Jim Burroway of Box Turtle Bulletin has done a fantastic analysis of James’ Holsinger’s “Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality,” looking closely at the studies Holsinger cites in his attempt to prove that LGBT people are as unnatural as trying to force a square peg into an anus-shaped hole.
Jim’s post is excellent, so if you are interested in this nomination, please go read the entire article, but here are the parts that struck me:
1. The issue is not Holsinger’s personal or religious beliefs. As Jim points out, C. Everett Koop was also a conservative Christian. But when dealing with the AIDS epidemic in the 80s, Koop made his decisions based on science, something that, as Jim goes on to show, Holsinger did not do in this paper.
2. Judging by the way Holsinger takes his quotes out of context and uses references to studies to prove something that the original studies don’t attempt to prove, Holsinger is either
- Intentionally Deceptive
- All of the above.
I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer a Surgeon General that is none of the above.
3. The only medical conclusion justified by Holsinger’s sources is that forcefully sticking sharp pointy foreign objects in one’s anus can be dangerous. I don’t think anyone with two brain cells (which, admittedly, might exclude our President) needs anyone to explain that sticking sharp pointy foreign objects just about anywhere in the human body can be dangerous. Of course, the really bothersome part is that Holsinger uses evidence about the dangers of running with scissors towards someone’s anus to argue that love, relationships, and consensual sex between consenting adults of the same sex is, in his professional and medical judgment, icky.
Again, go read Burroway to see better how Holsinger twists and distorts and misrepresent in a way that is not just bad science, but also unethical.
I’ll close with Burroway’s conclusion because it is so well-stated:
The whole point of Holsinger’s paper is to draw a sharp contrast between gay relationships and heterosexual relationships. But to do so, he 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.
In other words, to describe gay sexual acts, more often than not he turned to papers which describe injuries sustained through heterosexual activity. And then he used this evidence from heterosexual activity to say that “when the complementarity of the sexes is breached, injuries and diseases may occur as noted above.” But what does this evidence suggest about “complementarity” in heterosexual relationships? Holsinger doesn’t answer.
But worse, Holsinger made the fatal error of ignoring the bonds of affection and devotion that arise in gay and lesbian couples. He reduced the rich complexity of their relationships to pipe fittings and how they interlock with each other. But the interlocking parts that fit together in relationships are those parts that fit sublimely. They have absolutely nothing to do with pipes or connectors or any other analogies drawn from the local Ace Hardware store.