Thursday, June 18, 2009
Make Mine a YES
It's been a long time since I waded into politics, and although I've felt pretty uptight about a lot of what has been going on in this country since the election, I've kept my mouth shut.
But occasionally something comes up that fills me with enough gripe that I have to speak up. And this isn't even so much about ideology or politics, as it is about deconstructing a haze of misinformation perpetrated by Larry Baldock in the form of the NZ Referendum on Child Discipline 2009.
Far more qualified and literate authorities have spoken at length on this subject in the media, but I still feel that the whole argument is being lost in the flood of rhetoric, leaving average folk still wondering what the he!! it's all about.
The question itself, which directly relates to the repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act - a change which removed the defence of "reasonable force" as an excuse for adults to abuse their children in the name of discipline - is deliberately misleading and unnecessarily emotive.
"Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"
It sounds innocuous enough, and the immediate response that most people will have to this question is "No."
What a response of "No" means, however, is that it will not be illegal to abuse one's children, quite simply put.
What signal does this send to our children? That it's OK to use violence as a means of coercion if you're bigger than someone else, or if you hold a position of responsibility over them?
That because generations before us have used violence as a means of discipline that it's OK for us to, as well?
By answering "Yes" in this misguided referendum, we can send a message that the cycle of violence has to end. We can stand up and say that violence is not the way to deal with our problems, be they small or large, especially not against our little ones.
We can tell the government that we want to maintain a law that protects our most vulnerable from our most violent. And how can you possibly say "No" to that?