Sunday, April 08, 2007

Clowns, bigots and the Libertarian Party

What if I were to tell you that being a libertarian cuts your life short significantly? Crazy? I know it sounds insane. What if I said that a Left-wing web site had the statistics, to back it up, gathered by a man who had been chucked out of two professional associations for falsifying facts in previous reports. Are you even more skeptical now?

Let me prove it using some of the methods used by these individuals. A survey is done of the population and it determines that a certain percentage, on average, is libertarian. Let’s say 15% of the population are people who philosophically appear libertarian.

I notice that among young people the number is 20% while among those 60 years to 70 years old the number is 5%. So where did all the libertarians go? I conclude that 75% of them die before they reach the age of 60. Libertarianism kills. And statistics don’t lie.

Of course this is obviously false. There are lots of reasons that this conclusion is false. Old people tend to be more conservative and the young tend to be more “radical” in every generation. Views change. It may also be that in 40 years time we will find that 20% of the old are libertarian. You can only see over time.

Now I bring this up because I am both embarrassed and horrified that an alleged libertarian would pull this sort of double-talk to smear gay people.

There is a stereotype that libertarians are intelligent and tolerant people (the two often go together). I would have to say this case seems to prove otherwise. And it appears from a cursory glance the reason is because of religious extremism once again. Just as fundamentalists have ruined the Republican Party if they are allowed to infiltrate the Libertarian Party they will have the same effect.

The libertarian in question in Kenn Gividen, who not only smears gays, but mounts a defense of creationsim as well. And then for good measure he tries argue that Thomas Jefferson was some great fan of religion, a very dubious claim indeed. He is also anti-immigration and also claims that "gay-banning states" are more prosperous presuming a link between being anti-gay and economic prosperity. The problem with the fundie is that he puts his religion above everything else. And eventually he demand that everything else be made subservient to his religion. And that will include the Libertarian Party if they get into leadership positions. (Yes, there are some exceptions but this general rule is true.)

Now I confess that I ought to be endorsing Libertarians for office on this blog. That I haven’t done so has raised questions among some people. This is a perfect example of why I haven’t.

I have voted Libertarian in the past. Not in the last election and I suspect never again. It’s not that I’ll rush out and vote Republican (never again) or Democrat (unlikely) either. But honestly speaking, given a choice between a Libertarian like Gividen, a Democrat and a Republican, and if a gun were put to my head I’d vote Democrat. And it pains me considerably to say that.

The problem with the LP is that it is so desperate for “activists” that it will allow almost anyone to run. Consider the clown in Montana who ended up dying himself blue because of some bizarre, irrational belief he holds about nutrition. (That he turned blue as a result of it is evidence that it is bizarre and irrational.) Then to make matters worse he got up in a public debate and rambled off this extremist Right-wing tirade about a conspiracy to take over the world. I was waiting for him to haul out a copy of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion or something equally ludicrous like None Dare Call it Conspiracy or whatever tract from the Birchers is now making the rounds in far Right circles.

The blue moron was a candidate for US Senate. And he wasn’t the worst of the Libertarian lot either. Gividen ran for Governor of Indiana. These are top offices and if the LP can’t pick better candidates for these offices then I say it ought to die a fast death and free the wasted resources for something that might do some good. The LP is not it, not with these kind of representatives.

I originally gave Gividen the shadow of the doubt that he wasn’t a bigot. But I think he is and I assume it comes out of his religious extremism. He has a post asking “What happened to the AIDS epidemic?” He wants to know why the millions of people who were supposed to be dying aren’t.

And he says: “The noise died down once the gay strategists realized their racket was scaring away recruits and attacking a ‘leprosy stigma” on gays in general.” What sort of moron talks about gay “recruits”? I know. So do you. And for this post he links to a fundamentalist group dedicated to changing gay people straight through faith.

Let’s answer his question. First, gay groups continue to talk about HIV and AIDS a lot, they aren’t hiding the issue to “recruit” more people. They are still publicizing the issue of HIV in all communities.

What happened is that researchers overstated the danger from HIV in the US. Researchers always overstate the dire consequences of whatever they research. That is what global warming alarmists are doing. The more shrill the researcher the more likely he will get funds. Most the “activists” simply take their cues from researchers. (It was true with the AIDS activists then and with warming activists now).

Second, people also changed high risk activities which brought infection rates down considerably. And where are the deaths? New treatments are allowing individuals infected to live much longer than before. So there are lots of reasons that the great death rates never materialized. But the idea that AIDS was a “racket” run by “gay strategists” tells me that this man is a dyed in the wool moron, which doesn’t preclude bigotry, the two usually go together like hand and glove.

The main article that I found so absurd, not that all his articles are not absurd, is the one where he claims that gay marriage is deadlier than smoking. He bases this on the claims of the fraudulent Paul Cameron, a man who was chucked out of the American Psychological Association and the American Sociological Association for what were consider unethical behaviour and his distortion of research material. Cameron’s colleagues said he took their material and distorted what they had said in order to further his own hatred of homosexuals. Mr. Gividen responds to this fact by claiming that both professional groups are in the clutches of the homosexual conspiracy.

Cameron is also a fundamentalist Christian and says some of the most vile things possible about gay people (including things I would not print in my blog.) Cameron has been running antigay campaigns for 25 years. In his first he held a press conference publicly announcing that a group of homosexuals had gang-raped a four year old boy in a public toilet. This caused a major uproar but no such incident took place. It appears Cameron invented it. This is the man on whom Gividen is relying.

And Cameron has been peddling the lie that gay people are dying decades earlier than other people for some time now. He has been using the most inventive, manipulative, dishonest, tactics to do so. He took obituaries from gay publications and averaged the age of the person there. Then he took mainstream newspaper obituaries and averaged the age there. Presto: gays died earlier.

What made him assume that everyone in mainstream newspapers was heterosexual? (They aren’t, in fact most gay people who die have their obituaries in these papers and no in gay papers.)Why did he assume that urban activist newspapers reflected the general gay community? (They don’t.)

Libertarian writer Walter Olson dismantled Cameron’s phony numbers.

“Suppose he assumes--wildly pessimistically, given current incidence data--that half the gay male population is destined to catch the AIDS virus and die of it. The actual average age of AIDS patients at death has been about 40... For the number 43 to be the true average death age for the entire population of gay males, HIV-negative gay men would, on average, have to keel into their graves at 46. Looked at another way, 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 average age (11, actually).”
You can read Olson’s article yourself so I won’t continue quoting it.

One indication of how absurd Cameron is (and Gividen by implication) is that he claims that only 2 percent of gay people live to old age. I know around 50 gay people, around the world, fairly well. In libertarian circles I’ve known around 100 gay people socially in total. Many of these are people I’ve known for 20 years. I know of three who have died. The people I met in libertarian circles in the late 70s, who were gay, are all pretty much still alive 30 years later. Most would be in their late 40s to 70s now. According to Cameron almost all of them should be dead. Gividen makes a similar claim, based on Cameron of course. But they aren’t.

Gividen claims that surveys of people who had gay marriages showed that the average age of death for them was 51 while that of straight married men was 74.

Let us assume that this number is correct. Something that is risky to do when Paul Cameron is involved. We have some experience in different countries when gay marriage is legalized. First, the majority of couples who marry are younger couples. I’ve seen on line discussions among gay people about whether they would marry or not. Many of the older couples argued that they had been together for so many years already they just weren’t inclined to marry now. They are settled and used to the way they have their life structured.

They didn’t see the point to marry now. Younger couples, sometimes making a political statement (which I think is stupid to do), were more often than not the ones who tied the knot. I would say that the majority of couples married were under the age of 50. Most gay couples over the age of 50, who had the option, didn’t marry.

Ten years go by and Cameron looks at the average age of death. He puts the average age of death for the straight married men in their mid 70s and for the average gay married man in his early 50s. Now what does this mean. For one thing it means that 10 years earlier those people were of very different ages. The straight man would have been in his mid 60s then while the gay man would have been in his early 40s. In other words the two groups were not of similar ages when the survey began. Ten years later this would remain true no matter what you compared.

In 1990 in Denmark the average age of heterosexual couples was significantly higher than the average age of gay couples who married. And the main reason is that many of those straight couples had married decades earlier. Only if older gay couples rushed out and married in very high numbers would the average age between the two groups be similar at the start of the survey. And that didn’t happen.

Now in any population a certain percentage of people die. Group A might have an average age of 40 and Group B might have an average age of 65. Ten years down the road you look only at those people who died. The average age of death in Group A, ten years on, has to be lower than the average in Group B. Even if everyone in Group B died the day the survey started, and everyone in Group A lived for another 10 years their average ages would not be the same.

Comparison groups must start the survey period with the same average age in order to have a meaningful comparison. Cameron didn’t do because he doesn’t want a meaningful comparison he wants one that supports his theology. So does Gividen.

The second problem that plagues all of Cameron’s “surveys” is that they often include very small population numbers. For instance he concludes, and Gividen quotes, that the average straight married woman in Norway dies at the age of 81 while the average age for partnered lesbians is 56. That latter number is based on the deaths of 6 women in the entire country. You don’t get a meaningful statistic from a number that this small. The number must be sufficiently large and sufficient random in order to have meaning. Cameron uses small samples and groups that are by no means random, and when he compares groups he loads the dice in favor of one group over the other. That is just dishonest manipulation of statistics. It is precisely what I would expect bigots to do.

And don’t make a mistake. Gividen is a bigot. He writes: “The gay agenda is dangerous” and that young people exploring their sexual orientation is “an invitation to an early grave.” He claims that the antigay programs of fundamentalists ought to be seen “as important life-saving efforts.”

So, if you wonder why I don't vote Libertarian take a look at the kind of candidates they nominate for high office. At one time they had people with libertarian principles like Ed Clark, Bruce Green, Jim Lewis now they run candidates like the blue conspiracy monger and fundamentalist bigots. They don’t deserve my vote. You will have to make up your own mind but you know where I stand.

UPDATE: I see that Warren Throckmorton, who is a fundamentalist involved with the "gay change" movement that Gividen supports, writes that: "One should be very cautious in believing any reports coming from this team (meaning the Camerons)."

I wondered how Cameron was claiming to have some sort of approval of the Eastern Psychological Association for his paper. I checked their website. To present a paper at their conference you merely have to be a paid member and send an abstract of the paper (not the paper itself). So how did the Cameron's get in with their paper? By distorting what it was about. No mention is made in their abstract about supposedly proving that gay marriage kills. Their abstract merely says that the six of the gay population is exaggerated. There is no discussion of what they clearly saw as their main theme -- since that is the issue they emphasized in the press release they sent out about the paper. In other words they lied to the EPA about what their paper would be about in order to get a slot, used the slot for other purposes, and are now using the EPA to give some credence to their sloppy work. This is very dishonest but par for the course for Cameron. Here is an interesting press report on Cameron's deceptive practices.

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