Thursday, March 29, 2007


I called it the anti-anti-anti-smacking protest, because I'm easily amused. While I wanted to register my support for Sue Bradford's bill, I was also there because I was curious about the protest.

It was reasonably large, I counted 480 (including children and babies). The counter protest hovered at around 50, although they weren't always the same 50 people.

I was extremely creeped out by the way children were used by the pro-smacking crowd.As they were approaching parliament the march was chanting: '2-4-6-8, we don't want your nanny state'. Someone I knew asked a boy, who looked about seven, 'what's the nanny state', and he blushed and said 'I don't know'"

I have to say that I've been able to explain why I was on a protest, and what it meant, for an age much younger than that boy was. I knew what nuclear weapons were, I knew what apartheid was, and I knew why I was against them. I think if your child is old enough to chant at a protest, you should sit them down and explain them why they're there.*

The speeches were quite dire, I tried not to listen to them. I did hear one man claim that this legislation would turn the police into the Gestapo. Which manages to be both ridiculous, ignorant and offensive all at the same time. I'm still not sure why Christine Rankin was asked to speak - surely being the all time most hated public servant isn't actually a qualification for anything else?

Weirdest accessories were definitely the Israeli and Jerusalem flags. Apparently they represented that we were a nation founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs (they may have a point, our rape laws have some uncanny similarities to the old testament). The person with the flag also explained to me that Jesus was a Jew, and he was raised by Jewish parents. This is hard to argue against, but I'm not sure what it has to do with Section 59.

Although the most counter-productive accessories were probably the wooden spoons, that some people were using as sticks for their banners. If you're trying to convince people that what we're talking about is 'loving taps' (to use the words of one woman who appeared on the news) it seems really foolish to bring along an instrument you could currently be using to beat your kid with.

The randomest sign was definitely the one that said "If abortion is illegal, why make smacking illegal?" I can think of two connections between abortion and smacking, they're both things the Christian right get excited about, and neither of them start with 'z'.** I'm not sure why that means there should be any similarity with the way the two issues are treated legally.

What was clear about these marches is that they hadn't mobilised anyone new. The pro-smacking march was clearly made up almost entirely of Christian fundamentalists and libertarians (with a smattering of father's rights activists), the counter-protest was mostly made up of those working on family violence, green and labour party members, and a smattering of rabble activists like me.

This isn't a criticism of either side. I've spent a good part of my life mobilising the people who already care passionately about the issue. But, this is not a case of the masses taking to the streets against the legislation.

* When they're too young to chant then do what you will. The Frog will reply to the question "Which is better capitalism or anarchy" with a cry of "Anarchy" - he then puts both fists in the air. My communist friend Larry has asked him "which is worse Communism or anarchy" - which produces much the same results. (yes by letting his Godless father indulge in this behaviour his parents will see him rebelling and becoming an accountant and Young Nat by 21. Me I'm just teaching him to say "Joss is Boss", so far he can do "Jossboss")

** Although let me just say, if we're talking about democracy the christian right doesn't have a single leg to stand on if they're going to bring up abortion. Then they had no problem ramming through legislation that went against what 'the people' wanted.


  1. Interesting that there were 480 by your count, and I saw media reports of 500. Doesn't exactly support the "massive public groundswell" that Wednesday was painted as by some (including in the mainstream media). There were more Wellington marchers at the kindergarten strike in 2005, and that was called with less than a week's notice (and didn't close two schools to bolster its numbers either).

    Thanks for your report Maia :-)

  2. Ugh. I was walking along Lambton Quay during the protest (I cheered the counter-protestors, naturally), and the whole thing grossed me out. What kind of a wanker goes out marching to promote hitting children? What particularly irked me was that there were so many kids present - it was school hours, shouldn't they have been in class??! What great parents, yanking their children away from their education to promote their medieval parenting methods. Ugh.

  3. Two christian schools specifically closed for the day so that their students could attend the protest. Wonder how much choice they had about that...

    I'm sure they'll be real happy about it at the end of the year when all their friends at other schools have already finished for the year.

  4. Not just being yanked from school, but being yanked so they can be beaten. I mean, "punished in a reasonable and fair way, according to the dictates of the relevant authorities". I'm just not sure why the writings of pre-Christian Jewish prophets are "relevant" while the writings of modern Christians are not. Live and learn, I guess.

  5. Anonymous12:59 am

    Oh my god what hypocrisy! The left have been using kids in their protests for years. I can't believe your bias is so blind!!

    People are NOT protesting so that they can hit their kids, they are protesting because they are being told they are not allowed to spank their kids ever, for any reason and that it will be enforced by police and CYFS. Try reading all the facts about the law chang before making judgements about it.

  6. Anonymous10:02 am

    "I'm sure they'll be real happy about it at the end of the year when all their friends at other schools have already finished for the year."

    LOL - these kids are so far ahead of normal schools, most of them could take 6 months off and still be ahead.

    Why is that? I guess it's because they actually teach real stuff, not spend all their time on BS subjects schools fill their timetable on nowadays.

  7. scrubone, I went to two Christian schools and neither were 6 months ahead of my friends in secular schools.

    anon, I think you may need to actually read the amendment and also the select committee report that came with it. You may find that it isn't quite how it has been portrayed in the "facts" you have gleaned from the media.

  8. Anonymous9:54 am

    Oh yes, its a media conspiracy and Labour are right all along. Silly me.

    Me and that 85% of my countrymen are so silly. But not silly enough to vote out these nutters.

  9. So then anon you have read the actual bill and the select committee report?

  10. Anonymous2:05 pm

    I'm not perfect, but at least I don't batter my kids good article in a Melbun paper today. "if you're so proud of hitting your kids why not do it in public?"

  11. Anonymous9:56 am

    Yes I have Span and I have also seen what top lawyers, police officers and experts have said.

    Surely there are bigger fish to fry in NZ than silly nanny statist things like this.

    Anon 2, WTF. Whoever said ever that opponents are proud to, or actually hit their kids. People who are against it are everyday Mums and Dads who don't like being old by a government what to do.