Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Matt Barber Distorts Reality

Over in the far right echo chambers, we find Matt Barber trying once again to associate homosexuality with pedophilia.  
Consider, for instance, a study published in the left-leaning Archives of Sexual Behavior of over 200 convicted pedophiles and pederasts. It found that “86 percent of offenders against males described themselves as homosexual or bisexual.” This demonstrates, as notes Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, that “homosexual or bisexual men are approximately 10 times more likely to molest children than heterosexual men.”
We see this bunch of fiction trotted out on a fairly regular basis in the religious right-wing's attacks on homosexuality (and frankly all sexual minorities).  It took me a little bit of digging to figure out precisely which study Barber was quoting from, but it turns out to be W. D. Erikson et. al.'s study "Behaviour Patterns of Child Molesters".

As the University of Toronto's Dr. Cantor points out, this study has been widely critiqued, and the way in which it is often quoted  distorts reality by using imprecise language.
Published estimates of the proportion of pedophiles who offend against male children and are homosexual span a staggering range from a low of 2% (Jenny, Roesler, & Poyer, 1994) to a high of 86% (Erickson, Walbek, & Seely, 1988). The methods of the authors at each extreme have been criticized, and indeed, both sides are guilty of poor methods. ... At the other end, Erickson and colleagues (Erickson et al., 1988) reported that 86% of their sample of offenders against male children were homosexual. This estimate, however, is based on the self-report of the offenders, and offenders are highly motivated to claim any self-descriptor other than pedophile. In fact, methodologically sophisticated studies of pedophiles rely solely on non-admitting pedophiles (e.g., Blanchard, Klassen, Dickey, Kuban, & Blak, 2001). 
It is here that the political right takes advantage of imprecise usage. Although non-specialists correctly use the word pedophile, that is, to be without regard for whether male or female children are targeted, the colloquial use of the word homosexual refers to homosexual teleiophiles and not homosexual pedophiles. Thus, statements such as “6–8 million boys were abused by age 18 by 1–2 million adult homosexuals” (Walker, 2001) are half truths. Although it might be reasonably said that these perpetrators were homosexual pedophiles, there is no basis on which to believe they were homosexual teleiophiles (i.e., gay men). To refer to the sex in which the offenders’ were erotically interested and not the age is mere sophistry.
The point here is that Barber is using much the same rhetorical device in his argument.  It's a falsehood in a very subtle way.  First of all, it uses the terminology in a subtly imprecise way that blurs lines, second he draws a connection that the evidence being used does not actually support.
This makes perfect sense when coupled with another 2001 study in the same peer-reviewed publication. It found that nearly half of all “gay”-identified men who participated in research were molested by a homosexual pedophile as boys: “46 percent of homosexual men and 22 percent of homosexual women reported having been molested by a person of the same gender. This contrasts to only 7 percent of heterosexual men and 1 percent of heterosexual women reporting having been molested by a person of the same gender.” 
Really?  I love the fact that Barber (and others) are citing a study without specifying which study they are in fact drawing from.  At best, I could make an educated guess or two based on the bibliography at the end of Dr. Cantor's piece, but that would be just a guess.

But, let's look somewhat more closely Cantor's comments, because he draws out an important distinction between molestation by a pedophile and molestation by a non-pedophile:

Although having a genuine erotic interest in children is the strongest predictor of sex offender recidivism (Hanson & Bussiere, 1998), some offenders engage in their behaviors for other reasons (Barbaree & Seto, 1997). Little is known about these other offenders. It is possible that at least some are pedophilic, but lie beyond the ability of psychophysiological tests to identify them. Other factors have been suggested as causing their sexual assaults on children, including alcoholism and anti-social personality (e.g., Marshall, 1997). It is well-established, however, that sex offenses committed by non-pedophiles are largely associated with incest, while the extra-familial offenders are more likely to be genuinely pedophilic (e.g., Blanchard et al., 2001). Furthermore, very few incest victims are male. Estimates are typically 6–8% (e.g., Carlstedt,Forsman, & Soderstrom, 2001; Langevin, Wortzman, Dickey, Wright, & Handy, 1988), substantially lower than the overall proportion of males among all victims (i.e., 20–30%). The most logical conclusion is that sex offenses comprise two phenomena: genuine pedophilia producing offenses against either male or female, extra-familial children and an incest pattern producing offenses against primarily female children. This conclusion is also consistent with the data suggesting that offenders against male children have more victims than offenders against female children. The offenders against male children are more likely to be genuinely pedophilic, while a sizeable group of the offenders against female children are incest offenders and have only a finite number of potential victims. (Additionally, incest offenders are usually removed from contact with their underage relatives after discovery of the offenses.) Nonetheless, the data provide little indication that homosexual teleiophilia plays any greater role in sexual offenses by non-pedophiles than those by pedophiles.
It is perhaps the last sentence of a rather dense paragraph that stands in stark contrast with the conclusions that Barber and others draw:
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.   
Of course, they love to try tying it all back to cases like this:
Egan has filed suit against Singer and several other high-profile Hollywood figures for homosexually assaulting him and other boys repeatedly at several “‘infamous‘ coke and twink pool parties” back when Egan was 15 and Singer was 32. (In the “LGBT” vernacular “twinks,” also called “chicken,” are highly sought-after underage boys used for sex by adult “gay” men.) 
Let's be clear about something here.  At 15, we are not talking about a child any more.  Sexually speaking, the individual is pretty well developed at that point, whether male or female, and is likely as not actively exploring their own sexual identity.  (and yes, experimenting with homosexuality is not unusual or abnormal).  Age of consent laws in this part of the world are a mixed bag, but most recognize that there can be consensual sex happening somewhere between the ages of 14 and 16.

Further, the technical definition of a pedophile refers to an attraction to children who have not undergone puberty.
Pedophilia is used for individuals with a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children aged 13 or younger.[1][2] Nepiophilia (Infantophilia) is pedophilia,[13] but is used to refer to a sexual preference for infants and toddlers (ages 0–3 or those under age 5).[13][28] Hebephilia is defined as individuals with a primary or exclusive sexual interest in 11-14 year old pubescents.[29] The DSM-5 does not list hebephilia among the diagnoses; while evidence suggests that hebephilia is separate from pedophilia, the ICD-10 includes early pubertal age (an aspect of hebephilia) in its pedophilia definition, covering the physical development overlap between the two philias.[30] In addition to hebephilia, some clinicians have proposed other categories that are somewhat or completely distinguished from pedophilia; these include pedohebephilia (a combination of pedophilia and hebephilia) and ephebophilia (though ephebophilia is not considered pathological).[31][32]  
These distinctions are far too subtle for the likes of Barber, whose stock-in-trade is political activism, and reality isn't a big issue to him.  Distorting science doesn't exactly bother him as long as it enables him to put forward more fear-based tactics.  

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