Does the surgeon general nominee channel willful prejudice?
It turns out that President Bush's nominee for surgeon general, James Holinger, seems to have more of an anti-gay history than first thought.
Original objections mostly dealt with him being affiliated with an ex-gay ministry.
That in itself is bad enough, but the following is worse:
In 1991, Dr. James W. Holsinger -- a University of Kentucky professor who is President Bush's nominee for U.S. surgeon general -- wrote a paper arguing that gay sex is biologically unnatural and unhealthy.
Like male and female pipe fittings, certain male and female body parts are designed for each other, Holsinger wrote in a paper prepared for a United Methodist Church committee studying homosexuality. "When the complementarity of the sexes is breached, injuries and diseases may occur," Holsinger wrote in the paper, titled Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality.
You can read the study at this link.
For the benefit of those wondering, the study does not cite data from our friend Paul Cameron. And it does not seem to have any of the distorted studies (i.e. the 1997 Oxford study) that I have found in several religous right papers supposedly critiquing gay sex habits.
No doubt my friend Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin will break down Holsinger's paper better than I ever could.
However, I did notice a central theme about Holsinger's paper that I found disturbing.
Check out this part on page four:
Consensual penile-anal intercourse can be performed safely provided there is adequate lubrication. Few anorectal problems and no evidence of anal-sphincter dysfunction are found in heterosexual women who have anal-receptive intercourse. However, forceful anal penetration without lubrication against a resistant sphincter will result in abrasive trauma, causing fissures, contusions, thrombosed hemorrhoids, lacerations with bleeding, pain, and psychic trauma (Bush, 1986). The most severe type of anorectal trauma follows fist fornication which during the 1970s was practiced by approximately 5% of the male homosexual population (Geist, 1988). It should be noted that this activity is occasionally practiced by heterosexual and lesbian couples.
So in other words, heterosexuals have anal sex also. Hmmmm.
Then there is this passage I found on page five:
In addition to infections and trauma, tumors are a definite risk for homosexual men. Homosexual behavior in men is a risk factor for anal cancer. Squamous-cell anal cancer is also associated with a history of genital warts, an association suggesting that papillomavirus infection is a cause of anal cancer. (Daling, 1987). Anal warts are commonly found among individuals who practice anal intercourse and only rarely found among heterosexuals practicing vaginal intercourse.
But how do anal warts affect those heterosexual engaging in anal sex? Holsinger does not talk about this.
These are just two passages in Holsinger's paper but they seem to reveal that he is practicing willful prejudice, especially when one reads the following passage found on page six:
. . . it is clear that even primitive cultures understand the nature of waste elimination, sexual intercourse, and the birth of children. Indeed our own children appear to intutitvely understand these facts. I think we should note that these simple "scientific facts are the same in any culture - patriarchal or matriarchal, modern or primitive, Jewish or gentile, etc. The anatomic and physiologic facts of alimentation and reproduction simply do not change based on any cultural setting. In fact, the logical complementarity of the human sexes has been so recognized in our culture that it has entered our vocabulary in the form of naming various pipe fittings either the male fitting or the female fitting depending upon which one interlocks within the other. When the complementarity of the sexes is breached, injuries and diseases may occur as noted above.
But isn't that passage contradicting his admittance that heterosexuals engage in anal sex?
How can he criticize gay men for having anal sex because the "parts don't fit" but then not do the same for heterosexuals, who he admits also engage in anal sex?
On that same note, how can he talk about about the "health risks" of gay men having anal sex (i.e. anal warts) while at the same time sidestepping any discussion of the health risks of heterosexual having anal sex?
Whether intentional or not, Holsinger's paper does nothing more than enhance prejudices about gay men, even in at the expense of contradicting itself.
No doubt, the anti-gay industry will try to frame this argument as one of us attacking a man because of his religious beliefs.
But this is not a case of religious persecution. It's a trust issue.
How can Holsinger be counted on to fairly address the health issues of the lgbt community when it has been shown that his religious objection to homosexuality led him to write an irresponsible piece of work?