Thursday, March 29, 2007

git the whuppin on y'all

The other day I was pursuing my four year old down the hall in an attempt to kick his bum when I suddenly thought "hmm maybe if Sue Bradfords effort to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act is passed into law this will be illegal".
And then I thought, "not bloody likely".
The simple reason it won't be illegal is that my bum kicking and bum spanking activity is not actually designed to hurt my four year old. I kick him, he kicks me. I punch him (softly, of course) and he punches me (rather too well). Its called roughhousing. Its fun and if he ever gets hurt I cuddle him and reassure him.
If I want to discipline my four year old inflicting pain is not something I do very much. There's a simple reason for this. It doesn't work.
I have some relatives who smack their children a lot. Usually it happens when the kids are tired and ratty and the parents are tired and ratty. Those kids are, to be blunt, not very well behaved. They can take being smacked. They don't like it but they can take it. And all it does is make them bitter, angry and resentful.
When I actually think about times my parents whacked me as a kid (which was not often) it actually only makes me bitter angry and resentful. I still don't know why they did it (although as an adult I can guess). It didn't make me a disciplined individual at all.
By contrast there are ways of disciplining kids that don't involve whacking them. They basically have a logic which is intrinsic to behaviour you want to change. Kid deliberately poohs in his pants? A nice cold shower to clean him up will help solve that. Kid won't tidy up toys? Put them in a bag to give back for Christmas. Is unpleasant to others? Isolate them in their room.
The task of the parent is to normalise the potential behaviour of a child into adult society. Given that there is almost no weirdness that hasn't been normal in some society or other, children are infinitely flexible. However in our society we don't boff people on the nose when they piss us off. That is considered criminal.
Thus our task in normalising children to our society's norms should, logically, remain within society's norms. This is not only logical it is also more effective.
For the danger of being able to whack people because they piss you off is that there really isn't any clear line. Do you whack them because they are smaller than you? How is that not bullying? Do you whack them because it makes you feel better? What is that if not abuse?
Personally I am all for children learning to deal with violence and being capable of taking it or handing it out. Violence is a very real part of the world and we would only be fooling ourselves if we ignored it. But bullying and abuse are not good things. These are the things we need to educate our children to be able to resist. They are not the things we want our children to model.
New Zealanders have, for a very long time, modelled bullying and abuse. That is why there is so much of it about. If we want to reduce it we need to give parents who rely on it pause. They need to learn other ways to achieve their results. Only in this way can we break the cycle of bullying and abuse that has been passed down through the generations. And I can go back to roughhousing with my four-year-old.

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Climate Knee-jerks

I didn't really want to post this but I've come to the conclusion that if I don't say it somewhere I'll burst! New Zealand's approach to climate change strategy is being driven by politicians who want to grandstand not because they are concerned for the welfare of either the planet or our people.
Take the Greens nut-so idea that farmers should buy carbon permits for the Government. Are they mad? Why should our farmers pay European taxes? They don't get European subsidies so why should they face European costs? Even their farmers don't do that!
All that clever idea would do is completely bugger our only effective export industry.
I have similarly little time for those in very large companies who are all in favour of carbon trading. Carbon trading schemes are not about abatement at least marginal cost. They are about abatement by profitability. Operations that are less profitable simply can't afford to take part in carbon trading. So while Meridian with its zillion dollar special dividends ($800 million last year boys and girls) derived from scarce hydro water, can afford to play poker with the big boys the Hutt Valley municipal landfill cannot.
I won't comment here on the silly ideas that get put up on Government websites relating to transport other than to say they are dreamt up by Wellington based policy analysts who have very little real experience of the world.
Ultimately New Zealand should not have a problem with climate change. We can easily absorb more Greenhouse Gas than we produce - even including agricultural methane. The only problem with that is the English who violently resent that approach because it devalues their "hot air" (the difference between the CO2 emissions they made in 1990 because they burnt coal and the CO2 emissions they make now because they burn gas and uranium). These are the same people who will encourage the world to buy biofuels from poor nations which level the rainforests in order to grow sugar ( because biofuels don't count against the burners tally only the growers). The English are doing their best to secure maximum economic advantage for their hot air by talking up climate change. They are doing bugger all to actually increase their capacity to absorb Greenhouse gases.
Anyway I've ranted on enough. If you want to read the full study take a look here:

kia ora

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, March 2, 2007

Honorable Men

Julius Caesar - the play by William Shakespeare - came to mind this week as Police Assistant Commissioner Clint Rickard stunned onlookers by saying that his co-accused Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum should not have been sent to prison in 2005 for the 1989 rape of a Mt Maunganui woman.
Rickard himself had just been found not guilty for the second time of gang raping a young woman using a foreign object (a bottle this time) with fellow former Police officers Shipton and Schollum around the same time period. It is probable that that utterance will cost Rickard his job. No senior Police officer can side with convicted criminals against the finding of a jury and expect to get away with it.
But it is also clear that an Assistant Commissioner with two rape accusations levelled at him has been contaminated in the eyes of the public. Julius said of his wife as he divorced her, the wife of Caesar must be above suspicion and the same is true of Assistant Police Commissioners. Most telling was the revelation on One's Close Up programme that Louise Nicholls, the woman who first pressed for the prosecution of Rickard, had received nothing but support from the New Zealand public despite being called by a liar by the defence attourneys.
But the issue in the minds of most New Zealand women, and indeed many men, is what does it take to get a rape conviction in New Zealand? What does a woman have to go through to get some form of justice?
In both cases Rickard's accusers had nothing to gain from having traumatic and disturbing assaults on their persons discussed and queried in open court. There are not too many people who want it known that they have had a police truncheon shoved up them.
On the other hand the principle of reasonable doubt is an important one. Rickard was facing several years in the can with people who would probably be quite keen to mete out a little "justice" of their own. To get it wrong is also a risk of injustice.
I have long contended that there are two problems with our rape laws.
The first is the rhetorical stretch, used by many defence lawyers, that a person found not guilty of rape has been proved innocent. Not guilty does not mean innocent. It would be more helpful if we had the Scottish option of finding a charge "Not proven". Not only does this leave the double jeopardy rule aside (allowing another trial if new evidence is found) but also allows a person to be found innocent if indeed that is the jury's intention.
The second is more controversial. In my limited experience rape victims are not necessarily interested in vengence. Most simply want to be believed and if possible an admission of wrong-doing, an apology and some form of compensation. Under our no-fault ACC system compensation for sex crimes is quite problematic. Most crimes are not reported and most fail because of the strict 'proof beyond reasonable doubt' rule for criminal proceedings. This means ACC ends up holding a second trial not of the accussed but of the applicant!
To that end it would seem fairer if rape victims could apply for legal aid to bring civil cases against their rapists. A civil case declares a result not on 'proof beyond reasonable doubt' but 'on the balance of probability' a more reasonable test when evidence often comes down to 'he said' 'she said' for the jury. A civil case would not result in anyone being locked up but would officially establish who semed the most credible and provide a basis for compensation. If Police felt there was enough evidence they could then proceed with a criminal case.
Rape is always going to be a touchy accusation. It is very private for both accuser and accused. False rape complaints are vicious and they do happen. But currently there would be few women in New Zealand who had confidence that our justice system provides a fair method of redress to rape victims. These suggestsion would at least be a start.

Sphere: Related Content