SansBlogue  
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
  Serendipity and smacking
It's odd. Yesterday I announce that my reading of Stalky and Co. is available. "Stalky" is a highly entertaining set of school stories by Rudyard Kipling, the stories - though funny and using English with Kipling's usual verve - contain many dubious moral elements, not least that the boys are copiously thrashed by their headmaster. Now, today New Zealand's parliament votes on a controversial "anti-smacking" bill.

[I've called it "anti-smacking" technically it is much more complex and woolly than that, but that seems to be its main intent and effect. ]

This bill is controversial, I think, largely because what it says and what it hopes to achieve are different. As I understand it (many of?) the promoters of the bill want a culture where children are not physically abused, and normally not smacked. However, what they are legislating is a situation where the police will have yet another unenforcable law - any small smack on a troublesome two year old's leg will break the law.

Now, I'm glad that by the time we had children Stalky's age had past, thrashing a recalcitrant teen seems to me barbaric. I'd have loved to bring up our children without ever smacking them, I'll confess that sometimes the smack was not the cool sharp announcement that an activity like letting go of the parental hand to dash across a street was wrong, but served also to vent parental frustration... but should parents like Barbara and I be criminals? I don't think so!

[Richard, Thomas, Nathan and Sarah sometimes read this blog, if you do and disagree do say so in the comments!]

So, given this law seems to be attempting the to put a hedge around the law (as the Pharisees did), by legislating "tighter" than the behaviour which should be stopped, would I vote for it? In principle such legislation is bad. In practice this legislation will simply add to the laws ordinary people break. So instead, let's have a well funded campaign to change our behaviour!


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