Title: Our lives are a Moral Issue! Credit: Chris Banks Comment Friday 19th August 2005 - 12:00pm1124409600 Article: 866 Rights
Homosexuality is no more a moral issue than menstruation, but the Sunday Star-Times "morals debate" wants New Zealanders to believe otherwise. As I drove my partner to work early Monday morning, I suddenly became aware of everything we both were doing in a way I hadn't before. We got out of bed, I had a cup of coffee, we struggled through rush-hour Auckland traffic to the sound of Paul Holmes. The working day over, I collected him from work and we struggled back through rush-hour Auckland traffic to the sound of Paul Henry. Dinner and television ensued, then bed. Even though nothing about this routine was much different from any other Monday, I couldn't get off my mind the fact that my life and existence as a gay man is considered by the media to suddenly be a "moral" issue. Who would have thought that our suburban mediocrity meant so much to so many, I thought as I turned out the light. Of course, it actually doesn't, but such is the power of crap research. Yes, how could we ever forget the Sunday Star-Times, the paper which in 2003 presented us with a former pipe-smoking, bus-driving, "ex-lesbian" allied with some dodgy phone research to make the point – hey kids, maybe gays can change! Nearly two years on, perhaps the paper is trying to help us along with that decision by conducting its Great Morality Debate survey, which consisted of a large self-selected sample filling in a web-based questionnaire about, well, sex really. And how we should treat people in society based on their sex lives. This survey is IMPORTANT, the paper would have us believe, so important that answers to questions like, is it OK to discriminate against gay people, will be drip-fed out over several weeks leading up to the general election. “Moral” issues were big during the US Presidential election campaign last year, but haven't really reared their head in New Zealand. But, boy is the SST doing it's best to change that. They've ramped up the hyperbole on the significance of their findings, too. Note their intro to the first “results” last week: “Politicians take note: morality is big, it's personal, and it's affecting a voter you need. Morality has emerged as the sleeper issue in the election campaign, and the National Party looks set to benefit from a deep dissatisfaction with the country's moral direction.” But who exactly is dissatisfied? 8% of the 10,000 respondents said they were voting for fundamentalist-lite United Future, a massive over-representation. 23% said they were undecided on which party to vote for – another bizarrely large figure. Further answers as to who these dissatisfied voters are is buried in the “C” section of the newspaper. Some conservative groups used networks to increase their response, the paper freely admits. 271 respondents said the trigger for them taking part was the Maxim Institute. Another 260 mentioned church – and of these, pentecostalist Baptists are over-represented, as are Christians generally. “Clearly, this thing's been hijacked,” says Paul Litterick, secretary for the NZ Rationalists   
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