Russel Norman’ s clash of principles

Russel Norman appears to be choosing one principle over another in his clash with Colin Craig over Norman’s comments at the Big Gay Out

Colin Craig looks determined to press ahead with legal action against Russel Norman, claiming he was defamed by what Norman said. The allegedly offending words:

“Now the thing about Colin Craig is he thinks that a woman’s place is in the kitchen and a gay man’s place is in the closet.”

Both Craig and Norman have just been interviewed on TVNZ’s Breakfast. Their positions appear to be entrenched, with Craig promising to carry through his legal threat if Norman doesn’t apologise.

He says Norman “couldn’t be more wrong. The statement is factually untrue.” And Craig wants to see the standard of political debate raised a lot higher than it is at the moment.

In response Norman quoted Craig on gay issues saying it was it was “disgusting politics of hate, of saying these people are different” and that he is “Standing up for the kind of place we want to live in”.

TVNZ: Colin Craig should apologize for ‘disgusting comments’ (2:54)

Newstalk ZB reports that Norman is supported by his co-leader:

The other Green Party co-leader, Metiria Turei, is supporting Russel Norman’s stance.

“I think Russel and right and the Green Party is right to stand up for women and for gay men and to identify offensive language, offensive statements, when we see them.”

And Craig…

…says he’ll announce his next steps on Friday, but court action is the likely path.

“I am very determined to raise standard of debate and I think I’ve shown that through previous actions but we’re just going to keep on and we’re going to make sure people are accurately debating, that robust discussion is honest and fair discussion.

Norman has highlighted controversial things Craig has actually said about homosexuals but is not claiming his Big Gay Out comments were intended literally, they were representative of offensive attitudes.

Whether it is defamation or not looks to be up to the lawyers.

But there seems to be a clash of principles here for Norman. He is claiming a principle of standing up to people like Craig who like make “offensive” comments.

And Craig is claiming a principle of standing up to politicians like Norman who say untrue things about opponents and wants better standards in political debate – something the Greens have stood up for in the past.

Greens have stated Party Values:

As a party and as members of that party, we aim to:

6. Engage respectfully, without personal attacks

In this case Norman is making personal attacks on Craig, and it appears has falsely claimed what Craig thinks. This is a political tactic that annoys the Greens when aimed at them, but they appear to have decided to delve in the dark arts of politics.

This is an interesting clash, ignoring one principle to stand up for another.

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