And here I was thinking that the ODT was the bastion of the old guard, the last of the great conservatives (in the nicest sense of the word, not this silly neo-con rubbish), but then they go and launch a brand new web site and an opinion piece by Associate Editor Simon Cunliffe on the poll, Family First and David Farrar, that would make any lefty proud.
Recently I talked about the new poll commissioned by Family First which showed that about half of us are still in the frame of mind that hitting a child is ok (I’m calm about this because in the fullness of time this will be a stat that will fail to make the margin of error – eventually). However as pointed out many places including this article, that despite the seemingly remarkable headlines “Poll shows we’re still smacking” paraded by Family First, what the poll does in fact show that the number of people abiding by the law rose from 22% to 52% and were not hitting their children. This is remarkable for a law that is seemingly unworkable and a waste of ‘good parents’ time as suggested by the predominately christian political right of NZ.
Well as it turns out the poll was commissioned by the relics and religious of the faction that still want to beat a child, Family First and conducted by Curia Market Research. Curia Market Research is the research company run by David Farrar, the owner of the bastion of right wing blogs (and home to some pretty freaky extremists and weirdoes – seemingly homophobia is still OK as a form of political denigration).
This is all very fine and well, but as pointed out by the Simon Cunliffe, David Farrar quite possibly conducts a very professional survey. However as an active opponent and critic of most things labour over the past few years (well Farrar did work in PM Jenny Shipley’s office, then for Bill English’ and Don Brash), and considering that Curia’s web site states, “we work closely with our clients to ensure the questions asked will be of maximum benefit to provide meaningful results…”, it’s not surprise that the spin on the release of the report was heavily in the “law’s an ass” camp. Considering that 77% of respondents (just over 1000 people) don’t have children under 12, and that if you hit a child over 12, well that’s more or less assault anyway, that leaves on 23% of respondents provide the startling figures.
Cunliffe is a little hard hitting with the survey and the spin associated with the release, stating,
“So, let me see if I’ve got the hang of this. Prominent pro-smacking lobby group employs prominent pro-smacking ‘activitst’ to provide market research designed to emphasise a statistically validated message?”
Stats and lies eh. Family First say one thing, many commentators say another thing out of the very same stats, and the winners are the children of NZ. It is debatable if the bill will prevent child abuse, as hoped by it’s proponents, however if the culture of violence and low level abuse that pervaded the very fabric of parenting in NZ, then this is surely a good thing. Just like the die hard bigots and smokers, we can now add those who hit their children as a form of ‘correction’ in the dying breed basket – thank god.
Good on Simon Cunliffe for this piece. It may not be a populist article, and I’m sure there are many parents out there tonight who will still think that taking their hand in anger against their kids is OK, but if popular opinion has shifted this far this quickly, we will one day see the time when active rather than angry parenting is just par for the course. I mean there are cultures out there that can’t believe that we even hit our kids, lets resign this part of our society to history and join them in treating the precious children with dignity and respect.
[The op-ed by Simon Cunliffe is now available online at the Otago Daily Times.]