Note: This is a cross post from Box Turtle Bulletin.
If anyone has paid any attention to gay-rights debates over the past three decades, they would have undoubtedly come across at least a few of Paul Cameron’s many pronouncements. As the head of the tiny Family Research Institute (it appears to consist only of himself, his wife, a daughter, and a son who is also a frequent coauthor), he’s nevertheless made a name for himself by publishing more than three-dozen anti-gay “studies,” mostly in the pay-to-publish vanity journal Psychological Reports.
He has also expressed his virulently anti-gay views in several pamphlets (including his most famous pamphlet, “Medical Consequences of What Homosexuals Do“) and in his quasi-monthly newsletters. His penchant for distorting social science research has been denounced by the American Psychological Association, the American Sociological Association, and the Nebraska Psychological Association. More recently, he’s been called out by the Eastern Psychological Association and in the latest issue of Anthropology News.
n 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center issued a report saying, “Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany in that these disparaging descriptions of homosexuals are reminiscent of themes found in the ugly history of anti-Semitism…”. But as we shall see, Cameron does much more than just echo Nazi Germany in his theories on homosexuality. He actually engaged in a bit of holocaust revisionism to advance his cause. And the surprising thing is, this evidence has been right there all along on his web site, largely unnoticed for eight years.
But before we examine his retelling of the gay experience in Nazi Germany, let’s take a few moments to explore a little bit about what goes on in Cameron’s world. And let’s begin with a recent e-mail exchange between Paul Cameron and Dr. Warren Throckmorton, associate professor of Psychology at Grove City College in northwestern Pennsylvania.
Cameron’s Latest Missive
Dr. Warren Throckmorton is not exactly a gay-rights advocate himself. He’s a conservative Christian who supports values-based therapy — therapy which can include sexual orientation therapy — for those who are trying to reconcile their sexuality with their religious beliefs. In 2004, he produced the video “I Do Exist” which portrays several people who claimed to have changed their sexual orientation.
But Dr. Throckmorton doesn’t fit the mold of your typical anti-gay activist either. He proposed a set of ethical standards which would place the client’s values over those of the therapist, even if the religious views of the client are gay-affirming. He publicly broke with NARTH over their reluctance to distance themselves from a NARTH advisory board member who defended slavery. He’s also denounced other anti-gay leaders when they misrepresent legitimate social science research to advance their political causes, even though he is personally sympathetic to many of those causes. So when news of Paul and Kirk Cameron’s latest “gay Scandinavian lifespan” study began to hit the conservative circuit, Dr. Throckmorton reviewed their paper and wrote a devastating analysis.
Now whenever a credible authority challenges his work, you can count on Paul Cameron to respond with his own inimical flair. Sure enough, his response arrived on May 2nd, and that response — like so many others he’s made before whenever anyone had the nerve to challenge him — provides a disturbing glimpse into what makes the man tick.
Cameron began his reply by bragging, “I was the first scientist to document the health effects of second-hand tobacco smoke.” Apparently he’s quite proud of that achievement:
I generated the first published facts that implicated exposure to second-hand smoke as a correlate of lowered health. I also was fairly active in the media — proposing social policies to diminish smoking on the basis of my research. Today you pretty-much live in my world — a world that I had a significant part in conceptualizing and bringing about.
“Today you pretty-much live in my world…” An interesting phrase that begs the question: exactly what does Cameron’s world look like?
Paul Cameron’s world really isn’t much of a mystery, or at least it shouldn’t be to anyone who’s been paying attention. He’s a prolific writer and he’s not shy about sharing his views. His institute’s web site provides an online library that goes back to 1998. When we mine all of this rich material, especially his newsletters, we see a dark world which should send shivers down everyone’s spines.
But before we begin to plumb the depths of the Family Research Institute web site, let’s begin to acclimate ourselves to Cameron’s world by returning to Cameron’s response to Dr. Throckmorton:
Our methods and credentials are being impugned primarily because we have come to believe — on the basis of empirical research — that homosexual practice is injurious to society. Further, that we as a culture will pay a stiff penalty for elevating homosexual expression to the status of a powerful ‘right.’ So I ask the following question: Is it fair to give those who live parasitic lives ‘Super Rights?’
After all, it is the duty of every member of society to contribute to the commonweal. Yet the empirical evidence indicates that those who engage in homosexuality 1) contribute less and cost more in goods and services, 2) disproportionately disrupt social functioning, and 3) have few children while being more apt to harm them. Thus, homosexuals not only fail to ‘pay for their keep,’ but by their negative influence on children, cloud society’s future.
… As if these violations of fairness were not enough, those fancying homosexuality run a large and growing ‘quasi-secret society’ to achieve their aims — aims often inimical to social order. Examples include the ‘shadow organization’ in the U.S. military, which provides illegal sexual contacts and career advantages to enlisted practitioners, and homosexual ‘guides’ (e.g., Spartacus) that specify which rest areas, parks, and restrooms have been commandeered for gay sex.
… So I ask again, is it fair, is it just, to give those who engage in homosexuality — a worthless as well as dangerous amusement — ‘Super Rights?’ In substantial part, the fate of Western Civilization hinges on the answer.
You may think this is a little unhinged (“parasitic lives,” “Super Rights,” “quasi-secret society”…) but the truth is, Cameron’s letter to Dr. Throckmorton is positively genteel compared to the rambling manifesto he published on his own web site. In “Can Anything Be Done To Stop Gay Rights?“, we see him laying the groundwork for a call to arms as he describes what can go wrong when a tiny minority asserts its place in society. Not only that, but we also see that he chooses an interesting example to serve as a warning:
…[T]he present bland acceptance of homosexuality signals the end of the religious and moral vision that made Western civilization coherent and functional. We had a forewarning of this social collapse in Germany following that nation’s defeat in World War I. During the Wiemar Republic, homosexuality was acceptable and consequently rampant. The popular culture celebrated perversity. Kurt Weill’s songs portrayed pleasure-seeking men moving from one homosexual encounter to another. The first gay rights film, “Different From The Others,” appeared in Germany in 1919. This period of moral chaos spawned National Socialism and the rise to power of its sexually twisted leader, Adolph Hitler.
Cameron acknowledged that the United States is not pre-Nazi Germany, but he clearly sees parallels. He says that right here at home, “in the late 1950s, though comprising only 2% of the adult population, homosexual activists strategized to cancel the influence of Christianity” by “capturing science”:
They correctly figured it would be tough sledding if they tried to change Christianity from within. But by capturing the professions and thereby science, the gay movement could trump Christianity. They knew that religious professionals — intimidated by the complexity of science and awed by its influence and accomplishments — would eventually go along with them.”
The consequences of all this?
If the acceptance and practice of homosexuality continues at its current rate, Western civilization will not survive.
Already we can see that in Cameron’s world, homosexuality represents a sinister presence, one that includes shadowy organizations carrying out a systematic subversion of science. And if this menace isn’t dealt with, these “parasites” threaten to bring down Western civilization as we know it — just like what he says happened in the Wiemar Republic. Cameron is committed to making sure that doesn’t happen here though. But before we can understand what Cameron proposes as a solution, we need to learn what he thinks homosexuality is all about.
Homosexuality in Cameron’s World
When most social scientists speak of homosexuality, they speak of sexual orientation and attractions with the understanding that homosexuality isn’t a choice. This is true when it’s Focus on the Family, NARTH, and Exodus explaining homosexuality through the lens of modified Freudian theories. This is also true when gay-affirming theorists promote a biological premise for homosexuality. The two sides rarely agree on anything, but at least they generally agree on this: Homosexuality is not a choice.
This is nonsense as far as Cameron is concerned. Like most anti-gay activists, he dismisses outright the possibility that there might be a biological component to homosexuality. But unlike other anti-gay activists, he publicly scolds Dr. James Dobson and the entire anti-gay movement for promoting “the hocus-pocus of Freudian thought.” It turns out that in Cameron’s world there are only three causes of homosexuality:
In FRI’s analysis, most of those who engage in homosexuality adopt these sexual activities and rebellious attitudes as a result of three kinds of experiences:
- direct recruitment to homosexuality by seduction or molestation (particularly of the underage);
- indirect recruitment via cultural institutions (e.g., the schools, media, churches) preaching that ‘homosexuality is another way to fulfillment and personal satisfaction;’ and
- being around homosexuals as friends, acquaintances, or family members.
We would argue that these same mechanisms also account for most of those who take up smoking, drug abuse, or other common ‘bad habits.’
In Cameron’s world, homosexuality is not an orientation. It’s strictly about pleasure, a choice of entertainment:
Homosexuality is particularly ‘sticky entertainment.’ Like drug addiction, it’s hard to break away from. But homosexuality transcends ‘sticky.’ It is so all-consuming that it tends to degrade the logic and character of those who indulge in it.
…You have to be careful what entertainments you choose — what starts out as ‘fun,’ ‘interesting,’ or ‘a lark’ can end up controlling you. Societies have to be careful lest they aid and abet such foolishness.
And in Cameron’s world, once someone begins to indulge in this “lark,” it becomes a bad habit and should be treated as such:
With rare exception, gays don’t do these things because they are “confused as to whether they are a man or a woman.” They know that they are men, they have just learned to enjoy sex with other men. They are not “sick,” nor typically in great psychological distress. Rather they have acquired an evil habit, a bad habit, a socially injurious habit…
It is much the same with illegal drug abusers. Both drug abusers and homosexuals are, in FRI’s opinion, engaging in what ought to be regarded as, and punished as, criminal activity.
And indeed, his manifesto includes a call for the recriminalization of homosexuality (“Engaging in penile-anal sex would be considered a felony, punishable by 1-5 years in prison, or a fine of $2,000 per occurrence”), a prohibition of gays and lesbians from employment in school districts, and the withholding of federal funds from any jurisdiction that allows domestic partnerships.
And of course, he doesn’t end there. As recently as May 2004, he defended his call to quarantine everyone who is HIV-positive. He approvingly described Cuba’s quarantine, where they “did not recognize individual rights as an impediment to its public health measures.” In other words, Cuba’s quarantine went into effect because there are no “Super Rights” in Cuba — just as in Cameron’s World there shouldn’t be any “Super Rights” here.
Let’s re-cap just a bit. Here we have a man who believes:
- Homosexuality is a learned habit or behavior, chosen simply because it’s “fun” and for no other reason. Much as some people have fun doing drugs, gay men and women are simply having “fun” when they have sex with others of their own gender. This it the full limit to what homosexuality is all about.
- Homosexuals however, aren’t satisfied with just having “fun” with each other. Instead, gays and lesbians are constantly recruiting others to join the fold — just as they were recruited through what he calls “direct” and “indirect” means.
- Homosexuals operate a “quasi-secret society” which enables them to maintain an extensive network of contacts for career advancement in the military and the furtherance of their “dangerous adventures.”
- Homosexuals place themselves above all others, demanding “Super Rights” to the detriment of others.
- While homosexuals demand these “Super Rights” from society, they are actually a burden and a danger to that society. Because of their burden and their failure to reproduce, they live “parasitic lives.”
- The best way to deal with homosexuals is to recriminalize sodomy, making it a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
- The suggestion that those who are HIV-positive should be quarantined for the rest of their lives is a perfectly “reasonable” way of dealing with the epidemic, as evidenced by the “success” demonstrated by repressive totalitarian regimes like Cuba.
- The fate of Western Civilization hangs on how we respond to the threat.
So here it is. This is Cameron’s world, one that I suspect is very different from yours or mine. But it’s important to understand what Cameron’s world looks like because it’s his goal — according to his own manifesto — to see to it that everything he does contributes towards making his reality ours.
“Gays in Nazi Germany”
So why did I go through all of this? Well, I think it’s crucial to know what Cameron believes before we can begin to make sense out of what I found a few weeks ago on his web site. By chance, I happened to stumble upon a very disturbing article — disturbing even by Cameron’s standards — that was tucked neatly into page two of his March 1999 edition of FRI Reports. This article, “Gays in Nazi Germany,” explores the question, “How did the Nazis deal with homosexuality?” Cameron writes:
This question is partially answered by Rudolf Höss — who was in charge of some of these decisions — in a recently translated German book. Himmler, one of Hitler’s chief lieutenants, was particularly opposed to the gay movement and had much to do with expunging homosexuals from the public social fabric. Nevertheless, German law did not make homosexual conduct a capital crime either before the Nazi regime came into power nor during it, so the real issue for Höss and his Nazi collaborators was how to “control” those addicted to homosexuality. Since the Nazi regime could get away with just about anything it wanted — shy of execution — to suppress homosexual activity, its experience provides some insight about the “containability” of homosexuality, at least under a dictatorship.
Höss, who gave the orders on what to do, felt that he knew how to handle homosexuals…
There’s so much missing from Cameron’s opening paragraphs that it’s hard to know where to begin. It’s true that Germany’s Paragraph 175, the penal code that criminalized homosexual activity between men (women were excluded from the code) didn’t provide for the death penalty. There was also no formal death penalty against the European Jewish population either. But that didn’t keep the Nazi’s from killing more than six million Jews along with another six to eight million other “undesirables.” They didn’t need a formal death penalty to kill thousands of gay men either. While the numbers of gay men caught up in the Nazi’s web are minuscule compared to European Jews and other non-Germans, their fate was much the same.
There’s more. Rudolph Höss, who Cameron simply describes as the one “who was in charge of some of these decisions,” began his adult life as a convicted murderer. He parlayed his own prison experience into a career as an SS officer at several concentration camps for the Third Reich. His service at Dachau and Sachsenhausen (the concentration camp in which the events described in Cameron’s article takes place — something else Cameron forgets to mention) so impressed his mentor, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, that he was named the first camp commandant of Auschwitz. There, he was proud of his innovations which turned murder into an exercise of mass production (including a forerunner of today’s “just-in-time” delivery, and the first large-scale use of Zyklon B instead of engine exhaust in the gas chambers). Höss’ streamlining of murder made the Final Solution possible.
Why did Cameron leave all of this out? Maybe these facts were too much of a distraction from what Cameron really wanted to talk about. And what he really wanted to talk about appears to have be en three-fold: 1) that gay men are gay because they “choose” to be gay, that 2) that gay men recruit others into homosexuality, making homosexuality “contagious,” and that 3) when push comes to shove and gay men are given no other choice, the vast majority of them will abandon their homosexual “proclivities.”
In other words, Cameron writes about Rudolph Höss, a notorious war criminal who was executed for his crimes after the war, because Höss’ theories of homosexuality matches Cameron’s:
Apparently Höss considered homosexuals to be active recruiters. Indeed his experience in the camp suggests that if left with other prisoners, the homosexuals would eventually break down the resistance of others so that they would engage in homosexual behavior…
These experiences put the lie to the whole “born that way” claim or the notion that one’s sexuality is fixed after puberty. Clearly, homosexuals could and did “convert” at least some of those with whom they were housed and at a sufficient level for Höss to consider it an “epidemic.” Höss believed that homosexuals were so brazen that they could not be treated “like everyone else,” even in prison. While most kinds of punishment did not keep some of these addicts from persisting in their homosexual ventures, if dealt with severely enough — and in isolation — even those addicted to homosexuality could be managed.
I showed you before that in Cameron’s world, homosexuality isn’t about attractions or orientation. It’s simply about pleasure, habit or “addiction.” It turns out, this was also the prevailing view of homosexuality held by the Nazi regime. Heather Pringle’s 2006 book, The Master Plan: Himmler’s Scholars and the Holocaust lays out that theory this way(p. 6):
The Reichsführer-SS [Himmler] regarded gay men as a great blight upon society. They contributed little more than red ink, in his opinion, to “the sexual balance sheet,” rarely fathering children. This was a serious failing in the Third Reich, where fatherhood was deemed one of the prime patriotic duties of all German men. Worse still, Himmler was convinced that homosexuality was a communicable disease. He believed it could infect straight men and he worried it might reach the epidemic proportions in such hotbeds of male bonding as the SS…
Himmler was Höss’ mentor, and Himmler’s theories echo in Höss’ memoirs as he describes the men wearing the pink triangles at Sachsenhausen. Cameron quotes Höss this way:
Some men were homosexual because they became weary of women through overindulgence or because they looked for new highs in their parasitic life. These men could also be reeducated and turned away from their vice.
There’s that phrase again: “parasitic life.”
Historians believe that more than 50,000 men were convicted under Paragraph 175. Most were sent to ordinary prisons, but upwards of 15,000 were thrown into concentration camps. It’s believed that sixty percent didn’t make it out alive (contrary to Cameron’s whitewash that “German law did not make homosexual conduct a capital crime”). The lucky ones were given the option of freedom in exchange for submitting to “voluntary” castration. The others were subjected to medical experiments to transform them into functioning heterosexuals, or they were put in “extermination through work” details where they were starved to death under heavy labor.
Cameron leaves all of this out. Instead he remains fascinated that “in Höss’ opinion, most who engage in homosexuality can be ‘cured.’ When push comes to shove, most will simply ‘give it up’…”
Cameron’s article is utterly devoid of even the slightest hint of the horrific conditions found in the Nazi death camps. Nowhere does he express any twinge of moral regret — let alone outrage — over Höss’ role in the Holocaust, or for the lives of the thousands of gay men Höss so callously dispatched. Nor does Cameron mention the millions more lives that were snuffed out thanks to Höss’ coldblooded efficiency. Instead, Cameron’s calm retelling of Höss’ accounts is eerily detached from the unspeakable realities of Nazi rule.
Cameron concludes his lesson with the satisfaction that his theories have been somehow confirmed:
We can certainly feel sorry for those are so trapped by their vice that they cannot get free. On the other hand, if society were forced to accommodate the behavior of hard-core homosexuals, how many other lives would be damaged, perhaps irreparably? True compassion dictates that we not only attempt to keep those who are bent on self-destruction from reaching their demise, but more importantly, that we protect others who might get caught in the same wake of misfortune.
Without a doubt, this is the most sinister example of “true compassion” ever written.
“A Plausible Idea”
Cameron’s exercise in Nazi revisionism brings everything else he has ever said into a whole new light:
“From society’s perspective, non-marital sexual activities are either non-productive or harmful. Except for ‘producers’ and ‘nurturers’ of children, other sex is recreational.”
“Is it fair to give those who live parasitic lives ‘Super Rights?’”
“…those fancying homosexuality run a large and growing ‘quasi-secret society’ to achieve their aims.”
“Our goal is to change public policy and law for the better by making homosexuality socially unacceptable and forcing gay rights back ‘into the closet.’”
And how can we forget this, which Mark Peitrzyk reported in 1995:
At the 1985 Conservative Political Action Conference, Cameron announced to the attendees, “Unless we get medically lucky, in three or four years, one of the options discussed will be the extermination of homosexuals.” According to an interview with former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, Cameron was recommending the extermination option as early as 1983.
A year later, when Paul Harkavy asked Cameron whether he endorsed extermination, Cameron replied, “That’s not true. All I said was a plausible idea would be extermination. Other cultures have done it. That’s hardly an endorsement, per se.”
But where on earth does he get the idea that extermination would ever be “a plausible idea”? In all of Anglo-American history, I can find no precedent whatsoever for extermination for medical reasons. He says “other cultures have done it,” but we know there is only one other western culture to have sunk to such depths of criminal depravity. Nazi Germany provides the only precedent for such an idea in all of Western Civilization — the very same example that Cameron upheld in 1999 to lend credence to his theories.
And remember too, that Cameron proposed that everyone who was HIV-positive should be tattooed — just as everyone who entered Höss’ concentration camps were made to bear the indelible marks of their “undesirable” status.
But now it all seems to come together, doesn’t it? Cameron’s description of Höss’ accounts casts a dark shadow on his own fascination with exterminations, quarantines, tattoos and capital punishment. And yes, while his recommendation for recriminalizing sodomy omitted capital punishment (just as Germany’s Paragraph 175 did), he nevertheless invokes it twice in his manifesto alone. First, there’s this:
An excellent — but by no means isolated — example of the long-term decline is provided by the District of Columbia. When the District was established in 1790, sodomy was a capital crime. Today, homosexuals have more legal rights in D.C. than non-homosexuals.
And again later:
It took 300 years for the Christian paradigm to triumph and express itself in social policy. A law punishing homosexual activity with death appeared in A.D. 342. About 50 years later, the emperors Valentinian II, Theodosious, and Arcadius decreed that “All persons who have the shameful custom of condemning a man’s body, acting the part of a woman’s… shall expiate this sort of crime in avenging flames.” …
… But over time, the Christian truths about God’s hatred of homosexual activity, Sodom and Gomorrah, etc., diminished in the law. As well, punishments for same-sex activity declined in severity — from death to imprisonment to fines.
The Judgment of History
When the SPLC said, “Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany,” I dismissed that statement as mere hyperbole even though I found the rest of the report informative. Whenever anyone is compared to Nazism, they all too often wind up diminishing the horrors of what really happened there. The truth is, there was only one Hitler, and there was only one Holocaust. The world looked Evil in the eye during those darkest of hours, and history since then has rendered its just judgment on that unimaginable scourge. So whenever someone invokes Hitler or the Nazis while expressing their outrage over something, it’s usually a good indication that they’ve run out of ideas for their argument.
But what I didn’t know then (and apparently neither did the SPLC, since they didn’t mention Cameron’s newsletter article), was that Cameron himself drew a direct line between his own theories and those of Nazi Germany. I didn’t do it, and neither did the SPLC. These are Cameron’s own theories, expressed in his own words and backed by examples of his own choosing.
Cameron is neither a Hitler, Himmler nor Höss. He’s not even close. He is his own man, and he bears his own unique responsibility for the vile agenda he proposes for our nation.
But that responsibility doesn’t rest with him alone. If no one else were to spread his messages or cite his “research,” he’d quickly disappear into the fog of irrelevance. But that hasn’t happened. He continues to be quoted by anti-gay activists and the conservative press. His reputation is built on the fact that others find his bogus statistics useful to feed their anti-gay animus.
Paul Cameron is just one man. But when others associate themselves with his junk science to further their agenda, they provide him with the oxygen he needs to keep his quest alive. And when they do, they too risk courting the same judgment of history that Cameron so richly deserves.