Who put the ‘sip’ in ‘insipid?’

Two confessions:

  1. I’m hooked on Starbucks, although only moderately so. I hold my consumption of their House Blend to once a week, most of the time. (While in Memphis the week after Christmas, I’ll admit I drank it daily because an outlet was nearby; it nearly ruined my appreciation of the Ritazza joe they sell in the canteen down in the basement here at work, which normally I love.) It would be so much nicer if I gave my custom to some nice, local coffee house, but I leave that to my kids. They’re into that "Friends" kind of scene. To me, coffee’s not a social thing. I duck in, get it and go — unless I’m at a bookstore, in which case I quietly browse while drinking it. For this reason, I think it’s great that Starbucks is moving toward drive-thru. I can hardly wait for them to do that here — preferably on MY side of the river.
  2. I find those little philosophical musings they print on the side of their cups, under the heading "The Way I See It," irritatingly trite and inane. Fortunately, they’re usually covered by the brown insulating sleeve. But I sometimes peel that off (I put a lot of sugar in it, which makes anything that spills over the side quite sticky) and read the musings anyway. I don’t know why. Morbid curiosity, perhaps. Or maybe sneering at these banal observations makes me feel better about drinking the coffee. I don’t know.

Here’s an example, dubbed "The Way I See It #61:"

Imagine we are all the same. Imagine we agree about politics, religion and morality. Imagine we like the same types of music, art, food and coffee. Imagine we all look alike. Sound boring? Differences need not divide us. Embrace diversity. Dignity is everyone’s human right.

This is the considered opinion of one Bill Brummel (Beau‘s great-great-great grandson, perhaps?), identified thusly: "Documentary filmmaker. His programs focus on human rights issues."

Is there anything wrong with anything he said? No. But does it provoke thought? No. In fact, by the time he got to the bumper-sticker sentiment, "Embrace diversity," my brain had nearly shut down, grande coffee notwithstanding. Talk about boring.

Variety is the spice of life, and so on. We all agree on that. But when I see something this mind-numbingly obvious represented as profundity worthy of mass reproduction, I find I want to argue with it. I want to say something like, "You know, it would be great if we’d go ahead and all agree on morality. If there were fewer people out there disagreeing with the consensus on morality, we’d have lot a less rape, murder and child molesting going on. There would still be some of those things, of course, because it is tragically human to do things we know is wrong. What’s really unbearably outrageous is people doing things that we all pretty much know are wrong and defending them as being OK, and condemning those who would censure them as narrow-minded. Such people’s battle cry is "WHOSE morality?,’ as though there were no absolutes, when there are. Seriously, can’t you think of ANYTHING that is just plain wrong, no matter who says it’s right? What do you have to say about that, Mr. ‘Imagine there’s no heaven?’ How about the crimes I mentioned above? Couldn’t you draw the line at child abuse? And if you could, wouldn’t you have to admit that there IS legitimacy to drawing lines, meaning that diversity of thought and attitudes is NOT always good? Huh?"

OK, so maybe that wouldn’t fit on the cup. But I think it would be more worth the ink.

34 thoughts on “Who put the ‘sip’ in ‘insipid?’

  1. Swag Valance

    I promise not to pull my favorite Hitler analogy as a knee-jerk reaction here. 😉
    In fact, I’ll just support your right to diversity on a much more inane level. You can enjoy all the drive-thru coffee you want in a paper cup with everything but the giant, talking fiberglass clown head. I’ll keep on wanting my coffee to taste like coffee, not paper — leaving the paper cups to the 3-year-old birthday parties alongside “sippie cups”. To each his own.

  2. Lee

    As predicted by traditionalists, and denied by advocates of “diversity”, “tolerance”, and “gay rights”, a woman last week was “married” to a porpoise. At least it was two mammals… this time.

  3. Mark Whittington

    That’s right Brad,

    That’s why I keep harping on you guys about capitalism: you can’t serve God and mammon. Over and over again, Jesus preached against greed, hypocrisy, and privilege. Jesus also preached against usury (the basis for capitalism other than greed). Love God with your heart, mind, and soul, and love your brother as yourself. Curiously, Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, although he certainly was aware of its existence. Jesus tolerated marriage, but he thought celibacy was better. Once people were married, he opposed divorce (except for infidelity). For you traditionalists out there, I know that you’ll be shocked to learn that Jesus considered the family of God to be more important than the nuclear family-he also thought that obligations within the nuclear family could be an impediment to God. Jesus opposed making laws based on tradition rather than on the law (His interpretation again: Love God, and love your brother as yourself). Jesus never preached against government. Jesus talked much about service (servants), but never about “leadership” (the way that we use the word) in a positive sense. Jesus opposed the accumulation of material wealth. Jesus and the disciples lived a communal lifestyle. Obviously, Jesus advocated a form of what today we call “socialism”. As for the spec and the mote in my own case, I’m ready to abandon this evil system this very minute. As for the teachings of Paul, whenever they contradict Jesus (and they often do-this is the main reason why I oppose fundamentalism), I’ll follow Jesus’ teachings instead. Paul was a great theologian, but his cultural beliefs often get in the way of Jesus’ teachings. Everything I need to know about salvation is in the Gospels. Period.

    Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
    Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:
    All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
    For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
    But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
    And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
    And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
    But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
    And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
    Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
    But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
    And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
    But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
    Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
    Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
    Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!
    Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?
    And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.
    Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?
    Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.
    And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.
    And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.
    Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
    Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
    Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
    Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
    Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
    Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
    Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
    And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
    Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
    Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
    Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
    Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
    That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
    Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
    O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
    Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
    For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

  4. Herb

    Brad, evangelicals have always had the ethical basis you are looking for, but I have the feeling you don’t like evangelicals too much. (What is it that bugs you guys? — the teetotalism — although we are not all teetotalers, though I do hate the taste of beer, I must admit, sorry guys) But from Whitfield to Frances Asbury, Charles Finney, and Billy Graham, we have profoundly influenced this country. Evanglical revival, as reviled as it is in many quarters, has made a huge difference. Its moral basis is in Scripture and the Reformation, and not just in human reason.
    And Mark, I appreciate your concern, but you are fighting a struggle that the Church went through in the first century. There is no need to relive it. Without Paul, you wouldn’t have the Gospel of Luke, for example, with its sharp criticism of egoism and materialism that you so strongly advocate. Come to think of it, without Paul, you probably would never even heard of Jesus, for though Peter may be primary in the Roman church, it was historically Paul, or rather Christ working through Paul, that gave the Gospel its energy. What you are forgetting is that Jesus not only came to act, but came to give His Holy Spirit to His followers, and that is all cased out in the Book of Acts. Paul never contradicts Jesus – he is adamant about that fact – but he intends to “flesh him out” in practice, which is the very reason that Jesus came. Paul does emphasize the difference between church and state (Romans 13 and elsewhere) that doesn’t seem to be so prominent in Jesus’ teaching at first glance, but it is there, none the less. Martin Luther saw it, and taught it plainly, much to the consternation of the Roman authorities of his day. In other words, we have to be careful what we apply to citizens as members of the state, and what we apply to people as (potential) members of the Kingdom of God. The two are not the same.

  5. Mike C

    Herb –
    Your points to Mark were well stated, but I think you misunderstand Brad.
    Although he’s a Papist, he’s arguing from the popular secular, perhaps Sensitive New Age Guy viewpoint: why can’t we all just get along and agree that some things are wrong.
    I too was raised Roman Catholic and even attended a seminary for a couple of years, but have been an atheist for over thirty years. There are some of us nonbelievers who hold that culture is important, and that religion has for whatever reason made valuable contributions to an orderly society. When one finds customs and institutions that have arisen in most cultures over thousands of years, one should pay heed to them or risk of cultural suicide.
    Brad is simply wondering aloud if there are any objective truths we can agree on; unfortunately, there are not. There are all sorts of organizations that have developed a rationale for all sorts of horrific things. Take NAMBLA, please!
    I belong to an organization that advocates science education, CSICOP. It was founded by a philosopher who also founded an organization of militant atheists. Of late some in the science booster organization have pushed vigorously for criticism of religion, and attempt that’s not gone over too well. It is invigorating, nonetheless.
    The point of this digression is that through CSICOP I’ve met some really neat folks. One in particular, Nobel Laureate Murray Gell-Mann, has a short-but-sweet treatise on science and truth. He simply says that he cannot prove truth, but only facts. The distinction, while important, is often missed by most: one can prove facts through experimentation, but truth is often ephemeral and unprovable, though important.
    A fair number of the Ten Suggestions — isn’t that what they’re called now? — offer good guidance that cannot be proved in the scientific or even popular sense. Take the coveting stuff — what the heck is that? You and I may know through experience, contemplation, and instruction that envy is the greatest of the seven deadly sins, but we arrive at that truth through anecdote, observation, and logic, and can’t irrefutably prove it.
    You are correct, and I will expand your point to include those who adhere to the Judeo-Christians ethic as having the knowledge of right and wrong. Other ethical systems have arrived at similar conclusions. Brad knows that, but was looking for something that does not exist: an objective standard or common agreement as to what’s right and wrong.

  6. Lee

    Virginia Postrel, when she was just a high school student, used to drive over to Clemson to attend Libertarian Party meetings, and organized campus LP chapters in Greenville. She became an editor of Reason magazine while still in her early 20s.
    I disagree with many of her de rigeur positions on immigration, etc. She falls victim to many fallacies which render modern liberalism silly, across its entire spectrum. She is still several levels above the typical editor at The Nation, Atlantic or Harpers.

  7. Lee

    I was actually thinking of Al Gore’s college pal, Marty Peretz, who fired Michael Kelly, along with Michael Kinsley, John F. Kennedy, Jr., etc.

  8. UncleElmer

    This blog is sure filled with people who take things a little more seriously than warranted. Here’s my guess for “who put the sip in insipid” – some ad guy who thought it was like Bazooka Joe comics for grown-ups. I doubt very much their agenda was deeper than that. And it’s a good distraction from Starbuck’s over-roasted coffee that’s always stored too long before you get it. Yuck!
    Go Immac! That’s some good locally roasted coffee. And their cups are blank, which is pretty much what I am until I finish mine anyway, so that’s a good match.

  9. Herb

    Mike, that’s interesting, but tragic as well. I mean, I can almost understand how Brad might abandon a Protestantism that has been corrupted by materialism (the salt has lost its savor), if that was his reason. But atheism? Don’t be surprised if there is no cultural tradition left, eventually, because I cannot see that atheism going to provide any more foundation than the sloppy New Age stuff you were referring to.
    Interesting that Nicolas Kristof had to go overseas to catch a glimpse of the energy and effect of a live evangelical Christianity, though he is still perplexed by it. ] I’ll choose the moral basis of a Mother Theresa or a William Booth over a “cultural tradition” that ultimately has nothing to hold it in place.
    Of course, Christians can become powerful and domineering, but unlike Islam, for example, there is a healthy distrust of human nature within Biblical teaching that tends to hold them in check, that is assuming there is any Christ-like substance left, rather than just the froth of nominalism.
    You realize, of course, that as an evangelical, I have to take issue with your assertion that we arrive at truth only through ancedote, etc. No, we arrive at it through biblical revelation, which is not easy to understand or apply, but not totally impossible, either. What it requires is the dependence of a little child, and that is a hard step for us proud humans. But not surprising, once we start moving there, that honest observation (like Stanford Lyman’s “The Seven Deadly Sins”, since you referred to that subject) tends to substantiate it. I don’t pretend to even come close to knowing very many answers, but knowing “the fear of God” sure goes a long way towards holding things together, and keeping egoism in check. Knowing a little bit of the love of God goes even further.
    Sorry for preaching; I promise to shut up now, for several days, in fact, but thirty plus years of atheism is indeed a tragedy, unless of course it’s not the end of the story, and with God being alive, you never know.

  10. Herb

    Just one last thought, and that is that truth is a Person, according to Scripture. Which is why there will always be something mysterious about truth, as opposed to facts (whiich you pointed out). A person can unite what seem to be contradictory facts in his/her own being.
    As long as evangelical Christians are allowed to have some major influence in this country (I’m not saying they should necessarily run the country — they never were terribly good at that), there is hope for the U. S. At least I’m fairly certain that atheism is not going to help those kids we were talking about.

  11. Herb

    OK, I really will shut up. But I thought this was good, while we are talking about moral foundations. See Deacon John’s comments on abortion at (and someday I will figure out how you guys do the links, I promise): http://www.getreligion.org/?p=1315
    “The United States is in a position very similar to where it was in the 1850s, when a morally indefensible practice somehow, incredibly, became a symbol of the self-determination for so large a portion of the country that no compromise was possible, and the republic itself nearly dissolved as a result.
    Parties and constituencies became increasingly polarized. Churches divided along ideological lines. The Supreme Court started issuing outrageous decisions. Terrorism was followed by political collapse and a military response. The reason? Political unity cannot be preserved without moral unity. Which is to say: politics always has a religious (moral) subtext.
    Prediction: if Alito is confirmed, the political nastiness will increase rather than decease. It will continue to increase until the abortion issue is resolved. Not compromised, but resolved.”

  12. Dave

    Herb, we have political nastiness because the Dem party has been commandeered by a coalition of “aginners”. They are agin this, agin that, agin nearly everything. What are they for???? Not many can answer that. The more negative they get, the more marginalized they are within our elective process. I predict that at some point in time the Liebermans, Nelsons, Bayhs, Richardsons, and other moderate type dems will either take back control of the party or form a new one. Until then, the GOP will continue to dominate, controlling the Congress, USSC, and the White House barring a fluke there. For now, with the DOW heading back toward all time highs, unemployment very low, interest rates reasonable and inflation too, housing still strong, and Americans realizing that we are being protected by this administration, we all get to hear the lunatic Dem left whining forever about hating Bush, hating Bush more, and then really, really hating Bush. Guess what, he isnt running for any further offices. Will someone please tell them that.

    Does the USA have problems? Without a doubt, but it is telling that people from all over the world are risking their lives to emigrate to the US, and what other nation can say that. We ARE one nation under God, and as long as we can claim that simple fact we have a good chance to sustain our successes and freedoms. The Lord said, ” I am the truth, I am the light.” Now Starbucks can put that on my cup anytime.

  13. bill

    Mike C-
    Stop hiding your bigotry against gays by bringing up NAMBLA.The majority of pedophiles are heterosexual males.If the bloggers here wrote about blacks the way they do gays they would probably be censored(although the racism is still alive).
    I have a hard time believing that Crichton(awful writer,Atwood is far superior)votes Dem after the piece I read about him on the Mother Jones site(a mag I’m sure you love).
    As a bumpersticker,button,etc,writer,I would have to agree with you about the insipidness of “Embrace Diversity”-just a little too groovy.You might appreciate my best-selling button a little more:”Still Pissed At Yoko”

  14. Lee

    The only reason that the slogan “the majority of pedophiles are heterosexual men” is true, is that homosexual men only comprise about 2% of the population. They commit sexual assaults at a much higher rate than do heterosexual men. For example, almost all the assaults in the Catholic Church scandal were committed against boys, by homosexual priests.

  15. bill

    You’ve obviously been brainwashed by the conservative media with your 2% statistic, but that doesn’t really matter.Pedophilia is one of the worst crimes in this world,but don’t use it to support your obnoxious bigotry toward the most vilified(and violently attacked)minority in this country.
    And if you don’t buy the homo/hetero sexual assaults against children-what group commits the most sexual assaults(rape)against other adults?

  16. Lee

    Anyone who posts real facts about homosexual misbehavior is smeared as with psuedomedical terms like “homophobia”, a technique pioneered by Leninists in the 1920s.
    bill, go fetch us what you think are the actual number of pedophile crimes committed by heterosexuals and homosexuals, if you want to defend them.

  17. Herb

    I will shut up, but just a further thought about Brad’s quest for a moral consensus. Again, I agree with Mike that it can’t and won’t happen. As a friend pointed out to me today, we know longer share a common world view as we did in the 18th century. These truths are not “self-evident.” They were in 1776, but not now. It is not self-evident that “all are created equal,” for example in Islam, which believes that women are inferior to men, or in Hinduism, which believes in a caste system. And as I’ve already written, I doubt very much that atheism can deliver, either. So you guys need us evangelicals, even if you don’t like us. Come to think of it, we need you as well, or we become smug and indifferent, but if the proportions get out of hand (Puritan experiment on the one hand, or New Age fuzziness on the other), we’re all in trouble. Right now, I think we’ve got a bit much of the “pursuit of happiness” thing, which may be the only thing left that is still self-evident to most people, but not really true.

  18. Lee

    The truths are still self-evident to those educated in Western civilization. The problem is that our internal enemies have diluted our common culture by importing illiterates and educated people from politically primitive cultures, and by continuous denigration of America by the entertainment media.

  19. Dave

    Herb, what are evangelicals? Or who? From what I think evangelicals are I can tell you I would be much happier in their company than most others (religions that is). But please give me your definition.

    Lee, I agree with you on the impact of the media. When I (seldom) flick on network TV I find that nearly each show has to have the queer(s), who are always represented as highly intellectual, good looking, good sammaritan role models – see Will and Grace, ER e.g.. Do I hate them, absolutely not, but their behavior is repulsive so I do hate their behavior. It is incredible how about 2% of the population can have such widespread play in the liberal media. The vast majority of the US public does not buy it as shown by the most recent bust, Brokeback Mountain.

  20. Lee

    Almost all popular (low-brow) entertainment sells some sort of lifestyle which is very self-centered and materialistic, coinciding nicely with the commerical sponsorship.
    Most of what is passed of as news is discussion of entertainment personalities, the personalities of real people in tragic situations, and the personalities of political figures, usually in a good guy/bad guy template.
    Most editorializing consists of selling the established power structure to the masses, and denigration of its critics.

  21. Herb

    Thanks, Dave, that was a needed correction. I guess I am using the word more in the direction of what Brad and others would term fundamentalist Christians, except without the “in your face” bigotry that is often associated with the “f” word. I like to be called an evangelical, and not a fundamentalist. “Evangelical” is often used in the news media to describe any group that seeks to win others for their faith, including Mormons, etc., but I am using it in the more historical limited sense, see the statement of faith in the World Evangelical Alliance, http://www.worldevangelical.org/wea/statement.htm
    Fundamentalists in the U. S. were troubled by the syncretism they sensed in the major US Protestant denominations, especially after 1920, but they tended to retreat into their cocoons. Beginning especially with Billy Graham, that began to change, though those I prefer to call “fundamentalists” pretty much kept within their self-imposed imprisonment (that’s a negative attitude, I know, but that is how I would characterize it). I would call Bob Jones fundamentalist, but Billy Graham evangelical, and identify with the latter, and not the former. Personally, I would also include the New Testament church, and the believers’ church (Hugenots, the peaceful Hus followers, etc.) the first generation Reformation churches (tendency to ossify after that), the Moravians, Methodists (until about 1900, and many still), Pietists, most charismatics, including perhaps Roman Catholic charismatics and Pentecostals as evangelicals, to name but a few, but doubtless others would challenge that definition.

  22. bill

    Why do you “hate their behavior”? Why are you thinking about “their behavior”? A local minister(Rev Tom Summers)calls this sort of justification of bigotry towards gays “theological pornography”.
    For Lee-
    Facts About Homosexuality and Child Molestation
    Members of disliked minority groups are often stereotyped as representing a danger to the majority society’s most vulnerable members. Historically, Black men in the United States were often falsely accused of raping White women, and commonly lynched as a result. Jews in the Middle Ages were accused of murdering Christian babies in ritual sacrifices.
    In a similar fashion, gay people have often been portrayed as a threat to children. When Anita Bryant campaigned successfully in 1977 to repeal a Dade County (FL) ordinance prohibiting anti-gay discrimination, she named her organization “Save Our Children,” and warned that “a particularly deviant-minded [gay] teacher could sexually molest children” (Bryant, 1977, p. 114). [Bibliographic references are on a different web page]
    In recent years, antigay activists have routinely asserted that gay people are child molesters. This argument was often made in debates about the Boy Scouts of America’s policy to exclude gay scouts and scoutmasters. It has also been raised in connection with recent scandals about the Catholic church’s attempts to cover up the abuse of young males by priests. Indeed, the Vatican’s early response to the 2002 revelations of widespread Church cover-ups of sexual abuse by priests was to declare that gay men should not be ordained.
    Public belief in
    the stereotype The number of Americans who believe the myth that gay people are child molesters has declined substantially. In a 1970 national survey, more than 70% of respondents agreed with the assertions that “Homosexuals are dangerous as teachers or youth leaders because they try to get sexually involved with children” or that “Homosexuals try to play sexually with children if they cannot get an adult partner.”1
    By contrast, in a 1999 national poll, the belief that most gay men are likely to molest or abuse children was endorsed by only 19% of heterosexual men and 10% of heterosexual women. Even fewer – 9% of men and 6% of women – regarded most lesbians as child molesters.
    Consistent with these findings, Gallup polls have found that an increasing number of Americans would allow gay people to be elementary school teachers. For example, the proportion was 61% in 2003, compared to 27% in 1977.
    Examining the
    Research Even though most Americans don’t regard gay people as child molesters, confusion remains widespread in this area. To understand the facts, it is important to examine the results of scientific research. However, when we evaluate research on child molestation, our task is complicated by several problems.
    One problem is that we do not know to what extent the samples used in research studies are representative of all child molesters. Most studies in this area have been conducted only with convicted perpetrators or with pedophiles who sought professional help. Consequently, they may not accurately describe child molesters who have never been caught or have not sought treatment.
    Terminology A second problem is that the terminology used in this area is often confusing and can even be misleading. We can begin to address that problem by defining some basic terms.
    Pedophilia and child molestation are used in a variety of ways, even by professionals. Pedophilia usually refers to an adult psychosexual disorder characterized by a preference for prepubescent children as sexual partners; this preference may or may not be acted upon. The term hebephilia is sometimes used to describe adult sexual attractions to adolescents and children who have reached puberty.
    Whereas pedophilia and hebephilia refer to psychological propensities, child molestation and child sexual abuse are used to describe actual sexual contact between an adult and someone who has not reached the legal age of consent. In this context, someone who has not reached the age of consent is referred to as a child, even though he or she may be a teenager.
    Although the terms are not always used consistently, it is useful to distinguish between pedophiles/hebephiles and child molesters/abusers. Pedophilia and hebephilia are diagnostic labels. Not all pedophiles and hebephiles actually molest children; an adult can be attracted to children or adolescents without ever actually engaging in sexual contact with them.
    Child molestation and child sexual abuse refer to actions, and don’t imply a particular psychological makeup or motive on the part of the perpetrator. Not all incidents of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by pedophiles or hebephiles; in some cases, the perpetrator has other motives for his or her actions and does not manifest an ongoing pattern of sexual attraction to children.
    Thus, not all child sexual abuse is perpetrated by pedophiles (or hebephiles) and not all pedophiles and hebephiles actually commit abuse. Consequently, it is important to choose one’s terms carefully.
    Another problem related to terminology arises because sexual abuse of male children by adult men2 is often referred to as “homosexual molestation.” The adjective “homosexual” (or “heterosexual” when a man abuses a female child) refers to the victim’s gender in relation to that of the perpetrator. Unfortunately, people sometimes mistakenly interpret it as referring to the perpetrator’s sexual orientation.
    To avoid this confusion, it is preferable to refer to men’s sexual abuse of boys with the more accurate label of male-male molestation. Similarly, it is preferable to refer to men’s abuse of girls as male-female molestation. These labels are more accurate because they describe the sex of the individuals involved but don’t convey implicit assumptions about the perpetrator’s sexual orientation.
    Typologies of
    Offenders The distinction between gender of victim and sexual orientation of perpetrator is important because many child molesters don’t really have an adult sexual orientation. They have never developed the capacity for mature sexual relationships with other adults, either men or women.
    Over the years, this fact has been incorporated into various schemes for categorizing child molesters. For example, Finkelhor and Araji (1986) proposed that perpetrators’ sexual attractions should be conceptualized as ranging along a continuum with exclusive interest in children at one extreme, and exclusive interest in adult partners at the other end.
    Typologies of offenders have often included a distinction between those with an enduring primary preference for children as sexual partners and those who have established age-appropriate relationships but who become sexually involved with children under unusual circumstances of extreme stress. Perpetrators in the first category – those with a more or less exclusive interest in children – have often been labeled fixated. Fixation means “a temporary or permanent arrestment of psychological maturation resulting from unresolved formative issues which persist and underlie the organization of subsequent phases of development” (Groth & Birnbaum, 1978, p. 176). Many clinicians view fixated offenders as being “stuck” at an early stage of psychological development.
    By contrast, other molesters are described as regressed. Regression is “a temporary or permanent appearance of primitive behavior after more mature forms of expression had been attained, regardless of whether the immature behavior was actually manifested earlier in the individual’s development” (Groth & Birnbaum, 1978, p. 177). Regressed offenders have developed an adult sexual orientation but under certain conditions (such as extreme stress) they return to an earlier, less mature psychological state and engage in sexual contact with children.
    Some typologies of child molesters break the fixation-regression distinction into multiple categories, and some include additional categories as well (e.g., Knight, 1989). For the present discussion, the important point is that many child molesters cannot be meaningfully described as homosexuals, heterosexuals, or bisexuals because they are not really capable of a relationship with an adult man or woman. Instead of gender, their sexual attractions are based primarily on age. These individuals – who are often characterized as fixated – are attracted to children, not to men or women.
    Using the fixated-regressed distinction, Groth and Birnbaum (1978) studied 175 adult males who were convicted in Massachusetts of sexual assault against a child. None of the men had an exclusively homosexual adult sexual orientation. 83 (47%) were classified as “fixated;” 70 others (40%) were classified as regressed adult heterosexuals; the remaining 22 (13%) were classified as regressed adult bisexuals. Of the last group, Groth and Birnbaum observed that “in their adult relationships they engaged in sex on occasion with men as well as with women. However, in no case did this attraction to men exceed their preference for women….There were no men who were primarily sexually attracted to other adult males…” (p.180).
    Approaches Other researchers have taken different approaches, but have similarly failed to find a connection between homosexuality and child molestation. Dr. Carole Jenny reviewed 352 medical charts, representing all of the sexually abused children seen in the emergency room or child abuse clinic of a Denver children’s hospital during a one-year period (from July 1, 1991 to June 30, 1992). The molester was a gay or lesbian adult in only 2 of the 269 cases in which an adult molester could be identified – fewer than 1% (Jenny et al., 1994).
    In yet another approach to studying adult sexual attraction to children, some Canadian researchers observed how homosexual and heterosexual adult men responded to slides of males and females of various ages (child, pubescent, and mature adult). All of the research subjects were first screened to ensure that they preferred physically mature sexual partners. In some of the slides shown to subjects, the model was clothed; in others, he or she was nude. The slides were accompanied by audio recordings. The recordings paired with the nude models described an imaginary sexual interaction between the model and the subject. The recordings paired with the pictures of clothed models described the model engaging in neutral activities (e.g., swimming). To measure sexual arousal, changes in the subjects’ penis volume were monitored while they watched the slides and listened to the audiotapes. The researchers found that homosexual males responded no more to male children than heterosexual males responded to female children (Freund et al., 1989).
    Science cannot prove a negative. Thus, these studies do not prove that homosexual or bisexual males are no more likely than heterosexual males to molest children. However, each of them failed to prove the alternative hypothesis that homosexual males are more likely than heterosexual men to molest children or to be sexually attracted to children or adolescents.
    The Mainstream
    View Reflecting the results of these and other studies, the mainstream view among researchers and professionals who work in the area of child sexual abuse is that homosexual and bisexual men do not pose any special threat to children. For example, in one review of the scientific literature, noted authority Dr. A. Nicholas Groth wrote:
    Are homosexual adults in general sexually attracted to children and are preadolescent children at greater risk of molestation from homosexual adults than from heterosexual adults? There is no reason to believe so. The research to date all points to there being no significant relationship between a homosexual lifestyle and child molestation. There appears to be practically no reportage of sexual molestation of girls by lesbian adults, and the adult male who sexually molests young boys is not likely to be homosexual (Groth & Gary, 1982, p. 147).
    In a more recent literature review, Dr. Nathaniel McConaghy (1998) similarly cautioned against confusing homosexuality with pedophilia. He noted, “The man who offends against prepubertal or immediately postpubertal boys is typically not sexually interested in older men or in women” (p. 259).
    Sexual Abuse In recent scandals involving the Catholic church, some Church officials have tried to link sexual abuse with gay priests, arguing that the victims were often adolescent boys rather than small children. Here is an example where the term pedophilia – referring as it does to attractions to prepubescent children – can cause confusion. More broadly, such accusations against gay priests raise the question of whether gay men or lesbians should not be trusted in positions of authority where there is any possibility of sexual abuse or harassment.
    Scientific research provides no evidence that homosexual people are less likely than heterosexuals to exercise good judgment and appropriate discretion in their employment settings. There are no data, for example, showing that gay men and lesbians are more likely than heterosexual men and women to sexually harass their subordinates in the workplace. Data from studies using a variety of psychological measures do not indicate that gay people are more likely than heterosexuals to possess any psychological characteristics that would make them less capable of controlling their sexual urges, refraining from the abuse of power, obeying rules and laws, interacting effectively with others, or exercising good judgment in handling authority. As explained elsewhere on this site, sexual orientation is not a mental illness nor is it inherently associated with impaired psychological functioning.
    Gay men and lesbians function effectively in a wide variety of employment settings. No differences have been reported between heterosexuals, bisexuals, and homosexuals in job performance or ability to properly exercise authority in supervisory roles. As indicated by workplace policies around the United States, a large and growing number of private and public employers do not perceive a problem with hiring gay and bisexual people as employees or managers. A large number of corporations, educational institutions, and local governments have adopted policies that prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation. In many cases, those organizations give employee benefits such as health insurance to employees’ same-sex partners. Indeed, one reason often cited for providing such benefits is that they enable a company to remain competitive by attracting high quality employees who happen to be homosexual or bisexual.
    Thus, the scientific literature does not provide any basis for organizations to avoid hiring homosexual or bisexual people, simply on the basis of their sexual orientation, for positions that involve responsibility for or supervision of others, whether children, adolescents, or adults.
    Do Any Studies Claim To Show That Homosexuals Are More Likely To Molest Children?
    One individual has claimed to have data that prove homosexuals to be child molesters at a higher rate than heterosexuals. That person is Paul Cameron. As detailed elsewhere on this site, Cameron’s survey data are subject to so many methodological flaws as to be virtually meaningless. Even so, his assertions are often quoted by antigay organizations in their attempts to link homosexuality with child sexual abuse.
    In a 1985 article published in Psychological Reports, Cameron purported to review published data to answer the question, “Do those who commit homosexual acts disproportionately incorporate children into their sexual practices?” (p. 1227). He concluded that “at least one-third of the sexual attacks upon youth are homosexual” (p. 1228) and that “those who are bi- to homosexual are proportionately much more apt to molest youth” than are heterosexuals (p. 1231).
    Cameron’s claims hinge on the fallacious assumption that all male-male molestations are committed by homosexuals. Moreover, a careful reading of Cameron’s paper reveals several false statements about the literature he claimed to have reviewed.
    For example, he cited the Groth and Birnbaum (1978) study mentioned previously as evidencing a 3:2 ratio of “heterosexual” (i.e., female victim) to “homosexual” (i.e., male victim) molestations, and he noted that “54% of all the molestations in this study were performed by bisexual or homosexual practitioners” (p. 1231). However, Groth and Birnbaum reported that none of the men in their sample had an exclusively homosexual adult sexual orientation, and that none of the 22 bisexual men were more attracted to adult males than to adult females. The “54%” statistic reported by Cameron doesn’t appear anywhere in the Groth and Birnbaum (1978) article, nor does Cameron explain its derivation.
    It also is noteworthy that, although Cameron assumed that the perpetrators of male-male molestations were all homosexual, he assumed that not all male-female molestations were committed by heterosexuals. He incorporated a “bisexual correction” into his data manipulations to increase further his estimate of the risk posed to children by homosexual/bisexual men.
    In the latter half of his paper, Cameron considered whether “homosexual teachers have more frequent sexual interaction with their pupils” (p. 1231). Based on 30 instances of sexual contact between a teacher and pupil reported in ten different sources published between 1920 and 1982, Cameron concluded that “a pupil would appear about 90 times more likely to be sexually assaulted by a homosexual practitioner” (p. 1232); the ratio rose to 100 times when Cameron added his bisexual correction.
    This ratio is meaningless because no data were obtained concerning the actual sexual orientation of the teachers involved; as before, Cameron assumed that male-male contacts were perpetrated by homosexuals. Furthermore, Cameron’s rationale for selecting particular sources appears to have been completely arbitrary. He described no systematic method for reviewing the literature, and apparently never reviewed the voluminous literature on the sexual development of children and adolescents. His final choice of sources appears to have slanted his findings toward what Cameron described as “the relative absence in the scientific literature of heterosexual teacher-pupil sexual events coupled with persistent, albeit infrequent, homosexual teacher-pupil sexual interactions” (p. 1232).
    A subsequent paper by Cameron and others (Cameron, Proctor, Coburn, Forde, Larson, & Cameron, 1986) described data collected in a door-to-door survey in seven U.S. cities and towns, and generally repeated the conclusions reached in Cameron (1985). Even Cameron himself has admitted that his conclusions in this study are “based upon small numbers of data points” (Cameron, 2005, p. 230). As before, male-male sexual assaults were referred to as “homosexual” molestations (e.g., Abstract, p.327) and the perpetrators’ sexual orientation apparently was not assessed. This study also suffers from fatal methodological problems, which are detailed elsewhere on this site.
    More recently, in yet another article published in Psychological Reports, Cameron claimed to have reviewed data about foster parents in Illinois and found that 34% were perpetrated by a foster parent against a child of the same sex, that is, female-female or male-male (Cameron, 2005). Not only did Cameron again make the fallacious claim that all male-male molestations are committed by homosexuals, he also made the same claim about female-female molestations. Once again, he had no data about the actual sexual orientations of the molesters.
    The empirical research does not show that gay or bisexual men are any more likely than heterosexual men to molest children. This is not to argue that homosexual and bisexual men never molest children. But there is no scientific basis for asserting that they are more likely than heterosexual men to do so. And, as explained above, many child molesters cannot be characterized as having an adult sexual orientation at all; they are fixated on children.
    1. The survey was conducted under the auspices of the Kinsey Institute (Klassen, Williams, & Levitt, 1989). (return to text)
    2. Sexual abuse by women occurs but has not been well documented. It has most often been documented in cases of a female accomplice assisting a male perpetrator in procuring victims, or an adult woman seducing a young male (Erickson, Walbek, & Seely, 1988; Finkelhor, 1984; Johnson & Shrier, 1987). Perhaps it is not surprising, therefore, that the child molester stereotype is applied more often to gay men than to lesbians. (return to text)

  23. Dave

    Bill, You wonder why I would hate the behavior of homsexuals. If you can set aside the 1982 studies and the “scientific” research where penis size was measured while people watched pictures (I admit that one got me chuckling some as I pictured a Dr. Ruth type with a ruler (or yardstick?) yelling like the elevator operator, Going Up, Going Down, Going Up, Going Down). But just one point I would mention is basic hygiene. You do realize WHO is spreading the filth of AIDS all over the world. The use of an anatomical exit for bodily sewage for recreational sex says it all. I find that people who want to “mainstream” aberrational homosexual behavior never ever want to describe or define the actual bodily acts taking place. Nasty stuff taking place. So I will forego the biblical writings about homo acts but instead comment on common sense hygiene and the costs to society caused by people practicing homosexuality that is enough to make me “hate their behavior”. Forgot about trying to pin the bigot tag on me. I knew that was coming although theological bigot is a new twist on the theme. For some bloggers, when their argument isnt selling, name calling soon follows. Wonder if there is a scientific study on that one.

  24. Lee

    Notice how these “scientific studies” also re-label most male sexual predators with male victims as “bisexual” instead of “homosexual”.

  25. bill

    What about using the anatomical exit of menstrual blood for recreational sex?
    The Rev Tom Summers’term is “theological pornography”.He is referring to right-wing “Christians” who for some reason(dirty minds?),single out gay “behavior” with the hypocritical spiel;”love the sinner hate the sin”.
    Bigotry? Would you use the N-word on this blog the way you do your various slurs against homosexuals? Would Brad allow it?

  26. Dave

    Bill, Show me where I slurred any homosexual? If you refer to the use of the word queer, think again, there is a group of homosexuals and lesbians who call THEMSELVES Queer Nation. I guess the TV show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is a slur also. So I don’t slur queer people, just state my opinions. I absolutely don’t use the N-word. I think it is hideous and I resent it even when the black rappers use it loosely. Let Brad manage his blog and if you don’t like it go start your own where you can kick people off who disagree with your “pink” agenda.

  27. Lee

    The homosexual agenda is to recruit more homosexuals from the ranks of children, by getting to them while they are still confused about sexuality. The ringleaders of this agenda write openly about it.

  28. freddy

    Interesting yeah.We’ve been through this before: Christ taught personal behavior in terms of virtue, not decision-making within groups, a/k/a politics, or the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses


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