Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Go ahead - break the law

I am unspeakably angry at the government's, no, John Key's reaction to the referendum. But I shouldn't be. Smacking is effectively against the law and that is how it will stay. But those authorities that administer the law are being told to act like it isn't. And I shouldn't feel angry because there are lots of other things in New Zealand that are against the law but are routinely ignored.

Cannabis use. You can even light up in the grounds of parliament and get ignored.

Truancy. Kids stay home and get ignored because frankly it is a relief not to have them disrupting other children.

Censorship law. Kids are prohibited from buying, borrowing or playing Xbox and Playstation games that wouldn't exist if it wasn't for the market the same kids provide.

Thou shalt not shack up and claim a benefit. The habit is now so pervasive most people have forgotten it is against the law.

Under-age sex. Oh, let's not even go there.

And you will no doubt be able to think of others. What's one more piece of turn-a-blind-eye law added to the list?

(But, if I hear or read any more mealy-mouthed analysis of the non-vote I will scream. After an election poll, do we agonise over what those who stayed home would have voted? Should we return to November last year and declare National a non-winner because 22 percent of people didn't vote for them or any other party? The fact is people who don't speak can't be heard.)

10 comments:

ZenTiger said...

John Key actually lied today, according to the DomPost. He said "smacking is legal"

This is what the act says:

(2) Nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.

This is what Sue Bradford acknowledged:

While it is true that [the] use of force for correction will technically be an offence, this does not mean that our already very stretched police force will be taking this kind of action.

Smacking is illegal, and that is what Bradford wanted. Whether or not the police choose to prosecute is another matter (Actually, as you point out, I agree it is very important for the police to enforce the law. If this results in injustice, the law must be changed to be just.

It is hard to debate when the Prime Minister willfully misrepresents the facts.

Lucy said...

Agreed Lindsay. Im so mad I could spit.

Anonymous said...

Several things:

Common assault is illegal in NZ - but it is almost never prosecuted, only in heightened situations. The beat-up over the "rugby riots' - just high spirits by boys and their parents - was bad enough, but everyone involved was technically guilty of common assault and no-one was prosecuted. Do you think we should remove common assault from the statue books?


What's one more piece of turn-a-blind-eye law added to the list?



Laws on intimidation by unions.


Laws on corrupt government spending to (try to) buy elections.

ZenTiger said...

Do you think we should remove common assault from the statue books?

That's not really the choice. If some-one is assaulted and wants to prosecute, they should be able to do so, and the law should be enforced.

The way it is heading, everything becomes illegal and then we wait for the police to prosecute or not. If the laws are "made to be ignored" then we have to question why we have them.

The conversation we are having is if child discipline should be made illegal. Making it illegal and then saying "don't worry about it" is unacceptable to some people, and those "some" turned out to be over a million, so the issue becomes one of democratic rights.

Instead of asking if we should remove common assault from the statute books, you might get a more productive answer from asking if we should ignore the voice of the people when it speaks so strongly.

Lindsay said...

I always understood assault to be a hostile attack. But nowadays assault has become an increasingly useless elastic term. Sue Bradford says trivial assault shouldn't be prosecuted. But in my mind the two words don't go together. What's 'trivial'? I have seen a man prosecuted for what I considered to be trivial common assault. I don't think it is the facility as such but the changing definition.

Anonymous said...

Common Assault - which is the least serious form of assault - goes back to the common law. It's not a new offense. and generally not prosecuting it is not a new practice. Basically bumping into someone, or threating to hit them when you are in the same room as them is common assault.
ZenTiger: If some-one is assaulted and wants to prosecute, they should be able to do so, and the law should be enforced.


but we'll have an extra-special exception in there only for parents (or guardians?) assaulting their own children?

Frankly Bradford was right: it is inconsistent and crazy.


Which is why McCroskie's amendment is the only sensible one, and is much better than Boscowen: just remove assault against children for the purposes of correction from the crimes act.
(Oh, and amend the special bit in the education act as well).

Anonymous said...


Instead of asking if we should remove common assault from the statute books, you might get a more productive answer from asking if we should ignore the voice of the people when it speaks so strongly.



Please tell me what the "voice of the people" is saying?

* Boscowen "trifling and transitory, open hand only, parents only"
* McCoskrie "rulers, wooden spoons, parents, guardians, teachers"
* general public "hitting kids with jug cords is NOT OK"

These positions are all inconsistent. At least if the referenda were binding, promoters would have to go to the effort of drafting the law we were voting on.

Apart from Bradford, McCoskrie is the logical position: remove assault on children for the purpose of correction from the crimes act.

Anything else just has exactly the same result as now: the police or CYFS get to decide what is a "light" smack or what is or is not "transitory and trifling" or if a had is "open for a smack" or "closed for a punch".

You want the nanny state out?
You want certainty?
that's the way to get it

And when I box the ears of my bratty 8-year-old in the supermarket, yes with a "closed hand" and you bet it's not just trifling, then my position will be absolutely clear in law.

Chuck Bird said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chuck Bird said...

anonymous, I think you are mixing up Bob McCroskie and Larry Baldock.

As far as I know Bob McCroskie has not proposed an amendment.

Madeleine said...

Yep, it is as if the government are not aware of their duty to legislate clearly enough for the citizens to understand, reasonably enough for them to be able to obey and enforce violations of the law.