and must produce documents on demand, but child abuse is the first instance of this erosion of rights which will affect the wider public. The state is using child abuse to erode your rights because beaten children attract public sympathy, and anyone who opposes the removal of the right to silence can be portrayed as protecting child abusers (boo, hiss go the politicians and the media).

Watch for a removal of the right to silence in other situations. Removing the right to silence in cases of alleged child abuse is simply a way of putting the frog into cold water before turning up the heat.

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1. As far as I know NZ does not have a legally protected right to avoid self-incimination. Here I am taking it as an implied right that is subsequent to the right to silence.

2. For a variety of reasons I believe that there is no sentient life on other planets, but I never claim that this is proven or provable.

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November 19, 2009

• Democracy is dictatorship: a response to Bob McCoskrie’s letter

Today Bob McCoskrie of Family First has sent out a letter titled “A personal note from Bob McCoskrie“, where he states why he is going on The March For Democracy this Saturday (the background to all this is explained in my earlier post).

In his letter Bob shows how governments have repeatedly ignored the results of citizen-initiated referenda, including the latest one on the anti-smacking law. 1.57 million people voted against that law, while Peter Dunne (who voted for the anti-smacking law) says that a petition signed by 45,000 people who wanted daylight saving extended is ‘overwhelming support’. If 45,000 is overwhelming support, what on earth is 1,570,000?

After showing how the various referenda with strong results have been ignored, Bob says

I want NZ to be a place of DEMOCRACY not DICTATORSHIP

I do not wish to criticise Bob in any way, but apparently he, like 99.99% of people, does not realise that democracy is dictatorship by the majority. Allow me to explain.

87.4% of a representative sample of the population have voted against the anti-smacking law. If they have their way and the anti-smacking law is repealed (or amended) then that 87.4% of the population will be imposing their will upon the 12.6% of the population who want the anti-smacking law retained as it is. That is dictatorship by the majority.

Presently the government is in favour of retaining the anti-smacking law without changes, so it is ignoring what is commonly called the will of the people. That is dictatorship by the minority, i.e. the 122 politicians in parliament who think that they know best.

My point is this: democracy is always a dictatorship. The real question today is this: which dictator will decide what happens to the anti-smacking law? Presently Mr Minority (the government) is deciding. I believe that it is a lesser evil when Mr Majority (the 87.4%) decides what happens to the anti-smacking law, and that is why I will be marching on Saturday.

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Have you ever wondered why this country is a mess and why we always have dishonest politicians? When you realise which majority is ruling NZ and appointing the politicians it will all make sense. The answers are in my post The problem with democracy – Part One.

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November 14, 2009

• So-called abused children to go onto database

The NZ Herald is reporting that

Child abuse alerts are to be placed on a national health database, so that doctors will know if there are past concerns about a family.

The little-known Medical Warning System, run by the Ministry of Health, has been traditionally used by doctors to check for patients’ allergies to drugs. But as part of an upgrade, doctors and officials plan to add notes about any record of child abuse.

So, you take little Jonny to the doctor for an ear infection and the doctor sees an alert, therefore he takes a close look at your child for signs of abuse. This is simply a means of turning doctors into unpaid policemen, if they aren’t that already: Big Brother is watching you. To put it another way, your family doctor is the eyes of Big Brother. This is a classic example of what civil rights activists call ‘function creep’, i.e. something helpful is turned into something harmful. This database plan shows that the government will take any opportunity that allows it to increase its control of citizens.

What’s the definition of abuse, the threshold for putting a child on this database? No one is sure yet, but the NZ Herald says

Starship hospital paediatrician Dr Patrick Kelly said a working group was still discussing the criteria to be used. He believed the minimum threshold would have to be a notification (a complaint about abuse or neglect) to Child Youth and Family.

If the definition of abuse is a complaint then thousands of children will be on the database without good reason, because many complaints are made when no abuse has occurred. Even if the definition of abuse was a so-called proven case of abuse we would have a major problem. Why so?  Because we live in a country where smacking ‘for the purposes of correction’ is illegal, and therefore constitutes child abuse in the state’s twisted view of the world.

So, if you give little Jonny a swat on the rump steak to teach him that flushing the cat down the toilet is a naughty deed and then Child, Youth & Family find out about it, your family doctor will be told that you’re a child abuser.

Do you, Joe Public, get any say in any of this? Of course not.

Less government, more freedom I say.

The government ignored overwhelming public opposition to the anti-smacking law.

Join the March For Democracy on November 21.

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November 7, 2009

• Cellphones aren’t allowed while driving, you naughty children

The police state has slain another freedom: now talking on a hand held cellphone whilst driving is illegal [1]. This is from the NZ Herald:

For frontline road police such as Sergeant Ashley Gore, the ban on using hand-held phones while driving could not have come soon enough.

“We have been waiting for the cellphone ban to come in because we have seen a lot of bad driving and so many near-misses,”

Naturally the policeman and the NZ Herald trumpet the party line, whilst ignoring the fact that talking on a hands free phone while driving is about as dangerous as talking on a hand held one.

The NZ Herald goes on to say

Even before the ban, police were able to charge motorists caught driving erratically while on the phone with careless use of a motor vehicle.

Great, so now if you drive erratically whilst talking on a hand held cellphone you can be prosecuted for two offences instead of just one [2]. That’s like having state executions where they shoot people twice in the head despite the fact that once would suffice.

The cop’s statement typifies the attitude of those people who rule this country:

We have been waiting for the cellphone ban to come in because we have seen a lot of bad driving and so many near-misses

The key phrase there is “near misses”. Most of the time people manage to talk on a cellphone without causing any problems, but the state punishes the majority in order to ‘protect’ them from the minority [3]. Again and again our masters see something that causes occasional problems and they decide that it must be made illegal in order to maintain social order and justify their parasitic careers. It Is Important To Be Seen To Be Doing Something is their motto. It’s the same with the anti-smacking law: a tiny minority of people beat their children to a pulp so giving a swat on the rump steak was made illegal for everyone [4].

Here’s a better way. Talking on a cellphone while driving doesn’t violate the non-aggression axiom, so make it legal. At the same time, bring in restorative justice so that those who damage person and/or property as a result of driving whilst talking on a cellphone bear the full cost of the consequences of their actions, including medical care for the injured [5]. At present the cost of medical care for the injured is borne by every taxpayer, so offenders are shielded from the consequences of their actions. When people see what the potential cost of driving whilst talking on a cellphone is – far, far greater than a $80 fine – the sensible ones will stop the practice. The foolish ones will continue their habits no matter what system is in place, but at least with my plan they will receive a huge and just self-inflicted punishment rather than a paltry $80 fine from the state.

Making people bear the full cost of the consequences of their actions is a fair and just way of reducing the dangerous practice of driving whilst talking on a cellphone. It is also consistent with the laws of nature: when a child puts his hand on a hot stove the pain teaches him to stay away from hot stoves.

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Related posts:

The NZ Herald delivers state propaganda

What is a “social contract”?

Referendum on anti-smacking law: John Key gives the finger

1. Arguably it’s not a slaying of a freedom, but rather a removal of a permission. Experience shows that any ‘freedom’ we have only exists because the state allows it to exist. If you have trouble believing this, consider the fact that the state can take your house and property at any time, it can take your children if abuse is even suspected, it can force medical treatment upon you and your children, it controls what you put into your body, and it can take as much of your money as it wants to. New Zealanders have no legal means with which to to control the government, therefore the government is the de facto absolute ruler over them. You are a vassal, a pawn controlled by the state.

2. You can also be prosecuted if the phone is not ‘secured in a mounting fixed to the vehicle’. That’s right, you can’t put the phone on the seat beside you and use a hands free kit. For the full details see clause 23 here (PDF 96KB). The plain-English version (it’s as close to plain English as a bureaucrat can get) is here.

3. Who needs enemies when they have friends like that? The ban on using cellphones whilst driving is fundamentally a violation of property rights, i.e. it violates your right to do whatever you like with your property unless you violate the non-aggression axiom in the process. Think about it: Nanny State (Big Brother’s sister) is sitting in the back seat of your car and telling you that you cannot pick up the cellphone that you own.

4. That was one of the publicly stated motivations for the anti-smacking law. Here’s my version: our masters believe that smacking is wrong so they force everyone to parent as they do. This action arises from their conviction that every child is the dominion of that state not the dominion of their parents (as shown by the fact that parents must get permission from the state before they can home school their children). See footnote 1.

5. If someone is killed the offender should provide for that person’s dependents, providing what the deceased would have otherwise provided. At present every taxpayer bears the cost of providing for the dependents (via the welfare system) and therefore the offender is shielded from the consequences of his actions.

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