Howl of the KweerWolf

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Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Doing my part to irritate Republicans, fundamentalists, bigots and other lower life forms.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.


Shades of Nazi 'eugenics' - Paul Cameron is at it again

I need look no farther than two blocks west to get a glimpse of how the radical religious 'reich' views science. In Kansas the fun-D'uh-Mental-ists are going after the theory of evolution with all the zeal of William Jennings Bryan questioning substitute science teacher John Scopes in that hot Tennessee courtroom 80 years ago.

Let's face it. Science is not the friend of dogmatic, unquestioning religious literalism. All those carbon-dated dinosaur bones are sooooo inconvenient when religious "scholars" claim the world began in 4004 B.C.

But every once in a while religious zealots find a scientist they can embrace whole-heartedly. Such a man is Paul Cameron, head of the ultra right-wing Family Research Institute, a Colorado Springs-based organization that bills itself as "a non-profit educational and and scientific organization. The website features links to Cameron's articles about homosexuality, sodomy and child molestation that are almost, well ... obsessive.

Two decades ago Cameron was kicked out of the American Psychological Association (and the American Sociological Association followed suit two years later) for shoddy research, misrepresentations and ethical violations. You'd think such censure would cause a bona fide research to slink off in disgrace, but not Cameron. He formed his own "institute" and the religious right loves him for telling them what they want to hear about those pesky homo-sec-shuls. Now Cameron is back trying to grab the spotlight with a "new" study purporting to show that homosexuals die earlier than heterosexuals ... "proof" that being gay is hazardous to one's health.

Showing up in my e-mail the other day was a press release touting "interview opportunities" with Cameron. The press release read:

COLORADO SPRINGS - Family Research Institute President Dr. Paul Cameron announced today that a new study shows that the life span of homosexuals is 20 years shorter than the norm. The study will appear in a 2005 issue of the refereed scientific journal Psychological Reports (Volume 96: pp. 693-697).

Speaking on behalf of his Colorado Springs think tank, Dr. Cameron said, "Indeed, gay obituaries suggest that engaging in homosexuality costs participants between 15 to 25 years of life, suggesting that homosexuality is more dangerous than smoking or obesity and that homosexuals generally do not reach old age."

"10,000 gay obituaries have been collected from homosexual publications. Are the obituaries listed in the gay press representative of gay deaths in general?" Cameron asks.

A new study that compared them with Centers for Disease Control data indicates they are.

The Washington Blade, a homosexual newspaper, has been the major gay paper used to track gay obituaries. So its obituaries for death due to AIDS were compared to AIDS deaths among males who had sex with males from the CDC for 1994 through 2000. Surprisingly, there was almost perfect correspondence. The effects of the new drug cocktails for AIDS were evident in both datasets. In 1994 the CDC put the average age of death by AIDS for gays at 39, the Blade at 40. By 2000, the CDC reported the median age of death at 43 and the Blade at 42. Similar correspondences were noted for the 25th and 75th percentiles of deaths.

The CDC reported that 9% of heterosexuals who died of AIDS were at least 65 years of age. But less than 4% of homosexuals and IV drug abusers who died of AIDS reached 65.

"These findings add substantial support to our previous findings," said Cameron, who headed the study. "While no one has all the facts on this issue, the CDC data is about as good as it gets. These data indicate that considerable progress in medically combating HIV is being made - it's even affecting deaths from other medical causes. Right now, the median age of death for gays in the obituaries is
running near 60 - about tied with the median age of death for lesbians. Of course, the median age of death for adults is about 80 - so the 20 year hit for engaging in homosexuality that we reported 15 years ago continues to hold."

The new study "Gay obituaries closely track officially reported deaths from AIDS" can be read in the scientific journal, Psychological Reports (2005;96:693-697).

Something about the study rang a bell. Sure enough, a quick web search found that Cameron had tried to pawn off that "study" as "science" in 1994 only to see it quickly debunked.

University of California at Davis pyschologist Gregory Harek, PhD, devotes space on his website to debunking the study (and, in fact, Cameron's entire research on homosexuality). On Harek's site about the gay obituary study, Harek writes:

Obituaries in gay community newspapers do not provide a representative sampling of the community. This is evident in the fact that only only 2% of the Cameron group's obituaries were for lesbians. Moreover, community newspapers tend overwhelmingly to report deaths due to AIDS (only 11% of Cameron's gay male obituaries were not related to AIDS). In addition, community newspapers tend not to print obituaries for people who are not actively involved in the local gay community, those who are in the closet, and those whose loved ones simply don't submit an obituary to a local gay newspaper.

The Cameron group's gay obituary study reports many numbers and statistics. However, they are absolutely worthless for estimating the life expectancy of gay men and lesbians.

Now, apparently, Cameron is back trying to peddle his flawed and worthless (not too mention old) statistics to the gullible who a) are predisposed to believe anything negative about "the homosexual lifestyle," and b) are unschooled in scientific methodology and unable to tell the difference between legitimate research and psuedo-science in service to an agenda. Cameron's "research" is the heir apparent to Nazi Germany's fascination with "eugenics" to provide proof that Aryans were, indeed, the master race and Jews were a separate - and sub-human - species.

The unfortunate thing is that once the news of the study enters the public consciousness, it will get repeated and repeated among the right-wings homophobes until it carries the cachet of "gospel truth." I can almost hear the fundies defending the research by claiming, "It's the TRUTH! It was published in a SCIENTIFIC JOURNAL!"

Defending studies published in Psychological Reports as scientific proof of anything is like defending the latest gossip item in The National Inquirer as journalist proof of some Hollywood starlet's bad behavior.

Psychological Reports is one of the magazines published by Ammons Scientific Journals. Check out the company's web site and you'll notice something a bit odd. Browse through the authors' submission instructions and you'll discover that they actually charge $27.50 per printed page. In the field of scientific publishing, the idea of paying for one's own publication is downright unheard of. If anything, it sounds a bit like a science vanity publication in much the same way that those poetry vanity publications will publish your poetry if you just agree to buy multiple copies of the book in which they publish it.

Scientific journals traditionally operate under a policy of peer review and usually of blind review. This means that each submission is sent to two or three reviewers who are knowledgeable in the field. In blind review they do not know who wrote the paper or what institution she may be affiliated with. It is the reviewers task to tell the editor whether the paper says someting new, accurately reflects the state of
knowledge in its literature review, utilizes appropriate methods, reports an appropriate statistical treatment of the data, and is clear and understandable. Publication is a peer-reviewed journal gives reasonable assurance that the methods reported are sound and that the meaning of the results is not grossly exaggerated.

Perhaps that's why Cameron's press release refers to Psychological Reports as a "refereed" publication, as opposed to a "peer-reviewed" journal. For the record, there are more than 20,000 refereed journals out there, mostly published on the web. Many of them are quite good and follow scientific methodology. There are also more than a few covering such pseudo sciences such as creationism and UFOs.

With his flawed methodology and his suspect agenda, perhaps Cameron would better be spending his time pursuing UFOs and alien conspiracies involving planting dinosaur bones to fool palentologists than studying the complexities of human sexual orientation.

(For more information on Cameron, see Harek's website and the numerous links on Cameron's "research" on the Queer Resources Directory database.)


Saturday, May 28, 2005

HRC sorta gets it ... then loses it again

There must be something about Washington, D.C., that muddles even the most idealistic, clear-thinking heads. Perhaps it's marsh gas seeping up from the fetid swamp Washington was built upon. Or perhaps it's the proximity to all that power - both real and imagined - that gives people (and organizations) the idea that they know what's best for the rest of us.

National gay rights organizations are no less exempt from succumbing to that U.S. version of the "one ring of power" known as the Beltway and the Human Rights Campaign (an organization so proud to be working for gay rights that the word "gay" doesn't even appear in its name) is the latest to lose a grip on the reality of the millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender lives it claims to represent living beyond the Beltway.

HRC has struggled over the past few years. First there was HRC's endorsement of New York Sen. Alfonse D'Amato and the storm of controversy that created. Then, in the wake of the 2004 election and BushCo's on-again, off-again plans to introduce a federal Marriage Amendment, HRC seemed to bargain with the devil by offering to help with BushCo's Social Security plan, then backing away from earlier statements when faced with criticism.

Sure HRC has done some good as a lobbying group. But there's a sizeable chunk of the GLBT community - myself included - who view HRC as being primarily a group that attracts donations from wealthy, closeted "A-list" gays who want to assauge their guilt over not taking a more active role in gay issues by writing out checks to organizations too cowardly to mention the word "gay" in their names. Besides, wouldn't want those A-listers to out themselves by giving money to an obviously gay cause, now would we?

Earlier this year HRC took on a new leader, Joe Solmonese, and it appeared the organization might just be headed in the right direction. Solmonese took a month-long tour of towns and cities in Kansas, Michigan, Texas, Alabama, Florida, Missouri and Tennessee to find out what issues were important to the rest of us.

What he found was the subject of an article in a recent issue of the gay publication, The Washington Blade, in an article titled HRC leader wraps tour of ‘red states.’

According to the article: "He [Solmonese] added that everywhere he went, workplace issues topped the concerns of gay men and lesbians."

Well, what do you know? One of the Washington insiders finally climbed out of his tower to find out what was important to GLBTs in the rest of the country. Surprisingly (at least for HRC), the top issue wasn't marriage or gays in the military, but employment.

For too long the national groups have been pushing an "M&M" agenda - marriage and military - as if those two issues were the only two standing between GLBTs and full acceptance into the rest of society. Granted, both issues are important, but here's the thing HRC and other groups don't get: They don't affect a majority of GLBT folks. Yet HRC expects the rest of us to fall in lockstep and fight for rights that affect only the tiniest of minorities within the GLBT community.

Meanwhile, back in the real world GLBTs can be fired simply for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Granted, there are a handful of cities that offered limited protection to GLBTs and an even smaller number of states that offer protection. But discrimination against GLBT employees is still acceptable and still practiced from sea to shining sea.

Those of us outside the Beltway understand this. The overwhelming majority of us have jobs and many of us have faced discrimination in subtle and not-so-subtle forms. I'm glad that HRC finally seemed to get this message during Solmonese's trip to the "flyover" part of the country. I'm glad he was able to make note of the importance of employment issues in the article.

But then hope turned to a primal scream of despair when, in the very next paragraph of the article, Solmonese states: "It's not surprising to me that economic activity and workplace issues are important. That's why marriage is important."

Say what?

The importance of workplace issues somehow justifies the importance of marriage? Now there is a classic non sequitor argument.

No, Joe! You've missed the point. Let me put it in terms you can understand. Work place issues are important because just about everyone in the GLBT community works for a living. We aren't independently wealthy like the A-listers who write the checks that allow you to fly all over the country. We need to know that we won't be fired from our jobs for our sexual orientation BEFORE we start planning a wedding and honeymoon.

Sure, it would be nice to meet that special someone, pick out china patterns and exchange vows. But what stability have we gained if we return from a week in Maui only to discover our employer decides having a gay employee just isn't appropriate?


Tuesday, May 24, 2005


I have a confession to make. I am a pedophobe. Few things fill me with fear faster than the sight of kids.

It's not that I hate kids or would ever actively encourage discrimination against them, but being a gay man who lives in a part of the world where a sizeable part of the population believes the words "homosexual" and "pedophile" are interchangeable, I steer as far away from kids as possible.

That's not always easy to do. A couple of weekends ago I was with some friends who wanted to stop at a suburban Wal-Mart. I quickly tired of following them around the aisles and told them I'd meet them out front by the garden center.

On my way out, I stopped by the men's room. Inside, there was a boy of about 4 or 5 at the urinal. So I bypassed the urinals in favor of one of the stalls. As I was standing there attending to my business, I heard a young voice say, "Hey, what's your name?" Hoping he was talking to someone else, I ignored him. The next thing I knew the stall door rattled as his hands pushed against it. "What's your name? ... What's your name? ... What's your name?" he asked in a sing-song voice.

I flushed and headed over to the sink only to find him waiting there, waiting me to help him reach the soap. This was every gay man's worst nightmare. I considered asking him where his parents were, but quickly censored myself. What if someone walked in at that moment? Would it sound like I was making sure his parents weren't around before I abducted him? It was easier to not speak to him at all ... just hit the soap button so he could wash his hands and I could make my escape.

"Aren't you gonna wash your hands?" he asked as I headed out the door.

I considered stopping at the customer service desk to have the store send someone in to check on the kid and summon his parents. In the end I didn't even do that much, giving into paranoia and convincing myself that if the child did get abducted, some store clerk would remember "that guy who stopped by the desk about a kid." They'd review the store's surveillance tape and there I'd be at the desk. Suddenly I'd become a "person of interest" in the case and my image would be on the evening news.

No, it was better to do nothing and hope that the kid was tucked into his own bed safe and sound by that time.

But I did watch the evening news with interest, flipping back and forth between channels for any news of a child abduction. Fortunately there were no such reports.

That sense of relief I felt when it became apparent the boy had been abducted to turned into yet another gruesome statistic about raped or murdered children has been replaced by a slow smoldering anger.

I'm angry that the boy's parents couldn't be bothered to make sure he was accompanied to the restroom. I suppose they believe that because the Wal-Mart was in the sprawling, affluent suburbs that he'd be safe. After all, child molesters were an urban phenomenon, right? It doesn't happen here where the lawns are mowed and the hedges kept trimmed, right? Besides, little Johnny (or whatever his name) was only going to be gone a couple of minutes. Nothing can happen in that short of a time, right?

Honestly, I'm beginning to think people should be licensed in order to reproduce.

Then there's my anger at society itself for having long perpetuated the stereotype that gay men were child molesters ready to "recruit" young boys into their "lifestyle." I know many gay men who live in fear of encountering a situation such as the one I found. We want to help, but there's that deep-seated fear that any action we take could be misinterpreted, even if it's as simple as boosting a child to reach the faucet and soap. That makes it so much easier to look after our own self-interest than to worry about a child's safety.

And finally there's the anger I feel at myself for letting false stereotypes stand in the way of coming to the aid of another human being.

"Aren't you gonna wash your hands?" the young boy asked as I all but sprinted out of the restroom.

In a figurative way, I had already washed them.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Oh, sure! NOW they want us!

Being the "news junky" that I am - not to mention maintaing a page of links to news stories on my Democratic club's website - I subscribe to more than my share of Internet mailing lists for news of interest to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

I get everything from articles in the mainstream press to links to gay publications all over the country to copies of e-mails sent out to conservation and religious right organizations like Focus on the Family, Concerned Women of America, the Eagle Forum and the like.

This morning I found in my e-mail an article that disturbed me greatly. No, it wasn't the latest homophobic rant from Jerry Falwell about a suspiciously "gay" cartoon character. Neither was it from James Dobson promoting his "Love Won Out" snake-oil "cures" for homosexuality. And it wasn't from Phyllis Schafly's Eagle Forum denouncing homosexuality as an abomination (while carefully avoiding the mention that Schafly's own son is "that way").

Instead, this e-mail came from the GLBT News service and contained a report on a survey by the Boston Globe on the issue of gays in the military. Seems like we fought that battle once before when Bill Clinton first came to office with the promise that he would sign an executive order lifting the military's ban on gay servicemen and women. Of course that was followed by Congressional hearings highlighted by near-panic on the part of some Republicans and military brass about having to ... oh, the HORROR! ... share a shower with those lustful homosexuals who might think dirty thoughts at the mere sight of a naked and presumably straight (though from experience I can say you just never know) fellow soldier. Then the hearings were followed by the infamous "don't ask, don't tell" policy which was a compromise no one was happy with.

That was the way it was in 1993. Granted, the move for gay rights has progressed since then. We've seen same-sex sodomy laws overturned by the Supreme Court and watched as Vermont established civil unions for same-sex couples and Massachusetts clear the way for gay marriage. All those were accomplished without the anticipated smiting predicted by the religuous right. (Well, to be honest, Florida did get hit by a few hurricanes, but God was unavailable for comment on whether that was due to Gay Day at DisneyWorld or the behavior of Republicans during the 2000 election.)

Just as it looks like progress is being made on gay rights issues, the backlash begins. TV preachers of the fun-D'uh-Mental-ist variety knew a cash cow when they saw one and went on the offensive railing about same-sex marriage and "activist" judges who were hell-bent on destroying families by daring to suggest that homosexuals had the same rights as decent, God-fearing heterosexuals. Suddenly state ballots were flush with amendments designed to keep marriage as the exclusive province of heteros. At last count some 13 states had passed such measures (and more likely to come).

The backlash is here ... so it's suprising to find the following poll results in my e-mail:



WASHINGTON, DC - A poll published in Sunday's Boston Globe reports that 79% of Americans believe gays should be allowed to serve openly in the U.S. military. "Large majorities of Republicans, regular chuchgoers, and (even) people with negative attitudes toward gays think gays and lesbian should be allowed to serve openly in the military," the Globe reports.

Don Mihovk, who works for the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and agreed to be interviewed after responding to the poll, told the Globe that, "(Gays) can serve their country, they can work in any job they want."

The Globe poll follows other recent polls showing growing support for allowing gays to serve openly. Recent Gallup polls have reported between 65% and 79% support for lifting the military's gay ban. The Annenberg Survey reported in October that half of junior enlisted personnel and their families support allowing gays to serve. And in 2003, FOX News reported 64% support for allowing gays to serve.

"Across every political spectrum, and by ever-increasing majorities, Americans favor allowing gays to serve our country," said C. Dixon Osburn, Executive Director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). "National security is neither a Republican nor a Democratic issue. Americans do not support a policy that places discrimination above military readiness. Our homeland is made more secure, in both the blue states and the red, when qualified, capable Americans are allowed to serve without regard to sexual orientation. Members of Congress from both sides of the
aisle should heed the counsel of the American people and repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' once and for all."

In March, Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA) introduced the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, a Congressional bill to lift the military's gay ban. Today, the bill is supported by a bi-partisan group of 83 lawmakers in the House of Representatives. "We've tried the policy. I don't think it works. And we've spent a lot of money enforcing it," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), a member of the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations. "People who've signed up to serve our country, we should be thanking them."

The Boston Globe poll was conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, which polled 760 randomly selected adults between May 4 and May 9. The margin of error is 3.6%.

I'm not, nor ever have been, a fan of the military. For those of us who came of age as the Viet Nam war sputtered and bogged down like an aging Chevy that continued to demand the blood of young Americans for fuel even as it went nowhere, the idea of a military is at best a troublesome necessity. But don't get me wrong. I signed every petition shoved under my nose at the 1993 March on Washington - and continue to get donation solicitations from the Service Member Defense Fund to prove it. Just because the military is not an option for me, I still supported the right of other gays and lesbians to enlist.

But that was then.

That was before we went off to fight a war in yet another distant land for dubious purposes and with no end in sight. Back then the U.S. had the draft to keep feeding that aging Chevy. Now, after losing more than 1,600 American lives in Iraq fighting a dictator who posed no threat to us and looking for weapons of mass destruction that no longer existed outside of the minds of intelligence analysts seeking to please the White House, there is no draft. Soldiers who would otherwise be home after a tour of duty are finding themselves re-deployed to the dusty streets of Baghdad and Falujah. Recruiters are falling short in their quotas of young men and women willing to sign up for the military.

Suddenly the idea of sharing a shower with a soldier who might at any time burst into show tunes or have an urge to redecorate the tent in a Southwestern motif with plenty of mauve accents to provide a contrast with all that sand doesn't sound so bad.

Let's call this what it is: the "Who cares if the homos are canon fodder?" movement.

Somewhere in the Pentagon the brass sat around a table and decided that if the BushCo Administration (a subsidiary of Haliburton, Inc.) wasn't going to let them reinstate the draft, them by golly, at least let 'em send the homos over there to fight all them A-rabs.

Somewhere in the deep South all those TV preachers with the bad hair and the wives that weep on demand when it's time to pass the collection plate were sittin' 'round the table and decided, well, hey-ell Brother Billie Bob ... as long as they ain't getting married and destroyin' the very fabric of this here Christian society, who care if we pack 'em up and send them over to Eye-raq to fight all 'em Moslems since the fudge-packers and those godless Moslems are all goin' straight to H-E-double hockey sticks anyway.

Then, lo and behold, while same-sex marriage, gay adoptions and foster parenting and other parts of the alleged homosexual agenda continue to be rallying cries in the cultural wars, gays in the military is apparently not making a ripple in the collective zeitgeist these days. Why? It's simple. Very few people die as a result of getting married, adopting a child, or taking part in any of the other civil rights so often taken for granted.

Joining the military and serving in a war zone is hazardous to one's health.

In other words, gays and lesbians make great canon fodder. They just don't deserve full and equal rights with the rest of society.

Frankly, I think they have it backwards. Want me to fight? Then give me a country worth fighting for. One that protects the rights of all its citizens.

Until that time arrives, focus on taking the children or grandchildren of every member of Congress and the BushCo administration. (Yes, that includes Jenna and Barb, too!) Being born into privelege, they have plenty of more rights to fight for then I do.