Friday, April 27, 2007

S 59 Debate: Coddington Codswallap about Smacking

Deborah Coddington often makes little sense, but her senselessness about smacking so perfectly expresses the congealed mass of chattering class platitudes and general idiocy on the issue (and the clot hasn't moved much in the month or so since Coddington's piece appeared) that it's worth reviewing in detail.
While it's slightly boring to do so, I'll commentate more or less line-by-line/sentence-by-sentence on her NZ Herald article.

I'll use green type for Coddington's text, which I include in full and in order. I'll refer to Coddington as "Codd" throughout. Warning: my commentary is at least 6 times as long as Codd's original article. It's much easier to make a huge mess than it is to clean one up!
The Smacking Debate Story: Bradford's law will save our children
By Deborah Coddington, The New Zealand Herald, March 18, 2007
Despite the vitriolic opposition from those claiming the "right" to discipline their children with violence, Sue Bradford's amendment to Section 59 of the Crimes Act looks set to pass. (my bolding)
Two remarks. First, and most obviously: it's deceptive and question-begging for Codd to use the term "violence" in place of S 59's "force that's reasonable in the circumstances". Consider another justification defence:
  • 41 Prevention of suicide or certain offences. Every one is justified in using such force as may be reasonably necessary in order to prevent the commission of suicide...
Here force that's both reasonable and necessary in the circumstances is licensed. Does one really want to claim S 41 allows violence to be used against those threatening suicide? One can if one wants maintain that all force is violence but normally "violence" implies unreasonableness, malevolence, lack-of-control, self-servingness, and so on, none of which apply to the actions anticipated in S 41. Or in S59. So using "violence" is deceptive and conclusory. Just as actions in accord with S41 or S 59 aren't assaults (for full discussion see here) it would be natural to say that they aren't episodes of violence either. I assume that Codd realizes her description is unfair in this way, and that she uses it anyway.
Second, while some people are inclined to frame smacking issues in terms of parents' rights (and also as a kind of contest between parents' rights and children's rights) and say that parents have a right to smack their children, it's not essential to talk that way. I don't. And there are good reasons not to.
All that's legally required is that parents are
permitted to smack (that's all a justification defence itself buys you, hence all that supporting the availability of such a defence requires). Whether parents are permitted to do so as a matter of right is a separate, very ticklish question. As we've emphasized in previous posts, especially here, S 59 is a justification defence. Consider some other justification defences:
  • 41 Prevention of suicide or certain offences. Every one is justified in using such force as may be reasonably necessary in order to prevent the commission of suicide, or the commission of an offence which would be likely to cause immediate and serious injury to the person or property of any one, or in order to prevent any act being done which he believes, on reasonable grounds, would, if committed, amount to suicide or to any such offence.
  • 48 Self-defence and defence of another. Every one is justified in using, in the defence of himself or another, such force as, in the circumstances as he believes them to be, it is reasonable to use.
  • 55 Defence of dwellinghouse. Every one in peaceable possession of a dwellinghouse, and every one lawfully assisting him or acting by his authority, is justified in using such force as is necessary to prevent the forcible breaking and entering of the dwellinghouse by any person if he believes, on reasonable and probable grounds, that there is no lawful justification for the breaking and entering.
  • 60 Discipline on ship or aircraft. The master or officer in command of a ship on a voyage or the pilot in command of an aircraft on a flight is justified in using and ordering the use of force for the purpose of maintaining good order and discipline on board his ship or aircraft if he believes on reasonable grounds that the use of force is necessary, and if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances.
It's relatively plausible that one is permitted to defend oneself and ones home as a matter of right (whatever exactly rights are supposed to be). But it's not especially plausible that one has a right to try to prevent others from committing suicide, or that a Captain has a right to use force to control passengers, or even that one has a right to defend others. In these three cases it's clear that there's something that we want to permit or even encourage people to do. There's a purpose or context or goal or interest or activity that society approves of and wants to facilitate. But "right" doesn't obviously enter into it.
Now consider S 59. On the one hand "rights"-talk has more of a grip in the parental case than it does in these other cases both because (as in the defence of self and home cases) parent-child relations have an identity that's independent of any state, and because there are straightforward senses (starting but not ending with the biological, inclusive fitness sense) in which ones children are extensions of oneself. On the other hand there's a clear sense in which parenthood does feel like an optional job/role hence that, like the Captaincy case, there's a kind of conditionality build into it that ill-suits the absolute/unconditional character that we ordinarily think of rights as having (again, whatever rights are).

For these sorts of reasons as well as because (i) I generally find "rights"-talk a little mysterious, and (ii) I generally prefer not to take on any excess ideological baggage, I prefer to largely eschew talk of parental rights in the smacking debate. To be in favor of some version of S 59 is to be in favor of a permission but not necessarily to think that any question of rights is activated. By focusing on people who incautiously put matters in "rights" terms, Codd focuses on people who engage in slight overkill thereby giving her a bigger target. And this is to say that she already illicitly makes things easier on herself.
Future New Zealand will thank Bradford, along with the Maori Party, whose MPs had the sense to realise the negative message their not supporting the bill would deliver to constituents - Maori are over-represented in domestic violence statistics.
Since 1999, when I wrote a feature on the death of 4-year-old James Whakaruru, I have advocated repealing Section 59. Research involved interviewing James' whanau, where smacks were every-day - nay, every-hour - "discipline" for their kids. Mum's busy; smack over the head. Dad's hungover; smack around the ear. Stop grizzling; smack around the bum. Smack, smack, smack. That's often the only touching many New Zealand children receive from those they look to for love and affection.
Go here for the NZ Children's Commission summary of the Whakaruru case. Here is the NZ Herald's summary:
"All sides of James' family were well-known to social workers. The Whakaruru family had had six interactions on care and protection and youth justice issues since 1965. The [father and killer's] Haerewa family had had eight such notifications, and James' natural father's family had had 13. Young James was on a road to hell on Earth before he was even born. Just days before his birth, [his mother] Te Rangi slit her wrists. She was just 15 and she survived, but over the next five years her small and lovely son with the warm brown eyes was beaten, stomped, hit and bludgeoned by her boyfriend until he finally died, a miserable, lonely and agonisingly painful death."
S 59 played no legal role in that case for the obvious reason that it couldn't: "reasonable force" was never at issue, and, as Codd notate with her quotation-marks, nothing resembling "discipline" or even "parenting" went on in that child's dreadful family. As we discussed here, crazy, renegade cases aren't normally probative with respect to the vast middle of society. One person's well-within-limits beer-after-work and drive home is another person's licence to drink wildly, drive off completely plastered and kill lots of people. A casino is a fun night out for you and for most people like you, but it's a few people's ruin. You and your relatively well-adjusted friends can watch sadistic horror films without appreciable ill-effect, whereas a very small number of people will be led to inflict copycat sadistic violence on others. And so on. But we don't have alcohol prohibition, we don't ban gambling, and we don't have have massive amounts of censorship.
The only way to change these people's attitudes is to change the law (my bolding)
It's not clear who "these people" refers to. The Whakaruru family? Those who don't seriously abuse but who smack indiscriminately and who otherwise never touch their kids? Anybody who smacks? Let's suppose the middle option. Then Codd claims that (a) parents who smack a lot and are otherwise unloving can't be turned into better parents in any other way than by changing the law, and (largely implicitly but see her piece's title) that (b) changing the law will change them into better parents (or else why bother?).
But now we have three points of attack. First, it's odd and extremist to tailor a whole society's legal regime to try to improve the behavior of relatively small numbers of degenerate parents. The class of parents we're talking about here, after all, while surely larger than the very small class of horrifically abusive (and surely beyond any straightforward legal solution) parents such as those in the Whakaruru case, can't itself be more than a few percent of families.
Second, the "only" or "no other way" (a)-point is unconvincing. Why aren't broader education efforts about good parenting, more involved social services, and so on exactly the right thing to work on? Third, the (b)-point that a law change will itself create good parents who would otherwise be bad is dubious. Why won't the degenerate (unaffectionate, resentful etc.) parents just become
degenerates who don't smack and are simply uninvolved? And, of course, Codd just assumes, without any argument at all, that there's no downside to eliminating smacking parenting-wise.
and anyone who doesn't agree should be consistent and oppose laws against speeding, seatbelt wearing, smoking.
This is pathetic. If someone doesn't accept both the very specific (a) and (b)-points about a smacking prohibition and also the general principle that it's OK to trade away the interests and wishes of the capable majority to benefit or improve a small minority of screwups then that person should be opposed to every other piece of complex, interest-balancing, at least vaguely paternalistic legislation? Right..... And presumably if you are in favor of laws mandating wearing seatbelts then you must also be for every conceivable piece of invasive paternalistic legislation that any political hack might dream up, from alcohol prohibition, to allowing the Government to choose your child's name, to prohibiting single-parent families, to re-introducing anti-fornication and anti-cohabitation laws, to fining people who don't go to church. Once you've tasted sin with those seat-belts....
We're more used to hearing this sort of ridiculous pseudo-argument– "Here's my proposal. Anyone who's against it must logically be advocating anarchy" from what we might call reactionary creeps. Here's center-right-ish Andrew Sullivan resisting reactionary creepiness from hard-core right-winger David Frum:
'Your argument now is that there is no discernible difference between advocating for a same-sex relationship and advocating for incest as legally married states. Or--perhaps because you understandably fear this may come across as a little harsh--you argue that the distinctions between same-sex marriage and incest are so inherently difficult to draw and open to further question.... that the only real choice is between the current definition of marriage and complete moral and social anarchy. Charles Krauthammer has also made this argument. So has William Bennett, who called any defense of same-sex marriage inherently "morally relativist," because once one has conceded ground on homosexuality, there is no possible rational defense against polygamy, bestiality, incest, and heaven knows what else. This, as a type of argument, is not so much the analogy of the slippery slope as the slippery cliff. It is to say that either one accepts the current state of affairs as a whole or one is a social anarchist, who believes in no limits whatsoever to human behavior. I suppose I should be grateful that the analogy you bring up is incest; and that Krauthammer's and Bennett's is polygamy. Why not say that advocating for same-sex marriage is indistinguishable from arguing for child abuse, murder, or slavery as legitimate forms of marriage? Well, you are civilized men and this is a civilized debate.
But, David, as you well know, this line of debate is not an argument; and it has nothing to do with conservatism. It is pure reactionaryism. The precise challenge for morally serious people is to make rational distinctions between what is arbitrary and what is essential in important social institutions. The difference between cranks and conservatives is that the latter can actually use their reason to divine when change is therefore warranted and when it is not. If you want to argue that a lifetime of loving, faithful commitment between two women is equivalent to incest or child abuse, then please argue it. It would make for fascinating reading. But spare us this bizarre point that no new line can be drawn in access to marriage--or else everything is up for grabs and, before we know where we are, men will be marrying their dogs. It is intellectually laughable.
And it's just as laughable when it comes from left-wing and stridently anti-reactionary forces of the sort that tend to have the upper hand in New Zealand. Complete bullshit (convenient) absolutism and extremism knows no political orientation. Creeps are everywhere.
Beatings, such as the one which killed James, started with smacks.
And every alcoholic started with just a single glass of beer. And every person who ever drove 80 mph over the speed limit started off by just going a few mph over the limit. And every serial killer's first book is the Bible. What's your point Codd? 100% pure slippery slope madness? Apparently.

But when I went to Parliament I didn't have the guts to defy my political party. To my shame, I shut up and toed the party line.
Well, if you had had any good arguments then maybe you would have been able to win your party over. But, yes Codd, you have much to be ashamed of. You were a terrible Parliamentarian.
My argument is simply this: when cases of assault come before a judge, children should be entitled to the same protection as adults. If an adult hits another adult, he/she can't use "reasonable force" to justify the action. Allowing adults to use this defence when they hit children reduces the status of children - they're lesser beings.
This is an important – and, we'll argue, importantly mistaken – argument (which we discuss at greater length here). Begin, however, by noting that it's completely independent of everything Codd has mentioned so far.
If this argument works then it does so regardless of whether any child is ever injured or suffers under the current regime. And if strong empirical evidence were developed tomorrow that smacking had strong benefits for kids then that would just be their and our tough luck. We wouldn't in that case be permitted to benefit them any more than we'd be currently allowed to benefit arbitrary other adults by slapping them if evidence turned up that this would be beneficial for them. To repeat: this new argument is a point of alleged principle and is completely different from arguments about the balance of social costs and benefits, or about weighing possible additional security from and discouragement of crazy parents against the certain invasiveness inflicted on and the insult delivered to normal parents.

Now let's start discussing the argument itself. We initially follow Codd's formulation: If an adult hits another adult, he/she can't use "reasonable force" to justify the action? Why? Well, contra Codd, in the parent-child case it wasn't the "reasonableness" of the force itself that constituted the justification, it was that the force was used by a parent, and by the fact that parenting is a very specific role that includes responsibility for the child's welfare and also the power to correct/discipline the child.
The parent-child relation is a very special relation of authority, one that has no serious counterpart in the adult-adult world. There's no comparable "reasonable force" clause with respect to other adults because adults aren't (and can't be) authorities over other adults: you aren't responsible for other adults, and it's not your place/role to correct/discipline them.... if it were, then they'd be like children compared to you, which a modern liberal democracy can never accept. In particular, husbands aren't authorities over their wives – women aren't at all child-like in general, and not with respect to any married partner they may have in particular. Sometimes the point Codd is trying to make is put as the following question:
  • Is there in fact a good justification that we should sanction - in whatever detail - an act against a child that we would not sanction against an adult?
The correct reply is two-fold. First, there'd better a justification since evidently parents do get to get to decide what their children eat, what they wear, what they read or watch, with whom they associate, where they are physically located on a more or less minute-to-minute basis, and so on. A concrete example: parents get to carry their children screaming out of restaurants against their will. No counterparts of these actions are permitted against adults (all would constitute assault, kidnapping, stalking, and so on).
Second, we know what the form of that justification is: it's the specific authority of the parent over the child that is the transforming feature across all these cases. No offences are occurring, it's just parenting: nothing to see here, move along.
It's useful to compare S 59 with the justification defence with which it is grouped under the heading "Powers of Discipline" in the Crimes Act 1961:
  • 60 Discipline on ship or aircraft. The master or officer in command of a ship on a voyage or the pilot in command of an aircraft on a flight is justified in using and ordering the use of force for the purpose of maintaining good order and discipline on board his ship or aircraft if he believes on reasonable grounds that the use of force is necessary, and if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances.
Why not ask:
  • Is there in fact a good justification that we should sanction - in whatever detail - an act against a passenger that we would not sanction against a non-passenger?
Why isn't Codd inclined to say:
My argument is simply this: when cases of assault come before a judge, passengers should be entitled to the same protection as non-passengers. If a Captain hits a non-passenger, he/she can't use "reasonable force" to justify the action. Allowing Captains to use this defence when they hit passengers reduces the status of passengers - they're lesser beings.
These things aren't asked or said because in the passenger case the structure of (implicitly consented to) authority is clear. And it's obvious
  • why such authority is important
  • how it's grounded in a specific role
  • why any "rights-being-infringed" outrage let alone "lesser being" outrage is simply obtuse.
No offences are occurring when the Captain of a ship (say) exercises her authority, it's just being a Captain (being the law in a micro-environment where normal legitimate authority can't reach): nothing to see here, move along. Abuse can happen or be suspected of course, which police could decide to investigate, and an impartial body such as a jury might then be called upon to adjudicate. But that's not the normal case.
So far we've just argued in very general terms that the structure of authority that permeates parent-child relationships changes everything and that it makes most actions of parents vis-a-vis their children strictly incomparable to any normal adult-adult actions or indeed to actions of adults with respect to other people's children. Children of course currently have the same or greater legal protections against the actions of arbitrary adults that adults do. Only their parents as the authorities over them are a special case where something very different is going on: special responsibilities are undertaken, and special powers acknowledged. My own view is that that's enough – that we've met the challenge of a completely abstract (disconnected-from-social-costs etc.) point of alleged principle that would require us to think about parent-child relations in exactly the same terms as adult-adult relations and accuse us of treating children as "second-class citizens" to the extent that we don't. That line of thought has simply nothing to recommend it. For deeper discussion of the issues raised by the principled argument, see here.
Now the Act party argues that good caring parents will be criminals for administering a loving smack.
The "argues" here is irritating: corrective smacking is criminalized – put in the same indictable offense category as punching your wife currently is. That's the point if you're Codd or Sue Bradford. Whether anyone's actually prosecuted/indicted let alone convicted is of course another matter entirely....
Now Codd proceeds in two directions... first she argues/insinuates that "good caring parents" who smack their kids aren't possible, i.e., that anyone who smacks their child is ipso facto a bad parent.

In what way is a smack loving? Isn't that what abusive husbands tell their wives, and why abused wives stay? He did it because he loves me?
Codd, repeat after me: "Adults aren't (and can't be) authorities over other adults: you aren't responsible for other adults, and it's not your place/role to correct/discipline them....."
Second she focuses on the prosecution angle.
And why doesn't Act advocate the abolition of speed limits because good drivers are turned into criminals every time they do 53 or 105km/h? It's poppycock to say police will be forced to prosecute every parent who lightly smacks a child. Why wasn't Tana Umaga charged for whacking Chris Masoe with a handbag? Because our police force have got more sense than our politicians have.
I agree that some opponents of Bradford's initiatives have tended to overstate their practical problems. Sweden may not be uniquely desirable, or make as much sense as it could, but it's certainly not any sort of hell-hole! What seems to be going on is tit-for-tat for Bradford et al.'s exaggeration of the practical problems posed by relatively small numbers of arguable "false positives" under S 59 (i.e., of juries and judges apparently being able to be convinced occasionally that fairly extreme levels of physical force are reasonable in specific contexts of parental correction of their children). The problems with Bradford's Bill are problems of principle. It asserts comparability between incomparables, and illiberally uses the full force of the criminal law to impose a very disputable, not uniquely reasonable view on everyone else.
Bradford's bill won't stop child abuse, say some detractors. That's a feeble line mouthed by critics scared of being labelled PC, and refusing to acknowledge how anti-smoking legislation has reduced, not eliminated, smoking. I disagreed with anti-smoking laws but far fewer people now smoke and that's a good thing.
It does seem clear that there are distinguishable phenomena of abuse and of people with disastrously chaotic lives having kids that aren't addressed by Bradford's initiatives. The Whakaruru case Codd mentioned is a classic of this sort. Beyond that, sure, each amount of freedom in society (to drive, to drink, to gamble, to read what you want, to associate with whom you want, etc.) carries with it costs from crazies who'll exploit that freedom. Restricting or eliminating that freedom normally does buy some additional security from the crazies. But normally in a liberal democracy one thinks long and hard before trading away a central freedom that lots of people think is important just to help damp down the outliers, and one should in any case explore all sorts of less invasive solutions, e.g., public educational possibilities etc. before you settle on criminalization/prohibition as the lesser of the available evils. Previously Codd told us that as a Parliamentarian she didn't have the guts or nous to stand up to or break from her party's views about anti-smacking legislation. Now she tells us that her enthusiastic opposition to heavy-handed anti-smoking legislation was wrong? Does she believe in anything? Which other basic freedoms would she now be prepared to sacrifice? How much paternalism from the government is enough now for born-again Codd? And will it be enough for her tomorrow once the current round of paternalism has "succeeded" in the sense that it causes some easily quantifiable reduction in craziness while extirpating a broad range of harder to measure freedoms from the world and counting that loss as nothing?
Sadly, it will take many years before attitudes towards violence are changed. That was driven home to me when I saw what National MP Chester Borrows' amendment would allow: smacking kids for wetting the bed, hitting a sibling, breaking an ornament, running on to the road. I can't believe adults would smack children for this. My God, if parents still believe they can cure bedwetting with smacks, we have a problem.
Just as abuse etc. is distinguishable from legitimate correction of ones child, so policies about smacking are distinguishable from good-parenting itself. Roughly, whatever tools you give to parents those tools are only as good as the parents who get to use those tools. I don't know anything about bed-wetting myself, but if the point is that it's not properly something that is culpable/punishable any more than dyslexia is, and every parent is supposed to know that, then there's a parental mistake being made alright. Punishing the bed-wetter by denying the bed-wetter the ice cream everyone else gets would similarly then be ill-judged and possibly cruel. There's no problem for smacking as such here. [Note added April 30, 2007: Consider also this testimony from Watermelon. The author sees her experience through an anti-smacking lens and I don't think that we can conclusively say that she's wrong to do so, but the obvious interpretation is that there was generally rotten parenting going on. Watermelon describes for example, "walking on egg-shells", and receiving insistent, anger-laden, arbitrary/inconsistent, non-proportional punishment. It's plausible that things would have been about as disturbing and confusing and counter-productive as the author rightly laments even if all of the punishment had been non-physical.]
And when are we going to stop confusing education with discipline? If a child runs on to the road, it's because of ignorance - he or she hasn't grasped the concept that cars can kill. Aren't parents responsible for keeping a firm hold on little hands, or gates shut, so littlies are guarded from danger? And if we fail to do that, should we take it out on the children with a smack?
The details of the case matter (that's one reason why the criminal law shouldn't be wading in here)... but surely in general a lot of parenting mixes education and discipline. Here's activist Simon Barnett talking about about a version of exactly Codd's situation. His daughter Sophie had let go of his hand, and run across a busy road.
"I knelt down beside her and said, `I told you not to let go of daddy's hand.' A car had just missed her. My heart was racing. I wasn't angry at her; I really wasn't. I was like, `I can't believe you so disobeyed me.' So I smacked her hand. And it was hard. She cried for about 15 seconds. I said, `I'm sorry I had to do that, but you must never ever do that again.' And to this day she hasn't."
I'm thrilled for Codd that she's so sure she knows better than Barnett how to parent his child. I am struck dumb by the fact that she's so sure he's a terrible parent that she's prepared to make his parenting style make him at least an unindicted criminal. How marvellous that she's prepared to make him risk 2 years in prison for doing what most NZ-ers regard as an excellent job.
Barnett's example is lovely because he provides enough details to make Codd's remarks seem ridiculous, but also not too many so that the example breathes, and one is left thinking through the complexities to which a parent might in principle be sensitive. Perhaps Barnett 'errs on the side of caution' with his little girl. Maybe Barnett wouldn't have smacking his other daughters in that situation, but he knows Sophie
rather well and had perhaps noted an additional streak of flightiness and recklessness in her that her sisters don't have. Perhaps that what was what led Barnett to see his decisive, slightly shocking action as required and as the right thing to do..... Who knows? At any rate, these are the sorts of calculations that many caring parents recognize.

[Note added April 30, 2007: Barnett appears to be the sort of case where there's good to ideal parenting going on. So if you are an anti-smacker of the highly personalized sort we referred to a few paragraphs back, it's probably tempting to roll your eyes and say,
"Well he'd be a good parent no matter what tools you gave him. In particular he's a good parent to Sophie, if he is, despite the occasional smack delivered not because of it."
It can start to seem, in this way, that those who are pro-choice about smacking focus mainly on good parents who'd be good even without being able to smack whereas the anti-smackers focus on bad parents who'd be bad even without being able to smack. Are, as it were, both "sides" equally guilty of distortion? To some extent yes. But anti-smackers are trying to ban something and to do that (without it turning into an arbitrary exercise of political power), they have to show, very roughly, that smacking's always bad. The pro-choice about smacking aren't under any similar obligation to show that all smacking's good.
Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot and the pro-choicers about smacking were actual pro-smackers setting out to ban non-smackers, to cause them to lose custody of their children etc. ("those who would spoil the future by sparing the rod", etc.). In that case, again very roughly, the pro-smackers would have to show that non-smacking never works, not just that some non-smackers have kids who run wild (or whatever it might be).
Speaking more precisely, anti-smackers/banners have to show (at least!) that the very thing they want to ban - smacking itself, and not some of its common causes or some combinations of other factors causes grave harm etc.. That's hard to do. It's hard to rule out plausible alternative causal hypotheses (notably those that are suggested directly by one's own examples!). Perhaps, for example, even though smacking itself is fine, it's the sort of technique that attracts parents with, as we might say, "anger-management issues", and, over time, perhaps as an aspect of signaling, parents without any such issues largely shun the technique even though they could use it with profit. All manner of spuriously negative statistics about smacking can be generated under such conditions if one's model doesn't keep track of who's doing the smacking (let alone if one doesn't know how to describe all of the important dimensions along which parents differ). Those who are pro-choice about smacking are happy to see anti-smackers try to disavow Barnett's case as insignificant because he's a good parent (or whatever it is) because at least then the anti-smackers are thinking about alternative causal structures rather than tracing simple-minded correlations between smacking and bad outcomes of various sorts. The pro-choice are happy to see anti-smackers accept the obligation to develop more nuanced models and conduct more comprehensive studies before drawing any conclusions. Additional complexity and uncertainty work in favor of the status quo. That's appropriate. Established freedoms should get the benefit of the doubt. It shouldn't be easy to ban things. Sadly, of course, many anti-smackers don't accept their obligations, and prefer to stay on the surface of things, and to just deny or mock the whole idea of a good parent who smacks as a substitute for dealing with inconvenient complexity. That's Codd's line and it's also Watermelon's here.]

fantastic that Codd thinks that it's just obvious that trains of thought about children such as
Barnett's make no sense at all and that they must all be at bottom ghastly rationalizations like.....
Some years ago, marriage used to be a defence against rape. I wonder what today's politicians would say if we were changing that law today? Amendments defining the type of force husbands could use? Maybe when the wife deliberately refused him his conjugal rights? If she hit him? If she dented his car?
Codd, repeat after me: "Adults aren't (and can't be) authorities over other adults....." And a bit of basic humility about the limits of your own understanding and imagination wouldn't go astray either.
A stupid comparison you say?
We do.
Tell that to those who argue the Government shouldn't regulate what happens in the home. If persons in the home are being hurt then the state must step in to protect them.(my bolding)
This equivocates over "being hurt". If "being hurt" means "injure" etc. then current "unreasonable force" standards (let alone the sort of sharpening up of unreasonable force that, say, Borrows's amendment describes) cover it. If it's defined to include all the way down to a smack as in the Barnett case then, no, nobody's being hurt in any way that should prompt state intervention. I agree with Codd that (in any reasonably developed society) domestic matters including child-rearing can't ever be a purely private matter, or be beyond the reach of the law. Abusive and injuring parents are currently criminals and they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of that law. There's no disagreement about that as far as I'm aware.
Yes, parenting is hard, but don't have kids if you don't view them as future adults entrusted to your care for a wee short time.
More question-begging obtuseness! Incorporating some amount of correction and physical discipline into ones parenting style appears to be a perfectly acceptable way of raising and taking care of future adults. It merely requires one to believe that their adulthood is still in the future.

Sharples is right - a hit is a hit. Smacks are wrong.
Recall our very first point: parents get to decide what their children eat, what they wear, what they read or watch, with whom they associate, where they are physically located on a more or less minute-to-minute basis, and so on. They get to carry their children screaming out of restaurants against their will. Now run the parallel cases:
  • Kidnapping is kidnapping. Transporting an individual against her will is wrong.
  • Controlling the minutiae of someone's diet is controlling the minutiae of someone's diet. And it's wrong.
  • Controlling with whom one associates is......
Helen Clark and Peter Dunne are incredibly fortunate they can't remember being smacked. Like Pita Sharples, I remember being bashed. Unlike Sharples, I smacked my kids - not hard - but I shouldn't have. I don't feel guilty but it didn't work and I should have been stopped. (my bolding)
For you Codd, I think we could arrange a special retroactive couple of years in the Big House....
I wish we'd changed the law, and thus our attitude to domestic violence, decades ago. Hopefully in May when MPs finally vote, we'll make a start.(my bolding)
And so Codd brings us full circle, back to the
deceptive, conclusory use of the term "violence" with which she began her article (plus the additional fillip of "domestic" to illicitly fuse adult-adult cases to parent-child cases).

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