Thursday, December 10, 2009
I do get that the guy is a bit of a charlatan. He's one of these people that publishes pseudo-psychological books with little to no evidence supporting their claims. In his case, he has a degree in clinical therapy, as well as having once lived a homosexual lifestyle, since disowned. He thinks that qualifies him to promote himself as an expert in "reforming" homosexuals. He's apparently been disbarred for some sort of fraud and he, indeed, sounds like a bit of a snake oil salesman.
As for "reforming" gays, my sense of it is that there are just a lot more bisexuals in the population than anyone wants to admit. When someone lives in a heterosexual marriage for decades, gets divorced, and then settles down with a same sex partner, I just assume they were always bisexual, although I know plenty of people who assume they were "living a lie" before and have "come out" now. Similarly, when someone goes the other way, I just assume they're bi; not that they have been "cured". I think sexuality is probably pretty fluid; something that many monosexuals are frankly way too close-minded about.
So, as for "curing gays", yes, I think the guy is wrong on that count. But, in the first place, I'm not sure that he doesn't believe what he's saying. The interviewer seems to think that he's a con artist, and maybe he is. But I get the feeling here that he's fully bought the con. I think he's trying to convince others of something that he has convinced himself of. It's a small difference, but it's important.
With people like that, I think you have to use reason to try to show them where they're wrong, or at least, why you disagree with them. Instead, the interviewer is really trying to cast as much doubt on him as a person as she can. I think her hope is to dissuade the people who believe what he has to say. But, I'm not sure that the end result isn't that people who already agree with his nonsense will continue to believe in it, because she really just seems to be trying to shame the guy, as opposed to persuasively arguing that he's deluded. But, if he is deluded, what's the point in trying to shame him? How will that change his mind? Or the minds of any of the deluded people who agree with him? What is the point here?
I think the point is to rile up those people who already think that "ex-gays" are deluded. Okay, sure. Great. But where I think she goes over the line is in holding the guy responsible for the horrifying anti-gay laws in Uganda. 1. This guy goes around claiming that gays can "reform themselves"; and 2. the psychos in Uganda are using that to bolster their case that gays should be jailed or executed for not going straight. All of that is evident. But does that mean that the deluded guy is directly responsible for what the psychos are doing in Uganda? Because that's how I take it when she says that he has "blood on his hands", and I don't get the sense that the anti-gay extremists in Uganda really needed the imprimatur of US evangelicals and ex-gay ministries to do what they're doing. And I don't actually think the deluded guy was trying to give them his imprimatur to do those things. Maybe I'm just giving him the benefit of the doubt here.
I realize this is a hair-splitting and vague point I'm making, but I think there's a real difference between saying that the guy is wrong and deluded, which I agree with, and saying that he shouldn't be expressing his deluded opinions because other people with those opinions are trying to get their state to kill homosexuals, and it might encourage them. I think the attempt here is to put his deluded opinions beyond the pale by conflating them with other people's far more extreme opinions. And that's what bothers me.
Does anyone else see that? Am I being too kind? What are you supposed to do when you think that someone else's beliefs are deluded and wrong?
Posted by Rufus at 10:53 AM