Saturday, November 22, 2008

 

Some Old Posts from My 2003 Weblog Controversy

This is a collection of some old weblog posts related to the 2003 controversy. It isn’t complete, I think, and doesn’t even have the most interesting parts, which I think I did blog about the next year. Someday I’ve got to organize my old posts.

I'll add a link to the September 16, 2003 Bloomington Faculty Council minutes, which include the attack on me by Chancellor Brehm.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003: HOMOSEXUALS AND HINDUS AS TEACHERS

Professor Volokh posts the good question of why Christians object to homosexuals as schoolteachers when they do not object to Hindus, even though idolatry is the greater sin. This isn’t too hard to answer, though. Some points:

  1. Many Christians do object to Hindus as schoolteachers, in the same way as they object to atheists, Mormons, and so forth as teachers. That is why there are Roman Catholic and evangelical private schools.

  2. Volokh tries to link this to limitation of government privileges. But this is not a matter of privilege. If homosexuality is to be legal, I have never heard anybody suggest that homosexuals should not be corporate directors, lawyers, or CEO’s. But certain jobs, not necessarily prestigious or well-paid ones, are moral exemplars. These include teachers, pastors, and elected officials.
  3. A second reason not to hire homosexuals as teachers is that it puts the fox into the chickencoop. Male homosexuals, at least, like boys and are generally promiscuous. They should not be given the opportunity to satisfy their desires. Somewhat related is a reason not to hire a homosexual as a doctor even though you would hire him as a lawyer: you don’t mind if your lawyer has a venereal disease such as HIV or hepatitis, but you do mind if your doctor is in a class of people among whom such diseases are common.

  4. On this last point, note that state laws, though differing, often give more publicity to child molesting criminal records than to records of crimes such as murder which have longer prison terms. This is not because child molesting is more immoral, though it might be, but because it is important that child molesters not be hired into certain jobs.
  5. It is an interesting question in general of what kind of moral character a schoolteacher should be have. I think it does matter. Before I hired someone who had been a tax cheat, an adulterer, a robber, a drug user, or a stripper I would want to ask questions, and I would not want to hire someone who was currently in those categories.

    That, in fact, raises a good question for someone who says he does not care about a teacher’s moral character. If you are interviewing someone for a job as a teacher, and the person admits that he earns a lot from burglary and intends to keep doing it, but has evidence to assure you that he will not get caught, would you hire him anyway?

That’s enough on that particular point. I’ll go to a related point below, though, and cite Thomas Aquinas.

September 2 2003: 3. HOMOSEXUAL TEACHERS.

Eugene Volokh has a new post on the homosexuals-and-Hindus as schoolteachers issue. This is focussed just on the argument that homosexuals are risky as teachers because they are more likely to molest their students (as opposed to the moral examplar argument, or the parental preference argument). Professor Volokh says,

This allegation that male homosexuals are unusually likely to engage in sex crimes against children is a pretty serious charge, and it seems to me that such serious charges ought to be supported by some serious evidence (and not just by anecdotes), especially if they are to be made the basis of government decisions that may hurt the completely law-abiding. Prof. Rasmusen unfortunately didn’t cite any such evidence — can anyone point me to it? Again, I’m asking for specific pointers to specific evidence, and not just news stories about a few incidents of molestation, or general assumptions about what “everyone knows.”

I might note that Professor Volokh is a polite person, and asked me in an email if I had any evidence before he wrote his post, and I didn’t have any. (In fact, a post by Iain Murray that he later linked to says that there is no really good statistical evidence either way. If I come across any, I’ll post on it.) Why do I believe it, then? I actually think that it’s in the category of “what everyone knows”, a category useful as a starting point for discussions if everybody really does believe it (see the Intro to Nozick’s Philosophical Investigations for a nice angle on that idea). But if someone doesn’t believe it, then we do have to go on to reasons why we believe that male homosexuals are more likely than male heterosexuals to molest children.

Let’s start with a similar question: why do I think a man is more likely than a woman to sexually molest a child (someone under the age of 18)? It’s not because of scientific studies. Rather, it’s through what I’ve learned through life from various sources, including personal experience, newspapers, and literature, about how women and men behave. The belief I hold is strong enough that I’d base behavior on it: I would take it into account, for example, in hiring a nanny for my children.

A large part of my belief relies on the idea that men are more tempted by children than women are. Women are attracted to older men, and are also less aggressive and more faithful to their spouses, if they have them (There is numerical evidence on these points, by the way, but it didn’t take a 20th century sociologist to make the discoveries.)

How about homosexual males (I don’t have much idea about lesbians.) I think they are attracted to people under age 18 more than heterosexual males are I seem to remember Robert Heinlein saying that age at which a woman’s beauty peaks is 22. Of course, the later Heinlein was odd about sex, but 22 sounds reasonable. Men are attracted to a young but physically mature woman. But what is the ideal for homosexual men? For some it is certainly the mature, broad- shouldered, hairy 25-year-old. But my impression is that the 16-year-old beardless boy would attract more votes. And the 16- year-old beardless boy is not so different from an 8-year-old beardless boy as the 16- year-old girl is from the 8-year-old girl, so we should expect homosexuals to be far more tempted by 8- year-olds than heterosexuals are. I could check this by looking up a large enough sample of pornography—but I’d rather not. It is noteworthy that in ancient Greece, pederasty was actually the common form of homosexuality. The kind of sodomy they accepted was exactly the kind we still make illegal; the kind they would have thought strange (two middle-aged men) is the kind we have made legal. It is also noteworthy that there exists a North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) (which, oddly enough, has on its front page, “The War in Iraq is Still Wrong!”) Is there any equivalent demand by heterosexuals for legal access to girls?

This is not statistical evidence, and perhaps not serious evidence, but public policy cannot be based on statistical evidence alone. See my August 25 post on post on William James’s “The Will to Believe.” Often—perhaps most often— we have to make policy without having a scientific consensus (at least, not one backed up by numbers). We have to either let homosexuals be teachers or not. If the numbers are inconclusive, we can’t just say, “We’ll postpone the decision till more studies are done.” In the meantime, we are either hiring homosexual teachers or not, so we have made a decision.

An example I had a discussion with John Donahue about is right-to-carry gun laws. Professor Donahue is part of a statistical literature (of whom John Lott is the best- known author) that tries to measure whether such laws increase crime, decrease crime, or leave it the same. Although I like both Johns, and although they come to opposite conclusions from the same data (a fact of much recent controversy), I disagree with both of them. I’m skeptical that the data really is good enough to allow for a conclusive result. It is very hard to statistically measure the magnitude of the effect on robbery rates even of things like the number of young men and the length of prison terms that we are sure have an influence in a certain direction. Crime is hard to measure, there are lags to the effect of the variables, and there are a lot of things that affect crime simultaneously, some of which we can’t measure at all (”strength of consciences”). It ’s worth doing the research– I’ve worked on crime data myself in trying to look at < href= "http://Pacioli.bus.indiana.edu/erasmuse/published/Rasmusen_96JLE.stig ma.pdf"> stigma– but the numbers are not necessarily the best thing upon which to base policy. Rather, we use our theories and qualitative impressions. And this is one of James’s “forced decisions”— we either have to allow people to carry concealed weapons or not.

Similarly, we must decide whether to allow homosexuals to be priests, scout leaders, and schoolteachers without good regression studies of whether they are more likely than heterosexuals to go after the youngsters under their care. But enough on that subject for now.

September 6 2003: 2. ATTEMPTS TO SUPPRESS THIS WEB-LOG.

I briefly moved this web-log to Geocities because some people at Indiana University disapprove of the views expressed in it. Officially, at least, that has now been worked out. I’ll comment at length in a day or two, after I finish some work on the game theory book I’m teaching from. For now, the Indiana Daily Student and Bloomington Herald-Times and, not as fully, the Indianapolis Star

stories have some straight reporting on the controversy. Commentary is available at the Volokh Conspiracy and Crooked Timber.

I would like to comment on one distortion I heard on talk radio yesterday from the various people condemning me: that there is no evidence of the ill effects of homosexuality. What I said in my web-log was that I did not have such evidence at hand, and rather than hurry out and research it, I’d wait till I happened to see it float by. Thus, I said, “I have no evidence that homosexuals are child molesters more often than normal people” in the same way as I would also say, “I have no evidence that men are child molesters more often than women” (as I did say in the web-log) or “I have no evidence that smoking causes cancer” or “I have no evidence that the earth is more than 5000 years old.” Just because I don’t have it at hand doesn’t mean the evidence isn’t there. And even if exhaustive search doesn’t find any evidence that claim X is true, it might at the same time be true that the exhaustive search did not find any evidence that claim X was *not* true. See my August 25 post on philosopher William James’s observations on this. As Aristotle says in Book I of the Ethics:

… it is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits; it is evidently equally foolish to accept probable reasoning from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific proofs.

Hard evidence is just hard to come by on some topics, and sexuality is one of them.

September 9, 2003: &Phi. LESSONS OF THE WEB-LOG CONTROVERSY.

Here is what happened.

For some months, I have kept a web-log, with few readers, as a sort of commonplace book. The Volokh Conspiracy raised the interesting question of why people object to homosexuals as schoolteachers, but not Hindus, since idolatry is a greater sin than sodomy. I replied with some arguments distinguishing Hindus from homosexuals, and The Volokh Conspiracy linked to my reply and answered it. My guess is that someone at IU read the Volokh Conspiracy, followed to my web-log, and complained to friends at IU, who circulated the news of my web-log by email.

Soon the Dean’s Office at my business school was getting lots of complaints about my web-log. The Dean asked me to meet him late on a Thursday afternoon to talk about it. We talked, and I offered to move my web-log off the IU computers, and to keep fairly tight-lipped, until the Dean had time to reflect and to check with the University about whether my web-log was in violation of IU policy. He checked, learned that my web-log did not violate IU policy, and called me back the next day to say that I could move my web-log back, which I did.

The student newspaper got hold of the story, and that (I imagine) alerted the local newspaper, the Associated Press, and a local radio talk show. The blogworld also learned about it. The University didn’t actually shut me down, so the story isn’t as big as it might have been. I haven’t heard of any IU faculty members saying publicly I should be shut down (the student newspaper story “Faculty react to Web log decision” doesn’t actually quote any faculty, just staff). If I remember correctly (it’s hard because of the volume) I haven’t gotten any emails from faculty members saying so (except perhaps one person whose signature said “PhD” but not “Professor”). There are many people calling for me to be shut down, but they are students or staff members. The IU Vice President for Student Development and Diversity wrote a student newspaper op- ed, “A teachable moment for us all,” that made the good point that controversies like these are important to teach students the value of free discussion and so forth.

What can we learn from this?

  1. There are lots of people around who don’t believe in freedom of speech, and, in fact, don’t seem to even understand why it might be valuable. They see things in terms of power.
  2. It is a good idea to give administrators some breathing space. When hit with a lot of people complaining, they need some time to think. (This feeling should be familiar to those of us who grade midterms.) I could have refused to voluntarily move my web- log the first day, gone to the Web, and caused a big stink. But that would have hurt my university, and would, in fact, have created a false impression. IU *did* do the right thing, the process didn’t even take very long, and it didn’t take any pressure from me or outsiders. On the other hand, if IU had decided, after due deliberation, to shut me down, I would still have the opportunity to argue my case before them and complain to the world.

    In light of this, I think I made a mistake last spring when the Indiana Association of Scholars, of which I am a director, issued a press release criticizing a memo the dean of the law school had issued in the Dillon stolen flyers incident. Her memo was not the right response to the situation, but she was brand-new in the position of dean, she issued the memo in a hurry, and only a student, not faculty members, had told her directly that it was the wrong response. That is important because students, being young, are usually not good at explaining such things. One of us should have talked with her first, and we should have issued our press release only if she didn’t remedy the situation. But the IAS is a young organization, it was the busy end of the semester, and so we rushed things.

  3. It’s important to be willing to put up with disapproval. The biggest obstacle to conservatives voicing their opinions is not losing their jobs, death threats, or pistol whippings: it’s just the natural human distaste for doing something that other people dislike. This is quite interesting: why should I care if Mr. X thinks I am evil if I think Mr. X is wrong on that and everything else? Yet I do, to some extent. This has to be resisted. Here, again, it’s useful to have teaching experience. Any large required undergraduate or MBA course in economics is going to have a few students who think the professor is unjust and capricious in his grading. Denial of special requests will also produce sour feelings, as I remember from the semester when my final exam was scheduled by the university for the last day of exam week. When I turned down the requests of students to take the exam at a special early time, the students didn’t complain to me, but I got two long phone calls from irate parents. A mother said I had no heart and called me names in Yiddish. A father informed me that he was a lawyer, that it would be really expensive to change his child’s airplane tickets, and, after failing to goad me into saying something he could use against me in talking to my chairman or dean, said that I was clearly such a cold person that at least he didn’t have to fear that I would retaliate against his daughter. So as a professor I’m used to unreasonable abuse.
  4. A lot of people don’t understand the idea of a web-log. They confuse web- logs with research papers. No– a web-log can (but need not be) more reliable than a newspaper, because it can have multiple cites and can have corrections more easiliy, but by their nature, web-logs are not going to be as reliable as scholarly articles. They don’t get multiple drafts, they are not presented at seminars for criticism, referees don’t suggest improvements, and they aren’t screened by journal editors. Think of a web-log as being more like an intelligent conversation taking place in a good library.
  5. There are lots of people around whose idea of a convincing argument is “I’m offended,” and whose idea of witty repartee is “You’re stupid!”. This is something scholars tend to forget, except when grading certain kinds of student essays.

&Psi. SCIENCE AND OPINION. I’m slowly working my way through my emails. (Intermittent outages of my home internet connection are no help.) I’ve gotten several of the following sort:

  1. Person X says he is deeply offended by my saying that homosexuals are more likely to be child molesters.

  2. Person X also says that he thinks I should have presented some evidence before I said such a thing. (Sometimes this is said to be what a good scholar and scientist would do.)

  3. Person X does not mention any evidence himself.

Since there are several such emails, there are probably more readers like them out there, and I thought I’d post the basic contradiction in position 1-2-3 here in the web-log. It is this:

If Person X has no evidence on the subject himself, why is he deeply offended? Part 2 of his email says that a person should refrain from having an opinion until he has evidence, and so should certainly refrain from having a strong opinion. So by his own criteria, Person X has no right to have an opinion on the subject.

As I explained in detail in earlier web-log postings, I think Part 2 is wrong, so what I’m doing here is just exposing an internal inconsistency of Person X. If anybody wants to use just Part 1 and Part 3, they’re not inconsistent. Or, if they have just Part 1 and Part 2, and do give me some evidence, then they’re not inconsistent either (they’re still wrong on Part 2, but they’re not internally inconsistent) .

[ permalink, http://php.indiana.edu/~erasmuse/w/03.09.13b.htm ]

&Omega. Homosexuality and Pedophilia Evidence. I thank E.R. (not myself!), E.N., M.M., and J.O, for the following links on child molestation and homosexuality, which take various positions on the issue. (If you don’t mind having your full name mentioned, just let me know and I’ll update this.) I haven’t really looked at them yet, but I will one of these days, and will try to summarize them then. For now, though, readers might like to look at them directly. I also list the old Iain Murray post that responded to my initial exchange with Professor Volokh.

  1. Iain Murray, “Elusive Statistics,”
  2. “Health and Homosexuality”
  3. Jerrold Polansky, “FACT SHEET ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND CHILD ABUSE”
  4. Department of Health and Human Services website for the Administration for Children and Families
  5. “Child Sexual Abuse: The Facts”
  6. “Prevalence of Sexual Prejudice” and “Facts About Homosexuality and Child Molestation”

  7. Timothy Dailey, “Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse”
  8. Leslie Carbone on Boy Scouts & Catholic Church on National Review Online
  9. “Gay Mental Health”
  10. Paul Cameron, “Child Molestation and Homosexuality”

Note that all the items in this list are directed to the narrow question of child molestation. None of them applies to the bigger issues, which I think are the really important ones, of (a) whether homosexuality is immoral, and (b) whether it is bad to have immoral people as teachers because they are bad role models. If the child molestation issue were the only one, I think we’d see a lot of people who would prefer female homosexual teachers to male heterosexual ones, which I doubt is the case. But the molestation issue is still an interesting and relevant one.

[ permalink,

http://php.indiana.edu/~erasmuse/w/03.09.13a.htm ]

September 16-17, 2003. &Psi. THE CHANCELLOR AND MY WEB-LOG: NEWS.

&Psi. THE CHANCELLOR AND MY WEB-LOG. Well, things are heating up again. I’m a member of the Bloomington Faculty Council, the IU-Bloomington faculty senate, and we met at 3:30 today for the first time this semester. I wondered whether any of the faculty would mention my web-log. None did– except the Chancellor, Sharon Brehm. She chairs the BFC, and she addressed the web-log controversy right at the start of the meeting. I wasn’t prepared, I’m afraid, since it wasn’t on the agenda. Here’s the Chancellor’s statement. To be fair, I want to quote it in full.

I was first notified about the existence of Professor Rasmusen’s website at 4:44 pm on Thursday, September 4. The 12 days that followed have certainly been extremely difficult ones for our campus. I’d like to share with you today my perspective on this matter.

First, as I have done in every previous statement I have made about this issue, I want to emphasize that I deplore many of the statements posted on the website.

For example, Professor Rasmusen asserts that “homosexuals” (gender unspecified) should not be hired in jobs that function as “moral exemplars,” such as “teachers, pastors, and elected officials.” He also states, as a “second reason not to hire homosexuals as teachers,” that “male homosexuals, at least, like boys and are generally promiscuous.” Professor Rasmusen acknowledges that he has no evidence to support his conclusions, which are, instead, drawn from “the category of `what everyone knows.’”

This is deeply offensive, hurtful, and very harmful stereotyping, in which characteristics of individuals are applied to a large group of people who members, like all people, differ from one another on the exceedingly large number of characteristics that make up a human being. Logically, it is the same as drawing the conclusion that all men are six feet tall.

Such stereotyping is completely at odds with Indiana University’s commitment to inclusion and its respect for diversity as clearly stated in its equal opportunity/affirmative action policy: “Indiana University prohibits discrimination based on arbitrary considerations of such characteristics as age, color, disability, ethnicity, gender, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status.”

Nevertheless, Professor Rasmusen’s speech is clearly protected by the first amendment: Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech…

His speech is also protected by the IU Policy on Academic Freedom: In public utterances the teacher and librarian shall be free of institutional control…

And the IT Policy Office statement about personal Web pages is as follows:

This personal home page service is designed to provide Indiana University faculty, staff, and students with an opportunity to present themselves and their personal interests and opinions, as well as to learn and exercise web development techniques and accomplish class assignments in various disciplines. Indiana University does NOT review the content of personal web pages maintained by individuals using this service except in response to a complaint that the pages contain material that violates the law or University policy. The University accepts no responsibility for the content of personal home pages.

Free expression of ideas is a central value within the academy. Some materials displayed on pages in this service may be objectionable or offensive to some visitors, but that does not necessarily mean that the material is illegal or that it violates Indiana University policy. Absent a violation of law or University policy, the University will not take action with respect to material on a personal home page.

Individuals using this service are expected to observe all applicable laws and University policies, and present themselves in a manner consistent with the high ethical standards of the institution.

The postings on this website have created the difficult challenge of affirming the right to speak, even when we deplore the speech itself. As hard as this is, it is the only way to maintain our liberty. It’s easy to defend freedom of speech when we agree with or don’t care about the speech itself. Only when the speech offends us, do we realize the strength and courage of those who wrote the first amendment and all those after them who have affirmed and upheld it.

In exercising my freedom to speak against Professor Rasmusen’s statements, I also provide the opportunity for others to agree or disagree with my views.

There is, however, another more general issue that President Daleke [President of the Bloomington Faculty Council–ER] and I have discussed at some length. We agree that it would be useful to ask the UFC [University Faculty Council–ER] to review the current policies, practices, guidelines, costs, and benefits of “Mypage,” the UITS service for personal Web pages. It seems to us that, as a community of scholars and students, it is crucial to think through the role of these personal web pages in our communal and intellectual life.

I’d like to close with a quote that I found while working on this statement for this meeting: But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. John Stuart Mill, On Liberty 1859

After the Chancellor’s statement, I raised my hand right away, but all I did was ask if the statement was available on the Web. She said no, but that she’d give me a copy after the meeting, which she did. Nobody else commented, except to ask if the webpage policy ought to be considered by the *Bloomington* Faculty Council rather than the *University* Faculty Council (for all 8 campuses). Good reasons were mentioned, but not what is perhaps the best one: that if it went through the BFC it would go through the Technology committee, of which a certain Eric Rasmusen is a member.

The meeting continued for an hour more, and after a short break we broke up into committees. We on the Tech committee had a very productive hour figuring out what topics we might address this year (e.g., spam, music downloads, central computer administrators making policy without the faculty input they used to request). The reporter for the local newspaper asked me for my response to the Chancellor’s statement, but since he had a 6:30 deadline, I don’t know what he will use from my few comments at 4:30 and my hurried email at 6:15 after I got home and before my 6:30 engagement.

Chancellor Brehm ought not, I think, to have blindsided me like that. She knows me a little, but not well enough to predict that I wouldn’t respond angrily, which would have been unpleasant and would have so distracted everyone that we wouldn’t have paid attention to the more mundate topics of the rest of the meeting. Strategic planning, merging Informatics with Computer Science, and transfer credit policy can’t compete very well with attacks on faculty members. Also, it’s a good idea to try to coordinate statements on controversial subjects. If she’d shown me the statement a few hours in advance, I would have told her what I thought was weak in it then, instead of putting in my web-log of the world to see, as I do below. That way, she could have taken out the weak parts, and I’d be saved the effort of writing this up.

September 17 update. The local paper, the Herald-Times, didn’t get my written comments in time, but they did print the address of this web-log, which was nice since anyone interested can thereby get my response in detail. That article is “Brehm condemns professor’s opinions/IU chancellor addresses Bloomington Faculty Council”. The article in the student newspaper is “Faculty asked to review Web policies/ Brehm addresses business professor’s controversial site”.

September 17 evening update. The Herald-Times article, “Brehm condemns professor’s opinions/IU chancellor addresses Bloomington Faculty Council”, did make one mistake (or maybe I mis-spoke– the reporter and I had a rather rushed conversation). It says,

Rasmusen said later Tuesday that Brehm’s position that it’s acceptable for homosexuals to be teachers, pastors and elected officials is outside the mainstream. “It is fine if that’s her position, but she should realize it is a controversial one,” he said.

I do not think Brehm’s position is outside the mainstream, especially in Bloomington, where it may even be the most common position. It is nonetheless a controversial one. This is the same kind of issue as gun control or abortion, where an opinion on either side is going to be controversial. It would be noteworthy if a university chancellor took a public stand on any of the three issues of whether homosexuals should be schoolteachers (or pastors), whether abortion should be legal, and whether people should be allowed to own handguns.

September 16-17, 2003. &Chi. THE CHANCELLOR AND MY WEB-LOG: ANALYSIS.

&Chi. THE CHANCELLOR AND MY WEB-LOG: ANALYSIS. How *do* I respond? I enjoyed working last spring with Chancellor Brehm on the Faculty Council’s Iraq resolution, and expect to work well with her again. But…

(1) She said

Professor Rasmusen acknowledges that he has no evidence to support his conclusions, which are, instead, drawn from “the category of `what everyone knows.’”

This is misleading. She didn’t cite any evidence either, for what is apparently her strongly held belief that homosexuals are no more likely than heterosexuals to molest children. It seems that she, like me, thinks she has enough general background knowledge to assert an opinion on the subject. That is fine, but she shouldn’t criticize me for doing the same. As I’ve said before in this web-log, I’ll come back to the subject one of these days, when the pressure lets up and I have time to do it well. Will she? My opinion was in the casual setting of a web-log; hers was a formal statement read as she chaired a meeting. I have no staff to do research for me (though thank you readers on both sides of the issue for your contributions); she does have a staff. So shall we see her evidence soon?

(2) Chancellor Brehm said that my claim that “male homosexuals, at least, like boys and are generally promiscuous ” was

deeply offensive, hurtful, and very harmful stereotyping, in which characteristics of individuals are applied to a large group of people who members, like all people, differ from one another on the exceedingly large number of characteristics that make up a human being. Logically, it is the same as drawing the conclusion that all men are six feet tall.

Possibly it is deeply offensive and hurtful, but is that relevant, if my claim is true? A better criticism would be that my claim was false, though such a claim needs something to back it up.

Is my claim logically the same as claiming that all men are six feet tall? No. Rather, it is logically the same as claiming that men are taller than women. Such a claim is a generalization, and most generalizations are false for some members of the set being described. Some men are shorter than some women, but that does not detract from the usefulness of the generalization. Without generalizations of this kind not just science but the language of our daily life would be crippled.

Consider, for example, the Chancellor’s statement later in the meeting that one of her priorities in this budget-strapped year is to spend extra money on programming and financial aid to induce more minority students to come to IU. Isn’t that a generalization about those students? Can’t we get some of them without extra money? We can, but in general she is correct that we will have to take money away from something else to do it. (And that may be problematic: note the IU non- discrimination policy she quoted in her web-log statement.)

(4) Chancellor Brehm deplored my statement that homosexuals should not be hired for jobs that function as moral exemplars, such as teachers, pastors, and elected officials. Her stance is more interesting than it first appears. It seems to say that she strongly believes that it is fine for homosexuals to be teachers, pastors, and elected officials.

She can, of course, state that as her personal opinion, just as I can, and she can even use her position as Chancellor as a “bully pulpit” from which to state it. Some might say that a Chancellor should stick to bland statements, but I disagree. I do think that a Chancellor ought to serve as one of the state’s leaders and should not refrain from voicing strong political opinions. I wonder, though, if she realizes that this particular opinion is controversial. Saying that it is deplorable for someone to argue that homosexuals should not be teachers, pastors, or elected officials goes well beyond saying that homosexuality should be tolerated, or even that the university should extend marital benefits to them. Rather, it is saying that there is nothing immoral about homosexuality and that anyone who believes otherwise is deeply wrong. Many would disagree with her opinion on this, and with the absolute confidence with which she holds that moral belief. I suppose, now that I think about it, that I might say it is deplorable that so many people believe sodomy is moral, but would hesitate more than she seems to have done. A lot of people I respect do believe that sodomy is moral, so even though I think they’re wrong, I’m reluctant to condemn them any more than I condemn people who voted for Al Gore for President.

Indiana University as a university, of course, has no official position on the subject. The Bloomington Faculty Council has never passed a resolution saying that it is okay for pastors and teachers to be homosexuals, nor is this in any administrative polices that I know of. We do have the non- discrimination policy quoted by Chancellor Brehm, but that only implies it is okay for university professors, counsellors, janitors, etc. to be homosexual, not people in jobs outside of the university.


September 16-17, 2003. &Phi. EVIDENCE ON HOMOSEXUALITY AND CHILD MOLESTING.

I’m tired of people saying, for rhetorical effect, that Professor Rasmusen has no evidence to support his claim that homosexuals are more likely than heterosexuals to molest children. You’ll find detailed discussion in earlier posts on why I made the claim. For now, though, it might make some people happy to see something that Professor Steven Willing at our well- regarded medical school cc’d me on from a couple of emails to Chancellor Brehm this morning:

“Of 170 pedophiles, 60 [40%] were homosexual, 45 [26%] were bisexual, 34% heterosexual.” [With a population prevalence of 2.8%, this indicates that homosexuals are 14 times more likely to be pedophiles]. Bogaert AF. Bezeau S. Kuban M. Blanchard R. Pedophilia, sexual orientation, and birth order. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 106(2):331-5, 1997 May

“Heterosexual child molestations cases outnumber homosexual by eleven to one, but heterosexual males outnumber homosexual by 36 to 1. Although most cases of molestation are by heterosexuals due to their greater numbers, a homosexual male is over three times more likely to molest a child.” Freund K. Watson RJ. The proportions of heterosexual and homosexual pedophiles among sex offenders against children: an exploratory study. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. 18(1):34-43, 1992 Spring.

Dr. Willing, of course, has looked at a lot more than just those two articles. He says,

Every published investigation, except perhaps one (the deeply flawed study in Pediatrics 1994) show a much higher representation of homosexuals and bisexuals among convicted child molesters than their percentage of the general population. Even homosexual advocates know this. They therefore rely on semantic chicanery to redefine all offenders as “not really” homosexual.

Is this conclusive? No. I think it’s correct, but I haven’t looked directly at either article or at the material other people have sent me, so I don’t know whether the studies were well done or not. On a topic like this one, it isn’t enough for someone to say, “My position is correct, because Professor X at Bigname University says so and I can quote from two published articles.” First, numerical studies of the subject are tricky enough to do that you need to see how the articles came to their conclusions. Second, a lot of junk gets published, and someone outside the field doesn’t know which journals are really good. Third, there is a lot of dishonesty out there, so it is riskier to accept supposedly scientific claims about homosexuality than about how to price call options or what the rate of GNP growth in the 1920’s really was. So even though the evidence above supports my position, I shouldn’t close my mind on the subject and won’t.

A name=”september20″> September 20, 2003. &Omega.

THANKFUL THE PROTESTERS ARE MOVING ALONG.

From Toronto, writing between sessions of the American Law and Economics Association conference, I see that Mr. Bauder, the IU Coordinator, made a point of telling our student newspaper that the point of yesterday’s rally at the business school induction ceremony wasn’t to go after Eric Rasmusen. Good! I’m thankful, and so will not mention the affair any further here.

October 30, 2003. ר Chancellor Brehm Resigns.

Chancellor Brehm, who so publicly deplored this web-log a month ago, has resigned as Chancellor, effective December 31, not for an outside job, but just remaining in some kind of advisory position as described in the press release. Rumor has it that the Trustees decided this last spring, and that the previous chancellor, Professor Gros-Louis, will replace her. The former Law School Dean, Professor Aman, is another contender. We’ll see.

November 3, 2003. ת Weblog Controversy–Chronicle of Higher Education.

My web-log has made it to the front page of the November 7 Chronicle of Higher Education. I’m glad the photos turned out okay.

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