Thursday, October 23, 2008

False poll pushed in California.

I recently said that it is my observation that religious people seem more willing to falsify claims and I used the lies being spread by the religious coalition that is backing Proposition 8 to strip gays of equal marital rights. Some people were unhappy about that -- generally religious people. I expected as much.

But I stated my observations because they are my observations and I’m not going to pretend otherwise. The false claims that were recently made, and are still be promulgated, by the Yes on 8 campaign were such obvious falsifications that one can’t attribute them to carelessness or simply having a different view.

Now the followers who spread these lies were not quite guilty of the same sin. The originators at Yes on 8 knew the facts and lied about them. The followers just stupidly accepted them because they corresponded with their pre-existing prejudices and beliefs. There were guilty of merely refusing to investigate the truth. They were avoiding the truth not falsifying it.

Another example of this sort of bald-faced dishonesty was recently exhibited by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization that has poured over $1 million into the antigay campaign in California.

They publicized a poll they commissioned on their web site which they say proves that Prop 8 is going to pass easily. But the way they conducted this poll was inherently dishonest. They revised the wording of the actual ballot initiative. On the ballot Prop 8 is described thusly: “Eliminates right of same-sex couples to marry.” In the poll it was” Limit on Marriage Constitutional Amendment” to “say that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid...” They make no mention of it removing rights from gay couples.

But these pollsters didn’t ask people simple questions about whether they support Prop 8 or oppose it. They engaged in a shady practice called “push polling”. This practice skews the results intentionally as a political tactic. It isn’t meant at finding out what people think but is an attempt to change how they think.

An instance of this would be someone polling people with the question: “Would you vote for Candidate A., if you discovered he recently beat his wife until she was bloody before violently attacking his children?” A proper polling question asks what someone thinks. An improper polling question makes arguments for a particular position in order to skew the results. That is what the Knights of Columbus did with their so-called poll.

Here are a few of their questions. Voters were asked whether they would support or oppose Proposition 8 “if they learned that...”

If Proposition 8 passes, gay or lesbian couples will still be able to form civil unions and have the same rights as married heterosexual couples. If Proposition 8 fails, heterosexual couples who want to be legally married in a church that won’t perform same sex marriage would then have to be married outside their church. If Proposition 8 fails, priests, ministers, and other clergy who won’t perform same-sex marriages because of their religious beliefs will face lawsuits and may lose their right to perform heterosexual marriages.
It is surprising with questions like this that any voters were opposed to Proposition 8. I’d vote for Prop 8 if this were true. That it isn’t true doesn’t seem to matter to this Catholic organization. The initiative takes away the right of gay couples to marry. If gays don’t have the right to marry then how do they have all the same rights that married straight couples have. One has the right to marry, the other does not.

And the California Supreme Court, in the ruling on the legality of gay marriage, said that no religious institution has to change their beliefs. No one can be forced to perform gay weddings.

Another “question” claimed that schools will be forced to teach gay marriage. All the major education officials in the state have said this is simple not true. The president of the State Board of Education said this was “political campaigning at its worst.” But what are facts when your defending the faith?

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