On Friday 6, June (2008) Iris Robinson Iris Robinson MP took part in the Stephen NolanStephen Nolan programme on BBC Radio
Ulster. It was a telephone interview. It started as a celebration of the life on Mary Whitehouse that ‘front-line-fighter’ for civil liberties. Nolan proceeded to put a number of loaded questions to Ms Robinson (an MP, MLA, and chair of the Assembly Committee that oversees Health and Public Safety). The questions were
“Do you think for example that homosexuality is disgusting?” “Absolutely?”. “Do you think homosexuality should be loathed?”. “Absolutely?” . “Do you think it is right for people to have a physical disgust towards homosexuality?””Absolutely!” .
And, “Does it make you nauseous?” to which this responsible (not to mention highly salaried) public representative responded “Yes”. Apart from any other consideration this can’t be accurate. Gay public servants working with Ms. Robinson have not reported her throwing-up when dealing with them. We then got:”Do you think it is something that is shamefully wicked and vile?””Yes, of course it is, it’s an abomination”. Ms Robinson’s responses were spoken in a briskly cheerful tone, as if this mind-bending dialogue were an exchange on the weather. Stephen Nolan wants to be a ‘shock jock’. He has claimed ‘racist feelings’ about the recent influx of non-Europeans into Northern Ireland. It is reasonable to wonder if he has any feelings. Other than ambition. As a broadcaster he has spotted an opening. (For what exactly is up to the reader to decide). He ascended from Radio Ulster to BBC Radio 5 Live, a ‘national’, (meaning all-UK) station. He could be said to have walked Iris Robinson into this scandal. And he must have enjoyed the storm of publicity.
‘( Unpacking Iris IT IS WORTH ‘UNPACKING’ Robinson’s words (and, incidentally, there is Mr & Mrs Robinson no reason to assume that Peter Robinson,
Northern Ireland’s current First
Minister, disagrees with his wife. They are Elim Pentecostalists, not Free Presbyterians. Elims make the Free Ps sound positively liberal on matters [homo]sexual). “Disgusting” means literally throwing-up your food. Iris Robinson has, presumably never disgorged her dinner simply thinking about homosexuality. Which she (presumably) doesn’t do very often (her not being Gay). Does she really think that “homosexuality” should be “loathed”? Can she guarantee when she (and the people who agree with her sentiments) is in the throes of this loathing, that they will distinguish between the thing and the person? Gay women and men come in all shapeSeand forms. Some are erotomaniacs. Some unambiguously Gay people do not feel the need to have sex. Ever. Are they to be ‘loathed’ equally? (Sexuality is as integral to Gay people’s personalities as those of what Ms. Robinson would describe as ‘normal’ people. The (
Oxford Concise) dictionary definition of ‘loathe’ is to cause nausea or disgust. Being around ‘Born-Agains’ like Ms. Robinson could cost a fortune in dry cleaning for the average queer.
Tricky Language “ABOMINATION” HAS SICK-MAKING CONNOTATIONS. But Iris Robinson, like most ‘Born-Agains’ is using the word in a tricky way. They tend to treat the King James 1611 Authorised Version of the Bible as if God actually wrote it. Rather than scholars having translated it from a number of languages. (Greek and Aramaic are not even in the same ‘family’ of languages). The Book of Leviticus Chapter 20, Verse 13, reads;”If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: and they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”That seems pretty conclusive. But there are a number of other ‘abominations’ in this Chapter, mostly to do with sex in the family. Leviticus 20 /10 has to do with adultery. Both parties have to be put to death. By stoning.
NIGRA (the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association) put it to the local ‘Born-Agains’ twenty year’s ago that divorced persons are inherently adulterers. It was remiss of them not to have a permanent picket on the Divorce Courts. They never took up this argument. The Great God Science MS. ROBINSON MENTIONED a “lovely psychiatrist” who worked “in my offices” (doing what?). The ‘lovely’ in question is Dr Paul Miller. Dr Paul Miller on the Tmr hEALTH pAGEHe is a Christian medical practitioner and a Lecturer in QUB (the Queen’s University,
Belfast). He spoke on the Nolan show saying he took to this area because a patient ‘struggling with his sexuality’ committed suicide. His attitude to sexuality is not as cut and dried as Robinson’s.
Or he is more careful in his use of language. His views are not particularly popular in his chosen profession. Long before the professional Associations took homosexuality off their lists of ‘disorders’ most psychiatristSeand psychologists agreed with Freud that it was not an illness. Both Dr. Miller and Ms. Robinson want to ‘turn’ homosexual people heterosexual. It is very odd for a professional psychiatrist to imply that ‘heterosexuality’ is unproblematical. There are as many ways of being hetero as there are of being homo. In an interview with the Belfast News Letter, Dr. Miller implicitly admits this: “…sexuality is complex and involves interaction between geneticSeand the environmental background.” He focussed on homosexuality. But the above applies to all sexualities, and orientations. The divorce courts (despite being undisturbed by ‘Born Agains’) are working overtime. Dr. Miller has become “more focussed” on ‘sexual reorientation cases’ in the “past two years”. He is prepared to accept that if his patients “wanted to be “gay-identified to the world”… he would not seek to stop them”. (He would not have the legal right to do so even if the patient had been ‘sectioned’ (placed in a psychiatric unit by the police or a court)).
A “Very Robust Study…” (?) DR. MILLER QUOTED “a very robust study” by Stanton JoneSeand Mark Yarhouse, but did not say what it consisted of, or even what it was, and certainly not where to find it. Drs JoneSeand Yarhouse have produced books jointly. The most recent one is Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Church’s Moral Debate. To give them their due, the title is pretty unambiguous.
They are in the business of using scientific data to further the aims of the fundamentalist churches to which they belong. All of their other published work is in the same vein. They were interviewed about the book by NARTH (the National [i.e. all-US] Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality; http://www.narth.com/docs/jonesyarhouse.html ).They claim that “”scientific evidence”” has been misused in debates in the Churches on the “divisive topic of homosexuality”. This is loaded language. It is not a ‘divisive topic’ for 90+% of their professional colleagues. They imply that the “traditional moral” attitude is that homosexual behaviour is “sinful”. They object to departure, on this subject, from “explicit moral teachings of scripture”. Traditional moral teachings on matters homosexual have not been as explicit as these men claim. See historian John Boswell’s books, particularly Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality, (it could be criticised for using ‘homosexuality’ as a supra-historical term. ‘Homosexual’ was coined in 1869. The ‘pro-Gay’ Hungarian medical practitioner Benkert wanted to take the matter out of the realm of superstition. And into the realm of scientific investigation. Boswell’s is a benign and thoroughly researched use.) To the question “How prevalent is homosexuality today?” they denounce the ‘Kinsey figures’, to the effect that “10% or more of the general population” is Gay. (A curious use of language, do they think some people ought to be excluded from ‘the general population’?). “Gay rights advocates have used this statistic…” to push for law reform. They imply bad faith on the part of these ‘advocates’. We, allegedly, want more social power than we are entitled to. This is a strange spin on civil rights. Is not the tiniest minority entitled to full civil rights?
They claim that homosexual individuals make up “1.5% – 3%” of the population. There was a vigorous article in Gay Star No. 198? which claimed much the same thing. The import was that we were disabling our politics. Those hordes of cowardly ‘closets’ were a figment. Drs JoneSeand Yarhouse admit that there is no way of knowing what ’causes’ homosexuality. They were not asked what causes heterosexuality. The latter is the more urgent question especially if 97+% of the human race are heterosexual. The good Doctors must be aware of the fact that the Bible supplied justification for chattel slavery and racism until very recently. Ex-Gays
DR. MILLER MAY have been referring to JoneSeand Yarhouse’s Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Motivated Change in Sexual Orientation. In a ‘blurb’ for the book, dressed up aSean interview, IVP (InterVarsity Press), the question is posed “Is the research scientifically rigorous?” This gets a long reply in which the phrases “most scientifically rigorous to date” and “uses the most rigorous methods to date” top and tail the response. (Protesting too much? There is no comparison with a named study.) Find this at: academic.ivpress.com.NARTH’s web site carries the legend: “NARTH upholds the rights of individuals with unwanted homosexual attraction to receive effective psychological care and the right of professionals to offer that care”. Someone (or a very expensive advertising agency) worked very hard on that. Note the emphasis on ‘rights’. On the ‘individual’. On the ‘offer’ of ‘care’. ?And the trivialising of homosexuality to a mere ‘attraction’ and away from an ‘orientation’. The
USA’s health system, in so far as there is one, is a purely commercial matter. Psychologically fragile people are being asked by NARTH, to purchase happiness. Despite suave promises, sexual ‘re orientation’ normally has a disastrous effect on the lives of those who have gone through the experience.
These Men Are Dangerous NARTH has a lavish web site, and appears to be well funded. It will have its Convention in
Denver, Coloradoon 7 – 9 November 2008. (Maybe they’ll invite Iris Robinson to open the proceedings.) Dr. Stanton L. Jones teaches at
Wheaton College, Illinois. It dates from 1870s. It is in quite decent conservative Christian institution (complete with a
Center). It nowhere states how many students are enrolled. Or. Jones is Provost, and Professor of Psychology. The College’s only two doctorates are in Theology and in Psychology. It is a theological college that lurched into psychology. (For more on Dr. Jones: http://www.wheaton.edu/president/cabinet3.html ).
Dr. Yarhouse is a Professor at
Regent University, Virginia Beach, Virginia. Pat Robertson set up
Universityin 1977, after becoming a billionaire by way of tele-evangelism. Its motto is Christian Leadership to Change the World. Pat Robertson was a co-founder of the Moral Majority. He has called
Scotlanda ‘dark place’. (He wanted to cut a lucrative deal with the Bank of Scotland. The Gay movement mobilised a large number of big account holders (the STUC – Scottish Trade Union Council, and the Church of Scotland, among them)’to threaten to withdraw their accounts. The Bank of Scotland decided that account holders in
Scotland were more important than was Robertson. And gave him the brush-off.)
Dr. Mark Yarhouse seems happy in
University which has seven thousand students, most of them part-time. The relevant work has been discussed above. If you want to know more about the man try;
The American Dimension THIS AMERICAN DIMENSION IS VERY IMPORTANT. The Christian Institute, using ‘money from
America’ has been trying to stop the Belfast Pride Dander for years now. These connections will have to be investigated, and alliances will have to be made with friendSeand allies in the
USA. There are many from the days of the
The DUP, while it may be using duplicitous language appealing to its fundamentalist following – and the gutter – has affiliations with, the Christian Right in the
US. These connections should be investigated. And exposed. Iris Robinson has been decidedly wrong-footed by the reaction to her original sin. And her follow-up explicitly comparing us with murdererSeand child molesters. That probably means that she is skittish and nervouSeand is letting her tongue run away with her. (Though it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that Ms. Robinson was still ‘playing to the gallery’.) From Laramie to
IRIS ROBINSON IS UNDER PRESSURE from several sources on the grounds that she has infringed the law of the land. Mostly the ‘Equality’ legislation in
Northern Ireland brought in after the passage of the Government of Northern Ireland Act 1998 (a. k. a. the Good Friday / Belfast Agreement). That is all to the good. The on-line petition to get the (
UK) Prime Minister to ‘reprimand’ Robinson has over 10,000 names at present. Well and good. But the legal cases may be allowed to take forever to get to court. The DUP has Gordon Brown by the gonads. He will be loath to alienate the Party. We need to keep up the pressure in
Northern Ireland. And extend it to
Great Britain and the Republic. To the
USA. And further out internationally.
Iris Robinson is certainly not alone in wanting to curtail the current freedom of action enjoyed by sexual minorities. If she is seen to suffer politically – our enemies may retreat (if only momentarily). If she is not seen to suffer (even if it is only to resign her current position) then the Ayatollahs, Anglican Archbishops, and the rest will take heart. As will the large numbers of politicians who want to curtail our freedoms, from Laramie (Wyoming) to