Hard News by Russell Brown


Stop the Enabling

As was always likely to be the case, Christchurch man Jimmy Mason turned out to be another father with anger management problems. A jury has found him guilty of assault for punching his four year-old son in the face. He was acquitted on two other charges of assault for lifting up the four year-old and his two year-old brother on their bikes and forcing them down on the ground.

Witnesses also said that Mason was repeatedly shouting "fucking listen!" at his two children. He seems to have been so insensible to his own behaviour that he told the first police officer on the scene "I hit the big one in the face and that is what I do and that lady [the witness] can mind her own business."

In court, Mason declared he had entered "angry dad mode" after the younger boy had crashed his bike. He still seems to have no concept that what he did was wrong. We can only hope that the counselling likely to be ordered by the judge will bring him some perspective.

It was different story in January last year, of course. Back then, almost every media organisation in the country led with the canard that a man had first been warned by the police, and then charged, for "flicking" his son on the ear. The source for this claim was Mason himself, who was very voluble in his indignation.

We now know for sure that was not the case. So why on earth is the Herald's story this morning headlined 'Ear-flick' father guilty of assault. Wouldn't 'Father who punched son in the face found guilty of assault' be a more appropriate headline?

And why did National Radio spend most of the morning opening its bulletins with the words "in what's seen as a test of anti-smacking laws …" The judge said it was not to be seen as a test of the law change. The police said Mason would have been charged under the old law too.

The response from the pro-beating crowd to the events last year was furious and hysterical. Kiwiblog commenters fumed and boiled when Mason was warned by police, and frothed some more when he was charged with assault after police had heard from witnesses.

Family First director Bob McCoskrie declared himself "astounded" that Mason had been charged. The Christian sadists at Family Integrity republished this bizarre blog post from self-professed Christian soldier and Act Party activist Andy Moore.

This morning, McCoskrie is doing what he always does when one of his cause celebres turns out to be a bully -- crawling for cover. But he still had time to equivocate for the Herald's benefit:

But there was a concern that Mason may have been found guilty for only the ear-pull, as the actions of punching, and pulling the ear, were wrapped up in the same police charge.

"If that's the case, then it's a decision that does concerns us. We would like that clarified to understand how the law is being interpreted by the police and the courts."

That's not the case and if McCoskrie had any honesty at all he would admit it. Jimmy Mason hit his four year-old son in the face with a closed fist. That's what happened.

Anyway, this seems like a good time for me to recommend a visit to The Yes Vote, an anti-violence site raising awareness in advance of the Section 59 referendum. It's supported by, among others, Plunket, Barnodos, Save the Children and Unicef.

On the other hand, the For the Sake of Our Children Trust (yes, the organisation headed until recently by Christine Rankin) is still touting the referendum petition on its home page. Its supporters include Family First and Focus on the Family.

I'll leave you to decide who's really enabling abuse.


Well worth a look: Christchurch Court News, run by David Clarkson, who, back in the mists of time, was a colleague of mine at the Christchurch Star (the prosecutor in the Mason case, Deirdre Elsmore, was my sister's childhood friend, so it's quite the trip down memory lane). David has plenty on at the moment -- the Bain case continues and the Marie Davis murder case has just opened.

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