Sunday, May 24, 2009

Jimmy Mason: The count, the punch, and the “ear flick”

The "ear flick" dad - as the media loves to call him - Jimmy Mason, appeared on the Sunday programme tonight to air his views on his court case. Last week he faced charges of assaulting his child in Christchurch. Earlier in the month I was asked whether I thought Mason would be convicted. I said he has to be convicted of something.

And he was. Although I understand that the conviction has not yet been entered.

One of the charges Mason faced was for punching his son in the face and pulling – Mason called it "flicking" - his ear while he was riding his bike with his brother. A teacher and an off duty policewoman witnessed the assault, the cop reported it to the police, six police turned up to speak to the witnesses. Then Mason was rung up and let off with a warning two days later because police considered the assault was inconsequential under the anti-smacking legislation.

Mason then blabbed to the media saying that he was disciplining his kids and complained about the warning for an “ear flick”, hoping media coverage would provide public outrage and pressure to remove the warning. So the witness read this story, then she contacted the mediaand went back to the police, who then charged Mason with assault. Apparently, he intends to appeal.

I wonder if this teacher was a supporter of Sue Bradford's anti-smacking legislation? Russell Brown, of Public Address is. He clearly stated as fact, that a jury has found Mason guilty of punching his four year-old son in the face, then criticises those who question that. And the extent of his criticism surprised me because he’s normally a pretty reasonable sort. But The Christchurch Court News did not say he was found guilty for a punch, assuming that’s where Brown got his info from. Just that the punch was part of the count he was guilty of. Even Mason said he didn’t know what part/s of the count he was guilty of.

Granted, the evidence apparently was that Masondid punch his son, but the court was told there was no evidence of injury to the face. The count Mason was found guilty of was a punch as well as the " ear flick" as it is been so widely reported in the media. We don't know for certain whether he was found guilty for the punch, as Russell Brown authoritatively claims, the ear pull, as Family First's Bob McCoskrie would like to hope - or both, as appears possible given that they were both part of the same count.

Brown says:
So why on earth is the Herald's story this morning headlined "Ear-flick' father guilty of assault". Wouldn't 'Father who punched son in the face found guilty of assault' be a more appropriate headline?
Perhaps it would be if the Herald knew if that was what he was found guilty of. One thing everybody should agree on now: THe case was not a test of the anti-smacking law. Even the courts said that.

However, that didn't stop Deborah Morris-Travis of The Yes Vote claim, after hearing that the boy had been punched in the face by his dad that the [anti-smacking] law has passed a very important test" with the Mason case. Even the judge had cautioned against this stance. Yet most people with half a brain would have acknowledged that the law had nothing to do with this case. Unfortunately this comment was not included in the summing of the interview's key points.

Brown goes on to attack his critics – and for some time has described them as enablers of abuse - using his his consistently inaccurate use of the word “pro-beating” to cover anything from a light tap with the hand to a vicious beating with a length of hose, which has rendered that term completely useless in any debate. But I’m starting to suspect may have been the intention all along.

Of McCoskrie and the Sensible Sentencing Trust’s Garth McVicar, who apparently get the ear of the media, Brown states:
They're on speed-dial precisely because they will always instantly give a quote, even when they have no idea what they're taking about.
But guess who said this on speed dial when heard about the "ear flick":
If an adult whacked another adult around the ear, they would be "marched down to the slammer." [but] Police have used their discretion by choosing not to prosecute the man and believes a warning is the right punishment for incident.
And this:
The most common cause of death by child abuse in this country is from injuries to the head. This should never be taken lightly.
Like, an "ear flick" was the same as a whack in the head that can cause death!!! I’m sure you can guess. At the time these people – Sue Bradford and Cindy Kiro - had no idea what they were talking about. They and their ilk are inconsistent. They want adults to be treated the same as kids under the law, ( well, they`ll pick and choose which laws), while saying it is fine to "march [adults] down to the slammer" if they flick the ear of another adult, but say it's fine to let let them off if they do it to a kid as part of parenting. In other words it's fine to break the law as long as the police think it's ok. They are inconsistent when it suits. Russell Brown shares that inconsistent perspective. He needs a good cup of herbal tea and a wee lie down.




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