Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Playing the bully card


Almost any day of the week, you can hop onto the CNN, MSNBC or FOX News websites and read a story written with a naked political bias. Everyone knows this, though many people still praise such stories as “refreshingly honest” or “thoughtful” when in fact they’re hit pieces with no sense of objectivity.

Such was the case yesterday: Helen A. S. Popkin wrote a post attacking Alan Chambers of Exodus International, a Christian ministry that helps people who suffer from same-sex attraction. (She repeats a snark from Caitlin Dickson: “Remember Exodus International? The ministry that recently released and then lost an iPhone app that taught how to convert gay people to heterosexuality?”)

Chambers, in an interview with the Christian Post, took issue with the Google ad for the “It Gets Better” project, focused on “LGBT kids” targeted for bullying. “Children all over the world, including my two children are fans of ‘Toy Story’ and to see a character like that endorsing something that at this point children have no need to know about, it’s disappointing.”

The title of Popkin’s post? “Toy Story’s Woody bullied by anti-gay leader”.


Let’s give Popkin as much credit as she gives Chambers: She confesses that “bullying is a problem, and there are heterosexual It Gets Better supporters who lament that the project doesn’t address bullying victims regardless of orientation.” Moreover, such groups “exist en masse”; she links to a Google page listing various support groups for victims of bullying.

But her argument is that It Gets Better is basically for “LGBT kids”, whom she says is “a traditionally underserved group that faces unique circumstances. They are likely bullied by their parents, church or teachers, as well as their peers. Even the government denies this demographic its full civil rights.”

By “bullied”, does she mean the temperate, even disagreement of Chambers, who overcame his own SSA and now helps others do the same? This would be an example of arbitrary redefinition of the “low” variety, expanding the meaning of a word to cover something it ordinarily wouldn’t in order to make use of the word’s pejorative content.

But more to the point, Popkin — as does much of pop culture — accepts uncritically what Dr. A. Dean Byrd calls the “essentialist position”: Homosexuals are “born that way”. If you’re attracted to people of your own sex at thirteen, you’ll be attracted to people of your own sex at thirty, sixty and ninety; not only is it something you can’t “fix”, it doesn’t need “fixing”.

Because of the essentialist position, the “LGBT kids” appeal argues that young people who experience same-sex crushes simply need to accept their feelings as good and natural, and that society should lay off of them while they’re learning to love being gay. In fact, Popkin signs off:

Many kids already “know about it”— most not in the way Chambers seems to imply. It Gets Better launched after several suicides by kids and teens bullied by gay-bashing, and as long as there are adults who ignore the lack of evidence supporting “conversion therapy” and its potential damage, we need Woody.

Here, we can excuse Popkin from being deliberately misleading. She may be relying on the American Psychological Association Task Force on Sexual Orientation’s 2009 report, Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation.

In a symposium held at the 2010 APA Convention in San Diego by NARTH, Dr. Stanton L. Jones, criticized the report on four grounds:

  1. Double standards for evaluating the outcomes of reparative therapy versus other issues;
  2. False claims of no evidence to support attributing homosexual orientation to family influence or trauma, omitting several important studies (e.g. Francis 2008);
  3. Universal recommendation of affirmative therapy in the absence of any convincing, methodologically sound evidence while denying the existence of such evidence for RT;
  4. No definitions of standards the Task Force used to evaluated specific studies related to possible harmful effects of SOCE.

Furthermore, the studies that show fluidity in sexual orientation — studies that have been backed in parallel research across national borders — also show that sexual orientation tends to gravitate significantly towards heterosexuality over time, especially in the adolescent years. Doctor Jeffrey Satinover notes that the studies showed this even prior to Lawrence v. Texas (2003). As Dr. Gary Greenberg, writing for the very gay-friendly Mother Jones, admitted: “While scientists have found intriguing biological differences between gay and straight people, the evidence so far stops well short of proving that we are born with a sexual orientation that we will have for life.”

But the whole point of Popkin calling Chambers’ objection “bullying” isn’t merely to reinforce dubious science and a subcultural meme. Rather, it’s to put forward the argument social liberals have had the most success with: “Shut up!”

In fact, as far as bullying goes, the gay-rights crowd is getting less and less shy to push its opponents around wherever possible. Recently, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of a Ninth Court decision in re Catholic Charities v. San Francisco, which said that a glaringly anti-Catholic Board of Supervisors resolution didn’t cross the “wall of separation” … a wall that seems to be differentially permeable. This is of a piece of the harassment tactics that went along with the fight over Prop 8 in California, as well as the Catholic-bashing that went on during and after the fight over Maine Proposition 1.

In fact, if the social radicals weren’t so obsessed with lying a new culture into being, they’d find that most of us Christians, especially Catholics, also support anti-bullying measures. And reparative therapists hold that the gay meta-narrative has the dynamics exactly backwards: children aren’t bullied because they’re gay, but many do grow up to be gay because they were bullied.

It would be ironic if a successful anti-bullying program actually led to fewer adult homosexuals. 

But not quite so ironic as the bullying that goes on now in the name of tolerance.