Princeton University bears direct responsibility for enabling the worldwide dissemination of demonizing lies told against LGBT people.
It is way past time for the LGBT community and its allies worldwide to wake up and to take actions against Princeton.
Later in this article, there will be suggestions for actions to take against Princeton for its guilt in enabling the worldwide dissemination of demonizing lies told against LGBTers.
PRINCETON AND THE BOOBY-TRAPPING OF THE ANTI-GAY REGNERUS STUDY
W. Bradford Wilcox is a Member of Princeton University’s James Madison Society.
In 2010, Wilcox was Director of the Witherspoon Institute’s Program for Marriage, Family and Democracy.
The Witherspoon Institute was founded in the same room as the notorious National Organization for Marriage, at 20 Nassau Street in Princeton, New Jersey.
NOM founder and mastermind Robert P. George is a Witherspoon senior fellow.
Witherspoon President Luis Tellez — the regional representative for Opus Dei — is a NOM board member.
Tellez and George both are hooked up with various deep-pocketed, anti-gay-rights groups; with their assistance, they funnel an endless, nearly unquantifiable money rush into Princeton.
Princeton University benefits from the anti-gay-rights-tainted money that Tellez attracts to the university. It is largely because of this influx of anti-gay-rights money that the Princeton University Board of Trustees look the other way when members of the university community promulgate demonizing lies against gays.
The problem is not so much that powerful people at an Ivy League university are opposed to gay rights.
The problem is that these powerful people are promulgating lies against gay people, and then using the prestigious university’s name to imply that their lies have scholarly merit. They are disseminating their demonizing anti-gay lies — around the world — under the false pretense that the lies conform to Princeton’s Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities, and Princeton University is guilty of letting them disseminate their demonizing anti-gay lies around the world.
Nowadays, the Witherspoon Institute is housed directly on the Princeton campus, where Witherspoon holds seminars.
In 2010, Witherspoon officials — many of whom are also NOM officials — hatched an evil plot to carry out a study rigged against gay parents.
Wilcox recruited Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas, Austin to do the study.
Together, Wilcox and Regnerus collaborated on the booby-trapped study design. Neither had prior professional training or experience in studying gay people.
Witherspoon’s 2010 IRS 990 form describes the same-sex parenting study as one of Witherspoon’s “major accomplishments.”
Witherspoon gave Regnerus a $55,000 planning grant, and then arranged for him to have full study funding of $785,000.
The study was published through corrupt peer review, in Elsevier’s journal Social Science Research, where Wilcox, an old crony to editor James Wright, is on the editorial board.
Elsevier CEO Youngsuk Chi is a Princeton graduate who has made donations to rabid anti-gay-rights candidates, including Oklahoma Senator Tom Inhofe, notorious for whipping up anti-gay hatred in political contexts by running on the phrase “God, guns, and gays.”
In his published article, Regnerus lies by saying that his funders had nothing “at all” to do with designing or carrying out his study. Witherspoon tells the public that same lie. Witherspoon and Regnerus both are deliberately seeking to deceive the public into believing that Regnerus did his study independently of Witherspoon’s anti-gay-rights political goals for it. As investigative work has uncovered Regnerus’s and Witherspoon’s lies, Witherspoon has attempted to scrub incriminating evidence from its websites. Such despicable, dishonest behavior is inappropriate to carrying out and publicizing supposed academic endeavors, yet it is happening on the Princeton University campus, among members of the Princeton University community, with the knowledge of the Princeton Board of Trustees. An ex oficio Princeton Trustee is Governor Chris Christie, who vetoed equality after the New Jersey Legislature voted in favor of it.
In addition to collaborating with Regnerus on the booby-trapped study design, Wilcox collaborated with Regnerus on data collection, data analysis and interpretation. Moreover, a preponderance of evidence shows that Wilcox was permitted to do peer review.
Neither Witherspoon nor Regnerus voluntarily disclosed these conflicts of interest; they were uncovered through investigative efforts. Compounding Wilcox’s conflicts of interest, programs he runs at the University of Virginia receive financial support from Witherspoon.
And, Wilcox’s conflicts of interest with Regnerus’s funders do not stop with The Witherspoon Institute. Regnerus received $90,000 for the study from The Bradley Foundation, which contributes money to The Ridge Foundation, whose chief officer is Brad Wilcox. (On page 3 at this link, you may see the Bradley Foundation’s $20,000 grant to Wilcox’s Ridge Foundation).
Regnerus, his funders and their associated anti-gay-rights groups, including the Catholic Church and the Family Research Council — an SPLC certified anti-gay hate group, of which NOM’s and Princeton University’s Robert P. George is a board member — have been using Regnerus’s study as the foundation for an immense public disinformation campaign about science. The parties are not merely promoting a booby-trapped anti-gay vehicle; to promote the booby-trapped anti-gay vehicle, they are misrepresenting the foundations of sociology to a broad public.
For that specific reason, Regnerus’s University of Texas (UT) colleague Dr. Debra Umberson wrote: “I am disturbed by his irresponsible and reckless representation of social science research.”
A Loren Marks study published alongside the Regnerus article misrepresents the value of studies based on snowball and convenience samples generally, to prop up Regnerus’s study, which is alleged to be, but is not actually based on a large, random, “representative” national sample. That is not opinion; Regnerus’s sample is not representative, but he and his funders continue to mislead the public by saying that it is.
No professional without some conflict of interest with Regnerus or Witherspoon has vouched for the study. Indeed, along with three other Witherspoon-affiliated persons, Wilcox signed a letter that deliberately distorts other studies to support the Regnerus article. In signing that deliberately deceptive letter, Wilcox did not disclose his connections to the study and its funders.
Dr. Erik Olin Wright, President of the American Sociological Association, is among over 200 Ph.D.s and M.D.s to have signed a letter to Social Science Research expressing concerns related to the invalid peer review process and to the study’s lack of intellectual integrity. The American Medical Association and seven other major professional groups filed an amicus brief in which the Regnerus study is analyzed as being methodologically invalid. In The Los Angeles Times, Dr. Nathaniel Frank wrote that Regnerus “fails the most basic requirement of social science research — assessing causation by holding all other variables constant.” You would think the Princeton University Board of Trustees might have taken notice of all of that. The scientifically invalid study is being promoted during a conference of anti-gay bigots at Princeton, after all.
In reaction to the letter from 200+ Ph.D.s and M.D.s, Social Science Research editor James Wright enabled a sham “audit” of the publication of the Marks and Regnerus studies. The audit reports egregious transgressions against science publishing ethics, but holds nobody accountable for them. One phrase from the audit is “scholars who should have known better failed to recuse themselves from the review process.”
The fact is, not only was Regnerus’s study design rigged; the peer review of it was rigged in advance as well.
Sociologist Lori Holyfield, in calling for the study to be retracted from publication, specified that the names of the peer reviewers should be released.
Dr. Michael Schwartz, the Chair of Sociology at Stony Brook University has called for the study to be retracted from publication and for James Wright to be removed from his position. Many additional Ph.D.s agree that the study should be retracted.
Dr. Andrew Perrin, sociologist with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has said:
“I think the study is so thoroughly flawed, in particular with respect to its categorization of ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian,’ that no conclusions can be drawn with sufficient confidence to report, publicize, or use them.”
From the June 10, 2012 date of publication, it has been evident that Regnerus is acting out on anti-gay-rights political strategies for promotions of the study, strategies that are coordinated with those of his Princeton-based bigot funders.
On October 12, Regnerus — his dishonest researcher’s tail between his legs – told the New York Times only that it would not be “profitable” for him to answer their questions about the role of his religious beliefs in his work.
Imagine that! The New York Times calls to interview you about your work, and you refuse the interview!
The Princeton University Board of Trustees should think hard and long about what it means that the academically dishonest author of anti-minority pseudoscience junk – orchestrated at their campus — refused to talk with the New York Times about this “study.”
That it would not be “profitable” for Regnerus to talk to the New York Times about how his anti-gay-rights faith informs his gay parenting study is thrown into high relief by the fact that his Trinity Christian College bio is titled Connecting Work and Faith.
Whereas Regnerus would not answer questions from the New York Times, he did not hesitate to give a full interview about his study for October 26 in Citizen Link, an affiliate of Focus on the Family, a notorious source of demonizing disinformation about gay people. After telling lies about his study to Citizen Link, Regnerus urged its anti-gay-rights readership to contact their elected officials about “this issue.”
That is to say, Regnerus’s Princeton University-based, NOM/Witherspoon funders are getting their $785,000 worth of anti-gay politicking based on lies out of Regnerus with their “major accomplishment,” this booby-trapped, anti-gay study.
Shortly after the study appeared, a certain Robert Oscar Lopez began promoting it in online comments threads. Lopez fits NOM’s documented strategy of getting children raised by gay parents to denounce gay parents to the public. Lopez severely misstates what the Regnerus study says, always in a foaming-at-the-mouth, anti-gay-rights direction, yet Regnerus reached out to him, first, for a correspondence about “LGBT issues.” Then, a gay-bashing essay by Lopez about the study — for which Witherspoon paid Lopez — appeared on a Witherspoon site, and now, Regnerus and Lopez are scheduled to appear together at Princeton on November 3, promoting the study in an anti-gay-rights context together with Witherspoon’s Ana Samuel as part of The Love and Fidelity Network’s 2012 annual conference.
Regnerus and Lopez refuse to say who is paying for their travel and attendance.
The Love and Fidelity Network’s head office is inside the Witherspoon building on the Princeton campus; Robert George and his fellow NOM co-founder Maggie Gallagher — who has lied heavily in promoting the Regnerus study — are on the organization’s advisory board. The organization offers funds for students from distant schools to attend the conference. The goal is for those students to get their “marching orders” at the conference and then to spread the anti-gay-rights word on their home campuses. The conference organizers published a Recommended Reading list about the Regnerus study. Their list includes Lopez’s essay The Soul-Crushing, Scorched-Earth Battle for Gay Marriage, but not one piece critical of the study.
I spoke about Princeton, Regnerus, and the conference with Dr. Toni McNaron, author of Poisoned Ivy: Lesbian and Gay Academics Confronting Homophobia.
Dr. McNaron tells me that the situation at Princeton reminds her of the Spanish saying; Candil de la calle, oscuridad de la casa.
A manner of labeling an institution hypocritical, the saying literally means “A candle in the street, darkness inside the house.”
Dr. McNaron says:
“This behavior, no matter what the subject of the study were to be, flies in the face of academic life as we understand it. Even people not interested in gay rights should be shocked by this, not because of the subject matter of it, but because of the procedures around it that so degrade what academic life is supposed to be about. The real issue here is not same-sex relationships, but rather, providing a patina of intellectual respectability for untrustworthy researchers and nefarious research-related activities. If you are a school like Princeton, then there is a responsibility to know about what is being said under your auspices or under your name. The Princeton Board of Trustees are big, grown-up educators, so they are supposed to be doing what I am suggesting they do. That’s your job if you’re running a big university.”
“Princeton is providing a cover for bigotry,” Dr. McNaron continues. “We see that Princeton is fronting for totally unfounded prejudices. There was a time when prestigious universities gave cover for psychological studies ‘proving’ that African-American brains were smaller than Caucasian brains. You know, the KKK was the working class that would terrorize African-Americans, and then there was the White Citizens Council — bankers, doctors, lawyers, affluent people funding the white supremacist political movement. Princeton should not be fronting for totally unfounded prejudices. What has gone on with the Regnerus study being organized at Princeton — with Princeton University community member Brad Wilcox involved in the study design — and then lying about his involvement, why, that is flagrant flying in the face of the university’s own goals and their own public statements. It has to be going on for questionable reasons, like money. What we see going on there flies in the face of real academic freedom.”
Indeed, the Academic Integrity section of Princeton’s Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities says:
“Academic freedom can flourish only in a community of scholars which recognizes that intellectual integrity, with its accompanying rights and responsibilities, lies at the heart of its mission. Observing basic honesty in one’s work, words, ideas, and actions is a principle to which all members of the community are required to subscribe.” [Bolding added]
Dr. McNaron continues: “Princeton administration is in this up to their eyeballs. Funding, or giving space, time and attention to people whose shady work undermines the university’s mission; that to me is what is academically reprehensible here. It’s that expression – Candil de la calle, oscuridad de la casa. There’s a lot of darkness in Princeton’s house. All of these beautiful words in Princeton’s ethics code mean nothing, if they let this go on. Whether they like it or not, they are answerable for this two-faced business of defining their academic mission one way to the world, but behaving the opposite way behind the gates.”
Gary Kinsman, Ph.D., is a sociologist at Laurentian University in Canada. He is a leading expert in the sociological perspectives of LGBT issues. He and his partner have an adopted son, now a young adult. I spoke with Dr. Kinsman about Regnerus, Princeton, and the Love and Fidelity Network conference.
Dr. Kinsman tells me:
“For the Love and Fidelity Network, a religious right wing organization, to have a session based on Regnerus’s work, an overt attack on same-sex relationships, shows exactly where this study came from. This is not an academic conference where Regnerus has been invited to speak. These are not scholars getting together to discuss work in a discipline. This undermines Regnerus’s credibility even further, beyond his dishonesty in his public statements about his relationship with his funders. He has no autonomy at all. Any claim that this is a scholarly conference is without merit. Regnerus is lending his name to what is clearly a religious right, anti-gay group’s conference. All of these non-scholarly, politically-based connections and relationships between Regnerus and his funders are being made clear.”
“This pernicious right wing argument, this bigotry, that somehow there is something automatically wrong with gay people, this anti-science notion has to be done in,” Dr. Kinsman continues.
“The research needs to be critiqued on grounds of its science, as well as on grounds of the integrity and honesty of the research. Survey studies always have limitations, but within that, Regnerus has done some shameless and obvious manipulating. On the one hand, he says he was more interested in same-sex behavior than in the sexual identity of queer people. On the other hand, though, his report refers throughout to lesbian mothers and gay fathers, and his funders attack all lesbian and gay parents on that basis. Then too, he never asked his respondents from intact biological families whether one or both of their parents had ever had a same-sex romantic relationship. So it turns out, Regnerus was not truly interested in same-sex behavior over queer identity, because we know that there are married heterosexual couples, one or both of whom have same-sex affairs and yet remain married. If Regnerus really were a researcher interested in same-sex behavior rather than sexual identity, he would have asked respondents from intact biological families if their parents had ever had same-sex romantic relationships. Where heterosexual parents remain married through queer affairs, their children tend to continue to benefit from household resources and stability. That is just one part of the larger issue, that Regnerus did not assemble an appropriate comparison group. He violated many ground rules for doing a survey study correctly. There is a whole series of assumptions coloring this study and making it invalid. The design was fixed to attack same-sex relationships, and we see, that’s how they are using the study.”
I asked Dr. Kinsman about Regnerus’s reported finding that 23% of his respondents with “lesbian mothers” had been sexually victimized “by a parent or other adult caregiver.”
“I wanted to mention, there seems to be a specific anti-lesbian bent to this study. Pernicious misogyny often intrudes into right wing work. In the eyes of the right wing, the specter of gay men raising children is already a horror, and that of women raising children is even worse. The study is coming from a particularly nasty place of going after lesbian mothers, especially around their relationships with children. Regnerus’s sex abuse question is worded, so that in the findings, there is no evidence that even one lesbian mother sexually abused a child, yet they are using the finding to smear all lesbian mothers. It also is true that given Regnerus’s definition of his group — young adults who say a parent has ever had a same-sex relationship — there is no way to weight the raw data with a verifiably correct weight.”
Indeed, this reporter made a Public Information Act request to the University of Texas, specifically for the explanation of how Regnerus derived the 23% sex abuse finding from his raw data.
In a letter UT then sent to the Texas Attorney General, asking for exceptions, the university claimed that Regnerus’s procedure for deriving the finding from the raw data is proprietary and must be kept secret, in order to protect UT’s investment in the study. Yet, in response to an Open Records Act request for information about who is paying for Regnerus to promote the study at the Princeton conference, UT told the attorney general that the study has nothing to do with UT, and that therefore, the Public Information Act does not apply to the requested documentation.
Get it? It can not possibly be true that UT is both heavily invested in the study, and that the study has nothing to do with UT. UT makes up any old excuse, not to comply with Regnerus study-related Public Information Act requests.
UT carried out a sham “inquiry” of Regnerus and his study over the summer, concluding that there had been no misconduct, but not communicating to the public the facts that Wilcox as a Witherspoon Program Director collaborated with Regnerus on the study design, and that Regnerus then lied in his published study by saying that the funders were not “at all” involved in study design. What it amounts to, is that the Princeton University anti-gay moneybags are corrupting other universities with booby-trapped studies funded to the tune of seven-hundred and eighty-five thousand dollars.
Dr. Kinsman says: “They clearly have lots of things to hide, and don’t want people to see how they arrived at their conclusions.”
One of UT’s letters asking the attorney general for Public Information Act exemptions revealed that prior to publication of the study, Regnerus and highly-placed members of UT administration extensively strategized a public relations spin for the study. UT anticipated negative reaction and was fearful for the university’s “branding.”
“If UT and Regnerus had these discussions prior to the release of the study, ” Dr. Kinsman says, “they realized that there would be things they would have to cover up for. If it was a completely legitimate study, why would you be preparing for the release in this way? UT and Regnerus were going way beyond just preparing to answer questions about the research straightforwardly. You can always answer questions about research, but to prepare in these ways suggests that they were aware of the problems in the research. In this case, they knew there would be negative feedback. This suggests coordination between Regnerus, the funders and UT.”
Dr. Kinsman continues: “Given the peer reviewers’ conflicts of interest, the legitimacy of the Regnerus study as a scholarly publication is dubious. The $785,000 funding was suspect to begin with, but then the conflicts of interest with the funders and the publishing process, along with the funders having a clear ideological orientation in relation to the study and publication process is disturbing. Elsevier’s journal Social Science Research has been discredited through the publication of this study. And clearly, Wilcox is being dishonest. One would think that Wilcox’s and Regnerus’s dishonesty was a matter of grave importance. Wilcox has violated Princeton’s code of ethics, and it’s plain that Princeton is not enforcing the code. This integrated relationship between Princeton and the Witherspoon Institute should not be happening; it is an illegitimate use of a university for anti-LGBT right-wing politicking. With this study, they have moved their propaganda into high gear. This certainly would be a problem for queer and more progressive heterosexual students at Princeton.”
As happens, after Regnerus’s Witherspoon conference collaborator Ana Samuel published an anti-gay essay about the study in The Princetonian, a commenter said:
“I am a LGBT Princetonian. This editorial, the anti-LGBT work of so many faculty and graduate students at Princeton, as well as the intellectual and financial support by Princetonians of NOM and the Witherspoon Institute makes this place suffocating at times. The University sits tacitly by while all this occurs, which is a terrible way to really support the LGBT members of your community.”
Princeton Professor Robert George is central to how the booby-trapped Regnerus study is getting so widely used as an anti-gay political weapon.
George is a ringleader of anti-gay politics worldwide. He is on the Catholic League’s Board of Advisers; Catholic Bishops all over the world are using the Regnerus study to poison minds against gay people.
Because the phrase “Never forget!” has meaning, I am mentioning that the Catholic Church demonized WWII-era homosexuals, many of whom were deported to concentration camps.
George’s friend Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League, sent a letter to UT President Powers, saying, among other things, that where my misconduct allegations against Regnerus mentioned the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ use of the study during their “Fortnight for Freedom” event, I was being “invidious as well as ignorant” because “the ‘Fortnight for Freedom’ events that were organized by the bishops,” according to Donohue, “had absolutely nothing to do with same-sex marriage.”
But in documented reality, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) were placing a strong emphasis on opposing gay rights during their “Fortnight.” Bishop Cordileone devoted a chunk of a post to the Regnerus study, using it to make anti-gay claims that the study does not support. Virtually every Catholic archdiocese is using the Regnerus study as a propaganda weapon in political contexts against gays. This did not happen by coincidence; Robert George had a role in promoting the study to the bishops.
It is intolerable that this weapon was assembled through Princeton University and then pushed out into and around the world by such figures as Princeton’s Robert George. And the last thing the Catholic Church should be doing after the Holocaust is demonizing gays.
Robert George’s NOM has heavily lied about and used the Regnerus study as a weapon in its anti-gay-rights campaigns. George’s NOM, besides sponsoring rallies where speakers say that homosexuals are “worthy to death,” also creates anti-gay political ads in which same-sex marriages and gay people are called “uncivilized,” “unnatural,” harmful to society, unfit to raise children, and likened to drug dealers and pedophiles.
Princeton President Shirley Tilghman alleges having carried out an investigation, which found no financial ties between Princeton University and NOM. She forgot to mention that there is concern, as well, about Princeton’s economic and other benefits had through the Witherspoon Institute.
In 2011, this reporter asked Tilghman’s office for a copy of the alleged investigation report. I am still waiting for it.
ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN AGAINST PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
1) Make sure everyone you know is aware of Princeton’s role in enabling the most powerful anti-gay bigots in the world to devise, to fund, and to distribute fraudulent anti-gay studies — and associated major anti-gay hate speech campaigns — from the Princeton campus;
2) Urge LGBT people and allies to avoid Princeton, not to attend it, and not to donate any money to the university;
3) Urge prior Princeton donors to stop giving the university money, and to make public declarations about why they will no longer give money to Princeton;
4) Make sure people understand that Princeton University lent its prestigious name to a conference where the lying Mark Regnerus and his lying anti-gay funders propagandized with the academically fraudulent Regnerus study, holding it up as a reference for students from all over the country and beyond to use as the basis for demonizing gay people;
5) Urge high-school guidance counselors to warn students — and particularly LGBT students — away from Princeton;
6) Call the offices of the Princeton University President, Provost, Dean, Vice President and General Counsel to complain about Princeton being a base for the generation of fraudulent, anti-gay studies and anti-gay hate speech: (609) 258-3000;
7) Remind people that women were not allowed into Princeton until 1969, and that the university had to be sued not to discriminate against women in its eating clubs, which were not integrated until 1991;
8) Remind people that in 1939, Princeton accepted Bruce M. Wright, but rescinded acceptance after he arrived at the campus and they realized he was African-American, not white. Ask people, “As repugnant as that story is, is it any worse than allowing an Ivy League campus to be the breeding ground of fraudulent studies used to demonize gays worldwide?”
9) Remind people that in 1924, Princeton thought that having Jews as 3.6% of the student body was unbearable, and so the university set a maximum quota of 2%.
10) Remind people what Dr. Toni McNaron, author of Poisoned Ivy says; “Princeton is fronting for totally unfounded, anti-LGBT prejudices.”
11) Sign this petition, telling the Princeton University Board of Trustees to take a stand, finally, against Robert George’s anti-gay bigotry.
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New York City-based novelist and freelance writer Scott Rose’s LGBT-interest by-line has appeared on Advocate.com, PoliticusUSA.com, The New York Blade, Queerty.com, Girlfriends and in numerous additional venues. Among his other interests are the arts, boating and yachting, wine and food, travel, poker and dogs. His “Mr. David Cooper’s Happy Suicide” is about a New York City advertising executive assigned to a condom account.
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