Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Boy Scouts reverses course - A sampling of the homophobia and perverse fantasies

Boy Scouts group
Photo credit: CNN
Last Thursday Robert Gates, President of the Boy Scouts of America announced that the group's ban on adult gay leaders cannot be sustained. It is widely seen as a move that could open the door to ending the policy. In the interim, Gates said, at a national meeting of the group, that he does not plan to revoke the charters of Boy Scout councils that allow gay leaders.

Robert Gates
Dr. Gates has seen this movie before. As United States Secretary of Defense Gates (a conservative Republican) was responsible for the implementation of the repeal of Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell. According to Gates, the Armed Forces would have to certify to Congress that there was no adverse effect on “military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention.” Three weeks after Gates left office, the Act of Congress was certified and 60 days thereafter, on September 20, 2011, the repeal was finalized. All just as Robert Gates had planned for well over a year and in spite of the chorus from the right wing Christian Sisters of Perpetual Doom.

Homosexuality and child molestation mythology.

Anti-gay statements regarding acceptance of adult leaders in the Boy Scouts are based on unfounded stereotypes. According to my dictionary that constitutes bigotryAccording to noted expert, Dr. Gregory Herek, professor of psychology at University of California, Davis:
Members of disliked minority groups are often stereotyped as representing a danger to the majority's most vulnerable members. For example, Jews in the Middle Ages were accused of murdering Christian babies in ritual sacrifices. Black men in the United States were often lynched after being falsely accused of raping White women.
Dr. Herek makes the point that, according to the research, most child molesters have not formed an adult sexual orientation. In other words, it is highly unlikely that an openly gay man (having formed an adult sexual orientation) is going to be a child molester.
As an expert panel of researchers convened by the National Academy of Sciences noted in a 1993 report: "The distinction between homosexual and heterosexual child molesters relies on the premise that male molesters of male victims are homosexual in orientation. Most molesters of boys do not report sexual interest in adult men, however."
[ … ]
Dr. Carole Jenny and her colleagues reviewed 352 medical charts, representing all of the sexually abused children seen in the emergency room or child abuse clinic of a Denver children's hospital during a one-year period (from July 1, 1991 to June 30, 1992). The molester was a gay or lesbian adult in fewer than 1% of cases in which an adult molester could be identified – only 2 of the 269 cases (Jenny et al., 1994). [Note: The Jenny Study was peer reviewed and published]
This is an issue that was settled 20 years ago. Yet it persists. It persist because it is a means of demonizing gay people.

Neither Gates' experience nor the science seem to deter the religious right from the rankest bigotry.

It is worth remembering that the same Christian leaders predicted that the repeal of DADT would materially degrade our Armed Forces. Four years later, none of the end-of-world scenarios seem to have materialized.

You will recall that John Stemberger was, perhaps, the first to weigh in last Thursday. According to the head of Florida Family Policy Council and founder of the Christian Scouting alternative, Trail Life:
Trail Life USA is saddened by the announcement regarding the anticipated membership change in Boy Scouts of America, as many families and boys will be negatively affected by this departure from their own long-standing principles. It is tragic that the BSA is willing to risk the safety and security of its boys because of peer pressure from activists groups.
Matt Barber
On Saturday our friend, the ever erudite Matt Barber, went with “'Be prepared': 'Gay' men with Boy Scouts in tents” at WND — a polemic that has been redistributed to several other outlets. The subheading at WND reads “Exclusive: Matt Barber opines on group's 'unconditional surrender to the homofascists.'

Here we have a right winger who is unafraid to call a progressive minority group that he disapproves of “fascists.” Barber is amazing. Perhaps Mr. Barber has some perverse fantasies. Can I assume that he is attracted to teenage boys — a predilection that he is projecting on the entire gay male community? Seriously, Barber's bigotry depicts someone who is terribly insecure about his own sexuality.

It is difficult to select the most offensive and ignorant passage from Barber's piece. There is such an abundance of material to work with including reliance on “analyses” by Peter Sprigg at the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council. I suppose that the following passage will just have to do:
The connection between homosexual abuse and “gay identity” is undeniable. Although clearly not all “gay”-identified men and women abuse children, or were abused as children, the verifiable reality is that an alarmingly high percentage of them do and were. As with most forms of abuse, the cycle is both circular and vicious. “Born that way?” Not so much. “Made that way?” Sadly, it appears so.
I don't know why the word gay is in quotation marks except to observe that Mr. Barber loves to use defensive quotes. In point of fact the notion that gay men are attracted to boys is most certainly deniable (explained above) as conservative Christian mythology. Moreover, there is absolutely no connection between child abuse and sexual orientation. That, too, is a popular – although unsupportable – theme in right wing Christian circles.

Speaking of right wing Christians, Franklin Graham, the unhinged evangelist disapproves of gays and Robert Gates. In a Facebook post on Friday, Graham wrote:
Robert Gates, shame on you for not having the moral courage to do what is right. … What are you thinking? We shouldn’t shift as the winds of cultural change blow through society; we need to stand for God’s truth and things that are morally right. This move is bending to LGBT activist groups and would put young, innocent boys at risk. I encourage every former Boy Scout and every parent involved in the Boy Scouts to let Robert Gates know how displeased you are and that if he leads the organization down this road, they may lose your support, your participation--and your sons.
Shame on Graham for resorting to an unfounded gay smear that gays pose a threat to children. It doesn't have to be true to repeat it. Graham really doesn't care whether it is true or not. History will not be kind to Mr. Graham. He will continue to be known only for being the son of Billy who, by the way, is an anti-Semitic, homophobic jerk.

According to Newsmax (a conservative outlet), the reaction from the folks at the Southern Baptist Convention is a bit more dignified in its bigotry. Yet it is still bigotry. They claim that this policy will mark the end of the Boy Scouts. Why would that be? It's just one more way of saying “be afraid of the gays.”
“We are disappointed, but we're not surprised,” said Roger Oldham, a vice president of the SBC, which represents the nation's largest Protestant denomination. “The Boy Scouts telegraphed two years ago that this was their end-game goal, and the compromise they reached two years ago ended up being the first step toward where they really were heading all along.”
[ … ]
“Each church is independent, so it makes its own decisions about its relationship with specific organizations in the community, but we encourage churches to carefully weigh in and evaluate how this decision would impact their ability to continue working with the Boy Scouts.”
[ … ]
“Two years ago, I said we grieved that the Scouts had planted a seed of their own eventual destruction, and I said then that it won't happen overnight, but the course has been set,” Oldham told Newsmax. “This is just a continuation of that course.”
Many conservative Christian leaders obsess over anything that “normalizes homosexuality” because of what they believe is a biblical prohibition. They want to keep as many gay people in the closet as possible. Portraying gay people as a predatory threat to children has been an effective strategy of fear since before Anita Bryant's tirades in the 70's. That didn't work in the long run and the result is that Americans have come to know that they have gay family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. It is part of Harvey Milk's legacy that so many LGBT citizens have come out.

Nevertheless, these fundamentalist Christians are determined to have public and social policies that are consistent with their religious beliefs. Ultimately they want America to look more like Iran except for the state religion being Christianity in contrast to Islam.

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