Point By Point: A Look At Paul Cameron’s Medical Consequences of What Homosexuals Do
Part 12: Summary
“Genuine compassion” and a False Witness
March 13, 20006
Dr. Cameron closes Medical Consequences of What Homosexuals Do with a section entitled “Genuine Compassion,” which includes this statement of concern:
Homosexuals are sexually troubled people engaging in dangerous activities. Because we care about them and those tempted to join them, it is important that we neither encourage nor legitimize such a destructive lifestyle.
Christians are called to love our neighbors and extend compassion for those who are troubled. This call resonates among all those who follow Christ’s teachings, as well as among those who follow other religious traditions. It even resonates among those who aren’t religious. It’s simple human nature to imagine ourselves on the side of the good. No one wants to be seen as unreasonable. Who wouldn’t want to identify with those who live as shining examples of goodness and generosity? Dr. Cameron’s expression of concern — “because we care about them” — is a clear appeal to those sympathies.
But words like those found throughout Medical Consequences of What Homosexuals Do — words of deception, demagoguery and demonization — are incompatible with the very notion of compassion. In fact, such wholesale fabrications and slander which play to stereotypes like these are in direct violation of the sacred commandment given to all those who follow the Judeo-Christian tradition:
In the Decalogue itself it is written, “You shall not bear false witness,” in which classification every lie is embraced, for whoever pronounces any statement gives testimony to his own mind. If anyone should argue that not every lie should be called false witness, what will he answer to this statement which is also in the sacred Scriptures: “The mouth that belies, kills the soul”?
— St. AugustineDDDDD
— St. AugustineDDDDD
Echoing the ancient wisdom of St. Augustine, we must ask ourselves: what testimony does Dr. Cameron give to his own mind?
Well to begin with, describing homosexuals as “sexually troubled people” is contrary to what the professional community has known for half a century. As early as 1956, when Dr. Evelyn Hooker began to notice that ordinary homosexuals didn’t suffer any more from mental illnesses or pathologies when compared to heterosexuals,EEEEE the scientific community slowly began to re-evaluate its longstanding biases against gays and lesbians. The American Psychiatric Association declared that homosexuality was not a mental illness in 1973,FFFFF followed by the American Psychological Association in 1975.GGGGG Even the more conservative American Psychoanalytic Association agreed more than fifteen years ago that homosexuality is not a disturbance in need of a cure.HHHHH
But Paul Cameron’s false witness goes far beyond characterizing gays and lesbians as “sexually troubled.” It permeates every so-called “fact” that he presents in this pamphlet — and in everything else he writes as well. Only one survey (indicating the reported proportion of homosexual activity in Denmark) is based on a representative sample, but like all such reputable and legitimate surveys, even that one is unable to come to a definitive answer. Absolutely none of the other allegations of “what homosexuals do” can be traced to a probabilistically sampled survey.
What’s worse, the overwhelming majority of Dr. Cameron’s “facts” come from studies of STD clinic patients. These studies had no intention whatsoever of characterizing the general gay population, and they explicitly said so. The authors all clearly warned against extrapolating their data to the general population due to the nature of their samples. Dr. Cameron consistently ignores these statements, even though many of them could not possibly be made more clear.
Paul Cameron vs. Professional Ethics
By now, you have a pretty good idea of what Paul Cameron’s “research” is all about. You can learn more about what other social scientists think about him in “Paul Cameron vs. Professional Ethics.”
Other professionals have been very vocal about his unethical methods. He has been dropped by the American Psychological AssociationIIIII and censured by the Nebraska Psychological Association.JJJJJ Then when he decided to start calling his research “sociology” he was rebuked by the American Sociological association — twice!KKKKK Even some of his fellow conservative activists have started to distance themselves from Dr. Cameron’s tactics.
A reliable witness always tells the truth, but an unreliable one tells nothing but lies.
— Proverbs 14:5LLLLL
But there is an added dimension to the false witness of Medical Consequences, more than a simple retelling of fabricated statistics. By bombarding the reader with a dizzying array of numbers and percentages of “what homosexuals do,” Dr. Cameron strips an entire class of people of its humanity and reduces thousands of good men and women to one simple level of existence: sex.
This has proven to be a very effective tactic. In controlled studies of attitudes towards gay people, participants rated gay men and lesbians much more negatively when they were described according to sexual behavior than when they were described in other more ordinary ways.MMMMM By focusing only on sex, people like Dr. Cameron are consciously manipulating their audience’s emotions to further their aims. And what’s worse, they know exactly what they’re doing.
Some may argue that the stakes are so high that the ends justify the means. But if those who argue this consider themselves to be good Christians, then they surely must know that Scripture offers them no such refuge:
I write you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it and know that no lie is of the truth.
— 1 John 2:21
Therefore, it is not true that sometimes we ought to lie. What is not true we should never try to persuade anyone to believe.
The descriptions of gay men and women offered in Medical Consequences do not come close to describing the rich complexity of their lives. Gays and lesbians can be found in all levels of society; white collar and blue, in business, manufacturing, engineering, sports, the arts, construction, and politics. They have parents and children and cousins and aunts and uncles. They are grandparents and grandchildren. Many attend church, go to school, and struggle to pay mortgages and taxes. They stand in lines as you do at the DMV, the hardware stores and the supermarkets. They worry about their communities just like everyone else, and they care about their neighborhoods just like straight people do — because they often live in the same neighborhoods as everyone else.
They also serve our communities as volunteers, firefighters, paramedics and police officers, and they serve in the armed forces with distinction. Sergeant Brian Hughes was a member of the Army Ranger unit that rescued U.S. prisoner of war Jessica Lynch from an Iraqi hospital.OOOOO Others are heroes in other ways. Businessman Mark Bingham was cited as being among the brave passengers who brought down the hijacked airliner into a Pennsylvania corn field on September 11, 2001, saving unknown numbers of lives along with possibly the White House or the U.S. Capital building.PPPPP
Gay men and women participate in every aspect of life, and they do all of this in precisely the same way as everyone else: as citizens and as human beings. There really isn’t all that much that is exotic about them. The integration of gay men and women in American society can be quite boring.
Unless, of course, you talk about sex. And unfortunately, by the very term “homosexuality”, we end up using that singular criterion for defining millions of ordinary men and women around the world. Everyone else escapes the reduction of their complex character to this deeply private element. Only gay men and women find themselves defined by this lone aspect of their otherwise rich and varied lives. No matter how responsibly and prudently they conduct themselves, they are unfairly judged on the basis of the sexual activities of poorly constructed population samples and provocative media images which typically bear little resemblance to their often staid and ordinary lives.
When any identifiable group of people is placed under the sexual microscope — gay or straight — the picture that emerges is rarely pretty. It will always be scandalous in polite society, and titillating in a less polite one. And when the microscope is radically distorted by the lens of STD studies and unrepresentative surveys to describe “what homosexuals do,” the result is a particularly egregious slander against all of the thousands of men and women who live their lives with dignity and integrity. No one deserves to be condemned by such dubious statistics.
Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one’s neighbor. Honor is a social witness given to human dignity and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.
— Catechism of the Catholic ChurchQQQQQ
It’s not just the false witness of the “facts” in Medical Consequences which poses a problem. Medical Consequences offers a false witness in tone. By deliberately using such excruciatingly graphic images which is assured to offend everyone who reads it, Dr. Cameron reinforces his slander in a way that denies the very humanity of gays and lesbians. He renders them as creatures, not people. As recently as December of 2003, Dr. Brian J. Kopp (Ph.D., Pastoral Ministry) endorsed this particular tactics, comparing it to the graphic images used by the anti-abortion movement:
Ultrasound views of the fetus juxtaposed with images of mutilated and discarded aborted babies are involuntarily burned into subconscious memory, changing hearts and minds… Both sides know that when the average citizen witnesses the horrific images behind the fuzzy rhetoric of “choice”, they come to oppose abortion.
Now some Christian activists are attempting to apply similar methods in the battle to protect marriage… Medical Consequences of What Homosexuals Do, a seven-page pamphlet by Paul Cameron… is a frank clinical discussion of the diseases and disorders attendant to homosexual behavior… Such data obviously must be readily available, widely disseminated and seriously studied.RRRRR
But in the end, the moral dimensions of homosexuality lie in the realm of faith and ethics, not science. When Dr. Cameron — and others like him — manipulates science in order to move a moral argument into a scientific one, he distorts the scientific data so radically that he ends up destroying not only his own credibility as a scientist, but he risks the credibility of moral thinkers and leaders who unwittingly (or worse, intentionally) use his work to advance their positions.
Be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away falsehood, let everyone speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
— Ephesians 4:23-25
So put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander.
— 1 Peter 2:1-3
It is possible for good people of faith and reason to hold many different opinions about homosexuality from a moral standpoint, including positions of personal disapproval. This alone is not an adequate measure of disrespect, hatred or ignorance as some gay-rights activists would have us believe. In many cases, the term “homophobic” is tossed around all too carelessly and unfairly.
But if the civil and political debates are to be carried forward constructively, they must be conducted with respect for each other and for the truth. We must all be advocates for truth, and not to be false witnesses of one another.
Since man is by nature a social being, there is a natural indebtedness of the individual to his fellow man in regard to those things without which society could not be maintained. For example, men could not live together if they were unable to trust one another to speak the truth in everyday affairs.
— St. Thomas AquinasSSSSS
There can only be a community of peace when it does not rest on lies and injustice.
— Dietrich BonhoefferTTTTT
We are not only called by our Creator to speak the truth in all things, we are also obligated as citizens to always speak the truth in the conduct of civil affairs. The maintenance of a healthy democratic society calls for nothing less. In a court of law, false witnesses are vigorously prosecuted for perjury. In the formulation of public policy, the reliance on false information can have disastrous consequences. In the past few years, we’ve seen mighty corporations laid low when the “witness” of their financial statements were shown to be false. A society that bases its decisions on false information risks similar dangers.
This slander represented by Dr. Cameron’s work harms not only gays and lesbians or their friends and families, it harms everyone. It even harms the credibility of those who use it to oppose gays and lesbians, especially when they claim to be motivated by faith. It is important that the readers of Medical Consequences of What Homosexuals Do come to understand the consequences of what Dr. Cameron does.
Everything in the world was created by God except the art of lying.
— a Jewish midrashTTTTT
A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Thus you will know them by their fruits.
— Matthew 7:18, 20
Hooker, Evelyn. “The adjustment of the male overt homosexual.” Journal of Projective Techniques and Personality Assessment 21 no. 1 (March 1957): 18-31.
FFFFF. American Psychiatric Association. Position Statement: “Homosexuality and civil rights.” (December 1973). Available online at http://www.psych.org/edu/other_res/lib_archives/archives/197310.pdf.
GGGGG. American Psychological Association. Position statement: “Discrimination against homosexuals.” (1975). Available online at http://www.apa.org/pi/reslgbc.html.
HHHHH. American Psychoanalytic Association. Position statement on homosexuality. (May, 1991). Available online at http://www.apsa.org/ctf/cgli/position.htm.
IIIII. American Psychological Association. Letter to the membership. A copy is posted online at http://psychology.ucdavis/edu/rainbow/html/cameron_apaletter.html (Accessed March 17, 2004.)
JJJJJ. Herek, Gregory M. “Paul Cameron Bio and Fact Sheet.” Web page (undated): http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_cameron_sheet.html (Accessed March 17, 2004). This article cites Nebraska Psychological Association. Resolution. Minutes of the Nebraska Psychological Association (Omaha: October 19, 1984).
“Council Acts on Cameron Case.” ASA Footnotes (American Sociological Association, February 1987): 4. Available online at http://www.asanet.org/footnotes/1987/ASA.01.1987.pdf.
LLLLL. Unless otherwise noted, all Biblical quotations are from the Revised Standard Version. (Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Revised Standard Version of the Bible (1971).)
MMMMM. Wilkinson, Wayne W., Roys,Andrew C. “The components of sexual orientation, religiosity, and heterosexuals’ impressions of gay men and lesbians.” Journal of Social Psychiatry 145, no. 1 (February 2005): 65-83.
PPPPP. Mason, Margie “Gay hero emerges from hijacking.” Associated Press (October 22, 2001). Also available online at http://www.maynardije.org/news/features/020910_911coverage/020910_911p4.
RRRRR. Kopp, Brian J. “Exposing the Facts of Homosexuality.” Web site: World Net Daily (December 13, 2003): http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=36109 (accessed June 2, 2004).
SSSSS. St. Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologiae, II-II, q. 109, a.3, from Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre (trans. Michael Adams). The Navarre Bible: St. Paul’s Captivity Epistles. (Dublin: Colour Books, 1992): 78.