Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Yesterday a coalition of rightwing religious groups launched a website to coordinate their campaign against the proposed law to establish marriage equality in New Zealand. Within 12 hours, the New Zealand Herald reported, it was gone.

That much is certain, but little else is. Unfortunately, that has already clouded the arguments made by the opponents of marriage equality.

According to the Herald, one of the main leaders of the anti-equality coalition, Bob McCoskrie, claimed that the attack was aimed specifically at their website, but took down others, too. He offered no evidence to support his claim. Instead, he said:
"You always hope you can have a robust debate about ideas, and show respect for each other but when you're trying to take out each other's website it kind of suggests that you're not going to get a good debate, so that's disappointing."
This is very unhelpful. Unless he has some proof that his adversaries are involved, or at least specific evidence that his site was the target, then he should refrain from defaming supporters of marriage equality by suggesting they are responsible for the attack on his site.

It’s ironic that Bob McCoskrie talks about showing respect for each other and then defames and slanders his opponents. I assume that he didn’t mean to also suggest that his side was trying to take down the sites of supporters of marriage equality; his wording was unfortunate.

No one should support censorship in a political debate, nor the suppression of arguments for or against a matter of public policy. Similarly, politically-motivated attacks on any website to suppress its speech and ideas, or to make it appear that is happening, are unconscionable and must be denounced. But in doing so, offering unsubstantiated smears against one’s opponents is no more acceptable, and completely unhelpful for robust fact-based debate.

Political debate should be better than that. I hope we may yet get better in this debate.


d said...

What is there even to debate? I just don't understand how we are still discussing human rights (all over the world) in 2012. :-P

Arthur Schenck said...

I'm sure I don't know why this wasn't settled long ago... :-/