I worry about Rush Limbaugh and Tony Snow and other people who worship pundit and author Walter E. Williams. The inexplicably popular conservative economist, in his Dec. 31 Townhall.com column reveals that he may not be worthy of so much adulation.
Another thing I wonder about are those life insurance company advertisements where they offer reduced rates for nonsmokers. Here are the facts. According to an article in Social Science & Medicine in 1991 titled, “Life expectancies of cigarette smokers and non-smokers in the United States,” the life expectancy difference between never-smokers and current smokers is about seven years at ages 25-29, and three years at age 75 and older. Thus, it makes actuarial sense for life insurance companies to charge smokers higher premiums.
According to a study titled, “The Longevity of Homosexuals,” in the Omega Journal of Death and Dying in 1994, the median age of death from AIDS is 37 and death from other causes 42. In another study, “Does Homosexual Activity Shorten Life?” in Psychological Reports in 1998, the average life expectancy of homosexuals is 20 to 30 years less than heterosexuals.
Here’s my question: How come life insurance companies don’t advertise lower life insurance premiums for heterosexuals? After all, life insurance companies do ask applicants about other forms of behavior that have an impact on life expectancy, such as: Are you a pilot? Do you abuse alcohol and drugs? And do you have DUI arrests? Why not also: Are you a homosexual? I think I know the answer. Life insurance companies would be charged with lifestyle discrimination. But isn’t it also lifestyle discrimination to charge higher premiums to smokers, airplane pilots, drug and alcohol abusers, and drunk drivers? None of these lifestyles has the devastating impact on life expectancy that homosexuality does. The only answer I can come up with is that some forms of discrimination are politically acceptable, while others aren’t.
What Williams doesn’t mention in his irrational rant — in fact, what it appears he did not bother to check — is the worthlessness of the “facts” he uses to lend credence to his wondering.
The figures and “facts” from the 1994 Omega Journal of Death and Dying piece he uses to support his statement are those of Paul Cameron, the disreputable, expelled “doctor” whose findings have been debunked numerous times, starting more than 20 years ago. The APAs (Psychological and Psychiatric), the AMA, the American Sociological Association, and other accepted medical organizations have all condemned Cameron and disassociated themselves from his hate-filled findings.
Why do I include the description “hate-filled”? A 1999 Rolling Stone interview with the man showed his feelings about gays. I can not find the article, “The Holy War Against Gays,” online, but here is an excerpt:
Like many of his allies, Cameron believes that, if left unchecked, homosexuality will destroy America like God did Sodom. “Untrammeled homosexuality can take over and destroy a social system,” says Cameron. “If you isolate sexuality as something solely for one’s own personal amusement, and all you want is the most satisfying orgasm you can get – and that is what homosexuality seems to be – then homosexuality seems too powerful to resist. The evidence is that men do a better job on men, and women on women, if all you are looking for is orgasm.” So powerful is the allure of gay sex, Cameron believes, that if society approves of gay people, more and more heterosexuals will be inexorably drawn into homosexuality. “I’m convinced that lesbians are particularly good seducers,” says Cameron.
“People in homosexuality are incredibly evangelical,” he adds, sounding evangelical himself. “It’s pure sexuality. It’s almost like pure heroin. It’s such a rush. They are committed in almost a religious way. And they’ll take enormous risks, do anything.” He says that for married men and women, gay sex would be irresistible. “Marital sex tends toward the boring end,” he points out. “Generally, it doesn’t deliver the kind of sheer sexual pleasure that homosexual sex does.” So, Cameron believes, within a few generations homosexuality would become the dominant form of sexual behavior.
In Cameron’s mind, as can be seen from his own words, “gay sex” can’t have anything to do with love, only with orgasms. That is bunk and a sick joke. It is also a hateful thing to say.
It is obvious to me that Cameron has some sort of lingering hatred (plus an inexplicable jealousy, perhaps?) against GLBT people which fuels his egregiously flawed and dangerous findings.
The Omega piece cites the findings of the Family Research Institute and names William L. Playfair. Here is a fact: Cameron founded FRI, and Playfair, as well as Cameron’s son Kirk, are part of that anti-gay organization. Cameron is held in disrepute, and rightfully so, as is FRI. As for the second article Williams cites, 1998’s “Does Homosexual Activity Shorten Life?,” which appeared in Psychological Reports, it was written by FRI’s Cameron pere ét fils and Playfair. In other words, they are not worth the paper on which they are printed.
Here is another fact: Decades after Cameron and his findings were exposed as fraudulent, wingnuts like Williams, clueless media outlets, too many televangelists and crusading “moralists,” and right-wing organizations continue to use Cameron’s findings in their campaign to assail GLBT people. This sorry truth shows how desperate they are to keep all Americans from being equal under law.
One tragedy from all this is that self-professed “Christians” keep using debunked and dubious “facts” to promote their truly evil agenda. And gullible, lazy people — like Walter Williams and his fans — still believe their hogwash.
This just proves to me — again — that what Walter Williams says (and those who promote him) is not worth my time, as it appears he doesn’t bother to check the veracity and worthiness of his sources. And given that he is talking about penalizing gays via insurance companies, which could affect people’s lives negatively, it makes Williams and those who follow his dictates nothing less than dangerous.
And the possibility does exist that Williams knew that he was using false, debunked information; after all, Cameron has been held in disrepute for more than two decades. If Williams knew that, he purposely spoon-fed bullshit — dangerous, hateful bullshit — to his rabid readers and sycophants. Now, I don’t know if that is fact. If it is, God help him. But whatever the case, none of this puts Williams in a positive light. At worst, oh my… At the very least, he is a lazy, irresponsible pundit spreading dangerous information without bothering to research it.
Which would also make him a goof for believing this crap: I wonder if Williams really believes that if GLBT people are treated equally that hets will flock to gay bars to experience boy-on-boy and girl-on-girl one-night-stands. I mean, really — is Walter Williams’ secret desire to perform blowjobs? I highly doubt it.
The bottom line, I guess, is Williams’ question: Is the life expectancy for gay men less than that for heterosexual men? Fact: We don’t know; the matter has not been studied adequately. But we do know this — behavior is the key to lengthening or shortening lifespans, not orientation. So it would seem that behaviors — such as cigarette smoking — should be the benchmark used by insurance companies to determine rates, not bigotry and lies.
And one more bottom line: Don’t take what Walter Williams says seriously. What he has to say isn’t worth your time.