Saturday, August 23, 2008

Smacking reason

Fundamentalist christianists along with other right wing groups have succeeded in getting their pro-smacking referendum approved. The only question is when and how the referendum will be held.

The Chief Electoral Officer is urging that the vote be held as a postal ballot because two ballot referenda held at the time of the 1999 general election dramatically delayed the announcement of the results from that election. The betting right now is that the referendum will be conducted by postal ballot in the middle of next year.

The main proponent of the referendum is a fundamentalist-christianist aligned group called “Family First NZ”. The group is also anti-gay and opposed to HPV vaccinations to guard against cervical cancer (the latter because they think it will lead to females having sex outside marriage). They and other right wing groups with a strong anti-Labour bias and have been pushing the referendum for the coming general election because they know it would cause problems for Labour seeking re-election.

However, National also backed the Anti-Smacking Bill, and still does. The party’s leader hammered out compromise language with Prime Minister Helen Clark, and that led to the bill being adopted by a vote of 113 to 8.

Despite the multi-party support for the bill, despite the police indicating that the law is working and despite the fact that both Labour and National say the law is working, the fundamentalists insist it isn’t. Because they, of course, know best.

The question will read "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?" I predict that “No” will win by a huge margin, partly because the question is deliberately worded to get that answer, and partly because the most passionate conservatives will vote, while the vast majority who are frankly well and truly over the whole issue won’t bother.

But no matter how Family First tries to frame the issue, they’re still promoting violence against children. Their innocent-sounding wording hides a darker agenda. Fortunately for rational people, this is an advisory referendum only, so whether Labour or National wins the election this referendum will be completely ignored, as it deserves to be.

All of which means that this is an exercise in futility for everyone. The issue is over. I just wish the right wing would get that.


Blogterium said...

These christians are just sick.

Love your blog and your podcast


d said...

Funny that those who follow a non-violent man who believed in turning the other cheek really want the right to beat their children.

So, do I get to vote on this too?

Roger Owen Green said...

What a dreadfully worded documents.
And, not that I'm a New Zealander, blogterium, but not all Christians share the right-wing views that you rightly disdain.

Arthur Schenck said...

Michael: New Zealand is fortunate in that the fundamentalists are far less of a factor here than in the US, and probably less than in Canada or Australia. It irritates the—ahem!—hell out of me that Family First NZ is never identified in the mainstream media as a fundamentalist christianist organisation, even though that's clearly what they are, judging by their agenda.

D: Well, this isn't the first time that the fundies have ignored the teachings of their founder. I suppose they'll just teach their kids to turn the other (butt) cheek?

All New Zealand citizens AND permanent residents have to register to vote, and are eligible to vote if they choose. The Electoral Commission recently sent out packets confirming registration, and any citizen or PR who didn't get one should check into registering. There's a general coming up, after all.

Roger: I completely agree with you on both points. You may have noticed that in situations like this I always use the phrase "fundamentalist christianists". This is to differentiate between a few extremist relgionists and the vast majority who are not. When I have to use the word "Christian", I qualify it with words like "fundamentalist" or "extremist".

Although I no longer consider myself to be a Christian, I appreciate that there are many Christians who are rational people without a nutty agenda. I encourage others to better make that distinction, too.

d said...

We registered before around our first anniversary here! =)