Outrage is the emotion one feels about something that strongly offends, insults, or affronts us.
It’s the condition that afflicted Alf last night as he was gathered with fellow Nats at the Kerikeri Golf Club when the results of the by-election were flowing in and it became all too apparent a calamity had happened.
The result meant the 9300 majority chalked up by Mike Sabin in September had been turned to a 4000 majority for (and here Alf must brace before spelling out the words) Winston Bloody Peters.
The only greater outrage he can imagine is that the seat might have fallen to the Greens, but they did not enter a candidate and thus conspired in an event that meant our splendid Mark Osborne was pitched against a New Zealand First-leftie-greenie coalition.
Alf can’t imagine being outraged by a book, unless it was a book counselling readers to restrict themselves to a diet of fruits, vegetables and nuts, and to have nothing to do with alcohol.
He certainly would not be outraged by a book that suggested beating your kids is a useful form of child discipline.
To the contrary, he would be delighted to know someone shares his views, which many of his colleagues condemn as outdated.
Hence he was bemused to read this in the Herald on Sunday:
An outraged mum has launched a campaign to ban from public libraries a book that instructs parents to withhold food and whip their children with branches and belts.
Auckland Libraries stocks one copy of To Train Up a Child, the controversial book penned by American ministers Michael and Debi Pearl in 1994.
The book, which also tells parents to use a garden hose on children who have soiled their pants, has previously caused international outrage and has been linked to three deaths and numerous cases of child abuse in the United States.
The outraged mum is West Aucklander Eileen Joy.
It seems she learned this week the book was in Auckland Libraries’ system and launched an online petition on Friday to have it withdrawn.
Dunno if the petition has been as successful as the petition to save Jeremy Clarkson from being sacked.
It seems not.
Last night, more than 1,000 people had put their names to the campaign.
Being a strong libertarian on most but not all occasions, Alf was somewhat disappointed to learn that the person wanting to have the book banned is someone who has been in the book business.
Joy, who previously managed Borders Books in the UK, was dismayed the book had been paid for with rate-payer money.
“I have done enough research about this book over the years to know how terrible it is, but I never thought it would be brought here,” Joy said. “One of the recommendations is to pull the hair of a 3-month-old if they bite during breastfeeding. It is assault.”
Alf is a bit curious about this research thing.
He would have thought the only thing Joy had to do was read the book to find out what it contains.
As a practitioner of corporal punishment in the good old days before namby-pamby lefties and greenies had the law changed, Alf suspects he would rather enjoy reading the book, although he is far too busy to bother doing so.
Other recommendations in To Train Up a Child tell parents of misbehaving children to “use whatever force is necessary”.
Implements for training a 6-year-old include a light wooden spoon, rubber spatula, flexible tubing less than a quarter inch in diameter, or any instrument that will cause an unpleasant sting without leaving any marks. It suggested using belts and branches on older children.
According to the Sunday Herald, the book has been in the library system since 2012, after a customer request. It has been borrowed 10 times and two people are on a waiting list.
In 2011, Whitcoulls removed To Train Up a Child from its online store after complaints from family groups.
But the idea that we should be able to read whatever we fancy does have its champions.
Louise LaHatte of Auckland Libraries acknowledged the book was “divisive”, but said the libraries were committed to the principle of “freedom of access to information”.
She said the service would not “suppress or remove material on the grounds that it gives offence”.
Neither Wellington nor Hamilton libraries had the book.
Perhaps they have buckled to the will of those who are promoting censorship.
There are many of them, it seems.
Anthea Simcock of Child Matters was also outraged a public library would buy the book.
“This is not about causing offence. It is about using ratepayers’ money to buy a book that tells parents to break New Zealand laws,” she said.
“It is rationalising sadistic and inappropriate behaviour of poor and uncaring parenting.”
Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills said he “wouldn’t read it”.
“Hitting children in New Zealand is illegal because it is wrong, it does harm and it doesn’t work.”
Wills said children who were “raised with love and praise” were more likely to excel as opposed to those who grew up around threats and physical discipline.
The Office of Film and Literature Classification said it had had a complaint about the book and would look at classifying it if someone asked.
Alf is astonished to think where this might lead.
He has fond memories of watching Father Ted.
He particularly admired the desperate antics of Father Jack, who was more than somewhat fond of a small tipple.
He does not imagine for a moment that this would drive children to take up the bottle.
Hence he does not imagine it should be banned.
A better example, perhaps, is the TV series How To Get Away With Murder.
Murder was illegal long before they criminalised the strapping of delinquent children.
Murder is a more serious offence than strapping delinquent children, too, although this proposition is open to argument in namby-pamby circles.
But why isn’t Joy expressing her outrage about the screening of this programme on TV, thereby encouraging hundreds of thousands of viewers to get the idea you can get away with murder?
Alf makes one final observation.
The Joy kiddies are pictured with their mum in the newspaper.
The children are not smiling.
Alf would be much more inclined to take child-rearing advice from parents with children who were smiling.