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Rev. Milne, the fundie spinmeister

Fri 3 Dec 2004 In: Comment

Tim Barnett has written an e-mail to Reverend Garnet Milne from the Campaign against Civil Unions. This must be a heated e-mail, for Tim Barnett has been accused of 'lashing out'. The Reverend surprisingly states in relation to Tim Barnett's e-mail that "[he] was very surprised and saddened that this message could have come from one who has had the important responsibility of impartially chairing a select committee of parliament on an issue as important as this one. Tim [Barnett] has provided no evidence at all that anything on our website is 'misinformed'. He has failed to provide any evidence that our beliefs are 'dangerous'. The views expressed on our website are in line with those put forward by over 90% of the written submissions to the committee on the Civil Union Bill." The Reverend also puts forth a challenge to "Tim [Barnett] to provide the evidence for his claims and we will publish them immediately on our website and respond to them". I have no doubt that they will. The Reverend Milne has been very good at deflecting the actual sentiment of Tim Barnett so that the reader will assume that Tim Barnett has indeed abused his position or has acted inappropriately. The e-mail to which Reverend Garnet Milne was referring, as reproduced honestly, we hope, on his organisation's website, reads: "I vote with the knowledge that your grossly misinformed and dangerous beliefs about homosexuality are much more a threat to the peace of our nation and that welfare of our people than anything I could ever do as a politician." Having read over the website for the Campaign against Civil Unions, I can concur that Tim Barnett has stated nothing untoward, abused his position, or even lashed out. He even signed the e-mail ‘best wishes'. Tim Barnett makes no direct mention of the Civil Union Bill in this e-mail. Simply, he is saying that the results of his vote (in favour of the CUB) will be less detrimental to New Zealand than the information and emotion behind the fervour of the information posted on the Reverend's website. Tim Barnett is referring to the Campaign against Civil Union's views on homosexuality. The website for this organisation needs not the CUB in order to exist, because the bulk of it is anti-homosexual, not anti-Civil Unions. This is what fired up West Coast Councillor Jacquie Grant; the website is openly hostile to gay and lesbian people. No doubt the Reverend Milne would like me to back up MY assertion. For starters, as with the Society for the Protection of Community Standards, the continued unnecessary reference to queer MPs as “the openly practising homosexual" reeks of sarcasm and hostility; inverted commas around words like 'lifestyle'; labelling homosexuals ‘immoral', 'ungodly'. Also, whether deliberate or not, to list us as ‘homosexuals and lesbians' is as redundant as ‘humans and women'. But this is not what Tim Barnett is commenting upon in his e-mail. He is referring to the ‘grossly misinformed and dangerous beliefs about homosexuality', rendering comments which, if indeed were on par with 90% of the submissions to the select committee, should render them evident of mislead and/or bigoted submitters. Can a hatred of, an aversion to, a repulsion towards gay and lesbian people be adequate grounds for allowing the Civil Union Bill to fail? The Campaign against Civil Unions has a section, as replicated on literature posted through the doors of thousands of New Zealand homes, entitled Say NO to Same-Sex Relationships. I am sure that this is the material to which Tim Barnett was referring, and is irrelevant to the Civil Union Bill. It is this section that will form the backbone of argument that will allow the website to continue after the passing of the Bill, under any number of new names, although few would be as appropriate as Campaign against Homosexuality. Nowhere on the website can the Campaign truly be accused of a hate crime, but a hatred of homosexuals and homosexuality is thinly veiled. The organisation professes ‘hate the sin, not the sinner', but cannot maintain this doctrine in line with what is actually publishes. They list 'facts' placed on their site not with the intention of making us perverted creatures repent our vile chosen 'lifestyles' (for the avid reader, the website carries wonderful evidence that we have chosen to be non-heterosexual beings) but to make others detest us and look down upon us. These facts include stating that in the United States, the average life expectancy for a gay man is not much more than 40 years, 30 years fewer than his straight counterpart. This data was researched by Paul Cameron, who has been removed from the membership of the American Psychological Association, the American Sociological Association and several other professional associations, for manipulating data and even creating fictional case subjects. It quotes hearsay data from the Netherlands where “many gay relationships only last on average for eighteen months and in that time it can be verified some have had up to eight separate sex-partners”. Although I'm not sure that the Netherlands is such a great example, even if one were to look at ‘decent, moral' Dutch citizens, I'm sure that this statement would work well anywhere, and as it is as useful as a weather presenter predicting "it may be sunny, but also it may not be sunny", would work equally well with straight relationships. Another strong tie-in with the submissions against the Civil Union Bill, proving (one could suppose) that all submissions against the Bill were based on "I don't like gay people", it uses the overwhelming response in the negative as a reason to say no to same-sex relationships as well as the CUB. The report back from the Select Committee puts these submissions into a better perspective. They state that 3383 individual submissions (about half) were received. 2820 were against and 465 were for the CUB, that's 83.4% in favour, and 16.6% opposed. The rest were form submissions, of which only 1.7% were in favour, meaning that the 98.3% of form submissions against the CUB were made by people whose hard work in their thought process culminated in the signing of their name, and perhaps a comment or two below. God hates fags, perhaps. Another great fact to top off this page is a statistic supposedly to our detriment that we are 6.5 times more likely to commit suicide. As if the name calling, mud slinging, otherwise dying at 40, and 95% of submissions to the CUB being against gay people wasn't enough, if we decide we cannot take it and choose to end our lives (or become substance abusers, alcoholics, runaways), then we have the finger pointed at us to prove that indeed we're incapable of being fully functioning members of society, and you want to give us the right to solemnise our unnatural ungodly ‘unions' too? The facts and figures on this page alone warrant Tim Barnett's concern, and clearly are what he is talking about, although equally homophobic, yes, homophobic (and I don't throw the use of that word about lightly) rhetoric and fluff is all over the website; it is the mainstay of the website, and the true reason for its existence. I know that the so-called 'facts' on the 'say no to gay people' page won't be removed. The Campaign against Civil Unions will have no intention of amending their fluffy facts. For one reason, said facts have already been printed and distributed. The facts suit the cause; to anyone that likes to read and believe plainly what they read, these facts prove that gay people are unfit, unworthy and unhuman. Tim Barnett knows that when he votes in favour of the Civil Union Bill, the campaign against it will not change their views, views that will feed the homophobia of our attackers, assailants and murderers that lap up these figures hungrily. When the CUB passes and the sky doesn't fall, indeed the peace of our nation will be threatened by those that believe relationship figures from the world's most liberal nation are appropriate comparisons for New Zealand and that gay men are unworthy of Civil Unions because they top themselves at such high rates, oblivious as to the reasons why. The views of Reverend Milne are thus dangerous, are misinformed, and I'll bet that he knows perfectly that he is using sources from a discredited psychiatrist, as most of those reading his website won't know that fact. Before I leave, I find it difficult to accept the words of a hypocrite. The Bible specifically states that Christians should avoid the things of this world, and any true Christian, rather than lobbying against a government Bill, would not concern themselves. They certainly wouldn't vote or sit in Parliament. A Christian would not hate anything (hate the sin, not the sinner, sounds nice and is a clever biblical interpretation). Also, is it lame for me to state "he who is without sin cast the first …", I'll stop there. I wonder if, as one of the 10 commandments, not bearing false witness (applied to using the known lies of an American Quack in ones literature) can be interpreted to mean don't reproduce bollox when you know it to be such. I'm sure the Reverend would never send his Best Wishes to Tim Barnett. At least I know Mr. Barnett's would be sincere. AJ Marsh - 3rd December 2004    

Credit: AJ Marsh

First published: Friday, 3rd December 2004 - 12:00pm

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