Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Phony historian David Barton denigrates gay community

David Barton is a so-called historian who has been a guest on Glenn Beck's show on numerous occasions.

I guess that speaks to his "veracity," or lack thereof.

Indeed, Media Matters has documented his errors on more than one occasion. Also according to writer Chris Rodda, Barton has no credentials to speak of:

 . . .  many people have been pointing out that he has no degree in history. His educational credentials consist of a B.A. in religious education from Oral Roberts University, and an honorary doctorate from Pensacola Christian College

As for myself, I seldom paid attention to Barton, though I am aware of his exploits with the Texas school board (Rodda's article is an excellent read). However, my interest perked up today I read that he choose to say a bunch of highly inaccurate things about the lgbt community.

According to People for the American Way's Religious Right Watch, Barton and Rick Green of Wallbuilders was discussing the so-called need to "regulate homosexual behavior" on the radio today. That was when Barton choose to spin his anti-gay yarn.

For one thing, Barton didn't cite any sources for what he claimed, so allow me to do the best I can in disseminating where his distortions came from:

Barton - Homosexuals die decades earlier than heterosexuals. That doesn’t sound healthy.

Truth - Barton may have gotten this from either the discredited work of Paul Cameron or a 1997 Canadian study. Cameron is the same man who had been dismissed or censured from several medical associations for distorting the credible medical information or not cooperating with investigations into his methodology.

Now the authors of the Canadian study, in 2001, went on record complaining about how their work in 1997 was distorted.  

Barton - Nearly one-half of practicing homosexuals admit to five hundred or more sex partners and nearly one-third admit to a thousand or more sex partners in a lifetime.

Truth - Barton could have gotten this from a number of places from Paul Cameron's phony data to statistics from STD clinics. However, it really doesn't matter. The meme that "gays are incredibly promiscuous" is a favorite of religious right spokespeople. Like Joseph McCarthy and his "communist list," they tend to change the number whatever audience they are addressing:

“One study determined that homosexual males have from between 20 to 106 sexual partners per year. It’s no wonder that homosexual men account for over 50% of all hepatitis cases, and still account for over 50% of all AIDS cases despite the fact that they only make up 1-3% of the population.” - The Gay Agenda vs. Family Values, Matt J. Barber

“Fidelity is almost unheard of in homosexual relationships; the average number of partners for each person is eight. These relationships are not open—they are wide open. A homosexual publication, The Advocate, reports that 57 percent of its homosexual readers claimed they had sexual relations with 30 or more partners. Twenty-nine percent of their readers had anonymous bathhouse sex. A 1991 study of homosexual men in New York revealed an average of 308 sexual partners per man.” - Supremes Ruled Wisely: Arizona Can’t Afford Same Sex Marriage, The Arizona Conservative

An article in USA Today in November 1984 reported that homosexuals have an average of 50 different sexual partners each year. - Offering Hope to Homosexuals - http://www.firststone.org/articles/topic/homosexuality/offering_hope_to_homosexuals.htm

“Homosexual activists claim their lifestyle, which in some cases includes thousands of sexual partners, should be sanctioned, protected, and granted special rights by society. Would you critique this stance?” -a biased question on the Focus on the Family web page

I want to group the rest of Barton's statements together:

Barton - Homosexual/bi-sexual individuals are seven times to contemplate or commit suicide. Oooh, that doesn’t sound very healthy.

Homosexuals have an HIV prevalence sixty times higher than the general population.

Homosexuals have Hepatitis B virus five to six times more often and Hepatitis C virus infections about two times more often than the regular population.

Homosexuals are less than three percent of the population but they account for sixty-four percent of the syphilis cases.

Truth - Now while there is some truth to these cases (little truth), Barton's connotation of these health problems is inaccurate. He makes it seem that these problems are indicative of the lgbt orientation.

However, studies have shown that the majority of health problems regarding the lgbt community is indicative of how society stigmatizes them.

Take suicide for example:

Depression and anxiety appear to affect gay men at a higher rate than in the general population. The likelihood of depression or anxiety may be greater, and the problem may be more severe for those men who remain in the closet or who do not have adequate social supports. Adolescents and young adults may be at particularly high risk of suicide because of these concerns. Culturally sensitive mental health services targeted specifically at gay men may be more effective in the prevention, early detection, and treatment of these conditions.

As for the other issues, it is a matter of getting access to good medical information and the ability to trust your doctor. Unfortunately too many lgbts are in the closet or don't feel that they can be completely honest with their physicians. Also, there is a serious problem with access to good information regarding STDs, particularly in the African-American gay community.

The sad thing is that someone actually takes Barton's nonsense seriously. The sadder thing is that his words most likely contribute to the problems of lgbt stigmatization rather than the solution.

Barton's claims is a perfect example of just how easily inaccurate negative information about lgbts is spread. They are also an example of just how the lgbt community aren't combatting this misinformation. I have read many places where Barton's claims are repeated verbatim by members of the lgbt community without the courtesy of correction as sort of a way to make fun of his assertions.

That's a mistake. We know that Barton's claims are false. Our allies know that Barton's claims are false. However, the key is demonstrating to everyone else that they are false.

And we aren't doing that.

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Unknown said...

This debunking of made up "facts" is so needed.

Anonymous said...

Homosexuals as well as college students and members of the military all have STD rates seemingly higher than the "general population" because, unlike the general population, these groups are actually getting routinely and proactively tested for STDs.

It's kinda like trying to compare the test scores of students who actually took a test to the nonexistent test scores of students who skipped class that day... it's not even an apples to oranges comparison, it's an apples to nothing comparison.

ebohlman said...

That bit about "a thousand or more sex partners" actually came from an OCR error that happened when someone put one of Cameron's tracts online—a footnote number got treated as part of a figure.

BlackTsunami said...

Thanks for the heads up ebohlman. I changed it up to suit the purpose of what I was saying better.