Monday, January 07, 2013

Spinning again

The same far right religious political guy I wrote about last week is back at it, desperately trying to spin poll results to try and make it look like they’re not losing. I said last week, “I’m beginning to feel embarrassed for them and their obvious desperation.” Were their goal and agenda not so awful, they’d be a hilarious joke now.

But I’m not laughing anymore.

The Sunday Herald newspaper released yet another poll showing that a majority of New Zealanders supports marriage equality: 53.9 per cent of Kiwis supported marriage equality and 38.1 per cent did not. Our good friends at “Protect [sic] Marriage NZ” ignored the actual poll, and instead headlined their spin, “Support for Gay Marriage Continues Downward Slide” (my long-standing policy is that I don’t link to far right sites, so to read it yourself, you’ll have to copy and paste this link: http://bit.ly/WhFW6L). My stomach already hurt from laughing at them over the headline, but it positively ached when I read that his anti-gay campaign:
“…is welcoming a Herald on Sunday poll today showing that support for redefining marriage has fallen from a previous high of 63% in a ONE News Colmar Brunton poll last May to just 53% now.”
The religious extremist group is comparing a poll for the NZ Herald to one conducted by a completely different polling company at a completely different time for a completely different media company, and pretending that one can directly compare one to the other. How can we do that, exactly? We don’t know the polling method, the margin of error, the confidence level, the precise questions asked or anything else that would help us determine what, if anything, can be compared between the two polls, yet our opponents are sure—SURE!—that the new poll shows support has “fallen”. Why?

The reason for their deception about this poll is that they’re trying to reinforce their silly claim that a Research New Zealand poll in September showed a decrease in support for marriage equality, when the truth is that support actually grew and opposition fell (I pointed out their fallacy at the time).

The screen grab above shows their Tweet announcing a link to their absurd spin, and my snarky response. My link is to a course from the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand called “Statistical Analysis”, which, the institution says, “introduces you to statistical methods for analysing business or technical data, displaying and describing data, and using formal methods to draw conclusions from data.” Clearly, they need to be taught how to read statistical data, because they have no idea how to interpret poll results.

Or, do they? While they’re making themselves into a laughing stock by continuing to present absurd, easily debunked spin as if it was true, there’s something actually pretty sinister about their PR spin, as if they believe that lying often enough and loud enough will somehow turn things around for them.

Oh wait, did I just go there—did I call them liars? Yes, I did, because it’s now clear—after their lies about several polls and other issues—that the most accurate word to describe them is, in fact liars, and here’s why: Saying something that’s demonstrably false once means one is mistaken, doing so over and over and over again makes one a liar. Doing so to promote a far-right, anti-gay religious extremist political agenda also makes one a bigot.

What annoys me in particular isn’t just that the group is lying about poll results, but that they’re now lying about their own record and past. In the press release, the head of the group says,
“There is absolutely no need to redefine marriage to provide legal recognition and protection for same-sex relationships. In 2004, the government introduced Civil Unions and changed over 150 pieces of legislation to achieve this very thing. There is no so-called ‘discrimination’. The real question is why are further special rights now being demanded?”
The guy behind this group and its alter ego never had a good word to say about civil unions, mocking them constantly after they became law, calling it a “white elephant” and dismissing the low numbers of people who, in the early years, took up the option. Now he expects us to believe he actually thinks they’re a good idea, that, as he said, “Everyone has a right to love who they choose…”? Yeah, right. Political expedience is one way to describe that. (also, here’s why Civil Unions aren’t enough).

Now he says,
“This Bill isn’t just a simple change in the wording of a current law. It is proposing the complete redefinition of an institution as it has existed for thousands of years until now. Many people in the homosexual community also do not agree with ‘same-sex marriage’. They are not ‘homophobic’ or ‘bigoted’.”
Say, what? Um, many heterosexuals disagree with marriage, too, so that must be a reason for ending ALL marriage, right? Sheesh! It’s also dishonest to say that gay opponents aren’t homophobic or bigoted because what makes one such is not opposition to marriage equality, it’s WHY one is opposed to it. Disliking marriage, wanting different institutions, rejecting sexism, etc., etc., is completely different from opposing marriage equality because, often based on one’s own private religious beliefs, one doesn’t like gay people and thinks they should not be full and equal citizens. In the first case, it’s a difference of opinion; the second is religious bigotry and homophobia.

As always, he also blathered on about “redefining marriage”, as all righwingers do (and it’s obviously utter nonsense). Back in 2009, he said what marriage equality advocates say now: “Marriage is an important social good with a smorgasbord of positive outcomes for children and adults alike. Governments should encourage and support what works.” Marriage equality advocates agree, but we strongly disagree that private religious belief should shut out same-gender couples from being able to commit in marriage the same as opposite gender couples, and all for no other reason than certain religious people don’t like gay people.

Then today he again dredged up his dumbest argument, that marriage equality “must” lead to a slippery slope (cue screams of terror):
"If you're talking about real equality that means it should be available to anybody. That includes three or four who want to get married, that includes teenagers who want to get married, …married people who want to marry somebody else at the same time. It's on the agenda and everybody knows it. It's on the long-term agenda.''
This is such a stupid argument that I hate even having to address it. When I showed five months ago why there’s no such thing as a slippery slope, I said: “You would think that there’s one argument that the opponents of marriage equality wouldn’t make because it’s so laughably silly.”

Our opponents are clearly flailing about desperately if all they can do is push such obvious lies, deception and flat out stupid arguments. Their leader is lying when he says his entirely imaginary “slippery slope” is “on the agenda”. Part of the way you can tell it’s nothing but a lie—apart from the fact that he can’t provide a shred of credible evidence—is that he doesn’t pick one thing to be on his fantasy agenda, he picks everything, desperately hoping that at least one thing will scare people enough to make them change their minds about marriage equality. It’s the desperate, panicked reaction of someone who is about to lose his political battle. In fact, he already has, and his bigoted and homophobic attacks on marriage equality just demonstrate how panicked he is.

Our radical extremist opponents can claim they’re not motivated by bigotry, but their words tell a different story. No matter how many lies they tell, no matter how many times they try to spin the truth to pretend it says the exact opposite, the fact remains that mainstream New Zealand supports marriage equality and utterly rejects far right religious extremists.

And that’s no spin.

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