Yesterday I wrote about the Washington Post publishing an article from Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. The article used bogus research and made unfounded and really horrendous claims about gays and how we feel ashamed of our homosexuality - on National Coming Out Day. A lot of people agreed with me, both here and in the article's comment section.
The Washington Post has now given a justification for the article and it's crazy:
Washington Post reply:
Hi @glaad, we're working to cover both sides. Earlier, we hosted Dan Savage of It Gets Better in a live chat.
Both sides?! Both sides? Perkins' article was full of proven lies and biased and discounted research. Some of the research that was legitimate was just distorted and misused by him to make his false points. Not surprising, since his organization employs Paul Cameron, whose research was widely discredited and he was expelled from the APA for lying about homosexuality:
In 1983, the American Psychological Association expelled Cameron for non-cooperation with an ethics investigation, although by his own account he had resigned from the organization the previous year. Position statements issued by the American Sociological Association and Canadian Psychological Association have accused Cameron of misrepresenting social science research.
Box Turtle Bulletin addresses the research Perkins used and his misrepresentation of a lot of it, but first, here's the accusation made in the original piece:
There is an abundance of evidence that homosexuals experience higher rates of mental health problems in general, including depression. However, there is no empirical evidence to link this with society’s general disapproval of homosexual conduct. In fact, evidence from the Netherlands would seem to suggest the opposite, because even in that most "gay-friendly" country on earth, research has shown homosexuals to have much higher mental health problems.
And now the debunking:
I guess Perkins doesn’t actually intend for people to click on those hyperlinks. Apparently, he intended them for decoration, the same way FRC people regularly sprinkle their publications with footnotes to make them look more scholarly. But I would invite you to go ahead and click on the first one, which points to a 2002 article from the Monitor On Psychology, the American Psychological Association’s official magazine. Among the studies discussed in that article was one by Susan Cochran ("Emerging issues in research on lesbians’ and gay men’s mental health: Does sexual orientation really matter?" American Psychologist, 56, no. 11 (Nov 2001): 931-947). Her study did find elevated levels of psychological distress among gay people.
Cochran also predicted that her study would, no doubt, be misused by anti-gay people like Perkins "to falsely promulgate the argument that gay people are by nature mentally ill." She was right.
But while her study couldn’t settle the social stigma question, the very next study mentioned in the article came very close to doing just that. This one by Vickie Mays and Susan Cochran ("Mental health correlates of perceived discrimination among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults in the United States." American Journal of Public Health, 91, no 11 (Nov 2001): 1869-1876. Full study available onlinehere.) "explored whether ongoing discrimination fuels anxiety, depression and other stress-related mental health problems among LGB people," wrote the Monitor. "The authors found strong evidence of a relationship between the two."
But, yeah, it's just "showing both sides" right? The guy used bad research and then proceeded to misuse research which didn't claim what he said and he printed this in the Washington Post with their permission. He bashed gays based on lies and old claims and he gave gay people more reasons to stay in the closet, on a day of celebration for being out and proud.
Dan Savage got an interview, or whatever. Great. Did he misuse research on that level or did he talk straightforwardly about his anti-bullying project? Did he spew hatred against bullies and anti-gay people or did he just discuss inclusion and tolerance? Did he claim that bullies need to turn to Jesus and ask for forgiveness if they want to be considered good people? No. This is not at all the same thing.
The Washington Post gave a platform to hatred in an effort to be "fair and balanced." Why is it okay to give a platform to hatred of gays, when they wouldn't do it for any other oppressed minority? If it were any other group, that wouldn't be fair and balanced, it'd be fucking nuts. But they felt like gay bashing was perfectly reasonable and "fair" or "balanced" against the people who don't wish to do us harm. Yeah, guess it's better to allow the people who want to harm us article space to spread their vicious words, right? And especially on a day like National Coming Out Day, right? And especially after a lot of gay suicides, right? This was a dumb move by that newspaper and no amount of false equivalence will make it better.