June 18, 2009

To vote or not to vote

There's a bit of a furore here in NZ at the moment about a referendum with a totally ridiculous question at its heart:

"should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New

The referendum has been instigated by a number of people including lobby group Family First, who claim that the repeal of a law that allowed people to get off child assault charges by claiming to use 'reasonable force' when disciplining their kids, (commonly known as the anti-smacking law even though it's not really a law but an amendment) is harmful and most New Zealanders don't agree with it.

Confused? Most of us are.

Anyway, we NZers have been lumped with the referendum, and both Prime Minister John Key and opposition leader Phil Goff have said they probably won't vote in it, and doubt it will make any difference to anything anyway.

The referendum is a bit curly because:
1. It assumes that a smack is a criminal offence, which it isn't. Police aren't hovering around your living room to see if you inadvertently knocked your kid over while trying to put his hat on, which happens in a certain house in a cul-de-sac some mornings.
2. It assumes that a smack is part of good parental correction, which it isn't. We teach our kids not to hit, so it's mental to think that it's ok to him them.

So, do you vote yes or no? Child advocacy groups are saying that a 'yes' vote simply affirms that smacking is a no-no, which is what the referendum is really asking. But its a quandary - vote yes for something that isn't correct, or not vote, and run the risk of the no votes winning the day and having pro-smacking groups feel vindicated that hitting children is an ok thing to do?

My brain hurts. What do you think?


Lauren said...

I'd vote yes, just to prove to the Family First fools that they aren't speaking for the majority of NZers. I wish I could vote in this one and am getting very worked up reading about it!

sue said...

it's a dumb question
so i am going with a non vot of spoiling my ballot saying this is stupid

it's a biased question

Nikki said...

I ranted on blog. Think it's fairly obvious from that where I stand ;)

Mel Archer said...

I'm still tossing up whether to vote yes or to spoil my vote...

llew said...

I thought about spoiling the vote, but have come to the conclusion that that's just throwing the toys out of the playpen. I'll vote yes in th hope the "No" voters don't get to crow too much.

Did you hear Baldock talking to Sean Plunket? After ever attempt to define what the question clearly means, Plunket countered with a testy "But that's not what it says".

This is the question we have, stupid or not, interpret it anyway you want (Should it be illegal to smack parents" is how I read it, today anyway) and my conscience allows me to vote "yes".