Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: If You Don't Hit Them, You Must Hate Them

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  • Zippy Gonzales,

    The Bible as a can of worms. I love it. What would a Deuteronomy worm look like I wonder? It neatly fits Richard Dawkins' Virus of Faith theme too. "Hey, you've got worms! Have some BZP."

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 186 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Had a strange conversation with someone on the street the other day - a woman wanted me to sign her petition - I countered with something like "I raised my kids without hitting them, I don't see why others can't ..." what followed was a stream of disbelief, then invective along the lines of "what were you thinking? why didn't you? that's what's wrong with this country" .... we parted obviously living in different worlds ... I'm just waiting for the next petition, the one that makes it mandatory ....

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2183 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    Yeah, I'm sick and tired of being told how I should live my life by trouble-making do-gooders who didn't have kids themselves.

    Jesus, I'm talking to you.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 793 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    If it was Muslims saying that they didn't have to obey secular laws because they only accepted God as their judge, you can bet the whole right-wing world would be jumping up and down in protest.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4484 posts Report Reply

  • Riddley Walker,

    jebus, be careful with all that intelligent inspection of the bible and its meaning - there lies The Road To Satan.
    isn't it perfectly obious that the best way to show you love someone is to give them a good bash? no wonder the same people were so upset when it became illegal to rape your wife, how else can they show they really care?

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Glaister,

    Hang on.... Both David Haywood's article and Paul C.'s comment above (and possibly simon g.'s remark too) are quite misleading: there are fundamentalist anti-smackers getting ready to pass a bill, there's no loony fundamentalist bill presuming to tell everyone that they have to smack (or whatever it is).

    There's an assumption common to all the fundamentalists here: that there's only one broadly legitimate way to raise a child. Paul C's "I don't see why others can't be like me" is an absolute classic of the genre!

    PA consistently gets the basic dialectic wrong (I cautioned Haywood about this specific error here.) The motivation for that's obvious. It's just so much easier to argue against people who believe Haywood's headline today. And even if you do kind of acknowledge somewhere way down the page that you really need to argue against much more plausible views (but I'm no libertarian!), it's where you chose to spent all of your time and headline etc. that tells the story (as the subsequent comments amply show). It's called misdirection. (Only, in his patented way, Haywood has given himself just enough wiggle room so that he can say "Misdirection, moi? I have no thesis, no direction!" It's so exasperating!)

    Of course the mischaracterizations and subtle and not so subtle prejudicings of the relevant issues are different every time (it's a moving target of distortion). Recall Russell B's:

    One argument I will not countenance in any way at all is the one that seems to motivate the bill's most vocal opponents - Biblical justification. No, no and no again. No more than I would indulge a man who believes his religion allows him to keep his wife in line with a loving smack.

    Not everyone who opposes the bill believes this, of course. There are parents who regard smacking as bad practice who still don't wish to see the risk of it being classed as assault. Again, we come back to the boundaries that aren't as clear or universal as they might seem.

    Here Russell almost gets the modality right for the religious but then presumes to characterize all non-religious opponents of the bill as people who think smacking is "bad practice", i.e., as conceding that there is in fact only one broadly legitimate way to raise kids and smacking is no part of it. So, you're either a religious nut or you really agree with Russell B. (and all he has left to do is ease paranoia about practical consequences of criminalization! Sweet!) How easy it is to win arguments, if you play so unfairly.

    Finally, Michael Grimshaw repeatedly raises the specter of religious groups being recognized and reflected in legislation. That may be some sort of worry in Bush's America but, seriously, that's hardly a problem in NZ. Nowhere less so than in this case, where surely the only recognition and reflection urged by the hard core religious is just for the law to leave them alone and also to allow a status quo to stand (or at least be less radically modified) that's supported by at least 80% of the population, almost all of which is relatively non-religious! Hardly theocracy. (Rich's "Muslim" riposte commits 3 or 4 fallacies at once . Can't be bothered working through 'em, but, generally, good grief.)

    Grimshaw's right about the scripture tho': leave your family and no divorces. Jesus is a card.

    Oh, one very last point... the shabby (and always just in one direction) standards of argument at PA are truly a little frightening.

    Let's say the next thing that the left wants to get a bee in its bonnet about is pets. If you tried to take away people's pets (perhaps grandfathering in existing pets so as not to be harsh) insisting that in a civilized society no one keeps animals as slaves yadda yadda yadda... well, you're going to get some serious resistance from at least 80% of the population. Of course in that group will be Biblical folks pointing to relevant bits of scripture about dominion over animals etc.. PA has shown that they would gleefully accept that target of opportunity... Rather than address any serious replies of the 80% (e.g., "We see your point, but that's best accommodated by your not having a pet... we take ourselves to love our pets, they live with us, they're not our slaves, and we believe you musn't define cruelty and abuse down in that way, evidently you don't agree that's possible, vive la difference we guess..."), the Haywoods, Browns etc. will just try to tar and feather the 80% with the range of justified and unjustified warinesses that the small number pious or ultra-pious among them provoke. (And trot out conclusory analogies a la Riddley W.'s "it's like when it became illegal to rape your wife" to ice the case.)

    Since Nov 2006 • 50 posts Report Reply

  • Riddley Walker,

    PA consistently gets the basic dialectic wrong ... course the mischaracterizations and subtle and not so subtle prejudicings of the relevant issues are different every time (it's a moving target of distortion)... the shabby (and always just in one direction) standards of argument at PA are truly a little frightening

    <wiping tears from cheeks> and who said there's no such thing as comedy in NZ?
    yes you are right Stephen, there really is no reply to your comments other than laughter.

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Here Russell almost gets the modality right for the religious but then presumes to characterize all non-religious opponents of the bill as people who think smacking is "bad practice",

    Except in no way does Russell characterise all secular opponents to the bill as thinking smacking is bad practice. His point is well made and stands, event in the unlikely even that the only "people" he refers to are himself and his wife. To requote your quote of RBs

    There are parents who regard smacking as bad practice who still don't wish to see the risk of it being classed as assault.

    For someone who is so concerned about subtly of argument to misunderstand that particular brick is surprising.

    Verbosity is not always the sign of a good argument, BTW.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1616 posts Report Reply

  • slarty,

    Stephen, I struggle with the concept that everyone should be a trained philosopher / logician!

    However I do support your view that the standards of argument on PA are frightening (I'll explain why at the end).

    Anyway, my problem with the law as it stands (and this is a view I haven't seen stated much) is more along the Dworkinian Integrity line, which as you would know is strongly linked to the Hobbesian view of integrity being a result of our societal arrangement to survive alongside each other.

    I would be happy for either of the following;

    1. s59 repealed, so that we do not classify human beings by age when it comes to discipline or;
    2. s59 extended so that it applies to any human being.

    For example, I've just been managing some change in my organisation and a couple of the staff have been toey and unreasonable. My standards for their ability to produce a rational argument are considerably lower than yours, but they are incapable of stringing a logical and rational argument together. They just stamp their metaphorical feet, (literally in one case) stick their bottom lip out, and then say no. Meanwhile 40 other people are being inconvenienced.

    Surely you would agree (I mean technically, not how you personally feel) that the law as it stands says if they were 15 and I were the parent I would be justified in a clout round the ear? A parent is someone with authority and responsibility for their safety and well being, just as I am in a work situation (OSH, common law etc.).

    So in these circumstances I should be able to give them a clout on the basis that they are incapable of understanding my rational argument. Sometimes it takes a short sharp shock.

    Personally I think NZ would be a much better place if we were to show our love for our fellow citizens through the occasional slap. We just don't see enough physical evidence of how much we care for our fellow citizens any more, especially in the workplace, and it's high time we started. We could even have a morning caning session as a little motivator to start off the day, a bit like those Japanese exercise sessions.

    And speaking of argument: I find those put forward on PA of a frighteningly higher standard than most of the nonsense I encounter. But I must say your diatribe above has managed to bring a level of normality to the environment, for which I thank you.

    Cheers

    Since Nov 2006 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    Stephen

    There are clearly non-religious reasons to object to Bradford's bill, and many on Public Address have made those clear, in several debates (even if you don't seem to have read them).

    But to characterise the religious right as simply a convenient - almost invented - target for lefties is nonsense.

    They are a very large part of the activist opposition to the bill. How would you like to measure that? The number and nature of organisations opposing, the quantity of submissions, the marchers, the newspaper advertisements, media releases, the ubiquitous McCroskey et al?

    That doesn't invalidate non-religious opposition, of course. But if scary fundamentalists are leading the fight - well, excuse us for pointing it out, and being a damn sight more worried about that than a relatively minor law change.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 793 posts Report Reply

  • Kadife Blue,

    slarty...ahhhh creating small space of worship for your post as we speak

    Since Mar 2007 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • Riddley Walker,

    yeah, nice one slarty

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • Riddley Walker,

    two heads really are better than one

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • Kadife Blue,

    want to join me by my alter to slarty's piece Riddley?

    Since Mar 2007 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • Riddley Walker,

    sure, as long as there's no mashed chicken bits and stuff. i'm over that, now i just do devil worshipping qua laws that prevent people from bashing their kids with impugnity

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    (I cautioned Haywood about this specific error here.)

    Oh goody.... Stephen's back to patronize us.

    Lose the philosophical gobbledegook, Stephen. Back in the days when I was marking undergraduate Philosophy essays, I gave my students some advice about good philoosphical writing.

    Keep it simple.
    Always use the most straightforward sentence structure you can.
    Never use a 'big' word where a 'little' word will do.
    By all means use a complex sentence structure, or a 'big' word if that's the best way to express your idea, but before you do, be very sure that your idea won't get hidden in the complexity.


    As for the basic argument - it's very simple. Big people who hit little people shouldn't be able to shelter behind the law.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1328 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Stephen, see if you can parse the modality of:

    There's an assumption common to all the fundamentalists here: that there's only one broadly legitimate way to raise a child

    and somehow get to: "There's an assumption common to all those in favour of the Bradford Bill: that there's one broadly illegitimate way to discipline a child and that's by hitting them." Good luck.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1582 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    Just as I thought. The whole thing's not really about "discipline" or "reasonable force" at all. It's really jsut the latest front in the Kulturkampf. Of course, we've had Kulturkampf in the recent past - the 1981 Springbok Tour, and Homosexual Law Reform.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4403 posts Report Reply

  • John H.I.G,

    As a response to the argument: "I smack my kids so they won't end up as criminals" - it would be interesting to do a comparative study to see if the prison population (particularly violent offenders) were more or less likely to have been smacked [as children] than the average person.

    I've had occasion to meet more than my share of nasty types (for reasons I won't go into) and my gut feeling is that you'd be hard pressed to find an ex-convict that wasn't physically disciplined during their childhood.

    I realise that any results of such a study could be challenged by the 'chicken or the egg' argument (i.e. convicts were only smacked more often as children because they demonstrated early criminal tendencies) but if my hunch is right, it would suggest that smacking is unnecessary, and if it turns out that convicts were actually less likely to have been smacked, it would suggest that smacking really does work.

    Waitakere • Since Mar 2007 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Figgie,

    Some people argue that certain types of children can only be disciplined by being hit.
    I would rather risk a child who can only be disciplined by being hit NOT being hit and running wild than hitting a child who could have been disciplined by another means.

    Hitting a child teaches them that physical violation is an acceptable way to get what you want.

    Hitting a child is also ineffective in changing behaviour long-term since the child feels like he has done his punishment as soon as the hitting is over with unlike having to earn back parental trust through good behaviour etc. If hitting worked then a parent would only need to hit their child once. Parents who hit their children appear, anecdotally, to hit them all the time.

    I would advocate for having the hitting of any human being simply included under the "self-defense or defense of another" provision of the Crimes Act. For example, if a child is about to run in front of a car or put its hand on a hot element then you could hit them to stop them doing so since "time out" would obviously not be effective in such circumstances.

    Just some rambling thoughts.

    Since Mar 2007 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I find those put forward on PA of a frighteningly higher standard than most of the nonsense I encounter.

    Wonderful, slarty. My feelings exactly. Most of the time, I don't post, just read on in great envy, really. As to the smacking thing, I don't have children, so I can only comment as a person who engages in the vast world of learning at the early childhood level. Anyway, as far as I can see, it's way past time for some legislation that covers discipline that isn't covered under child abuse legislation. I teach in a part of this fine city that is well exposed in the media as having violence problems. Some of the people I come in contact with on a daily basis are "smackers" or as the children refer to it " I got a hiding last night, Jackie" . Some are smackers in the order of light smacks. Remember these are 3 and 4 year olds. They may be using hyperbole, they may have got a tap on the bottom, but I can tell which ones are smacked on a regular basis - with less force than would constitute child abuse, and with more force than constitutes a tap on the bum. Those are the kids that hit and hurt other kids on a regular basis. So my argument is this - that the current legislation does not cover the force used on a child which is harder than a light smack. If the antismacking legislation covers this, I would be alot happier as an educator. Far easier to engage in some enriching learning when you're not running around all morning/afternoon, trying to stop little Johnnie from acting out on other kids what's acted out on him at home. We call it modelling. Fancy that.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • tim kong,

    Ditto Jackie. And can I add my thumbs up to slarty.

    To me this is a simple thing - it's a statement about the society we want to have, the nation we want to have - one that says it's not OK to hit children.

    Will it still happen? Sure. But it won't be OK.

    While it's not the fine city of sail - I had a discussion with my intermediate age students yesterday about the bill and the thoughts were excellent. Several were candid about the fact they "got a bash" or had "weapons" used on them.

    All agreed that it was not OK for teachers to hit children, and it definitely wasn't OK to hit animals, but several asked, "But what do you do - if they don't listen, how do you make them stop?"

    I wondered aloud at how silly it was that teachers got training and ongoing development - but there wasn't any instruction or training on how to be a parent.

    We talked about the march on Parliament on Wed and there was shock when I told them that these children and adults were demanding the right to smack.

    "But that doesn't make sense - why would you do that? Those kids are just saying they want to get hit? What are they on?"

    One was savvy and resigned enough to state: "It'll still happen - we'll still get smacked - it'll just be when the curtains are closed."

    couldn't but help think of Bowie:

    and these children that you spit on,
    as they try to change their worlds
    are immune to your consolations
    they're quite aware of what they're going through

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 146 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Glaister,

    Don C.: If you say
    "there are relig. nuts, and of course there are some parents who...."_
    then I claim you're saying there are just those two cases. Yes, in some sense you can always continue:
    "....oh and there are many other interesting cases too including those that cover fully 70% of the population and 7/8 of the group I'm supposed to be arguing with"
    But that would be silly. The "some" you lean on doesn't change that.

    Simon G.: You say

    That doesn't invalidate non-religious opposition, of course. But if scary fundamentalists are leading the fight - well, excuse us for pointing it out, and being a damn sight more worried about that than a relatively minor law change.

    I guess everyone has to decide for themselves what's dirty pool in this sort of situation. My view is that the emphasis on PA is pretty bad, and is entirely compable to sliming all Americans who hate Bush etc. with the vocal activities of those who recommend assassination, believe crazy conspiracies etc..

    Please do not suggest, however, this we're discussing a minor law change. It's slightly less__minor than the stripping out of the abortion related sections of the Crimes Act (s 182, 183, etc) would be (it's __less so because abortion has some non-criminal law identity).

    If someone tried to remove those sections saying, "Don't worry, we're not making abortion illegal, we're just removing a possible defence against the charge of killing an unborn child" we'd instantly see that as temporizing. It would be rightly seen as a very sinister attack on the authority of NZ women over their own bodies. For me, at least, the fact that PA and other lefty sites are prepared to temporize in the s 59 case shows the amazing reality-bending effects of extreme partisanship.

    Slarty: I've replied at undoutedly distressing length before (e.g., here and here) to the sort of dodge you mention, i.e., that if one thinks s.59 or even some watered down successor is OK then one should really think that s. 59 should apply between adults, or perhaps to adults in positions of authority ( e.g., at work) over other adults, or to arbitrary adults over arbitrary children (i.e., not just their own).

    My (obvious) reply amounts to just detailing the differences between parental authority over and responsibility for their own children and all those other cases.... If you don't allow any of that then you end up with an absurd position, I believe: that every parental action w.r.t their children is technically assault/kidnapping etc., only one society doesn't charge/prosecute. Can't go through all that again here tho'.

    The objectivizing/flattening impulse behind your remarks – which argue, after all, that anything like s 59 is not just possibly mistaken in some respects, but is actually incoherent – is very contrary to the best aspects of Hart- and Dworkins-style jursiprudence as I understand them.

    Rob. S.: You say

    Stephen, see if you can parse the modality of:
    There's an assumption common to all the fundamentalists here: that there's only one broadly legitimate way to raise a child
    and somehow get to: "There's an assumption common to all those in favour of the Bradford Bill: that there's one broadly illegitimate way to discipline a child and that's by hitting them." Good luck.

    Hang on: the common assumption I identified is an interesting common assumption because it's shared by the the bill supporters and a noisy loony fringe of bill opponents. Doing so helps dramatize all that's left out in the middle and that PA likes to ignore.
    Your common assumption is a trick in that it's not in common across the sides of the debate, rather it's just a redescription of the bill-supporters side of the debate. (You can do the same with the true loonies at the other end: they share the assumption that sparing the rod is an illegitimate form of parenting or whatever it is.) What were you trying to achieve again?

    Others: Thanks for your feedback.

    Since Nov 2006 • 50 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Much more comprehensible, thanks, Stephen.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1328 posts Report Reply

  • Riddley Walker,

    yeah, that's much clearer.

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report Reply

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