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John Key spanking behind closed doors

datePosted on 18:16, June 19th, 2011 by Anita

A few days ago the DomPost ran on p2 a generally positive story about John Key’s parenting which contained, without comment, the follow paragraph:

“Apparently it’s called planking but I don’t know – if we hadn’t changed the law, it would have rapidly moved to spanking,” [John Key] joked in a speech to the Parents Inc fathers’ breakfast in Wellington yesterday.

It struck me at the time that it was a joke at odds with the image of Key publicly taking credit for brokering the passage of the legislation. Of course it wasn’t a public joke, it was to an an entirely friendly audience pulled together by Parents Inc[1], of men paying $59 a head to hear Key, Gordon Tiejtens, and others and “enjoying the fellowship of other men”. This is reminiscent of Key joking about Tuhoe being cannibals, again Key showing a reactionary conservative face to an appreciative audience behind closed doors.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, perhaps John Key’s public/private image contrast is no more than we can hope for. But shouldn’t the media be looking out for and commenting on this? If he’d told an equivalent joke about beating his wife, having sex with a 15 year old, or snorting cocaine, would the media have taken the time to point out the contrast?

 

[1] Parents Inc, a conservative Christian organisation, lobbied against the repeal of section 59, and has since had National appoint its Executive Officer to a term as a Family Commissioner and, more recently, had $2.4million of untendered contract awarded to it.

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23 Responses to “John Key spanking behind closed doors”

  1. bob on June 20th, 2011 at 00:53

    Ummm, this seems more like a case of two-faced hypocrisy. Key appears adept at that age-old political skill – saying to an audience what they want to hear, even if it is the diametric opposite of his party position, the laws he has voted for, and what he has said to the media and other audiences.

    Good to expose this hypocrisy though.

  2. George D on June 20th, 2011 at 08:17

    Very interesting. There’s a lot to this relationship, and it deserves further investigation. Will do a little more and see what I come up with.

  3. freddy on June 20th, 2011 at 09:05

    Tena koe Anita:

    gotta say this behaviour is representative of the National government.

    Sorry to be insensitive but the appropriate social concern for the collective experience of PTSD in Christchurch rankles each time I see political capital being made of it when it is compared with the thousands of survivors of sexual abuse who can no longer access anything better than “support” – not counselling or therapy through the ACC Sensitive Claims Unit. The amount of money that agency wastes on up to five psychiatric reports (at $2,500 each) to determine that survivors were troubled because they had “dysfunctional upbringings” rather than the effect of extended sexual abuse as the cause of their problems . . . well it’s reminiscent of Housing corp and their justification to spend over $800.000 to evict three women and their children in Pomare on National Radio just now: “they chose their partners now they have to deal with it” – a variation of the punitive “you made your bed, now lie in it!”

    Our small NGO recently put in an application for a slice of contestable funding – $150.000 to be divided nationally in support of survivors of sexual crimes – that’s right $150.000 divvied throughout the whole country this year.

    Spanking is a good play on words Anita.

  4. Graeme Edgeler on June 20th, 2011 at 09:14

    It’s not the equivalent of joking about beating your wife or snorting cocaine because both those things have been illegal for a while.

    Going to a Parents Inc. type meeting, saying you used to spank your kids, but now you don’t because it’s illegal is the exact opposite of what they want to hear. Indeed, this is the dishonesty, because Key has been telling the rest of the country that it’s still not criminal.

  5. ak on June 20th, 2011 at 10:06

    It’s not the politics that rankles – there isn’t any. It’s the mind-numbing gawkiness and jejune mediocrity that grates – a wunch of spankers chortling at inanity and a press gormless enough to repeat it. It’s like we picked a PM at random from standard 4 boys with restless tongue syndrome and nice teeth. A nation’s fingers crossed that he can at least read his speech this afternoon without cringeworthy incident…

  6. Andrew W on June 20th, 2011 at 10:15

    Good grief, was this joke really worth a blog post? The left must be getting truly desperate to get some mud to stick to Key.

  7. Sanctuary on June 20th, 2011 at 12:00

    Andrew W, It seems pretty obvious that the National party spent it’s time in opposition avoiding thinking about changing warmed over Shiplyism for something else by watching far to much Fox News, and there seems to be a general paranoia in the party that there is some kind of Glen Beck style liberal media/liberal civil service conspiracy against them. This kind of untendered, uncontested funding of pet private sector organisations is worrying trend under this government which seems intent on unfettering itself from democratic accountability and behaves with barely concealed impatience with any sort of democratic oversight.

    This attitude must come from the top. John Key and Stephen Joyce have little regard for democratic values – their values are totally those of the corporate elite, used to an autocratic decision making style conducted in secrecy behind closed doors and with little by way of checks and balances as an impediment to the implementation of an imperial corporate will.

    Paula Bennett has tried this sort of corporate patronage in doing an end run around the civil service to fund favoured private sector groups and you can bet your bottom dollar Tariana Turia can’t wait to give fat contracts to her favoured backers via Whanau Ora. If you are a financially correct right winger, and you seem to be, you should be especially concerned at what is starting to look suspiciously like a government that wishes to be unaccountable to the usual check and balances of a Westminster bureaucracy and to use public money as a slush fund, with no accountability or oversight of how the money is actually spent.

  8. Andrew W on June 20th, 2011 at 12:32

    Good grief, Sanctuary easily trumps Anita in desperation to find mud to fling.

  9. Sanctuary on June 20th, 2011 at 12:58

    Nice Andrew W.

    Clearly you are just another boring troll.

  10. Andrew W on June 20th, 2011 at 13:11

    Actually I thought you were the troll given that your comment was just an anti-government rant that had nothing to do with the subject of the post

  11. Anita on June 20th, 2011 at 13:32

    Graeme Edgeler writes:

    It’s not the equivalent of joking about beating your wife or snorting cocaine because both those things have been illegal for a while.

    I’m not convinced…

    Is the difference between “I’d smack my kids if I was allowed, the only reason I stopped is it’s illegal” and “I’d smack my wife if I was allowed, the only reason I stopped is it’s illegal” really only the age of the ink on the royal assent?

    Also, and perhaps I missed the point along the way, I thought the point of the repeal of s59 was to change the way people think and talk about physical abuse of children. Isn’t Key’s message at odds with that?

  12. Anita on June 20th, 2011 at 13:39

    Andrew W, you’ll look less like a troll if you add some content rather than just posting short pointless attack comments.

    Sanctuary & Andrew W, less “you started it!” please :)

  13. Psycho Milt on June 20th, 2011 at 13:58

    Is the difference between “I’d smack my kids if I was allowed, the only reason I stopped is it’s illegal” and “I’d smack my wife if I was allowed, the only reason I stopped is it’s illegal” really only the age of the ink on the royal assent?

    I’m not sure. Did they legislate to make husbands accountable for their wives’ behaviour and responsible for imposing discipline on them? That difference used to be the main reason the analogy was a crap one, but this govt passes so much legislation under urgency it’s kind of hard to keep track of who’s obliged to do what.

  14. Graeme Edgeler on June 20th, 2011 at 15:16

    Is the difference between “I’d smack my kids if I was allowed, the only reason I stopped is it’s illegal” and “I’d smack my wife if I was allowed, the only reason I stopped is it’s illegal” really only the age of the ink on the royal assent?

    No, although “the age of the ink” is important. It means that John Key could lawfully have done one of them, but could not lawfully have done the other. If John Key used to spank his kids, he did so when the law allowed/encouraged it. It no longer does (at least in the circumstances it did).

    If John Key used to assault his wife, then he was doing so unlawfully, unless they’re both a lot older than we’ve been lead to believe.

    John Key has gone along to a Parents Inc. meeting and reminded them that he voted to outlaw something that they think ought not to have been outlawed.

    Also, … I thought the point of the repeal of s59 was to change the way people think and talk about physical abuse of children. Isn’t Key’s message at odds with that?

    That was the point of some supporters of the change, but not others.

    The legislative point was to make something that had been legal (disciplining one’s children with spankings and other corporal punishment) no longer legal.

    Among Sue Bradford’s points was that she did not accept that there was a difference between a beating and a smack.

    Other people wanted to “send a message” or do a whole bunch of other things.

  15. Anita on June 20th, 2011 at 18:29

    Graeme Edgeler writes:

    No, although “the age of the ink” is important. It means that John Key could lawfully have done one of them, but could not lawfully have done the other. If John Key used to spank his kids, he did so when the law allowed/encouraged it. It no longer does (at least in the circumstances it did).

    If John Key used to assault his wife, then he was doing so unlawfully, unless they’re both a lot older than we’ve been lead to believe.

    Ok, let’s try again – this time with the comparison to “I’d rape my wife if I was allowed, the only reason I stopped was it became illegal”. My quick count says the Keys were married before it became illegal for a man to rape his wife.

    John Key has gone along to a Parents Inc. meeting and reminded them that he voted to outlaw something that they think ought not to have been outlawed.

    … and did so in a way that implies that he would prefer that it had not been made illegal

    … to an audience which would largely agree with that sentiment.

  16. Gaeme Edgeler on June 20th, 2011 at 20:41

    Ok, let’s try again – this time with the comparison to “I’d rape my wife if I was allowed, the only reason I stopped was it became illegal”.

    You’re still forgetting the bit where John Key was instrumental in making it illegal.

    And despite continued opposition to his move, won’t change the law back.

    And a large difference between the law changes around spousal rape, wife-beating, and spanking, is that (I suspect, I don’t have a citation) that the law changes around the first two followed changes in public opinion and the law changes in respect preceded a change in public opinion and still do. Most people would have thought poorly of John Key if he lawfully raped or beat his wife. The same cannot be said of spanking.

  17. RJL on June 22nd, 2011 at 15:11

    …perhaps John Key’s public/private image contrast is no more than we can hope for…

    I doubt it’s a public/private image contrast…it just a contrast between different public images for different subsections of the public.

    The real private John Key is either a hopeless twit, or an impenetrable cipher. Unfortunately for us, it’s probably the first of those options.

  18. Lindsey on June 22nd, 2011 at 15:28

    The repeal of S59 gave your child the same rights as your dog. You cannot beat your dog so severely that someone complained and you were prosecuted, and then turn up in court and put forward a defense of “reasonable force for the purpose of good dog ownership”. S59 allowed you do do something very similar to your child.

  19. DeepRed on June 22nd, 2011 at 17:14

    “I doubt it’s a public/private image contrast…it just a contrast between different public images for different subsections of the public.”

    Like Winston’s “Gaoshanzhu” speech to that Asian migrant audience a few years back. It’s not far removed from that hoary old chestnut saying some of one’s best friends are Jewish.

  20. DeepRed on June 22nd, 2011 at 17:17

    Another point here is that the fundies, having given up on challenging liberal society, have taken instead to infiltrating high places. I find crypto-fundies to be a lot more menacing than the ones who engage in street demagoguery.

  21. Graeme Edgeler on June 23rd, 2011 at 11:53

    The repeal of S59 gave your child the same rights as your dog. You cannot beat your dog so severely that someone complained and you were prosecuted, and then turn up in court and put forward a defense of “reasonable force for the purpose of good dog ownership”. S59 allowed you do do something very similar to your child.

    Simply not true.

    1. s 59 was not repealed.
    2. The amendment to section 59 did not change the level of force permitted, just the circumstances in which that force could be used: banning force for corrective purposes, but allowing force for the purpose of preventing harm and disruption and for good care and parenting.
    3. You grossly overstate the protections that animals have (and certainly had at the time of the amendment to s 59) under New Zealand law. It was not illegal to smack a dog. It still isn’t. It is legal to kill an animal. It is not legal to kill a child.

  22. Matt on June 23rd, 2011 at 12:11

    Graeme, anyone who took to their dog with a fence paling, or a vacuum cleaner pipe, would have great difficulty getting off charges of animal cruelty, not least of which reasons being that there’s no defence of “for the purposes of good dog ownership”.

    Parents did, however, get off charges of assaulting their children with both of the above instruments, and many others, under the defence of “parental correction”. So it’s absolutely correct to state that children were afforded less protection than animals until the s59 amendment, and that had been the case for a goodly period of time.

  23. Graeme Edgeler on June 23rd, 2011 at 17:50

    Graeme, anyone who took to their dog with a fence paling, or a vacuum cleaner pipe, would have great difficulty getting off charges of animal cruelty, not least of which reasons being that there’s no defence of “for the purposes of good dog ownership”.

    If there was an offence of “assaulting an animal” you would be right. But there isn’t. By animal cruelty, I assume you mean the charge of wilful mistreatment.

    The offence was only committed if the animal dies or is permanently maimed.

    (changes made last year extend the ambit of the law to occasions where “serious injury or impairment” occurs and a new charge of reckless mistreatment was created, but the same principle applies).

    Show me an instance where someone was convicted of animal cruelty for hitting an animal with a vacuum cleaner pipe or similar resulting in bruising. You’ll find it very difficult.

    You are right that there is no defence, but that’s mostly because what counts as an offence in much more limited.

    What counts as animal cruelty in New Zealand – even with the expanded law – tends to involve either dead or disabled animals, or at the least things like bleeding and broken bones.

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