Is Q&A serious?
Last night I watched the ABC TV show, Q&A. As always, it was a passionate and engaging discussion. When the topics revolve around religion, homosexuality and women's rights a Molotov cocktail is imminent and last nights discussion was as explosive as expected. Yet as the program finished, sadly, I felt that an opportunity had been missed. An opportunity to have a thoughtful, reasoned discussion on some really important issues.
I felt that the selection of the panellists was mainly to blame. It was appropriate that Archbishop Peter Jensen was invited on the show to answer questions regarding a number of recent, controversial issues, particularly the call for women to submit and Jim Wallace's recent discussion on homosexuality. But my main question is, why was the main atheist protagonist Catherine Deveny? Deveny's contributions were simplistic, disrespectful, insulting and self refuting.
When asked if she respected marriage, she responded with 'no', but continued to claim that we should have gay marriage, and gay divorce! She demonstrated little awareness of the message of the Bible and she claimed that she was intolerant of those who are intolerant - not recognising the contradictory nature of her claim.
As Jensen attempted to have a sensible, reasonable discussion, Deveny was cracking jokes, suggesting that a marriage service conducted by Sydney Anglicans was equivalent to getting married in a museum by dinosaurs. This is hardly an appropriate attempt at engaging in some really serious issues. It's hard for me to stand in an atheist's shoes, but I felt she would have embarrassed my cause - particularly if modern atheism claims to stand for rationality and reasoned thinking. Jensen came across to me as the calmer, more reasoned panellist.
I did value the contributions of Anna Krien. I felt she added real value to the discussion when she was given an opportunity to speak, but I felt that overall she was a treated as a little superfluous - she was never asked a direct question by the audience (contrast Jensen, who was asked four!)
Surely there are more thoughtful, reasonable athiest presenters than Deveny who could have engaged with rigour and respect, the issues raised by Jensen's presence on the panel?
Q&A is a rare forum where those with opposing views are gathered for a thoughtful, stimulating and usually respectful discussion of the issues of the week. I enjoy the show, because the different perspectives are often represented fairly and well. Many criticise our modern political discourse as being shallow and dominated by sound bites. Q&A is usually a forum to rise above this malaise, yet unfortunately last night, I felt it failed.
Agree with your thoughts Rob. I have stopped watching Q&A (except for last night) because of Deveny. She was really off the mark and her attitude showed what disrespect and intolerance looks like in contrast to Peter's respectful attitude to all while articulating views that he knows will be unpopular. I think the value in last night is that Peter and Deveny both showed their true colours. Many who share Deveny's views are distancing themselves from her attitude.
I didn't watch the episode, but I find your description of it interesting.
I'm intrigued at how some people can go from "marriage is an antiquated institution and no longer relevant" to "it is vitally important that gays be allowed to marry", often all in the same breath...
Absolutely agree with your thoughts in the aftermath of the discussion. There were some points in the discussion where sincere questions were asked by members of the audience to Peter Jensen, but the opportunity to properly respond was somewhat squashed by Catherine's retorts.
I was very interested to know what Jensen would say about homosexuality in general, but he didn't get much of a chance to fully flesh out his views, mainly due to Deveney. He did mention that live expectancy of homo/hetero was a consideration, but in my mind, even if that was true, it doesn't necessarily answer the moral question of why one should/should not engage in it. In fairness however, I don't think Jensen had the chance to answer this, again, because of Deveney's...enthusiasm.
Agree with your post Rob, and the values of the contributions of the different panellists.
I thought it was not entirely a bad thing that people got to see Deveney's 'true colours', so to speak. Especially when contrasted with Jensen, it was an example of actions speaking louder than words. I also much admired the way Jensen answered the questions posed with respect, honesty and courage to deal with the issues' complexities. I was glad that the interviewer did show him respect and he got quite a bit of air-time to present his views, considering that it is always hard to condense biblical concepts into 'sound-bytes'!