Paul Cameron – Why the Religious Right Can’t Keep Him ‘In the Closet’
From a favorite site of mine, Box Turtle Bulletin, comes news that an old adversary of the gay community is taking a trip to Moldavia:
Scott Long, former director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, has learned that American anti-gay extremist Paul Cameron is headed to Moldova to oppose proposed anti-discrimination legislation which would include sexual orientation. Long writes:
Moldova is a splinter of a country between Romania and Ukraine, a point of contention between Russians, Turks, and others for centuries, and one of the poorest states in Europe. An anti-discrimination bill that prohibits unequal treatment on grounds including sexual orientation is before its Parliament, due for debate at month’s end.
In the days before the debate starts, Paul Cameron is coming to town. An e-mail from the Alian?a pentru Salvarea Familiilor din Moldova (Alliance to Save the Family in Moldova) announces that the “U.S. sociologist, founder and president of Family Research Institute” will stay from October 24-29, and “will share the U.S. experience in implementing anti-discrimination legislation.” There will be a roundtable with “representatives of various parliamentary committees, ministries and other institutions of the state,” plenty of lobby meetings with lawmakers — and, of course, media will be saturated with Cameron’s fake statistics.
For the younger folks in the gay community and for the rest of the folks who may not be aware of Paul Cameron, allow me to introduce you to a little bit of sordid anti-gay history. Every lie, every piece of distorted or junk science about the gay community, even some ways in which religious right groups distort actual science to demonize the gay community were either formulated or “improved upon” by Paul Cameron.
He is the man responsible for pushing the following myths about the gay community:
Lesbians are more likely to die in car wrecks,
Gay men molest children at a high rate and are more likely to be serial killers,
Gay men stuff gerbils up their rectums,
Gays and lesbians in the military are more likely to rape their heterosexual counterparts.
Basically, it was Cameron who in the 80s came up with the idea of aggressively using science to prove that homosexuality is a “dangerous lifestyle.” The problem is to do this, Cameron attained a reputation for either distorting legitimate science or distorting his own work to gain the conclusions he wanted from his “studies.” He has also been discredited and censured by many groups and individuals on the left, the right, and in the middle due to his bad research techniques. Several of his studies have been criticized for such errors as having small sample sizes, showing an anti-gay bias in interviews, and not having enough responses to establish a suitable analysis.
Naturally the Southern Poverty Law declared Cameron’s group, the Family Research Institute, to be an anti-gay hate group. However, I really don’t think Cameron cares. He has been receiving rebukes for his lies for several decades
Let’s take a quick look at condemnations rained down on him by the medical community:
“(Cameron) misrepresents my findings and distorts them to advance his homophobic views. I make a very clear distinction in my writing between pedophilia and homosexuality, noting that adult males who sexually victimize young boys are either pedophilic or heterosexual, and that in my research I have not found homosexual men turning away from adult partners to children . . . I consider this totally unprofessional behavior on the part of Dr. Cameron and I want to bring this to your attention. He disgraces his profession.” – Dr. A. Nicholas Groth in 1984 after discovering that Cameron distorted his work.
“Paul Cameron (Nebraska) was dropped from membership for a violation of the Preamble to the Ethical Principles of Psychologists – American Psychological Association, 1983
The science and profession of psychology in Nebraska as represented by the Nebraska Psychological Association, formally dissociates itself from the representations and interpretations of scientific literature offered by Dr. Paul Cameron in his writings and public statements on sexuality. Further, 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 – Nebraska Psychological Association, 1984
Dr. Paul Cameron has consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented sociological research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism” – American Sociological Association, 1985
The Canadian Psychological Association takes the position that Dr. Paul Cameron has consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism and thus, it formally disassociates itself from the representation and interpretations of scientific literature in his writings and public statements on sexuality. – Canadian Psychological Association, 1996
And now he is bringing that junk to Moldavia, where the audience will probably be more receptive:
Cameron will likely find a receptive audience in Moldova. The last time the gay community in the nation’s capital of Chisinau tried to hold a gay pride march in 2008, the marchers were surrounded and attacked by skinheads as police stood by and watched.
While there should be prayers for our brothers and sisters in Moldavia, the gay community shouldn’t get itself wrapped up in justifiable anger that we miss the opportunity this moment provides us.
You see there is something else you should know about Paul Cameron. The religious right publicly avoids him like the plague.
They fear him.
Unlike in the past where they welcomed him with open arms and even cited his research in front of Congressional committees, religious right spokespeople and groups bend over backward to dissociate themselves from him. Other than a few stridently ignorant people (Conservapedia and Peter LaBarbera), they are careful not to even publicly mention him by name even when they continue to cite his work.
The gay community should take it upon ourselves to remind folks how engrained Cameron’s lies are in religious right anti-gay junk science.
Let’s call it an East of Eden moment.
That’s the movie where the young man had a inflated image of his mother’s purity. This image is subsequently destroyed when his brother, with a hard shove and a mocking cry of “say hello to your mother,” reveals to the young man that his mother wasn’t exactly an honest or a pure individual.
For years, religious right groups and their supporters crafted a false image of the “physically and mentally ill homosexual” through the junk science of Paul Cameron. They did this because they know that having the sole belief that homosexuality is a sin is not enough to prevent the passage of pro-gay laws.
With Cameron’s assistance, they created the narrative that they oppose pro-gay laws because these laws will harm the public health. And some of them knew fully well that they weren’t being truthful, but created this narrative with the inaccurate notion that what they were doing was pure and driven by God.
It’s way past high time that these groups get that hard shove of truth.