Bil Browning

When you have to lie...

Filed By Bil Browning | December 18, 2006 6:58 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Media
Tags: child care, Focus on the Family, fundamentalists, homophobic behavior, James Dobson, Time magazine

So here's a humdinger for you... Is your argument worth a darn if you have to lie to support it? I mean, I don't have a problem when someone passionately disagrees with me and can support their arguments with well thought out facts and evidence. I have no respect, however, for a bigot who has to lie to support his own prejudices.

And such is the case of James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family. (To which I respond, focus on your own family for once and stop worrying about mine!) Dobson, a media darling of the fundamentalist right, recently had a guest column in the usually respectable Time magazine. In the article Dobson argues that two gay or lesbian parents harms a child and that Americans shouldn't accept "another untested and far-reaching social experiment, this one driven by the desires of same-sex couples to bear and raise children."

He quotes scientific studies and a book to back up his claim. But here's the rub... He lied. The studies don't support his claims and neither do the book.

The author of the study Dobson quotes has sent him a letter in fact:

I am writing to ask that you cease and desist from quoting my research in the future. I was mortified to learn that you had distorted my work this week in a guest column you wrote in Time Magazine. Not only did you take my research out of context, you did so without my knowledge to support discriminatory goals that I do not agree with. What you wrote was not truthful and I ask that you refrain from ever quoting me again and that you apologize for twisting my work.


Finally, there is nothing in my research that would lead you to draw the stated conclusions you did in the Time article. My work in no way suggests same-gender families are harmful to children or can't raise these children to be as healthy and well adjusted as those brought up in traditional households.

I trust that this will be the last time my work is cited by Focus on the Family.

And the author of Fatherneed: Why Father Care Is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child (Random House, 2001), the book Dobson cites, isn't too pleased either. He sent his own letter to Dobson:
I was startled and disappointed to see my work referenced in the current Time Magazine piece in which you opined that social science, such as mine, supports your convictions opposing lesbian and gay parenthood. I write now to insist that you not quote from my research in your media campaigns, personal or corporate, without previously securing my permission.

You cherry-picked a phrase to shore up highly (in my view) discriminatory purposes. This practice is condemned in real science, common though it may be in pseudo-science circles. There is nothing in my longitudinal research or any of my writings to support such conclusions. On page 134 of the book you site in your piece, I wrote, "What we do know is that there is no reason for concern about the development or psychological competence of children living with gay fathers. It is love that binds relationships, not sex."

Dobson is obviously not deserving of my respect and dialogue. You can't engage in a meaningful conversation if your partner isn't telling the truth. Rational decisions have to be made with real facts supported by evidence. In my opinion, what is happening is simply what always happens to a house of cards. It falls.

(Cross-posted to American Values Alliance.)

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Always, always remember that when his friends, and he himself, for all I know, go to court to discriminate against gays and lesbians, their argument is not the one in the article, but rather that gays and lesbians can be counted on to be good parents; it is the breaders, in their opinion, who need to be bribed by all the benefits of marriage to stay together and take care of their children.

Of course, Dr Dobson would probably say that I took the argument out of context; he only meant it to be used in court, where they clearly have no other. In a public context, his argument is the opposite. After all, he has to uphold "family values."

BTW, don't we have a trade mark on "family"? Where does he get off using it?