Friday, December 28, 2012

Debating the fringe

On Christmas, several relatives told me about an early December "debate" on TVNZ's "Breakfast" programme between TV psychologist (and marriage equality advocate) Nigel Latta and well-known far right religious extremist, Bob McCoskrie (with whom I had enlightening Twitter, um, exchanges I obliquely referred to in this post). The relatives told me about how Latta did well, and the nutjob did very, very badly. Well, night before last I watched it on demand and they were right!

McCoskrie argued that since he can't become a nun, therefore, gay couples shouldn't be allowed to marry. Yeah, I can't follow that "logic", either. Bizarre reasoning aside, he missed a very important point: What the Catholic church decides to so with its religious staff—priests, nuns, monks—is of no concern of any government. Governments shouldn’t tell churches who can and can’t be nuns or priests, and churches shouldn’t be able to dictate that government obey their religious dictates.

So, this suggests that McCoskrie doesn’t understand separation of church and state, that the fact that he can’t become a nun is an issue between him and that church—and totally irrelevant to the question of whether governments should treat all citizens equally. And, anyway, polls show that growing majorities of Catholics support marriage equality, so Bob might want to use an analogy from a group of people friendlier to his odd and antique views. Like maybe the Klan or something.

Anyway, if you want to see a religious raving lunatic bark utter nonsense, and a rational mainstream person counter it, check it out on TVNZ’s On Demand service (may not be available in all countries). But you don't really need to: No Kiwi takes McCoskrie seriously—he's a total self-parody and joke.

I’m not kidding about that, either: When he started popping up on TV as the voice of rightwing Christianity in NZ, I thought he was practicing deep-cover parody, because he seemed to be trying to discredit far-right politics in this country (Poe's Law again). The fact is, he’s the real deal, and quite serious; he just doesn’t realise he’s a joke.

The “Breakfast” debate was held on the day that New Zealand’s Campaign for Marriage Equality released their campaign video, “Marriage Equality Matters”, which I blogged about at the time. It turns out, the video’s premier was actually on that day’s “Breakfast” programme, but, since I stopped watching the show ages ago, I never saw it. It was one of many things this month that I missed, but would have blogged about.

I still have a few days to catch up with some of them before this year is done.

This post is a revised and expanded version of something I originally posted to Facebook and Google+.

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