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Accusing Librarian of Sexual Orientation Harassment

for suggesting that the university include an anti-gay book in a freshman reading program is "not an act of intellectual oppression." It doesn't even "imply judgment," but merely "notifies the human-resources office that discrimination might have occurred" ("discrimination" here meaning offensive speech). This is especially so because of "a crucial point: the discrimination reports did not focus on the book suggestion so much as the librarian's unyielding defense of the book, even after the revelation of its bigotry, his disparagement of faculty expertise and his forwarding of others' e-mails to an outside organization." That's what Prof. Christopher Phelps at Ohio State University (Mansfield) continues to insist.

Yup, unyielding defenses of a book recommendation are obviously something that human resources departments should be investigating in "a university that is a beacon of intellectual freedom." In any case, let me quote Prof. Phelps' letter so you can see his full argument in context; for my coverage of this issue, see here:

As a member of the faculty of Ohio State University at Mansfield, I write in the hope of providing a more precise rendering of a recent conflict on campus.

The campus' head reference librarian told The Dispatch in an April 21 news article that he was accused of "sexual harassment" by the faculty for what the reporter called his "tongue-in-cheek" suggestion that a book called The Marketing of Evil be assigned to all incoming students as part of a first-year reading experience. A subsequent Dispatch editorial (April 26) condemned the faculty for requesting an investigation into sexual harassment.

In actuality, the faculty assembly in March decided not to request an investigation as a body. Two individual professors did file reports, but in reference to "harassment based on sexual orientation," or discrimination, not sexual harassment. Such a referral does not imply judgment. It merely notifies the human-resources office that discrimination might have occurred.

Our faculty believes firmly in free speech. We believe intellectual freedom is critical to the life of a university. We do not fault investigators for concluding that no harassment occurred.

We believe, however, that The Dispatch is wrong to condemn the faculty members who made the referrals. University policy obliges anyone who knows of a possible case of discrimination to report it, for the obvious reason that secondary parties must be encouraged to refer such matters lest victims suffer privately, leaving the university liable and injustice unaddressed. The two faculty members who filed reports, neither of them gay, perceived that their gay colleagues were finding the workplace inhospitable.

Referral of the dispute to human resources was not an act of intellectual oppression. It was an attempt to restore an atmosphere of freedom and tolerance to the campus, including the freedom of consenting adults to love whomever they wish without discrimination.

Dispatch columnist Joe Blundo has done an excellent job of conveying the ludicrousness of The Marketing of Evil ("Left vs. right: All opinions should be heard," Tuesday). Quite apart from demonstrating its unabashed bigotry, his column makes it clear that this is a book wholly unsuited to the purpose of introducing undergraduates to the life of the mind. Why would a reference librarian, entrusted with guiding students to the best possible sources, recommend such a screed?

But the news media's coverage has missed a crucial point: the discrimination reports did not focus on the book suggestion so much as the librarian's unyielding defense of the book, even after the revelation of its bigotry, his disparagement of faculty expertise and his forwarding of others' e-mails to an outside organization. The claim that his proposal was tongue-in-cheek is belied by the fact that when he was employed at Lakeland Community College in 2004, he displayed an antigay book prominently, provoking controversy there, as well.

Out faculty seeks a university that is a beacon of intellectual freedom, high scholarly standards and freedom from discrimination based upon sexual orientation. I look forward to the day when we can say with assurance that our library manifests the same principles.

Federal Dog:
"University policy obliges anyone who knows of a possible case of discrimination to report it"


Is this normal university policy these days?
5.8.2006 6:31pm
Patrick (mail):
The first thing that comes to my mind is that I would be hard-pressed to think of more than five legal theory texts written in the last 30 years that were not also wholly unsuited to the purpose of introducing undergraduates to the life of the mind.

I think I'll start pressing my library to remove them so as not to offend my conservative, positivist sensibilities. Maybe they can have a special collection in a new room just behind the (locked) rare books! If they are really worth reading, after all, people will make the effort :)
5.8.2006 6:44pm
Tony (mail):
So what has actually happened, other than people saying a whole lot of words and pushing around bureaucratic forms? I just don't get why this is a big deal at all.

But just in case readers don't know how noxious this book is, I quote once again a particularly charming paragraph from the first chapter:

To the person who's already been "converted" and is acting out the homosexual "lifestyle," it's deeply satisfying -- far beyond mere sexual pleasure -- to "initiate" an innocent person. Doing so serves to anesthetize his own conscience and assuage his inner conflict by destroying the innocence of another person, since that innocence tends to make him aware of his own corruption.
5.8.2006 7:06pm
SLS 1L:
I don't buy it, Professor. The quote Tony cites is blood libel.

Suppose the librarian had recommended a tract by a Holocaust denier, or "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion," for freshman reading - not as exercises in examining poor reasoning or examples of how far hate can lead the human mind to fall, but as books with ideas worthy of serious consideration. Suppose further that when challenged, the librarian vehemently defended the texts. Could this behavior never constitute anti-Semitic harassmet? I find that hard to believe.

The text in question appears to be little better than "Protocols."
5.8.2006 8:03pm
KeithK (mail):
Whether or not the book in question is noxious I cannot accept the proposition that suggesting that someone read it, or that it be included in a reading list, constitutes harassment. I would say the same thing if the book in question were Protocols.

Tony, this case matters (a little anyway) because it's wrong to bring charges against someone on the basis of political opinions, particularly at a university. Fortunately, nothing came of this and hopefully OSU would have come to the same result without any publicity. But since I'm not convinced that the school definitely would have done the right thing regardless, I think coverage of the incident was appropriate.
5.8.2006 9:06pm
SLS 1L:
KeithK - recommending and defending Protocols wouldn't be harassment per se, but couldn't it constitute harassment in at least some circumstances? That's all I'm saying.
5.8.2006 9:10pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Academic freedom means that people are entitled to defend the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, The Communist Manifesto, books that praise the propriety of sex with children, or for that matter books that defend the propriety of homosexuality in a state in which homosexuality is illegal (as it was illegal in quite a few states until only a few years ago) -- all without being disciplined for "harassment" or "creating a hostile, abusive, or offensive environment based on race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status, etc."
5.8.2006 9:35pm
c6gunner (mail):
SLS: yes, it could "constitute harrasement" if you were to say something along the lines of "the only reason you won't read the Protocols is because you're a jew-loving baby-killer", followed by threats involving gas chambers or ovens.

Similarily, the only way him suggesting "the marketing of evil" be placed on a reading list could be considered harrasement were if he followed it up by something like "only fags would oppose this book being put on the list".

And I hope that the above does not violate the posting guidelines, but I didn't know how else to make the point.

If this professor HAD used such language then he certainly could, and probably should, be disciplined for it. But nobody, not even the individuals making the complaint, have suggested that he did anything like that.
5.8.2006 10:07pm
hey (mail):
Having the Protocols on the Freshman reading list would actually be a very, very good idea. I'd advocate putting Protocols, Mein Kampf, Das Kapital, and The Communist Manifesto on such a list, and when I'm being mean, General Theory of Employment... and The Affluent Society, as abject examples of the persuasive power of evil. Having students read these, critique them as texts, and then look to their results in the real world is a great way to cover history as well as equip freshman to handle the material they will see and ensure that they maintain a skepticism and critical distance with respect to the material.
5.8.2006 11:04pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
There are any number of books whose critique would be educational.
Presuming the critique consisted of something more old-fashioned than ripping the book to pieces, jumping up and down on the scraps while screaming curses, or some other modern type of intellectual exercise.

I happened to think of this while reading, "Men, Women; Enjoying the Difference" by Crabb. It can make your teeth hurt but it's written so well that a critique would be a challenging intellectual exercise, of a kind it's not likely to get.
5.8.2006 11:20pm
Rick C (mail):

Referral of the dispute to human resources was not an act of intellectual oppression. It was an attempt to restore an atmosphere of freedom and tolerance to the campus, including the freedom of consenting adults to love whomever they wish without discrimination.


Wow, way to set up a straw man and knock it right down. Recommending a book causes a miasma of intolerance to settle over the entire school? Is this guy a Rove plant?

Also, regarding Tony's quote? I've personally seen people do that, deliberately lure a straight teenager into debauchery. And I use that word judiciously; it wsan't just a matter of introducing him to sex with other males.
5.9.2006 12:15am
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
Also, regarding Tony's quote? I've personally seen people do that, deliberately lure a straight teenager into debauchery. And I use that word judiciously; it wsan't just a matter of introducing him to sex with other males.


*sigh*

I had to look diligently for debauchery, myself. Where were the people luring teenagers into debauchery when I was a teenager?
5.9.2006 1:08am
Redman:

Will there ever come a day when liberals realize that their narrowmindeness and hatred of anyone with a contrary point of view does more than any adversary to expose the fallacy of their point of view.
5.9.2006 1:27am
BobN (mail):

Academic freedom means that people are entitled to defend the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, The Communist Manifesto, books that praise the propriety of sex with children, or for that matter books that defend the propriety of homosexuality in a state in which homosexuality is illegal (as it was illegal in quite a few states until only a few years ago) -- all without being disciplined for "harassment" or "creating a hostile, abusive, or offensive environment based on race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status, etc."


The librarian did not propose the anti-gay books because he thought they deserved a reading on intellectual or academic grounds. He suggested them after the books he really wanted were rejected. He did it to purposely insult fellow members of the committee. OTHER committee members saw exactly what was going on and reported it. Doesn't context matter? Does defending academic integrity now require wearing blinders?

Why a professor would defend this sort of rudeness and lack of civility is puzzling. Is this how you expect your colleagues to treat you? Is this how you treat them?
5.9.2006 4:46am
OhioVoter:
The librarian did not propose the anti-gay books because he thought they deserved a reading on intellectual or academic grounds. He suggested them after the books he really wanted were rejected. He did it to purposely insult fellow members of the committee. OTHER committee members saw exactly what was going on and reported it.

Having seen the e-mail exchange that rejected his original suggestions, I would suggest that the committee is also guilty of that particular offense. At best, the tone was extremely condescending. His tone, in his second recommendation, was sarcastic, but no less so than the tone in the rejection of his original suggestions by those same professors.

He was no less deserving of civility in a collegial setting.

The claim that his proposal was tongue-in-cheek is belied by the fact that when he was employed at Lakeland Community College in 2004, he displayed an antigay book prominently, provoking controversy there, as well.

Scott Savage was apparently asked to participate on the committee in question. If his "history" was known (as is claimed in the article), what was the purpose in asking him?

Personally, I think it the job of a librarian to challenge prevailing thought. It shouldn't frighten professional educators.
5.9.2006 7:57am
Moneyrunner43 (www):
The academic community is developing an entire generation of "know nothings." But then it has always been thus. Book burning has always been popular. And it's almost always begun by academics and other "opinion leaders."

Despite the fact that millions of words have been written about the evils of Nazism, not one in a hundred people in the academic world has actually read "Mein Kampf" or seen "The Triumph of the Will." It is simply not possible to understand Nazism without these.

Are these professors, these sensitive flowers, afraid that heading books that decry homosexuality will dissuade people from their sexual desires?

And to Charlie, your snarky comment about wishing to be debauched is just that. Debauchery is apparently the norm at Duke. The people there are not happy. But hey, go for it; it's your life.
5.9.2006 8:38am
Kevin Fleming (mail):
Cases like this expose the uncomfortable truth that the only freedom of intellectual thought and expression on the university campus is freedom to follow and proclaim the prevailing neo-Marxist class oppression ideology.

Dissent is simply forbidden. Thus the Orwellian construction: coerced agreement in scholarly endeavors is open inquiry, and intellectual slavery is freedom.
5.9.2006 8:48am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
We are approaching, or possibly have achieved, the situation where a generally-accepted dismissal of a statement will be, "A professor said it."

"Oh. Well, the hell with it, then."
5.9.2006 9:16am
dwpittelli (mail) (www):
To the ... homosexual ... it's deeply satisfying -- far beyond mere sexual pleasure -- to "initiate" an innocent person. Doing so serves to anesthetize his own conscience and assuage his inner conflict by destroying the innocence of another person, since that innocence tends to make him aware of his own corruption.

This quote is a tendentious psychologising of a diverse group of people, but it is silly to compare it to a "blood libel" (or, for that matter to The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion). For the comparison to be apt, the seduction would have to go two steps further:

1) To deliberately infect the "innocent" with AIDS (which sometimes happens), or otherwise kill or cannibalize straight people.

2) And be part of a large conspiracy, known to most homosexuals, to do such a thing.

Unless the book has a passage showing a meeting of the Human Rights Campaign titled something like "How to Recruit More Innocents to Our League of Dying HIV+ Gay Zombies," you can't reasonably compare it to murderous conspiracies such as the blood libel, or even to the Protocols. The quote is offensive enough on its own terms without an implied reductio ad Hitlerum.
5.9.2006 9:25am
Christopher Phelps:
Eugene Volokh's framing of my letter in his first sentence, just like the story's framing in initial press releases of the Alliance Defense Fund, is mistaken and tendentious. The result is another self-righteous and superheated discussion that misses the point. I will here try to set the record straight and add a few points that I could not make in the brief Dispatch letter, given its strict spatial limitations.

I am an advocate of intellectual freedom. I assign conservative works in my class (Gertrude Himmelfarb's book *The New History and Old,* for example, the last time I taught our core historical methods course, last term). My views are on the left, but I have many Republican relatives and often have conservative students write glowing reports of their experiences in my class. This is not an issue of left-wing suppression of conservatism.

I was not one of those who filed the harassment referrals. Nor did I, personally, think it was harassment, then or now. I made this clear to the librarian. I, in fact, advocated another way of handling the matter, a vote of no confidence in the library administration, but I was unable to be present at the first two faculty meetings on this question to propound my point of view, because of a family health crisis. I deeply regret that.

I did not have space in my published letter to explain all that, but I did say quite clearly that we have no objection whatsoever to university investigators concluding that there no harassment took place. People here seem to have overlooked that point entirely.

I must state again: the librarian was not accused of discrimination for the book suggestion. For Volokh to say that at this point is to repeat a fundamental error in the reporting on this matter. The referrals made were in reference to subsequent disputes that arose from the book suggestion, not the book itself. That this subsequent conflict was not, in the end, found to constitute harassment means that the university did in fact uphold intellectual freedom. It does not, however, mean the university should never have examined the question. Under existing university policy, my colleagues did not act improperly in referring the matter to the appropriate part of the university. It was legitimate for them to do so, based on their perception that there *might* have been harassment, and based on the policy that one should always report possible cases of harassment.

Again, I repeat: simply because someone filed a report does not mean that they were judging the matter. The people filing the reports had not concluded harassment had taken place. They were merely informing the university that it would be wise to look into the matter and render a judgment. I think this was reasonable, even though I myself did not think it necessary and did not file a report.

From my point of view, a problem remains: bigotry. Few on this web site seem much concerned about that issue. Do their notions of freedom extend to the right to love whomever one wants? That bigotry did not manifest itself in harassment, a more focused phenomenon directed at a particular individual, does not mitigate the bigotry. Yes, bigotry is a protected category of speech. It is not an honorable form of spech. No one who espouses it can expect to be freed from criticism. I will continue to advocate that it be accomplished through vigorous debate and democratic decision-making. Universities need to be places capable of welcoming all their students, staff, and faculty. This necessitates a commitment to diversity, including tolerance of different sexual orientations.

The story, as it broke in the media, was erroneous and tendentious. That framing -- a direct result of the many mistatements of the Alliance Defense Fund press release-- persists in people's minds even though it is far from the truth. It is clear to me that a cartoon notion of university life as a totalitarian dungeon exists in some minds. It is exaggerated and mistaken, but still exerts a powerful psychological pull that cannot be dislodged even with evidence, reason, and explanation.

I recognize the political leaning of this web site. I will not respond further to baiting and attacks, because I've made my own position as clear as I possibly can. Disagree, fine, but please do not further mischaracterize what transpired or what I wrote or of what took place on our campus.
5.9.2006 10:15am
Kevin Fleming (mail):
Professor Phelps seems to think that filing a report on somebody for harrassment is not making a judgement that someone was harrassed, they were
"merely informing the university that it would be wise to look into the matter and render a judgment".

Surely the good professor knows that filing harrassment charges have the effect of proclaiming a party guilty, regardlessof whether the facts are borne out. That's the intended effect: bullying someone into compliance. It's standard university politics.

And it's not "misframing" of the issue that causes me to believe universities like yours have become "totalitarian dungeons", it's cases like this, where dissent from the party line is ruthlessly enforced.
5.9.2006 11:07am
AppSocRes (mail):
Professor Phelp's disingenuous self-defense disgusts me. Anyone -- like myself -- who has ever held a non-tenured faculty position within an academic institution knows that the slightest contretemps, like the one Professor Phelps helped create, can mean loss of job and livelihood. He and his ilk very cleverly and subtly use this constant threat to stifle dissent within the academy.
5.9.2006 11:30am
Rob Crocker (mail):
I see the good professor is happy to bring up the language of "tolerance" when he thought the appropriate action for the book recommendation was "a vote of no confidence in the library administration".

You espouse tolerance and then turn around and want to smear the entire library administration because the contents of a recommended book are insulting to one group of people? How are you supposed to be fostering intellectual curiosity and debate if you can only cast aspersions on a very select group of "privledged people" while avoiding all the "protected minorities"?
5.9.2006 11:45am
dk:
The suggestion of the book was an obvious act of provocation, which succeeded in its probable intention of having it referred to the Diversity Gestapo, or whatever it's called at Ohio State.

The proper treatment of the suggestion was note it on the agenda, and then call "Next, please". With a faint sneer, if you like.

The suggestion was jejeune but harmless; the reaction quite different, and therefore utterly to be condemned.
5.9.2006 12:05pm
Federal Dog:
"Yes, bigotry is a protected category of speech. It is not an honorable form of spech. No one who espouses it can expect to be freed from criticism."


I wonder if the good "professor" can spot the irony here.
5.9.2006 12:22pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Professor Christopher Phelps writes:


From my point of view, a problem remains: bigotry. Few on this web site seem much concerned about that issue. Do their notions of freedom extend to the right to love whomever one wants?
Sure. And also the right to express disapproval of homosexuality, as well. It seems that your definition of freedom is pretty limited. No surprise--you are a professor.
5.9.2006 12:24pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Tony writes:


But just in case readers don't know how noxious this book is, I quote once again a particularly charming paragraph from the first chapter:

To the person who's already been "converted" and is acting out the homosexual "lifestyle," it's deeply satisfying -- far beyond mere sexual pleasure -- to "initiate" an innocent person. Doing so serves to anesthetize his own conscience and assuage his inner conflict by destroying the innocence of another person, since that innocence tends to make him aware of his own corruption.
Maybe that doesn't describe how you became a homosexual, but there are way too many accounts that I have read that clearly fit this description. In soc.motss, Jeff Dauber described how his first sexual experience (at 12) was with an adult man. Another gay poster there told me in email that his earliest memory was at about three, being forced to orally service a 14 year old uncle.

It is pretty clear that large numbers of lesbians are that way because of early sexual abuse. (Read I Never Told Anyone--it is astonishing how many of the survivors of childhood sexual abuse identify themselves as lesbians today, and when you look at what happened to them, it isn't too surprising. So why are you offended at the idea that gay men initiate straight men into homosexuality?

And you find the quoted statement offensive and inaccurate? I don't think so.

[EV: The comment originally said "(at 12)" above rather than "(at 11)"; Clayton Cramer alerted me to the error, and I corrected the comment accordingly.]
5.9.2006 12:30pm
james (mail):
Prof Phelps,

I appreciate your effort to set the record straight. It was kind of you to take the time necessary to formulate and post a response.

Here is what I am having troubling understanding. You and the university have made a determination on a moral position. On one side there is the view the two consenting adults should have every right to be together regardless of externalities. On the other side of this debate is a long and widely held religious view that only specific combinations of consenting adults is permissible.
Are you aware that you have made a moral judgment in this mater as to which view is correct? You are applying this personal moral view to the handling of the situation. This is evident in your use words like bigotry and harassment only in reference to the position you do not hold. Speaking your mind in this mater is a protected right. The catch is that in order to fully exercise the right of speech, you have also exercised bigotry towards a religion and harassment towards an individual. This seems to have escaped you. In many cases, it is not possible to fully exercise the right of speech without insulting and degrading the opposing view point.
The University system is only looking to punish the view point not held by the faculty. This is the reason many of the other commentators are claiming the university system has become totalitarian.
5.9.2006 12:42pm
Eliot Bridge (mail):
What's with all this "deliberately insulting" stuff? Since when did that have anything to do with speech being protected or not? I'll tell you since when: Since a lot of sleazy clowns on the left had to cook up a brand-new warm-from-the-oven eternal and universal ethical principle to justify suppressing cartoons that offended a number of Muslims sufficient to get coverage on CNN [1]. Like a lot of eternal and universal ethical principles that people improvise on impulse, there'll be another one along in a minute.


james is right:

In many cases, it is not possible to fully exercise the right of speech without insulting and degrading the opposing view point.

Precisely: Can you burn an American flag without deliberately insulting people? No.

So what sanctions agaist flag-burners does that justify? NONE. NOT ANY. ZERO. ZIP. ZILCH. NO SANCTIONS WHATSOEVER, AT ALL, EVER. ZEEEE-RO!

If that point needs further clarification, just let me know.


[1] Or more accurately, suppressing fairly innocuous cartoons that were fraudulently associated with a murky photocopy of a wire-service photo of a Frenchman acting like an idiot, by which some Muslims were offended. As if we shouldn't all have long since grown blasé about bad photocopies, or about Frenchmen acting like idiots. I'm still not clear about how either one harmed Islam.
5.9.2006 2:03pm
TallDave (mail) (www):
Out faculty seeks a university that is a beacon of intellectual freedom, high scholarly standards and freedom from discrimination based upon sexual orientation. I look forward to the day when we can say with assurance that our library manifests the same principles.

Ummmm... where is the "discrimination?" Being exposed to viewpoints that make you uncomfortable is not discrimination (though being referred to HR may be), it's the essence of intellectual freedom. It sounds like the person making the reference is the only one possibly being discriminated against here.

Phelps' comments make perfect ironic sense: it would be nice if the university would stop discriminating against people who have a certain viewpoint, and I look forward to the day when they manifest that principle.
5.9.2006 2:10pm
Observer (mail):
Prof. Phelps asks of the readers of TVC, "Do their notions of freedom extend to the right to love whomever one wants?" Well, no. I doubt that very many readers of this blog would agree that freedom extends to the right to love multiple partners in a polygamous or polyandrous relationship, or minor partners or sibling partners.

However, let us assume that Prof. Phelps mispoke and that what he meant was, "Do their notions of freedom extend to the right to love another non-related adult of the same sex?" Well, I believe that freedom encompasses the freedom to say that homosexual relationships are sinful just as much as it encompasses the freedom to say that homosexual relationships are expressions of God's love. Punishing the librarian for expressing the former point of view, which is what the referral to HR amounted to, is a violation of the librarian's freedom of speech any way you slice it. The next time he thinks about voicing his view that homosexuality is sinful, he will remember the trouble it brought him this time and may well choose to remain silent. Prof. Phelps may think that chilling what he views as "bigoted" speech is desireable but it is disingenous to pretend that is not what happened.
5.9.2006 3:19pm
BobN (mail):

Having seen the e-mail exchange that rejected his original suggestions, I would suggest that the committee is also guilty of that particular offense. At best, the tone was extremely condescending. His tone, in his second recommendation, was sarcastic, but no less so than the tone in the rejection of his original suggestions by those same professors.

He was no less deserving of civility in a collegial setting.


I have not read the initial email exchange. Did the condescension shown to Mr. Savage include allusions to the degenerate nature of his character? Were there untoward suggestions regarding his relgion? Any innuendos about his sex life?
5.9.2006 4:11pm
BobN (mail):
From Clayton (of course):


It is pretty clear that large numbers of lesbians are that way because of early sexual abuse.


You are incorrect, of course, but even so, didn't you leave off an important part of your theory?

I wonder... do straight men get a toaster oven for turning a young girl into a lesbian? hmmmm... I'll have to check the Gay Manual for the rules.

You're a piece of work, Clay, a real piece of work.
5.9.2006 4:14pm
Kevin Fleming (mail):
Sexual assault and alcohol abuse: a comparison of lesbians and heterosexual women. Hughes TL, Johnson T, Wilsnack SC. J Subst Abuse. 2001;13(4):515-32.

RESULTS: Lesbians reported more childhood sexual experiences, were more likely to meet the study definition for childhood sexual abuse (CSA), and were more likely to perceive themselves as having been sexually abused as children. CSA was associated with lifetime alcohol abuse in both lesbian and heterosexual women.


Sexual Orientation, Sexual Abuse, and HIV-Risk Behaviors Among Adolescents in the Pacific Northwest. Saewyc E, Skay C, Richens K, Reis E, Poon C, Murphy A. Am J Public Health. 2006 May 2

Conclusion. Sexual minority adolescents who attended school reported higher HIV risk behaviors, and higher prevalence of sexual victimization may partially explain these risks.


Victimization over the life span: a comparison of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and heterosexual siblings. Balsam KF, Rothblum ED, Beauchaine TP. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2005 Jun;73(3):477-87.

Compared with heterosexual participants, LGB participants reported more childhood psychological and physical abuse by parents or caretakers, more childhood sexual abuse, more partner psychological and physical victimization in adulthood, and more sexual assault experiences in adulthood. Sexual orientation differences in sexual victimization were greater among men than among women.

Lesbian survivors of childhood sexual abuse: community, identity, and resilience. Baker S. Can J Commun Ment Health. 2003 Fall;22(2):31-45.

Adult lesbian survivers of childood sexual abuse were interviewed using grounded and structured methods to explore the interaction between being, or coming out as, a lesbian and healing from childhood sexual abuse (CSA). A history of CSA was found to render coming out as a lesbian more complicated and often more difficult. Having or developing a lesbian identity caused significant changes in respondents' social support networks and spiritual beliefs and communities, afforded many opportunities for greater healing, and in the balance seemed to facilitate the healing process.
5.9.2006 5:11pm
Kevin Fleming (mail):
And last,

Comparative data of childhood and adolescence molestation in heterosexual and homosexual persons. Tomeo ME, Templer DI, Anderson S, Kotler D. Arch Sex Behav. 2001 Oct;30(5):535-41.

In research with 942 nonclinical adult participants, gay men and lesbian women reported a significantly higher rate of childhood molestation than did heterosexual men and women. Forty-six percent of the homosexual men in contrast to 7% of the heterosexual men reported homosexual molestation. Twenty-two percent of lesbian women in contrast to 1% of heterosexual women reported homosexual molestation. This research is apparently the first survey that has reported substantial homosexual molestation of girls.
5.9.2006 5:53pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

You are incorrect, of course, but even so, didn't you leave off an important part of your theory?

I wonder... do straight men get a toaster oven for turning a young girl into a lesbian? hmmmm... I'll have to check the Gay Manual for the rules.
Mr. Fleming has already posted abstracts from a number of recent journal articles that demonstrate that there is a correlation between childhood sexual abuse and adult homosexuality, especially for lesbians.

The fact is that we don't know exactly what makes some men (and a few women) into sexual abusers. From reading the literature, there appears to be at least two categories of child molesters: what are called "fixated pedophiles", and a more opportunistic class.

The fixated pedophiles are more likely to victimize boys, or boys and girls indiscriminately, and to have large numbers of victims. These are often carefully planned efforts, with fixated pedophiles often choosing careers or avocations (such as teaching, clergy, Scoutmasters) that give them access to children.

The non-fixated pedophiles are usually threats primarily to members of the same household. From my reading, it would appear that many of this class molest children (often, but not exclusively girls) while under the influence of an intoxicant. At one time, there was a widespread belief among specialists that while fixated pedophiles were non-repairable, that many molesters with limited histories could be treated successfully. I understand that this confidence is now eroding, as more work has been done.

What does a man who molests or rapes girls get out of it? Not a toaster oven, but perhaps a sense of power. Sad to say, people that have been victims themselves often have a hard time not taking out that sense of victimization on others. Jeffrey Dahmer (molested at age 8) turned first to torturing animals, then, when he came out as a homosexual, he would lure young men back to his apartment, and engage in gruesome experiments trying to turn them into mindless sex slaves by injecting drugs into their brains through holes he drilled. (Not surprisingly, the survival rates weren't great.) John Wayne Gacy's actions also suggest someone who was expressing a lot of victimization rage in the rape and murder of young men.
5.9.2006 7:12pm
OhioVoter:

I have not read the initial email exchange. Did the condescension shown to Mr. Savage include allusions to the degenerate nature of his character? Were there untoward suggestions regarding his relgion? Any innuendos about his sex life?


How ironic you would choose to ask those questions rather than the most obvious one:

Did they question his professional competency?

The answer to that is "yes". Given those lecturing him on academic scholarship were themselves suggesting books by Jimmy Carter and Maria Shriver, it was quite condescending.

(And remember, we are talking about his first recommendation - not the later ones.)
5.9.2006 7:17pm
Tony (mail):
It is pretty clear that large numbers of lesbians are that way because of early sexual abuse.

Even IF any of the correlations referenced by your or other comments reflect reality - which they may not, since it seems likely that straight people have a harder time reporting same-sex sexual abuse than gay people - you have never provided evidence that establishes the direction of causality.

It is vastly more plausible to me that pedophiles would be able to identify, and be more interested in gay children than straight children, and target them selectively. It's entirely reasonable to think that molestation does not cause homosexuality, but rather, homosexuality makes these children more vulnerable to molestation. I was, myself, responding very strongly to older men by the time I was 9, and I'm quite certain that an adult who was thinking about molesting nine year old boys would have noticed that. Indeed, only a heterosexual could have missed it.

With brain-imaging studies showing fundamentally different responses to sex pheormones between gay and straight people, the case that sexual orientation is hard wired has never looked stronger. I might be swayed by evidence that showed that brain function at this level could be changed by experience, but even so, why the hell would molestation make someone want more of the same? For a heterosexual child, especially, it would be an awful experience. If I hit you on the head with a hammer, does that make you want more of it? Of course not. It defies common sense.
5.9.2006 7:20pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Kevin Fleming's list of abstracts is actually quite gratifying. I've been pointing out (to anyone that would listen, which isn't very many, because this is an un-PC thing to think) for about ten years now that there are a lot of curious correlations between homosexuality and either childhood sexual abuse (the study done by the San Francisco Dept. of Public Health in the early 1990s) or between homosexuality and dysfunctional behaviors that are correlated with childhood sexual abuse (IV drug abuse, for example).

For a lot of homosexuals, this is a very frightening concept--because it would suggest that, even if not every homosexual is that way because of sexual abuse, there is at least reason to wonder if some homosexuals are that way for that reason. If so, it would suggest that homosexuality is not something that you are born to be--and it would also explain why some homosexuals manage to actually get free of it.

For people who are desparately seeking solace in their misery, the realization that some can escape it--but perhaps not themselves--is very painful.
5.9.2006 7:22pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Tony reveals far more about himself than I think he intended with:


Even IF any of the correlations referenced by your or other comments reflect reality - which they may not, since it seems likely that straight people have a harder time reporting same-sex sexual abuse than gay people - you have never provided evidence that establishes the direction of causality.
First hole: the vast majority of childhood sexual abuse victims reporting are women--and are almost always abused by men.

It is vastly more plausible to me that pedophiles would be able to identify, and be more interested in gay children than straight children, and target them selectively. It's entirely reasonable to think that molestation does not cause homosexuality, but rather, homosexuality makes these children more vulnerable to molestation.
So you are saying that gay men go looking for little boys to molest? Or are you suggesting that lots of 9 year old boys go looking for adult men for sex? Would you find it even slightly plausible that 9 year old girls would go looking for adult men for sex, without that being a pretty disturbing indication of previous sexual abuse?

And you find it more plausible than the possibility that having sex with a child when they are too young may confuse their sexual identity? How, exactly, do you identify that a prepubescent child is going to become a homosexual after he has been molested?

I was, myself, responding very strongly to older men by the time I was 9, and I'm quite certain that an adult who was thinking about molesting nine year old boys would have noticed that. Indeed, only a heterosexual could have missed it.
You know, it used to be that psychologists considered that a child who is sexually curious or sexually responsive at age 9 was exhibiting one of the danger signs of having already been molested. Indeed, one of the symptoms in girls of early child molestation is that they sometimes become quite promiscuous after puberty--probably because sexual feelings have been awakened at a early age, and there is enormous confusion associated with this. The combination of pain and pleasure (as sometimes happens, at least if an adult doesn't attempt penetration) creates enormous confusion.

I've known a couple of women who repressed early memories of childhood sexual abuse, and it is well established that many abuse victims do not recover memories of those traumatic events until their own children have reached the age that they were when molested. A number of the volunteered comments on the San Francisco Dept. of Public Health survey indicated that the participants were (as adults) just recovering memories of sexual abuse.

You are unintentionally providing a pretty strong anecdote in favor of the molested child causes homosexuality model.
5.9.2006 7:36pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Tony writes:


With brain-imaging studies showing fundamentally different responses to sex pheormones between gay and straight people, the case that sexual orientation is hard wired has never looked stronger. I might be swayed by evidence that showed that brain function at this level could be changed by experience, but even so, why the hell would molestation make someone want more of the same? For a heterosexual child, especially, it would be an awful experience. If I hit you on the head with a hammer, does that make you want more of it? Of course not. It defies common sense.
It turns out that experiments where dogs are alternated with pain and food makes them more affectionate than food alone. Hostages held by terrorists for long periods of time sometimes start to identify with the terrorists. Patty Hearst, for example, was repeatedly raped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, kept in a closet for months on end--and eventually joined them.

It is not surprising that some girls who are sexually abused by men have a diffcult time having heterosexual relationships. The more complex question is why boys would identify with their molester.

Girls and boys are different--I hope that this isn't a surprise. But even then, I can surmise that a child who is just reaching puberty may find that there is some level of pleasure associated with it--leading to considerable uncertainty. Was this a bad feeling? Was this a good feeling? Was it a bit of both?

I know from reading books such as I Never Told Anyone that some girls who were molested at 9 or 10, even though terribly conflicted about it, became sexual aggressors at 14. I have read too many news accounts where girls of 14 and 15 who have been charged with child molestation--turned out to have been victims themselves, a few years before.

There are so many possible reactions, depending on age, the level of violence, the level of love that the victim may have felt for a father or stepfather. Some evidence suggests that sibling molestation is generally less destructive than that involving an adult.

Some years ago, there was a murder case in Grass Valley, California. An old woman had been stabbed to death. A couple of girls of about 13 or 14 were eventually convicted, based partly on the diary entries that one of them had kept--and they were terribly chilling. She had been passed around to brothers, uncles, grandfathers, etc., from an early age. Did she become a lesbian? No, and I'm not surprised. But she was at one extreme of violence and abuse. There's a huge of range of possibilities.
5.9.2006 7:46pm
dwpittelli (mail) (www):
"From my point of view, a problem remains: bigotry. Few on this web site seem much concerned about that issue."

Prof Phelps, the complaining academics had a choice: they could decry bigotry, or they could drop the nuclear bomb of a harrassment complaint (or a report of might-have-been harrassment, or a vote of no confidence, or any other attempt to get the university to punish the speaker of "bigotry"). They chose the latter course, seeking punishment, and thereby put any defender of free speech on the side of the "bigot" for that purpose, and at the same time making that purpose far more important than the separate issue of decrying bigotry (or ignorance, etc.).

The same should be true for people of good will, on either side of most contentious issues. For example, complaints against a President's actions are judged on their merits, yet most observers on both sides know that when the talk turns to actual sanctions or impeachment, that changes the standard of what "counts" and generally hurts the accusers more than it hurts the President, whether that be Bush or Clinton.
5.9.2006 8:15pm
Tony (mail):
So you are saying that gay men go looking for little boys to molest?

No, I'm saying that it is likely that pedophiles with an interest in boys are going to seek out the gay ones preferentially, and leave the straight ones alone, which could easily generate the correlations that have been alleged here. (I hasten to add, I don't know any self-identified gay men who are interested in children in the slightest.)

How, exactly, do you identify that a prepubescent child is going to become a homosexual after he has been molested?

I can't even make sense out of this question.

You know, it used to be that psychologists considered that a child who is sexually curious or sexually responsive at age 9 was exhibiting one of the danger signs of having already been molested.

Used to be? You mean, back when they were making diagnoses like "hysteria" and "neurasthenia"?

I didn't say "sexually curious" or "sexually responsive", by the way. I said responding very strongly. I had only the vaguest notion of sex by that time, but I knew enough of what was involved to realize that there was something up with the way I perceived other men. And I also realize my chronology is off here - on considering where I was at the time, I must have been at least 11.

But either way, your insinuation of some combination of repressed memories and sexual Stockholm syndrome is really, really desperate; the only reason it's not offensive is because it's so ridiculous. Truth is, I often hesitate to use myself as an example, because my own sexuality is so off the wall that I'm as different from most gay men as I am from straight men. But when it comes to being consciously queer (and recognizably so) at an early age, I've heard a whole lot of coming-out stories, and my experience is quite typical in that regard.
5.9.2006 8:28pm
Tony (mail):
Actually, I want to revisit this again:

So you are saying that gay men go looking for little boys to molest? Or are you suggesting that lots of 9 year old boys go looking for adult men for sex? Would you find it even slightly plausible that 9 year old girls would go looking for adult men for sex, without that being a pretty disturbing indication of previous sexual abuse?

Just to be clear, this is in no way a paraphrase or reasonable extrapoloation from anything I have said or even hinted at. What you have written in this paragraph is bat-shit crazy. It's quite hard to craft a useful response to such a twisted interpretation of my words. All I can say is, you have a very active imagination.
5.9.2006 8:38pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

So you are saying that gay men go looking for little boys to molest? Or are you suggesting that lots of 9 year old boys go looking for adult men for sex? Would you find it even slightly plausible that 9 year old girls would go looking for adult men for sex, without that being a pretty disturbing indication of previous sexual abuse?

Just to be clear, this is in no way a paraphrase or reasonable extrapoloation from anything I have said or even hinted at. What you have written in this paragraph is bat-shit crazy.
Here's what you wrote:
It is vastly more plausible to me that pedophiles would be able to identify, and be more interested in gay children than straight children, and target them selectively. It's entirely reasonable to think that molestation does not cause homosexuality, but rather, homosexuality makes these children more vulnerable to molestation.
You also wrote about being interested in men when you were 9. Now you say that you were more like 11. (Good decision to change the age when you were interested in sex; 11 is at least plausible for a very precocious boy, while 9 is not.)

Your statement specifies that gay children were "more vulnerable to molestation." Why? If a pedophile is pursuing gay children in preference to straight children, it is presumably because he is expecting the gay child to put up with the abuse, or as you suggested, because they are looking forward to sex with an adult of the same sex, while the straight child would not. Your assertion also implies that the pedophile cares about the sex of who he is going to go after for sex--suggesting that the pedophile isn't (as some homosexual activists like to claim) omnisexual--but has a specific homosexual preference with respect to children.


You know, it used to be that psychologists considered that a child who is sexually curious or sexually responsive at age 9 was exhibiting one of the danger signs of having already been molested.

Used to be? You mean, back when they were making diagnoses like "hysteria" and "neurasthenia"?
Like in the late 1980s. Of course, a lot of the markers that used to be good indicators of a reason to look more deeply--such as a child having a detailed knowledge of sex--are somewhat less useful now because so many children of 8 and 9 have been exposed to hardcore pornography.
5.10.2006 1:06am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Tony writes:


But either way, your insinuation of some combination of repressed memories and sexual Stockholm syndrome is really, really desperate; the only reason it's not offensive is because it's so ridiculous.
What makes it ridiculous? We know that sexual abuse victims sometimes repress memories. I had a neighbor who had no memories before 8, except a memory of the stepfather and a dark cloud. Under hypnosis (which is hardly persuasive by itself), she recovered memories of sexual abuse by the stepfather. At this point, her older sister confirmed that she, too, had been sexually abused by the stepfather. (The older sister was about 6 or 7 when the abuse started--perhaps why she hadn't repressed the memories.)

What makes "sexual Stockholm syndrome" offensive? Do you honestly find it absurd that a person who is conflicted by a mixture of pleasure, humiliation, and pain, might find themselves returning to such a situation? One of the disturbing aspects of child sexual abuse is how often straight victims re-create that environment for their own children. An acquaintance was raped by her father starting at about 13. (His excuse: he was preparing her for "celestial marriage." If you don't recognize the term, google it.) When she reached 15, she called the police. Her mother just couldn't understand what she was so upset about--that's what happened to her when she was that age. People have a remarkable ability to repeat destructive patterns because they just can't imagine any other way to live.

Truth is, I often hesitate to use myself as an example, because my own sexuality is so off the wall that I'm as different from most gay men as I am from straight men. But when it comes to being consciously queer (and recognizably so) at an early age, I've heard a whole lot of coming-out stories, and my experience is quite typical in that regard.
This is a fascinating statement: "I'm as different from most gay men as I am from straight men.... I've heard a whole lot of coming-out stories, and my experience is quite typical in that regard." These two statements don't directly contradict each other, but they do make me scratch my head.
5.10.2006 1:18am
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
Your statement specifies that gay children were "more vulnerable to molestation." Why?

Because they are already identifiably 'different' than their peers. They are more approachable by adults, they are more likely to prefer the company of an attentive adults. I know I did from an early age.
If a pedophile is pursuing gay children in preference to straight children, it is presumably because he is expecting the gay child to put up with the abuse, or as you suggested, because they are looking forward to sex with an adult of the same sex, while the straight child would not.

Correct in a fashion - of course the pedophile is going to concentrate his efforts on those that are most responsive to his approaches. Gay and lesbian children are already different than their peers, and those differences tend to isolate them.
Your assertion also implies that the pedophile cares about the sex of who he is going to go after for sex--suggesting that the pedophile isn't (as some homosexual activists like to claim) omnisexual--but has a specific homosexual preference with respect to children.


No his statement implies that the pedophile finds them more approachable, male or female not that he is fixated on their possible sexual orientation.

Its entirely possible that some people end up not following their natural sexual orientation due to some childhood experience, but of course that door swings both ways. I bet a far greater percentage of gay kids are coerced into a heterosexual lifestyle by unwanted sexual advances than the opposite.

You love the idea of some sort of cause and effect of molestation and sexual orientation. But there are so many alternatives:
1) that pedophiles find gay children more approachable.
2) that gay people are more introspective about their sexual evolution and are more forthcoming than straight participants in studies.
3) there are wildly different values found according to definition of abuse, style of interview, and sampling method of study.
4) the implication that there is only one cause of a mere behavior. Again many gay people are coerced into aping heterosexual behavior. Straight men in prison engage in homosexual acts.

The idea that at the late age of 11 or 12 someone could be turned 'gay' makes no sense to me. Although I didn't know it, I was feeling in 'gay' ways from kindergarten on and know from discussions involving gay and straight men that the gay ones had similar feelings and thoughts for a variety of persons in the media and the straight ones did not. Straight boys did not have my childhood obsession with Lloyd Bridges in 'Seahunt' and my very strong fascination with his more 'beefcake' moments to just mention one example. And I was more approachable - I preferred talking with adults and can identify 3 times in retrospect that I might have been being 'approached' and the only thing that prevented it was accessability and my own ADD. But even if they had been successful, I would still have been gay because I was before any of these episodes occurred.

I do have my own theory: Ever notice how when a male dog humps another male, that most just look around and basically say 'dude!?' but others take violent exception to it? What if this strong reaction is more neuro-biological than psychological? Would tend to explain why some heterosexual men have a morbid fascination/aversion with homosexual ones.
5.11.2006 4:22am
Patrick:
From Pr Phelps: "From my point of view, a problem remains: bigotry. Few on this web site seem much concerned about that issue. Do their notions of freedom extend to the right to love whomever one wants? That bigotry did not manifest itself in harassment, a more focused phenomenon directed at a particular individual, does not mitigate the bigotry. Yes, bigotry is a protected category of speech. It is not an honorable form of spech."

Mr Phelps letter indicates he is an unintentional student of Orwell, so let me try this way to see the light ...

From my point of view, socialism is a form of bigotry, a bigotry against wealth creators, individualists and freedom-lovers and against humanity itself. Any expression of socialist views are dishonorable forms of speech that reflect the spreading of vile lies that have harmed and killed millions in the past and are harming humans globally today to a great extent. Socialism and its kin of Government oppression is the #1 human cause of poverty globally.

All this suffering due to the bigotry of socialism. What to do... Can we ban all socialists from Campus and/or report them?
Mr Phelps, has he compassion for those sufferers of socialism enough to see that for the good of humanity we should remove Socialists from all teaching positions at Universities?
Removing the socialists - the marxists, the Communists, the leftwing extremists ie Ward Churchills, the whole grab-bag - might be an improvement to the quality of education, but what of 'academic freedom' and free speech on campus?

Let Mr Phelps ponder the moral and intellectual equivalence of socialist anti-capitalists and moralist anti-homosexuals, and let us know if he prefers academic freedom for both or the banishment from the University for both.

I'm all ears...
5.12.2006 4:02am