Sorry, misleading title.
It ought to be: ‘How Conservatives fail to see the most blindingly obvious truths and make up their own rubbish instead’.
The US state of Delaware signed a law into being two weeks ago that is almost a clone of New Zealand’s own Section 59 amendment.
And no, I won’t call it the ‘anti-smacking bill’, because it isn’t.
Sadly, conservatives (read: Bible-bashers, freedom-quashers, and other such fans of Victorian England) have jumped on the issue with the same zeal that we saw here, mirroring almost exactly their catcalls.
The president of the Home School Legal Defense Association says the new law interferes with “the long-recognized right to administer reasonable corporal discipline."
Except, it doesn’t.
The Delaware Home Education Association and the Delaware Family Policy Council also tow the same line, regardless of whether their assumptions are true or not.
Go ahead – say this only happens in America. Because that wouldn’t be true either.
In June of this year, Family First pounced on the case of a mother forced to carry her conviction to the Court of Appeal after admitting smacking her child.
Family First head Bob McCroskrie’s ‘summary’ of the case, spins the tale of a mother victimized by state intervention for disciplining her child, but fails to point out, from the very court document he cites, that “the [mother’s] culpability was greater than that of [her partner] because she had admitted using a wooden spoon to strike the child on previous occasions.”
The partner – cited in Court documents as ‘G’ – plead guilty to using a belt across the child’s buttocks at least twice.
The High Court judge agreed with the mother: “…while the incident was wrong, it was not done out of anger but rather a belief that it was the proper response,” and herein lies the crucial difference between the private, reasoned, legal discipline of a child, and the malicious, reckless, illegal abuse of a child.
Given the fact that a strap and wooden spoon were used to discipline, it is perfectly understandable that such a matter should go through the courts.
What McCroskrie, and other truth-benders like him seek to do, is insist that their rights and their values are being infringed upon, despite the law change existing to protect a parents’ prerogative to appropriate discipline.
But it’s the conservative attitude towards truth at the heart of the issue that is most frightening.
McCroskrie recently called for the government “to decriminalise non-abusive smacking”, despite such discipline being totally legal.
It’s a flagrant untruth.
In New Zealand, Sue Bradford never had any intention whatsoever of demonising or criminalising parents who discipline their children fairly and reasonably, and in the Delaware case AG Beau Biden insists “this will not do anything to interfere with a parent’s right or ability to parent as they see fit, but it also makes it clear that if you abuse a child in any way…we’re going to have a statute that we’re going to be able to use to protect kids.”
(If you want to get pernickety about it, read section 369 of Title 11 of the Delaware Criminal Code and section 59 of the NZ Crimes Act)
Startlingly, the corollary of opposing any law clarifying child abuse is to protect the rights of parents to abuse their children indiscriminately – this is what people who defend ‘family values’ are proposing.
So while conservatives continue to bend the truth to their ends, we must do our best to see the truth gets out.P.S. Just for the fun of it, what does the Bible say about thumping your kids? Prov 23:13-14 : “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.” Let’s not forget old ‘Bishop’ Brian’s charge that “the bill compromises the position of many Christians because it contradicts their God-given responsibility”.Hilarious, right?
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