Monday, July 31, 2006

"Blue Liberals" aren't

Since I seem to be on the topic of dissing National's "liberalism" over the past few days, I couldn't help but be amused by Steve Gray's report on the BlueLib launch last week [audio]. He was invited along as a young, hip, urban, gay liberal with fiscally conservative views - and was surprised that they didn't say the "gay" word all evening. Instead, they seemed to want to keep the whole issue in the closet.

Of course, gay rights are not the be-all and end-all of liberalism - but they are a serious, live issue in New Zealand at the moment, and for a self-proclaimed "liberal" group to fail to mention them is more than a little odd. What is the BlueLibs' position on the Adoption (Equity) Amendment Bill, eliminating the defence of "homosexual panic", or eventually gender-blinding the Marriage Act? I guess having to share a party with people like Wayne Mapp and Murray McCully and Brian Connell means we'll never know...


What's this 'homosexual panic defence'? Never heard of it.

Posted by Gooner : 7/31/2006 08:34:00 PM

from what I understand homosexual panic is a defence used in court to show why someone would react in a over the top manner (fear of having a homosexual act done to them). It is awful, I agree, that it is allowed as a defence.

Blue libs is not a gay group. Gayness wasn't mentioned in the same way 'straightness' wasn't mentioned. Because it's not about what sexuality you are. It's about what you believe in.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/31/2006 10:27:00 PM

Anon: Yes, it's about what you believe in - and one thing liberals are supposed to believe in is equality. While much of this struggle has been successful, one of the groups left behind has been - you guessed it - gays. For the BlueLibs to studiously ignore this suggests that they're really not that serious about equality, or that they think that it applies to some but not to others.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/31/2006 11:50:00 PM

oh FFs. They've just been formed I/S. Give them a chance. So they didn't mention it at a cocktail party where there 4 speeches of under 5 mins duration each. Get over it.

Posted by Anonymous : 8/01/2006 12:17:00 AM

Well, very interesting. Of course we've seen any number of Labour MPs who can name-check minority groups more times per second than anyone else, then turn around and vote to support entrenching inequality before the law for same-sex partners? I don't recall Rainbow Labour having much to say on that.

And I certainly don't recall Labour's 'liberals' rediscovering their spine and speaking up against some of the profoundly illiberal immigration reforms this government is proposing.
Strangely enough, New Zealand isn't the only country that's finding you can't just import a high-skill white-collar workforce like a container load of DVD players no matter how lovely everyone thinks The Lord of the Rings is.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 8/01/2006 12:20:00 PM

Spink: ACT aren't liberals. On pretty much any liberal issue - gay rights, freedom of speech - they have been on the wrong side of it. They drugs fudge on drugs, and last term, over half of them voted against decriminalising prostitution, for Cthulhu's sake!

They aren't liberals. The only freedom they care about is th freedom of the rich not to pay taxes.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 8/01/2006 12:26:00 PM

Surely I/S, ACT's opposition to decrimnalisation of prostitution was more a principled stand against a vast unfunded mandate the government intended to impose on ratepayers :-)

Stephen Franks on flag-burning was a little odd, but then I would say that wouldn't I? (we do have Franks to thanks for s 155(3) of the Local Government Act, for what it's worth).

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 8/01/2006 01:03:00 PM

Craig, I think the issue here was that they deliberately invited a group of potentially sympathetic (on economic issues anyway) gay people, then wouldn't say the g-word.

And then Chris Finlayson got upset when Stephen raised it personally with him afterwards. WTF? Did they want feedback or a PR opportunity?

It wasn't a bad idea in principle - I'd welcome a liberal ginger group in the National Party - it's just a shame that, for whatever reason, they took such an odd approach on the night.


Posted by Russell Brown : 8/01/2006 01:28:00 PM


Well, different strokes for different folks I guess. Call me naive, but if name-checking every minority group in the room at least once is "liberal" in any sense of word, then that's something really worth getting indignant about. Still, I guess that's an interesting wee insight into the kind of political culture we live in - just pardon me if I find it a dispiriting one.

Back in the real world, perhaps you'd like to tell us all how you feel about Steve Maharey's bright idea (as reported on the news last night) to start putting some rather fuzzy "values" into the curriculum. I think any classical liberal with children - gay, straight, bisexual, whatever - might be feeling a little twitchy about the Government going there, for any number of reasons.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 8/01/2006 06:55:00 PM

anon #1 - yes, i knew what I/S was getting at. But this 'homosexual panic defence' terminology is dog-whistling. It's called provocation. Giving it another name to suit gays is like complaining when the Blue Libs failed to mention gays when the curtain came up.

Posted by Gooner : 8/01/2006 11:22:00 PM

Gooner - You said

"'homosexual panic defence' terminology is dog-whistling. It's called provocation."

It is provocation - but it's a development in provocation law, not unlike 'battered women's syndrome'.

It's a use of the defence in a way that should not be used in a tolerant, enlightened society.

I think it describes the defence pretty well - "That gay man is going to do something gay to me. I better kill him to stop it."

Posted by Anonymous : 8/02/2006 09:24:00 AM