Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009: Talking smack

Hey, remember when all those good, white, middle-class parents got thrown in Paremoremo and stabbed with a sharpened toothbrush because they slapped their child's hand? Or maybe you are too busy fending off gangs of ill-disciplined toddlers roaming the streets of Remuera. That's right, just when you thought it was safe to raise your child again, the Herald runs a story about a poll commissioned, surprisingly enough, by a 'pro-family' lobby group - Family First NZ. You can find the poll results (although distressingly little about the methodology) here, but the finding the Herald chooses to report is that:

"As the law stands there are some circumstances where a light smack would not be illegal. Fifty-five per cent of the 1000 people surveyed thought smacking was always illegal, 31 per cent thought it was not, and 14 per cent did not know."

And what does this mean?
"'This proves just how confusing the law is to parents and it is this confusion that is causing huge harm,' said Family First national director Bob McCoskrie."
And why, I wonder, would people be confused by this simplest of bills? It couldn't, I suppose, have anything to do with a massive misinformation campaign led by conservative groups and happily facilitated by the mass media, including the Herald. So it seems a little odd for the Herald to report that people were confused - was that not your intention when you carried out some of the worst reporting of a New Zealand issue I have ever seen? The next bit made me laugh as well:

"To add to the confusion, a survey undertaken by the Office of the Children's Commissioner in November last year found that 43 per cent of those surveyed who knew of the law change supported it."

"'Only 28 per cent were opposed to the law change. The remainder were neutral,' Commissioner Cindy Kiro said."

It's quite interesting noting the different results. I suspect that the surveys' methodologies would make interesting reading - well, as far as statistical methodologies go. I suspect that the Family First NZ survey contained terms like: 'Nanny State'; 'Helengrad'; and 'PC gone mad'. These may have influenced the results.

Interestingly - again - another piece, published today, suggested that "the New Zealand Health Survey 2006/07 showed only one in 22 parents considered physical punishment was an effective form of discipline," which supports my hypothesis that the media may have banged on about Section 59 so much that even the words conjure up a picture of Stalin with Hitler's head attacking people with a samurai sword. But ACT MP John Boscawen is unfazed, and is putting forward a member's bill to change the law back. But why now, John?

"'The Labour 'we know best' government is out and National is now in,' he said.

'Perhaps we will now begin to see an end to the madness of the past nine years where politicians saw fit to tell New Zealanders how to live their lives.'"

I guess it's a shame National voted for Section 59 too then, isn't it. I guess I am slightly comforted, having read this hilarious piece, that National are taking the piss out of ACT. So, you know, it could be worse.


  1. Off the topic, but still within the sphere of news-rage - Have you heard the radio ad for TV One News? It's something to the effect of
    "There's a man who goes by the codename Renegade. Despite his age he still collects Spiderman Comics. He gets a haircut once a week from his barber, paying $21. He claims he can bench press 200 pounds, but you wouldn't guess it. He's the 44th president of the United States."
    This is followed by one of those news tag lines bragging about the depth and quality of their investigative research, and how they bring you 'all the facts.'

    Those aren't facts, they're trivia. Unless they've got his hairdresser as a foreign affairs correspondant, I don't see how this is a relevant display of journalistic capability.

    Maybe they are going to make the news more 'fun' by interspersing these kinds of 'facts' throughout?
    "After the break we'll bring you the latest on Section 92a, but in the meantime, do you know what the second t in http stands for? The answer may surprise you."

  2. Nice work, Brad! Maybe I can find the add at tvnz ondemand service ;)

  3. Still off the topic, but he gets his hair cut every week? What is he, a woman? The last thing we want is anyone even NEAR a woman running the good old U.S. of A. Are you with me?

  4. The second 't' stands for 'tranfer'.

  5. Err, 'transfer'...

  6. I love how you all ignored my actual post! Why don't you go read Brad's blog if you love it so much?!?

  7. And let's not forget that those mouth-breathing troglodytes at Family First are the same people sending literature to your kid's school claiming the earth is only 6000 years old.

  8. Sorry dude, just trying to spread the rage around, you know.

    Back ON the subject, don't you think there is a remarkable similarity between the way the smacking bill and the new Section 92 internet copyright bill have been portrayed by the media. It's all buzz words and fear tactics and at the end of the day the average person is lucky if they know what the law actually means for them.