In the New Zealand Herald of November 2 2007, I read that National Party Leader John Key was promising to give police the power to issue temporary, on-the-spot domestic violence protection orders, and Barry Wilson, the Head of the Auckland Council of Civil Liberties, was reported as supporting the idea, with a couple of provisos, including that "the man has somewhere to go after being banned from his home."
Having been a member of the National Party, and having experienced the bigotry on Domestic Violence of the current Deputy Leader, Bill English*, when he was Leader, I was not particularly shocked by John Keys' Fascism on this issue. However, to have a lawyer, the Head of a self-styled "Council of Civil Liberties," no less, support the abolition of civil liberties and the rule of law in this area because of his sexist and ignorant hatred of men (misandry) was something else altogether.
There are three issues here:
NGOs like the Women's Refuge and the Auckland Council of Civil Liberties are not subject even to the level of quality control that government agencies are. The result is that their members can quite easily be complete idiots and their ideas totally unfounded. I have recently been to an NGO training course about funding, and the main messages I came away with were that the funding that NGOs get is dependent primarily on personal contacts, and that the people making the funding decisions do not like/are incapable of dealing with large quantities of intellectual or detailed material. Obviously, the amount of influence an NGO has is related to its level of funding, and if funding is dependent on personal contacts and simplistic documentation, we end up with Mickey Mouse NGOs dominating the field.
I phoned Barry Wilson on 2 November 2007, and this is roughly what we said to each other (apart from his comment about the loudness of my voice). I identified myself, and then said he obviously did not know much about domestic violence. He replied that he knew a lot about it. I asked what research he had read about it. He replied that he hadn't read any research but he had acted in a lot of domestic violence cases! He also said that this issue was just a metter of opinion. So I replied that all he knew was that someone said that someone had done something and that that person said that they hadn't done it.
I said that the research showed that women hit men just as often as men hit women. He said that the Domestic Violence Act 1995 was passed to protect women from men, who were stronger. He listened to me quite reasonably, but said that nothing I could say would change his mind. So I offered to tell him where I would be writing about him on the Web, so that he could sue me for defamation. He replied that I could write whatever I liked. I called him a disgrace to his profession, and he called me a "stupid prick." That was the end of the conversation.
Barry Wilson, as a lawyer who purports to be an expert on civil liberties, should know better than to use the argument that men are stronger and do more damage, because:
that is a sexist stereotype. (Feminists are supposed to be against sexist stereotypes, whereas in fact they were only ever against sexist stereotypes that disadvantaged women);
if two men are in a dispute or a fight, one does not automatically penalise the stronger party -- one looks to see who is at fault -- and to take a different line when two different sexes are involved is discriminatory and oppressive;
there are such things as weapons, and there is behaviour such as throwing objects, damaging the other person's property, and psychological abuse in general.
It was also appalling of him to state that the Domestic Violence Act 1995 was passed to protect women from men, because it makes a nonsense of the gender-neutral language that it is written in, and given that gender-neutral language has long been such a prominent Feminist issue. Barry Wilson was certainly correct as regards the Feminist political pressures that led to the passing of that Act, but the Bill of Rights Act and Human Rights Act outlaw sexual discrimination, as he well knows.
*Bill English, when he was leading the National Party, of which I was a member, was about to visit the Women's Refuge in Lower Hutt, where I live. So I contacted his office and asked to meet him and give him the other side of the story on domestic violence. He refused, so I resigned from the National Party.