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Apr 04 2013

Paul Cameron: “Gays more likely to have sex with kids and animals, according to survey produced by My Rectum”

Okay, that’s not an exact quote, but damned if it’s not close enough to be serviceable. Some survey this anti-gay group produced, has apparently determined that a quarter of gays have had sex with kids or animals. I’d love to see the methodology used. Actually, hell — I’d love to see evidence that the “survey” exists at all.

How many times must we say it? Pedophilia and bestiality are problems because of consent, and the inability to obtain informed consent from the other participants. Lack of informed enthusiastic consent is the core and only factor that makes it acceptable for society as a whole to frown upon any sexual activity, in my view. And the reason that it’s harmful to children to have sex with them, even if they think they’re mature enough to handle the repercussions and think they’re consenting, is that psychologically, most of the time, they’re not.

The only reason these preachers and evangelists and homophobes go to that well is because they know that people (rightly) frown upon bestiality and pedophilia, and they involve sexual acts that are not part of “normal sex education”, and so are taboo. The parallels are drawn along taboo-sex and sex shaming lines, but the parallels fail on the one test that actually matters about those acts.

15 comments

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  1. 1
    Buffy

    Paul Cameron is infamous. He used to be the darling of RW anti-gay groups but many of them won’t use him any more because he’s been thoroughly debunked and he was thrown out of every professional organization he was a member of (the real ones, not the BS RWNJ ones) and stripped of his professional credentials. He’s not a professional researcher in any way, and none of his claims should be taken seriously.

    http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/profiles/paul-cameron
    http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_cameron_sheet.html

  2. 2
    Rob

    Buffy you beat me to it. Damn it.

  3. 3
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    Article: Straight Dope – Has 1 in 8 people had sex with an animal?

  4. 4
    Tyrant

    “Has 1 in 8 people had sex with an animal?”

    Well, I don’t know about the statistics, but there’s this shocking document…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9T1vfsHYiKY

    So much for consent…

  5. 5
    AsqJames

    a quarter of gays have had sex with kids or animals

    Well depending on how you define “kids”, around a half of straight Americans may have had sex with kids. 37% of US males and 40% of US females claim to have had sex by age 16 and by 18, it’s 62% and 70% respectively(source: The Kinsey Institute). Some, perhaps many, of those first experiences will have been with older people, but mos will be of comparable age I’d think.

    Does that make straight people twice as bad?

  6. 6
    leftwingfox

    While I absolutely agree that homosexuality is in a completely different category than pedophilia or bestiality, I’m not sure if “consent” is exactly the common ground here. After all, we actually don’t require consent from animals to have sex with them, provided that sex is procreative (i.e. artificial insemination).

    Animals don’t have rights, but because we have empathy for animals, and because how we treat animals often translates to how we treat other people, we offer animals key legal protections. Because of the great potential for abuse, taboo, and lack of will or ability to set guidelines as to what’s abuse and what’s not, only commercial interest in selective breeding is exempt.

    Sorry for the derail, but I think the rights language of consent plays into the hands of PETA and anti-testing extremists.

  7. 7
    Trebuchet

    Sorry for the derail, but I think the rights language of consent plays into the hands of PETA and anti-testing extremists.

    I agree. We also don’t ask for their consent before killing and eating them. Even the issue of consent for children is clouded by the arbitrary “age of consent”. 15 years and 364 days? A felony. 16? Perfectly fine. (Your state may vary.) And some adults are NOT capable of giving consent.

  8. 8
    leftwingfox

    Even the issue of consent for children is clouded by the arbitrary “age of consent”. 15 years and 364 days? A felony. 16? Perfectly fine.

    It’s a case of trading rights for protections. Children don’t have the right to legally consent or engage in certain high-risk activities, as a trade off for being protected from those in a position of authority to abuse them. Children are eventually granted full rights with less restrictions, animals aren’t.

    I don’t think the point at which people can legally consent weakens the argument though; It’s a societal judgement call as to what traits should be judged to be considered an adult, and what that exact cutoff should be. No matter what the cutoff is, there will always be people attracted to children and young teens who will push those boundaries. While I agree there should be some flexibility for similarly-aged peers at the borders, I can’t think of a more accurate way to determine at what point children should be considered legal adults.

  9. 9
    birgerjohansson

    Is My Rectum related to the Rectum brothers of Monthy Python fame? Paul Cameron’s reasoning seems to be inspired by that program…

  10. 10
    John Horstman

    @6, 7: I agree with respect to animals and consent. I think it’s extremely inconsistent – and based solely on a culturally-constructed “yuck” factor – that we (well, most of us) consider it fine to eat animals, reconfigure their living bodies (fun fact – lots of factory farms use hoses inserted into holes cut into cows to regulate the cows’ digestion, as they’re not particularly well-suited to corn feed; some have even devised systems to recapture the methane to use as fuel), skin them, have them perform all variety of labor, breed them (including extracting and/or implanting genetic material), splice their genes, and keep them in our homes or zoos for companionship or entertainment, but we don’t think it’s okay to engage in activity with animals that’s sexual for the human(s) involved (that whole breeding thing is probably in at least some cases sexual for the animal, insofar as animals have what we would define as sexuality). Fucking animals would rank among the least harmful things we do to them. At any rate, applying a system of ethics that developed around shared traits of one particular species (humans) to other species really doesn’t make a lot of sense, though it’s not necessarily a bad idea to come up with certain standards of behavior with respect to how we treat non-human animals. Bestiality isn’t illegal because of concerns about consent or even harm, it’s just the yuck factor. Perhaps it should be illegal (along with any number of other things we do to animals), but then again, depending on what else we think is acceptable or even necessary, perhaps it shouldn’t.

    (Full disclosure: I’m functionally a vegetarian, though I will eat wild animals, and I strongly oppose factory farming practices. I have no desire to have sex with a non-human animal, though I don’t really find such a desire any stranger than the sexualization of shoes or fantastical cartoon characters or any other non-human thing. I think the way PETA views animals is an extremist position that results from a degree of projection that borders on the delusional.)

  11. 11
    Nick Gotts

    Even setting aside the case of bestiality, I don’t think “enthusiastic informed consent” is enough on its own, and I think this from the OP:

    And the reason that it’s harmful to children to have sex with them, even if they think they’re mature enough to handle the repercussions and think they’re consenting, is that psychologically, most of the time, they’re not.

    If you “think you’re consenting”, then you’re consenting, unless you are being deliberately deceived about what you’re consenting to. The law can say that a child’s consent to sex is not legally operative, just as it can if an under-age person signs a financial contract, but I don’t think it’s right to say that someone is not consenting because they don’t understand the repercussions of the sex they’re consenting to. That would mean that plenty of consent by adults, in not obviously exploitative situations, wouldn’t count as consent. To take one example, consider two adults with moderate or severe learning disabilities or dementia: many children would have a better grasp of the repercussions of sex, but are we to deny such adults a sex life on the grounds that they can’t give “informed” consent, however enthusiastic they may be? What we want to prevent, in addition to sex without consent, is gross exploitation, and situations that are prone to give rise to gross exploitation, even when there is consent – such situations meaning sex between partners between whom the power differential is too great. That principle covers adult sex with children*, sex between a cognitively normal person and one with severe learning disabilities or dementia, sex between a sober person and a disablingly drunk or drugged one, sex between a prison guard and a prisoner, and even bestiality.

    *And explains why most of us here would not generally want a 17-year-old who has mutually consenting sex with a 15-year-old prosecuted, but would feel quite differently if the older partner was 30. It seems a stretch to say the 15-year-old can give informed consent in one case but not the other.

  12. 12
    lostintime

    Leftwingfox @6

    Animals don’t have rights, but because we have empathy for animals, and because how we treat animals often translates to how we treat other people, we offer animals key legal protections.

    Animals are protected from abuse because their suffering is bad in itself. Why do people tie themselves in knots to avoid saying this?

  13. 13
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    @lostintime #12:

    @Leftwingfox #6:
    Animals don’t have rights, but because we have empathy for animals, and because how we treat animals often translates to how we treat other people, we offer animals key legal protections.

    Animals are protected from abuse because their suffering is bad in itself. Why do people tie themselves in knots to avoid saying this?

    “because we have empathy for animals” … “we offer animals key legal protections.”

  14. 14
    leftwingfox

    Wow, did that ever derail. My apologies.

    Bestiality isn’t illegal because of concerns about consent or even harm, it’s just the yuck factor. Perhaps it should be illegal (along with any number of other things we do to animals), but then again, depending on what else we think is acceptable or even necessary, perhaps it shouldn’t.

    You’re right. I mixed why the laws DO exist, with justifications for why I feel they will continue to exist. Taboo/Yuck Factor is the reason we have the laws; balance of power, and potential for abuse of animals are good reasons for those laws to exist beyond the yuck factor. Concealment of harm, risky behaviour and the emotional effects of the closet for those who aren’t abusing animals are good reasons to craft more permissive legislation.

    Regardless, Paul Cameron is making the point (in a terrible way) that removing the yuck factor will result in the legalization of many other illegal sexual activities. The counterpoint is that there are multiple other reasons grounded in ethics and morality

    Animals are protected from abuse because their suffering is bad in itself. Why do people tie themselves in knots to avoid saying this?

    Sorry, I get wordy when I’m trying to make a serious argument. Combination of bad habits from high school essays, and trying to work through my own internally consistent moral framework. Animal suffering is terrible and people should be prevented from causing that suffering as much as possible.

  15. 15
    Arlo Kilpatrick

    How many times must we say it? Pedophilia and bestiality are problems because of consent, and the inability to obtain informed consent from the other participants. Lack of informed enthusiastic consent is the core and only factor that makes it acceptable for society as a whole to frown upon any sexual activity, in my view.

    I agree with you with respect to pedophilia, for the most part, especially given your later reasons specific to pedophilia (psychological and physical damage to the child). Yet with bestiality, in many cases, there is virtually no chance of damage to the animal unless that is intended by the human being (how much damage can a human being do to an 1800 pound mare using only their body?). Cases which harm the animal are best treated by animal cruelty statutes, but as for others informed consent is a red herring, completely unnecessary for most species of animal life. When consent is relevant at all to a particular species, it is shown through behavioural cues and scents, as well as pure physiological receptiveness to that kind of activity. These same cues can be used to signal or withhold consent regardless of whether the other party is of the same species.

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