CANTA is the magasine put out by the compulsory student union at the University of Canterbury. In the 25/May 09 issue of CANTA the political commentator Hayden Munro (aka the Magpie) wrote an article entitled “Ok, this could get kind of tricky” which he has also posted on his blog. In his article he discusses minority politics in general, the “Christian Right” and more specifically, myself. It is essentially a response to an article of mine that was published in the previous edition of CANTA which discussed abortion law in New Zealand. Hayden is not only on the ball when it comes to discussing this subject, but he does so in an impressively balanced and reasoned way. I’ll let you have a read of the article – all I want to do here is address one or two comments in the article which Hayden’s thrashed out onto the keyboard perhaps a wee bit too quickly.
“Andy is… strongly against any gay marriage”
As far as I know I haven’t stated this anywhere. Just to be clarfiy though, I believe homosexuality is immoral, but if two homosexuals wish to enter into a civil union – to be officially recognised as a couple before the State, I have no problem with this. However the issue of gay marriage is so convoluted that I will not deal with it right now.
yellow card: that’s not on!
“…even intelligent, dedicated activist’s [sic] like Andy can slip into really rabid rhetoric. Insinuating that Helen Clark shouldn’t try to save a dieing [sic] friend, since she believes in abortion, is not going to win you any friends amongst moderates.”
That’s just bad logic. One thing I try hard to avoid is rabid rhetoric, character slurs, exaggerations and the like. Helen Clark should be commended for attempting to resucitate her dying friend. However I was questioning the inconsistency in her actions rather than implying that she should have left her friend to die.
My major ideological disagreement with Hayden in this article though, deals with the issue of homosexual couples adopting children. He states that legislating against this would “deny them the chance to raise a family, one of the fundamental joys in life”. Heck yeah, I completely agree. But that’s their problem. I stand by my comment on 4 May, “It is empirically evident that two homosexual adults are unable to provide children with the stability and security that is essential for every child as he or she grows up.” Raising children isn’t a flippin’ game or an experiment or a right. Rather, it is a privilege.
But what’s with the magpie? Hayden’s weekly column is named “Quardle Ardle Oodle Wardle Ardle Doodle” and is a reference to a famous New Zealand poem. Flicking through the glossy colour pages of half-clothed drunken students, bizarre and disturbed cartoons, screeds of large advertisments and (almost always) boring opinion pieces is Hayden’s political column which is more often than not a good read in a particularly mind-numbing lecture. Anyway, oneday the overpaid staff at CANTA may get their act together and regularly upload Hayden’s column which you should be able to find here.
23 thoughts on “The Magpie Said”
A fair call on the first point, I knew where you stood on civil unions, but should definitely have checked where you are on gay marriage itself. For the record, where are you?
The second point I also probably overstated, but I would still think that keeping a coherent ideological focus was probably not the most pressing issue on her mind at the time.
Finally, the meat of the post. I've yet to see any convincing evidence for the assertion that single sex couples are uniformly unable to raise healthy children. You've posted a couple of single examples where same sex couples have clearly failed as parents, but nothing even approaching a comprehensive investigations of the issue. Such an investigation, such as the one carried out by the American Psychiatrist Association (not exactly a progressive group themselves)found that
"The picture that emerges from research is one of general engagement in social life with peers, parents, family members, and friends. Fears about children of lesbian or gay parents being sexually abused by adults, ostracized by peers, or isolated in single-sex lesbian or gay communities have received no scientific support. Overall, results of research suggest that the development, adjustment, and well-being of children with lesbian and gay parents do not differ markedly from that of children with heterosexual parents."
Read that middle part again "NO scientific support." If you read some of the studies done in the reference list of the article I linked too, you can find that repeated, independent studies keep coming to the same conclusion: same sex couples make no better, or worse, parents than the rest of us. I have to wonder then, if your opposition to allowing same sex couples to adopt has less to do with the research done into the outcomes of such adoptions, and more to do with your views on homosexuality?
Also, please excuse any spelling mistakes, I'm writing this on the bus home.
sorry, a link to the APA study is here, don't know why the copy and past didn't work the first time.
Canta has been a big disappointment this year, I enjoy the political columns and a couple of the feature articles (one about the Canta 1996 controversy especially), but there is a lot of filler in there – meaningless cartoons, abusing people for the hell of it and pointless articles about 'apathy'.
How did exams go anyway?
Hey Michael. Yeah CANTA's not up to much. Letters to the Editor can be ok sometimes though.
Exams seemed to go really well – looking forward to getting results back.
Thanks for the link to the APA study Hayden. Quite interesting, but I'm not convinced as to how conclusive it is. I share none of the first three concerns that are listed in the first paragraph. Ultimately it's not about the two adults in their consensual relationship – it's about the children who at the end of the day don't have much of a say in it.
Look at the 2003 UNICEF report on Child Maltreatment Deaths in Rich Nations. It lists "children not living with biological parents" as one of the causes for maltreatment.
You do have a point there. Is it my views on homosexuality which drive my opposition to homosexual couples being allowed to adopt children. Because you could bring up "what about a heterosexual couple in a defacto relationship adopting children" – I wouldn't be happy with that either, however it is unlikely to have the same effect on the children.
What exactly is the damage done to a child being adopted by a same-sex couple? What about a same-sex couple makes them intrinsicly unable to raise children? You havn't offered any reasoning for what exactly the damage done by same-sex parenting is? Especially in the face of the APA's evidence that in the thousnads of test casesnono evidence emerges to suggest that same-sex couples are in any way more likely to mistreat children than different sex couples.
The Unicef report gives concrete examples of the causes of child mistreatment, such as stress and poverty. It dosn't actually suggest that children not being with their biological parents CAUSES mistreatment, but simply that the instances of mistreatment correlate more with instances where children are not with their biological parents. But surley we can't use that as a legal basis for baring people from adopting children, because if correlation with maltreatment alone is enough to bar people from adopting, then we must also bar poor people from adopting children, as poverty has a much higher correlation to child mistreatment than homosexuality.
So what exactly about same-sex couples makes them UNABLE (the word you used) to raise healthy children? Surley your not just seeking to bar same-sex couples from adopting because they are homosexual?
Some pretty solid points there Hayden. Currently I can't offer a principled position backing up my statement – following the points you've raised. However just one look at nature will tell you that Humans are designed to procreate & grow up in family units with heterosexual parents. That's the norm. The alternative opens up a whole host of complications such as adoption, IVF treatment, lack of role-modelling from a male or a female…
I need to give this more thought, however take a look at your last sentence. Your emphasis is on the rights of the same-sex couple. As far as I'm concerned, the emphasis must be on the child as she is not yet old enough to speak up for her own rights…
The focus isn't JUST on the rights of the couple, it is on finding the best solution possible for the children AND the couple. Since all evidence shows that there is nothing about homosexuality that makes one an unsuitable parent (you still havn't given an explanation as to what about homosexuality apparantly makes same-sex couples unfit parents) all that rules against same-sex adoption to is limit the number of good parents who can adopt children. Finding good foster parents is hard enough without further limiting the numbers out of blind commitment to ideology. That only deprives children of good foster parents.
Also, ONE look at nature might make you think that humans were "designed" to live in family units with only heterosexual parents. However extensive research has found over and over (and over)that homosexuality is part of humanities genetic code, and is in no way a violation of any "norm", but rather a genetic trait that is still present in us to this day because it enhances the survival rates of our children. For more on this, I urge you to read E.O Wilson's seminal book "Sociobiology." It will hopefully expand your thinking on the subject of homosexuality and how society should react to it. Plus its REALLY interesting reading.
"all evidence shows that there is nothing about homosexuality that makes one an unsuitable parent"
really? don't you mean "all the evidence I've seen…" there's a lot of debate on this – it's not that cut and dried.
"what about homosexuality apparantly makes same-sex couples unfit parents?"
I'm not sure. Need to read more on this. However at the very least it does not offer young children the balance which is usually considered necessary for a child growing up.
Sorry Andy, should have been more specific. That should have read all evidence held to strict scientific standards and proper modern research techniques. There are plenty of people who have found that homosexuality makes one unfit to be a parent. But such findings have been disproved again and again by peer reviewed research. If you want to try and deprive people of their right to adopt, and deprive children of potentially excellent parents, you better have same damn good research. So far, you haven't cited any, where I've shown that the largest pyschiatric association in the world, after thousands of cases of research, believe that same sex couples absolutley can provide safe environments.
Denying same-sex couples the right to adopt based on a "lack of balance" is illogical. Many single parents are unable to provide balance, but still work hard to provide good environments for their children. Clearly balance is not so fundamentally important that good children can't be raised with out it. I'd ask you to consider in what circles such thinking is "considered necessary." Could it be perhaps that such thinking, prevalent in the evangelic religious circles you seem to move in, might not speak to the experiances of the wider community?
oh and also just on the subject of homosexuality as being against the norm, its hard to track down, but i think it might be on jstor or one of the uni journals, but if you can find the following article.
Zietsch, B., Morley, K., Shekar, S., Verweij, K., Keller, M., Macgregor, S., et al. (2008, November). Genetic factors predisposing to homosexuality may increase mating success in heterosexuals. Evolution and Human Behavior, 29(6), 424-433. Retrieved April 1, 2009,
it has a great description of some of the stuff Wilson talks about, and shows how rather than being a breaking of the norm, homosexuality is an enduring subsection of sexual behavior, not just in people but in animals. Of course, it bases a lot of its argument on evolution…….where are you on that whole deal?
not to open up another can of worms there……
Heck, well I can see I obviously need to read up more. I'm clear cut on the issue of homosexuality – but when it comes to children, that's where it starts to get tricky – as it does pretty much whenever children are involved.
I'm not attempting to avoid your questions in any way – I simply don't have an answer but will work on this.
Evolution? Takes less faith than to believe in intelligent design I reckon.
So what if the main problem with homosexuality wasn't "a nice emotive issue like child welfare" What if the heart of the problem is much simpler yet extremely unpalatable truth….?
the main problem with homosexuality isn't child welfare – it is quite simply that it is immoral. However when it comes to discussing what should be legislated against, I think that's where it starts to get complicated.
Uh Huh, (nods head). It is immoral, but God actually goes a few steps further than that… Lev 18:22-28 and Lev 20-13. He's not shy on this issue, should we be?
PS hope you don't object to the redneck input 😉
I'm not shy on this issue JD – care to explain? I don't mind the redneck input 😉
Ok so let's see what God has to say;
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus 20:13
Tough words, yep, But its pretty clear that God not only considers Homosexuality to be wrong and immoral. He considers it to be among the most henious and despicable acts that mankind can stoop too, and He isn't scared to call homosexuality what it is or delcare the appropriate measure of Justice: Death.
That's a pretty clear line in the sand.
"Two consenting adults" doesn't really come into it. God does not appear to treat it any differently (in a legal sense) to other crimes such as Murder, Theft, False witness etc…all recognised points of law in our current societies.
Josh, God cannot stand any sin because he is utterly holy. Only those who put their faith in Jesus – who have Him atone for their sins so that when God looks at them He doesn't see their sin but Jesus' righteousness – only those people will be made right with God. We both agree on that.
The death penalty in the theocracy of Israel applied to more than just practising homosexuals. Anyway – we now no longer live in a theocracy and so that punishment is not fitting.
I agree however that the line in the sand is blindingly clear: homosexuality is immoral. However I do not hold that governments should legislate for or against morality – unless it involves a third party who does not consent – i.e. is being harmed against their will.
This is why I am quite clear in stating that homosexuality must not be outlawed. Bringing children into the issue however opens up a whole new thing.
Hope that's clear & not too confusing – cheers 🙂
Thats all well and good for you to believe personally, but that has no bearing on what the rest of us should put in the laws of our society. This is a question of politics, not religion. Thats why we have seperation of church and state.
I'm reminded of a fantastic quote I read the other day: "There was a time when evangelical fundamentalists controlled the church, the state, and the schools. It was called the Dark Ages."
Luckily for us all, we live in a society that respects the equal rights of its citizens, rather than bending to any single religion or definition of "morality." What may be immoral to you and Andy is for thousands of New Zealanders simply the life they lead. You have no more right to use the law to curb their rights, than I as a catholic have the right to control the way you worship if my religion objects to it.
It's a fantastic quote Hayden – in the most literal sense of the word. What is being referred to as "evangelical fundamentalists" in the Dark Ages is poles apart from what would be seen as evangelical fundamentalism in this day and age.
Completely agree with you though – church/religion and state must be kept separate.
However, take a glance at the entire Western World; the Westminster Parliamentary system; the morals and values that the majority of people hold – you can trace most of them back to having their foundations in Biblical mandates & principles. It's an interesting and I think, undeniable connection.
No one should deny the enormus debt our society owes to the christian tradition. However that isn't the only tradition at work. Indeed many of the tenents of christianity can be seen echoed earlier in ancient Greek culture. If you've ever read Plato's Symposium, a lot of the description of Socrates reads like it could have been written about Christ.
Thats one of the reasons I'm so opposed to theorcratic politics. Our society is made up of so many philisophical and ieological traditions that blind adherence to any one of them while in government can be dangerous
As for that quote, yeah it's a cute little excercise in word play, but not a proper historical analysis. However it does illustrate (crudley) the point I was trying to make. So much of what is good about our society comes from our tradition of pluralism and tolerance, rather than strict adherence to biblical laws. It's a lesson that I find especially important when debating issues around minority rights.
Right with you there Hayden. Good man.
Andy, we totally agree on that first part, and let's not forget that preaching "Christ Crucified" is one of our main prioirties. Arguing about minor points of Law aint… 🙂
My contention is that homosexuality is no different (from a legal or a moral perspective) than things like murder, theft, false witness etc. Points of Law that we pursue today. Why grab commandment No 7 out of the middle and cast it to the wind? I mean ?????
I'm also unsure why you dismiss Capital Punishment? The heart of Christianity itself comes down a single, effective, and just, application of "capital punishment."
I think our difference here is what we would define as a "Sin" Vs that of a "Crime"
"This is why I am quite clear in stating that homosexuality must not be outlawed. Bringing children into the issue however opens up a whole new thing."
Hmm but the issue of child welfare is just a side effect of homosexuality. You cannot effectively do anything about child welfare if you do not address the root cause first. Address that first and Child welfare won't be an issue.
While we may dissagree on the legal status of Homosexuality, You and I both know that it is ultimately a person's conscience that directs their behaviour not the law. Hearts and Minds are where we should be working.
Theocracy Vs Democracy, maybe we get too caught up in one system of Government Vs another. Ultimately, when this world ends, you, me, and Hayden, are going to bend the knee in a new Theocracy 😉
Christians have lived under all sorts of systems, and we are to submit to those God has placed over us.
God has blessed us with lots of freedoms, something that resulted from having strong Christian Political Fathers who built the foundations for the prosperous societies that we enjoy today. If you both think that our Christian heritage is such a blessing, Why suddenly must we suddenly embrace pluralism and tolerance?
If we are to play our part as future statesmen, we cannot fall into the trap of building a "wall of separation between church and state"…
a fanciful wall which was the affectation of Mr Thomas Jefferson… and one which has no real backing in law or custom.
Our faith is something which we should never "place to one side" when dealing with any matter.
Hayden, your remark about the dark ages is a bit unfortunate, if amusing! As taught in modern history today the term "dark" primarily confers that little is known about this period of European history. Modern usage has inferred the conotation of backwardness, superstition, and ignorance. Yet there is little evidence of this, and nor does current historical research support this view. 🙂