Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Making it up on smacking

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  • Lilith __, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Widely spoken in Britain before England existed?

    :-)

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3894 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Widely spoken in Britain before England existed?

    Right you are, Provincia Britannia :)
    Whatever, Latin certainly had a hand in shaping English right from the beginning, apart from its downstream influence.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks, in reply to Moz,

    Apparently I’m way out on the fringe thinking that permanently imprisoning someone because we think they might commit crimes if released is an awful thing to do.

    I could be wrong, but I don't think people get PD just because it is considered that they might commit a crime upon release.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1165 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks, in reply to Lilith __,

    I take issue with the whole “corruption of language” thing. Looked at another way, Latin outside of the church evolved and blossomed into the Romance languages. And (indirectly) gave us the richness and depth of vocabulary that English now has.

    Yes, and he did seem to have a very judgey-pants way of expressing it, too.Classical “Roman” breaking down to mere vulgar Latin. And as an aside, as someone who knows Latin, Finlayson should know better than to fret about splitting infinitives in English.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1165 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Martin Lindberg,

    This is such a bizarre debate. Still, looking at the Wikipedia entry on Corporal punishment in the home and Where corporal punishment in the home is lawful I can see Australia, Canada, Ireland, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States.

    Do you think it’s the English language that drives this need to beat children or is there something deeper in the Anglosphere driving this urge?

    I suspect it's the English language that drives people to edit the English language version of Wikipedia.

    Wikipedia's coverage of the legality of child discipline appears to have a similar issue to its coverage of just about everything else little coverage of most of Africa, Asia, South America etc.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    never post precaffeination

    ends in tears :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Well, how did it work in Sweden? Their initial law change didn’t amend their criminal law.

    Since you asked -

    The change in Sweden happened gradually over about 20 years.

    Before 1957 the law allowed parents to beat their children so long as they weren't injured.

    From 1957 to 1966 the law allowed parents to 'correct' their children with means deemed appropriate considering the child's age and what they were 'corrected' for.

    From 1966 to 1979 there was no exemption allowing the beating of one's children, but it was not explicitly banned.

    In 1979 it became explicitly banned and covered by the same paragraph in criminal law as that of 'normal' assault.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Moz,

    I am bemused that you consider indefinite imprisonment less an abuse of human rights than sterilisation, despite both being severe violations according to bodies like the UN.

    I haven't said anything about indefinite imprisonment, but it's worth noting that at least it can be undone. Restricting someone's liberty comes into a different category to permanently changing their body. I don't support castration for rapists, either.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Steve Parks,

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think people get PD just because it is considered that they might commit a crime upon release.

    Actually, I think that’s exactly why they get it, to prevent them from committing further crimes. Not given lightly, but there are some who just continue to offend and are deemed a risk to public safety.

    From Wikipedia (as an overview)

    In New Zealand, “preventive detention” is an indeterminate life sentence, and is handed down to individuals convicted of violent and/or sexual crimes (such as sociopathic murderers, serial rapists or recidivist pedophiles) where it is likely that the offender will reoffend if released. Such individuals will only receive parole if they can demonstrate they no longer pose a threat to the community. In October 2010, a total of 269 prisoners in New Zealand were serving terms of preventive detention.

    Preventive detention has a minimum non-parole period of five years in prison, but the sentencing judge can extend this if they believe that the prisoner’s history warrants it. Prisoners on preventive detention are very rarely, if ever, released, and generally persons given the sentence are kept in prison for life. Currently only 16 of the 269 persons serving sentences of preventive detention are on parole.

    More importantly, from a legal perspective, Section 87 of the Sentencing Act 2002

    Preventive detention
    87Sentence of preventive detention
    (1)The purpose of preventive detention is to protect the community from those who pose a significant and ongoing risk to the safety of its members.
    (2)This section applies if—
    (a)a person is convicted of a qualifying sexual or violent offence (as that term is defined in subsection (5)); and
    (b)the person was 18 years of age or over at the time of committing the offence; and
    (c)the court is satisfied that the person is likely to commit another qualifying sexual or violent offence if the person is released at the sentence expiry date (as specified in subpart 3 of Part 1 of the Parole Act 2002) of any sentence, other than a sentence under this section, that the court is able to impose.
    (3)The High Court may, on the application of the prosecutor or on its own motion, impose a sentence of preventive detention on the offender.
    (4)When considering whether to impose a sentence of preventive detention, the court must take into account—
    (a)any pattern of serious offending disclosed by the offender’s history; and
    (b)the seriousness of the harm to the community caused by the offending; and
    (c)information indicating a tendency to commit serious offences in future; and
    (d)the absence of, or failure of, efforts by the offender to address the cause or causes of the offending; and
    (e)the principle that a lengthy determinate sentence is preferable if this provides adequate protection for society.
    (5)In this section and in sections 88 and 90, qualifying sexual or violent offence means—
    (a)a sexual crime under Part 7 of the Crimes Act 1961 punishable by 7 or more years’ imprisonment; and includes a crime under section 144A or section 144C of that Act; or
    (b)an offence against any of sections 171, 173 to 176, 188, 189(1), 191, 198 to 199, 208 to 210, 234, 235, or 236 of the Crimes Act 1961.

    So, yes, not given because they might commit a crime, but given because they are not repentant and are likely to continue committing the same type of crime and pose a danger to public safety.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Moz, your conditions for compulsory sterilisation are confusing to me. First it was for hitting your children for any other reason than immediate safety, then it was for beating a child to death. I'm sure you'll agree that there is rather a wide gulf between those two...?

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    There was a vote in parliament, the eyes had it and that is how our design of democratic system works.

    The fact that laws are enacted by parliamentary majorities is very important, but I don’t think it completely determines whether a law has been passed in a democratic way.

    We don’t say that governments that break their election promises have acted democratically simply because they pass laws with parliamentary majorities. You wouldn’t call legislative support obtained by the selective use of evidence (e.g., the Bush Administration’s case for the Iraq war) democratic simply because a valid statute was passed. You often hear it said that urgency and bogus consultation periods undermine the integrity of the democratic process.

    In the same way, a parliament that passes overwhelmingly unpopular legislation can and will be said to have acted undemocratically.

    Anyway, I think I’ve said everything I wanted to say. See ya next time people.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Danielle,

    Moz, your conditions for compulsory sterilisation are confusing to me.

    I actually said that I'm not convinced of the one but supportive of the other, and I see it as a "where do we draw the line" exercise. But faced with a flat "it is never ok to sterilise someone" argument I thought it easier to establish that there are conditions under which sterilisation is a good idea. I brought up the cases where we indefinitely imprison people to make the point that in those cases the question is not whether we grossly violate someone's human rights, but how we choose to do so.

    My thought last night was that it's relevant that I decided a long time ago that I'm unlikely to be a fit parent, so I didn't. I've met a complete comprehension gap on that issue from some people, so it's probably necessary to say that not everyone would die rather than be sterilised. My point that there's no shortage of people being killed in horrible ways is also worth emphasising.

    I'm pretty utilitarian, so the question I would like an answer to is: what works? Followed closely by: of the things that work, which ones can we do?

    The first question is science, the second politics. Obviously rehabilitation is out of the question regardless of effectiveness because it's politically unacceptable, while lynching doesn't work regardless of its popularity. The question is which forms of punishment best balance human rights (of the offenders, victims and bystanders) against political viability.

    If any of the human rights unconditionalists are willing, I'd love to hear a defense of the state forcibly denying a child their right to access their parents (article 9.1) put in human rights terms. It's a violation our government does not even acknowledge, let along try to compensate for.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Moz,

    But faced with a flat “it is never ok to sterilise someone” argument

    Where? That's not the same as noting that forced sterilisation is generally considered a human rights violation.

    I thought it easier to establish that there are conditions under which sterilisation is a good idea.

    Again, where?

    I'll make it easy for you and provide some actual examples of unconsented sterilisation there's room to be ambivalent about. The easiest is someone is having a placental abruption or similar obstetric emergency, is bleeding profusely and will die without a hysterectomy and there hasn't been an opportunity to seek consent. Harder is someone who doesn't have the capacity to make their own medical decisions but will suffer if they keep a working reproductive system, in the eyes of the people who make their medical decisions for them. Moving along the continuum, some people might think it's justified if a patient has such health issues they'll put their life in danger if they have further pregnancies, but it's still wrong if the patient hasn't consented to the procedure. It sails firmly into wrongness territory when it's applied as a punishment rather than a harm minimisation strategy, and when there are other, less harmful strategies that minimise the harm. Is that utilitarian enough?

    I'm not sure what point there is having a representative government if nothing they do is democratic unless it would pass a plebiscite.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to B Jones,

    "But faced with a flat “it is never ok to sterilise someone” argument"
    Where?

    Possibly a different B Jones said:

    I’d hope that in this day and age, only a very small minority of people would think compulsory sterilisation is an acceptable solution to anything.

    Was my paraphrasing of that quote incorrect? Could you restate it to make my error clear?

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to B Jones,

    I’m not sure what point there is having a representative government if nothing they do is democratic unless it would pass a plebiscite.

    On a completely separate note, I'd be up for a discussion of the many and various meanings given to "democratic" and which of them can usefully be applied to NZ. I mean, you have the "Democratic Republic of Congo" currently under military rule (or being invaded/occupied, depending on your viewpoint) at one end and consensus systems described as "minority veto democracy" at the other. I'm not sure which application is less accurate.

    But strictly, unless something is voted on it's not democratic. Whether a law voted on by a whipped majority of a minority government composed of elected representatives is "democratic" is arguable. The way we use "democratic" today bears sod all resemblance to its historical use, and the term has been hotly contested ever since it was coined. I mean right now we have a military-corporate state claiming to be a democracy, contrasting itself with a self-appointed committee that also claims to be a democracy. And that's just the two major world powers... Realpolitic suggests we not get hung up on the labels, and focus on making the system we have work better.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Moz,

    Was my paraphrasing of that quote incorrect? Could you restate it to make my error clear?

    Fair point. It might be splitting hairs a bit, but "not an acceptable solution to anything" isn't quite the same in my mind to "it is never ok to forcibly sterilise anyone". The first phrase has a sense of utility - what problem are you trying to fix, and is that an appropriate way to achieve that - and an implication that the "anything" is a subset of real problems that exist today. The second is an absolute statement of rights under any possible circumstance.

    As I've illustrated above, in our current legal and ethical system it is an acceptable solution to a small range of life-threatening health problems in an emergency situation. But we weren't talking about that, then, and the "anything" I originally intended was limited to a criminal justice/social dysfunction context.

    I'm looking forward to hearing your argument as to why chopping hands off thieves is preferable indefinitely imprisoning them. Or why forced sterilisation is different to chopping off hands. Because at this stage it sounds like the argument of someone who thinks that forced sterilisation can be achieved by a waving of hands rather than inpatient surgery under anaesthetic.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to B Jones,

    Or why forced sterilisation is different to chopping off hands. Because at this stage it sounds like the argument of someone who thinks that forced sterilisation can be achieved by a waving of hands rather than inpatient surgery under anaesthetic.

    My response is “is it better than being beaten to death? Yes? What problem?”. Because that’s exactly what we’re talking about here – the “human right” of a parent to continue killing their children, being contrasted with what I think is a right children have, the right to life.

    For someone who is willing to countenance the huge expense and ethical dubiousness of imprisoning someone you are being quite precious about the cost of surgery. Modern keyhole surgery is somewhere between a tattoo and a hangnail. General anesthetic is optional, and the discomfort is apparently minor in most cases. Yes, some people choose a general for it, as they do for may medical procedures. I’ve met one woman who was almost disappointed that the procedure was so quick and painless – her mental preparation was quite out of proportion to the actual event. For me, the most painful part of the vasectomy was the injected local anesthetic.

    By contrast, it’s perfectly legal to circumcise a child without anesthetic, and without any medical or ethical justification. So again, society already accepts this level of trauma and risk. If you want to argue that we shouldn’t I’m happy to hear it, but as with killing people, you haven’t attempted to make that argument. Simply saying “people have a right to freedom of movement” doesn’t mean we have to open the prisons, and saying “people have a right to bodily autonomy” doesn’t mean we can’t chop them up. Rights are a contest, famously “your right to swing your fist ends where my face begins”.

    Someones’ right to continue producing and killing children is one that should be curtailed, I think we agree on that?

    Now that I’ve had another go at answering your question, back to my question above: I’d love to hear a defense of the state forcibly denying a child their right to access their parents (article 9.1) put in human rights terms.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Moz,

    My response is “is it better than being beaten to death? Yes? What problem?”. Because that’s exactly what we’re talking about here – the “human right” of a parent to continue killing their children, being contrasted with what I think is a right children have, the right to life.

    Moz, this aspect of your argument I just don't get. How many child abusers kill their children? Precious few, it would seem. How many repeatedly kill their children despite repeated jail sentences for killing previous kids? A vanishingly small number closely resembling zero, perhaps? It would seem to me that the overwhelming majority of child abusers leave their victims alive to grow up to be seriously damaged adults, some of whom go on to abuse their own children. It would also seem to me that all people, so long as they are still alive, are capable of rehabilitation.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Moz,

    Someones’ right to continue producing and killing children is one that should be curtailed, I think we agree on that?

    Killing, yes. Producing, no. Once someone's in jail for a reasonable term for the latter, the former becomes a bit academic anyway. I'm struggling to think of an example where it would be a useful addition to the current penalties and interventions available.

    The cost of surgery? If it's not with my consent, it's assault. If it's permanently disabling, it's grievous bodily harm. You cannot compare consented surgery with unconsented, You don't hear me saying prison, it's not so bad, I had a bad time on a cruise ship once. Parents choosing cosmetic surgery for their kids is tricky. I don't support it, but where do you draw the line? Ear piercing?

    Now that I’ve had another go at answering your question, back to my question above: I’d love to hear a defense of the state forcibly denying a child their right to access their parents (article 9.1) put in human rights terms.

    I'll leave that to someone who understands the question. I can't think of how the state denies children access to their parents (coerced, closed adoption, maybe, in the 60s?) or why anyone would want to defend that, or how that would be possible in human rights terms. I've got no idea what your point is.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to B Jones,

    The cost of surgery? If it's not with my consent, it's assault.... You don't hear me saying prison, it's not so bad,

    No, but you repeatedly say that other things are so much worse than prison that it's not even worth mentioning the imprisonment. In case you're not aware, accused criminals are repeatedly assaulted, battered, threatened and imprisoned before even getting to trial. The process of imprisonment necessarily involves daily infliction of all of those except battery, but battery is a constant risk. They're often not crimes, of course, since they're committed by the state, but even the ones that are are very rarely prosecuted.

    So, is the assault and bodily harm of surgery better or worse than imprisonment?

    With the "right to access their parents", you seem to be unaware that it's difficult for children to access imprisoned parents. Note that the child has not committed an offence but it having it's rights violated by the state regardless. Again, you appear to regard imprisonment as such a minor inconvenience that it's barely worth mentioning.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Moz, this aspect of your argument I just don't get. How many child abusers kill their children

    It only has to happen once for my argument to be valid. I think it only has to be possible for my argument to be valid.

    It would also seem to me that all people, so long as they are still alive, are capable of rehabilitation.

    If we had a system for rehabilititating people that would be an excellent thing to think about. But we have a legal system that removes people from society for a period and treats them extremely poorly, and a political system set up to make it much easier to ratchet up the punishment than to move towards rehabilitation. I think the possibility of rehabilitation has to be balanced against the possibility of further harm to other people (who also have rights).

    It's nice that you (and others) like to view abusers as people, but keep in mind that many of them don't view you as people, and definitely don't view their victims as people. One of my parents is incapable of that despite being almost 70, so I think the change of rehabilitation is effectively zero. But while that person is alive, it will continue abusing anyone it can persuade to stay within range.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Moz,

    Even for a model prisoner who starts early and commits the absolute minimum offenses, I expect you’d be looking at have baby at 16, kill it, prosecution and sentence, serve 5 years, get out at 22, baby at 23, repeat, serve 5 years (let’s assume the parole board is convinced by a conversion to devout Christianity or something), released at 29, baby at 30, kill it, so at best that decision as to first release from PD will happen at about age 40.

    You are awfully confused about preventative detention, it seems. It's not a sentencing option for murder (that's what a life sentence is for) and it's not a sentencing option for infanticide. So what you have laid out could never result in preventative detention under current law.
    Indeed, what you have outlined would almost certainly result in a Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 committal to a forensic psychiatric facility. Such committal could potentially lead to actual indefinite detention (the words "shall have effect indefinitely" appear in the Act).

    If you're going to get all outraged about people being detained at the pleasure of the Parole Board, at least understand what they have to do in order to be so detained. People who would be facing sterilisation or preventative detention are sex offenders, not delinquent parents. And one could be facing preventative detention before the age of 20, assuming a conviction for some form of culpable homicide before the age of 17.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Moz,

    the many and various meanings given to “democratic” and which of them can usefully be applied to NZ. I mean, you have the “Democratic Republic of Congo” currently under military rule (or being invaded/occupied, depending on your viewpoint)

    The rule of thumb for countries is that the more they pronounce their status as "democratic" or "of the people" in their name, the less they are "democratic" or "of the people" in practice. I give you, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    The rule of thumb for countries is that the more they pronounce their status as "democratic" or "of the people" in their name, the less they are "democratic" or "of the people" in practice. I give you, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

    And the Liberal Democratic Parties in Russia and Japan are anything but. And certainly nothing like the UK Liberal Democrats.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5442 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Moz,

    If we had a system for rehabilititating people that would be an excellent thing to think about.

    When it comes to sex offenders, who are the people who fit into both camps of "sterilisation" and "preventative detention" as ways to curtail their offending, NZ actually does try and do proper rehabilitation. It's just about the only category of offending where there's much of a fuck given about reducing the risk of recidivism.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

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