Saturday, September 15, 2007

I feel, therefore I hate......

It has long been argued by many psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals that homophobia may (at least in some cases) reflect deep-seated, unacknowledged feelings of same-sex sexual attraction on the part of those men and women who engage in homophobic conduct and who participate in verbal and physical attacks against openly gay men and lesbians. This argument borrows heavily from the Freudian concepts of “projection” and “reaction formation”. When a person has feelings about himself or herself that make that individual feel very uncomfortable, that person may assign these feelings to a convenient external target (projection), thus enabling the individual to evade the implications of any self-analysis that the individual would otherwise be forced to undertake. When these impulses are extremely powerful and evoke deep psychological discomfort, the subject may react to these impulses by creating an antithetical construct that serves to block this deep discomfort (reaction formation). In Freudian terminology, the subject creates an antithetical construct to block the repressed cathexes (the libido’s charges of energy). Thus, a person who harbors homosexual impulses and desires may project those impulses onto openly gay men and lesbians, and may repress these desires by manufacturing a powerful hatred of all homosexuals. This theory is reflected in English literature – the expression “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” (a statement made by Queen Gertrude in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”) has come to stand for the assertion that the subject’s ardent denial of a proposition may really reflect an attempt to hide the embarrassing truth. The Bard of Avon possessed deep wisdom, also reflected in the advice that Polonius gave to his son Laertes (from “Hamlet”) “To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” Are homophobic men and women really reacting negatively to homosexuality in others, or are they in fact desperately (and subconsciously) reacting to their own homosexual desires and impulses?

One of the most serious problems associated with psychodynamic theories is that they do not readily lend themselves to empirical testing, and have, for the most part, been unfalsifiable and hence untestable. However, a serious attempt was made to answer the above question by researchers from the University of Georgia in 1996.

Researchers Henry Adams, Lester Wright Jr., and Bethany Lohr of the Psychology Department at the University of Georgia conducted a study in which they assessed the levels of sexual arousal expressed by subjects drawn from two groups of men who viewed heterosexual, lesbian, and gay male pornography. The study involved a total of 64 men between the ages of 18 and 31. These men comprised two groups – homophobic men (the experimental group) and nonhomophobic men (the control group). The subjects were assigned to these groups based on their responses to the “Index of Homophobia” (a 25-question assessment tool that yields a score of between zero and 100 to determine the extent to which men display characteristics indicative (as explained by the researchers) of the levels of “dread” a person experiences “when placed in close quarters with a homosexual.”) In addition, the subjects were administered the self-rated “Aggression Questionnaire” to determine whether there was a correlation between anti-gay attitudes and overall measures of aggression.

Of the 64 men studied, 35 men exhibited strong homophobic traits whereas 29 men did not. All of the men described themselves as exclusively heterosexual, and all of the men stated that they had never engaged in any form of homosexual activity.

Each subject viewed videotapes displaying three types of sexually explicit activities – heterosexual, lesbian, and gay male sexual activity. The researchers included lesbian sexual activity because it had proven to be “highly sexually arousing to heterosexual men and is a better discriminator between heterosexual and homosexual men than other stimuli”. (Any person who is even vaguely familiar with heterosexual American norms knows that this statement is profoundly accurate!) To compensate for any effect that the order in which the tapes were viewed could have had an impact on the results, the orders in which the tapes were shown to the subjects were randomly varied. The videotapes were shown to the subjects individually, in a soundproofed room. Each subject was hooked up to a penile plethysmograph. A plethysmograph is an instrument that measures changes in volume within an organ or whole body, usually as the result of blood flowing into that organ or whole body; a penile plethysmograph measures changes in blood flow into and out of the penis using a mercury-in-rubber ring placed around the shaft of the subject's penis to measure changes in circumference, thereby providing researchers with a truly objective and accurate measure of sexual arousal. By showing the subjects these videotapes in random order, individually, in a soundproofed room, relying on readings of sexual arousal from an instrument that objectively detected tumescence as opposed to relying on self-reports of sexual arousal, the researchers eliminated several potential confounding variables (such as embarrassment at taking this test in front of peers, effects resulting from the sequence in which the videotapes were shown, and inaccurate self-reporting about the extent to which the subjects were actually aroused by the different forms of sexual activity that they observed).

After watching the videotapes, the men were all asked about the extent to which they were aroused during their viewings of each of the three forms of sexual activity. This provided the researchers with subjective responses that they could compare to the objective readings obtained from the penile plethysmograph.

When asked to give their own subjective assessment of the degree to which they were aroused whilst watching the three videotapes, the men in both groups gave answers that correlated significantly with the results of the objective physiological assessment (the results reported by the penile plethysmograph), with one marked exception: the homophobic men gave verbal responses that diverged sharply from the physiological responses reported by the penile plethysmograph, in that their verbal responses significantly underreported the degree of arousal that they experienced when watching the videotape showing gay male sexual activity.

Men in both groups were aroused to about the same extent when viewing the videotape showing heterosexual sexual activity and when viewing the videotape showing lesbian sexual activity. There was, however, a significant difference in the degree of sexual arousal exhibited by men from the two groups when viewing the videotape showing gay male sexual activity. In the words of the researchers, “The homophobic men showed a significant increase in penile circumference to the male homosexual video, but the control [nonhomophobic] men did not”.

A more detailed breakdown of the results revealed that while 66% of the nonhomophobic men (from the control group) showed no significant arousal whilst watching the gay male videotape as measured by tumescence, only 20% of the homophobic men showed little or no evidence of sexual arousal as measured by tumescence. Similarly, while only 24% of the nonhomophobic men showed definite tumescence while watching the videotape showing gay male sexual activity, 80% of the homophobic men showed “moderate to definite tumescence” while watching this videotape.

Plethysmographs do not lie. However, it appears that an overwhelming percentage of the homophobic men did lie.

There was no relationship between homophobic attitudes and overall aggression (as measured by the “Aggression Questionnaire”).

This study was limited to men, due in part to difficulties associated with determining the extent to which women are sexually aroused. Extrapolation of the conclusions of this study to lesbians and to outwardly heterosexual women who harbor gay tendencies is dangerous for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the different set of dynamics that motivate women (heterosexual women have shown themselves, in poll after poll, to be less likely to harbor homophobic attitudes than are heterosexual men).

What can be inferred from the results of this study?

If one assumes that the plethysmograph really did measure sexual arousal in all of the subjects, then one unavoidable conclusion of this research is that the men from the experimental group (the homophobic men) were sexually aroused by the videotape showing graphic gay male sexual activity, whereas the men from the control group (the nonhomophobic men) were not sexually aroused by this activity. This supports the assertion that the overt anti-gay attitudes exhibited by the homophobic men did indeed serve as a “cover” (or “beard”) for their own desires to engage in gay sexual activity. A corollary of this conclusion is that those men in the control group (the nonhomophobic men) were secure in their sexuality and did not “need” to resort to expressions of homophobia. In short, one conclusion that may be drawn from this research is that overt expressions of homophobia do, in at least some cases, constitute forms of projection and reaction formation, and that overtly homophobic men may indeed, at least in some cases, suffer from internalized homophobia and self-hatred.

(It should be noted that the researchers did propose one alternative hypothesis, which was dismissed by academic peers as highly unlikely. The researchers proposed that the increased blood flow to the penises of the homophobic men might have been a reflection of anxiety as opposed to sexual arousal. While this is possible, the writer knows of no link between anxiety and the attainment of erections! Indeed, anxiety has (in the writer’s opinion) precisely the opposite effect on male sexual physiology…)

The results of this study were printed up in the highly prestigious “Journal of Abnormal Psychology”. It should be noted that this journal is one of the most influential and prestigious scientific journals in the field, and that the results of studies are not printed in this journal unless the studies meet a number of criteria of excellence. (In a different post, I have addressed the poor quality of the vanity journal which Paul Cameron has paid (by the page!) for his “studies” to be published.)

This research is of more than academic significance. Up until fairly recently, many courts of law in the US tolerated the “gay panic” defense in those cases where ostensibly heterosexual men were accused of murdering gay men who made sexual advances towards them. This defense held that murders committed under these circumstances were reflections of the sexual ambiguity of the perpetrator, who was regarded as the true “victim” insofar as he was “forced” to kill the gay “provocateur” in order to reconcile himself to the true nature of his desires. This obscene inversion of the status of the victim and the perpetrator was actually tolerated throughout the US for many years. Matthew Shepard – the University of Wyoming college student who was robbed, pistol-whipped, beaten to a pulp, and then tied to a split-rail fence outside of Laramie, WY – was the victim of a savage gay bashing perpetrated by two Laramie-bred thugs (Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson), both of whom advanced this defense when tried for Shepard’s murder (Shepard was found tied to the fence about 18 hours later, cut down, and taken to the hospital, where he died several days later without ever regaining consciousness). McKinney’s girlfriend, Kristen Price, told reporters that robbery was only one motive for the crime – according to Price, Shepard embarrassed the two perpetrators by telling them that he was gay and that “he wanted to get with Aaron and Russ”, setting the other patrons to “snickering.”

The “homosexual advance” defense has been presented in courtrooms throughout the US to reduce murder charges to manslaughter, in cases where “self-defense” was shown and in cases where the killings took place in “the heat of passion”. Such defenses have even succeeded in cases in which the defendant actually had sex with the gay victim and then killed the gay victim. This defense is premised on the theory that a person with latent homosexual tendencies will react with extreme and uncontrollable anger when propositioned by a gay man, or immediately after having sex with a gay man. Even in cases where this defense is not explicitly presented at trial, the mere admission of the victim’s homosexuality has led juries to convict the defendant on the lesser of multiple charges, as though the victim was “asking for it” by his behavior or even by his mere existence (in much the same way that women who have been raped have been depicted in courtrooms throughout the US as having been “asking for it”).

Juries have not been the only entities to display such bias. In 1988, in a case that drew national headlines and was reported by the three major television networks, Texas state court judge Jack Hampton, at the sentencing hearing of a man who was convicted of killing two gay men, handed down a 30-year sentence instead of the life sentence requested by prosecutors. In handing down the lenient sentence, Hampton made the following observation: “I don't much care for queers cruising the streets picking up teenage boys ...[I] put prostitutes and gays at about the same level ... and I'd be hard put to give somebody life for killing a prostitute."

In 1987, Broward County (Florida) Circuit Judge Daniel Futch, presiding over the murder trial of a gay man named Daniel Wan (who was beaten up and killed outside of a bar by assailants who referred to him as a “faggot” as they kicked him to death and threw him up against a moving car), jokingly asked the prosecution at a pre-trial hearing: “That's a crime now, to beat up a homosexual?" When the prosecutor responded, "Yes, sir. And it's a crime to kill them”, the judge quipped, "Times really have changed." Although the judge apologized and maintained that he was joking, he was removed from the case.

The societal implications of this mindset are chilling. Until gay people are accepted by mainstream US society – accepted, as opposed to tolerated – there will always remain a stigma associated with being gay. This stigma will continue to feed into the dynamic outlined in this article. Outwardly heterosexual men who have homosexual tendencies will continue to bury those feelings under a blanket of self-hatred, which in turn engenders overt expressions of homophobia (which can, in extreme cases, lead to the murder of gay men and lesbians). Some of the very courts that are tasked by society to bring gay-bashers to justice have, themselves, endorsed the behavior of the gay-bashers. In 1986, the US Supreme Court enshrined contempt for gay Americans into constitutional law, holding that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment did not grant to gay persons the right of sexual privacy (see Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986)). This opinion was written in tones of sneering contempt. Fortunately, the US Supreme Court explicitly and bluntly reversed Bowers on June 26, 2003 (see Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), in which this Court actually apologized to gay Americans for its decision in Bowers, holding that “Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today. It ought not to remain binding precedent. Bowers v. Hardwick should be and now is overruled.”). While the outright reversal of Bowers will accomplish much to ensure that gay Americans are treated as equals in society, it takes more than a US Supreme Court decision to change the attitudes of a generation.
Study after study has shown that heterosexual Americans who know gay people personally are much less likely to be homophobic than are heterosexual Americans who claim not to know gay people personally.

It is for this reason that gay Americans have a responsibility both to themselves and to their community to live their lives openly and honestly. It is for this reason that those gay men and lesbians who remain closeted are in a position to advance both their own interests and the interests of the gay community more generally – simply by ending the lies and being themselves.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Another Country......

I am currently doing business in the UK, and am stunned by the difference between the manner in which the UK treats gay people and the manner in which the US treats gay people. Whereas gay people living in the UK receive respectful treatment and a modicum of fairness from both their government and their society, the US appears to be headed full tilt backwards with respect to this particular issue.

Here in the UK, employment and other forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation are strictly prohibited; such discrimination is treated as severely as is discrimination on the basis of race or national origin. It is considered completely unacceptable to fire a person from a job at which that person excels merely because that person is gay. Furthermore, this is not a mere government objective; this is considered to be unacceptable by the people. Gay persons living in the UK may enter into “Civil Partnerships” which are the equivalent of marriage in all but name. Whereas only one state in the US (Massachusetts) permits gay marriage, Civil Partnerships are recognized throughout the UK. Gay marriage in Massachusetts is recognized at the state level only, thereby denying to gay couples in such marriages about 1,049 federally recognized benefits and privileges enjoyed by married heterosexual couples. Civil Partnerships in the UK grant to gay couples all of the rights and privileges of marriage at all levels. Several states in the US recognize gay marriage at the state level in all but name. These relationships are referred to as “Civil Unions” in Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New Jersey, and as “Domestic Partnerships” in California, Hawaii, and Oregon. Although there has been progress in the US (a total of about eight states now grant to gay couples the privileges and benefits of marriage at the state level), this progress has been much slower and more halting than the progress realized by gay people living in the UK. (At the time of writing this, a state court in Iowa has just handed down a decision holding that the denial of marriage licenses to gay couples is violative of the Iowa state constitution; if this decision is upheld by the Iowa Supreme Court, the State of Iowa will be forced to recognize either gay marriage itself or some form of civil union as described above.)

One reason for this is undoubtedly the lack of an organized evangelical right-wing movement here in the UK. Whereas fundamentalist “Christians” are still able to disease the cultural discourse in the US, there are far fewer people in the UK who tap into a fundamentalist Christian model and who consider it to be their duty to force their particular narrow, moralistic agenda onto the people of the UK. The full provisions of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) went into effect here in the UK a few months ago. Although exemptions exist for priests and ministers of religion, even religious organizations must abide by the provisions of this Act. Thus, a Catholic adoption agency that wishes to serve the public by providing children in need of homes to prospective adoptive couples must consider applications filed by gay couples who are capable, in terms of the requirements of adoption law, of giving loving homes to children in need of such homes. Several Catholic adoption agencies have actually shut themselves down in the face of this requirement, thereby depriving children in need of loving homes of the possibility of being adopted.

The exemptions apply only to those members of religious organizations who are actual ministers of religion. Thus, no church can be forced to marry a gay couple, since such marriages invariably involve senior church officials. However, a church that matches children for adoption up with prospective adoptive parents cannot refuse to consider applications filed by gay couples, and must treat such applications on an equal footing with applications filed by heterosexual couples. One right-wing newspaper – the Daily Mail – complains about this, making explicit the (demonstrably false) assumption that a child fares better when raised by two people of the opposite sex (there is now an abundance of literature that shows that children raised by two same-sex parents fare just as well as children raised by two opposite-sex parents); but that is the extent of the protest against the “gay lobby.”

Legislation that forces religious bodies to treat gay people in the same way as heterosexual people would be unthinkable in the US, by virtue of the fact that the US has a written Constitution; federal courts have established a massive body of case law dealing with the First Amendment rights of both people and churches. However, the lack of a written constitution permits Parliament in the UK to pass legislation that would have the above-cited impact on Catholic adoption agencies. In the US, such Catholic adoption agencies would be able to assert a First Amendment defense for the practice of excluding gay people as adoptive parents.

Another difference between the UK and the US (in terms of popular culture) is the differing emphasis placed on marriage. In the UK, it is entirely reasonable and widespread for women to bring children up on their own, and for men and women to live together without getting married. The Conservative Party (also known as the Tory Party) wishes to re-emphasize the importance of marriage and the traditional family, but faces fierce opposition from figures in government who themselves are either divorced or who never married. David Cameron – the leading light of the opposition party (the Tories) – was flustered into silence recently when asked by a highly educated, intelligent woman who had risen through the political ranks and who was also a single mother, whether she should get married. The social culture in the UK is much more accepting of different family structures than is the social culture in the US.

Together with legal acceptance of gay people has come cultural acceptance. Schools have implemented zero-tolerance anti-bullying campaigns that make it much easier for gay children to participate both socially and academically. Whereas gay boys in the US have to worry about getting themselves shoved into urinals by heterosexual bullies, gay boys in the UK are protected from such abuses by stringent anti-bullying campaigns that are taken seriously by both teachers and students alike. Quite simply put, it is not acceptable to harass and abuse a child in the UK merely because that child is gay or is perceived to be gay.

Ironically, the progress that gay people have made in the UK can be explained to some degree by the extent to which gay people in the UK were previously hated, marginalized, shunned, and harshly treated by the law. Alan Turing – the mathematical genius who developed key concepts in computer science and whose contributions to the branch of mathematics dealing with encryption and code breaking enabled the British authorities to crack the Nazi Enigma machine and the Lorenz SZ 40/42 machine – was openly gay, and was arrested for “gross indecency” under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885 after he acknowledged having had a sexual relationship with a man in Manchester. Turing was unrepentant and open about his sexuality in an era and in a country in which homosexual acts were illegal and in which homosexuality itself was treated by psychiatrists as a mental illness, The alternative being a prison sentence, Turing was forced to undergo hormone “therapy” in which his body was pumped full of estrogen, causing him to grow breasts. Turing was found dead on 8 June 1954, apparently having committed suicide by biting into and eating part of an apple laced with cyanide. Although the cause of death was established by the autopsy as cyanide poisoning, the apple itself was never tested for cyanide, leaving open the question as to whether Turing had indeed committed suicide, was the victim of an accident (his mother vehemently asserted that Turing was careless in handling and storing dangerous chemicals), or was assassinated (his homosexuality was certainly perceived as a security risk). Oscar Wilde – the brilliant playwright, novelist, and poet – was convicted under the same statute on 25 May 1895 and was sentenced to two years’ hard labor (scholars agree that the prison sentence at Reading Gaol ruined Wilde’s health and contributed to his early death a mere two years following his release). Sex between men eventually became legal in the UK, but the age of consent for gay sex was set at 18, whereas the age of consent for heterosexual sex was set at 16. In July 2000, the European Court of Human Rights heard an appeal from a gay man from Yorkshire who had been prosecuted for engaging in group sex and who had been conditionally discharged for two years in November 1996 – the Court of Human Rights vacated his conviction, and the man received almost GBP 21,000.00 in damages and slightly over GBP 12,000.00 in costs. It is against this backdrop of harsh oppression that the law was finally modified to recognize the equality and dignity of the lives of gay citizens in the UK. Now, gay marriage is legal throughout the UK, at all levels, in all but name (mocking those “civil unions” in those US states that permit them). A gay man or woman may enter into a civil partnership with a citizen of another nation, and may sponsor that person into the UK in the same way that a man or woman may enter into a marriage with a citizen of another nation and sponsor that non-citizen into the country. The age of consent for gay sex is now the same as the age of consent for heterosexual sex (16).

Another important difference -- a difference that resonates throughout the broader culture -- lies in the fact that the UK Armed Forces no longer discriminate against gay servicemembers. Whereas it was once legal to discharge a member of the Armed Forces merely for being gay, servicemembers in the UK are now no longer subject to such naked discrimination. In September 1999, the European Court of Human Rights held that the ban on openly gay men and women serving in the UK Armed Forces was a clear-cut breach of the Human Rights Convention. This unanimous ruing, handed down by judges in Strasbourg, held that the ban violated the privacy rights of gay men and women who wished to serve in the UK Armed Forces. In 2000, the UK officially ended its ban on openly gay personnel from serving in th Armed Forces, and firmly asserted that servicemembers could no longer be discharged merely for being gay. It is important to bear in mind the fact that legal discrimination against gay men and lesbians in the Armed Forces can be "borrowed" to justify other forms of government-sponsored discrimination against gay men and lesbians, as Boushka has noted elsewhere (see "Do Ask, Do Tell").

It is indeed ironic that gay people have made so much progress in the UK, given the fact that the US was founded following a revolution in which the American colonies broke away from the UK in search of greater freedom. It is ironic in the extreme that gay sex in the US only became legal in all 50 states following the handing down, in 2003, of a US Supreme Court opinion (Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)) holding that state sodomy statutes violated the rights of gay Americans under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (A.J. O’Connor’s concurrence relied not on the reach of the Due Process Clause, but on the protective ambit of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause to arrive at the same result). Just 17 years before Lawrence was handed down, the US Supreme Court mockingly dismissed a Due Process challenge to the Georgia sodomy statute filed by a man (Michael Hardwick) who had been arrested, but ultimately not prosecuted, for having oral sex with another man in the privacy of his own bedroom (see Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986)). The Court, in Bowers, made the infamous assertion that the privacy challenge (grounded in the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause) mounted by Hardwick in response to his arrest for consensual oral sex was “at best, facetious.” That ruling is now history -- the Lawrence Court went to considerable pains to acknowledge that it had erred in handing down Bowers, opining that "[i]ts continuance as precedent [Bowers] demeans the lives of homosexual persons...Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today. It ought not to remain binding precedent. Bowers v. Hardwick should be and now is overruled."It is the fervent hope of this commentator that the overwhelming majority of the citizens of the US will, one day in the not too distant future, see their fellow gay Americans as equals, both before the bar of justice and in the eyes of broader society, just as the majority of the citizens of the US now reject the days of Jim Crow and have no desire to return to such a legally and morally destructive social order.


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics...

It is very easy to confuse people who lack a fundamental educational background in the mathematical sciences by manipulating data derived from flawed “research” protocols (supposedly scientific studies, surveys, etc.) and publishing the results of such manipulations in what appear, on their face, to be scientific journals and academic archives. Many people assume that the mere publication of a set of “findings” in a scientific journal or academic archive is tantamount, in and of itself, to the endorsement of such “findings” by “experts” in various fields, particularly if the journals in question have official-sounding names, and particularly if the articles in which these “findings” are published are indexed by extensive bibliographic references. Most people of good will lack the time and the requisite educational backgrounds to distinguish high quality documentation pertaining to validly constructed scientific research protocols from poor quality documentation, or from documentation pertaining to grossly unreliable or poorly designed research protocols.

This holds true regardless of whether the issue in question lends itself readily to precise and accurate assessment, or whether the issue in question requires some understanding of the context in which it is encountered, and / or some awareness of the limitations that qualify precise and accurate measurements in the field. Psychological research is particularly vulnerable to errors in data analysis, interpretation, and communication of results, and the vast majority of non-professional people lack the skills necessary to distinguish between valid and reliable assessment tools on the one hand, and invalid or unreliable assessment tools on the other hand.

A solid understanding of the concepts of validity and reliability is crucial in the field of psychological assessment. Clinical psychologists and other clinicians dealing with abnormal psychology have at their disposal a number of tools with which to assess and describe such issues as personality, mental illnesses, and psychological disturbances.

The validity of a psychological assessment tool is a measure of the extent to which the tool in question actually measures the characteristic or construct that it is intended to measure. The original Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) is widely regarded as the most extensively researched psychological assessment tool in the world. The original MMPI was released in 1942 by the University of Minnesota, which has the copyright for this tool. This test was revised in 1989 and is now commonly denoted as the MMPI-2; another version reflecting additional revisions (the MMPI Restructured Form or MMPI-RF) is scheduled for release in late 2007. A special version of the MMPI was released in 1992; this version (the MMPI-A) was developed for the purpose of testing adolescents. This particular psychological assessment tool is one of the most widely utilized tests of adult psychopathology. It is also utilized in criminal justice and correctional contexts, and is part of a battery of tests utilized by agencies such as the Secret Service and the FBI for the purpose of psychological evaluation, where it is utilized for the identification of suitable candidates for high-risk public safety positions. The MMPI is also utilized in college and career counseling, in developing substance abuse treatment protocols, and in designing effective treatment strategies for both psychological problems and medical problems (e.g. chronic pain management). A huge body of literature exists in which the validity of this tool has been discussed, and the vast majority of clinicians and other professionals who utilize this tool consider it to be invaluable in terms of both validity and reliability.

The reliability of a psychological assessment tool is a measure of the extent to which the tool in question yields results which are stable across time. If repetition of the test yields similar results for the test subjects with each repetition, then the test in question is reliable. The MMPI is so widely used precisely because it has been found to be both valid and reliable. This particular tool measures various psychological attributes with a high degree of validity, i.e. it accurately measures what it is intended to measure. It is also reliable, in that repetitions of this test on the same subjects across extended periods of time yield similar results with each repetition.

The Rorschach Inkblot Test (RIT)is the second most widely utilized test in personality assessment. The subject, or testee, is shown a total of 10 symmetrical inkblots and is asked to describe what he or she sees in each inkblot. The subject’s responses are noted. Everything that the subject says and does is captured by the tester, who interprets the results with the aid of a scoring system referred to as the Exner scoring system, or Comprehensive system. This scoring system includes frequency tables which show how often specific responses to each inkblot are given by the general population. This scoring system includes scales for Form Quality, Deviant Verbalizations, Complexity, Human Figure, Organizational Activity, and Overall Total Responses (these are just a few of the scales). Some of these scales have been shown to correlate reasonably well with intelligence, across different testers. For example, Overall Total Responses (abbreviated as the R scale) correlates highly with intelligence; there is definitely a correlation between the R scale and intelligence, with high values of R correlating with higher intelligence. However, high values of R also correlate with higher values on some of the scales which indicate psychopathology. The overall validity of the Rorschach Inkblot Test is most controversial, as is its reliability. Intuitively, this is easy to understand; a degree of subjectivity is unavoidable when administering and scoring this test, regardless of who performs the test and how often the test is performed. Furthermore, the 10 inkblots comprising the test materials were leaked in print in 1983 and were distributed on the Internet in 2004, enabling potential testees to “rehearse” their answers, particularly under circumstances in which this test is administered for diagnostic purposes within the criminal justice system (granting parole, assigning custody, etc.).. It is accurate to state that both the validity and the reliability of this test are questionable, particularly when compared to the validity and reliability of the MMPI.

Most readers of this blog will have stumbled across this information for the first time right here, in this post, above. Those readers to whom both of these tests have been administered will probably be quite surprised to learn that one of these tests is considered to be much more reliable and much more valid than the other. This is not the fault of the reader; it is mentioned merely to underscore the extent to which ordinary men and women place considerable faith in the protocols utilized by clinicians and diagnosticians in the field of psychological assessment, particularly as pertains to the diagnosis of mental disorders.

The hard right in the US knows full well that the majority of people lack scientific backgrounds and can therefore be mislead by assertions made by “scientists” and “researchers,” particularly when dealing with controversial issues such as the rights of gay people and the manner in which gay people lead their lives. It is therefore very easy to mislead people by publishing the results of “research” in journals which have authoritative-sounding names. Tapping in to such ignorance and presumptions is precisely what anti-gay organizations (such as “Focus on the Family” (FOTF), the “American Family Association” (AFA), the “Traditional Values Coalition” (TVC), and the “Family Research Council” (FRC)) engage in with respect to shaping public policy and public opinions of gay people in the US. The “researcher” most frequently cited by these organizations in their attempts to portray gay people as depraved, diseased, uncaring, and immoral is a man named Paul Cameron.

Cameron was born in 1939 in Pittsburg, PA. He received his B.A. from Los Angeles Pacific College in 1961 and went on to obtain his M.A. from California State University, Los Angeles, in 1962. Cameron then obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado in 1966, submitting a dissertation titled “Age as a determinant of differences in non-intellective psychological functioning.” He was affiliated with several colleges and universities until 1980; these institutions included Wayne State University (1967 – 1968), University of Louisville (1970 – 1973), Fuller Theological Seminary (1976 – 1979), and the University of Nebraska (1979 – 1980). In 1982, Cameron founded an organization named the “Institute for the Scientific Investigation of Sexuality” (ISIS), which is now known as the “Family Research Institute” (FRI) (Cameron is Chairman of this organization).

The FRI was formed following an unsuccessful attempt by the Lincoln, NE City Council to pass an ordinance which would have prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Cameron headed up an organization named the “Committee to Oppose Special Rights for Homosexuals,” which led the opposition to the proposed measure. During his campaign to defeat this measure, Cameron delivered a speech at the Lutheran chapel of the University of Nebraska, in which he stated that a four-year-old boy had been brutally sexually assaulted by a gay man at a local shopping mall. In fact, the police were unable to confirm that any such attack had occurred, and Cameron has since admitted that he had heard (and repeated) this accusation as a mere rumor.

The mission statement of the FRI declares that the FRI has “…one overriding mission: to generate empirical research on issues that threaten the traditional family, particularly homosexuality, AIDS, sexual social policy, and drug abuse
. This organization further seeks “" restore a world where marriage is upheld and honored, where children are nurtured and protected, and where homosexuality is not taught and accepted, but instead is discouraged and rejected at every level." The FRI moved from Lincoln, NE to Washington, DC, and then to Colorado Springs, CO, where it remains active and continues to generate anti-gay propaganda.

Cameron is a tireless crusader who is utterly determined to portray the gay community as a threat to public health, a danger to small children, and a scourge to civilization itself.

Ordinarily, ad hominem observations are useless when debating issues of fact, and tend to undermine the credibility of the person who makes them. However, when such observations bear directly on the credibility of a person who assumes a self-appointed role as guardian of the public health and welfare, then it is entirely reasonable to make reference to such observations, particularly when the person in question casts aspersions on the credibility of the group that he or she attacks. Bearing this in mind, the following observations should be made relative to Cameron and his relationships to professional bodies and peers.

Cameron describes himself as a “Researcher / Clinician” on his resume. However, Cameron was only permitted to practice psychology in the State of Nebraska, and his license to practice psychology in that state is currently listed as “Inactive” on the Web site of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (see, where you can perform a search for his credentials). His license (#100334) lapsed into “Inactive” status effective January 2, 1995. Cameron is therefore not a licensed clinician, and his continued references to himself as a clinician are therefore flat-out lies.

Cameron was expelled from the “American Psychological Association” (APA) in December 1983, after ethics charges were brought against him in response to his misrepresentation and distortions of the results of studies performed by other psychologists working at the University of Nebraska. Cameron insists that he resigned from the APA – however, the APA’s bylaws make it clear that a member of the APA may not resign during the course of an ethics investigation of that member. The APA formally expelled Cameron on December 2, 1983, stating that “Paul Cameron (Nebraska) was dropped from membership for a violation of the Preamble to the Ethical Principles of Psychologists.” Cameron has gone to elaborate and embarrassing lengths to explain this away on his Web site – however, his formal expulsion from this body stands.

The “Nebraska Psychological Association” (NPA) adopted a resolution at its membership meeting on October 19, 1984, stating that this organization “formally disassociates itself from the representations and interpretations of scientific literature offered by Dr. Paul Cameron in his writings and public statements on sexuality.” The NPA went on to state that “…the Nebraska Psychological Association would like it known that Dr. Cameron is not a member of the Association. Dr. Cameron was recently dropped from membership in the American Psychological Association for a violation of the Preamble to the Ethical Principles of Psychologists” [emphasis added].

In 1985, the “American Sociological Association” (ASA) adopted a resolution declaring that “Dr. Paul Cameron has consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented sociological research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism," also noting that "Dr. Paul Cameron has repeatedly campaigned for the abrogation of the civil rights of lesbians and gay men, substantiating his call on the basis of his distorted interpretation of this research." This resolution formally charged an ASA committee with the task of "critically evaluating and publicly responding to the work of Dr. Paul Cameron."

In August 1986, the ASA accepted the committee’s report and adopted the following resolution: “The American Sociological Association officially and publicly states that Paul Cameron is not a sociologist, and condemns his consistent misrepresentation of sociological research. Information on this action and a copy of the report by the Committee on the Status of Homosexuals in Sociology, "The Paul Cameron Case," is to be published in Footnotes, and be sent to the officers of all regional and state sociological associations and to the Canadian Sociological Association with a request that they alert their members to Cameron’s frequent lecture and media appearances.”

Cameron’s shameful abuse of the public trust has been noted by organizations outside of the US. In 1996, the Board of Directors of the “Canadian Psychological Association” (CPA) released a position statement denouncing Cameron’s work and distancing the CPA from Cameron’s “findings,” stating that Cameron had “consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism.”

It is difficult to find any contemporary figure in the human sciences who has been denounced by so many well-respected and prestigious organizations, including the largest professional organization of psychologists in the US (the APA). However, criticism of Cameron and his methodology has not been confined to statements made by professional organizations. In 1985, US District Court Judge Jerry Buchmeyer subjected Cameron to a blistering tongue-lashing. Judge Buchmeyer, presiding over proceedings pertaining to the constitutionality of the Texas “homosexual conduct” statute, concluded that “…Dr. Paul Cameron...has himself made misrepresentations to this Court" and that "[t]here has been no fraud or misrepresentations except by Dr. Cameron" (see Baker v. Wade (1985) (p.536)).

Undaunted by these criticisms of both his integrity and his methodology, Cameron went on to participate in the now-notorious “gay obituary” study, the results of which purported to show that gay men and lesbians have much shorter lifespans than heterosexual men and women. In 1994, Cameron and his associates counted obituaries published by the gay press in gay newspapers and periodicals, and used this data to estimate the lifespans of gay men and lesbians. This is a textbook case revealing the deficiencies associated with drawing conclusions from a convenience sample as opposed to a representative sample.

A representative sample is precisely what the name implies: it is a sample from a population that is representative of the entire population. When a doctor performs blood tests, e.g. for the diagnosis of an infection, the doctor does not drain all of the blood from a patient’s body in order to determine the white blood cell count (WBC) and the presence or absence of antibodies. Instead, the doctor takes one or more test tubes and fills those test tubes with blood drawn (usually) from a vein. The doctor then performs the necessary tests against these blood specimens. This is methodologically sound because blood drawn from a vein in the arm is very similar to blood drawn from a vein in the foot; in most cases, the WBC will be the same regardless of from where the blood was drawn. This is, in other words, a representative sample of the patient’s blood.

Now consider obituaries published in gay periodicals and newspapers. These obituaries are hopelessly unrepresentative of the populations in question (the entire gay and lesbian population). Reasons for this lack of adequate representation are directly attributable to the following observations:

Most gay community newspapers do not have sections of death notices. As the AIDS epidemic began to claim the lives of so many gay men during the 1980s, however, many (but certainly not all) gay newspapers and periodicals began to publish obituaries. These obituaries are usually compiled by, and submitted by, close friends and relatives of the deceased (exceptions to this occur in those cases when the deceased is a public figure, or an influential figure in gay politics, in which cases obituaries are frequently prepared by organizations seeking gay equality in the US). In the vast majority of cases (those cases where the deceased is not a public figure), obituaries only appear in gay community newspapers and periodicals if (1) a loved one or friend of the deceased notifies the newspaper of the death of the deceased, often after preparing an obituary for the deceased, and (2) the editor of the newspaper or periodical in question decides to print the obituary.

Thus, most gay men and lesbians do not have their deaths written up in obituaries published in the gay media. The following is a list (by no means exhaustive) of the groups of gay men and lesbians who, upon passing away, are unlikely to have obituaries printed in the gay media:

· Gay men and lesbians who are not involved in the gay community (men and women who are not activists or outspoken contributors to the politics of gay equality);
Gay men and lesbians who are closeted, i.e. not open about their sexual orientation. Sadly, this reflects a large percentage of the overall gay population in the US;
· Gay men and lesbians whose families do not wish for the sexual orientation of the deceased to be made a matter of public record;
· Gay men and lesbians whose families or significant others simply do not consider sending obituaries to the gay press;
· Gay men and lesbians whose families or significant others did not send in obituaries for other reasons (shock and grief can prevent a gay-supportive family or circle of friends from thinking about sending obituaries to the gay press
· Gay men and lesbians who die without leaving loved ones to write obituaries for the deceased, e.g. gay people whose loved ones die before them).

An accurate estimate of the lifespans of gay men and lesbians would have to include the lifespans of people from all of the above groups even to approach adequate and accurate representation of the average ages of death of gay men and lesbians. Furthermore, this “research” is fatally flawed in another, important respect: it is by its nature a retrospective analysis of lifespans, where a prospective analysis would be much better suited to accomplishing the task in question. A prospective study would require the selection of groups of heterosexual and gay men and lesbians (at least four groups in total – gay men, lesbians, heterosexual men, and heterosexual women) carefully chosen to eliminate confounding variables such as socio-economic status, congenital illnesses (which have no bearing on sexual orientation), access to healthcare, differences in schooling and education, etc.). Retrospective studies, whilst useful, are flawed in that they cannot, even under the best of circumstances, yield results as meaningful as those yielded by prospective studies. For example, when assessing the efficacy of anti-retroviral medications, it is almost always necessary to identify a control group and an experimental group, members of which both of which have to be matched for such factors as prior exposure to specific anti-retroviral drugs, comparable viral loads, comparable clinical presentation, etc. Only when the efficacy of the drug in question is established by observing and documenting improvements in clinical outcomes, or improvements in terms of lower viral load, higher CD4 counts, etc. can the experimental drug be said to be effective as an addition to existing treatment regimens. Prospective studies, however, are beset with ethical problems – many doctors regard it as immoral to maintain patients on the non-experimental protocol, for which reason patients receiving the non-experimental protocol are frequently granted access to the experimental drug as soon as the improved outcome of utilizing that drug in combination with those already prescribed has been established.

In short, Cameron’s “obituary studies” are utterly worthless in terms of predicting and comparing the lifespans of gay people versus heterosexual people. Cameron has a Ph.D. – he is not a naïve fool. The poor quality of his analysis and the highly selective nature of the “convenience sample” in question leads inevitably to the inference that Cameron conducted his “obituary study” not for the purposes of the dispassionate analysis and the advancement of legitimate scholarship, but for the purpose of generating “empirical data” for the purpose of “restor[ing] a world where marriage is upheld and honored, where children are nurtured and protected, and where homosexuality is not taught and accepted, but instead is discouraged and rejected at every level.”

During 1983 and 1984, Cameron conducted a “National Survey,” supposedly for the purpose of accurately and dispassionately quantifying the behavior of gay men and lesbians. The “National Survey” study was intended to provide the world with accurate information about the sexual activity of gay men and lesbians throughout the US. This survey therefore drew upon responses from the citizens of seven municipalities (Bennett (NE), Denver (CO), Los Angeles (CA), Louisville (KY), Omaha (NE), Rochester (NY), and Washington (DC)); data from Dallas (TX) was added later. However, at least six serious errors have been identified in Cameron’s sampling techniques, survey methodology, and interpretation of results. Any one of these errors, on its own, would render Cameron’s conclusions highly suspect – the combination of all six errors results in the generation of data which is completely meaningless. The six errors are discussed below:

1) There is nothing “national” about data derived from only eight municipalities. By deriving data only from respondents living within these eight municipalities, Cameron systematically excluded all US adults who resided elsewhere. At best and assuming otherwise flawless sampling techniques, methodology, and interpretations, Cameron’s “findings” could be extrapolated only to the populations of the eight municipalities in question. However, there was nothing flawless about the sampling techniques utilized within these eight municipalities, as will be discussed in (2) below.

2) Cameron never reported the response rate he obtained within each of these eight localities. Instead, Cameron reported a “compliance rate,” where the “compliance rate” was the percentage of respondents in each city who returned the survey form after actually being contacted and given the survey form. In other words, Cameron omitted the vast majority of respondents who simply refused to participate in the survey (some of these people refused to accept the survey form and wanted nothing to do with the study). There are major differences between people who refuse to participate in a study and those who choose to participate in a study, particularly when the information gleaned from the study is highly sensitive and personal in nature. This was an error that any first-year student of inferential statistics would recognize in a heartbeat. Cameron reported a compliance rate of 43.5% for the seven-city survey (which was later corrected to 47.5%) and a 57.7% compliance rate for the Dallas survey. The actual response rates, given the above distortion, were much, much lower. Usage of the “compliance rate” was grossly misleading because it excluded the large number of households within the eight cities who were never successfully contacted (the so-called “not-at-homes”). Legitimate research of this nature requires that the researcher report the true response rate – the actual number of completed surveys divided by the total number of households initially targeted by the survey. Using Cameron’s own data, the true response rate for the seven-municipality survey was a mere 23.6; the response rate for the Dallas survey was a mere 20.7%; and (using appropriate weighting techniques in these calculations) the overall response rate across all eight municipalities was approximately 23%. More than three out of every four households targeted for this survey either refused, outright, to participate in the survey; accepted a survey form but failed to return it; or could not be contacted. This pitifully low response rate makes it impossible to take Cameron’s conclusions seriously. While there is no uniformly accepted figure for a “good” response rate, it is clear that the Cameron surveys relied not upon a random sample but instead upon a convenience sample. It is impossible to generalize from a convenience sample to an entire population with any confidence in the legitimacy of the generalization; yet this is precisely what Cameron attempted. Again, it should be stressed that Cameron is not a fool, nor is he naïve, leading inevitably to the inference that his publication of these “results” was motivated by raw animus to the class of persons targeted by the “survey” (gay Americans).

3) Had Cameron’s 1983 – 1984 combined sample been a true random sample (which it most certainly was not, as discussed in (2) above), it would have been large enough (N = 5,182) to permit Cameron to make estimates of general population characteristics with only a small margin of error. This, however, is moot, due to the extremely low response rates and the fact that Cameron employed a convenience sample instead of a random sample. However, even if one makes the assumption that Cameron’s sample was a random sample (which it was not), Cameron tried, in several papers, to make reliable estimates about the characteristics of extremely small subgroups within this sample. For example, Cameron identified a total of 17 respondents within their 1983 – 1984 samples who claimed to have a gay parent. Cameron then scrutinized the questionnaires completed by these 17 respondents for negative sexual experiences, one of which was incestuous sexual activity with a gay parent. Of the 17 respondents who were asked whether they had ever experienced an incestuous sexual encounter with their gay parents, five answered in the affirmative. This enabled Cameron to argue that 29% (five divided by 17) of gay Americans have incestuous relationships with their parents, as opposed to only 0.6% of the children of heterosexual parents, and that “having a homosexual parent(s) appears to increase the risk of incest with a parent by a factor of about 50.” Reliance upon such a small subset of respondents is invalid due to the fact that data from such a ridiculously low sample have an unacceptably high margin of sampling error. In a true random sample of 17 (and this was not a true random sample of 17, as discussed in (2) above), the margin of error due to sampling (with a confidence level of 99%) is plus-or-minus 33%. Thus, had the subset of 17 people been drawn from a true random sample (which it was not), all that one would have been able to conclude from Cameron’s data is that the true proportion of adults who have a gay parent and who have been sexually abused by that parent is anywhere from -4% (effectively zero) and 62%. Such a wide margin of error renders the result completely meaningless. Furthermore, because the confidence interval includes zero, Cameron could not legitimately conclude that the true number of children of gay parents (in the eight municipalities sampled) who were the victims of gay incest was actually different from zero.

4) The validity of the questionnaire items was most doubtful. Data derived from self-reporting is useful only to the extent that respondents answer the questions truthfully and honestly. When participants give incorrect or unreliable answers to questions, it is either because (1) they are unable to give accurate responses or (2) because they are unwilling to give accurate responses. In Cameron’s “survey,” reasons exit to assume that both factors operated. Cameron’s questionnaires contained 550 items and took, on average, at least 75 minutes to complete. A large number of questions dealing with highly sensitive aspects of human sexuality were included, in some cases in a very complex format. The problems of respondent fatigue and item difficulty both played a role in reducing the validity of the questionnaire. Respondent fatigue is particularly likely to creep into a lengthy survey that takes more than an hour to complete. It is possible to control for respondent fatigue by repeating some of the questions asked earlier in the test, towards the end of the test (if discrepancies are noted with consistency, the test should be revamped to reduce respondent fatigue). Cameron did not utilize any such consistency checks in his questionnaire. Furthermore, some of the questions, in addition to being extremely sensitive, were presented in extremely complex multiple-choice format. In one section, for example, respondents were expected to read a list of 36 categories of persons (e.g., my female grade school teacher, my male [camp, Y, Scout] counselor), then to note the age at which each person made serious sexual advances to me, then to note the age at which each person had experienced physical sexual relations with me, and then to report the total number of people in each category with whom the respondent had sexual relations. Another item asked respondents why they thought they had developed their sexual orientation, and gave a checklist of 44 reasons, including I was seduced by a homosexual adult, I had childhood homosexual experiences with an adult, and I failed at heterosexuality. Many respondents probably became confused, tired, and alienated by the content of some of the questions. In addition, when presented with long lists of alternatives, many respondents may have skipped the lower items on the list, or read them incompletely. Another validity problem that can arise when dealing with such complex issues takes the form of respondents intentionally giving incorrect information. Any test or questionnaire based on self-reporting relies on the honesty of the participants to include full and accurate information, and many respondents may have been made uncomfortable by some of the questions that were asked. One way in which an experienced psychologist can reduce the likelihood of false or malicious answers being given is to ensure the respondents that their answers will remain anonymous (as opposed to confidential). This procedure is utilized in cases where the subject matter is complex and in which respondents do not wish for their names to be associated with their answers. Cameron’s own notes and conclusions imply that the questionnaire that he distributed was not anonymous. (There is a big difference between confidentiality and anonymity, and Cameron may have promised only the former.) The manner in which the questionnaires were presented almost certainly impacted negatively on the validity of the results; complete strangers simply arrived on the doorsteps of the respondents, without any affiliation with a prestigious University, college, or institute. In Bennett (NE), the local newspaper actually reported on advice given by a police offer to a neighbor not to complete the survey. Furthermore, it is entirely possible that some people may have used this opportunity to sabotage the test by giving outrageous and inaccurate answers to the more sensitive questions (e.g. exaggeration of sexual activity, exaggeration of participation in multiple unconventional sexual acts, imputing instances of incest, etc.). As discussed earlier, Cameron’s analysis of subgroups was particularly sensitive to fake answers because of the tiny numbers of people involved (17 people stated that they had a gay parent; two or three exaggerated answers would have dramatically skewed the results). The impact of mischief-makers is maximized when dealing with very small subset samples, as occurred in Cameron’s case. Furthermore, nobody from the study was present with the participants when they completed their questionnaires – a factor which could have played a dramatic role in permitting mischief-makers to skew the results.

5) The interviewers may have been biased and may not have followed uniform procedures. Professional survey organizations go to considerable lengths to ensure that testers approach the issues in question from a non-biased and non-judgmental viewpoint; they strictly follow standardized procedures and communicate a neutral, non-judgmental attitude towards the respondents. Furthermore, the interviewers frequently know nothing of the goals of the survey. It is impossible to know whether Cameron followed this protocol. In his published report, he made no reference to such quality control procedures, which in and of itself implies that he did not employ such procedures. It is not clear whether a supervisor randomly contacted some of the respondents in order to ensure that the respondent had, himself or herself, taken the test (numerous studies have been sabotaged by lazy administrators failing to distribute the tests properly; some such administrators may complete several tests themselves, in order to skip the hard work of going from door to door). Such controls would have strengthened the validity of Cameron’s findings; the fact that they were not mentioned in his report suggests that they were not implemented in the field. More serious, however, is the undisputed fact that several high-level members of the research team were active in distributing the questionnaires and collecting the data. This is problematic because these people can be expected to have strong biases and a vested interest in the outcome – an interest that can cause them to transmit their expectations to the respondents (this is why people who have no knowledge of the objective of the study are usually employed to gather data).

6) Cameron made his bias known during the period that the survey was being conducted. In order to study a social phenomenon, researchers take great care to ensure that the individuals being studied do not become aware of the expectations or goals of the research in question. Should the subjects become aware of the goals or expectations of the researchers, then the subjects may deliberately tailor their answers to thwart or to encourage the expectations of the researchers. Cameron ignored this universally accepted caution and made headlines in Omaha, NE (one of the cities selected for his “nationwide” research), characterizing his survey as providing "ammunition for those who want laws adopted banning homosexual acts throughout the United States," and he was quoted as saying that the survey's sponsors were "betting that (the survey results would show) that the kinds of sexual patterns suggested in the Judeo-Christian philosophy are more valid than the Playboy philosophy." During the course of conducting his survey, Cameron was publicly vocal in his support for a proposed quarantine of all gay people (he spoke out publicly about this proposal in Houston at the same time that the survey was being conducted in Dallas). It is entirely possible that respondents in other cities became aware of Cameron’s goals and deliberately decided not to participate in the survey, or decided to give answers reflecting their personal bias and their personal desire to shape public policy.

Then there is the question of the publications in which Cameron published the results of his research. Research studies are often evaluated in terms of the prestige of the scientific journals in which they are published, as well as in terms of the number of times these studies are cited in the literature by other researchers and scholars. The Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) and the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) provide objective measures for these criteria, respectively.

The SSCI is a quarterly publication that lists, alphabetically by author, all articles that have been cited in scientific journals during that time period and the bibliographic reference for the articles that have cited them.

The JCR compiles data from the SSCI to report an impact factor for individual academic journals. The impact factor describes the average frequency with which articles in a particular journal are cited. It is computed as the number of times any article from that journal is cited during the first two years following its publication divided by the total number of articles published in that journal during the time period. To provide a simplified example, suppose that a particular journal published 25 articles in 1990, and those 25 articles were subsequently cited a combined total of 125 times between 1990 and 1992. The journal's impact factor for 1990 would be 125/25 or 5.0. Although the impact factor has limitations, it is widely used by librarians, information scientists, and researchers from a variety of disciplines as an objective indicator of a journal's quality, value, and impact.

Cameron’s “research” has been published in four very low quality journals (i.e. journals with a very low impact factor). Most of his “research” was published in one journal named "Psychological Reports". Unlike prestigious journals, Psychological Reports charges the researcher a fee by the page to print the so-called research. This journal is, in fact, a vanity journal in which “researchers” may get material published which would be rejected by prestigious and highly regarded journals. Cameron himself once described another journal in which his “research” has been published as “obscure.”

Based on data from the SSCI, Cameron’s work had almost no impact whatsoever on the literature.

It should be clear, taking all of the above issues into consideration, that Cameron and his acolytes are skilled liars and fraud artists. Cameron’s “work” has been savaged by other, reputable researchers, and the few times in which his articles have been cited in the professional literature have taken the form of critiques of his methodology. This is a man who is little more than a hired gun with a veneer of academic respectability. He is not interested in legitimate scientific research – to the contrary, he is committed to abusing research protocols in an effort to lend credence to his quackery and his efforts at extreme right-wing social engineering.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

A recent message on

Anti-gay bigotry seems more firmly entrenched than ever when reviewing message boards dedicated to discussions of arts and the relationship between art and faith. I recently visited a message board dedicated to discussions of the arts, and found the following comment pertaining to homosexuality posted on one of the message boards:

"It's very depraved behavior." (referring to gay sex).

My response is as follows:

I cannot express, in words, the extent to which comments of this nature both sicken and disgust me.I am openly gay, and am considered by some people to be a gay "activist." I have no formal legal training, but decided, several years ago, to learn as much about US Constitutional law as possible, because I concluded that the fight for gay equality and eventual full acceptance in the US will inevitably involve the federal and state court systems. I have been vindicated in this conclusion by a string of recent victories won by the gay and lesbian community.Few heterosexuals are aware of the fact that it remained illegal, in about 14 states, for gay Americans to have sex, even in the privacy of their bedrooms, up until June 2003. In 1986, the US Supreme Court -- packed by Ronald Reagan -- handed down a decision upholding the Georgia sodomy statute (and other state statutes criminalizing gay sex), which mandated that any person convicted under this measure receive a minimum prison term of one year and a maximum prison terms of 20 years (see Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986)). A gay bartender named Michael Hardwick was arrested in his own bedroom in 1982 after the police, who were admitted into his home in error by a houseguest to serve Hardwick with a warrant for public drunkenness, found him engaging in oral sex with another man. Although the District Attorney declined to prosecute Hardwick under the sodomy statute, Hardwick filed suit against the State of Georgia, contending that this statute (and, by extension, similar statutes in 24 other states) violated his right to sexual privacy under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The state Attorney General, Michael Bowers, appealed the decision of the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which found in Hardwick’s favor, to the US Supreme Court. In an opinion that stunned even many conservative Court-watchers, the Court upheld the sodomy statute as applied to gay sex, even when such sex occurred in the privacy of the homes of gay Americans. The tone of the 5 – 4 majority was sneering, contemptuous, and vitriolic; Chief Justice Burger’s concurrence piously observed that “to hold that the act of homosexual sodomy is somehow protected as a fundamental right would be to cast aside millennia of moral teaching” and “in constitutional terms there is no such thing as a fundamental right to commit homosexual sodomy.”

Justice Lewis Powell, who cast the deciding fifth vote in favor of the State of Georgia, admitted in October 1990 to the National Law Journal that he had made a serious mistake, and that, on reflection, he should have voted in Hardwick’s favor. Welcome as it was to hear that this Justice (who by then had retired) admitted that he had made a mistake, this did nothing to ameliorate the damage that Bowers worked in the lives of gay Americans up and down the country. Conservative federal judges expanded the narrow holding of the Court (which merely upheld the right of the states to criminalize gay sex) to create a “gay exception” to other Constitutional protections. Legislative bodies cited Bowers in all-too-frequently successful attempts to derail the enactment of anti-discrimination measures on the grounds that they could not pass legislation that would, by definition, protect a class of criminals from discrimination in employment, housing, and access to places of public accommodation. Lesbian mothers lost custody of their own children on the grounds that they were unconvicted felons. But while Powell deserved some measure of thanks for his acknowledgment that he had made a mistake, the behavior of Attorney General Michael Bowers was nothing less than risible, not to mention a case study in gross hypocrisy.

For almost an entire decade during the 1980s – while defending the right of his office to prosecute gay men and lesbians for having sex in the privacy of their own homes – Michael Bowers had been engaged in an adulterous relationship. At that time, adultery was a serious crime in the State of Georgia, carrying similar stiff penalties as those retained for gay sex. This did nothing, however, to slake Bowers’ prosecutorial thirst for the blood of gay Americans. In 1990, Bowers further attempted to slake that thirst by withdrawing a job offer that had been made to an openly gay woman named Robin Shahar, who had applied for and been offered a job working for the Georgia Attorney General’s office – on the grounds that, by entering into a commitment ceremony with her female partner, she was no longer fit for purpose. A deeply divided US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, applying the balancing test established by the US Supreme Court in Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 U.S. 563 (1968), determined that Sharhar’s First Amendment rights to intimate and expressive association were outweighed by Georgia’s interest “as an employer in promoting the efficiency of the Law Department’s important public services.” Attorney General Bowers apparently saw no conflict of interest in his personal criminal behavior and the “important public services” of his office.

For almost two decades following the blow dealt to the gay community by the US Supreme Court in Bowers, gay activists turned their attentions to the refuge offered them by state constitutional guarantees. Most state constitutions are more generous, either by their terms or as construed by state supreme courts, in the privacy guarantees they afford their citizens than is the US Constitution, as interpreted by the US Supreme Court. A decision handed down by a state supreme court, finding a state statute unconstitutional on state constitutional grounds, cannot be appealed to the US Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter of US Constitutional law and issues arising from interpretations of the US Constitution; a state high court, on the other hand, is the ultimate arbiter of state constitutional analysis and issues arising from interpretations of the relevant state constitution. Only when a state constitution is amended in such a manner as to deny to any of the citizens of that state a right which is guaranteed them by the US Constitution can the US Supreme Court (or any other federal court) interfere with or review a decision handed down by the state supreme court (for example, a decision striking down the amendment in question). Gay activists won their first victory by attacking state sodomy statutes in state court in Kentucky, and went on to win a string of victories in state after state.

On June 6, 2003, the US Supreme Court handed down a decision (Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)) explicitly and bluntly reversing Bowers. By this point in time, the number of states with sodomy statutes prohibiting consensual gay sex had dropped from 25 at the time Bowers was handed down, to about 14, reflecting the victories that the gay community had won at the state constitutional level. The grounds on which Bowers rested had also been seriously eroded by a case involving the rights of gay Coloradans following the passage, in that state, of the infamous “Amendment 2” to the state constitution. Enforcement of this amendment was permanently enjoined by the District Court for the City and County of Denver (a state court) and never took effect (the US Supreme Court upheld the permanent injunction in Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996), using strong language to emphasize the dignity of gay Coloradans, thereby implicitly undermining Bowers). This state constitutional amendment had the “immediate effect” of repealing all ordinances, statutes, and executive policies, in both the public and the private sectors, insofar as these measures protected gay Coloradans from discrimination at the hands of heterosexual Coloradans. The amendment had the “ultimate effect” of permanently restructuring the political process in the State of Colorado by making it impossible for legislative or executive bodies ever again to pass similar, or more protective, measures protecting gay people from discrimination at the hands of heterosexual Coloradans, regardless of how rampant or severe such discrimination would have become. Existing measures, however, still protected heterosexual Coloradans from discrimination at the hands of gay Coloradans, and future measures could still have been passed protecting heterosexual Coloradans from discrimination at the hands of gay Coloradans. One class of Coloradans, and only one class of Coloradans (gay men and lesbians) was identified by “Amendment 2,” and the adoption of measures intended to prohibit any and all forms of discrimination against members of this class was permanently removed from consideration by the normal political processes within that state. For all intents and purposes, heterosexual Coloradans had granted to themselves an unconditional and unrestricted license to discriminate against gay Coloradans; the US Supreme Court held that “A State cannot so deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws.” The Court held that "Amendment 2" was nothing less than a facial violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, and threw this amendment out in a strongly-worded opinion.

Fundamentalist Christians and other gay-bashers repeatedly claim that gay Americans seek “special rights,” and the backers of Colorado’s “Amendment 2” made it clear that they intended this measure to prevent gay Coloradans being granted “special rights” or “special protections.” The Romer Court eviscerated this claim, declaring that “We find nothing special in the protections Amendment 2 withholds. These are protections taken for granted by most people either because they already have them or do not need them; these are protections against exclusion from an almost limitless number of transactions and endeavors that constitute ordinary civic life in a free society.”

Lawrence involved a fact pattern remarkably similar to that implicated in Bowers. On this occasion (on September 17, 1998), Houston sheriff’s deputies entered the home of a gay man (John Lawrence) and found him having sex with a partner (Tyron Garner) (a homophobic neighbor tried to get these openly gay men into trouble by filing a false complaint alleging a weapons disturbance, calculating that the police would arrive to find Lawrence and Garner having sex; this neighbor subsequently served a 30-day jail term for filing a false police report). This sexual act ran afoul of Section 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code, which prohibited same-sex oral and anal intercourse. Although the men were convicted by a trial court and although their convictions were affirmed by the Court of Appeals for the Fourteenth District (an influential Texas state court of appeals), the men continued to fight, eventually petitioning the US Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari. To the amazement of many legal observers, the US Supreme Court granted the writ, and insisted that both the petitioners and the State of Texas brief the Court as to whether Bowers v. Hardwick should be overruled. The decision was handed down on June 26, 2003; the US Supreme Court explicitly and bluntly reversed Bowers, apologizing to the gay community both for its failure to apprehend the true nature and extent of the liberty interest at stake, and for the manner in which the Court had slighted and demeaned the gay community in Bowers. More specifically, the Court wrote that “Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today. It ought not to remain binding precedent. Bowers v. Hardwick should be and now is overruled.” The Court also noted that “The present case does not involve minors. It does not involve persons who might be injured or coerced or who are situated in relationships where consent might not easily be refused. It does not involve public conduct or prostitution. It does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter. The case does involve two adults who, with full and mutual consent from each other, engaged in sexual practices common to a homosexual lifestyle. The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime. Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government. "It is a promise of the Constitution that there is a realm of personal liberty which the government may not enter." Casey, supra, at 847. The Texas statute furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual.”

In ringing tones, the Court observed that “Had those who drew and ratified the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth Amendment or the Fourteenth Amendment known the components of liberty in its manifold possibilities, they might have been more specific. They did not presume to have this insight. They knew times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.”

We do not live in a theocracy. We do not live in a society where the will of religious fundamentalists is inscribed into the criminal laws. We live in a multicultural, pluralistic society; a society in which people of vastly divergent belief systems live together, cheek by jowl. The sentiment expressed by the person who opined that gay sex is “depraved behavior” is illustrative of the extent to which religious intolerance is systemic in American society, and continues to disease the cultural discourse despite the opinions of developmental psychologists, clinical psychologists, cognitive psychologists, and psychiatrists, the overwhelming majority of whom concluded in 1973 that homosexuality is not a form of mental illness. It saddens and depresses me that such backward thinking continues to flourish in the US in 2007. But, given the opening of the joke in Kentucky referred to as the “Creation Museum,” I should have expected to encounter such flagrant hostility and cruelty on this message thread.

Nevertheless, I remain optimistic. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor observed that “These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.”

I am thankful for the fact that no religious extremists can change the laws to force people like me back into hiding. Soon, the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy will come down (Congress is already studying the manner in which other nations have integrated gay men and lesbians into the Armed Forces). Gay marriage is legal in both name and substance in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Gay marriage is legal in substance but not name in Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, and at least one other state (in these states, gay marriages are referred to as “civil unions” or (in the case of Oregon) as “domestic partnerships”). Notwithstanding repeated efforts to condemn gay marriage, religious fanatics are losing the fight. This year, they did not even succeed in introducing the so-called “Marriage Protection Amendment” (last year, this proposed measure failed to garner even a majority vote in the Senate during a procedural vote to end debate).

I am presently visiting the UK. Gay marriage is legal in all but name here. Gay marriage is legal in both name and substance in Canada, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, and South Africa. Gay marriage is legal in all but name in the Scandinavian countries (e.g. Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, etc.). Gay marriage is also legal in all but name in many South American countries (e.g. Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela). The history of progress with respect to any social movement shows that a critical mass is reached, at which point progress continues exponentially.

We have reached that “tipping point,” and gay marriage will soon be legal here in the USA, just as it is in the UK and in Canada.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lies told about the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007

I have read all kinds of rubbish over the years, but the conservative whining about the proposed Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 takes the cake. Contrary to the tripe that I have read so many times, not all crimes are hate crimes. When a mugger pushes an old man to the ground and steals the old man's wallet, the mugger does not necessarily or even usually hate the victim -- injury to the victim is incidental to the true motive of the mugger, which is to steal money. In such cases, the mugger often does not even know the name of the victim he or she is about to assault and rob. The mugger does not act out of a frenzied hatred of old men carrying wallets; he or she merely seeks to relieve the victim of that person's money. Such behavior can be classified as showing disregard for the rights of the victim, but that is a far cry from hating the victim. A tenant who fails to pay his or her rent does not hate his or her landlord -- the tenant merely seeks to remain on the premises without paying the rent.
Contrast the above, hypothetical crime of a mugger pushing an old man to the ground on the one hand with the crime perpetrated against Matthew Shepard on the other hand. This young gay man was pistol-whipped by two local Laramie thugs (one of whom was a professed Mormon); the blows to his head were so severe the bones of his skull were smashed to powder, following which he was driven to the outskirts of Laramie and tied, in a crucified position, to a split-rail fence (his attackers used a rope to lash him to the fence). Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson initially stated that they beat Shepard (who died several days after being cut down from the fence without ever regaining consciousness) because Shepard had made sexual advances towards them (as though it is acceptable to kill a person who makes unwanted sexual advances towards the individual concerned). During the trial of Aaron McKinney, McKinney's counsel advanced this "gay panic" defense, to the disgust of many Laramie residents. Both attackers were convicted.
Now -- tell me seriously that there are no qualitative differences between the above crime, which occurred in 1999, and the hypothetical crime posited earlier. Shepard was killed because he was gay. Attempts have been made by various right-wing commentators and organizations to muddy Shepard's name and character. These attempts do not change the underlying motive or the facts. Perpetrators of hate crimes frequently engage in precisely the "overkill" behavior manifested in the attack on Shepard.
The hatred that motivates such crimes is not directed only towards the individual victim -- it is directed towards all members of the class to which the victim belongs (in Shepard's case, gay Americans). When news of Shepard's attack circulated throughout the gay community, many members of that community felt threatened and vulnerable.
That is the difference between hate crimes and crimes such as muggings. Hate crimes are intended to intimidate all members of the class to which the victim belongs, whether that class consists of gay Americans, black Americans, Asian Americans, or any other group of Americans, the members of which share a real or perceived common characteristic. These crimes occur because of who the victim is, as opposed to whether or not the victim is carrying money.
The lies told about the proposed measure are almost beyond belief. On May 2, 2007, the "Human Rights Campaign" (HRC) -- a gay organization that lobbies Congress for the passage of measures such as the proposed addition of sexual orientation to the list of characteristics encompassed by the existing federal hate crimes statute -- released a statement cataloging the lies and filthy tricks engaged in by some so-called "pro-family" organizations.

One of the lies circulated by these groups asserts that there currently exists no federal hate crimes statute at all, and that the proposed measure would therefore be the first, and only, piece of federal legislation addressing hate crimes, and that it would only enhance penalties for those hate crimes motivated by hatred of the victim's sexual orientation. In fact, the federal hate crimes statute has existed for 40 years, and it already strengthens punishments for crimes motivated by hatred of the victim's race, color, national origin, or religion.

One of the most frequently promoted lies by the opposition is that the hate crimes law will make anti-gay bigots criminally liable for their hate speech. While the writer believes it to be fundamentally un-American and un-Christian to embrace the message of white supremacists and hate groups, the religious right has nothing to fear from the hate crimes bill, as it applies only to acts of violence. Nothing in this act would prohibit the lawful expression of one’s deeply held religious beliefs. As ugly and inflammatory as these comments can be, people will remain free to say things such as: “Homosexuality is sinful,” “Homosexuality is an abomination” or “Homosexuals will burn in Hell.” Yet we hear constant, incessant whining about the possibility of the proposed measure being used to prosecute religious figures who voice their disapproval of gay relationships and / or of gay people. This whining conveniently overlooks the fact that any attempt to apply this measure against religious figures would fall flat as a matter of constitutional law. The US Supreme Court, in Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969), made it clear that speech or advocacy cannot be criminalized "...except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action." (Obscenity is another form of speech which does not enjoy First Amendment protection, but that is not relevant to this issue.)
Thus, a priest or minister of religion could not possibly be prosecuted under the proposed legislation, unless he or she actually incites a riot. Is that really what conservatives fear? Do these conservatives and fundamentalists wish to incite their followers to riot?
The organization that calls itself the "Family Research Council" (FRC) stands front and center in promoting the lie that the addition of sexual orientation to the existing federal hate crimes statute will result in ministers of religion and priests being prosecuted for preaching that homosexuality is “sinful” or wrong. The FRC is currently peddling a DVD that purports to show "shocking examples of how hate crime laws trample free speech, lead to arrests, and censor speech." This 40-minute DVD features Dr. D. James Kennedy (of the notoriously homophobic organization named "Coral Ridge Ministries," which peddles the lie that homosexuality is an illness that can be "cured" through faith in Christ and “reparative therapy”); Christine Sneeringer, billed as an "ex-lesbian;" pastor Ake Green; and pastor Danny Nalliah (among other figures). Pastors Ake Green was arrested under hate crimes legislation for anti-gay “witnessing,” and Pastor Danny Nalliah was prosecuted under hate crimes legislation for anti-gay “witnessing.”
What is not mentioned on the FRC Web site relative to these prosecutions, however, is the fact that pastor Ake Green was arrested in Sweden in 2004 for anti-gay preaching under Swedish law, and pastor Danny Nalliah was prosecuted in Australia, under Australian law. Sweden included sexual orientation in its hate crimes legislation in 2004, and Green became the first person to be prosecuted under this law (as amended). The Swedish hate crimes legislation permits for the imprisonment of persons who demonstrate “disrespect” for gay people, and it was under this amended non-US legislation that Green was prosecuted. What the FRC utterly fails to mention, furthermore, is the fact that the Swedish Supreme Court (upholding the judgment of an intermediate appellate court) overturned Green’s conviction in a unanimous decision. As discussed above, preaching that homosexuality is a sin cannot be prosecuted in the US, due to the fact that the US (unlike Sweden or Australia) has a First Amendment that guarantees all persons near-absolute rights to free speech, including the right to advocate breaking the law (see Brandenburg, supra).
Then there is the talk of "special rights" being afforded gay Americans by such legislation. Why is this argument is not raised with respect to other groups protected by the proposed legislation? Only when sexual orientation is added to the language of the existing legislation do people cry out about "special rights" being afforded members of the gay community by such legislation. The FRC and other conservative groups do not seem to have any problems with hate-crimes legislation unless this legislation enhances penalties handed down to people convicted of committing hate crimes against gay Americans. Then, and only then, does the hard right claim that hate crimes legislation confers “special protections” on members of the groups included in the protective ambit of such legislative measures.

The US Supreme Court, throwing out a state constitutional amendment voted into existence by the citizens of the State of Colorado in 1992 ("Amendment 2"), had the following to say about the "special protections" supposedly sought by gay Coloradans:

"We find nothing special in the protections Amendment 2 withholds. These are protections taken for granted by most people either because they already have them or do not need them; these are protections against exclusion from an almost limitless number of transactions and endeavors that constitute ordinary civic life in a free society" (Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996)).

Stephen Bennett -- a spokesman for the anti-gay group called "Concerned Women for America" (CWA) -- used his action network to promote the anti-gay videos of John Smith, a white-supremacist filmmaker with numerous videos posted on Smith's hateful online video collection includes such titles as “Keep America White,” “Black Intelligence” (a video purporting to prove that blacks are mentally inferior to whites) and “Hitler” (a homage to Hitler on the occasion of his birthday). – which hosts movies made by ordinary people who wish to publish their movies – pulled these anti-gay videos, which violated's terms of service. Peter LaBarbera -- a former employee of both CWA and the FRC -- picked up where left off circulation of these anti-gay videos, posting them on a religious right Web site in Massachusetts.

In a particularly disgusting insult to the memories of the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre, Tony Perkins (President of the FRC) and Matthew Barber (spokesman for CWA) wrote the following statements, respectively, to argue against enactment of H.R. 1592:

"Under this legislation, the crimes at Virginia Tech, which some are calling one of the deadliest rampages in U.S. history, would not be punishable to the level of these so-called ‘hate crimes.’ If the House approves H.R. 1592 and the Senate follows, a homosexual would have more federal protection under the law than the 32 victims of last week’s massacre." (statement by Perkins)

"The FBI’s latest statistics show that there were zero ‘hate crimes’ murders committed against homosexuals or those perceived to be homosexual in 2005; yet we already know of 32 so-called ‘hate crimes’ murders committed against perceived ‘rich kids’ in a single day. But under H.R. 1592, those ‘rich kids’ would shamefully be denied the same protections and justice as homosexuals. The whole ‘hate crimes’ concept really places logic and reason on its head." (statement by Barber)

Not to be outdone, the "Traditional Values Coalition" (TVC) created and disseminated a fake transcript of the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the hate crimes bill in an attempt to “prove” that the legislation would punish anti-gay thoughts. The falsified transcript did not even remotely resemble the official transcript of the proceeding (see to view both the real transcript and the forged transcript).

Not content with violating the Ninth Commandment (condemning the bearing of false witness), the TVC produced a “wanted poster” in which Jesus Christ, wearing a crown of thorns, is wanted for violating the proposed hate crimes bill. The poster states that Christ is “wanted for revealing the truth about homosexuality in ‘The Bible’ and encouraging his followers not to offend God by committing such behavior.” The deep-seated, raw hatred of gay people that motivates such groups could not be more evident than is manifested by this depraved attempt to spread flat-out lies, using Christ's name in vain in the process.

Furthermore, critics of adding sexual orientation to the grounds included in the proposed legislation forget the fact that the legislation classifies on the basis of sexual orientation -- it does not protect only gay people. Just as a crime would be punishable under this legislation were it to be perpetrated by a heterosexual motivated by animus towards gay people, a crime would similarly be punishable under this legislation were it to be perpetrated by a gay person motivated by animus towards heterosexual people. Conservatives "forget" the fact that such legislation is a sword that cuts both ways. It becomes clear, when one conducts a more searching review of the proposed legislation and its impact, that conservatives are prepared to tell blatant lies in their efforts to derail the proposed legislation. Nobody could prosecute religious figures under this legislation. Nobody could punish thoughts under this legislation.

But truth never stood in the way of cultural conservatives, who have lied and spread disinformation up and down the country.