Friday, July 21, 2006


But hey wait! That shafts vegetarians!

And it is no accident that in Wellington beats the heart of political correctness in New Zealand. Its inner suburbs are white, middle-class, university educated and their income and status protects them from daily experience of society's detritus or riff-raff. Unlike, say, the provinces. But it had not been possible -until now - to identify the epicentre, the ground zero of PC-dom in Wellington. Until last week.

That's when Wadestown Primary School banned peanut butter sandwiches from its precincts because someone, somewhere, sometime might just have a nut allergy. And - omigod -die. For the same reason, they've also banned Nutella sandwiches, hazel nuts, cashew nuts, muesli bars and anything that has ever been near a nut product in a dairy, supermarket or mum's pantry. In other words: No nuts.

Now this may be simply due to the fact that there are already too many on their board of trustees and in the staff room. Probably. When questioned as to why the favourite spreads of Kiwi kids should be exorcised, Wadestown school explained that a child had died from anaphylactic shock after exposure to a peanut.

Really? Where? Australia. How old was this child? Fourteen. And the circumstances? A teenage boy -at secondary school - who had a severe nut allergy was challenged to eat one by a few of his mates. He was stupid enough to do so - the culinary equivalent of crunching into a cyanide pill.

On that basis, Wadestown Primary School enforced its ban. Incredibly, the parents have accepted such ridiculousness. Despite there being no recorded death, in more than 25 years, of a child dying in New Zealand of anaphylactic shock from a peanut allergy. Even the main allergy lobby group in this country is opposed to the ban.

Yes, but what happens to those children who accept and venerate the nut as part of their culture? Say, vegetarians? Having enforced the ban, the Wadestown staff and trustees could not be seen to be backing down. On the other hand -and despite good medical evidence - vegetarians are people too. And oppressed people - primarily due to not shaving their legs, eschewing deodorants and bathing in their own urine.

But like the good teachers' college graduates that they are, Wadestown found a solution. They would isolate the nut-crunchers to a "safe" area of the school. The peanut purveyors would receive a form of supervised community care. Although the aim would still be to wean them from their insensitivity and immaturity.



Father told to stop filming son on pool slide -- but at least they later backed down

An Auckland father of three is outraged that he and his wife were told to stop filming their 1-year-old son going down a slide by attendants at a Mt Albert swimming pool. Alistair Hayward contacted the Herald yesterday in response to an article about a mother in Canterbury who was dressing her 16-month-old by the side of a pool when an attendant told her child nudity was banned. He said the incident happened at the Philips Aquatic Centre in March last year. "I got my wife to videotape my 1-year-old son going down the slide for the first time, while I held his hand, and two lifeguards rushed up to us to tell us we weren't allowed to videotape him." Asked why, they told Mr Hayward it related to "privacy issues". He said one of the lifeguards then told him he hated telling people they weren't allowed to film their kids.

Mr Hayward said there were no signs at the pool banning video cameras. "To make things even more pathetic, they had security cameras all over the place. Surely if they were concerned over privacy issues, security cameras would be in breach of that too." Mr Hayward said it was political correctness gone mad. "I could understand their policy if there was a dirty old man filming random kids ... but I was holding my son's hand, my wife was filming us and our other two kids were nearby ... It shouldn't have raised an eyebrow. "I've now missed the opportunity to film my son going down a slide for the first time."

My Hayward said the pool had apologised for the incident and sent him free passes. Centre manager Paul Kite said the two lifeguards, who were later spoken to by management, had taken the pool's policy too far. "We do have a policy that if you want to film or take pictures you are meant to [seek] permission. However, that rule is flexible." He said Mr Hayward should have been allowed to continue filming his son that day. "It was inappropriate that they were approached and they should have been allowed to continue." He said the aquatic centre, in the grounds of Mt Albert Grammar School, did not have an issue with parents dressing their young children near the pools.



John Reid will announce today plans to ensure that violent offenders, rapists and paedophiles spend longer in jail. The Home Secretary wants to end the present system under which offenders given discretionary life sentences for crimes less than murder, and those given indeterminate sentences for public protection, are not considered for parole automatically at the halfway stage of the minimum term laid down by the judge. Mr Reid wants judges to be given much greater discretion in sentencing so that they can order that certain offenders must serve longer than the halfway point of the minimum term — the tariff — before being considered for release by the Parole Board.

Under the plan, to be announced by the Home Secretary this afternoon, rigid guidelines under which judges must give a sentence discount of one third for a guilty plea are to be scrapped. Mr Reid wants the judges to have much greater discretion in giving discounts for early pleas. He is acting after the public outcry in the case of Craig Sweeney, the paedophile from South Wales who received the discount despite being caught with the child.

The Home Secretary’s proposals to rebalance the criminal justice system in favour of the law-abiding majority will also include plans to insist that all Parole Board decisions on release are unanimous and the creation of a dangerous offenders protection order for prisoners freed from jail but about whom there remain concerns that they may harm the public.


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