Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lowering my faith in humanity one story at a time

Stuff reports that the Internal Affairs Department's Censorship Compliance Unit is "investigating" a book by a couple of fundy nutbars that recommends corporal punishment as a child-rearing tool.

As usual with this kind of story, I'm left full of questions:

1. Why do people say "I'm not one to..." when actually they quite obviously are, given that they're doing that very thing? In this case, the complainant says "I'm not one to prevent books from being sold, but..." but, yeah, they're trying to prevent a book being sold.

2. Why do journalists insist on using slang terms that can only confuse an issue? In this case the journo writes that the book in question recommends "thumping" your children as a punishment. WTF? I haven't heard of giving someone a thump for years, but last I did it meant punching them with your fist. If the authors really do recommend punching your children with your fists as some kind of bizarre attempt at imposing discipline on them, then sure, you really, really don't want to be following any of their parenting advice whatsoever. But given that journalists these days often seem to be little more than children themselves, I'm left wondering whether the kids have some new meaning for "thump" that was unknown a few decades back.

3. Why do journalists struggle so with simple concepts like cause and effect? The story says:

International media outlets have reported that Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz followed the book's instructions and subsequently beat their seven-year-old adopted daughter to death.

What's that supposed to mean? That the book's instructions include beating your child to death, or beating them to such an extent that death is a distinct possibility? If so, what publisher in their right mind agreed to publish the fucking thing? Or are we looking at yet another post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy, in which b followed a therefore a caused b? A Stuff journalist wouldn't be able to tell you.


gravedodger said...

I have long been somewhat flummoxed when a small smack on the hand to get the childs attention is suddenly equated to "bashing them to death", however it becomes clearer when I realise I did not study child psychology and only managed to rear two quite well adjusted girls who have morphed into very successful self starting, self supporting adults.
Sheer luck I guess.

Anonymous said...

Agree with your comments.

Perhaps better stated as "Lowering my faith in journalists one story at a time".

Spam said...

I was also somewhat surprised in this article to see that:
There are 1309 books already banned in New Zealand.

Psycho Milt said...

They're a busy bunch, the censors - and strangely proud of the fact.

James said... are having one of your rare good days...keep it up. ;-)

Barnsley Bill said...

I have never been able to understand why Clark would fundamentally alter birthing in this country leading to the deaths of countless babies and mothers and then 20 years later attempt to stop parents discipling the survivors of her worst work.

Shane Ponting said...

Re point 1 - it's just poor english. What they mean is that they aren't normally in the habit of trying to stop books being sold (like the book censor version of rent-a-mob types might be inclined to). It's an attempt to make their cause seem more valiant because it's their first fight for a "good cause" in an otherwise apathetic life journey.

Psycho Milt said...

I'm not sure that "poor English" covers it. Mr Complainant seems to intend us to assume that this book is such a monstrous threat to public safety that even a freedom-loving opponent of censorship like Mr Complainant thinks it should be banned. Whereas, in fact this is just another asshole who doesn't like the views expressed in a book so wants the state to step in and ensure nobody reads it. Fuck him and the servants of govt carrying out his requested investigation.

WAKE UP said...

"There are 1309 books already banned in New Zealand. "

The titles, PLEASE.

Shane Ponting said...

Actually PS I agree with you in your assessment of who they actually are as opposed to what they would have us believe (which is what I was referring to in my previous post). I should have recognised that my mockery of that intention wouldn't get through in the conduit of text without some important additions.