Illinois Family Institute uses Paul Cameron’s work but claims its not a hate group
The Illinois Family Institute (IFI), the alleged pro-family group that was once led by anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera, is angry at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for labeling it a hate group.
In a letter written on the site Opposing Views, IFI member and phony gay expert Laurie Higgins (who herself has a history of demonizing the lgbt community) claims that the group has been unfairly targeted simply because of its moral belief that homosexuality is wrong:
I assumed that IFI made (SPLC’s) their list because we are committed to exposing and opposing the use of public money via public education to affirm and advance a particular understanding of the nature and morality of homosexual conduct that is unproven, controversial, and, we believe, destructive to the lives of individuals and the fabric of society.
Since, in the distorted view of pro-homosexual organizations, our efforts constitute hatred, the only way we can be deemed not hateful is to change our views on the nature and morality of homosexual conduct, or to accept the continued use of public money to affirm and advance liberal/radical views on the nature and morality of homosexual conduct through public education. That's a pretty tall and scary order.
But is this the actual reason? Probably not. As the letter continues, we get more details:
For clarification I called the Southern Poverty Law Center and spoke with Heidi Beirich. Our conversation was troubling in that Ms Beirich revealed that even a tenuous, distant connection to statements the SPLC doesn't like will land an organization on their hate groups list. She told me that the only reason IFI is listed is that in 2005, IFI's former executive director Peter LaBarbera posted a very short article by Paul Cameron for which Mr. LaBarbera wrote an even shorter introduction.
Although there were no defamatory comments made in Cameron's piece or LaBarbera's introduction, Ms. Beirich claimed that in other articles by Cameron, he had suggested that, in Ms. Beirich's words, "Gays are sickly, and people should stay away from them." IFI has no idea if that claim is true, but if it is, IFI rejects it, finds it inconsistent with Scripture, and finds it repellent. The problem is we did not cite or endorse any such rhetoric, and yet the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled IFI as an active hate group.
The article in question was a rehashing of Cameron’s discredited gay life span study. It also makes the claim that the Centers for Disease Control’s own work proves Cameron’s study to be accurate. This is a lie (which would make the piece defamatory, wouldn’t it?) A member of the CDC went on record saying that the article’s claim was totally inaccurate:
“[The CDC] does not collect statistics on the life span of gay men. While gay men continue to be severely impacted by HIV and AIDS, AIDS-related death data cannot be used to indicate that homosexual men live shorter lives than heterosexual men overall.” - Ronald Valdiserri, deputy director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention
Higgins really steps into it when she says the following:
Ms. Beirich also claimed that Cameron cited a purportedly erroneous statistic regarding shortened life-spans. I responded that I could see how a statistic could be erroneous and derived from flawed methodology, but I don't see erroneous statistics as defamatory or hateful. I don't think health statistics alone, even statistics that emerge from flawed methodologies, can be construed as hatred. In fact, if there are particular health risks associated with particular sexual practices, it would be callous and irresponsible not to share that information publicly.
So according to Higgins, even if Cameron’s statistics are inaccurate, they may not necessarily be hateful or wrong.
IFI would have a point here, except for Cameron’s words:
“What homosexuals do is so incredibly stupid, so patently absurd and antibiological, that only a foolish society would take their whimpering about ‘equal rights with heterosexuality’ seriously . . . Are we supposed to feel so sorry for them that we join them in the march to the cemetery?” - The Advocate, October 29, 1985
“At the 1985 Conservative Political Action Conference, Cameron announced to the attendees, ‘Unless we get medically lucky, in three or four years, one of the options discussed will be the extermination of homosexuals.’ According to an interview with former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, Cameron was recommending the extermination option as early as 1983.” - Mark E. Pietrzyk, New Republic, October 3, 1994
Right now, here in Lincoln, there is a 4-year-old boy who has had his genitals almost severed from his body at Gateway in the rest room with a homosexual act… It’s really awkward. I could see where Gateway would want to suppress this. I could see where the parents would want to suppress it. It could be just a rumor. But enough things have happened recently so that such a thing doesn’t have to be invented.” - Paul Cameron told this story to a group in 1982 in Lincoln, NB in an attempt to kill a human rights ordinance. The police discovered the story to be false but the ordinance was defeated.
And mostly by the condemnation rained down on him by the medical profession:
“(Cameron) misrepresents my findings and distorts them to advance his homophobic views. I make a very clear distinction in my writing between pedophilia and homosexuality, noting that adult males who sexually victimize young boys are either pedophilic or heterosexual, and that in my research I have not found homosexual men turning away from adult partners to children . . . I consider this totally unprofessional behavior on the part of Dr. Cameron and I want to bring this to your attention. He disgraces his profession.” - Dr. A. Nicholas Groth in 1984 after discovering that Cameron distorted his work.
"Paul Cameron (Nebraska) was dropped from membership for a violation of the Preamble to the Ethical Principles of Psychologists - American Psychological Association, 1983
The science and profession of psychology in Nebraska as represented by the Nebraska Psychological Association, formally dissociates itself from the representations and interpretations of scientific literature offered by Dr. Paul Cameron in his writings and public statements on sexuality. Further, the Nebraska Psychological Association would like it known that Dr. Cameron is not a member of the Association. Dr. Cameron was recently dropped from membership in the American Psychological Association for a violation of the Preamble to the Ethical Principles of Psychologists - Nebraska Psychological Association, 1984
Dr. Paul Cameron has consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented sociological research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism" - American Sociological Association, 1985
The Canadian Psychological Association takes the position that Dr. Paul Cameron has consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism and thus, it formally disassociates itself from the representation and interpretations of scientific literature in his writings and public statements on sexuality. - Canadian Psychological Association, 1996
You see, erroneous statistics can be considered as hateful if the creator of such statistics has a history of intentional inaccuracies in order to demonize a group of people. And Cameron has this history.
Now some may say that IFI cited Cameron’s work without knowing his history.
I don’t believe this to be true. I find it hard to believe that IFI had absolutely no knowledge of Cameron or his work, especially when I read the introduction of the piece in question:
As one who has read homosexual obituaries for over a decade, as a researcher of the "gay" movement, there can be no doubt that homosexual behavior shortens the life of those who practice it, especially men who have sex with other men. Paul Cameron's work has been targeted for ridicule by homosexual activists, and he has been demonized by the Left, but this should not discount his findings. We find it sad that more scientists have not joined Paul Cameron in assessing the extreme health risks of homosexual behavior, just like the scientific establishment researches obesity, smoking and other serious health issues.
Illinois Family Institute would support a nonpartisan federal research campaign into the health risks of homosexual behavior to further investigate Cameron's work.
And to make matters worse, Higgins will not acknowledge that IFI was inaccurate. Instead, she claims that "new work" proves Cameron’s falsehoods to be accurate:
But, more important, the same finding regarding reduced life expectancy for homosexual men has been reported by a world-reknowned medical journal, and has been cited as true by homosexual activists when it serves their purposes. That study, which appeared in Oxford University's International Journal of Epidemiology, concluded that "In a major Canadian centre, life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 20 years less than for all men. If the same pattern of mortality were to continue, we estimate that nearly half of gay and bisexual men currently aged 20 years will not reach their 65th birthday."
Higgins is referring to the 1997 Canadian study that was distorted by religious right groups. We know this because in 2001, the authors of the study complained about it:
“ . . . if we were to repeat this analysis today the life expectancy of gay and bisexual men would be greatly improved. Deaths from HIV infection have declined dramatically in this population since 1996. As we have previously reported there has been a threefold decrease in mortality in Vancouver as well as in other parts of British Columbia."
Certainly, an organization with a moral objection to homosexuality shouldn’t automatically be considered as a hate group.
But the problem with groups such as IFI is that they practice a sort of intellectual violence in which they are willing to distort credible research as well as rely on bad studies to give a negative view of the lgbt community - i.e. painting them as monsters who should be hindered and stopped at every turn.
That makes IFI no different than a racist group distorting FBI crime statistics to make the case that African-Americans are more violent than whites. Or Nazis using propaganda films against the Jewish community.
And that, as far as I’m concerned, makes them a hate group.