Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

04/27/2010 (5:33 pm)

What Is Marriage? The Birch Tree Challenge Redux

birch-this one smallerIt was almost a month ago that I launched the Birch Tree Challenge, and the discussion is still raging. It was a simple, tongue-in-cheek jibe at the main arguments raised by gay marriage advocates, implying that the same arguments could be applied to advocating marriage between a human and literally anything for which a person might feel affection. Objectors succeeded at pointing out that additional barriers exist when we step outside of marriage to humans — like finding legal avenues to make it possible to form contracts with plants. The main point, though, was to note that the very concept of gay “marriage” does violence to a universal human institution, and attempts to redefine “marriage”; worse, that it attempts to redefine marriage for no reason other than that somebody wants it to be so. So I pretended to want just as badly to wed my birch. Why should I not also be permitted to alter the meanings of words at my whim?

The central question here is what marriage is at its core. That’s what I’m doing here today: attempting to establish exactly what marriage is. It’s not easy.

One of my commenters, a philosophy professor called Joe H., posted what he considered to be a philosopher’s test for the core of a practice. Sadly, he posted this after I had turned my attention elsewhere, so it was never addressed soundly. Here’s some of what he said:

Philosophers spend most of their time distinguishing between the core or essential concepts informing a complex concept, and those concepts that, although they may have an enduring connection to the complex concept, and play an important role in the majority of concrete examples of a complex concept, are, nonetheless, nonessential.

One way they do this is by considering which of the informing concepts can be abandoned while still preserving the basic idea. Of the informing concepts I listed above, I’m confident you’ll agree that the existence of love, a license, procreation, male authority, and/or monogamy, although all intimately related to the concept of western marriage, are not essential to the concept. A marriage can exist without their presence.

The question is whether the limiting concept “opposite sex partners” can be abandoned without losing the basic idea of marriage. The answer to that question is, surprisingly, “yes…” This is proven by the fact that we can, and do, recognize that some same sex couples are married -while others are not.

What Joe actually accomplishes in his “test” is to make human institutions subject to modern public relations campaigns: if any activist can make a phrase common enough in peoples’ minds that they’re no longer shocked by the sheer inconsistency and stupidity of it, then naturally that phrase must be part of the core concept. I hope I don’t have to explain at length why that’s intellectually unacceptable, which it plainly is.

The reaction of the contemporary, advertising-saturated Western mind to the phrase “gay marriage” is hardly a sound test for the core human practice of marriage. I don’t mean to denigrate philosophy as a practice, nor the West as a culture, but marriage is a human practice that occurs in every civilization, so the core of it should be defined by anthropologists and sociologists, not contemporary Western philosophers, and it should be based on a comparison of all human occurrances of marriage, not just what sounds congruent in Western ears.

So, I set myself to find a good, comprehensive anthropological survey of marriage practices around the globe throughout history. I don’t think I’ve found it yet, though I think Kingsley Davis’ 1985 opus Contemporary Marriage: Comparative Perspectives on a Changing Institution may come close to what I want. I did not have time to hunt down Davis’s book — I’ll get to it eventually — though I did find an enlightening article in the 2001 Louisiana Law Review by Maggie Gallagher that was based in part on Davis’ definition, which I will quote below.

Before that, though, I did a survey in my own mind of literature that depicts marriage through history and around the globe. I thought about the Islamic model shown in Moolaade’, film by Senegalese director Ousmane Sembène, in which a dominant male subjugated multiple wives by sex, beating, and genital mutilation. I thought about Tevye and Golde and their many daughters, the couple on which the musical Fiddler on the Roof was based; Tevye trying to preserve traditional control over his children while his daughters ran off and married for love. I thought about the Bible’s Jacob providing labor for his bride’s family for 14 years (a practice that was apparently mirrored in ancient Japan as well,) and how his wives competed with each other for his affection by producing children as rapidly as possible. I thought about Mary Renault’s heavily-researched recreation of ancient Greece (titles include The Bull From the Sea, The Mask of Apollo, The Praise Singer, and several others), in which ordinary families stuck to a nuclear model while the upper crust diverted themselves with heteiras (courtesans) and lovers and ignored their nuclear families — which families nonetheless held absolute rights to both property and surname. I thought about the Bengali marriage in the film The Namesake, where a traditional Indian family attempted to raise their children and preserve their culture in America.

DoYouLoveMeThe thing that leapt out at me as I thought about all these different practices was the children. Joe was absolutely wrong when he asserted with confidence that procreation is not central to marriage. We may be able to envision marriages without children, but the practice around the world is clearly about creating a social and legal environment where children are produced and trained. To say that the existence of couples who marry but don’t reproduce means that reproduction is not central to marriage, is as sensible as saying that the existence of people who collect, restore, and show historical automobiles means that automobiles are not about transportation. Historically, a childless couple was a curse, like an automobile that wouldn’t run. The modern, deliberately childless couple is an historical aberration. Tellingly, the appearance of the cultural acceptance of childless marriages corresponds perfectly to nations where the birth rate has fallen below replacement level.

Marriage is about much more than just reproduction, though; it’s about the passage of property by inheritance, and about passing along cultural norms and history. Marriages in most cultures provide the legal structure within which family property is preserved, and by which family fortunes are enhanced and strengthened. Marriages in most cultures create the environment where the passing of cultural traditions to children takes place, or at least where the authority for doing so remains centered. Marriage, at its core, is about perpetuating species and culture.

Moreover, marriage is about the legal recognition and endorsement of the means of perpetuating species and culture. In every complex culture where it appears, marriage is endorsed and officially recognized by the ruling legal authority; Joe was also absolutely wrong when he voiced his confidence that a license was not part of the core concept of marriage. Gay advocates actually conform to this view when they insist that the state must formally recognize gay unions as “marriage” — otherwise, they would be content with gay unions without formal legal recognition.

Gallagher, cited above, condenses the anthropological picture this way:

But what every known human society calls marriage shares certain basic, recognizable features, including most especially the privileges accorded to the reproductive couple in order to protect both the interests of children and the interests of the society. As Kingsley Davis sums up the anthropological impulse of marriage: “The unique trait of what is commonly called marriage is social recognition and approval . . . of a couple’s engaging in sexual intercourse and bearing and rearing offspring.”

Marriage is everywhere the word we use to describe a publicly acknowledged and supported sexual union between a man and woman which creates rights and obligations between the couple and any children the union may produce. Marriage as a public tie obligates not only fathers, but fathers’ kin to recognize the children of this union. In every society, marriage is the sexual union where childbearing and raising is not only tolerated but applauded and encouraged. Marriage is the way in which every society attempts to channel the erotic energies of men and women into a relatively narrow but highly fruitful channel…

While marriage systems differ, marriage across societies is a public sexual union that creates kinship obligations and sharing of resources between men, women, and the children their sexual union may produce.

She also notes that historically, marriage is normative. That is, each culture’s law surrounding marriage not only protects the ability of the culture to reproduce itself, but declares to the culture at large what is the appropriate and expected behavior of its members.

Above all, normal marriage is normative. Marriage is not primarily a way of expressing approval for infinite variety of human affectional or sexual ties; it consists, by definition, of isolating and preferring certain types of unions over others. By socially defining and supporting a particular kind of sexual union, the society defines for its young what the preferred relationship is and what purposes it serves.

The last point is important. Not all love relationships deserve the legal preference called “marriage,” nor do all sexual relationships. It’s the ones that perpetuate the species and the culture in a manner that benefits society at large that deserve that preference. Other relationships may produce children, may train children, may celebrate love and personal commitment, but not all such relationships are called “marriages.” The legal imprimatur “marriage” says to the culture, “This is the vehicle we prefer for reproducing ourselves, and for the passing of culture and property to future generations.” It involves a clear statement of social approval.

By noting that marriage is normative, we recognize that marriage is not a universal human right; on the contrary, it is a near-universal human obligation. Individuals may choose not to marry, or may choose to engage in social relationships that do not reproduce; but a general, social approval remains for those who actively engage in reproducing the species and the culture, and that approval appears in all cultures as the legal endorsement of marriage. Those who choose not to marry, or who choose to marry but not to reproduce, step outside the primary cycle of life, and adopt practices that do not deserve full societal recognition. We Americans approve of individual liberty, and will not punish those who freely choose such practices; but neither ought we reward them. Marriage is something special.

Honesty requires that I add a personal note: I’m taking a self-deprecating position here. You see, both Shelly and I reproduced in previous marriages, and then chose (separately) to divorce our reproductive spouses, and later (together) to marry each other. Furthermore, we chose deliberately for our new union to be childless; I underwent a vasectomy. So my current “marriage” is one that actually violates the norm I’m advocating here. A public blog is not the place for me to defend my choice to divorce the mother of my children, nor to defend Shelly’s choice to divorce the father of hers, but I will say this much: Jewish jurisprudence would recognize both our reasons as legitimate, though modern evangelical Christian opinion may not. I would be willing to accept lower legal status than that of reproducing couples, if the culture decides to adopt such a legal structure; but that’s cheap martyrdom, since I’m certain the American culture will not so decide.

So there we have it. Marriage is a normative cultural expression for channeling sexual drives into reproduction, creating a legal and social construct in which humans reproduce their culture and their species and pass along their property. It always involves legal recognition, and it always involves opposite genders. What gays do with each other may be loving, may be sexual, may be legal, but it is not marriage. That’s not a moral or religious assessment, but a human, sociological one.

04/04/2010 (7:34 pm)

The Birch Tree Challenge

I’m issuing a challenge to progressives, to see which of them can answer cogently. I’m giving away the secret up front: this is about the semantic contortion that leads them to call long-term cohabiting between gays “marriage,” and insist on marital rights and appurtenances that apply thereto.

I want you to form an argument that (1) explains why you oppose what I’m about to propose, but (2) cannot immediately be offered back as an argument against gay “marriage” rights.

Any answer that contains an insult will be deleted out of hand, and I will not let the author know. I reserve the right to determine what constitutes an insult. This is my site.

Here’s the challenge:

birch-this one

I want to marry the birch tree in my front yard. I love it dearly, it has faithfully provided me shade for decades. I want to marry it legally, and I want all the financial and social advantages that appertain to marriage. The Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees equal protection under the laws; the law of my state does not permit me to marry the birch tree the way others marry their spouse of choice, so my Fourteenth Amendment rights have been violated.

Why should I not be granted the right under the law to marry my birch tree?

I’m going to answer two objections before they’re offered, the first because progressives love moral preening, and the second because progressives tend toward unthinking glibness when challenged intellectually, and I don’t want to waste my time on unserious answers.

So if your answer is:

You don’t know the difference between a birch tree and a human being!


You think gays are not human!

…or some version of that, my answer is “I readily acknowledge that the birch tree is not human, and that gays are. But that’s beside the point. Make your argument explicit: why should I not be permitted to marry the birch tree under the 14th Amendment? Why is ‘human’ a necessary qualification for marriage?”

And if your argument is:

Go ahead. I think you should have the right.

…or some form thereof, my reply is as follows:

When then-Senator Rick Santorum argued that the arguments supporting gay marriage would eventually be used to allow people to marry children, dogs, trees, cars, or whatever, progressives all around the country screeched like worn brake pads, declaring that Santorum was just a bigot expressing his hatred of gays by lying. They’ve said the same about anybody raising the same point ever since. If your answer to my birch tree proposal is “Go ahead,” you demostrate that it was the progressives that were lying, not Santorum. So it now falls to you to give me a reason why I, or any intelligent and well-meaning individual, should ever believe a progressive on any issue, ever again, since it is clear that you’ll engage in vicious character assassination when you know perfectly well that your opponent is arguing sensibly.

The challenge is on. Post your replies below. If you don’t see the “Comments” block, click on the word “Discuss” below.

Disclaimer: this is a hypothetical problem. The birch tree pictured above was selected more or less arbitrarily from a Bing! search on the terms “birch tree photo.” This is not really my front yard, sadly. Moreover, I’m already married to someone other than the birch tree. Clever arrow and text by Shelly. Ain’t she a beaut?

05/27/2009 (7:50 pm)

The Gay Gene Theory is Dead

There’s no obituary, and certainly no fanfare — that’s the last thing in the world the gay lobby wants in this case — but the American Psychological Association has quietly changed it’s public stance concerning the cause of homosexuality.

The only way we know is that they’ve recently published a brochure entitled “Answers to Your Questions for a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality” (catchy title, that,) and it contains the following statement:

There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles….

This sounds innocuous, right? Consider how they put it just 10 years ago:

There is considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person’s sexuality.

No, there wasn’t, at least not for homosexuals, but that didn’t stop them from saying it. It was the favored position of the gay lobby, and the APA was singing their tune. There’s been a great deal of research since, but nothing new that would warrant such a dramatic shift in position.

My guess is that the APA had lost so much credibility over the years from their blatantly political positions, in the face of actual research, that they decided to back off. Either that, or the fact that the population at large is so thoroughly saturated with misinformation (most everybody believes homosexuality is genetic, whereas the research is clear that it is not) that they didn’t need to perjure themselves any longer. They don’t exactly tell the truth, but at least they’re not lying outright anymore.

The reason is immaterial. One of the favored ways for researchers to identify traits that are purely genetic is by studying identical twins; since identical twins have identical DNA, genetically-determined traits will appear in both twins 100% of the time. If one has blue eyes, for instance, so will the other — eye color is entirely genetic. There have been three studies of identical twins in which at least one twin was gay, two of them by gay researchers hoping to find a genetic link. None of the three studies found 100% correlation in sexual preference between identical twins; in fact, none of them even produced 50% correlation. The question regarding what does cause homosexuality is not settled by these studies, but one thing certainly does not cause it, and that’s genes. There may be influencing genetic factors (the way height, a genetic trait, influences basketball ability, for instance), but there is no gay gene.

For those who are interested in the history of this matter, Dr. Jeffrey Satinover has written a remarkably lucid essay, entitled The Trojan Couch, explaining how the APA succumbed to political correctness when it stopped calling homosexuality a disorder back in 1973. He also covers some of the more dishonest representations of research regarding homosexuality that advocates of gay rights have foisted on the public, and explains what recent research actually says. It’s definitely worth a read.

05/27/2009 (7:23 pm)

California Marriage is Still Marriage — For Now

The California Supreme Court announced its decision yesterday in Strauss v Horton, the case challenging the amendment to the state’s Constitution that explicitly defines marriage as between a man and a woman, passed this fall as Proposition 8. They declared the proposition constitutional, and have put a stop to the state of California issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples for the time being. Meanwhile, some 11,000 same-sex couples who have been married since the same Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the statute defining marriage as between a man and a woman will be recognized by the state as legitimate, legal couples.

Take a minute with that. The state supreme court declared a statute unconstitutional, then declared more or less the same language proper when submitted as an amendment to the Constitution.

That’s not so surprising, when stated that way. What’s interesting is the reason they did it. In effect, they declared that gay marriage is an essential right, but calling it marriage is not part of that essential right. They claim that all the benefits of marriage have been obtained for gays already through other means, so gays have the same rights as straights. But, they said, there’s no Constitutional right to have what they’re doing called marriage, so Prop 8 passes muster. In effect, what they’ve just done is set up “separate but equal” for gay couples.

This is insane, and I’m guessing it will not survive.

On the same day, a challenge to Prop 8 was filed by David Boies and Theodore Olson. These are the two attorneys who argued Bush v Gore before the Supreme Court, Boies for the Democrats, Olson for the Republicans. Olson is a conservative stalwart, and I’m very disappointed that he’s participating in this case.

The challenge is apparently an Equal Protection claim, and given the fact that the California Supreme Court has just created the equivalent of what was going on in education before Brown v Board of Education in 1954, it may win. Volokh has details of the complaint.

This is all insane. There is no such thing as gay marriage. Marriage, by definition and under general agreement when just about all of these state statutes passed, means a union between a man and a woman. Such unions have been protected, encouraged, subsidized, and honored throughout human history primarily because they perpetuate our species.

There is no violation of any Constitution in any of the state laws concerning marriage; gays are permitted to marry just like anybody else. A gay man can marry any woman he chooses, if she consents, and the law does not ask him whether he’s gay or not, so there’s no discrimination. A gay woman can marry any man she likes, if he consents, and the law doesn’t care whether she’s gay or not, so there’s no discrimination. The fact that they don’t want to marry cross-gender does not mean a thing, legally, same as the fact that I don’t want to own a handgun does not mean the 2nd amendment does not apply to me. They’re protected equally under the law.

What’s going on is the same thing that’s been going on in America for about 50 years. Social progressives are forcing the nation to change in directions it does not want to change, by way of judicial tyranny. They can’t win in the legislature, so they bypass constitutionally proper procedures, pack the court system with activist judges who couldn’t care less what the law says, and force their agenda by creating rights where none existed before. This is why that now-infamous video of President Obama’s recent nominee to the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayer, is so important — the one in which she says “Appellate Courts make policy.” She immediately chuckles, backpedals, and says all the right words to mollify the people watching the tape, and the crowd laughs, but the cat was out of the bag; she knew the requisite words, but she also knew how progressives like herself use the courts, and so did her audience. Make no mistake, this is tyranny, and they know perfectly well what they’re doing.

11/24/2008 (8:44 pm)

eHarmony Wimps and Caves

We heard the news last week that the internet dating service eHarmony had settled a lawsuit with customer Eric McKinley that had begun in 2005. While there was no finding of wrongdoing, eHarmony announced that they would launch a dating service identical to the one they’d launched for Christian couples back in 2000, only this time for same-sex couples. They also paid the plaintiff $5,000 for troubling him to sue them, the New Jersey Attorney General’s office $50,000 for troubling them to investigate, and gave the plaintiff a year’s free membership.

Let’s not pretend that this was a legitimate lawsuit in any way. McKinley, a gay man, joined eHarmony looking for a male partner, and then sued because the site did not cater to same-sex couples. There are plenty of sites catering to same-sex couples; most likely, McKinley actually joined in order to sue. As Michelle Malkin observed, the suit is comparable to an omnivore suing a vegetarian restaurant because he can’t order a rib eye there. At stake is the liberty for businesses to choose what services they’re willing to offer. The case, as well as the several other lawsuits launched against eHarmony in other places, illustrates the need for measures that limit the ability to use malicious lawsuits as an offensive weapon.

However, the New Jersey Attorney General’s office intervened on behalf of the plaintiff, who sued in New Jersey, and gave its strong opinion that eHarmony had violated New Jersey’s anti-discrimination law. Ted Olson, eHarmony’s attorney, observed that the outcome of the court case was uncertain. I guess that’s his way of saying he was afraid they’d get creamed. It’s difficult to argue with Ted Olson, who’s got a great reputation as an attorney, but I thought the Boy Scouts of America had already won a lawsuit at the US Supreme Court that could be used as precedent.

There’s no particular reason why gays should not have access to psychologically-based matching services. There’s no particular reason why eHarmony should not offer one if they so choose. There are utterly compelling reasons, however, why businessmen should never, under any circumstances, be forced to engage in business practices that violate their consciences. For that matter, there are compelling reasons why businessmen should never be forced to offer any service that, for any reason or no reason, they would prefer not to offer.

Gay activists, however, insist on forcing every corner of society to scream “You’re normal” in their ears. It’s not enough that they can do anything they like; their inner neediness requires that every citizen, no matter how unconnected, tell them that they’re loved, accepted, and considered just the same as any other person. Tammy Bruce observes that the psychological term describing this sort of neediness is “malignant narcissism,” narcissism that’s so virulent that it’s not content with its own self-focus, but attempts to coerce the focus of others onto itself as well.

Thus, the battle is one that will be fought, no matter how much we’d like to avoid it. Businesses that represent any element of society that does not accept gay as normal will be sought out, targeted, and forced to kowtow.

I, and a large number of Christians who thought eHarmony was Christian first and a business second, were counting on the company to stand firm and establish the legal wall that says private businesses are still free to choose their own business model. The fact that eHarmony caved and did not fight the battle makes life a lot less safe for the rest of us. I suspect that it will be months rather than years before a church gets sued by a gay couple for refusing to marry them; the principle there is the same as here. It’s only a matter of time before we see legislative efforts to force doctors and nursesto offer abortions, in violation of their consciences; President-elect Obama has voiced his intention to sign a law that could have that effect. Catholic charities have already stopped placing children with adoptive parents in certain locations to avoid being forced to place children with gay couples. Increasingly, Christian conscience, the precious commodity that drew the Pilgrims to the New World, is becoming illegal in the US, and will be outlawed if not defended.

One way of looking at eHarmony’s action would be to observe that eHarmony is a business, not a Christian ministry, and they took the most profitable route. Another way would be to conclude that they love Mammon more than God. Whichever is accurate, the US is now a more dangerous place for Christians to do business as Christians, and religious liberty has taken a blow to the head that has rocked her back on her heels.

06/11/2008 (10:48 am)

Canada Rewards Gay Rights Fascism

That’s a provocative title, I know, but I’m afraid it’s accurate.

The Volokh Conspiracy, my favorite legal geeks, reported this morning on an Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission ruling in Lund v Boissoin that a Christian ministry organization, Concerned Christian Coalition, must refrain from saying anything at all derogatory about gays. They were also restrained from saying derogatory things about the plaintiff, were ordered to purge all offensive material from their web site, apologize in writing, post the decision in their newsletter, and pay a stiff fine.

From the decision:

That Mr. Boissoin and The Concerned Christian Coalition Inc. shall cease publishing in newspapers, by email, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the internet, in future, disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals. Further, they shall not and are prohibited from making disparaging remarks in the future about Dr. Lund or Dr. Lund’s witnesses relating to their involvement in this complaint. Further, all disparaging remarks versus homosexuals are directed to be removed from current web sites and publications of Mr. Boissoin and The Concerned Christian Coalition Inc.

The decision prohibits disparaging speech. Not false speech, not damaging speech: disparaging speech. Presumably, this includes comments like “homosexuality is sin.” This is a disturbingly broad interpretation of a Canadian statute that was already pretty disturbing. Professor Volokh points out that the Canadian Supreme Court had upheld the statute in question because its applicability was very narrow, and not likely to be used in the way the Alberta Commission is using it here:

[T]he phrase ‘hatred or contempt’, are sufficiently precise and narrow to limit its impact to those expressive activities which are repugnant to Parliament’s objective. The phrase ‘hatred or contempt’ in the context of s. 13(1) refers only to unusually strong and deep‑felt emotions of detestation, calumny and vilification and, as long as human rights tribunals continue to be well aware of the purpose of s. 13(1) and pay heed to the ardent and extreme nature of feeling described in that phrase, there is little danger that subjective opinion as to offensiveness will supplant the proper meaning of the section.

It seems that the Canadian Supreme Court was wrong, and that yet another Slippery Slope argument against social progressivism has been vindicated.

This comes on the heels of another disturbing scene in Canada, the Kangaroo Court prosecution of columnist Mark Steyn for his accurate reporting about radical Islam. Rich Lowery writes about it in yesterday’s New York Post, and Sister Toldjah has a decent collection of links to background material. Pajamas Media also has a pretty good spread about Steyn’s “trial” today. Social progressives are bringing free speech to an end in Canada, and they will continue to attempt to do the same here in the US.

Even more frightening to me as a layman than the clear free speech restrictions, is the portion of the decision announcing that this is not a criminal case, and the goal of the Human Rights and Citizenship Commission is not punishment, per se, but rather an attempt…

“…to ameliorate the effects of the discrimination insofar as is possible and to denunciate the actions which were the subject of the complaint with a view to educate and hopefully prevent actions of this nature in future.” (Decision, section 9)

They then proceeded to publicly humiliate Mr. Boissoin, requiring him to publish their decision in his newspaper and to publicly apologize to Lund, and to fine him $5,000 and make him pay $2,000 of expenses for one of the witnesses.

Some attorney with more detailed knowledge of jurisprudence and the Canadian system should correct me here, but it seems to me that the Human Rights Commission has carved out for itself a parental function somewhere between torts and criminal law. This is not a tort, so the plaintiff does not have to demonstrate actual harm. This is not a crime, so the defendant does not have any specific rights. No… this is “an attempt to educate.” With a stiff fine.

I would have assumed that I don’t understand Canadian law and left it alone, except we’ve seen something similar here in the States regarding parental rights. State-run Child Protective Services organizations all over the country are ruling regarding the rights of parents to even see their children, let alone raise them as they see fit, in a para-court setting in which parents have no specific rights.

Is Canada doing the same here? and if so, are we all entering a Soviet-Union-like era of state-endorsed “medical care” in which enemies of the state get treated for mental illness, pumped full of psychotropic drugs, and kept in state hospitals as drug-numbed zombies? I ask, because when the Court says “This isn’t a crime, and we’re not punishing,” but then proscribes behavior as though it were a crime and punishes it as though it were a crime, that’s the slippery slope onto which I see us strolling.

Stephen Boissoin’s letter to the editor that prompted Lund’s complaint to Alberta’s Human Rights Commission can be found here. It’s rabid. It’s agitated. However, it’s free of any call to violence, and it’s clearly aimed at political advocacy and action. In America, it would be protected speech — so far. Canada apparently does not have a Free Speech protection in its Constitution.

Take a lesson, folks. “Hate speech” legislation leads to restrictions on free speech, no matter how loudly its proponents say it will not.

05/16/2008 (7:29 am)

Hypocrites Strike Down Marriage Statute

The Supreme Court of the state of California, once again exercising tyrannical fiat on behalf of the political left where the left failed to convince voters the legal way, struck down two state laws that defined “marriage” as a union between a man and a woman and declared an inalienable right for same-sex couples to marry.

People are entitled to their opinions about gay marriage, and will voice them, but that’s not the point. The point is that the legislature had already represented the opinion of the state’s voters, and now, the voters of the state have been disenfranchised.

No, not the faux, whining sort of “disenfranchisement” Democrats have been complaining about when their favorite candidate loses. We’re talking the real thing — the courts telling the people “We don’t give a rat’s ass about your governing yourselves, you’re going to do what we tell you to do, and you’re gonna like it!

This is where the left shows its true stripes. They talk about voting rights and enfranchisement when it’s protecting their power to cheat elections by driving thousands of illegals to the polls. When the courts tear enfranchisement into tiny bits to achieve what 40% of the population was unable to convince the other 60% was a good idea, though, they cheer like drunken teenagers at a football game. This is why we spit and show contempt when they talk about “enfranchsing the poor;” it’s not that we disrespect the poor, it’s that we recognize a fraud when we hear it. Hypocrites.

If the voters of the state, through their elected representatives, choose to grant state-sanctioned tax breaks and legal recognition to individuals with compulsive sexual disorders pretending to make commitments (that they’re incredibly likely to break(1)), that’s their business. We can talk about the logic and consequences of that ill-considered choice another day. Today, we simply need to note that liberty has suffered yet another of those thousand cuts from which she may soon topple over and die.

Opponents of the decision were already preparing a ballot initiative for the California ballot in November, amending the state’s Constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. They have a million signatures, and expect the measure to pass.

(1) McWhirter, D. and Mattison, A., The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop, Prentice-Hall, 1984.

03/11/2008 (5:42 pm)

Homosexuality: Can a Cogent Debate Be Held?

I’ve spent the day composing a response to a remarkably vitriolic piece posted by Wonkette about a surreptitiously-obtained tape of Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern complaining to about 50 supporters of the danger of the homosexual agenda to America. The character of the response to Rep Kern raises the question: is it still possible, in America, for policy matters to be debated openly, honestly, in an intellectually supportable manner, with integrity and goodwill? or have we reached the point where nothing but throwing stink bombs will suffice?

The complaint against Kern consists of the tape of her voice, over a series of photographs of people holding signs saying “We’re listening,” “hate speech,” “words matter,” and the like. It begins with the legend, “This is what they say when they think we’re not listening.” (No analysis gets attached to who “they” are.) The piece is visually powerful, rhetorically sophisticated, and intellectually unacceptable: it constitutes nothing more or less than yelling “Shut up!” at their opponents. I’m less than impressed.

The original YouTube and response appear to have come from a progressive site called Pam’s House Blend. Reading over Pam’s site yields nothing more intellectually satisfying than Wonkette’s. They’re both full of scorn and devoid of substance.

Here’s the video. Afterward, since there’s no thinking at all in the reactions I’ve linked to, I’ve done my own analysis and commentary on Rep Kern’s diatribe.

To Rep. Kern’s message:

The homosexual agenda is destroying this nation

This, clearly, is exaggerated; or rather, incomplete. I would say instead “social progressivism is unmaking Western civilization.” It’s not merely the homosexual agenda, although that’s clearly part of the problem; the larger issue is that a corrosive moral system, which is really the same sort of rot that undoes every major civilization, has been systematically attempting to rewrite western morality since, I dunno, Rousseau? And now, thanks to a generation of undisciplined brats needing to feel relevant, original, and free (without paying the personal price necessary to truly become any of those), it’s finally taking hold here as it did a few generations ago in Europe — and we’re seeing the outcome in a horrid breakdown of civility, an inability to reason, an inability to make and keep commitments, an inability to live for any ideal greater than oneself; all the general evils of hedonism.

The very fact that I’m talking to you like this puts me in jeopardy.

Just look at the video. She spoke out: she’s being singled out for it, and attacked. She’s correct here.

Matter of fact, studies show that no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than a few decades, so it’s the death knell of this country.

I would guess she’s thinking of historical/sociological analyses of the fall of the great civilizations, and the common themes of deteriorating moral fiber and loss of creative energy that seem to mark their decline. I would also guess, from the generality and inaccuracy of the comment, that she has not read them herself. The authors of those treatises, austere fellows like Arnold Toynbee or Will Durant, probably would not approve of their works being called “studies” in the sense that “studies show” implies. They’re certainly the result of study; they’re not hard science.

I’ve seen lots of people do this: recall some conclusion they heard from a source they regarded as authoritative, and, in passing it on generally, attributing what they remember to “studies have shown.” She should be more careful; she’s vaguely correct about there being a link between moral deterioration and societal health; she’s wildly incorrect about the specifics of her claim.

You know why they’re trying to get early childhood education? They want to get our young children into the government schools so they can indoctrinate them. I taught school for close to 20 years, and we’re not teaching facts and knowledge anymore, we’re teaching indoctrination. And they’re going after our young children, as young as 2 years of age, to try to teach them that the homosexual lifestyle is an acceptable lifestyle.

Since we’re addressing “what they say when they think we’re not listening,” I note that I was raised a liberal kid in a liberal household, so I actually know something of what liberals say when they think no conservatives are listening. I was party to literally dozens of discussions about the religious parents who, incapable of reason, stuck in their own unthinking points of view, would be unreachable to the sort of enlightened thinking that was absolutely required to save the planet from self-destruction (air quotes abound in that sentence). The obvious conclusion was that we needed to reach their children, against the parents’ wills. Every now and then, some theorist will let the Grand Plan slip and actually say that that’s what’s intended: “Every school, a school of humanism!” But for the most part, social progressives have been pretty good about keeping this tactic on the hush-hush. But you didn’t really think nobody would ever notice, did you?

I realize, as an aware adult, that very few people think of this as some sort of “conspiracy” or “Grand Scheme.” Of course we want to teach our children sound thinking skills. Of course we want them to learn to treat other human beings decently. Only, there’s a battle going on around us over how “decently” gets defined, and the people I grew up around — the social progressives — love to pretend that the Constitution requires, and have largely succeeded in demanding, that anything calling itself “religion” gets categorically shut out of consideration, so that there’s really nothing left but social progressivism to teach the kiddies. How… convenient. (The Constitution, meanwhile, requires nothing of the sort.)

And I also realize that most progressives don’t even understand that John Dewey’s “Affective Domain” education was specifically designed to accomplish precisely what we’re talking about here — a realignment of civilization around socially progressive standards through controlling early childhood education. So they don’t even realize that what they and I talked about as necessary back in college, has actually been going on for about 80 years.

Short version: Rep. Kern is correct on this point. One goal of government education is to indoctrinate children against the religious attitudes of their parents. That this is so, can be ascertained by anybody ambitious enough to study the work of John Dewey.

Is she correct specifically about homosexuals engaging in this indoctrination? The fact that the message of Gay Liberation has reached the classroom can hardly be controversial, can it? Gays have been remarkably effective in getting their message into public schools, but I don’t think uniquely so. They’re part of the problem, but not the whole problem.

I honestly think it’s the biggest threat that our nation has, even more so than terrorism, or Islam, which I think is a big threat.

To help social progressives stand in Rep Kern’s pumps for a second, let’s pretend we live in an alternative universe, in which social progressivism has been the dominant social philosophy for the last 1500 years. (This is impossible, because a society living by that pap will either fall into a self-destructing totalitarian nightmare, like the Soviet Union, or become hedonistic and lose the will to defend itself, like Western Europe, and get overrun by a more robust civilization. But hey, we’re pretending…) And in this alternative universe, a determined cadre of covert, free-market capitalists with dangerous libertarian ideals have taken over the school system, are teaching our children that socialism equals slavery, that Christianity equals liberty and reason, that the statist notions of their parents are the reason for their economic misery and lack of productivity, and that glorious, free-market capitalism and unfettered religious faith will lead to Utopia and save the grey planet. You know, like what I described in the last section, only inverted.

Can you social progressives see how you might think this is a greater threat than terrorists trying to kill us from outside the country? How’d you like the public schools teaching your kids those things, on the taxpayer’s dollar, without informing you?

Once again, I think she’s exaggerating the “gay” thing, and ignoring the wider “social progressive” thing, but given the rest of the premises, this is actually a legitimate synthesis, and cannot be dismissed so readily.

That is not the right kind of lifestyle. It has deadly consequences…for those people involved in it, they have more suicides, they’re more discouraged, there’s more illness, their lifespans are shorter, it’s not a lifestyle that is good for this nation.

This is all easily established by research, and there’s been plenty of it. However, the press has been so very pro-gay for the past 35 years, at least, that no research producing anything remotely like a negative view of the gay lifestyle will normally make it past the editor. We watched this happen just this January, as major news outlets hurriedly backpedaled over alleged “inaccurate” headlines that correctly observed that a recent study linked gay sex to the spread of antibiotic-resistant staph infections. This explains why most compilations of research showing the danger of the gay lifestyle come from groups hostile to the general acceptance of homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle, like the Family Research Council or Focus on the Family. The problem has never been a lack of data.

Studies — hard statistical research, not broad analyses like Toynbee’s history of the world — have established that homosexual males engaging in anal sex have as much as 4,000% greater likelihood of contracting anal cancer than the population at large(1), that homosexual males are uniquely susceptible to Hepititis A as a sexually transmitted disease(2), that homosexuals are vastly more likely to exhibit suicidal behavior, experience major depression or anxiety disorders, or take illegal drugs than heterosexuals(3), that AIDS strikes homosexual males 430 times more often than heterosexuals in the population at large(4), and that, unsurprisingly when considering the disease statistics, lifespan among gays could be as much as 40% less than for heterosexuals(5). That’s a whirlwind tour of the disease data; there’s actually a wealth of research establishing the vastly disproportionate health risks of the homosexual lifestyle. If you’re new to the topic, try using the footnotes from Focus On The Family’s fact sheets on homosexuality, keeping in mind that FOTF is a religious organization (albeit one run by a highly respected physician) and prone to giving biblical instruction.

In rebuttal to this, what does Wonkette, the video, and her site offer?

People who rant against homosexuals must be closet homosexuals themselves

reinforced by Wonkette’s title, suggesting that Kern’s opposition to gays comes with “vigorous, sultry passion.”

The remarkable thing is that anybody who calls other peoples’ words “hate speech”, as Wonkette does, would dare to make an “argument” like this (there go those air quotes again). The hypocrisy is breathtaking. This is not an argument, it’s a schoolyard bully’s taunt. Never mind whether she can produce an actual study supporting this “thesis” (and again), can she even explain the relevance of it to the debate at hand? How does the possibility of Rep Kern being gay rebut any one of her arguments? What could possibly be the point of making such an argument, except to cause pain to Rep Kern personally? And isn’t that the definition of “hate speech,” to use words deliberately to cause pain?

Kern is not the only person who should be ashamed, here. Assuming Kern needs to be ashamed at all.

We’re going to shame you until you stop talking. Shut up.

And that’s it. There’s no argument at all. None. Just “shut up” and “yer gay.” I’ve heard better while subbing at the local high school.

I have to tell you, Wonkette, however inaccurate Rep Kern was — and she was wildly inaccurate at several points — she was far more lucid than anything you presented. As an objective observer of the debate, so far, she’s winning. She hasn’t exactly made the case that homosexuality will be the death of America, but she’s on pretty solid ground when arguing that homosexuality’s being represented as a legitimate lifestyle choice in the schools, that it’s potentially part of a larger and very real threat to Western civilization, that it’s a vastly unhealthy lifestyle, and that anybody who dares to criticize it gets attacked viciously.

I’ve sent email to Wonkette explaining this post, and hope to receive a lucid and polite rebuttal from an intellectual equal. We’ll see whether she can muster anything of the sort. I have my doubts.

(1) See Fenger, C. “Anal Neoplasia and Its Precursors: Facts and Controversies,” Seminars in Diagnostic Pathology 8, no. 3, August 1991, pp.190-201; Daling, J.R. et al., “Sexual Practices, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, and the Incidence of Anal Cancer,” New England Journal of Medicine 317, no.16, 15 October 1987, pp. 973-77; Holly, E.A. et al., “Anal Cancer Incidence: Genital Warts, Anal Fissure or Fistula, Hemorrhoids, and Smoking,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 81, no. 22, November 1989, pp. 1726-31; Daling, J.R. et.al, “Correlates of Homosexual Behavior and the Incidence of Anal Cancer,” Journal of the American Medical Association 247, no.14, 9 April 1982, pp. 1988-90; Cooper, H.S., Patchefsky, A.S. and Marks, G., “Cloacogenic Carcinoma of the Anorectum in Homosexual Men: An Observation of Four Cases“; Diseases of the Colon and Rectum 22, no. 8, 1979, pp. 557-58. Also see Between the Lines, Michigan’s statewide gay newspaper, reporting on the risk of anal cancer for men who have sex with men, http://www.afa.net/homosexual_agenda/ha031901.asp
(2) See, for example, Dritz, S. Medical aspects of homosexuality. “New England Journal of Medicine,” 1980302463-4; also http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1432868.
(3) See Fergusson, D.M.; Horwood, L.J.; Beautrais, A.L., 1999: Is sexual orientation related to mental health problems and suicidality in young people? Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 56, pp. 876-880.; Herrell, R.; Goldberg, J.; True, W.R.; Ramakrishnan, V.; Lyons, M.; Eisen, S.; Tsuang, M.T., 1999: Sexual orientation and suicidality: a co-twin control study in adult men. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 56, pp. 867-874.; Sandfort, T.G.M.; de Graaf, R.; Bijl, R.V.; Schnabel, 2001: Same-sex sexual behavior and psychiatric disorders. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 58, pp. 85-91.; Bailey, J.M. (1999): Commentary: Homosexuality and mental illness. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 56, pp. 876-880. Herrell, R.; Goldberg, J.; True, W.R.; Ramakrishnan, V.; Lyons, M.; Eisen, S.; Tsuang, M.T. (1999): Sexual orientation and suicidality: a co-twin control study in adult men. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 56, pp. 867-874. “Not Afraid to Come Out: A celebration of freedom from homosexuality,” by Matt Kaufman, Boundless webzine, Focus on the Family, September 30, 1998.
(4) See Sartinover, Jeffrey, MD, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, Hamewith Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 1996, p 57.
(5) From a footnote found at Americans For Truth: Mr. Trey Kern, President of the Citizen’s for Parent Rights, in Pasadena, Maryland has collected an impressive amount data on studies documenting the diminished lifespan of active homosexuals. Studies include: (G. Tardieu, 1858; M. Hirschfield, 1914, Kinsey, 1930’s, 1940’s; Mattachine Society, 1950’s: Berger, 1960’s, Kinsey Institute, 1969; Spada Report 1978; M. Mendola, 1979; Cameron, Playfair, Wellum, 1994; Hogg, R.S., et. al, International Journal of Epidemiology, 1997; Cameron, P, Cameron, K, Playfair, WL., Psychological Reports, 1998. I don’t doubt that Paul Cameron’s name will generate some heat; however, what he reports, while methodologically assailable, is consistent with what we’d expect given the other public health information (indeed, it would be remarkable if not true) and clearly deserves further research. The Americans For Truth footnote includes a reference to a document called “Homosexual Myths: Homosexuals Live Long Lives,” at http://www.cprmd.org; however, I have been unable to find any documents at that site. If anyone knows where I can obtain this document, I’d like to read it.

02/16/2008 (9:13 pm)

Homosexual Leader Tells the Truth. Hell Freezes.

Matt Foreman, the Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, acknowledged that HIV/AIDS is primarily a “gay disease” before their national conference yesterday.

“Folks, with 70 percent of the people in this country living with HIV being gay or bi (sexual), we cannot deny that HIV is a gay disease,” Foreman told his audience. “We have to own that and face up to that.”

This is quite a change from Foreman’s previous position, which blamed the high incidence of AIDS on a lack of government funding. The admission may have been provoked by efforts by a conservative activist:

Foreman’s admission comes on the heels of a letter from Matt Barber, Concerned Women for America’s (CWA) Policy Director for Cultural Issues, inviting Foreman and other homosexual activists to work together in discouraging homosexuals from engaging in the high-risk behaviors researchers recently determined are responsible for the epidemic spread of a potentially deadly strain of staph infection among certain segments of the “gay” community. The CDC has acknowledged that many of those same high-risk behaviors, such as male-male anal sex, are chiefly responsible for spreading HIV/AIDS.

In American culture with its fairly conservative and responsible moral code, it’s primarily been those engaged in high-risk sexual practices, especially homosexuals, who are at risk of contracting HIV (intravenous drug users are also at risk). For decades, however, homosexual activists have viciously attacked anybody who dared associate HIV with homosexuality, insisting that heterosexuals are equally at risk.

This was all part of a carefully planned strategy to deceive the public into accepting homosexuals as normal — a strategy that gay activists rationalized as “ridding the public of homophobia.”

Homosexuals have long been known by the medical community to lead lifestyles wildly more promiscuous than heterosexuals. One study identified that a mere 2% of homosexuals could be considered even semi-monogamous, meaning having 10 or fewer lifetime sex partners (compared with 83% of heterosexuals who fit that description).(1) Another identified 43% of homosexuals having had sex with more than 500 partners, and 28% with 1,000 or more partners.(2)

In spite of this, gay activists have sought to ensure that the public sees homosexuals pretty much the same as heterosexuals. One activist handbook advises,

“In any campaign to win over the public, gays must be portrayed as victims….Persons featured in the media campaign should be … indistinguishable from the straights we’d like to reach.”(3)

Another says,

“The masses must not be repulsed by premature exposure to homosexual behavior itself.”(4)

They know that if the public ever learns the facts about homosexual behavior and disease risks, it will become immediately obvious that homosexuality is a life-threatening pathology, not an acceptable, normal lifestyle choice. To avoid that, with the full cooperation of the press and the entertainment industry, they’ve been lying to us, and to themselves.

Friday, however, the leader of a gay activist group finally acknowledged publicly what every honest scientist and doctor has known all along to be true: that AIDS in America is primarily a disease that afflicts gays. We can only hope that this is the beginning of a wider, broader, and more consistent confrontation with the truth among homosexuals.

Here are the actual statistics about AIDS among gays, from Dr. Jeffrey Satinover’s book, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth:

The best current estimates hold that about one out of a thousand adult Americans is now infected with HIV.(5) This is 0.1 percent of the adult population. Because roughly half the population is male and 2.8 percent of all males are homosexual, 1.4 percent of the adult population consists of homosexual males, which account for about 30 percent of all AIDS cases. Thus the likelihood of a randomly selected heterosexual man or woman being infected with AIDS is roughly 7 in 10,000 (0.07 percent).

But shockingly and frighteningly, yet consistent with the concentration of AIDS cases among high-risk populations, epidemiologists estimate that 30 percent of all twenty-year-old homosexual males will be HIV-positive or dead of AIDS by the time they are thirty.(6) This means that the incidence AIDS among twenty- to thirty-year-old homosexual men is roughly 430 times greater than among the heterosexual population at large.(7,8)

Satinover’s book was published about 10 years ago. The Centers for Disease Control is allegedly going to be publishing new statistics about AIDS/HIV in America soon.


(1) A.P. Bell et al, Sexual Preference, Bloomington, IN, Indiana University Press, 1981.
(2) A.P. Bell and M.S. Weinberg, Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1978, pp. 308-9.
(3) M. Kirk and H. Madsen, After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90s, New York, Doubleday, 1989.
(4) Mr. Kirk and E. Pill, “The Overhauling of Straight America,” Guide, Nov. 1987, p. 24.
(5) R.T. Michael, et al, Sex In America: A Definitive Survey, Boston, Little, Brown, and Company, 1994, p. 205.
(6) W. Odets, in a report to the American Association of Physicians for Human Rights, Cited in E.I Goldman, “Psychological Factors Generate HIV Resurgence in Young Gay Men,” Clinical Psychiatry News, October 1994, p. 5.
(7) Calculated by dividing 30 percent by 0.07.
(8) Entire passage quoted from Satinover, Jeffrey, MD, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 1996, chapter 3.

01/28/2008 (8:27 pm)

Can the Press Tell the Truth About Gays?

A storm has been raging over the past week regarding a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, regarding the emergence of an antibiotic-resistant strain of staphylococcus that occurs disproportionately in men who have sex with men. The storm illustrates the difficulty we in the public have if we want accurate information about homosexuality, namely, the press refuses to tell us the truth.

It began straightforwardly enough two Mondays past, when Reuters published a brief, punchy article about the study by one Amanda Beck. Entitled “Drug-resistant staph found to be passed in gay sex,” the article furnished sparse details about the study, and about MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, the staph infection that’s scaring so many people these days). Included was this exchange from one of the study’s authors:

“Once this reaches the general population, it will be truly unstoppable,” said Binh Diep, a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco who led the study. “That’s why we’re trying to spread the message of prevention.”

According to chemical analyses, bacteria are spreading among the gay communities of San Francisco and Boston, the researchers said.

“We think that it’s spread through sexual activity,” Diep said.

Next, several anti-gay activists jumped on the report as a means to bolster their claim that homosexuality, rather than being a legitimate lifestyle choice, is dangerous. Joe Farrah at Worldnet Daily touted the inherent dangers of anal sex (he’s correct, it’s more lethal than smoking,) Americans for Truth About Homosexuality asked a number of questions concerning public policy, and Matt Barber from Concerned Women for America complained about the risk that the gay lifestyle exposes the rest of us to.

Spurred by conservative reactions, the University of California at San Fransisco, from which the researchers performed the study, issued an apology for publishing a report that could be misleading. It’s pretty bland stuff, basically saying “We didn’t mean to target gays.”

What happened next is what’s troubling to me. A number of well-known sources jumped on the issue with the express intent of “correcting” the public exposure. Newsweek said “a lot of the media got it wrong.” The New York Times reported “the University scrambling to clarify.” And the Columbia Journalism Review took numerous articles to task for allegedly misleading headlines and reports.

The problem is, hardly anybody got it wrong. What most of these sources are objecting to is any suggestion that gays are uniquely responsible for spreading the disease. But the fact is, gays engaged in male-to-male sex are spreading the disease faster than other sources. That’s an accurate representation of what the study found, and none of the anti-gay activists claimed it said anything beyond that.

The most common argument in these “rebuttals” and “retractions” is that lots of other groups have trouble with MRSA. This is true; one study actually pointed out a serious infection risk among pro football players. A gay support site called “Box Turtle Bulletin” cites numerous groups that have reported Community-Associated MRSA outbreaks.

But the fact that there are lots of non-gay activities where you can catch an MRSA infection, doesn’t change the clear fact that gay sex increases the risk dramatically, and spreads the disease faster than other activities (except maybe playing pro linebacker.) The impulse to make an excuse by saying “He’s doing it too, Ma,” is common to humans, but ultimately means nothing other than “I don’t want too much attention paid to my behavior.” It’s an infantile reaction, not a rebuttal.

Matt Barber of CWA wrote a decent column outlining the whitewash. It’s not all that different from the whitewash that’s occurred regarding all things gay.

Let’s state some facts before we go on:

  • MRSA is serious stuff. Some 95,000 infections from antibiotic-resistant staph infections resulted in 19,000 deaths in 2005 in America alone, according to estimates produced by the Centers for Disease Control in 2007.
  • Hospitals and clinics account for roughly 86% of known cases of MRSA. The weaker strains attack patients with compromised immune systems.
  • The roughly 14% of MRSA cases occurring outside hospitals, so-called Community-Associated MRSA, are a more resilient species of bacterium that attack healthy individuals. The study in question addressed these, a clone of the original MRSA called USA300 by researchers. This is what Dr. Diep said might be “unstoppable.”
  • You can catch an MRSA infection by poor hygiene, wrestling, playing organized football, or just plain bad luck. If you’re not gay, you’re still at risk.
  • You can catch an MRSA infection a lot faster by engaging in anal sex in San Fransisco.

This is not strictly a gay-related disease, and anybody who reported the original report as “New Gay Plague, Like AIDS” got it wrong. The study does not say that it is, nor do any of the anti-gay activists. The study says, however, that gay sex is almost certainly spreading the disease a lot faster than other types of conduct. It doesn’t say which type of gay sexual behavior specifically, but it’s very clear in identifying male-to-male sexual contact. It even specifies that mobile gays with sex partners in multiple cities have probably spread the disease from San Fransisco to Boston, Los Angeles, and New York.

I was completely outraged by the Columbia Journalism Review article. The writer of that article, Curtis Brainard, lies outright in his eagerness to defend homosexual conduct. In objecting specifically to the Reuters headline, “Drug-resistant staph passed in gay sex – U.S. study,” Brainard says this:

This is not what the study found. It found that USA300 is “spreading rapidly” and is more common among gay men than other populations. That it is spreading sexually is presumed because staph bacteria tend to collect around the groin, as well as in armpits and other bodily crevices-but it is only presumed. The study clearly stated (and some reporters did as well) that:

“Specific sexual behaviors were not assessed or documented in clinic charts; we therefore cannot comment on the association between multidrug-resistant USA300 infection and specific male-male sexual practices.”

To peg “gay sex” as the culprit in a headline is completely misleading and journalistically irresponsible.

The problem is, the headline is completely accurate, and Brainard quoted the study out of context. Brainard was quoting a section of limitations acknowledging that the study cannot pinpoint which of several possible specific behaviors are at fault. That gay sex generally was implicated was clear and unmistakable, however. From the same section of the study Brainard quotes, the researchers tell us this:

Data from this study suggest that multidrug-resistant USA300 has spread rapidly among men who have sex with men in San Fransisco and Boston, and that having male-male sex seems to be a risk factor for multidrug-resistant USA300 infection independent of HIV infection.

The researchers continue in the next paragraph:

Our findings that 27% (32 of 118) of men who have sex with men from the SFGH HIV clinic and 39% (47 of 121) of men who have sex with men from Fenway Community Health had infections involving buttocks, genitals, or perineum are consistent with sexual transmission of USA300 in this population.

In other words, the study found precisely what Mr. Brainard says the study did not find. The headline about which Brainard complains is, in fact, accurate.

It gets worse. Again, from the discussion section of the findings (same section Brainard quotes):

It is not clear whether the behavior potentiating these infections among men who have sex with men is anal sex …, skin-abrading sexual practices, or increased frequency of intimate skin-to-skin contact; prevention messages may therefore need to suggest caution in each of these practices.

In other words, the limitation on the study’s specificity, which Brainard represents as absolving gay sex as the culprit, the researchers themselves claim is a reason to include all possibly implicated types of gay sex in their warnings!

The caveat Brainard quotes occurs at the end of the “Discussion” section of the report, after the sections I quote; it seems highly unlikely that he found his quote without reading the rest of the section. The most likely cause of his error is that he is lying outright — that he wants to obscure the clear findings of the report. The only other plausible explanation is that he wants so badly for the report to say other than what it says that he’s simply incapable of reading accurately. In either case, Mr. Brainard should be severely chastised.

If the public knew the truth about the genuine public health risks of homosexuality, there would be no general approval of the gay lifestyle; it would be evident to the average Joe that homosexuality is pathological and dangerous. The activists were not trying to make the report say anything other than what it said: here’s one more reason, among dozens of others, why it’s truly dangerous to engage in gay sex, and why gay sex can increase the risk to the rest of us. If the press isn’t permitted to say this, even though it’s supported clearly by sound research, how can we trust the press?

Update: I believe I was a bit too rough on Curtis Brainard. Rereading the various quotes, it appears to me that he simply misread the sentence he quoted, and took “cannot comment on… specific male–male sexual practices” to mean “cannot comment on homosexuality as a cause.” He clearly misread it, but I doubt that he was lying.