by Kevin Hague
The debate over Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill has been raging for almost a year now, and I have received thousands of emails and letters, as well as having read many thousands of submissions during the Select Committee process
I thought the contrast between those in favour and those opposed was striking, and have blogged on this before. Fundamentally there is a difference of world view: those opposed subscribe to a moral code based, usually, on a particular religious faith, and believe everyone should follow this code, whether or not they share that faith. The mental picture I have is a rigidly conformist New Zealand of the 1950s. By way of contrast those who support the Bill usually have a very clear pluralist world view, in which they see the role of Government as providing a framework for a society of many faiths and codes of behaviour.
The difference between the views of older and younger New Zealanders has been particularly striking. When the Select Committee asked some young people about this, they pointed out that they weren’t even born when Fran Wilde’s Homosexual Law Reform Bill overhauled the law in 1986. It is bizarre to them that LGBT people should be treated any differently from anyone else by the law.
We looked for a graphic way of representing this contrast, and used a “sample” of all the correspondence that arrived in my office over a particular time to create word clouds. It’s not science. It’s not discourse analysis. But it makes the point.
You might wonder why we chose LOVE and FEAR. Love because that basic heart message cropped up again and again (love is love, all love is equal, legalise love etc). Fear, because so many of the arguments being used by many opponents were clearly motivated by fear – fear of change, but also fear of imaginary risks, raised a spectres by one or two opposing organisations who, in my view, have acted entirely unethically and dishonestly.
Hope you like.