Respect for the enemy

I was watching Q&A the other night. It’s a show I watch rarely, but enjoy when I do. On the panel on this particular occasion were, along with others, Catherine Deveny and Archbishop Peter Jensen.

If you know me at all, you’ll know that I agree with most of Catherine Deveny’s views on most social matters. She is in favour of gay marriage, she’s all for equal rights, feminism, and so on. And, of course, I disagree with virtually everything the Archbishop believes. God, the Bible, and all that goes with it.

So I was rather surprised to find myself respecting Jensen while getting very frustrated at Catherine while watching them ‘debate’ on Q&A. Jensen puts his views forward in an eloquent and dispassionate way, he says that he seeks out intelligent and unemotional discussion, he claims to want to know more facts about a great many contentious issues. He was also courteous towards the other panel members.

Catherine, on the other hand, laid on the sarcasm like it was going out of style, and employed rhetoric to a similar degree. She did not show herself willing to articulate her arguments, relying instead on mocking the points of others. She interrupted other speakers to push her agenda, and failed to keep her answers relevant to the questions. Despite holding very valid views, she utterly failed to articulate why she held them, or why anybody else should agree with her, which seems to me the entire point of a debate.

So, contrary as it might sound, I now have a great deal more respect for a prominent member of ‘the enemy’ than I do for a prominent person from ‘my side’. Fortunately I can see the difference between respect and like, so I don’t have a problem with this, but from comments I’ve read about the Q&A show and about these speakers specifically, other people see my stance as a sort of betrayal; it seems the public will not permit me to hold a positive view of one aspect of a person while maintaining a negative view of another aspect. Too bad, I say, that is how I feel!

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