Paul Cameron’s Falsehoods Cited By Anti-Gay Sympathizers
Anti-gay researcher Paul Cameron's falsehoods are well known. The incredible thing is the people who still cite them.
By David Holthouse
'Hobos and Jailbirds'
Cameron moved his base of operations to Colorado five years later, in 1992, after supporters of a state constitutional amendment to ban civil rights protections for gays and lesbians distributed 100,000 copies of his study 'What Homosexuals Do" (sample statistic: 17% eat human feces) to Colorado voters one week before they went to the polls. The amendment passed. Later that year, during the raging debate over President Clinton's proposal to allow gays in the military, Army officials circulated Cameron's studies inside the Pentagon.
In 1994, Cameron attended a secret anti-gay summit in Colorado Springs that was attended by the leaders of virtually every major religious right political action group in the country. They gathered to discuss how best to combat "the homosexual agenda." Infiltrators recorded Cameron saying that when considering "what should be done with queers," it was important to keep in mind that "most people who engage in homosexuality are of the lower strata; these are people who are waiters and busboys and bums and hobos and jailbirds and so forth."
That same year, the Family Research Institute released Cameron's infamous "Gay Obituary Study," in which he calculated the "average gay life span in America." He did this by culling 6,000 obituaries from gay publications at the height of the AIDS crisis, tallying the ages of death in each, dividing them by 6,000, and thus arriving at the conclusion that the average life span for a gay man is 43 years old.
In 1997, former Secretary of Education, Book of Virtues author and gambling enthusiast William Bennett cited Cameron's obituary study in a Weekly Standard column titled, "Clinton, Gays, and the Truth." Later that year on the ABC news program "This Week," Bennett said, "The best available research suggests that the average life span of male homosexuals is around 43 years of age. Forty three."
After Bennett took Cameron's life expectancy figure for gays to a mainstream audience, the online magazine Slate published a devastating critique of Cameron's work by Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute. The average age at death for AIDS victims, the magazine noted, was about 40. For Cameron's figure of 43 years old to be true, Slate pointed out, gay people who never contract AIDS could have a life expectancy of no more than 46 years -- a truly absurd proposition -- even assuming that half the gay population will eventually contract AIDS.
"Looked at another way," Slate reported, "if even half the gay male population stays HIV-negative and lives to an average age of 75, an average overall life span of 43 implies that gay males with AIDS die at an implausibly early age (11, actually)."
In the end, Bennett retracted his claim. "Given what I now know, I believe there are flaws with Paul Cameron's study," he said.
But the 43-years figure will not die. It gains new life with every repetition, whether by a neo-Nazi posting on-line or a televangelist standing with the governor of Texas.
The Big Lie
Cameron's newest batch of research concludes that gay sex is more dangerous than smoking. These studies basically recycle the obituary study with a new twist. First, Cameron presents it as a given that the average gay life span is 43 years, citing his own 1995 study as evidence. Then he compares 43 years to the average life span of smokers to conclude that having gay sex is far more dangerous that cigarettes.
"No one argues that people smoke because they are smokers. They are called smokers because they smoke. Yet gay rights activists maintain that homosexuals engage in homosexual acts because they are homosexuals," Cameron said in a recent interview with a born-again Christian on-line magazine. "Thus sex with nearly anonymous partners of the same gender becomes a constitutionally protected means of self-expression, something a homosexual is compelled to do the way pear trees are compelled to produce fruit."
It appears the smoking-versus-gay sex propaganda seeds Cameron planted last year are beginning to bear their own fruits. In June, the Rev. Bill Banuchi, executive director of the New York chapter of the Christian Coalition, said in a speech protesting Gay Pride Day that gays should be legally required to wear warning labels, not unlike Jewish stars under the Nazis.
"We put warning labels on cigarette packs because we know that smoking takes one or two years off the average life span, yet we celebrate a lifestyle that we know spreads every kind of sexually transmitted disease and takes at least 20 years off the average life span, according to the 2005 issue of the revered [sic] scientific journal Psychological Reports."
One month later, Dr. John Whiffen, chairman of the board of the National Physicians Center for Family Resources, a faith-basped advocacy group that was contracted by Bush Administration federal health officials to develop an abstinence education curriculum, said that, "There are obvious effects for male homosexuals from a health standpoint. Parents should discuss those with their child." Then he added: "It's fairly well-accepted that smoking is not a good idea. It takes seven years off your life. It appears that male homosexuality takes more than that off your life. Naturally you should warn them about that."
Somewhere, Paul Cameron is smiling.