John Roughan has a nice little diatribe on the smacking referendum today. He sees to think that the law as it currently stands is not confusing, but that a single referendum question is (or, at least, has “sinister undertones”). He then quote the first section of the new law:
““Every parent of a child, and every person in the place of a parent of a 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.”
“That just about covers the gamut of infant misbehaviour, doesn’t it? All the commonly cited scenarios are there.”
But this, of course, is just the old law restated without the use of the word correction or discipline, so that Sue Bradford and her team can now ban smacking for correction with the second part:
““Nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.””
So part d) of subsection (1) apparently said you could use reasonable force in your role as a “good” parent, but section (2) explicitly states that this force cannot be used for “correction”. Most people would find this confusing (it is clear the police do) but not Mr. Roughan, because, like all good conspiracy theorists, he thinks there is something sinister going on.
Roughan’s theory is that what the law-makers really meant by “correction” is the thorough tonking you were given “when daddy comes home”, where children were beaten until they screamed. A so-called “good” hiding. He thinks that the referendum question is designed to legitimize this sort of behaviour, that is is a sort of stealth question that will allow hundreds of Christian fundamentalists the right to beat their children to a pulp.
There is really only one thing wrong with his viewpoint. It is utter nonsense.
There is no evidence that anyone, at any time, interpreted the word “correction” in the old law as meaning anything but normal parental discipline. Certainly, parents who tried to use section 59 as a defense against this type of beating rarely succeeded unless they could prove extreme provocation (as in the “horse-whipping” that precipitated the law change). To suggest that people are seeking a loophole to justify beating their children is ludicrous. To ascribe such motives without evidence is equivalent to absurd meme of the “Yes” vote people – that all smacking is just child abuse and that smacking is akin to the horrifying abuse of Nia Glassie.
There will be an overwhelming “no” vote in the referendum. This will be cheifly because the vast majority of people know the difference between smacking and child abuse. They don’t want “the right to smack their child”. What normal parent wants to smack their child? What they want is the option to use physical discipline when they see fit, without the worry that the police will arrest them or that CYFS will come and take their children.
But apparently that simple motivation is too transparent for John Roughan.
Scrubone has a full Fisk of John Roughan’s article at Something Should Go Here Maybe Later.