A couple commenters have suggested that the company responsible for the polling for the recent SSM survey -- COMPAS Public Opinion & Customer Research -- might have its own ethical issues.
Back here, commenter Mike wrote:
As for [COMPAS president] Conrad Winn, well no surprise there. He was my Political Science prof back in 1986 at Carleton and considered himself a 'ultilitarian'. Meaning he would do what it took to get a paycheck, as this 'study' shows.
The very next (anonymous) commenter makes an interesting claim:
A reliable source told me that Conrad Winn was at McVety's anti ss-marriage shindig in Ottawa last week telling the wankers how polls could be really useful in making their case - COMPAS is obviously a sham of a polling company.
Admittedly, these are just two peoples' opinions, but it's the substance of the survey itself and the results that raise one's eyebrows just a tad. Recall the actual questions in the poll itself:
- Should an individual minister, rabbi, iman or other clergy have the freedom not to marry a same sex couple if this were against the clergy’s religious beliefs?
- Should a school teacher have the freedom to disagree with the same sex law in a letter to a newspaper?
- Should a religious person who prints brochures for a living have the freedom to recommend another printer to a homosexual group wanting some brochures printed?
- So long as there are enough marriage commissioners available for gay marriages, should individual commissioners be allowed not to officiate at gay marriages if this is against their religious beliefs?
As we've already pointed out here, the first question is utterly irrelevant. There has never been any debate over whether clergy have an obligation to marry any couple they would prefer not to in the context of a religious ceremony. This religious freedom is already guaranteed under the Charter, so the very asking of the question is simply pointless.
Questions two and three clearly represent the recent incidents involving B.C. teacher Chris Kempling and printer Scott Brockie, both incidents which are addressed here, where you can see that the questions don't even remotely describe what actually happened.
Kempling was not just a teacher who wrote a letter, he was a guidance counselor who was continuously and openly hostile to gays, while Brockie did not just "recommend" another printer to gay customers, he refused to serve them -- a very different situation. In short, the questions clearly try to present those events in the most harmless and innocuous light possible, deliberately leaving out the actual relevant details.
But it's the last question that's the most entertaining, asking whether (publicly-funded) marriage commissioners should be allowed to refuse to officiate at same-sex marriages as long as there are other commissioners available to do the job? But what does it mean to say that there are other commissioners "available?" Available at that location? In the same town? Within a day's drive? And, more importantly, where is the obvious followup question -- what if there is no other commissioner available? That's the question that's just screaming to be asked and yet ... nothing.
So, we can see that the survey itself is worthless shit with no value whatsoever. But is that the fault of COMPAS? Admittedly, I have no expertise when it comes to public polling logistics, so it's quite possible that the function of a public opinion company like COMPAS is to simply ask whatever questions it's given (by, in this case, the National Post and the knuckle-dragging Neandertals at the Institute for Canadian Values).
But (and, again, I'm speaking from a position of pure ignorance) wouldn't a responsible polling organization take a look at the questions, then say something like, "Um ... we can ask these questions as you gave them to us if that's what you want but, in our opinion, they have some fundamental flaws that you might want to look at first." Is that part of the job of a polling company? Or is their job to just ask what they're given, no questions asked. (And even if the company asks what it's given, wouldn't it have to know that the results are going to be questionable, if not downright valueless?)
In any event, I think it's safe to say that that survey is total crap, which brings us to the obvious final question -- what's the deal with COMPAS? Does it have a history of this kind of rancid, dishonest rubbish? By all means, let's hear about COMPAS. The lines are open, and operators are standing by.