Article Title:Fleming's Glasshouse: We take Maxim to task over its public statements
Category:Features
Author or Credit:Chris Banks
Published on:30th October 2005 - 12:00 pm
Published by:GayNZ.com
Story ID:981
Text:On Thursday 20 October I was interviewed by Eva Radich about the Maxim Institute's plagiarism scandal on National Radio's Nine To Noon programme. Maxim director Bruce Logan had been caught out by The Fundy Post a few days earlier, lifting significant tracts of commentary wholesale from overseas authors, and slipping them into his own columns published in daily newspapers around the country. Regular readers of GayNZ.com will know that we have followed the activities of the Maxim Institute for some time, particularly last year during its vociferous opposition to the Civil Union Act. Directly after my interview on Nine To Noon, National Radio aired an interview with Maxim Institute managing director Greg Fleming, who made a number of statements concerning his organisation's correspondence with me, and GayNZ.com's investigations into Maxim. Let's examine his statements to see if they seem true or false: WE DIDN'T TALK TO HIM, HONEST! National Radio, 20/10/2005, Nine To Noon Programme GREG FLEMING: “We've spoken to Chris on two occasions, not on a number of occasions, and the reason we've chosen to do that is because it became pretty clear early on that he's, how would you say, he's a journalist who's very much informed by his own prejudices than by, he's more of an activist than a serious journalist and for that reason we've chosen to respond to most of his queries in writing.” Incorrect. Not only does Fleming downplay the number of times Maxim has spoken with me, he gives the impression Maxim has been reticent to correspond, because I am an “activist”. This is simply not borne out by the facts. GayNZ.com and former TV2 gay show Queer Nation initially sought to interview a representative from Maxim around July 2004, when it became clear there were serious distortions in ‘research' cited by Maxim in their Parliamentary submission on the Care of Children Bill. Our request (I was working as a reporter for both organisations at the time) was initally declined. However, when both GayNZ.com and Queer Nation ran stories on the above, including information on Maxim encouraging their supporters to use anti-gay form letters in submissions to Parliament, Maxim communications manager Scott McMurray phoned me and suggested meeting. Extensive telephone interviews were then conducted on several occasions, mostly with McMurray, but also with Maxim legal counsel Nicki Taylor. A formal face-to-face interview with Taylor and McMurray took place also. Greg Fleming was scheduled to be interviewed on camera for “Queer Nation” following Maxim's oral submission on the Civil Union Bill to the Justice it has been farmed out to outside firms. Maxim should have been upfront from the start: it is a lobby group. Research is born from truth-seeking. Maxim operates in reverse. It establishes its own “truths”, then seeks out research – any research, no matter how flakey, will do – to validate its "truths" because it knows that opinion backed up by science, or pseudo-science even, carries more weight than opinion on its own. To that end, Maxim exploits the general public's lack of knowledge in the area of social science to suit their lobbying agenda. Chris Banks - 30th October 2005    
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