Monday, June 29, 2009

Definitely not a test case

I have this friend; let's call him... Ken. And I just wanted to tell you that, no matter what you may have heard, he's not a racist. Nope, definitely not. Some people have been saying that he discriminates against people on the basis of their race; others say he does no such thing. Sure, the former are crazies wearing tinfoil hats, and the latter include the Race Relations Commissioner and Nelson Mandela. But, in conclusion, alleged racist Ken - a man who, some say, doesn't care for people with a different skin colour to himself - is definitely not a racist.

Moving right along, the Herald today has another article about the "so-called" (by the Herald, that is) 'ear flick dad'. You'll remember him - he was the one the Herald reported on for weeks as being a test case for the amended section 59, until it turned out that he had actually punched his child in the face. But then it's hard to teach an old rag new tricks - witness today's story, "'Not a test case, simply a child being punched'". Reasonably unequivocal, right?
A District Court judge and police say the prosecution of a man who insisted he had flicked his son's ear, only later to be convicted of punching the child in the face, was never a test case for child smacking laws.
Well, let's let that one slide. After all, a judge and the police did come out and say it. Even if the only reason anyone thought it was a 'test case' was that the Herald and other media reported it that way.
The case was widely seen as a test of the anti-smacking laws because Mason publicly claimed that he had done no more than administer a flick on the ear.
Woah, woah, woah. There's those weasel words again! Perhaps that's why it was widely seen as a test at the Herald offices, although I suspect that also had a little to do with circulation. Everyone else only thought this because they are gullible enough to believe what they read on the front page of New Zealand's largest daily newspaper.

The rest of the article is a bit long, so let's boil it down:

"smacking legislation ... legislation ... test case ... flick to the ear ... pull to the ear ... law in relation to child discipline ... ear-flick"

Definitely not an ear flick, then. There's no mea culpa here for the misleading reporting which led us here, just some Orwellian rejigging of the past - 'of course there was no ear flick!' - oddly combined with the repetition of those words that sold a thousand newspapers - 'anti-smacking bill, anti-smacking bill...'


  1. Well, he wasn't guilty until a few weeks ago. Given that his defence was an ear flick, it would have been dangerous not to include the claim. Now he's sentenced, they can say what they like.

  2. There's a big difference between acknowledging the dad claimed that he'd only flicked his son's ear as opposed to turning his (unsubstantiated) claim into a glib, misleading categorisation of the entire case.

    One way accurately reports the facts, to the extent that readers would be able to see there was nothing special about this case at all, and perhaps even realise that countless other cases with comparable facts don't get a mention.

    The other way allows the Herald to create a catchy tagline (see also: "Pumpkin", "New Zealand's Youngest Convicted Killer") and fuel the great fire of disinformation and ignorance that is the debate over the repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act.

  3. I wish they'd start calling him the 'punch in the face dad'.

  4. "The other way allows the Herald to create a catchy tagline (see also: "Pumpkin", "New Zealand's Youngest Convicted Killer")"

    As has been established through Your Views, Herald readers are STUPID. Catchy taglines help them.

  5. Good lord a blog more infantile than the cak at The Standard

  6. Alot more entertaining than the standard, though, don't you think?

  7. Whats happened to EtH? I miss it!