More debate, less hate

The Ricky Effect

RICKY MALCOLM
Last updated 10:01 03/09/2012

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OPINION: Last week saw some pretty historic stuff happening in New Zealand.

The big wigs in the Beehive voted to keep the alcohol age at 18 (much to the disgust of many health-orientated organisations).

We also saw the Marriage Amendment Bill enter its next stage, which  could well see our nation embrace a major societal change, allowing same-sex couples to marry and possibly adopt children, much to the disgust of religious groups and other conservative, old-school people.

That has created a real battleground on the internet, and Bob McCoskrie of Family First has been a target in recent months. He was on the news because a group of people flooded one of his anti-marriage equality sites, which resulted in it shutting down for a while.

In my short 23 years I don't think I've seen such a powerful lobbying movement before from all sides of a debate! It is easy for people to have a strong voice and presence online, it's easy to click 'like' on facebook, it's easy to comment on a status, and it's even easy to sign a petition online.

The younger generation has been embracing this tool and the oldies are now slowly catching on too. As an example, on the day of voting I saw a post on Jonathan Young's facebook site asking for people's views and opinions on marriage equality and alcohol reform. Regardless of what he ended up voting for or against, he was engaging people on his decision-making. (Not that I'm calling you an oldie, Jonathan.)

I'm sure the lobbying will get more intense on all fronts as the legislation goes to the next stage. I just hope and pray that the right decisions are made for the benefit of our new generational society.

Church and state should be separate, but I do empathise with those politicians who are deeply religious and struggle to combine the views of constituents and their own conscience.

Regardless of my personal views I love to see people get out there and engage with their elected leaders. Just don't get bitter and stab at each other on a personal level (leave that bickering to the politicians).

Of course, we could bypass all of this hate and debate and take some good advice from Ol' Winston Peters. Go to the polls with a referendum! Surely that would be a better indication of where we are as a nation on marriage equality- and if it is indeed what the majority of New Zealanders want.

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- Taranaki

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