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July 22nd, 2008

Paul Cameron’s Real Gift To The Anti-Gay Industrial Complex

Every time someone mindlessly parrots the notion that gay people have shorter lifespans then heterosexuals, the religious right gives a nod of thanks to Paul Cameron.  Ever since the Reagan years, Cameron has been chugging out a torrent of bogus research aimed at demonizing gay people in the public mind.  Where Falwell, Dobson and Robertson waved the bible at gay people, and social conservatives waved family values, Cameron became a fountainhead, a one-stop shopping center for anti-gay junk science.  From his often used claim that gay people have shorter lifespans, to his claim that lesbians are more likely to be involved in car accidents, Cameron gave their cheapshit hatreds a gloss of dispassionate science. 

Cameron was eventually thrown out of the American Psychological Association for distorting the work of other legitimate researchers.  But to the anti-gay right, which builds museums to creationism and attacks the teaching of science in schools, real science was always the enemy.  Cameron is gold coin to them.  But in recent years, as more and more of mainstream America learns what a charlatan Cameron is, they’ve had to take more care not to put Cameron’s name in their pamphlets.  Some years ago, William Mr. Book Of Virtues Bennett got caught parroting Cameron’s lifespan claim he had to backtrack.  First he claimed someone else had said it too, but when it turned out that person had cited Cameron too, Bennett mumbled something about not trusting that figure anymore and went back to his favorite casino.  I’ve heard though, that lately Mr. Book Of Virtues has been citing it again.

But in the end, Cameron’s biggest contribution to the Kultur Krieg may well be not his bogus statistics, but his method.  Jim Burroway over at Box Turtle Bulletin, has uncovered a new scam by the Family Research Council in their fight to repeal California’s same sex marriage law, that has the trademark Cameron technique but apparently was entirely a homegrown effort.

They cite the "Dutch Study" Stanley Kurtz bastardized some years ago for their claim that gay relationships don’t last very long and are never monogamous.  Burroway did a wonderful job some time back of debunking this, and all I’ll say about that now is that when you look at the data from a study that excludes monogamous couples, don’t be surprised when you don’t see any monogamy in the data.

But it’s the follow-up claim that’s interesting here.  FRC is claiming that same sex couples are inherently more violent, more prone to domestic abuse…

The third point the brochure is built on is this:

Intimate partner violence: homosexual and lesbian couples experience by far the highest levels of intimate partner violence compared with married couples as well as cohabiting heterosexual couples. Lesbians, for example, suffer a much higher level of violence than do married women

They base this claim on the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Violence Against Women Survey (PDF: 62 pages/1,475 KB) If you want to see how they construct this particular distortion, I encourage you to download the report yourself and we’ll go through it step by step. Believe me, it’s worth it because this is a classic example.

It is.  You should go read Jim’s entire debunking of it to get the whole stinking rotten smell of it.  But I’ll give you the executive summary here.  Basically, they took the data for individual victims of domestic violence who were in, or had ever been in, same sex relationships and compared that to the data for victims in opposite sex relationships. But much of the violence against people who were in same sex relationships was committed by an opposite sex partner.  In the case of the men who were or had been in a same sex relationship, almost half of the incidents were attacks on them by wives, former wives or girlfriends.  In the case of the women who had been or were in same sex relationships, as I read the figures, about three out of four incidents were attacks on them by husbands or boyfriends.

Dig it.  The FRC took incidents of straight on gay violence, and included them in its total figure for gay domestic violence.  In point of fact, if you look at the data for Couples, as opposed to individuals, what you find is that a gay man is statistically safer living with a male partner, then a heterosexual woman is living with a male partner. 

This is what passes for traditional values over at the Family Research Council.  If there is a devil in Hell below, then he is smiling proudly at the runt at FRC who came up with that one.  And Paul Cameron is probably smiling proudly too.  He taught them how.

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