Euro-skeptic message still drew pro-European voter

Dutch voters who voted against the European constitution, voted for Europe. It’s really not rocket science, but at the time the media seemed to have great difficulty grasping the concept.

Here’s how daily Dutch newspaper NRC explains it:

It looks like the voter turnout for the elections for the European Parliament will reach an all time low this year. The polling agency of the European Commission predicts that only 34 % of the eligible voters will show up. But for the Netherlands the turnout is predicted to be higher than five years ago, going from 39.3 to 47 percent. We phoned Peter Kanne, pollster of TNS-NIPO.

Q: How do you explain the high turnout in the Netherlands?

A: “I believe we’ll get a circus similar to the one for the referendum about the European Constitution. Euro-skeptic parties like the Socialist Party and the [extreme right] PVV will try to mobilize voters with a simple, anti-European message. This may very well act as a catalyst for both pro- and anti-European voters. With the referendum for the constitution we saw a similar pattern, with a turnout of 63 percent, which is extremely high for a European vote.”

Q: During the referendum 62 % voted against the constitution. Can we expect another Dutch vote against Europe on June 4?

A: “The vote against the constitution was probably not a vote against Europe. On the whole the Dutch are very positive about the Union. 52 % is for, 34 % is neutral and only 14 % is really against. The Achilles heal for the EU in the Netherlands is the perception of Europe as a meddling bureaucracy. But a majority of the Dutch is for a European approach to contintental problems such as climate change, the economic crisis and terrorism.”

As you can see, NRC still doesn’t get it, and the interviewee has to correct the interviewer. How can you work for a so-called quality newspaper and remain so dense for four years?

You’ll find the full article, date April 15, 2009, here, in Dutch.

Feel the Christian hate

A group called NOM tries to rally forces against gay marriage by using language that is intended to inflame the like-minded. On their blog I tackled their talking points one by one, but my reply was deleted. Since I expected such an action I saved my comment to my hard disk, and repeat it here in full:

Ah, feel the Christian hate.

Lets address those facts for a moment and see them in a wider context:

1) “I’m a California doctor who must choose between my faith and my job.”

I can come up with any number of situations where MDs have to choose between their faiths and their jobs. This is because even MDs are bound by secular law. Is NOM saying the Christian community is greater than the USA and its laws?

2) “I’m part of a New Jersey church group punished by the government because we can’t support same-sex marriage.”

The building in question was, like a restaurant, open to the public. The court likened refusing gays to the building to refusing to serve blacks in restaurants. I don’t even dare think what NOM is suggesting here.

3) “I am a Massachusetts parent helplessly watching public schools teach my son that gay marriage is OK.”

The state makes no moral judgment, it merely states that for the law both types of marriages are the same, which they are. Would NOM like schools to teach subjectively? Or would it prefer that schools stuck with the facts, and that parents would take the responsibility of instilling values in children?

4) “But some who advocate for same-sex marriage have not been content with same-sex couples living as they wish. Those advocates want to change the way I live. I will have no choice.”

The arguments given in your set of facts say that there will be conflicts, but not what these conflicts will be like. Please be precise, so that I can refute your reasoning with this point as I have done the previous three. Sure, there will be conflicts between groups. There always have been and there always will be. Is NOM claiming the religious are special, fragile ones that may never be touched?

By the way, I fully respect a publisher’s choice of what to publish and what not. I myself will either delete or change comments I don’t like, and have done so many times in the past. My rule for deciding which comments to edit or erase is a simple one to describe but at times difficult to apply: those (parts of comments) that are intentionally or unintentionally sapping the dialogue.

Some examples:

– spam (will be deleted),

– spammy contributions (I typically will take out hyperlinks).

– bad spelling (I may correct it if it’s too egregious),

– and so on.

I have in the past also deleted insults where the comment was nothing but. My rather confused post All games illegal has drawn comments like that; the more I am grateful to people who actually addressed the point in that thread.

In defense of NOM, not that it deserves to be defended, they have allowed critical comments to their message so far, such as this one.



Bought me some flowers and a vase.