Laws is absolutely predictable, even down to the mistakes he makes. First, he claims that the victims of child abuse are "predominantly Maori" (2). Wrong. Predominantly means "mostly or mainly"(3) and those who commit violence against children will be predominantly Pakeha, for thwe simple reason that Pakeha make up the majority of the population. What Laws means, of course, is 'disproportionately Maori' - Pita Sharples, on Eye to Eye, acknowledged this, stating that Maori make up 15% of the population and account for 40% of instances of child abuse (4). This might sound like nit-picking, but small mistakes like that have a way of replicating themselves and fixing themselves in people's minds.
Laws then claims that "Literally thousands of New Zealand kids now live in the above Paradise [of abuse, neglect and violence]. Soon it will be tens of thousands"(5). Obviously, even one child living in fear is too many, but Laws's claim isn't borne out by the statistics that things are, slowly, improving. 2.4 deaths per 100,000 Maori children per year in the 90s, 1.34 in this last few years. Of course it is too many and of course it isn't a good thing that 1.34 Maori children out of every 100,000 die by violence, but it is better than 2.4 (6). Things need to improve more quickly, but I'll hazard that the sort of measures that the right would write off as politically correct, pandering to special interests, or (worst of all) socialistic, are starting to turn things around.
Then Laws claims that "Quite why Maori are grossly over-represented in all these worst statistics, no one can really say" (7). Nonsense. Only someone blinded by ideological refusal to acknowledge facts could argue this. Maori are disproportionately over represented in child violence statistics because of the same economic and social circumstances that lead to Maori being disproportionately over-represented in most other crimes, familial break down, alcoholism, lack of education, low literacy, drug use and so on. Ultimately, it comes down to Maori being disproportionately over-represented at the lowest end of the socio-economic spectrum. Poverty, unemployment, lack of prospects, alienation are the root causes. Anyone who doesn't admit this is lying, conciously or not, and is part of the problem.
After this general raving, and having declared, absurdly, "the time for talk is over" (8), Laws carries on talking, or at least writing, for several hundred words as he lays out WHAT SHOULD BE DONE. This is WHAT SHOULD BE DONE:
First, you "profile and match all the ... wasters and losers and you place them on a central register. That you don't provide them any government-funded benefit - DPB or state house - unless and until they are discharging defined obligations to the State"(9). This is interesting as he claimed a few lines earlier that these wasters and losers "don't give a shit what any government official or law-enforcement agency thinks. They'll look after their kids their ways, f--k off"(10). He was more right then than when he started pontificating on social policy - faced with the sort of sanctions Laws suggests, people will simply vanish so we'll have no idea what-so-ever is happening to thses families and they will substitute their lost income with crime. Congratualtions, Michael, you just made the problem that much worse.
Then, we're told not to "give second chances. One conviction and they automatically forfeit their chances to have children again. That they must prove their fitness, their sobriety, their changed attitude or every child they produce is whisked away for adoption"(11). Again, this polemic is fatally flawed because people will uproot themselves and disappear rather than have their children taken away from them. Then whatever limited access the authorities had, will be gone, and the family - AND HENCE THE KIDS, MICHAEL - will be worse off than before. Also, children have mothers and fathers. We are talking about two people, not just one. If the mother is generally sound, but the father somewhat feckless ("One conviction ..."), why punish her by taking her children from her? And does Laws's really believe there are enough potential adoptive parents out there to absorb the thousands of children that will suddenly be wrenched away from their families? Or will he rely on Madonna and Angelina Jolie to care for them all?
In fact, Laws hints at more sinister ideas. Until would be parents have cleaned up their act, "children have the right not to be born to them and not to be killed by them"(12). What is he getting at here? Free condoms and a harsh lecture on the importance of not making babies? Literal castration, which is a bit difficult to reverse once the parents come up to scratch? Chemical castration, which is temporary and has to be topped up, and so requires the consent of the victim to be effective?(13) Or forced abortion for any woman impregnated by an unworthy male?
Or could it be that Michael Laws simply spews crap? I think so. And I think he knows it is crap, the sort that plays well with his talk back audience, and spews it anyway.
1 - "One strike, you're out," by Michael Laws in the Sunday Star Times, reproduced on Stuff.co.nz, 5th August 2007.
2 - ibid.
3 - as per the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, http://dictionary.cambridge.org/
4- Eye to Eye with Willie Jackson, broadcast 4th August 2007. Might be available here: http://tvnzondemand.co.nz/content/eye_to_eye/ondemand_video_skin
5 - Laws, op. cit.
6 - See my previous post on this, "The Unspeakable Truth About Child Killing," 5th August 2007. http://lefthandpalm.blogspot.com/2007/08/sdsds.html
7 - Laws, op. cit.
8 - ibid.
9 - ibid.
10 - ibid.
11 - ibid.
12 - ibid.
13 - "Chemical Castration in the United States," wikipedia article, viewed 6th of August 2007. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_castration#Chemical_castration_in_the_United_States)