Saturday, April 16, 2005

Tune Up Your Hate-dar

If you've raised little children, you know there's a point where they think bad guys are always ugly. And you realize as a parent, it's not the ugly bad guys you have to watch out for, it's the nice ones, the smiling ones. Because kids, including us big kids, are easily fooled by a smiling face.

A case in point is the talk given by CRC spokesman Peter Sprigg at their town hall meeting. You can listen to his speech, which is warm and friendly, erudite-sounding, delivered well: HERE. As you listen, go beyond the tone of his voice. Listen to what he's saying. Listen for the assumptions he makes.

The first thing Sprigg does is to make fun of an email I sent to a school listserve, describing the speakers at CRC's town hall as "out-of-towners." He got me there -- Sprigg is the one speaker on the platform who is from Montgomery County. This got him a warm round of applause, especially when he said he votes here.

He introduces his talk by saying "What I offered to talk about today though, based on the research that I have done in my position at the Family Research Council, is the subject of myths about homosexuality." Mentioning "research" twice in that sentence could lead a gullible person to think that Peter Sprigg is a researcher. That is not the case. He's an opinion-expresser. A speaker. Here's the bio that goes with his book:
Peter S. Sprigg was appointed as the first director of FRC's Center for Marriage and Family Studies in April 2003, having served as senior director of Culture Studies for two years. His opinion pieces have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, Time, the Washington Times, the Christian Research Journal, and Brill's Content. Sprigg has been interviewed or participated in debates on a number of major television programs, including NBC's Nightly News and Today show, ABC World News Tonight, CNN's Talk Back Live and Crossfire and FOX News Channel's Special Report with Brit Hume, Hannity and Colmes, and The O'Reilly Factor.

This is not an academic curriculum vitae.

The theme of Sprigg's talk is to debunk myths that are held by our society. Here's what he says.

First, the myth that people are born gay -- oh, and here he asks his audience to "please bear with some of this scholarly language," again implying that he is quoting "research." Sprigg points out that if people were born gay, it would support the kinds of special conditions that apply to race, for instance gays would be protected from discrimination, etc.

Myth #2 is that ten percent of the population is gay. This would support the idea that homosexuality was "commonplace, normal, and nothing to fear," he says. But, he says, less than three percent of people identify themselves as homosexual. Sprigg cites a brief submitted in a lawsuit.

The next myth is that homosexuals are seriously disadvantaged by discrimination in our society. He argues that gays have "significantly higher levels of educational attainment than the general public, while the findings on homosexual incomes are, at worst, mixed." He quotes some studies of this. It turns out there is no discrimination against gays. They must be making it all up.

Next myth: homosexuality is harmless. And he explains why this is important to him: "If this were true it would support the notion that government has no reason to penalize or otherwise disadvantage people who engage in homosexual behavior." He explains that homosexual behavior "and lifestyle" is "associated with serious threats to the physical and mental health of those who engage in them, and by extension, to public health." He quotes another journal showing that gay men have a shorter life expectancy.

I need to break away for a second on this one, it's too interesting. The authors of the article Sprigg mentions, from the International Journal of Epidemiology, wrote a letter to the editor of that journal, saying:
... it appears that our research is being used by select groups in US and Finland to suggest that gay and bisexual men live an unhealthy lifestyle that is destructive to themselves and to others. These homophobic groups appear more interested in restricting the human rights of gay and bisexuals rather than promoting their health and well being.

The aim of our research was never to spread more homophobia, but to demonstrate to an international audience how the life expectancy of gay and bisexual men can be estimated from limited vital statistics data.

...

Overall, we do not condone the use of our research in a manner that restricts the political or human rights of gay and bisexual men or any other group.

I get the feeling they were talking about Peter Sprigg and his colleagues, don't you?

The next myth is that "children raised by homosexuals suffer no harm." Sprigg notes that if this were true, "the family and marriage itself should be open to homosexuals on an equal basis." Then Sprigg says, "However, it is not true. The research shows clearly that children do best when raised by a married mother and father, and that the homosexual lifestyle is unstable." Then he quotes an article from an Australian journal called Children Australia, stating that children of married couples do better than those of cohabitating "heterosexual and homosexual" couples in school and socially. It's not about being gay at all, of course, but he uses it.

(There's a widely circulated paper by Lerner and Nagai that shows that research supporting childrearing by gay couples is flawed. The funny thing is, those same flaws mean there's no support for their side, either. Nobody knows how children of homosexual parents come out.)

The last is "the myth that homosexuals are no more likely to molest children than heterosexuals are." He goes on to say, "If this were true, it would support the notion that homosexuals should be allowed to work with children as schoolteachers, boy scout leaders, and big brothers and big sisters." Here he quotes a study from the Archives of Sexual Behavior, that looked at 229 convicted child molesters. This study found that 86 per cent of offenders against males described themselves as homosexual or bisexual.

Look, do I have to point out how silly that conclusion is? I mean, wouldn't you think that a big majority of men who molest boys would describe themselves as homosexuals? I'm wondering what the other fourteen percent were. To get an idea how complicated this question really is, look at the University of California, Davis' Psychology Department paper: Facts About Homosexuality and Child Molestation.

Interestingly, Sprigg backs up here to explain that he is "not saying that all homosexuals molest children, I am not saying that the majority of homosexuals molest children, but I am saying that the rate is much higher than it is among heterosexuals." But he doesn't happen to cite any research on that point.

Then Sprigg went off script to address "the myth that people cannot change their sexual orientation." This is great. He says, "In fact, we have thousands -- tens of thousands of former homosexuals around this country who will testify to the possibility of change." To which I say, dude, why didn't you say there were millions of 'em? Cuz million's an even bigger number. Since you're making this stuff up, why don't you say there are billions of people who have stopped being gay? I think the way it works is, the bigger the number, the more impressed people will be, y'know?

Reader: have you ever met a person who "used to be" gay?

Sprigg starts winding down his speech by saying that there are actually three aspects to sexual orientation: sexual attraction, which is psychological and not chosen, sexual behavior, which people do choose, and should be held accountable for, and sexual self-identification, e.g., do you identify yourself as gay? Now he's building up: "People who experience same-sex attraction neither have a right to engage in same-sex sexual behavior, nor are they incapable of resisting the temptation to engage in same-sex sexual behavior." And then he winds up and delivers the big punch line: "We are sometimes accused of degrading the integrity of gay and lesbian people as individuals by suggesting that they contain their sexual behavior. I think that it degrades them as individuals to suggest that a person cannot contain and control their own sexual behaviors."

Now, I'll give Peter Sprigg this: he speaks in complete, well-formed, and even complex sentences. He sounds like a real smart guy, lots of vocabulary, references to scientific journals, and so on.

But listen to what he's saying! With nearly every "myth," he points out the form of discrimination that is involved, and then explains why the myth is inaccurate. The point is clear -- he's not even trying to hide it -- that he and his audience believe that it is right and proper to discriminate against gay people, to penalize them, to keep them out of certain jobs. He makes no bones about it -- he's here to justify discrimination against homosexuals. He doesn't think they should be included in our society, and here are his intelligent-sounding reasons why.

His final statement is revealing for what it doesn't say. It does not say why it would be better for homosexuals to "contain and control their own sexual behavior." The assumption that it's wrong runs so deep that Sprigg is incapable of questioning it. OK, he admits, some people are attracted to their own sex, and it's not a choice. Seems to me, two things can happen: they can date and fall in love with someone they're actually attracted to, or they can feel damned and sinful and try to deny themselves the love that everyone else is permitted to have. No one is hurt, no one is inconvenienced, no harm is done. But for a guy like Peter Sprigg, the second choice is unacceptable.

Big words, long sentences, malicious opinions. This is hate speech, as clear as there is. This is who the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum choose to speak for them.

11 Comments:

Blogger Theresa said...

Jim -

The statement that Peter was the only speaker from Montgomery County is incorrect.

Al Jackson, Michelle Turner, and Maren Fuller who spoke all are from Montgomery County and have kids in MCPS.

CRC is largely composed of parents like myself from MCPS with kids in the public schools.

April 16, 2005 1:54 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Yes, your CRC officers are mostly local.

Your featured speakers -- Dwyer, Knight, and Kerns -- are not from here, only Sprigg.

I would be interested in knowing what percentage of your 200 members are "parents like [your]self from MCPS with kids in the public schools." Half? I doubt it.

April 16, 2005 3:27 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

By definition, if it is a featured speaker, they may come from a national group. That is kind of normal. If you are going to find nationally known speakers and restrict yourself to Montgomery County residents......well.....

Two of the main speakers were Maren and Michelle, and they are local parents with kids in MCPS.

And ALL of the executives of the company are local, not just most.
Three of the four have kids in MCPS. All of the four have school age kids.

So this insistence by the media and echoed by you that this is a right wing national group invading our county - well, we at CRC find this pretty amusing.

April 16, 2005 7:12 PM  
Blogger Kay2898 said...

Well what would be so amusing about spreading hate?

I still would like to know why CRC failed to post Dwyer's and Knight's comments since they were "featured speakers" too.

Kay R.

April 16, 2005 10:26 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Theresa, if a meeting is being held to discuss the MCPS sex-ed curriculum, it would make sense to invite speakers who have read the curriculum, or who know something about it, or have some interest in it. None of the featured speakers talked about it at all, and most of them didn't know anything about it. They were there to spread hate and fear about the "gay agenda." It was a day of inspiration for your guys, and a day of inspiration for us. But in a different way.

April 17, 2005 12:15 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

the only subject Michelle talked about was the curriculum, and she WAS the first and start off speaker ... I don't remember the exact order, but I believe Maren was shortly after her,

you are implying that they featured speakers... that is directly countered by our website, Maren was mother of the year for Maryland ...

whatever jim, pointless, you are just going to spin it.

April 17, 2005 10:55 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Whoever called Maren "Mother of the year?" For what? Driving her kids to soccer practice? Come on...

And are you trying to say that Sprigg, Knight, Kerns, and Dwyer were not the featured speakers at your CRC hate-fest? That seems a little bizarre. we're not surprised when Michelle and Steve talk, or even your treasurer, it was clear they were there to introduce the big guys, the out-of-towners.

Anyway, this post was about the content of Spriggs' talk, which I notice you don't comment on.

April 18, 2005 7:10 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Hey, this is neat. There's a game people play, where they try to find search terms to put into Google that give one, and exactly one, result. I just found one.

Search for "mother of the year" "maren fuller" , both in quotes. You get one hit, an article in a newspaper about the CRC hate-fest, titled "Sex ed stirs 'hate and fear'."

April 18, 2005 8:46 AM  
Blogger andrear said...

Oh, please, Maren Fuller was Mother of the Year for a religious group -called Young Mothers of America. She certainly wasn't Mother of the Year for "Maryland".

And please- Spriggs, Knight, Dwyer and that total nut- Kerns- were certainly the featured speakers - I saw the flyer and the on-line advertisement. Dwyer got the prime closing spot-what a special way to end a meeting on the "curriculum"

You are putting the spin on it,Teresa, not Jim. I have heard talk like I heard that day- hate filled and bigoted- by the Klan and by Nazis- those however,I heard on tape- and did not have to sit through. Maren Fuller was the only speaker who did not spew hatred -although her fear of those who are different from her little world was clear. Michele and Steven Fisher even attempted to distance themselves from the speakers- but after all- who invited them?

April 18, 2005 1:32 PM  
Blogger Kay2898 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

April 18, 2005 9:41 PM  
Blogger Kay2898 said...

Why CRC invited them.......

Enough said on the spins from CRC. Just post all the comments made by speakers at the "town hall" meeting.

Let their words speak for themselves.

Kay R

April 18, 2005 9:50 PM  

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