Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A new tactic

Morals campaigners are a wacky bunch under the best of circumstances; so cock-sure of their own righteous superiority that they feel they have the right to dictate to everyone else how they should live their lives. I suppose everyone needs a hobby.

Usually, the objects of the tut-tutting, finger-wagging and stern lectures are people who are not social and/or religious conservatives—the vast majority of society, in other words. And, of course, the most frequent targets of these morals crusaders are GLBT people.

A few years ago, such crusading resulted in the Broadcast Standards Authority upholding a complaint against TVNZ’s Shortland Street soap opera for the first time ever—because of a gay storyline. Complaints are often made to the Advertising Standards Authority, too, whenever anything remotely GLBT-positive is advertised.

Recently, a morals crusader used a new tactic, one I’ve never seen before, and it again involved the Broadcast Standards Authority.

Hamilton man Leo Leitch complained about a news item broadcast on TVNZ’s One News. In their Decision Number 2011-118 (dated December 20), the BSA described the news report this way:
“An item on One News, broadcast on TV One at 6pm on 13 August 2011, was introduced by a newsreader who stated, ‘Our tourism industry is getting an unexpected boost as an influx of gay couples heads across the Tasman to tie the knot. Civil unions still aren’t legally recognised in Australia but pressure’s mounting on politicians to revisit the issue.’ A reporter introduced one such couple saying, ‘They’re gay and in their eyes, very much married.’”
Leitch complained that the item breached controversial issues, accuracy, fairness and discrimination and denigration standards because, he claimed, “the item’s use of the word ‘gay’ instead of ‘homosexual’ was not objective or impartial,” and “he considered that is was akin to using the words ‘fairy’, ‘poofter’ or ‘faggot’, which ‘would not be tolerated for a moment’.”

I have never heard a morals crusader make that claim before, and I find it hard to believe anyone would—or even could—take it seriously. Fortunately, the BSA thought it was absurd, too:
“In our view, the term ‘gay’ is commonly accepted and widely used in reference to homosexuals and homosexuality. It is not a derogatory term when used in this manner, and we disagree that it is in the same realm as ‘poofter’ or ‘faggot’, as alleged by the complainant. On this occasion, the item subject to complaint was a straightforward news report, and the reporter’s use of the term did not carry any invective or make any judgement on the item’s subject matter.”
All of which is simple common sense, which any sensible person would agree with. The BSA went further.

The BSA stated that no issue of broadcast standards were raised, and pointed out that since “Section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 allows the Authority to decline to determine a complaint which it considers to be frivolous, vexatious, or trivial,” they therefore declined to determine Leitch’s complaint “on the grounds that it was frivolous and trivial.”

What this means, basically, is that the BSA refused to even take the complaint seriously. Ouch.

This is the one area of New Zealand life where the self-righteous will attempt to assert control over the majority, but their efforts usually fail. That’s as it should be. But it’s a pity so many of them still waste other people’s time and money with silly, self-righteous moralising.

The rest of us have more important things to do—and probably real hobbies, too.

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