Sunday, April 08, 2007

Taxes, Cameron, gerbils and dead gay men.

As much as the far Right loves to quote Paul Cameron the reality is that his organization is not much of an organization. What money they do raise goes almost entirely to the Cameron family as salary.

I looked at his tax records. Here is what I can tell you. First he lists a PO Box in Colorado Springs as his location, and his phone number is 303-681-3113. Total income (this was the return filed in 2006) was $78,684. This is called “direct public support” but no indication is given as to who is behind the money. Of this they spent $7,732 on fund-raising. And they say they ran a deficit of $37,279 for the year. They started the year with assets worth $55,317 and ended the year with assets totaling $18,038.

The lion’s share of the money went to Cameron, his wife and his son. If you add in compensation to them as officers, salaries and employee benefits the Cameron family took in almost $65,000. Another $5,200 is spent on “occupancy”. I would suspect they operate out of Cameron’s home and that this occupancy puts income to the family at over $70,000. If you read the smaller print on their income tax form they are asked if the organization “either directly or indirectly, engaged” in the “leasing of property” with any “substantial contributors, trustees, directors, officers, creators, key employers or members of their families.” They answer that they did. I think this supports the idea that the $5,200 is additional payment to Cameron.

Just over $12,500 is spent on travel which I would assume is for Cameron himself. There is also another expense list of over $15,000 for consulting. It does not say who did the consulting and received the money.

Paul Cameron takes in $25,836 as salary plus another $4,206 in other forms of compensation. His wife is paid just over $20,000 in salary and compensation and his son Kirk (not the former child actor turned evangelist) is paid $13,000.

According to their tax filing they don’t attempt to “influence national, state, or local legislation” in any way. From what I’ve see that is one of their main purposes.

It appears that Cameron’s income is the lowest it has been in recent years. Who is funding him remains unknown. They spent almost the entire budget on their own salaries and traveling expenses. If the consulting fees went to anyone in the family than family members received more in compensation from their organization than what was donated during the fiscal year.

One expense not itemized is how much Cameron paid to have his “studies” published in a journal. Most professional journals don’t charge the author to publish an article and submissions go through a strict peer review process where a reviewer can scuttle an article by questioning its methodology. Cameron uses a publication called Psychological Report which has a very limited readership. Authors pay the “journal” $27.50 per page to publish their articles. And while the journal says the articles are peer reviewed the reviewer’s comments don’t stop publication. It is highly suspicious when the author pays the journal to publish his material.

Cameron is notorious for being one of the main sources of the urban myth that gay men insert gerbils into their rectums for kicks. Cameron cites a Cecil Adams as his source verifying the use of gerbils. The only problem is that Adams says that while this urban legend has been spread around “every attempt to track down an actual case has come to naught. The whole business sounds completely nuts, and implausible to boot.” Adams says, “no such case has ever found its way into the formal literature of medicine. Having investigated the matter in some depth, I am inclined to write the whole thing off as an urban legend.”

This illustrates how deceptively Cameron operates. He tells his antigay audience--and that is who uses him material--that gays use gerbils for sex! He adds a citation indicating a source for this claim thus giving the illusion that his accusation is supported by documentation. But the actual source he cites calls it an urban legend without a shred of evidence to support it. He attributes to the source a position that is the complete opposite of the one actually taken.

Conservative politician Bill Bennett once quoted Cameron as a reliable source that gays die young. And when he read the rebuttals to the claim he admitted he was duped. He publicly said: “Given what I now know, I believe there are flaws with Paul Cameron’s study. One cannot extrapolate from his methodology and say that the average male homosexual life span is 43 years.”

I sat down and made a list of gay men I’ve known for 10 years or more . I listed whether they are alive or dead and what their age is today or at the time of their death. According to Cameron virtually all of them ought to be dead. I only include people I know fairly well and people whose current status I can verify. This actually skews things in Cameron’s favor since you tend to hear about when someone dies but don’t get people calling you up saying: “Did you hear so and so is still alive?” I have a list of 40 men I’ve known over the years as friends who are gay. Of those five died. One died in an accident, he was the youngest at 25. If we remove him then the average age of death on the people who died is just over 50 years of age. And two friends I lost track of have probably died since they were both in their late 60s years ago when I knew them. If they died, which is likely, they substantially raised the average age of death. If they are still alive they would raise the average age of my living friends, either way it's bad news for Cameron's theory.

If I calculate the number of heterosexual friends I know who have died the average age for them came out to be around the same. But remember when you do a survey like this you are only counting the people who are dead. And unless you yourself happen to be very old most people you have known over the years would still be alive. Of the gay men I know today six are either in their late 60s or 70s. Another four are in their 60s, 15 are in their 50s, 9 are in their 40s and one in his 30s. This means that among the gay men I know the average current age is around 56 years old. So 90% of my gay friends have already lived longer than Cameron says is the statistical average. If his claims applied to the gay men I knew I think this would mean that they would all have to be dead but they aren't.

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