Posts by BenWilson

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  • Hard News: Smack to the Future,

    I did, but here it is again:

    Aha...I missed that post.

    Yeah, probably it would get a different result. But it is also a different question. As in, it does not have the same parse at all. It does not amount to the same question. It's a lot vaguer.

    Still think this is a great way to make laws?

    I detect the horrendous begging of a question here. The answer to that is "No". I never thought it was a great way to make laws so I don't continue to. But I think it's a pretty important part of democracy. The right of citizenry to target an actual issue and demand that the position of citizens be formally counted is one of those safety valves for when the leadership is simply not doing what a large majority of people think they should be doing. Of course the citizens could be completely wrong about that, and find that popular opinion isn't actually in their favor.

    But for a fraction of the cost and kerfuffle of a referendum, some polling company could have found out for us.

    The kerfuffle is all part of it.

    OK, but harm is clearly not defined only how you feel about something at the time. There's a scientific element to harm which isn't hard to see.

    I don't deny it. I just don't think it's the whole story. Where morals are concerned it's actually very little of the story. That's why there isn't a science of morality.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Smack to the Future,

    Kyle, if you define the subjective pleasure out of the harm equation then science alone weighs in, sure. But you also miss a lot.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Smack to the Future,

    Ben, "when did you stop beating your wife?" is a straightforward question. Just not particularly useful.

    It's also easy to answer. "Never", is a true answer to that question, in my case. I never started, so I have never stopped. Yes it is a poor question, because a "never" answer is not specific about whether I beat my wife.

    But do you take my point that a differently-loaded question asking essentially the same thing would have procured a different result?

    Perhaps. Give me the question.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Smack to the Future,

    Well OK, if Russ wants a go I'll do one more round.

    Perhaps instead of accusing other people of "Epic fail" you should read up a bit more yourself.

    Perhaps you shouldn't quote me out of context. I did not accuse anyone in particular of an epic fail. That might involve reading on your part too.

    Actually Ben, even given the many dubious practices that went into the collection of signatures for the anti-homosexual law reform petition, its authors almost certainly got substantially more genuine signatures than the pro-smackers did, particularly on a per-capita basis. Even if half of all the signatures were chucked out, it would still be 100,000 more than Baldock got.

    None of which proves that homosexual law reform was unpopular.

    There is some evidence that a referendum on homosexual law reform might have gone for law reform, but an equal chance that an emotive campaign could have sent it the other way.

    Might have. We'll never know.

    Are you suggesting that the more core of the issue would have changed either way depending on the vote?

    I don't understand the question. Is there a typo?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Smack to the Future,

    Anyways, I'm tapped out. I only had one point, which was that the question didn't really seem that hard, and I think the result bears that out. I don't think smacking is generally a good idea, nor do I always think it is criminal. I speculate that most of the "no" voters suffered as little trouble as I and everyone else I spoke with outside of PAS did, in interpreting a straightforward question. The rest just want the question to be hard, and again I speculate, it's because they don't like the answer that got 7.3 times as much support as it's rival.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Smack to the Future,


    Yeah, Um. Your link serves to show that the anti-reform people struggled to even get the signatures for their petition. It does not show that "the public" was against legalized homosexuality, just that some members of the public were.

    Basic human rights like voting, equal protection under law, etc for indigenous people are controversial these days? They were often controversial at the time, not so much now.

    Right, those equality laws are widely upheld. But 'special rights' are nowhere near so much. I guess I should have been clearer there.

    It's an example of progressive movements winning hard fought battles which then become widely popular with everyone 30 years later.

    Yup, but on a whole different scale. You were sort of accusing me of hyperbole by mentioning communist Russia as a good example of where "progressive" legislation got too damned progressive for everyone's liking. I speak of things like banning religion because Marxism was more scientific. These days it's fairly uncontroversial that freedom of religion is a fundamental right.

    The problem with speaking of progressive movements of the past and extrapolating them to now, is that it presumes you have some kind of crystal ball about exactly what will be considered progressive in the future. Just because something is a big change that has never been tried before doesn't make it a good idea that must through inexorable laws of human nature eventually become gospel. For every good idea there's a thousand stupid ideas. You have to convince people your ideas are not stupid. Failing to do so, but insisting you should be obeyed is one of those stupid ideas. Epic fail.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Smack to the Future,

    In response to the hypothetical “should a smack as part of good husbandly correction be a criminal offence?” you answered, in part, “to try it would be a criminal offense.” So what? That’s the question: should it be a crime.

    You're trying pretty hard to get this begging the question thing, but I didn't give you an "argument". I gave you a likely answer. The answer to “should a smack as part of good husbandly correction be a criminal offence?” would be uncontroversially "Yes". The reason is because people think smacking other adults is a crime. I don't mean they think that is the law. I mean they think it's bad and should be a crime. They won't make an exception for "good husbandly correction".

    I'm fully aware of what begging the question is, I just wanted you to explain why you thought I was doing it. I have a degree in Philosophy, and I took Logic to Stage 3, btw.

    CIRs are crap democracy, and using them to get general statements of opinion is an especially bad way to address public policy. If you just want to know what people think, use a survey.


    I’ll add here that I’m not against referenda per se. They’re especially useful for making the final decision about significant proposed changes to the mechanisms of our representative democracy

    Why bother...have a survey. Personally I don't think CIRs are crap democracy at all. I think representative democracy is crap. CIRs are far, far more credible than surveys. They follow due processes and involve a lot more people. They ask people what they want, rather than who they would like to abdicate responsibility for the decision to. They're probably not particularly practical for running quite a lot of government, but in this technological age, they could be used a lot more often to lend credibility to claims of mandate.

    Maybe that’s more true? You’re connecting the notion of what most people think with what is true, and doing so regarding a matter amenable to science (harm and smacking).

    Harm is not as amenable to science as you seem to think. Harm is a highly subjective notion. Is anal sex harmful? Ask science and you'll get an answer that will probably highlight the risks of physical damage. There could be any amount of 'scientific' analysis of the psychological impacts of it. But at the end of the day, I'd say anal sex is as harmful as the person who is engaging in it thinks it is.

    Where it will have short term application is if someone beats their child with a bullwhip, for example, that parent will no longer have the old “reasonable force” defence. Surely that is a good thing?

    That always was illegal man. Because it would not be considered "reasonable" by either a judge or a jury. OK, they get their day in court, but they also, on the whole, get busted.

    Let’s go back to that hypothetical about “husbandly correction”. If the law changes under discussion here were to do with men’s treatment of their wives, would it occur to you to use the argument you have above? “So just try to encourage men to treat women better. But don’t go changing the laws. That’s just hiding and suppressing debate.” Really?

    Yes, why don't we go back to that incredibly poor example, which will fail any test of popularity on account of the fact that almost all women will all oppose it, let alone most men. In your hypothetical world, where husbandly correction is widely popular, I would indeed say that the best way to go about changing the situation would be to change attitudes. You'd start with women, it would be a fucking easy sell. Then you'd work on the men, until you had the numbers. That's democracy, how she is.

    I actually think changing general attitudes to smacking would be a much more positive step than criminalizing it. "There is another way" as a campaign would probably work. I'm inclined to think Supernanny has done much more to stop smacking in NZ than Labour did. A "help quit smacking" team would also be of great benefit, if people didn't think there was a good chance of ending up getting prosecuted instead of helped.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Smack to the Future,

    They all went through over great popular opposition, and have subsequently been proven to be non-controversial long term. The same end result would have occurred if they'd happened years earlier.

    That's highly disputable. They could have led to colossal strife, and retrogression. How do you know? It's also a false claim in at least 2 cases. Homosexual law reform was not unpopular, at least in NZ. And indigenous rights are not non-controversial. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

    Because pushing through unpopular laws in New Zealand is exactly like communist Russia. I think there might have been a couple of other problems going on there.

    Mmmm and criminalizing smacking is exactly like freeing slaves and emancipating women?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: The Inexorable Advance,

    I'm not sure when you went to university, but I think someone misled you there.

    If so, it was consistent, because I asked every single year, when it came time to opt to pay the fees, what would I miss out on, and the answer always started with the library.

    I should point out that the legendary speedboat money was spent by an Auckland President operating illegally under the AUSA constitution. He's also a passionate right-wing VSMer.

    Sure, but it's still grist to the "Why should I have to be in this stupid Union?" mill. That it was piss easy to rort so outrageously was not a big selling point.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Smack to the Future,

    Ben your argument (majority decides moral issues) feels like the same argument that slowed down law changes that improved the lot of every minority group in history - slaves, homosexuals, womens rights, indigenous people. It feels distasteful.

    Yes, democracy is a slow system. Convincing people to change is indeed much harder than forcing them to. But it's a much more lasting and effective method. It's rather like the alternatives to smacking, in that respect. Note that most of the changes you describe started in democracies.

    Sometimes if law makers showed initiative and were ahead of popular opinion, the result would be better and history would shine a brighter light on them and the affected people.

    Until they get so far ahead of popular opinion that they're just unpopular on every front, rather like communist Russia. I seem to remember them continually using arguments from science as an excuse to avoid democracy. Once you start down the path of thinking you're right just because you're progressive, and having the power to enforce it, it's becomes addictive and leads rapidly to considerably worse tyranny than the problems that it was trying to solve. They tyranny of the minority is a considerably worse problem than the tyranny of the majority (which is still a problem, of course, and the solution is to keep hacking away at your cause until people agree with you).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

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