MENZ Issues February – March 2000: Volume 5 Issue 2
Time For A Gender Equality Movement "In many strange ways, modern feminism and modern traditionalism overlap. Both oppose equal treatment regardless of gender: the neo-feminists want special protections on the grounds of women’s oppressed and powerless state, the traditionalists on the grounds of women’s innate vulnerabilities and differences from men. Both camps are preoccupied with men’s mistreatment of women."
Outrage over Xmas Present Convictions When a 42 year-old computer engineer was convicted of breaching a family protection order by mailing his 11-year-old daughter Christmas presents, a man who had earlier been among half a dozen fathers’ rights protesters outside the court booed Judge Carolyn Henwood’s verdict. There are a great many men and women who share his sentiment.
Family Court Responds to Mana Men’s Rights Group Concerns About Injustice When 48 fathers pushing empty pushchairs and prams paraded outside Wellington Courts late last year, the message finally got through to someone in the system that all is not well in the public relations department. Perhaps the huge bus draped with banners that has started turning up at court protests has helped get their attention.
Select Committee into Family Court? At the recent Greens Conference held at Otaki, Nandor Tanzcos said that he had received letters from fathers who have been badly treated by the justice system. As the Greens are committed to reviewing the Family Court he wants to move on this by initiating a Select Committee. He asked for terms of reference – here are some of our suggestions.
Asset Protection Planning The new thrust of asset protection planning is aimed at protecting personal assets against unfair application of the matrimonial property law. The need has become more acute with the push by feminist pressure groups and some hyperactive judges for a greater than equal share of matrimonial property to go to the spouse who may be considered to have deferred or reduced their career opportunities as a result of the marriage.
What Equality Means To Fathers Where most men feel aggrieved is that their efforts in supporting their family by supplying service to others in an effort to earn the money that sustains their family is not considered as a parenting role. Many men wish for greater time with their children within and outside marriage but in both situations society and in particular women tell them they have little to offer when raising children.
Phil Goff to Change Gender Biased Laws Ken Clearwater of the Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust welcomed the news that Justice Minister Phil Goff is proposing a law change that will allow women to be prosecuted for indecently assaulting boys.
Ellis Released – Calls for Enquiry ‘Tracing The Evolution Of A Satanic Scare’, Ellis: "I am not a guilty man", Memory Researcher calls for new trial based on science, Frank Haden calls for enquiry, Sandra Coney Disagrees, Justice Minister concerned about Ellis Case, Dr John Read advocates limits to enquiry, Remember child victims says Roger McClay, Darryl Ward wrote to The Dominion, Illinois Governor bans executions after justice system fails, Feminism built on believing women’s allegations of sexual abuse, Opposition to enquiry, When juries have got it wrong, John Read "Predictable", Terms of Reference.
Positive Partners Strong Families Couples Communication Course Update.
Blaming Boys – Raising Sociopaths When a boy viciously began hitting and kicking other children, the psychologist enlisted to come up with some strategies to manage his errand behaviour was astonished at what he witnessed at the centre. "I soon realised the staff weren’t meeting this child’s needs in any way," he said.
Feminist Critique of Men’s Movement Male MEN Opausal Newsletter: For Sad, Inadequate Middle-Aged Guys Who Get All Bitter and Twisted After Their Marriages Break Up, And Believe that Giant Feminist Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Agency devils Are Chasing Them With Large Pitchforks!!!!
Changes at Men’s Centre North Shore New executive members, Community-building day on Sat 12th attended by 24 men representing at least ten men’s groups.
Heart Politics Summer 2000 At the sharing circle I said that I hoped for more discussion about the politics of gender, and how male-female relationships within our society can be strengthened and supported. I was particularly interested to seize this opportunity because I was aware that there were many staunch, politically active feminists in attendance, including many that were proudly and openly lesbian. Peta Joyce offered to facilitate a "meta-discussion on the state of gender relations, using the application of the Domestic Violence Act as a metaphor." This proposal received the enthusiastic endorsement of Rex McCann, so the following afternoon about 25 of us gathered in the shade of the Tauhara gum trees.
Chairman’s Quarterly reportI write after this year’s "Community Building Day". I am absolutely exhausted after the actual day, the build up to it and thrilled at the outcome. Very proud of our management team and Rex McCann as facilitator who did a fine job.
Cathy Young, Sept 1999 Photo: Mark Rowley
Time For A Gender Equality Movement
The Jan. 26, 2000 Salon magazine (link to full article) published an inspiring article by Cathy Young titled ‘Out with the old and out with the new.’ Young is a long-time commentator on gender issues, and is author of the book Ceasefire! – why women and men and must join together to achieve true equality (reviewed in the Aug99 MENZ Issues).
She begins the Salon article by asserting that although feminism has made many impressive gains for women, it has failed to bring about harmony between the sexes; so that women and men can meet each other as equals, rather than antagonists.
However, she has no sympathy for conservative critics of feminism such as Danielle Crittenden and Wendy Shalit, who she says promote a "slightly updated version of old-fashioned femininity."
Young insists we need to go forward, not back. She points out that while women now wrestle with the difficulties of combining child-rearing with a career, men are often under even greater social pressure to be a good provider, with less options to construct a balanced lifestyle. Modern feminism however, faced with the reality that entry to the previously male world of employment has created new pressures and conflicts for women, seems to have shifted from the goal of equal treatment to one of female advantage. She writes:
"In many strange ways, modern feminism and modern traditionalism overlap. Both oppose equal treatment regardless of gender: the neo-feminists want special protections on the grounds of women’s oppressed and powerless state, the traditionalists on the grounds of women’s innate vulnerabilities and differences from men. Both camps are preoccupied with men’s mistreatment of women."
Young says that when solidarity with women is placed above fairness to individuals it becomes morally dubious. Insistence on female virtue and innocence means that their ill-treatment of men is either obliterated or excused. Supposed ’empowerment’ through solidarity has "reduced feminism to a vehicle for women to vent and validate their frustrations with men.. and to blame their personal unhappiness on the patriarchy." She suggests that:
"Maybe, at least in the context of Western industrial democracies, what we need at this stage is not a women’s movement at all but a gender equality movement — one clearly committed to fairness and equity for individuals regardless of sex, not just to the empowerment or betterment of women." Young says:
"A true equality movement would speak up against working-mother-bashing or anti-father bigotry. It would raise its voice when pop culture depicts women as bimbos or men as jerks; when promiscuous women are judged more harshly than promiscuous men or when all sexual miscommunication is blamed on males. It would work to ensure that violence is taken as seriously as any other crime and that violent women are judged by the same standards as violent men." She concludes:
"It’s time to remember that women have no special entitlement to happiness, and that it’s not a special outrage when bad things happen to good women because women are people, nothing less and nothing more."
Outrage over Xmas Present Convictions
When a 42 year-old computer engineer was convicted of breaching a family protection order by mailing his 11-year-old daughter Christmas presents, a man who had earlier been among half a dozen fathers’ rights protesters outside the court booed Judge Carolyn Henwood’s verdict. There are a great many men and women who share his sentiment.
Mana Men’s Rights Group chairman Bruce Cheriton told the Nelson Mail it showed legislation had gone mad and he wants to see the system changed. He said it encouraged fathers not to have any contact with their children.
Also this Christmas, an Invercargill prison inmate was charged with breaching a protection order by sending his daughter a Christmas card from jail. He was discharged without conviction after Judge Phil Moran heard that the message sent was Christmas wishes and congratulations about how well the girl was doing at school.
In the Auckland District Court another father who pleaded guilty to charges of delivering Christmas cards was convicted and discharged without penalty. He said he made his decision because "to plead not guilty means more legal costs on top of already mounting costs for defence against the discriminatory Domestic Violence Act and proceedings under the Matrimonial Properties Act."
Police admit it is not uncommon for people to face such charges. Their stance was criticised by Darryl Ward in a letter to editor of The Dominion on 21 Jan 2000:
"The comments by Wellington family violence co-ordinator, Senior Sergeant Terry O’Neill, that "..sending a card or a present to a child could equate to someone engaging in, or threatening to behave in, an intimidating manner that might amount to psychological abuse", shows just how clouded the Police and Courts have become over Family Violence, and is clear evidence that they blindly follow feminist orthodoxy without stepping outside the square and looking at the facts.
For if we are to accept that a parent sending a card or present to their child out of natural love and affection is ‘psychological abuse’, whilst manufacturing a malicious protection order purely to deny that child the right to receive such natural love and affection is not deemed a form of abuse, then something is clearly wrong."
A contributor to an email discussion group pointed out that:
"one of the problems of judges ruling on ‘psychological abuse’ in any circumstances is that the only measure is the report of fear, intimidation, emotional distress or upset, from the self identified ‘victim’ of the alleged psychological abuse." He continued:
"The concept of psychological abuse is going to cause the courts no end of difficulty because every claim is subject to a counterclaim.
Men are currently disadvantaged because ‘counsellors’ and ‘psychologists’ will initially be called as ‘expert witnesses’ to determine who might have the better claim to have been psychologically abused by a partner, and, in general, they seem to favour the conclusion that women are always the victims, no matter what has actually transpired."
Family Court Responds to Mana Men’s Rights Group Concerns About Injustice
When 48 fathers pushing empty pushchairs and prams paraded outside Wellington Courts late last year, the message finally got through to someone in the system that all is not well in the public relations department. Perhaps the huge bus draped with banners that has started turning up at court protests has helped get their attention.
In recent weeks, members of Mana Men’s Rights Group have had no fewer than five meetings with Judge Carruthers, to discuss possible improvements in the delivery of service to men in the Family Court System. While he is obviously not in a position to change the legislation, Judge Carruthers could contribute significantly to the re-education of his fellow judges. Many fathers’ problems stem from individual judge’s interpretations of the law, and of basic principles of justice too it seems.
The Department for Courts has invited the members of MMRG to a presentation on ‘Case Flow Management’ at the Porirua District Court on Wednesday 23rd February, and ongoing consultation is planned.
The need for action is desperately urgent – the mood is turning decidedly ugly in some quarters. On more than one occasion Men’s Centre support group facilitators have had to intervene in a discussion to point out that talking about "stringing up judges" is actually a criminal offence, and in no way condoned by our organisation.
As the realisation grows that all are not equal before the law, so does the danger of men taking matters into their own hands instead of looking to the courts to deliver justice. All of us who talk to distressed men on the phone are uncomfortably aware of the violent fantasies in the minds of many dispossessed fathers.
There is considerable skepticism among many men about whether the discussions will lead to genuine reform. Men’s groups will not be fooled by a bit of public relations window dressing. It is going to take a culture change among judges, and statistical evidence of their gender neutrality, before the Court can begin to win back the respect and prestige it has squandered in recent years.
Join the Wellington protests!
Contact Mana Men’s Rights
Select Committee into Family Court?
At the recent Greens Conference held at Otaki, Nandor Tanzcos said that he had received letters from fathers who have been badly treated by the justice system. As the Greens are committed to reviewing the Family Court he wants to move on this by initiating a Select Committee. He asked for terms of reference – here are some of our suggestions:
Family Court Problem Issues:
- Lack of accountability
- Judicial activism
- Lack of training in issues of family and child development, relevant economic issues, family violence
- Lack of suitable (enforceable) professional standards for lawyers, psychologists, etc. (Cotter and Roper report)
- Scientific standards regarding evidence (eg Daubert USA)
- Lack of a suitable research base
- Funding for better statistical information about FC outcomes
- Lack of forum for general debate on issues
- Disregard for the wider social implications of large numbers of individual decisions
- Failure to enforce access orders
- Failure to enforce guardianship rights
- Failure to maintain parent-child relationships while matters are in dispute
- Belief that children need "one home base", and that the other parent is not important
- The dilemma of the "shadow of the law" for mediation on custody and access (law based on conflict cases has a big impact on outcomes in counselling / mediation although the latter should suit co-operative situations)
- The standard of judges and costs imposed as a result of inappropriate/unprofessional actions by judges (lack of accountability)
- The definition of matrimonial property
- The powers of counseling co-ordinators
- The role of counsel for the child
- Ex-parte orders too easy for women to obtain without corroboration
- Misuse of DVA as a weapon
- Non availability of family friendly support services in many areas
- Speeding up overall FC process
- Failure to keep to established guidelines on time frames
- Realistic penalties for perjury and false accusations
- Gender Sensitivity Training for Judges – equal time and resources for men’s groups to present their perspective as allotted to feminist groups
Stuart Birks, John Potter, et al.
Asset Protection Planning
Asset protection planning traditionally has been about thwarting the avarice of the state which levied high taxes on the assets of deceased persons in the form of Estate Duty (commonly known as Death Duty). Taxing the dead went out of fashion in the early 90’s. In 1992 Estate tax was zero rated and the last National government removed the law altogether.
The new thrust of asset protection planning is aimed at protecting personal assets against unfair application of the matrimonial property law. The need has become more acute with the push by feminist pressure groups and some hyperactive judges for a greater than equal share of matrimonial property to go to the spouse who may be considered to have deferred or reduced their career opportunities as a result of the marriage. (For the sake of brevity, let us read this as the wife. I am quite sure, given current attitudes in the Family Court, that such an award would never be made to a husband whatever the circumstances.)
A parallel thrust is for the wife to be awarded a share of the husband’s future income, on the same grounds. The proponents argue that the wife should be able to end a marriage (two thirds of divorces in NZ are instituted by women), retain absolute right to custody of the children, and be unaffected financially. There is no precedent in equity or in law for just one party to an agreement to end the agreement and retain all the benefits.
Clearly, there has been no consideration given to the equity of the outcome for the husband. He loses the principal benefit of the partnership; the love and care of his wife and children, and, with the cost of living alone, is financially disadvantaged.
The reality is that once partners split, their individual circumstances will vary depending on their abilities and the choices they take. For lawmakers or judges to presume they can determine equity of outcomes forever is both arrogant and stupid. This is most obvious where determinations on future incomes is considered.
Judges have a uniquely protected and generous earning stream, which may account for their tenuous grasp on financial realities. The fact is that for the self employed and for many salaried people, future incomes are subject to considerable risk. These will vary and may even be negative in the case of business losses. Should the divorced wife share in these losses? If the husband’s business, from which the divorced wife was to draw future income, goes bankrupt, should she have to sell her house to meet debts? Undoubtedly the husband will.
It is certain there will be no sensible debate on these issues. Vested interest pressure groups will dominate and in this regard the women’s lobby reigns supreme, aided and abetted by an unquestioning media. Therefore the probability is that there will be changes to matrimonial property law and an introduction of de facto partner property law which will pose a major threat to personal assets.
The problems are compounded when it is a second marriage being contemplated and there are children from the first marriage. Each party to the second marriage should be concerned about their children’s rights to inherit.
The main principles to be aware of under current law are as follows:
- Personal assets brought into a marriage will become matrimonial property once they are ‘intermingled’ with joint assets. This applies automatically to the family home but can apply to any class of asset unless that asset is maintained in its separate state and the partners agree it is separate property.
- All income earned and assets acquired during a marriage are matrimonial property regardless of who earns what and who spends what.
- There is a presumption that all matrimonial property is owned 50/50 by each spouse. There are exceptions to this rule, but don’t count on them.
People contemplating marriage who do not want some or all of their personal assets to become matrimonial property can take some relatively simple steps to protect themselves. These include;
- Pre nuptual agreements. This is a written legal document signed by both spouses detailing their agreement as to what is separate property and how various assets are to be dealt with in the event of a divorce or separation.
- Family Trusts. This is a more complex legal document which can establish a separate ownership structure for personal assets. Once an asset is transferred to a trust it should not be considered as matrimonial property as it is no longer owned by either spouse.
- Wills. Once an asset protection plan is undertaken your wills should be updated to complement the changes you have made.
There are a couple of ground rules which I think are very important. Firstly, be very up front with your intended. You do not want some Family Court judge in later years to suggest that you removed assets from the matrimonial property net by subterfuge. Second, take the best advice you can get in establishing your plan. Remember the cost of getting it right is a hell of a lot less than the cost of getting it wrong.
What Equality Means To Fathers
In February, Kim Hill read the following fax on her radio show:
I have yet to meet a man that has been through the Family Law and Family Court system that believes that they had a fair deal.
Those that I have meet and myself accept that 50/50 split of matrimonial property is a system that is fair in the context of a bad situation.
Where most men feel aggrieved is that their efforts in supporting their family by supplying service to others in an effort to earn the money that sustains their family is not considered as a parenting role. Many men wish for greater time with their children within and outside marriage but in both situations society and in particular women tell them they have little to offer when raising children.
Most of them first heard this message for the first time from their own mother.
Even those women that protest at the contribution men currently make (demanding more) do so with their own interests at heart rather than acknowledging that men have a unique parenting contribution to make to their children.
This is graphically demonstrated in the Time Use Survey that Women’s Affairs recently produced. In their report men perform more baby sitting services than women in NZ, namely because they consider men that are spending time with their own children outside of marriage to be baby sitters rather than a parent parenting. The arrogance of this view alone should be enough to demand that the data be re-evaluated by an independent body before any conclusions or action be taken on this two million dollar exercise.
Add to that the assertion that women are parenting even when the child is sleeping but a man is engaged in recreational pursuits if he takes them to watch a game is further evidence of what fills their hearts and heads.
And now they talk of wanting women to get more of a marriage’s assets because "men don’t parent. That’s how we fix the inequality" they say.
And they want more injuries to come under ACC because women don’t claim as often as men. "We want age related accidents included. That will fix the inequality" they say.
"And we want special student loans because women don’t want to work as hard as men do. They want to take time out to parent. That’s how we will fix the inequality" they say.
The men’s movement within NZ is saying we want to be recognized as a parent that has a contribution to make as a participating parent and society and the systems by which we live does not treat us fairly.
Give us equal time with our children as the default starting point when a marriage dissolves. Give us encouragement and support as active parents throughout our children’s development within and outside marriage.
Recognise that men have been excluded from children’s development at a cost to men, children and society.
Then women can find the work that suits them and we can find the work that suits us, as we parent our children together. That’s equality.
Reduce the risk to men’s health through work place, sporting and macho driven injuries so that men can live longer. That’s equality.
Reduce the pressure to be the primary breadwinner then both genders can take 100 years to pay back their student loans. That’s equality.
As for projecting our voice as a backlash to feminism I ask why???
Men’s lives are just as socially constructed as women’s, so what have women’s groups to lose from talking to men that feel "stiffed" as Susan Faludi put it?
Those that call it a backlash tend to be those that are entrenched in the power circles, pushing for a society where people conform to their role based on gender.
Could it be that those that are pushing gender feminism are made of the same stuff as all power seekers?
Minister of Justice Hon.Phil Goff
Phil Goff to Change Gender Biased Laws
Ken Clearwater of the Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust welcomed the news that Justice Minister Phil Goff is proposing a law change that will allow women to be prosecuted for indecently assaulting boys. Once it becomes a crime, counselling for abused men will be covered by ACC insurance cover, and lump sum compensation payments (if reinstated) will be available to male victims of female abusers.
Goff says parts of the Act are still based on nineteenth century assumptions that women are not capable of committing some sexual offences.
Ellis Released – Calls for Enquiry
‘Tracing The Evolution Of A Satanic Scare’
In the Dominion 30th Mar 99, Alan Sampson discussed a paper on the background of satanic abuse in New Zealand titled: ‘Satan’s Excellent Adventure Down Under'(link) by Victoria University sociology Professor Michael Hill. The paper compares the bizarre claims of the Christchurch Civic Creche parent who initiated the hysteria to the writings of American satanic abuse hunter Pamela Hudson, who had identified 16 satanic indicators. The Christchurch mother not only identified all 16, but demanded at the depositions hearing that Hudson be brought to New Zealand as an expert witness.
The mother proclaimed her son told of being "forced to kill a boy and animals", of visiting a church where children had been made to take part in a marriage ceremony and of visit to a graveyard, where he had been placed in a cage with a cat.
Among other claims was the much-reported "circle incident", where children were taken to a Hereford St address and put in a tunnel beneath a trapdoor; they were later made to stand naked in a circle of adults, including all five creche workers initially accused. Indecencies were reported to have been committed on them, and the children were made to kick each other in the genitals.
Professor Hill details how satanic abuse hysteria started in 1980 with the publication of the book ‘Michelle Remembers’, which purported to be an account by a "survivor", Michelle Smith, and her therapist and later husband, Lawrence Pazder.
Also that year, the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association listed categories of "dissociative identity disorder" and "post-traumatic stress disorder" – which became the most common diagnoses applied to supposed victims of satanic abuse.
A group of eminent American psychiatrists who specialised in hypnotism set up an organisation to advance the treatment of multiple personality and dissociation. Professor Hill notes that the treatment spread "like pyramid selling".
Some of the major players Professor Hill identifies are:
Social worker Kee MacFarlane who, in the famous McMartin Preschool case, pioneered the use of anatomically correct hand puppets in interviews, and told children that if they could not remember incidents at the preschool, this was because they were dissociating.
Eminent psychiatrist Roland Summit who taught that children never fabricated accounts of sexual abuse and so were to be believed – regardless of how incredible their accounts were.
David Finkelhor published three dozen ritual abuse case studies, without evaluating the reliability of any of the allegations.
Doctor Astrid Heger, a regular visitor to New Zealand, was one of the McMartin investigators, who wrote that sexual abuse could be detected by the size and shape of girls’ hymens. This was taken as an abuse indicator at a Glenelg Health Camp investigation in Christchurch.
Illinois rape counsellor Pamela Klein, who drew up one of the first sets of "satanic indicators", including such symptoms as bed-wetting, nightmares, fear of monsters and ghosts, and a preoccupation with faeces, urine and flatulence.
And last but not least, Pamela Hudson and her list of 16 reported forms of physical and psychological abuse.
Professor Hill’s believes satanic abuse came to this part of the world in 1986, when Australia hosted the Sixth International Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, in Sydney.
Roland Summit, Kee MacFarlane, Dr Heger and Professor Finkelhor all gave papers. Within two years, Australia faced the "Mr Bubbles" day-care centre abuse complaint – of children being abducted, given drugs, assaulted with knives, forced to watch animal sacrifices and satanic rituals, and of sexual abuse and pornographic filming.
In 1990, New Zealand was visited by Pamela Klein. She spoke to a child sexual abuse conference about "horrific satanic cult situations" and claimed that children in cults were "purposely programmed to develop multiple personalities".
The following year the Ritual Action Network – later to be called Ritual Action Group – was set up in Wellington. The key members were social workers Ann Marie Stapp and Jocelyn Frances, also known as O’Kane, the latter practising hypnosis and recovering memories of satanic cult abuse; policeman Laurie Gabites, who visited the United States and brought back satanic material; and probation officer Nigel Marriott, a classics graduate.
The group received public funding from the Social Welfare Department through its Family Violence Prevention Coordinating Committee, a committee exposed in a 1994 internal audit for "grandiose overspending", including" well catered" breakfasts, lunches and dinners, uncontrolled use of taxi chit books, and wrong accounting practices. In 1993 Frances was convicted of benefit fraud totalling $30,000.
In August 1991, American Christian sexual abuse therapist Mitchell Whitman came to Christchurch as a guest of the Open Home Foundation, a Christian child and family support agency.
He claimed "that the usual damage caused to children by satanic ritual abuse was a multiple personality disorder… research showed that about half the children suffering [such] disorders had been victims of satanic ritual abuse".
The following week, Ms Stapp and Frances presented a paper at a family violence prevention conference on behalf of the Ritual Action Group. It claimed that children were subjected to ritual and indoctrination to convert them to "the worship system of the group" and intimidated into silence.
After listing signs of a progression to "higher rituals" – including hatred to family and religion, drops in grades, cuts to the body, increased use of illegal drugs, satanic nicknames – it suggested parents should be looking for particular items.
These included a black-covered book listing types and locations of rituals and contracts for suicide or homicide, ceremonial knives, candles, chalice, robes, satanic books and animal and human bones.
A workshop at the University of Auckland featured Mr Gabites, the police officer who belonged to RAG. He then returned to America to investigate links between satanism and child pornography, and the allegedly related issues of satanism, child pornography and ritual abuse received huge coverage in a Sunday newspaper.
Seventeen days after this story appeared, the first allegations were made against Peter Ellis – by a mother who had earlier written a pamphlet on sexual abuse.
Professor Hill says that although the apparent hysteria has died down, "as long as courts and other authorities accept the "expert" word of pseudo-scientific claims, the satanic scenario may persist." He concludes: "Satan’s New Zealand stopover may have been more low key [than Australia], but for some of those involved in the Christchurch creche case it has had devastating consequences."
Photo: Peter Ellis; NZ Listener
Ellis: "I am not a guilty man"
Peter Ellis told a parole board hearing at Paparua Prison on March 11 1999:
"I cannot accept any Parole that you could offer me because the Board can only release me as a guilty man. I am a human being and of course I very much want my freedom, but I simply cannot accept it, if it is to be given, on the basis that I am a guilty man.
I am not a guilty man. I am an innocent man."
Peter Ellis has consistently said he’s much more concerned for the children than himself. He wants his convictions quashed for them, not him. He says:
"The real child abuse is what has been done to the children in the judicial process," he says. "I’m angry that all those kids will go through life with everyone thinking they were abused. If they get to 19 and have some problems, everyone will say, ‘Oh, he was at the Civic Creche.’ They need to know that nothing happened there."
Memory Researcher calls for new trial based on science
On October 20th 1999 the Christchurch Press reported a Victoria University memory specialist and psychology lecturer’s statement that Peter Ellis deserves a new trial based on science rather than rhetoric.
Maryanne Garry said research into children’s memory had grown "by leaps and bounds" since Ellis’s 1993 conviction and 10-year jail sentence.
"The jury should have been properly educated when Ellis was originally tried by allowing psychologists to discuss the research on children’s memory – something that didn’t happen during the trial," she said. "If we were to retry that case today, he would not be convicted."
Dr Garry also took exception to a statement that the Civic Child Care Centre children’s behaviour was consistent with true allegations of child abuse. She said research showed there was no consistent cluster of symptoms that reliably classified child abuse.
Frank Haden calls for enquiry
In his October 24 1999 Sunday Star-Times ‘Quite Right’ column, Frank Haden insisted Ellis is not guilty. He said:
"The five judges of the Appeal Court got it wrong when they denied Peter his appeal against his transparently unjust conviction for crimes that were never committed. Their error was expected, almost inevitable, but it will be marked down as an almighty blunder for all that." Haden maintains:
"Those children were never tortured and hung up in cages, as was testified. They never had sticks shoved into their rectums and penises, as was testified. They didn’t kill babies, especially Jesus, as was testified. They were never made to stand in a circle of adults, being kicked by men with guitars and by creche workers who lifted up their dresses and performed "all sorts of interesting tricks with their vaginas", as was testified.
He points out that the judge refused to let the defence show this videotape testimony to the jury on the ground that Peter hadn’t been charged with doing those things. Haden wrote:
"The children were aggressively interrogated by their parents, social workers and crusading interviewers, pelted with leading questions and manoeuvred into telling tales that grew in gruesome detail with every sentence. Then they were exploited for reasons of religion, political correctness and downright greed for the buckets of money pushed at them by Accident Compensation Corporation workers." He concludes:
"The five judges considered they had to stay within the confines of justice, that mythical figure wearing a blindfold and holding the scales. But when the law has shown itself to be fallible, when its blinkered pursuit by foaming-at-the-mouth zealots, dim-witted parents, man-hating social workers and a religiously prejudiced old trial judge have created a miscarriage of justice, it is time to shoulder it aside and let reason have its turn."
Sandra Coney Disagrees
Sandra Coney in her ‘Thinking Aloud’ column the same day expressed the feminist point of view, asking "When will it be over for the children?" She wrote:
"They are young adolescents now, and the continual denial of their abuse must cause considerable grief. Instead of the safety of knowing their abuser is behind bars, their victimisation has been prolonged. Ellis, his mother and the loquacious Judith Ablett-Kerr are constantly on the attack. There has been no voice for the children or their families all these years. The justice system has bent over backwards to investigate Ellis’s claims. The original trial has been held up to more scrutiny than any other court proceedings held in New Zealand."
Justice Minister concerned about Ellis Case
Press Release New Zealand Government 2/02/00
The Justice Minister Phil Goff commented today on the Peter Ellis case.
"The Governor General sought my formal advice last year on an application for a pardon and a Royal Commission of Inquiry on behalf of Mr Ellis. It is not appropriate at this point for a member of the Executive to consider advising the Governor General to grant a pardon when the Court of Appeal has twice concluded there has been no miscarriage of justice.
The Court of Appeal did, however, in its last judgement note there were issues that might be more appropriately considered by a Commission of Inquiry.
I have read the Thorp Report and Court of Appeal decision on the Ellis case.
Some elements of the case are of concern to me.
I have asked the Ministry of Justice to consider the application and the comments of the Court of Appeal and to provide advice on what kind of inquiry is appropriate.
I am awaiting that advice," Mr Goff concluded.
Dr John Read advocates limits to enquiry
Dr John Read, a senior lecturer at Auckland University who helps to train psychologists to work with child sex abusers, criticised Peter’s mother Lesley Ellis, for suggesting that the children at the centre of the case be included in an inquiry. He claims Ellis’ continued protestations of innocence are further trauma for the families and children involved in the case.
"Most child abusers are never convicted or charged and even after conviction, the media and Government authorities continue to cast doubt on the truthfulness of those children [in the Ellis case]" Dr Read said. "That makes it even harder for people to come forward in the future."
“Remember child victims” says Roger McClay
The day Peter Ellis was released, the Commissioner for Children was widely reported as saying that we should never forgive or forget the sexual abuse of children. He said:
"It is important to remember that his convictions were the result of a lengthy legal process involving some 10 judges, evidence from victims and their families, and two appeals. At the end of this detailed investigation, the court concluded that Ellis was guilty of the sexual abuse of seven young children."
Darryl Ward wrote to The Dominion
"I note that the Commissioner of Children, Roger McLay, has entered the fray over Peter Ellis. Mr McLay is correct in reminding us that the children at the centre of this case are indeed victims.
However they are not victims of Ellis, but are victims instead of the abuse industry and its Gestapo-style interrogation techniques. These children finally cracked when they realised that it was easiest for them to simply accept the extremist gender-political fantasies of their tormentors, (which included ritual satanic abuse in underground crypts).
Ellis of course has finally been released from prison following his unlikely conviction under these extremely bizarre circumstances. Yet the real child abusers not only walk free, but may even still be practising their perverse and dangerous quackery."
Illinois Governor bans executions after justice system fails
There was an ironic juxtapostioning of news items in the Nelson paper on 2nd Feb 2000). The Commissioner for Children is basically saying Ellis must have done it because courts, courts of appeal, and others have convicted and let stand the conviction.
A few pages later is the story of the Governor of Illinois banning all executions of prisoners on death row because journalism students, and other researchers, have found the evidence to prove that 13 of them are innocent. All 13 have subsequently been released. All were males. Ten were black.
The courts missed the evidence of their innocence. The juries missed it. The appeals courts missed it.
Everything about the criminal justice process missed the innocence of these men and the state was going to kill them.
I admire the courage of the Governor of Illinois who basically said that his conscience was not going to let the state kill people anymore until there is a thorough investigation of what has gone wrong in so many past cases, and until he can be certain that the problems have been fixed.
I am disgusted by the attitude of the current Children’s Commissioner.
As Darryl has pointed out in his letter to the Dominion, the children were most certainly abused, emotionally if not sexually, but it is highly unlikely that any of them were abused by Peter Ellis, either emotionally or sexually.
Feminism built on believing women’s allegations of sexual abuse
In Cathy Young’s Salon article (discussed here) she quoted prominent feminist legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon: "Feminism is built on believing women’s accounts of sexual use and abuse by men."
This is the key issue here: do we blindly "Believe the Children" whatever the circumstances, or do we accept that the real world is not black and white as this slogan suggests?
Feminists who have spent the last decade chanting the mantra "Women & Children Never Lie About Abuse", continue to do everything they can to prevent or limit an enquiry.
Opposition to enquiry
Waikato law lecturer Wendy Ball told the Dominion (Feb 5th) that the need for an inquiry appeared to have passed. She is personally convinced of Ellis’s guilt.
In Government, Lianne Dalziel, Ruth Dyson and Phillida Bunkle all say an enquiry is unnecessary. Even more opposed is Dr John Read from the Psychology Department at the University of Auckland, who said in the Herald (Feb 7th):
"The suggestion from Ellis supporters that the children should be included in the inquiry so they can have a chance to tell the truth is truly sickening."
He said if there is an enquiry, it should cover "the chronic under-resourcing of child protection services and police child abuse units."
When juries have got it wrong
Letter to the Herald, 10th Feb.
"I am appalled that Dr John Read, senior lecturer in the psychology department of the University of Auckland, should assert categorically that Peter Ellis cannot clear his name because he was found guilty of child abuse "in his trial and two appeals."
It is impossible that Dr Read does not know of cases where the judicial process has produced miscarriages of justice which were slow to correct. Has he not hear of Arthur Allan Thomas or Lindy Chamberlain?
To become partisan on behalf of child victims of abuse in general does not serve the cause of justice in a particular case. The Commissioner for Children, Roger McClay, and Dr Fred Seymour appear to be similarly partisan.
Rather than seeking to interfere in a judicial review, Dr Read should perhaps be asking himself whether he is not lending academic authority to forms of inquiry which have been shown to be seriously flawed. Is he on the defensive?
It is inappropriate to dismiss Peter Ellis’ claim of innocence cavalierly while making a plea for funding in an area where Dr Read himself is professionally involved.
The pursuit of truth in the particular case of Peter Ellis should be the primary concern of all of us, and especially of those who work in the area of child welfare."
John Read "Predictable"
Letter to Herald, 10 Feb.
"Dr John Read’s comments on the impossibility of Peter Ellis being able to clear his name were predictable. In his position, what else could he say?
It is a sad fact of life that trials and appeals are not about finding the truth. That is often revealed after convictions have been entered.
The essence of the Ellis affair is that he was convicted by small children and by the so-called experts who claim to have correctly interpreted their behaviour. Where was the medical evidence and scars of their physical injuries? Where were the tunnels, trapdoors, cages and weapons ?
Many similar convictions have occurred overseas. The McMartin case was a classic example. Fortunately, most have now been overturned on appeal because it was recognised that psychology had gone badly astray and its expert opinions were fanciful guesswork based on beliefs, not reality.
The truth behind the creche affair should be revealed by an inquiry with wide terms of reference. But closed minds won’t help. A pardon for Mr Ellis is not at all unthinkable."
Terms of Reference
Whatever else the inquiry covers, the most important focus should be on the role of imported ‘experts’, and the credibility of professional organisations, educational institutions and individuals who continue to promote them.
On our website (here), a concerned writer discusses the activities of Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care, organisers of a controversial Auckland conference in September 1998 for the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. A number of the invited speakers had been personally involved in the very worst of the so called ‘child abuse’ fiascos, and in promoting ‘Recovered Memory Therapy’.
Already this year, DSAC has invited two of these same ‘experts’ to teach NZ workers how to therapise children supposedly suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of their father’s (or mother’s boyfriend’s) alleged domestic abuse. Currently this seems to be one of the main growth areas in the publicly-funded therapy industry, with money available for many new programs.
If Labour go ahead and re-introduce lump sum ACC compensation covering this kind of invisible, ‘psychological injury’, the predictable massive upsurge in incidence will produce a new bonanza for therapists and counsellors to reap.
In the Feb-Mar COSA (North) News & Views (here), Gordon Waugh reveals the magical thinking involved in diagnosing psychological injuries covered by the ACC legislation. It seems to boil down to "believing the victim". Not surprisingly, there will be considerable resistance from ACC therapists and their trainers to suggestions they be held to account for their unscientific, ideologically based beliefs.
Sadly, the failure of our institutions to detect and prevent this kind of large scale social and academic manipulation (by what could be compared to a loosely-organised multi-national corporation) when it first appeared in the early 1990’s means that NZ children will continue to be psychologically abused by well-meaning but badly misinformed therapists.
Positive Partners Strong Families Couples Communication Course
NEXT COURSE STARTS MARCH 15th
The next Auckland PPSF course starts on March 15th, and will run for six weeks. Subsidies are available to participants with financial difficulties.
Even if things are going fine in your relationship right now, it may be that things could get even better after spending just six evenings reviewing the simple techniques which successful couples use to relate well.
Facilitators have now been trained in several other parts of the country. Contact details and course dates will be advertised shortly.
Blaming Boys – Raising Sociopaths
Photo: Next Magazine
Extract from ‘Handle with Care – an investigation into childcare centres’, by Caroline Courtney, Next Magazine October 99.
When a boy viciously began hitting and kicking other children, the psychologist enlisted to come up with some strategies to manage his errand behaviour was astonished at what he witnessed at the centre.
"I soon realised the staff weren’t meeting this child’s needs in any way," he said. "They only interacted with the children when crises developed, noticed them when they became noticeable. And then they responded punitively. They’d tell the children off, call them ‘naughty’ without being specific about the behaviours they wanted to correct. For example, they wouldn’t say ‘we don’t snatch, we share. Practise using these words if you want a turn’. Instead, they moaned about the children, saying things like ‘look at him, look what he’s doing now’.
They never put enough toys and equipment out to stop conflicts arising. For instance, they’d set up an art activity without enough paper, pencils and scissors to go around. Then they’d sit back and gossip about their nights out and their boyfriends while pandemonium erupted around them.
"This child came to their attention because dramas unfolded around him all the time. It had got to a point where if anything went wrong the other children pointed at this poor kid and blamed him for everything. I talked to the staff about what was happening. That’s when I found out the head teacher was newly trained – in fact, this was the first centre she’d worked in.
I recommended changes to the environment and gave them some advice about basic behaviour modification and social skills development. But they not only didn’t understand what I was talking about, they showed a complete lack of willingness to take anything on board. In their eyes, the child was the problem.
It was a hopeless situation. I talked to the child’s parents about taking him out of there and they moved him to a centre with well-qualified staff that practises a child-centred philosophy and has really good behaviour management policies. He’s absolutely fine now – a real delight. He needed a bit of fine-tuning, but within months the right input had turned him around."
Feminist Critique of Men’s Movement
Sadly, the authors of the following review of current NZ men’s movement literature neglected to put their names on the paper, so we are unable to give credit where it is due. It was published on a noticeboard at a NZ University.
Male MEN Opausal Newsletter:
For Sad, Inadequate Middle-Aged Guys Who Get All Bitter and Twisted After Their Marriages Break Up, And Believe that Giant Feminist Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Agency devils Are Chasing Them With Large Pitchforks!!!!
Babbler Futile of the Gestapo Society Talks to The Male MEN Opausal Centre On Air:
Babbler: Giant Maori lesbian social democratic child sexual abuse prevention Abortion rights gay green opponents of spanking are out to destroy western Civilisation as we know it, Gitt.
Gitt: And Babbler, you say that they cavort around buildings widdershins ?
By the way, why is your hand trying to do a Hitler salute’?
Babbler: Hitler was a sadly misunderstood man, but at least he opposed abortion, homosexuality and feminists, just like I do.
Gittt: As I haven’t had much in the way of tertiary education, am suffering from male menopause, and am all bitter and twisted over my fifth consecutive divorce, I believe The Gestapo Society’s inane conspiracy theories. Where can I get in touch with you, Babbler?
Babbler: Try the Gestapo Society, PO Box 105105, Reichstag, Berlin, Gitttt.
Fathers And Rightwing Twits (FART) Newsletter.
Our favourite group of deadbeat dads offer more tips on trying to dispense with your child support payments. Who cares if kids from the previous marriage suffer? IT’S ALL HER FAULT ANYWAY.
Plus: More attacks on solo mums from Mooriel Newperson, Spokesperson for Slashing Welfare Benefits, Destruction of Government Party (DOG). Mooriel tells us about DOG’s plans to get rid of the welfare Benefit and child support, and make women on benefits suffer. This is called Being Pro-Family.
Causes of Sexual Abuse (CAUSEs) Newsletter.
Felicity Goodyear-Blimp has burnt out, and Causes has split into two groups, one spreading its message of backlash and ad hominem abuse against child sexual abuse prevention workers in the south island, the other in the north.
Remember, children always lie about being sexually abused. and parents are always innocent. Anyone who says otherwise is part of the giant Maori lesbian welfare dependent opponent of spanking conspiracy to undermine western civilization. (Gordon Waugh comments here)
Men Opausal Erratic Raving Association Newsletter
Peter Zohrabid makes more inferential leaps from texts written by conservatives with a pathological hatred for higher education because they could never get that far themselves. Read sophomoric essays that would probably get flunked by anyone who marks Stage I social science essays!
MENZ Issues Editor’s Comments
Over the last five years I have been greatly disturbed by the large number of people who say they totally agree with us, but are afraid to say so publicly. Most of this fear is because they know they are likely to be attacked and abused personally – usually by cowardly, anonymous activists just like the writers of this so-called newsletter. The message is not really aimed at Felicity, or Peter – rather it is a warning to everyone that deviating from the PC line is likely to result in they too becoming a target.
It is an extremely effective tactic – I read the book Wild Swans over Christmas which described how during the Chinese cultural revolution the Red Guards initiated attacks on the intellectuals by putting up posters around universities denouncing them for fictitious crimes. Very few people spoke out in that kind of climate, and those that did were easily isolated and eliminated.
Changes at Men’s Centre North Shore
At the February executive committee meeting, five new members were elected: Bevan Berg, Jim Bagnal, Alan Candy, Craig Griffiths and Christine Osbaldiston. We were sad to receive the resignation of Mark Rowley (Chairman 1997-99), who is unable to afford the necessary time due to pressure of work. Thankfully, he will continue as media spokesman. The writer has also resigned from the committee, so that more time can be put into developing education kits for the website. Richard Wheatcroft will take on the Secretary role.
Our Community-building day on Sat 12th went very well. Attended by 24 men representing at least ten men’s groups, Rex McCann’s excellent facilitation ensured that by the end of the day there was considerable alignment of both spirit and purpose.
We were particularly pleased to meet Bruce Cheriton and Max Thomas from Mana Men’s Rights in Wellington, and Darrell Carlin from Men and their Children in Tauranga.
Of course there are some differences in approach, and each group has its own particular focus. However, I am sure all concerned found it useful to strengthen the network that has been building over the last three years, and to learn from and share experiences with their colleagues.
There was agreement that a meeting of the Auckland region men’s groups should be an annual event.
Heart Politics Summer 2000
In early January several Men’s Centre members attended the annual Heart Politics gathering at the Tauhara Centre in Taupo. It was a good opportunity to meet one of our patrons – Sir Paul Reeves, who was the main speaker the first night. He told me the next day that he is well aware many men in our society are hurting, and agreed that changes are needed.
The attendance of a visiting futurist absorbed many participant’s attention for the first day, as he demonstrated the technique of creating a 30 year vision then ‘backcasting’, to identify the steps necessary to achieve it. Fascinating stuff, but not directly relevant to our immediate issues. At the next sharing circle I said that I hoped for more discussion about the politics of gender, and how male-female relationships within our society can be strengthened and supported. I was particularly interested to seize this opportunity because I was aware that there were many staunch, politically active feminists in attendance, including many that were proudly and openly lesbian.
By sheer chance (or serendipity if you choose to believe in such concepts), I ended up in a six person home group that included Peta Joyce (part of the Broadsheet collective back in the late 1980’s), and Viv Maidaborn (CEO of Relationship Services, and a prominent campaigner for the rights of lesbian and gay couples to marry). Within the small group we discussed how such a conversation could be structured to help clarify a positive direction for the future. Peta offered to facilitate a "meta-discussion on the state of gender relations, using the application of the Domestic Violence Act as a metaphor." This proposal received the enthusiastic endorsement of Rex McCann, so the following afternoon about 25 of us gathered in the shade of the Tauhara gum trees.
As one of the main issues seems to be that the voices of groups on all sides are not always sufficiently heard, we ended up performing what could be described as a psychodrama, where a multitude of differing positions were expressed. What became obvious was that there is NOT a clear gender divide on any of these issues. One participant observed that the situation is much more analogous to a "jig saw where all the pieces don’t fit together very well".
It felt to me like there was considerable movement towards recognition that both men and women have terrible things happen to them, and that it is not always the men who are to blame. We also need to acknowledge that feminism has made an enormous contribution to the well-being of women in our society, and that we need to take care these gains are not undermined. The mood at the end was one of optimism, and an increased openness to considering each other’s points of view. Thanks to excellent facilitation by Peta, the entire process was conducted in a respectful and civilised atmosphere, despite the powerful passions and emotions that were aroused and expressed.
All of us are currently wrestling with the problem of how people with differing beliefs, values and worldviews can work together to ensure a just and sustainable future for everyone. After the "workshop under the gum trees", I am convinced that the culture and processes that are being developed at Heart Politics have a great deal to contribute to the solution.
Chairman Jim Bailey & son Javan Photo: Alan Candy
Chairman’s Quarterly report
I write after this year’s "Community Building Day". I am absolutely exhausted after the actual day, the build up to it and thrilled at the outcome. Very proud of our management team and Rex McCann as facilitator who did a fine job. I am sure that those that responded to my call to spend a day building our community with each other and those we closely associate with will agree. It was a most amazing experience. I look forward to next year’s and have diaried Sat 10th February 2001. Will you do the same?
Our next major event is Vision Brainstorm 2000. 20th May, not the Saturday of Easter as previously advertised. Sorry, my fault. I see this event building on the community day and to clarify the future of MCNS. It may mean setting up a special committee to fine-tune our constitution. You have seen my personal vision and some have responded, thanks. I really want to know what you want from MCNS and what you are prepared to do to make that happen.
August will see another major event, which I would like to focus upon Strategy. Strategy to both care for men and present an even stronger unified political front that includes all Men’s / Fathers’ groups in NZ.
November, well what do you reckon we should do? Might be a time for a camp or perhaps a Xmas Picnic at Long bay. Maybe invite men and their families / mentors and their mentees?
MCNS has four front lines. All as important as each other. MENZ ISSUES, www.menz.org.nz , Monday evening Information and Resource Seminars and now Quarterly events. I believe that for a successful future MCNS must continue to grow our community of men on the Shore and throughout NZ. We must somehow find the balance between caring for men and presenting a powerful political front to encourage societal, social and legal change for the improvement of men, fathers and their children’s lot.
We are desperately under-resourced at leadership level and frustrated by lack of funds. We need your subs, donations and manpower.