EDITORIAL: No comfy plane seats for any men

LOUIS PIERARD
Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro's judgment of all men by the worst example is a suitably juvenile tribute to her portfolio.
Her assumption that men, by definition, are potential child abusers is one she shares with (and for which she praises) our main domestic airlines, which ban men from sitting next to unaccompanied children.
In ensuring the safety of minors in their care, Qantas and Air New Zealand choose (as airlines are obliged to in all other matters) to err on the side of caution.
In their favour, it is a demonstrable fact that men won't interfere with children if they can't sit next to them, just as a dog that is fenced in will not bite (or mount) passers-by or worry a neighbour's sheep. The airlines make no exceptions for travelling dogs, either.
The policy of leaving nothing to chance is contemptuous of the majority of the airlines' paying customers, who are male. Is it possible to take a more understanding view; that, as its defenders argue, if such discrimination prevents one child from being indecently assaulted, isn't it worthwhile?
If so, should men be sitting near children, unsupervised, under any circumstances, in buses, movie theatres or at sporting events?
The airlines' policy says all males have an incontinent predilection for molesting children. In short, men are bad for them.
Paedophilia is the blackest of crimes and nothing is spared in the urge to condemn it, least of all the sensibilities of males obliged to shoulder the burden of shared guilt.
The consequent fear of suspicion and tarnish of accusation mean children are anathema to men, too, and that segregation might protect the latter from false claims of sexual assault.

Earlier this month it was reported that Swiss Santa Clauses have been banned from sitting children on their laps because of the risk that they might face such accusations. A letter on this page laments the mistrust of any relationship a male teacher has with his pupils.
After Dr Kiro's reflexive endorsement of ring-fencing males, the comments of former prison superintendent and author Celia Lashlie makes refreshing sense: "New Zealand, as a culture, is starting to hide behind political correctness in order not to have to demonstrate moral courage and integrity".
In collectivising crime, the lazy, sweeping assumption that all men are potential paedophiles is a symptom of society's inability, or refusal, to address sex offending. Perhaps it is because the absolution convicted sex offenders find in their own circumstances theoretically extends to everyone. If no man can be answerable for his actions, then no man can really be trusted.
Interestingly, many unconcerned about shaming and insulting all men by associating them with paedophilia are likely to be those who insist that punishing and humiliating sex offenders by identifying them is counterproductive.
The airlines make no apology for their policy. How strange that corrupting the principle of presumption of innocence should have become a virtue.
Some suggest indignant travellers should vote with their wallets. However, lack of competition means males are captive to the airlines, which clearly cannot fathom the resentment their policies have provoked.
For many men, each flight will now be accompanied by the nasty sensation that they are there under sufferance, because their hosts emphatically believe they are potential child molesters.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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