A couple of weeks ago Brian Rudman started writing in the Herald on national issues, in addition to his consistently solid pieces on the local scene. This was excellent news. Today he suggests to Helen Clark, “a simple way of finessing the slap-happy Christians campaigning for the right to beat children.”
I’m not sure whether this description does justice to all of the signatories of the petition, but probably sums up the organisers quite well.
Rudman notes the incredibly loose wording proposed for the referendum. It fits quite comfortably into the current legislation:
“Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”
“Should the Government give urgent priority to understanding and addressing the wider causes of family breakdown, family violence and child abuse in New Zealand?”
Rudman’s right. I could quite happily vote for both these propositions, although my definition of a smack isn’t the same as some of the would-be whackers’. The police have the discretion to decide what is not in the public interest to prosecute, and I’m sure that my definition falls well within their operating parameters. And I’m all in favour of more research into the social problems listed.
When I saw the first question the other day it did occur to me that it was so wide as to be pointless. Who dreams up these dopey questions (q.v. the harsher penalties referendum of a few years ago)?
As Rudman notes, “without the oxygen of an all-out battle, the new Christian Party which the referendum organisers are trying desperately to promote will die from lack of publicity and public interest.”
So, let’s all get behind the referendum!