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Knight serves up red herring; we find it cold and fishy

by Jeremy Hooper

200808081706Robert Knight has written a new commentary for Town Hall. The piece is disingenuous. This is the part where you feign shock.

The gist: Robert is upset with Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly because he claims that in a recent piece, she unfairly blamed homophobia for propagating AIDS. Knight says of Ms. Connolly's work:

And what’s behind this tragedy? Connolly continues:

“Homophobia, biology and misplaced confidence that AIDS has become a treatable chronic illness…”

That’s right. Connolly lists “homophobia” as the very first cause of the surge of AIDS among homosexual men.

By this logic, health authorities who discourage smoking are actually causing the illnesses associated with smoking because of their tobaccophobia. The health authorities who fought tuberculosis by passing laws against spitting on city sidewalks were responsible for the epidemic because of their spitophobia.
Connolly provides plenty of solid facts explaining why biology or “misplaced confidence” and other unfortunate attitudes in the homosexual community are contributing to the spread of AIDS. However, her evidence explaining why “homophobia” is responsible is sorely lacking. She goes on for 669 words before giving any reasons why homophobia is to blame: laws against homosexual sex in some countries make it difficult to conduct prevention programs among MSMs, and “stigma and discrimination … lead to low self-esteem and risky behavior such as unprotected sex.”

Only problem for Robert? His presentation of the facts are FLAWED, FLAWED, FLAWED! For here is how Connolly's WaPo piece actually plays out:

3rd paragraph: Homophobia, biology and misplaced confidence that AIDS has become a treatable chronic illness are contributing to a disturbing flashback among scientists and activists, who say much of the world appears to have forgotten the early lessons of the AIDS epidemic.
7th paragraph: But since the mid-1990s, infection rates in gay men have been rising, especially in minority communities where homosexuality often still carries a powerful stigma.

200808081705-1Right there. Right there, only four text blocks after bringing up homophobia, Connolly makes a clear and straightforward connection between homophobia and HIV/AIDS rates, in accurately suggesting that the stigma of homosexuality in minority communities contributes to the heightened infection. She doesn't "[go] on for 669 words before giving any reasons why homophobia is to blame" like Knight suggests. In fact, only 135 words separate paragraph 3 and paragraph 7!

And then, if you go back and look at what Knight does say Connolly used to back up her homophobia claims and then compare that with the WaPo piece, you will see even more duplicity from Mr. Knight. Why? Well because this is how the section he truncates into one line really plays out:

(*note: this is more than we like to cut and paste from a source, but it's imperative in this case so that we can highlight how much Mr. Knight left out)
"The same kinds of stigma and discrimination and institutionalized homophobia that failed gay men in America is now failing men who have sex with men in the rest of the world," said Kevin Robert Frost, chief executive of Amfar, the Foundation for AIDS Research.

An Amfar survey of 128 countries found that men who engage in sex with other men are at greater risk of contracting HIV than others in the population. The term "men who have sex with men" emerged a decade ago to account for men who do not identify themselves as gay or bisexual but nevertheless have sex with other men.

In Asia, these men are 18 times as likely to contract HIV as the general population, while in Africa they are four times as likely to be infected, according to Amfar.

"We were surprised how extreme it was," said Chris Beyrer, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University who helped prepare the report. "It is dramatically higher across all regions."

In many cases, AIDS rates among gay and bisexual men are "directly related to the institutionalization of homophobia," Frost said.

Eighty-five countries, including Jamaica, Belize, India and Egypt, have laws criminalizing sex between men. It is punishable by death in seven countries, including Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, and by imprisonment in 76, according to the International Lesbian and Gay Association.

"It's difficult to provide services to men who have sex with men in countries where they don't acknowledge they exist," said Craig McClure, executive director of the conference sponsor, the International AIDS Society. Even if they do not face criminal penalties, gay men can experience stigma and discrimination that lead to low self-esteem and risky behavior such as unprotected sex.

"We live in an environment where nobody likes us," said Shivananda Khan, an activist who works with gay rights groups throughout East Asia. "We are told every day that we are horrible. Very few people love us. How do we cope with the constant, daily stigma? We drown our sorrows."

One of the hardest-hit regions is Latin America, which for the first time this week is hosting the biennial AIDS conference. Men who have sex with men in the region are 33 times as likely as others to be infected with HIV, the highest ratio found in the Amfar study.

"It is mostly the issue of machismo and homophobia," said Jorge Saavedra, head of Mexico's AIDS office.

Virtually the entire chunk is dedicated to the role that homophobia and stigma play in increased infection rates! 406 words that Robert Knight has trivialized to make his almost unbelievably baseless point!!! But rather than even attempt to refute Ms Connolly's thoroughly valid points (either here or her one about minority communities in America), he trivializes them with insipid nonsense about "tobaccophobia." Unreal. Although not surprising, considering social conservatives have been desperately trying for over two decades to disconnect themselves from the obvious role they have played in the AIDS crisis!

Robert Knight: You might fancy yourself a media watchdog. But as dog lovers, we know that even the best pups will sometimes pee on the rug if they think nobody's looking.

Well guess what? We're looking, Robert.

Post Writer Says ‘Gay Plague’ Is Fault of ‘Homophobia’ [TownHall]

**Connolly's WaPo report: Early Lessons Forgotten, AIDS Conference Told [WaPo]

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Your thoughts

Jeremy, average Fundamentalist readers don't click links or factcheck their writers. It's part of the Daddy-syndrome psychology of conservatism. For those who read and agree ideologically with him, Robert Knight is a Daddy to be trusted.

That's why Robert Knight and others of his type get away with lying every day of their lives.

Posted by: Evan | Aug 8, 2008 6:18:56 PM

Which is exactly why I will continue to chip away at their world, Evan. History will not only remember the spin, but also those who challenged it.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Aug 8, 2008 7:10:05 PM

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