James Mason has become almost a poster-boy for the Christian Right. The group Family Integrity had this to say:
So Mr Mason was engaging in "loving fatherly discipline", and merely "flicked his son on the ear."
Anti-Parental-Authority Law Criminalises Loving Father
Jimmy Mason was out for a walk with his two boys - Seth, 3yrs and Zach, 2yrs. They were having a great time learning to ride the bikes that they had recieved as an early Christmas present. Making their way along Cashel Mall in Christchurch, they came up to the Bridge of Remembrance.
This magnificent memorial was built as an enduring mark of gratituded to the thousands of young men from Christchurch who selflessly gave their lives to defend our Free Land of New Zealand from the tyranous usurpers, many thousands of miles over the water. They fought and died so that the generations that came after them might live in freedom and without fear of oppression from any government, whether it be their own, or a foreign governement.
As all little boys do, Seth and Zach crouched low over their handlebars, racing down the ramp leading down from the bridge, the path leading around a sharp corner. Seth, one year older than his brother, took the corner nicely. Zach however, struggled to keep control of his bike - and losing control, he smashed into the solid brick construction of the bridge. When his father ran up to assist his 2yr old son, he found him lying on the ground, holding his hand to his eye.
Seth had stopped at the corner. He looked down at his brother, lying on the ground, slipping in and out of conciousness. He saw the concern on his dad’s face, and heard him say “wait Seth, we have to look after Zach”. Whether or not he understood how serious the situation, it was with loving fatherly discipline that Jimmy flicked his son on the ear as he started peddling away.
An off-duty police-officer stood nearby, and she immediately reported the incident. With a few minutes, six uniformed police officers stood around the Man and his two little boys. As Jimmy cradled his injured toddler in his lap, one policemen pulled out his notebook as another pulled out his radio and spoke brusquely to head-office.
One can only imagine how scared the two little boys must have been, and the terrifying thoughts rushing through their dad’s head. How was he going to tell his wife that their children were going to be put into a foster-home?…
Seth and Zach are now confused, because they know that their daddy who they love is in trouble with the police. Jimmy is angry because he now has a warning on his record, and CYFS will be faster than ever to remove his children from him and his wife if they hear the slightest little thing.
The jury in this case found differently. Evidence was produced that Mr Mason had punched his son in the face, and the jury clearly believed that evidence. Nowhere on the Family Integrity site will you find any reference to a punch.
In all probability the police would not have brought the case if Mr Mason had merely ear-flicked his son. You would think the Christian groups who supported Mr Mason would now be keeping a low profile. But Family First has never been afraid of expressing an opinion:
"As the police and judge have reiterated, this case has nothing to do with the anti-smacking law as was previously suggested in media reports", said Family First's National Director, Bob McCoskrie.
But Bob, why on earth would the media have thought there was some link to the "anti-smacking" law?
Family First national director Bob McCoskrie was astounded to be told Mason had been charged. "That's amazing," he said. "That's going to be a test case. I think everybody has been waiting for a case like this to go before a judge so we can get a new interpretation of the law. It's an uncertain law, which is the worst part of it. Some say it totally bans smacking and some say it doesn't."
McCoskrie said his organisation could be interested in helping Mason, although it had not yet been asked to do so. "From the initial report it didn't seem that serious, but it would depend on the facts."
When groups like Family First and Family Integrity criticise the police for charging a parent with assault, without knowing the full details of the case, they risk making fools of themselves. And they risk giving comfort to genuine child abusers.