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A junk-science Surgeon General?

President Bush's recent nomination of Dr. James Holsinger for Surgeon General has drawn a lot of criticism. In 1991, Holsinger wrote a paper for a committee of the United Methodist Church studying homosexuality entitled "Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality." Holsinger cited and quoted from a few studies and concluded thus:

When the complementarity of the sexes is breached, injuries and diseases may occur as noted above. Therefore, based on the simplest known anatomy and physiology, when dealing with the complementarity of the human sexes, one can simply say, Res ipsa loquitur - the thing speaks for itself!

Holsinger compares human sexuality to pipe fittings; some pipes fit right and some don't. Res ipsa loquitur!

The idea of a "natural complementarity" of the sexes has been a recurrent theme in anti-gay discourse for decades. The point of the idea is to suggest that, in addition to moral and religious objections to homosexual acts, nature itself condemns them. "Anatomy" and "physiology" tell us, on this view, that there's something objectively wrong with homosexuality. Holsinger's paper was thus an attempt to give some patina of scientific legitimacy to long-standing, essentially religious condemnations.

Besides the highly problematic idea of appeals to some conception of "nature," "anatomy," or "physiology" as a basis for normative conclusions, it turns out that Holsinger's paper shares another problem common to much anti-gay literature: it's junk science. Jim Burroway has checked Holsinger's sources and found lots of problems with the paper. He concludes:

The whole point of Holsinger's paper is to draw a sharp contrast between gay relationships and heterosexual relationships. But to do so, he culls his evidence largely from papers which describe injuries from nonconsensual intercourse to denigrate consensual relationships, he describes odd sexual practices that are enjoyed by heterosexual couples to denigrate the minority of gay couples who indulge in those same practices, and he misleads his readers by padding his bibliography with more references to papers explicitly describing injuries experienced by heterosexual men and women to imply that they describe gay men instead. . . .

What he wrote was no error, nor is it a simple misreading of the medical literature. In fact, it is simply impossible to write what he wrote by accident or in error.

Holsinger wrote this paper as part of a church inquiry where the greater considerations for Truth ought to hold sway. This makes Holsinger's actions all the more disquieting. If he's willing to commit an act of false witness on behalf of the church — in the service of his God — what assurances can we have that he will act differently on behalf of the nation?

Read the entire detailed analysis of Holsinger's paper.

If Burroway is right, Holsinger's paper is not just wrong. It is embarrassingly incompetent. And it is dishonest. All of us make mistakes and occasionally allow our ideological pre-commitments to cloud our better judgment. But when a man wants to be the next chief medical officer of the United States, we should hold him to a high standard of ethical and rigorous medical judgment. Holsinger deserves very close scrutiny from the Senate during his confirmation hearing, and Burroway's critique will be a good starting point.

Anderson (mail) (www):
Those who would rather just see Holsinger mocked mercilessly may turn here. ObWi does likewise, with some notes on Dr. Holsinger's checkered past.
6.11.2007 1:14pm
whackjobbbb:
"A good starting point" would be to get rid of this surgeon general nonsense. Some don't like gays, some advocate teaching masturbation to kids... so it's a nice array of nonsense. Is this truly needed? If not, then lose it. Stop arguing about the guy in the slot... and just eliminate the slot.
6.11.2007 1:15pm
Steve H (mail):
I don't know the specifics of everything that Holsinger was saying in that paper, but isn't it sort of obvious that there is a natural complementariness (?) of the sexes, in the way that the male and female sex organs work together to reproduce? Isn't is also obvious that regardless of any moral questions, homosexual attraction and activity are departures from the biologically intended function of the sex organs, i.e., reproduction?

I am fully supportive of equal rights for gays as a legal and moral matter, but still, isn't it silly to be fighting this point?

DC: For a good, short primer on some problems with the argument from "nature" or "biology" or reproductive capacity in this context, see here.
6.11.2007 1:24pm
PersonFromPorlock:
So, how does he explain hymens?
6.11.2007 1:35pm
jimbino (mail):
Steve H,

Your argument from nature and nature's purpose is pure classical Roman Catholic, an argument that has been considered and rejected by great thinkers for centuries. If nature were truly thoughtful, he would have made more women like Linda Lovelace.
6.11.2007 1:38pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Just who are these "great thinkers" who have "rejected" what should be common sense?
6.11.2007 1:43pm
Guest101:
It seems to me that the primary problem with Holsinger's reasoning here is the glaring naturalistic fallacy. It would be hard to argue that male and female genitalia aren't evolved to be "complementary" to one another so as to effectively accomplish their reproductive purposes (for lack of a better, non-teleologically-charged term), but it certainly doesn't follow that putting those parts to purposes for which they were not naturally selected is ethically wrong or even "unnatural," whatever that may mean.
6.11.2007 1:49pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Isn't is also obvious that regardless of any moral questions, homosexual attraction and activity are departures from the biologically intended function of the sex organs, i.e., reproduction?

Right, as are fellatio, cunnilingus, and masturbation.

Or in other words, why should anyone give a damn what the "biologically intended function" of an organ is? Were my fingers biologically intended to type?
6.11.2007 1:49pm
springjourney (mail):
Gay bowel syndrome is confirmed by science.
6.11.2007 1:50pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Exactly, Guest... but I'd still like to know which "great thinkers" have rejected the obvious biological truth as opposed to the moral conclusion.
6.11.2007 1:51pm
ejo:
wow, how explosive-men and women were created or evolved to be complementary to one another sexually. anal sex is more dangerous-another real shocker. I don't think you need much beyond the AIDS statistics in this country to substantiate that one.
6.11.2007 1:52pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
"Gay bowel syndrome is confirmed by science."

LOL. Prove it without a citation to Paul Cameron's fraudulence.
6.11.2007 1:52pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
"Exactly, Guest... but I'd still like to know which 'great thinkers' have rejected the obvious biological truth as opposed to the moral conclusion."

The idea is that your "biological truth" is meaningless in a normative sense without the "moral conclusion." It's like thundering that "clothes are unnatural," -- true in a biological sense -- and acting as though you've made a normative point against wearing clothes.
6.11.2007 1:56pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
I'll give you another hint why "gay bowel syndrome" is a fraud. You probably don't even know the behavior that supposedly causes this "syndrome." I'll give you a hind: It's not anal sex.
6.11.2007 1:58pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
No one in this forum made it in a "normative sense." Go read the comment jimbino was responding to.
6.11.2007 1:58pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):
Just who are these "great thinkers" who have "rejected" what should be common sense?


Thomas Huxley on the "nature=morality" argument:

Let us understand, once for all, that the ethical progress of society depends, not on imitating the cosmic process, still less in running away from it, but in combating it.
6.11.2007 2:05pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Did one of the mods delete Steve H's comment or something? Is everyone else having trouble reading it?
6.11.2007 2:07pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

Your argument from nature and nature's purpose is pure classical Roman Catholic, an argument that has been considered and rejected by great thinkers for centuries.


He was exactly right. Modern philosophers have rejected the classical Romic Catholic or Thomistic argument which views homosexual and all non-procreative acts as wrong because they are unnatural.

If the other person wasn't referring to homosexuality's "unnaturalness" in a normative sense, then no meaningful point is made in observing its "unnaturalness." It's like saying "clothes" are unnatural in a biological sense. Therefore, what?
6.11.2007 2:09pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
You could ask him... I am just pointing out the blatant straw man you're all beating down. The commenter in question said specifically that he was not making any moral argument, just pointing out that it was "kind of silly" to deny any "complementariness" between men and women's sex organs. The rest of you turned it into a moral argument.
6.11.2007 2:11pm
Mark Field (mail):
I always liked Richard Brinsley Sheridan's response to the "unnatural" argument: "Nothing is unnatural unless it's physically impossible."
6.11.2007 2:19pm
ejo:
why are/were rates of STD's including AIDS so much higher in certain portions of the population engaging in certain sexual activities-the great migration of the disease into the hetero population never occurred in this country-could the dreaded "complementariness" be the reason?
6.11.2007 2:19pm
Hewart:
Hmm...

An idealogue who is "...not just wrong" but "embarrassingly incompetent" and "dishonest."

Sounds like he'll fit into the Bush Administration perfectly.
6.11.2007 2:36pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
If Burroway is right, Holsinger's paper is not just wrong. It is embarrassingly incompetent. And it is dishonest.


But since Holsinger wasn't wrong about what he wrote, does that means that Burroway is the one who is "incompetent" and "dishonest"?
6.11.2007 2:41pm
ATRGeek:
ejo,

In a word, no. By the "complementary" theory, lesbian sex isn't "complementary" either. But lesbians in the U.S. are at lower risk of HIV infection than straight women. And somewhat obviously, the nominal "complementariness" of the sexes is not associated with national borders, and so the fact that HIV infection has been widespread among the "hetero population" of other countries means that restricting oneself to "complementary" sex is not a defense to HIV infection.
6.11.2007 2:41pm
Steve H (mail):
Your argument from nature and nature's purpose is pure classical Roman Catholic, an argument that has been considered and rejected by great thinkers for centuries. If nature were truly thoughtful, he would have made more women like Linda Lovelace.

I'd like to see who has "rejected" the argument that the male and female sexual organs evolved to be compatible, i.e., to work together to achieve reproduction, and that homosexual conduct is a departure from this purpose.

I think this is the first time I've been on the same "side" of an argument as Daniel Chapman, but he's right -- my initial post was not making any moral judgments. Once again, I believe that people who engage in homosexual activity, or who are sexually attracted to members of their own sex, should have the same legal rights as heterosexuals. (Just like people who like to engage in "fellatio, cunnilingus, and masturbation.")

I also think it is immoral to deny such rights.

But c'mon -- how can one deny the basic biological truths? And, more importantly, when supporters of gay rights spend their efforts trying to deny these biological facts, they lose credibility (IMHO).
6.11.2007 2:49pm
Canadian Yankee:

Isn't is also obvious that regardless of any moral questions, homosexual attraction and activity are departures from the biologically intended function of the sex organs, i.e., reproduction?


You mean "obvious" by just examining the organs in question? No, not entirely. If we're trying to reverse-engineer the supposed design from the apparatus itself, we'd have to explain the fact that there are a bunch of pleasure-sensing nerves clustered around the male prostate that can only be stimulated through the anal wall. If we postulate that these nerves have a "biologically intended function", then what could that function possibly be?

Also, the human sex organs obviously have biological functions other than reproduction since humans are not among the species where women are only interested in sex during times when they are fertile. If the human sex organs' only function were reproduction, then women would go into heat once a month and be uninterested in sex at all other times (as is the case with many animals).
6.11.2007 2:51pm
TM Lutas (mail) (www):
It seems absurd to me to just link to the fisking of the paper without linking to Holsinger's paper itself. Read it (it's not that long and aimed at an audience of clergymen) and you'll find that it's pretty clearly not the pseudo-science that it's accused of being. Objectively the disease figures are what they are. The MSM (men who have sex with men) community practices are what they are.

In the real world we have excess cancers, excess hepatitis, excess syphilis, excess emergency room visits for genital area tearing and abrasion, and a host of other public health conditions which we would be spared to the extent that fewer people were part of the MSM community. For a paper that's short, aimed at intelligent laypeople, and over 15 years out of date, it's held up reasonably well in my opinion. For somebody who no doubt was quite familiar with the disease statistics "Res Ipsa Loquitor" covers in pretty well.

A final note. This man put in a complimentary reference to female receptive anal sex in the paper, saying that the pathology profile for this practice is very different and much less dangerous. Somehow that doesn't seem to have made it into the fisk. I wonder why?

DC: There is a link to Holsinger's paper in the original post, in fact the same one you provided. Further, Burroway dealt with the issue of the evidence used by Holsinger to show a difference between gay men and heterosexual women in receptive anal sex. Please read the post and the Burroway critique.
6.11.2007 2:57pm
ATRGeek:
Steve H,

I think the problem may be in limiting your description of the human evolution of sexual organs to a single purpose ("to achieve reproduction", by which I take it you mean insemination). Sex in general is a complex area of human evolution, and it very likely includes a lot of other purposes besides insemination. For example, primates in general seem to use sex in part as a way to define and maintain various social relationships, and humans appear to be no exception. Accordingly, the evolution of sex in humans (which includes not just the organs, of course) likely serves a host of different purposes.

And once you realize that sex has "natural" purposes besides insemination (although the "natural"/"artificial" distinction starts to break down once you realize that human beings are by nature social beings, and also intelligent beings capable of manipulating the natural world), it is no longer so obvious that "homosexual conduct is a departure" from the purposes served by sex. Again, the most obvious example would be that to the extent homosexual sex was being used to define and maintain certain social relationships, it could well be in accord with that aspect of the "natural" purposes of sex.
6.11.2007 3:01pm
Fub:
Dale Carpenter wrote:
Holsinger compares human sexuality to pipe fittings; some pipes fit right and some don't. Res ipsa loquitur!
This result is not surprising. Modern political science long ago discovered that the entire universe is constructed of elementary entities variously called "tubes" or "pipes". As Senator Stevens demonstrated only recently, the entire intarweb is constructed of interconnected tubes. Some scholars trace these modern scientific advances to President Johnson's breakthrough observation of the light at the end of the tunnel about forty years ago. Others credit President Nixon, whose formation of the White House Plumbers Unit advanced empirical studies in the field.

Now Surgeon General nominee Holsinger's research has advanced the theory further by demonstrating that human biology and physiology is likewise constructed of pipes and fittings.

Just as experiments demonstrated Einstein's theories of trolley cars and lights worthy to displace the Newtonian paradigm of bouncing billiard balls and falling apples, so these more advanced theories will be subject to experimental verification.

One overarching question is whether string theory will prove consistent with these breakthroughs. Some observers note that the number of strings pulled in a typical Washington day may exceed the number of atoms in the universe, while others believe the ancient practices of logrolling and backscratching reduce the impact of this phenomenon. Some progressive observers cite recent research suggesting that the hot air produced by all these phenomena dangerously exacerbates Global Warming.

Fundamental questions remain which only experiments and experience can answer. Do some politicians have a direct pipeline to The Almighty (tm)? Will fiscal and budgetary process reform impede flow in the pork pipelines? Is the light at the end of the tunnel actually an oncoming train?
6.11.2007 3:07pm
scote (mail):

Steve H (mail):
I don't know the specifics of everything that Holsinger was saying in that paper, but isn't it sort of obvious that there is a natural complementariness (?) of the sexes, in the way that the male and female sex organs work together to reproduce? Isn't is also obvious that regardless of any moral questions, homosexual attraction and activity are departures from the biologically intended function of the sex organs, i.e., reproduction?


This complementariness also means that heterosexual couples who don't have children are un-natural. Holsiger has arbitrarily decided which "unnatural" behaviors to point out as proof of the immorality of gays while ignoring the same behavior in heterosexual couples. I imagine he'll get to them later.

This reminds me of a proposal by a gay rights group to make only "Procreative" marriages legitimate. Since religious types are so fatuous as to claim that gay marriage should not be allowed because gays can't reproduce without outside help, the group countered that then only fertile heterosexual should be allowed to marry, and that they must produce offspring within a specified time period or have their marriage automatically annulled. I'm sure that Holsinger would agree--Oh, wait, he might actually agree...

The man has no business as Surgeon General. One wonders why the administration delights in these ridiculously extreme candidates.
6.11.2007 3:10pm
scote (mail):

Now Surgeon General nominee Holsinger's research has advanced the theory further by demonstrating that human biology and physiology is likewise constructed of pipes and fittings.

I'd like to point out that if Holsinger's theology is based on the normative use of pluming terminology then he risks a world changing reversal should the terminology change. I hereby propose that plumbing fittings be referred to by new terms, perhaps "pitcher" and "catcher," or some such.
6.11.2007 3:16pm
Daniel950:
Modern philosophers have rejected the classical Romic Catholic or Thomistic argument which views homosexual and all non-procreative acts as wrong because they are unnatural.


Has anyone ever noticed that whenever you read something from a Modern philosopher/ethicist today, it usually involves doing the opposite of common sense or what is right? Whenever a hospital ethicist opines, for instance, on whether a dying infant's life support should be cut off, they always seem to argue in favor of killing the baby. It's always interesting how modern philosophers seem to be a bunch of moral relativists who see no truth in anything. Therefore, it's not surprising that they're reject entirely that reproductive organs have something to do with reproduction.

In general, modern philosophers are idiots.
6.11.2007 3:16pm
James968 (mail):
>>> It is embarrassingly incompetent.

Which means he'll fit in with many of Bush's other nominee's

(Sorry had to say it).
6.11.2007 3:18pm
Daniel950:
Sex in general is a complex area of human evolution, and it very likely includes a lot of other purposes besides insemination. For example, primates in general seem to use sex in part as a way to define and maintain various social relationships, and humans appear to be no exception.


The words you are searching for is: Family, Mother, and Father.

And once you realize that sex has "natural" purposes besides insemination (although the "natural"/"artificial" distinction starts to break down once you realize that human beings are by nature social beings, and also intelligent beings capable of manipulating the natural world), it is no longer so obvious that "homosexual conduct is a departure" from the purposes served by sex.


Homosexual sex is still a departure even when you understand that sex is larger than insemination, because either a mothers or a father is excluded from the homosexual sexual social construct if they adopt or otherwise raise a child.

Calling a dog's tail a leg doesn't mean a dog has 5 legs, despite the fact that many people here seem to belive the universe depends on what defined terms you create for it.
6.11.2007 3:22pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
I've never found the "naturalness" argument very persuasive. There's a lot of things that are "natural" but we work very hard to stamp out. I've seen two male ducks fight over a female duck until they drowned the female duck. That's "natural" but hardly civilized.

What is very clear is that there are practices that are high risk: gluttony, tobacco, and sexual promiscuity, for example. If you believe that government has some responsiblity to do something to make people safer, and especially to reduce social costs, then discouraging these risky behaviors is not only a legitimate governmental function, but one that the government should be doing. (Liberals in practice make an exception for sexual promiscuity, for no good reason.)

There are also practices that are not intrinsically dangerous, but in combination with other practices, become very dangerous. Drunkenness by itself isn't spectacularly dangerous, but in combination with machinery, it becomes so. Similarly, anal intercourse is not intrinsically high risk--but combined with sexual promiscuity--and especially male to male anal intercourse, because today's catamite is tomorrow's sodomite--and it does become very high risk.

There's no question that there is some overlap between the practices of some heterosexuals and some homosexuals. But who's kidding whom? There are homosexual men who have a single sexual partner to whom they are faithful for years on end, and there are straight females who have sex with dozens of men a month, but the rapid and continuing spread of AIDS among gay men--and the relatively slow spread of AIDS among heterosexuals (except among prostitutes and IV drug users)--suggests that the faithful gay male couple is as far from the norm as the swinger straight female.

One of the most definitive indications that homosexuality is not similar to heterosexuality is the active pursuit of AIDS. You won't find straight people who advertise that they want to "give the gift" or that they are "bughunters." There are straight people that are careless about who they infect with STDs (like Robin Williams) and insufficiently careful to avoid getting infected, but you won't find straight people who feel left out because they aren't infected.
6.11.2007 3:24pm
ejo:
great non answer to what population group in this country, not sub-saharan africa, developed AIDS and why. perhaps if facts were faced and dealt with, not as many gay males would have died from the disease, which is still out there killing people. if you wish to argue that men having sex with men is no riskier than hetero sexual sex, by all means do so. more people are likely to die with the reasoning but you can preen.
6.11.2007 3:24pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):

Has anyone ever noticed that whenever you read something from a Modern philosopher/ethicist today, it usually involves doing the opposite of common sense or what is right? Whenever a hospital ethicist opines, for instance, on whether a dying infant's life support should be cut off, they always seem to argue in favor of killing the baby.


Admit it, you stole that from a textbook example of "begging the question."
6.11.2007 3:27pm
rarango (mail):
What TM Lutas said. I read Holsinger's paper as well--it is hardly a screed. In fact, it is primarily a discussion of first, anatomy, second, physiology, and finally epidemiology. There is absolutely nothing remarkable in those discussions and the two paragraphs on complimentarity, or whatever, recognize that other arguments exist. The paper was written in 1991 for a sectarian committee and seems to be quite accurate in its physiology, epidemiology, and anatomy--especially for a lay audience.

One just might believe Burroway's concerns have more to do with Holsinger's church activity than his medical expertise--esp given the timing of this article. Just who has the more naked agenda?
6.11.2007 3:33pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

great non answer to what population group in this country, not sub-saharan africa, developed AIDS and why. perhaps if facts were faced and dealt with, not as many gay males would have died from the disease, which is still out there killing people.
But that would have required maturity and self-control. I won't claim that heterosexuals in the 1970s were doing dramatically better. Quite a number of women picked up STDs in the disco era, and in many cases, didn't know it. I suspect that the scarring that resulted is part of why fertility clinics are now a mass market activity--something that wasn't much of a problem in say, 1970.

The difference is that heterosexual sexual promiscuity, as health destructive as it was, was somewhat limited by the fact that a lot of 22 year old heterosexuals grew up enough to realize that casual sex with complete strangers several times a month wasn't anywhere near as good as finding the right person and staying with them. By contrast, homosexuality's state of perpetual childhood meant that only when their partners were dying around them did anything approaching self-control penetrate the gay male community--and it took the lubrication of AIDS deaths to do it.
6.11.2007 3:37pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
This reminds me of a proposal by a gay rights group to make only "Procreative" marriages legitimate. Since religious types are so fatuous as to claim that gay marriage should not be allowed because gays can't reproduce without outside help, the group countered that then only fertile heterosexual should be allowed to marry, and that they must produce offspring within a specified time period or have their marriage automatically annulled.


And this was evidently stolen from a textbook example of "reductio ad absurdum."
6.11.2007 3:37pm
AK (mail):
<blockquote>
Modern philosophers have rejected the classical Romic Catholic or Thomistic argument which views homosexual and all non-procreative acts as wrong because they are unnatural.
</blockquote>
In other words, "some smart modern people have rejected these arguments, which means I can ignore them, which is great because that means there's nothing morally wrong with my sexual activities."

I'm not surprised that folks here don't buy Natural Law arguments. What's sad, though, is that most people here wouldn't know a real Natural Law argument - not a parody of one - if it kicked them in the groin.
6.11.2007 3:43pm
AK (mail):
By the "complementary" theory, lesbian sex isn't "complementary" either. But lesbians in the U.S. are at lower risk of HIV infection than straight women.

Quite so. But the "complementary" theory isn't exclusive of all others. Thomistic/Natural Law arguments conclude that all sex outside marriage is wrong. And ultimately, HIV wouldn't be a problem if people didn't have sex outside of marriage.
6.11.2007 3:47pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Similarly, anal intercourse is not intrinsically high risk--but combined with sexual promiscuity--and especially male to male anal intercourse, because today's catamite is tomorrow's sodomite--and it does become very high risk.

I was going to make the bolded point re: ejo's comments, but when I can get Mr. Cramer to make it, all the better.

I doubt Mr. Cramer agrees with me that the prevalence of AIDS had a great deal to do with the amount of unprotected sex therein, but I submit the point to the public. I don't see how protected anal intercourse is more dangerous than protected vaginal intercourse.
6.11.2007 3:50pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

This reminds me of a proposal by a gay rights group to make only "Procreative" marriages legitimate. Since religious types are so fatuous as to claim that gay marriage should not be allowed because gays can't reproduce without outside help, the group countered that then only fertile heterosexual should be allowed to marry, and that they must produce offspring within a specified time period or have their marriage automatically annulled.
The primary reason that the government has any interest in marriage is resolving disputes about inheritance and child support involving biological children. Homosexual couples don't have biological children. (Your child from your previous straight marriage is a biological child of your straight marriage.)

A heterosexual couple without children is definitely a free rider on an institution primarily set up for dealing with questions about children, no question, and I would certainly not support creating a new legal structure just for couples guaranteed to be childless--especially because this is a minority of such couples. But as a privacy matter, why should the government be asking a man and woman, "Are you sure that you can have kids? Have you both been tested for fertility? Ma'am, have you reached menopause yet? How often are you going to have sex? How often will it be vaginal intercourse instead of oral sex?" Talk about intrusive!

On the other hand, there is nothing intrusive required at all when two men or two women ask for a marriage license to figure out if they are free riders or not. You don't need to intrude on their privacy to guarantee that there will be no children resulting from their relationship.
6.11.2007 3:51pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
homosexuality's state of perpetual childhood

Which was, like, totally unconnected to its state of legal and social persecution?

I mean, what an incredibly unfeeling statement. It's like complaining about the "perpetual childhood" of women or blacks before they were allowed into the schools and the workplace -- in fact, that *was* a perennial comment about women and blacks.
6.11.2007 3:53pm
ATRGeek:
Daniel950,

You are apparently ignorant of what happens on hospital ethics committees. For one thing, they usually include clergy and lay outsiders (ethicists, scientists, lawyers, etc.) as well as health care professionals. In general, they try to foster respectful dialogues among those with different ethical views, which is no easy task in general, and particularly difficult when dealing with the sensitive issues that arise in medical ethics. But to confuse that attempt to moderate a respectful ethical dialogue with "moral relativism" would be a profound mistake.
6.11.2007 3:55pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
You don't need to intrude on their privacy to guarantee that there will be no children resulting from their relationship.

Are adopted children not allowed to inherit? Are divorced parents of adopted children not subject to child support? Are gays forbidden to adopt children in all 50 states?

I'm so lost ...
6.11.2007 3:55pm
Guest101:

I'm not surprised that folks here don't buy Natural Law arguments. What's sad, though, is that most people here wouldn't know a real Natural Law argument - not a parody of one - if it kicked them in the groin.

You, apparently, being one of them, since the argument that "natural" = "good" is not a "natural law" argument.
6.11.2007 3:56pm
rarango (mail):
I don't think anyone in this day and age disagrees that unprotected, promiscuous sex is a risky undertaken irrespective of the sexual orientation of partners. I think Dr. Holsinger's comments about the incidence of STDS and other complications between men who have sex with men should be read in the context of 1991 when the paper was written, but even then he does say that properly lubricated penile anal penetration is not inherently unsafe. Dr. Holzinger did not write that paper for a peer reviewed journal--he wrote it for a committee of lay persons, and his facts and statistics are generally correct.
6.11.2007 4:08pm
ejo:
not intrinsically high risk-I would say you are wrong on that. while you might do things to reduce the risk, it is still riskier than what you would find with non-anal intercourse. that's just common sense-something that still seems to be lacking when discussing public health issues.
6.11.2007 4:09pm
ATRGeek:
Daniel950,

In response to your second post, focusing exclusively on raisign offspring (your "father/mother" theory) is also an oversimplification of the social roles that sex can serve. For example, for good or ill, sexual relationships are an important indicator of social status among primates.

But even with respect to raising offspring, it is a somewhat obvious mistake to think the only "natural" situation is a father and mother raising their own offspring. To note one obvious problem, sometimes a genetic father or mother will die, and that potentially leaves the young in question with one parent (or perhaps none). Therefore, variations on "adoption" are common in the natural world. So, to the extent homosexual conduct is serving to define and maintain gay partnerships, and these gay partners are then adopting and raising children, that is again part of the natural purpose of sex.

Incidentally, that is what is wrong about Cramer's argument as well. First, the law has always regulated the sexual relationships between adults even when children are not involved, because childraising is not the only social aspect of human sexual relationships. Second, of course family law does indeed regulate the raising of biological children, but it has always made some provision for the raising of children by nonbiological parents, because this is a situation which arises with some frequency.
6.11.2007 4:10pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Rarango, have you read Burroway's critique?
6.11.2007 4:11pm
Perseus (mail):
Huxley: Let us understand, once for all, that the ethical progress of society depends, not on imitating the cosmic process, still less in running away from it, but in combating it.

Horace: Naturam expelles furca, tamen usque recurret, et mala perrumpet furtim fastidia victrix. [Translation: You may drive out Nature with a pitchfork, yet she will ever hurry back, and, ere you know it, will burst through your foolish contempt in triumph.]
6.11.2007 4:11pm
scote (mail):

And this was evidently stolen from a textbook example of "reductio ad absurdum."

My, my. You are really quite glib with the accusations of plagiarism.

Of course you've made a rather fundamental error in attempting to imply that Reductio ad Absurdum is a logical fallacy. It is not.

In fact Reductio ad Absurdum can be used to prove a point by contradiction. The "Absurdum" doesn't mean that the argument by Reductio ad Absurdum is absurd, but that by showing that your opponents arguments taken to great length can result in an absurd outcome, which means that their original argument must be wrong since it violates the law of non-contradiction.
6.11.2007 4:12pm
ejo:
unfortunately, the people here expressing the most outrage apparently do disagree that unprotected anal intercourse with multiple partners is risky. otherwise, why would they profess such shock at someone offering an opinion based on both common sense and science.
6.11.2007 4:13pm
Mark Field (mail):
Holsinger's concept suffers from a serious flaw even taken on its own terms. HIV is of very recent origin. Does he suggest that until the 1980s, homosexual intercourse was permissible and "natural"? Even if we extend his argument to other venereal diseases -- say, syphilis -- that, too, originated sometime relatively recently (in the last 1000 years; the exact time is controversial). Was homosexual intercourse "natural" before that?

Speaking of syphilis, it was, famously, known early on as "the French disease". Although I hate to raise the issue among this crowd, does this mean the French are unnatural?
6.11.2007 4:16pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Well yeah, some smart people have indeed answered the natural law arguments, Eugene Volokh being one them.

The only natural law argument that has any resemblance of internal coherence or logical consistency holds homosexual acts to be unnatural along the same lines as masturabation and heterosexual contraception and oral sex*, even between married couples.

*There is debate among those scholars whether oral sex is permissible as long as it doesn't involve ejaculating outside of the womb. But doing so via oral sex, and coitus interruptus are likewise "unnatural" according to the same theory which holds homosexual acts to be unnatural.

Of course, it's possible to attempt to construct a natural law theory which permits all sorts of non-procreative heterosexual sex but excludes all homosexual sex. But anyone with an elementary understanding of philosophy would be able to shred it in a second. That's why I said "[t]he only natural law argument that has any resemblance of internal coherence or logical consistency...."
6.11.2007 4:19pm
Steve H (mail):
From ATR Geek (2:01)

I think the problem may be in limiting your description of the human evolution of sexual organs to a single purpose ("to achieve reproduction", by which I take it you mean insemination). Sex in general is a complex area of human evolution, and it very likely includes a lot of other purposes besides insemination. For example, primates in general seem to use sex in part as a way to define and maintain various social relationships, and humans appear to be no exception. Accordingly, the evolution of sex in humans (which includes not just the organs, of course) likely serves a host of different purposes.

And once you realize that sex has "natural" purposes besides insemination (although the "natural"/"artificial" distinction starts to break down once you realize that human beings are by nature social beings, and also intelligent beings capable of manipulating the natural world), it is no longer so obvious that "homosexual conduct is a departure" from the purposes served by sex. Again, the most obvious example would be that to the extent homosexual sex was being used to define and maintain certain social relationships, it could well be in accord with that aspect of the "natural" purposes of sex.


For what it's worth, I was taking the relationship aspect of sex into account as well, so when I said reproduction, I meant reproduction (i.e., to the point of offspring passing on genes), not merely insemination.

I'm sure it's possible to theorize an evolutionary basis for homosexual attraction. Just like humans don't die when they pass reproductive age (theoretically because their issue benefit from having grandma and grandpa around), perhaps evolution intended homosexuals so there would be people to pick up the slack for orphaned children, or to serve a community without being "biased" in favor of their own children. Or something.

But let's face it -- a same sex couple can have sex together every day for years (lucky bastards), and their genes will die out because they won't conceive, bear, OR raise kids. Period.
6.11.2007 4:21pm
scote (mail):

Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

The primary reason that the government has any interest in marriage is resolving disputes about inheritance and child support involving biological children. Homosexual couples don't have biological children

I think the only appropriate response to this is WTF???

Government's only interest in marriage is inheritance and child support? Gay people don't have biological children?

I'm not sure home schooling your children is such a good idea...
6.11.2007 4:21pm
malphonse (mail):
Yes, yes, certainly the fact that gays (i.e. homosexual men) have STDs at vastly higher incidences than the heterosexual population is enitrely incidental to their chosen form of sexual "expression."

No, sticking a large peg in a small and evolutionarily non-adapted hole is completely normal and causes no downsides to the participants whatsoever. And the goatse is a normal way for backsides to appear.

Incontinence, frequent tearing, rampant transmission of STDs, gay male sex sounds like it was simply meant to be.
6.11.2007 4:24pm
rarango (mail):
Anderson--I read both pieces; then I looked at the Burroways' website, then tried to find Burroway's medical or public health credentials. It is my opinion, that this is nothing more than a political hit piece designed to give democratic staffers grounds for rejecting Holzinger's scientific credentials so as not to impose a religious test. YMMV.
6.11.2007 4:24pm
rarango (mail):
ejo: Re risk involved in anal intercourse, point taken. I also noted that Dr Koop was mentioned approvingly; Dr. Koop making the point that the rectum was not designed for sexual intercourse--certainly an anatomically true statement and about the same argument that Dr. Holzinger used.
6.11.2007 4:30pm
scote (mail):

But let's face it -- a same sex couple can have sex together every day for years (lucky bastards), and their genes will die out because they won't conceive, bear, OR raise kids. Period.

Um, I don't think Bush would believe that their genes would die off. He doesn't really believe in evolution. (And, of course, there is some quality to homosexuality that gets reproduced, or it wouldn't exist today, so it isn't a simple issue. (And of course, there is the nature/nurture issue of homosexuality. It seems that it can be either, or, or both.))

I think Bill Maher makes a good point. If Republicans are really against gay sex then they should support gay marriage.
6.11.2007 4:32pm
Richard S (mail):
Interesting posts. If we push the argument from design too far away, however, what becomes of human rights. Without nature is there a being to which rights attach?
6.11.2007 4:33pm
ejo:
It seems that our critic isn't a public health or medical expert-he is a gay activist, perhaps similar to the ones who rallied to keep the bathhouses open in SF in the 70's and 80's, public health be damned. when something worse than AIDS comes along, you can bet he will still be out there, telling us to move along, there's nothing to see.
6.11.2007 4:41pm
rarango (mail):
It is worth noting that the papers cited by Holzinger are mid to late 80s papers; His paper was written in January, 1991, which means the medical literature would be based on information no later than mid 1990. The prevailing state of knowledge about HIV-AIDS at that time was in its infancy. The historical context is important.
6.11.2007 4:46pm
Michael B (mail):
Junk science vs. junk philosophy: when and how invoked, what aspects of the discussions are to be included and adequately probed vs. excluded and denied.

Topics, in abundance, for review.
6.11.2007 4:48pm
ATRGeek:
Steve H,

The argument that homosexual conduct must be unnatural since their genes would die out is a different argument than your first argument (that human sex evolved only for the purpose of reproduction).

As for that new argument, there are at least two obvious flaws in it. First, gay people can and do have reproductive sex, as the many gay people who have had children demonstrates. Indeed, for this argument to even be plausible, you would have to be talking not about participating in homosexual conduct, but rather about not participating in heterosexual conduct. Interestingly, that topic actually applies more straightforwardly to celibate people.

But more fundamentally, the existence of nonreproducing adults is not inconsistent with evolutionary logic, as in fact the existence of many species with nonreproducing adults as a matter of course prove. The way the genes survive is through the genetic brothers and/or sisters of the nonreproducing adults, and to the extent the nonreproducing adults help provide for their brothers' and/or sisters' offspring, they contribute to the survival of their own genes.

So, to make this "die out" argument plausible you would really have to be talking about entire families of people who refuse to ever have reproductive sex. And that simply doesn't describe human homosexuality.
6.11.2007 4:56pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I doubt Mr. Cramer agrees with me that the prevalence of AIDS had a great deal to do with the amount of unprotected sex therein, but I submit the point to the public. I don't see how protected anal intercourse is more dangerous than protected vaginal intercourse.
Two reasons:

1. Condoms sometimes fail--and the tears which happen with anal sex increase the risk of HIV getting into the body. Vaginal intercourse seems to have a lower risk, unless the woman has open sores. This is apparently one reason that prostitutes are at higher risk. It isn't just that they have more partners, but are more likely to have open sores because of other STDs. (There's also some question still as to whether impaired immune systems might be a consequence of other STDs--something that is also quite common among homosexual men, who are the vast majority of syphilis cases in America--and IV drug abuse, where lesbians are about 10-15x overrepresented, and which has significant overlap with prostitutes servicing straight men).

2. As I mentioned before, today's recipient of anal sex is likely to be penetrating someone else tomorrow (or, in some gay circles where they mix Viagra and meth, in an hour, and an hour after that, and two hours after that). A woman who contract AIDS through vaginal sex can pass it onto another man, but it is far less likely than when a man catches AIDS from anal sex, and then passes it on by penetrating another man.
6.11.2007 5:01pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Of fleeting relevance but Holsingereque stupidity is this item:

A Berkeley watchdog organization that tracks military spending said it uncovered a strange U.S. military proposal to create a hormone bomb that could purportedly turn enemy soldiers into homosexuals and make them more interested in sex than fighting.

Pentagon officials on Friday confirmed to CBS 5 that military leaders had considered, and then subsquently rejected, building the so-called "Gay Bomb." * * *

The documents show the Air Force lab asked for $7.5 million to develop such a chemical weapon.

"The Ohio Air Force lab proposed that a bomb be developed that contained a chemical that would cause enemy soliders to become gay, and to have their units break down because all their soldiers became irresistably attractive to one another," Hammond said after reviwing the documents. * * *

The Pentagon told CBS 5 that the proposal was made by the Air Force in 1994.


1994??? When I first saw this at TAPPED, I assumed it had to be 1954 or somesuch.

If the being gay didn't kill all of the enemy, the anal sex would've finished the job, right?
6.11.2007 5:02pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Which was, like, totally unconnected to its state of legal and social persecution?

I mean, what an incredibly unfeeling statement. It's like complaining about the "perpetual childhood" of women or blacks before they were allowed into the schools and the workplace -- in fact, that *was* a perennial comment about women and blacks.
Odd. I can't recall ever seeing such a claim about women.

I would also point out that the big problem of AIDS occurred AFTER the legal and social persecution stopped.
6.11.2007 5:05pm
Daniel950:
ATRGeek:

In general, they try to foster respectful dialogues among those with different ethical views, which is no easy task in general, and particularly difficult when dealing with the sensitive issues that arise in medical ethics.


Would you want an ethicist to determine if your newborn, very sick child, will die? They used to call this infanticide when the Spartans did it.

So, to the extent homosexual conduct is serving to define and maintain gay partnerships, and these gay partners are then adopting and raising children, that is again part of the natural purpose of sex.


LOL. I'm sorry, but am I supposed to take this seriously? What next? Is preschool a part of the natural purpose of sex? What a riot. Well, enough with the comedy: You're basically suggesting that "natural purpose of sex" be reduced to a definition so wide-open that it has no meaning. Ask anyone on the street what the "natural purpose of sex" is and they'll tell you it's for reproduction. Obviously, there are additional purposes that from a Catholic perspective are present, such as unity of the love of husband and wife and the expression of their love in a new 3rd person (mirroring the Trinity).

If you reject that there's a "natural purpose of sex," (either as reproduction or as reproduction with the Catholic understanding of it) have the courage to admit it and be done with it. Don't insult my intelligence by suggesting a definition so broad that it strains all credulity.

What's the natural purpose of bughunting?
6.11.2007 5:07pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Are adopted children not allowed to inherit? Are divorced parents of adopted children not subject to child support? Are gays forbidden to adopt children in all 50 states?

I'm so lost ...
Yes, you are very lost. Adopted children get to inherit, because the law makes provision for that. And if a gay couple adopts a child (as every state but Florida allows), that child enjoys the inheritance rights that marriage provides for a biological child. Divorce is one of the strong arguments for why the state involves itself with marriage--to resolve disputes concerning biological children--something that homosexual couples do not have together.
6.11.2007 5:08pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Scote writes:


I think the only appropriate response to this is WTF???

Government's only interest in marriage is inheritance and child support? Gay people don't have biological children?
You must have missed something in biology class (or perhaps Gay Studies is teaching something different these days). Biological children are the result of a man and a woman. There is not a single gay couple that has ever had a child. As I explained (but you were too busy freaking out to read), a gay person might have a child from a previous straight marriage, but two men or two women cannot have a biological child. If you have any doubt about this, I suggest that you read a biology textbook.
6.11.2007 5:11pm
ejo:
great joke-unfortunately, by poor moral behavior and really poor public health practices in response to that behavior, such a bomb was dropped on the community. given the comments here, nothing was learned.
6.11.2007 5:12pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Incidentally, that is what is wrong about Cramer's argument as well. First, the law has always regulated the sexual relationships between adults even when children are not involved, because childraising is not the only social aspect of human sexual relationships.
Without question, and historically, sex outside of marriage has been a criminal matter. (It still is in Idaho, interestingly enough.) Homosexuality, of course, was a capital offense. That liberal Thomas Jefferson wanted to change the penalty to castration.

This doesn't change the fact that the state's reason to regulate marriage is related to inheritance and child support questions.
Second, of course family law does indeed regulate the raising of biological children, but it has always made some provision for the raising of children by nonbiological parents, because this is a situation which arises with some frequency.
It does make that provision, and there is nothing preventing gay couples from adopting a child, who enjoys all the inheritance rights of any other adopted child. It does require recognizing gay marriage.
6.11.2007 5:15pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

It does require recognizing gay marriage.
should be It does NOT require recognizing gay marriage.
6.11.2007 5:15pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

And, of course, there is some quality to homosexuality that gets reproduced, or it wouldn't exist today, so it isn't a simple issue.
Unless, of course, homosexuality (at least some forms of it) is a response to childhood sexual abuse--as a number of surveys would suggest. it also explains many of the bizarre behaviors that are very common (although not 100% present) in the gay community.
6.11.2007 5:18pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
I can't recall ever seeing such a claim about women.

Ask any professor of 19th-century literature.

And the social habits caused by persecution -- promiscuity in the absence of sanctioned relationships -- do not suddenly vanish when a statute's repealed.
6.11.2007 5:23pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
scote writes:

I think Bill Maher makes a good point. If Republicans are really against gay sex then they should support gay marriage.
I tried very hard to understand this, but the only way it makes sense is if you think married straights don't have sex. Well, I guess compared to lying face down in a south of Market Street bathhouse while a line of complete strangers that you don't even ever see face to face sodomize you*, us straight couples aren't having sex.

* This isn't my imagination; it came from a series of San Francisco Chronicle articles in the early 1980s, when the gay community was still screeching that there was no reason to shut down the gay bathhouses, that there was no evidence that AIDS was connected to homosexuality.
6.11.2007 5:25pm
Bruce Garrett (mail) (www):
I would also point out that the big problem of AIDS occurred AFTER the legal and social persecution stopped.

Stopped where? Africa?
6.11.2007 5:38pm
scote (mail):

I tried very hard to understand this, but the only way it makes sense is if you think married straights don't have sex.


Sigh...jokes just aren't funny if you have to explain them. You see, Bill Maher is this irreverent comedian who says...
6.11.2007 5:46pm
AppSocRes (mail):
Let's forget about AIDS for a moment. We've already been given that gift Try doing a Google lookup on drug resistant STDs to see some of the newer diseases that have been bred and are breeding as a result of misbehavior within the homosexual community.
6.11.2007 5:48pm
scote (mail):

Biological children are the result of a man and a woman. There is not a single gay couple that has ever had a child. As I explained (but you were too busy freaking out to read), a gay person might have a child from a previous straight marriage, but two men or two women cannot have a biological child. If you have any doubt about this, I suggest that you read a biology textbook.

You are conflating biological child. Many gay parents have biological children. Your statement "Homosexual couples don't have biological children." is inaccurate, what you mean is that they don't have shared biological children. And having a child from a previous straight marriage is not not only way that gays have biological children.

I have no reading suggestions for you
6.11.2007 5:54pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Stopped where? Africa?

Hey! No fair bringing up those other continents!
6.11.2007 5:55pm
scote (mail):

Unless, of course, homosexuality (at least some forms of it) is a response to childhood sexual abuse--as a number of surveys would suggest.

Yeah...that's it. Perhaps you should run for Surgeon General. I think you may qualify under the new nomination standards.

You obviously are unaware or dismissive of the identical twin studies showing that identical twins raised separately have a higher than average correlation of sexual preference.
6.11.2007 5:58pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

You obviously are unaware or dismissive of the identical twin studies showing that identical twins raised separately have a higher than average correlation of sexual preference.
I'm not dismissive of it. There may be a genetic predisposition towards it. But the high correlations between childhood sexual abuse and adult homosexuality would suggest that there's an environmental component to it.
6.11.2007 6:23pm
rarango (mail):
It would be interesting to submit Dr. Holzinger's paper to the AMA for review; perhaps the AMA could get themselves in the position that the ABA has with respect to commenting on candidates for surgeon general.

On a side note, I quite frankly prefer my medical advice from MDs, my legal advice, from JDs who are members of a bar, and take no advice from activists of any stripe.

Would some MD or public health professional pray tell where is Dr. Holzinger wrong about the medical issues? Also please assure me that given the timing of this critique, that this isn't a political hit job. Right....just a public spirited citizen's opinion.
6.11.2007 6:24pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

You are conflating biological child. Many gay parents have biological children. Your statement "Homosexual couples don't have biological children." is inaccurate, what you mean is that they don't have shared biological children. And having a child from a previous straight marriage is not not only way that gays have biological children.
If it isn't obvious to you that my statement meant "shared" you need to work on your reading skills very badly.

And your other claim is wrong as well. Holding the turkey baster doesn't make you a biological father.
6.11.2007 6:25pm
ATRGeek:
Daniel950,

Again, it is quite clear that you have no idea how a hospital ethics committee works.

As for the remainder of your argument: actually, if you were really interested in taking this issue seriously, you would approach this issue not by asking the "man on the street" or consulting religious doctrine, but rather as scientists do for any other species. In other words, you would study the problem using ordinary scientific methods. And again, when you do that it is quite clear that sex serves a host of different purposes among primate species, and that humans are no exception.

Cramer,

I'm sorry, but you are just wrong about the current and historic scope of the issues dealt with by family law.

Divorce law is in fact a good example. You are right that one thing divorce law has always done is deal with issues arising from any children that might be involved in the divorce. But another thing divorce law has always dealt with is the division of marital property, including in circumstances where no children are involved. So, it is simply inaccurate to claim divorce law is only about any possible children of the marriage: it is also about marital property.

And the state has a general interest in regulating matters related to property, particularly property disputes. Indeed, dealing with property disputes is one of the fundamental reasons for the existence of the state. So, the fact that the state exercises this interest in the context of marriages and divorces is utterly unsurprising, because it does so in every relevant context (contracts, sales, partnerships, corporations, and so on). Indeed, it would be extremely odd if the state did NOT regulate property in the marital context--not because children are involved, but because marriages are one of the major contexts in which property disputes arise.

Of course, all this should be quite obvious. Indeed, if you look at any body of family law, current or historic, it immediately becomes obvious exactly how much of it is about marital property and related issues (like duties of spousal support). So, the idea the state's ONLY interest in family law is derived from it interests in the rights and well-being of children does not accord with family law as it actually exists. Which, again, is fully to be expected.
6.11.2007 6:34pm
scote (mail):

If it isn't obvious to you that my statement meant "shared" you need to work on your reading skills very badly.

And your other claim is wrong as well. Holding the turkey baster doesn't make you a biological father

I never claimed that gays could have shared biological parenthood, though perhaps some day it will be practical. Perhaps "you need to work on your reading skills very badly."

As to the obviousness of "shared," I disagree. If I'm the biological parent of a child I'm the biological parent regardless whether my partner is or not. "Shared" is not manifest or necessitated by your statement.
6.11.2007 6:35pm
Randy R. (mail):
rarango: "Yes, yes, certainly the fact that gays (i.e. homosexual men) have STDs at vastly higher incidences than the heterosexual population is enitrely incidental to their chosen form of sexual "expression."

Oh please. STDs occur with great frequency in the heterosexual population. Ever hear of these:
BV - Bacterial Vaginosis
Chlamydia and LGV
Gonorrhea
Hepatitis (viral)
Herpes, Genital
HPV - Human Papillomavirus Infection
PID - Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Syphilis
Trichomoniasis (courtesy CDC)

These are primarily heterosexual diseases, although they occur in the gay population with less frequency. So what is it about you misbehaving people that you can't control yourselves? Obviously, heterosexual sex must be unnatural, since it produces so much in the way of disease, far more than gay people.

"No, sticking a large peg in a small and evolutionarily non-adapted hole is completely normal and causes no downsides to the participants whatsoever. And the goatse is a normal way for backsides to appear."

Perhaps you sould talk to your male hetero friends. Men often liked to get "pegged" by their girfriends who put on a strap-on dildo. As mentioned before, the area around the prostrate gland, deep inside a man's body, has very sensitive nerve endings, and when stimulated, it produces a powerful orgasm. So many striaght men like that feeling. Guess you disapprove of that too?

"Incontinence, frequent tearing, rampant transmission of STDs, gay male sex sounds like it was simply meant to be." Nope. Many gay men don't engage in anal sex at all. So how are you going to hate them if they don't?

ejo said that there is little common sense when it comes to sex ed. that is quite true. Our goal -- and everyone should agree on this -- should be to do what it takes to reduce STDs, with whereever and whomever they occur in. One of the best ways to do this is to encourage the use of condoms, and other safe sex practices. However, the religious right keeps wanting to prevent condom use, even though it has been proven to protect against virtually all forms of STDs, if used properly. If everyone was educated more on this issue, then all forms of STDs would decline. But really, that's not what the religious right wants.

They want the sluts to get what they deserve.
6.11.2007 7:08pm
keypusher (mail):
I would also point out that the big problem of AIDS occurred AFTER the legal and social persecution stopped.

Stopped where? Africa?


The United States. I've never understood this sort of wilful insistence on misunderstanding what someone else is saying that seems to be a feature of internet comment threads. It's not funny, it's not clever, and it wastes a lot of time.
6.11.2007 7:13pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

I would also point out that the big problem of AIDS occurred AFTER the legal and social persecution stopped.


Don't blame gays for the sexual revoltion. That social and legal persecution stopped right around the time when heterosexuals were doing the same thing during the disco era. Gays didn't start the sexual revolution but have paid the biggest price for its excesses.

I should note that marriage presently has and always had a variety of purposes, one of which is to civilize lust (indeed, this is what none other than Dinesh D'Souza has argued on his website, who I think, used to be a pretty sound thinker before he lost his mind with his latest book). And it is disingenuous to pretend this is not a purpose of the institution of marriage.

If government really does have an interest in the health of its population and if two men by their very nature are more likely to be promiscuous, logic dictates that government wouldn't just grant gays marriage, but, in the words of David Brooks, strongly encourage that they do so. (Indeed, he thinks "society" should then demand gays get married).
6.11.2007 8:13pm
Randy R. (mail):
It never ceases to amaze me how straight men are simultaneously repulsed and fascinated with how gay men have sex. Some are downright obsessed with it.
6.11.2007 8:18pm
Hewart:
What's more, there are enough straw men propped up in this thread to open a scarecrow factory.
6.11.2007 9:38pm
Jamie (mail):
Not to put it in graphic terms, but a penis does fit into the rectum. And if you want to talk nature...well, the prostate does make anal sex for the receptive partner pleasurable. And homosexuality couldn't simply be nature's way to help ensure that not all members of the human population reproduce.

I cannot believe that on an intellectual blog such as this, some readers are honestly trying to associate the prevalence of homosexuality with child molestation.

As a gay person, I can state very clearly that I was never sexually abused. And I have a good relationship with my father. How many other asinine stereotypes should I debunk?
6.11.2007 9:46pm
Mac (mail):
From those far-right, religious bigots at Mayo Clinic.

Syphilis

ARTICLE SECTIONS

Introduction
Signs and symptoms
Causes
Risk factors
Screening and diagnosis
Complications
Treatment
Prevention

Introduction
Syphilis is a bacterial infection usually transmitted by sexual contact. The disease affects your genitals, skin and mucous membranes, but it may also involve many other parts of your body, including your brain and your heart.

The discovery of penicillin in the 1940s and its use in treating syphilis led to a dramatic decline in the incidence of the disease. However, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the incidence of syphilis began to rise along with the incidence of HIV/AIDS. After a brief decline in cases in the late 1990s, incidence has again been on the rise during this decade.

The incidence of syphilis is highest among young adults. Rates of the disease have remained relatively steady for women, yet syphilis is on the rise in men, particularly in men who have sex with other men. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly two-thirds of new syphilis cases are occurring in men who have sex with men.

Left untreated, syphilis can lead to serious complications or death. But with early diagnosis and treatment, the disease can be successfully treated.


NEXT:
Signs and symptoms

This took about 5 seconds to find. Next time the discussion veers to Evolution vs. Intelligent Design, I don't want to hear how Intelligent Design can't be even mentioned because we must only teach scientific truths. There has been so much bull passing as science in this thread that it is truly astonishing. Science is what it is, and it still is what it is, even if you don't like the results or the numbers.

The statistics have NOTHING to do with passing judgement on homosexuals. It simply states what is. For those of you who want to ignore the risks, what have YOU got against gay people? It is like telling a smoker it is just fine and dandy to smoke. Big help that would be.
6.11.2007 9:48pm
raj (mail):
It's amusing that the homosexually-obsessed troll Clayton Cramer turns up on virtually every thread here regarding gay people. He should consider sticking to his specialty, which is supposedly history. Apparently, Cramer is a perfect example of the old saying: one should remain quiet and be thought a fool, instead of speaking and removing all doubts.
6.11.2007 9:50pm
Mac (mail):
And this from those KOOKS at the Centers for Disease Control;

In the United States, HIV infection and AIDS have had a tremendous effect on men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM accounted for 72% of all HIV infections among male adults and adolescents in 2005 (based on data from 33 states with long-term, confidential name-based HIV reporting), even though only about 5% to 7% of male adults and adolescents in the United States identify themselves as MSM [1, 2].

But, let's not tell gay people about the risk they are running. Oh no, that would be unkind. Let's pretend it is just fine and everything is wunnerful, wunnerful, wunnerful. Now, that is certainly an enlightened position.
6.11.2007 10:02pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

But, let's not tell gay people about the risk they are running. Oh no, that would be unkind. Let's pretend it is just fine and everything is wunnerful, wunnerful, wunnerful. Now, that is certainly an enlightened position.


Well actually many pro-gay folks and gays themselves do note the risk of HIV and other STD and try to give gay men ways to avoid them. And yes, you can have gay sex in a healthy way; but let's not talk about that, should we?
6.11.2007 10:19pm
Michael B (mail):
"It never ceases to amaze me how straight men are simultaneously repulsed and fascinated ..." Randy R.

"It's amusing that the homosexually-obsessed troll ..." raj

And it's amusing, indeed it never ceases to amaze, how often such ad hominem tropes are used in lieu of serious arguments and engagement.

I.e. first advance or take part in a subject for public discussion, then dismiss, even tout court and with ad hominem inflections, those who might disagree with you on any critical aspect of the discussion. Amusing. Never ceases to amaze. But I exaggerate and considerably so as in fact it's preeminently, even boorishly, predictable, at best a good cure for insomnia.
6.11.2007 10:22pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
For one of the best books, by a gay man, noting the risks of gay sex and what gay men can do about it, see the following by Gabriel Rottello. And no he doesn't say gay men must choose lifelong celibacy or try to convert to heterosexuality.

And some want to try those two options; I have nothing against it. But let's compare gays choosing to have healthy gay sex v. gays choosing lifelong celibacy or "reparative therapy."

Some antigays scoff at the notion of gays attempting to form monogamous quasi-marriage relationships or otherwise have responsible safe sex: They say, well, gays, as a group just won't choose to do this. Well, gays, as a group, aren't going to choose lifelong celibacy or reparative therapy either. If every consensual sex act involves a choice, then gays, in theory, can choose to live safe responsible monogamous lives, just as they can choose celibacy, or attempt reparative therapy.

A study came out recently in the media that showing that "big boned folks" -- those naturally predisposed to be overweight -- can indeed make the choices to control their weight and look quite slim (maybe even slim like me: I'm 5'11, 160lbs). But if you looked at the choices they had to make (drastically cutting calories, and avoiding all the "wrong" foods), they'd practically have to live most of their lives hungry, and that's something that most of them just won't do.

Back to the three choices: 1) Responsible, healthy gay sex, in a quasi (or real) marriage, always using condoms, never ever having unprotected anal sex with a stranger; 2) lifelong celibacy, or 3) successful reparative therapy. I'd say any particular gay man, though he may end up not choosing any of the three, has the greatest chance of succeeding at number 1. And indeed, marriage would probably greatly help.
6.11.2007 10:34pm
Mac (mail):
Jon,
Who said wee shoiuld not talk about it? I said pretending homosexuals are not under far greater threats from their sexual methods and habits is not helpful to homosexuals, esp. gay men.
Safer, not safe. And, obviously, given the statistics from the CDC I listed above, a lot of gay men are NOT getting the message. Or do you want to deny the science to suit your prejudice?

And, exactly how difficult is it to comprehend, use a condom, stupid, and limit the number of partners, preferrably to one? It is not a hard lesson. You may not like the "one" idea, but that is part of the "safe" equation, period.
I said that gays choose to ignore the science at their own peril. Others who choose to ignore the science, as on this thread, and pretend everything is just fine, do gay men, in particular, harm. To encourage someone to engage in behavior that can make them ill or give them a terminal illness is, in my world, not a kindness. Maybe it is in your world, but not mine.
6.11.2007 10:38pm
Ramza:
ejo
It seems that our critic isn't a public health or medical expert-he is a gay activist, perhaps similar to the ones who rallied to keep the bathhouses open in SF in the 70's and 80's, public health be damned. when something worse than AIDS comes along, you can bet he will still be out there, telling us to move along, there's nothing to see.


The AIDS epidemic was discovered June 5, 1981, when the CDC released in its newsletter about a very unique (and rare) form of pneumonia was observed in five men in LA. (note we now have evidence that the aids virus existed prior to 1981, as far back as the 1959, due to preserved autopsy tissue samples of a man who died in the congo. We also have evidence of other tissue remains of other people who died during the 60s and 70s. It didn't hit the outbreak status of 1981 due to it not hitting critical mass of people who introduce it into the mainstream population, and it is possible that the virus mutated into the 1980s form which was more deadly)

1982 the CDC named AIDS as AIDS (prior to that it had no official name but it has various street names that was used by some papers)

Suggestions to start closing the bathhouses started to appear in 1982, but politicians didn't move for fear of stigmatization (labeling what would become known as AIDs as a gay disease) and due to money/political interests. San Fran was closed down by its city's health department in 1984, New York closed theirs down in 1985.

1982 an infant gets the first known case of AIDs from a blood transfusion. 1983 the FDA puts restrictions on who can donate blood/plasma products

rarango
It is worth noting that the papers cited by Holzinger are mid to late 80s papers; His paper was written in January, 1991, which means the medical literature would be based on information no later than mid 1990. The prevailing state of knowledge about HIV-AIDS at that time was in its infancy. The historical context is important.


The HIV virus was confirmed to be the cause of AIDS in 1984 by Luc Montagnier and Robert Gallo . (thus the discovery of the cause and how the disease transmuates). Luc Montagnier had discovered the virus earlier in 1983, but couldn't yet prove it was the cause of AIDs, Robert Gallo also was reseraching AIDs, he couldn't isolate the virus by himself, thus thus he stole samples of the virus from Luc Montagnier and claimed he founded it first (he was giving the samples willing to "confirm Luc Montagniers findings" but once he obtained the virus he said he found it first, it was litigated for years)

Yes a proper historical context is definately required. By 1990 (paper was done in early 1991) we knew a lot about HIV and AIDS. This doctor/minister should have known more if he was actually paying attention to the medical community at the time. If he was not, why then was he writting on the subject, wouldn't it be unethical to write on a subject without a decent level of research?
6.11.2007 10:42pm
Ramza:
Note I don't oppose this appointee for while I find him stupid and embarrassing I don't see the point of wasting my energy on a frivolous position as the Surgeon General. It just saddens me to see Bush doing such an appointee. It also saddens me for while the SG position is effectively useless, in a better world it wouldn't be.
6.11.2007 10:46pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

To encourage someone to engage in behavior that can make them ill or give them a terminal illness is, in my world, not a kindness.


Name one gay or pro-gay person who is encouraging gays to have unprotected anal sex with strangers or even with their monogamous partners, without first getting an AIDS test and then pledging monogamy. That's what's causing AIDS.

The only reason I think the pro-gay side would be loathe to concede there are greater risks to gay sex is because the anti-gay side almost necessarily posits this fact in the context of arguably against gay rights or acceptance of homosexuals for who they are.

It's like arguing blacks are more likely to commit crimes (they are) in the context of attempting to deny blacks rights, not trying to constructivley criticize such group so their community can flourish.

Don't be surprised when blacks aren't receptive to the notion that their social group commits more crimes when the message is coming from David Duke.
6.11.2007 11:00pm
Ramza:
Jon,

Who said wee shoiuld not talk about it? I said pretending homosexuals are not under far greater threats from their sexual methods and habits is not helpful to homosexuals, esp. gay men.
Safer, not safe. And, obviously, given the statistics from the CDC I listed above, a lot of gay men are NOT getting the message. Or do you want to deny the science to suit your prejudice?

And, exactly how difficult is it to comprehend, use a condom, stupid, and limit the number of partners, preferrably to one? It is not a hard lesson. You may not like the "one" idea, but that is part of the "safe" equation, period.
I said that gays choose to ignore the science at their own peril. Others who choose to ignore the science, as on this thread, and pretend everything is just fine, do gay men, in particular, harm. To encourage someone to engage in behavior that can make them ill or give them a terminal illness is, in my world, not a kindness. Maybe it is in your world, but not mine.

The vast majority of gay men do understand using a condom and limiting the number of partners you have. There is a percentage that does not, and due to how we are talking a large population, a few percent of a subdivision of a population (such as gay men) can still be 20,000 new cases per year.

Lets not paint an entire population with a broad brush due to the stupidity of a few percent (and these people are so ******* stupid). Lets also educate on safe sex (both in the schools and out of the schools, and drop the "abstinence only crap" all school education should be abstinence plus, aka abstinence is the best but here is the advantages and disadvantages of other forms of birth control)

--------------------------------------------------------

Oh in this disucssion remember the reason why John Holsinger wrote this paper. The thing the committee was studying in 1991 was not how to reduce disease progression, it was what was the church's position of homosexuality (something that has been debated since 1972 general conference LINK) Every 4 years the UMC wrestled with the idea (1972, 76, 80, 88, 92, 96, 00) In 1988 the UMC decided to form a 27 man committee, which released its study in 1991 Holsinger reassigned (for he disagreed with some of his fellow committee members positions and didn't want to be connected to the final result) prior to the study but his paper survived. 17 of the 27 committee members voted in the study to say the UMC is of "no common mind" 4 of the 27 members wanted to retain the prior language. The committee did nothing though besides deliver its results for the 1992 convention.

He can have the beliefs that gay sex spreads disease (though he should note the difference between safe and unsafe as a doctor if he wants to be ethical, regardless). To say though he is saying this in a vacuum though would be disenguous, he was saying this specifically at a church function trying to sway the church's official position in the matter.
6.11.2007 11:09pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Let me rewrite this passage for clarity:

The only reason I think the pro-gay side would be loathe to concede there are greater risks to gay sex is because the anti-gay side almost necessarily posits this fact in the context of arguing against gay rights or acceptance of homosexuals for who they are.

It's like arguing blacks are more likely to commit crimes (they are) in the context of attempting to deny blacks rights, and asserting elevated levels of black criminality is an incorrigible part of their nature (something I obviously don't believe).

On the other hand, one can discuss higher rates of blacks committing crimes while trying to constructivley criticize such group so their community can flourish -- try to lower out of wedlock births especially for young teens; stop glorifying rap thugs; cooperate with the police to try to root the crime out of your community, etc. And if these things were done, social indicators between blacks and whites would probably reach parity.

Don't be surprised when blacks aren't receptive to the notion that their social group commits more crimes and the harm of gansta rap when the message is coming from David Duke.

That's the difference between the messages of Gabriel Rotello discussing risks of gay sex and the Family Research Council doing the same.
6.11.2007 11:10pm
Ramza:

Name one gay or pro-gay person who is encouraging gays to have unprotected anal sex with strangers or even with their monogamous partners, without first getting an AIDS test and then pledging monogamy. That's what's causing AIDS.

The only reason I think the pro-gay side would be loathe to concede there are greater risks to gay sex is because the anti-gay side almost necessarily posits this fact in the context of arguably against gay rights or acceptance of homosexuals for who they are.

...
Say gay anal sex vs vaginal sex, instead of gay sex vs anti-gay sex, and I would agree with you (it isn't safer and the reasons why you later listed). Thing is not all gays do anal sex, so saying "gay sex" is not being accurate. I would say if you aren't doing anal sex (and thus oral and forms of rubbing) it would be far safer than straight vaginal sex.

Even protected vaginal sex is safer than protected anal sex (though not by much for HIV and many other stds are stopped by condoms and even with holes they are significantly reduced for you need some of the liquid to past on the other side of the condom, for HIV needs to be in a liquid to transport or it instantly dies, other stds are similar.)
6.11.2007 11:14pm
Mac (mail):
OK, I read the paper in it's entirety. It seems like Biology 101 to me. He has sourced his statements. I think you need to be on a witch hunt to say that he is anti-gay. I mean, how in the heck do you think the alimentary canal, in particular the rectum works? For the squemish among us, I do not want to go into more detail, but I am mystified as to what all the hysteria is about. As usual, there has been not one specific argument mentioned in this paper that anyone on this thread has chosen to refute on the basis of science.

And, after reviewing Mayo, Merck Manual, and other medical type stuff, there does seem to be a deafening silence, at least in writing, on the complications of anal sex. I can only hope that medical students are at least told what the complications are. I would also hope that gay men especially understand they need to tell their Doctor that they are gay and about their sexual habits. Many medical conditions are directly related.

Not to be aware on both sides would be like a person presenting to their Dr, with shortness of breath, chronic cough and chest pain and the Dr. not bothering to ask them if they smoke.

Also, I am very familiar with the gay community, and while it would be nice if things were different, there is a lot of high risk behavior and promiscuity. You think I don't worry about my gay friends? I just don't think hiding the effects is doing them anything but harm. It would be like pretending their is nothing harmful with smoking. It has grave risks, just like smoking.

Jon,

I understand what you are saying, but I would rather have my friends upset and alive than blissfully ignorant and dead. And, I don't think the medical community is discussing the risks probably for fear that, like Holsinger, they will be labeled anti-gay.
6.12.2007 12:02am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

And, after reviewing Mayo, Merck Manual, and other medical type stuff, there does seem to be a deafening silence, at least in writing, on the complications of anal sex. I can only hope that medical students are at least told what the complications are. I would also hope that gay men especially understand they need to tell their Doctor that they are gay and about their sexual habits. Many medical conditions are directly related.


Well there are pleny of openly gay or pro-gay medical doctors who do know the risks and know how to counsel against them. Take this guy for instance.

By the way, anal sex when done promiscuously, without protection, esp. in the way that Clayton Cramer noted (whether he realizes it or not, it's one of the key points in Rotello's book -- that way gay men play dual roles, receive one day and give the next, esp. in promiscuous core groups made, AIDS spread like wild-fire) is a fast spreader of diseases.

If done right with the proper lubrication and not promiscuously, it's an almost entirely safe practice, a fact that the religious right would never admit to. Very often, the anti-gay right spreads false information about the risks of gay sex by exaggerating, relying on unscientific studies, distorting the studies that do exist, and sometimes peddling pure fraudulence like Paul Cameron's "research" or the gay bowel syndrome* or gerbil urban myths.

*I call GBS an urban myth because even though there are a certain set of diseases which, collectively, were called "GBS," by some group of scientists years ago, and found in a small number of hyperpromiscuous gay men, the "syndrome" had nothing to do with anal intercourse, but another practice. Since virtually everyone who hears GBS thinks, "oh this must be what too much anal sex does to a person," and since that's false, GBS essentially is an urban myth.

Again, blacks have higher levels of criminality. But if we are going to discuss it, let's get the numbers right. Much of the data that the religious right offer on gays is the functional equivalent of saying 90 % of blacks commit crimes, which is a lie. Most blacks don't commit crimes, even if they have higher levels of criminality.

And when folks commit the 9th Commandment against a particular social groups, it's likely that they are trying to cause them harm.
6.12.2007 12:26am
Mac (mail):
Jon,

I don't know. I have read both papers and I am not about to go to the studies themselves which is what one would have to do. What we lack is any coherent, non-agenda driven scientist to evaluate them both, Holsinger and Barroway.
I do know that it would be nice if we examined all these other studies with eqaul vigor. It would save us a lot of time and money i.e. the arsenic in water to 10ppm debacle, the trans fat hysteria and on and on. The same study that showed that trans fat caused heart disease also said you could prevent prostate cancer by eating pizza. Yes, it did. It was a flawed study and had too many problems to have been swallowed hook, line and sinker. But, it was. I could find no response to Burroway. There needs to be that discussion. I don't have a clue who he is or what his credentials are so I am not going to buy what he says without independent confirmation either. I wish we were more fact based in all aspects.

I begin to think that we are rapidly degenerating into a bunch of screaming babboons (no offense meant to babboons) and have taken leave of our senses.
6.12.2007 12:45am