Monday, December 15, 2008

On a new call to ban the smacking of children (but first, a little flight of fancy)

http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,24782164-5001021,00.html
(quotations in my post taken from the print version)

An academic has called for sodomy to be made illegal, though she has stopped short of asking that it be criminalised as well:

"If the defence is removed it should be done in conjunction with an education campaign so sodomites are not left powerless,” she said.

“The aim is not to criminalise sodomy but send the message that it is not safe, effective nor morally defensible.”
A scholar calling for sodomy to banned. Could you imagine it? No, neither could I. It would mean career death, and possibly legal action against her. In fact, the quotation provided here comes from an article in last Thursday’s Sydney Daily Telegraph in which it reported on Sydney University Associate Professor Judy Cashmore’s call for the smacking of children to be banned altogether (though not criminalised), even if it’s just a simple tap; I have substituted ‘sodomites’ for ‘parents’ and ‘sodomy’ for ‘a light smack’, respectively.

These silly demands crop up from time to time, and demolishing the arguments underpinning them is like shooting fish in a barrel, but the article was interesting for a few reasons so I thought I’d have a closer look at it. The article notes that

At present smacking of children by parents is legal under the common law, as long as reasonable force is used and the sole intention is to correct behaviour.
So we see here how deeply utilitarianism pervades present-day Australian society, at least in New South Wales. Parents are forbidden to use corporal punishment purely as a punishment, mirroring the justice system’s virtual refusal to impose punishments unless it contributes to the reform of the offender, almost never as an end in itself.

Assoc. Prof. Cashmore says that

“You shouldn’t try to change people’s behaviour by hitting them. They are smaller and more vulnerable and you are teaching them to hit others. If you listen to what children say about it, some say they are really hurt by it emotionally and physically and they are very angry.”
But how exactly does this woman propose to change the behaviour of children who are too young for other forms of discipline to be effective? A raised voice might be the only alternative, but Prof. Cashmore would probably regard this as abuse too. As for the notion that smacking ‘teaches children to hit others’, that is clearly preposterous. It teaches children that legitimate authority has the right to use force against offenders. And as for being ‘really hurt by it emotionally’, I was smacked as a child but I have never woken up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, tortured by nightmares of the wooden spoon. As for the physical side, Prof. Cashmore well knows, and the article notes that,

Smacking involving force or leaving lasting physical effects is already an abuse under child protection laws.
What nonsense this woman is spouting. And keep in mind that it is people like Prof. Cashmore who are going to play a leading role in shaping the Federal Government’s human rights charter policy.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
15.XII.2008 A.D.

1 comment:

Louise said...

These people are idiots. They might actually have my sympathy, if they were not so gung-ho about the right to kill babies in the womb. Now there's child-abuse for you.