An Uninformed Case.

Since one of the responsibilities of librarians is assisting patrons with research, they’re supposed to be trained to use research materials–everything from print bibliographies to electronic databases. That’s part of what makes Professor Bert Chapman’s “case against homosexuality” so surprising. Chapman is a librarian at Purdue University, and yet in writing his “case” he seems to have completely avoided doing any actual research of his own. He does cite one study by name which he claims is available at the web site of the Corporate Resource Center, but fails to provide a link to it. In fact there are several Corporate Resource Centers, none of which seem to have any such study available. I don’t doubt that such a study exists, but why doesn’t Professor Chapman–who is, after all, a librarian–make any effort to make it easier to find? He doesn’t even quote from it. We are, instead, expected to take his word that the report backs up his opinion.

What’s most appalling is Professor Chapman’s dishonesty. He claims his case is an economic one, and he makes the point that money spent on AIDS research is “wasted”. He says,

The money invested on AIDS research could be returned to taxpayers or transferred to more worthwhile areas of public health research such as cancer, heart disease, combating pandemic conditions like H1N1 flu, and promoting responsible sexual behavior such as monogamy within heterosexual marriage.

As one blogger has pointed out, perhaps money spent on librarians is being wasted as well. Professor Chapman doesn’t say so, but they money saved on AIDS research could also, in part, be used to fund the police state he envisions.

There have been serious responses to Professor Chapman’s “case”, but he refuses to acknowledge them. For one thing AIDS is not limited to homosexuals. Neither does the fact that allowing AIDS to go untreated would have even more serious economic consequences. Then there is the matter of same-sex marriage which Chapman claims to oppose on economic grounds, even though he makes it clear from the outset that his whole argument is based on his religious belief. One person has–unlike Professor Chapman–cited several actual studies and provided a link to one, a study which finds that

Extending marriage to same-sex couples will boost Vermont‟s economy by over $30.6 million over three years, which would generate increases in state and local government tax and fee revenues by $3.3 million and create approximately 700 new jobs.

As has been pointed out elsewhere, by blogger Timothy Kincaid, “Chapman suggests that gay people getting married would lead to increased rather than decreased sexual disease transmission.”

Professor Chapman dismisses these responses as “infantile ad hominem attacks”. He’s made up his mind and  isn’t interested in facts. He dismisses homosexuality as “sexually deviant”, proving he’s as ignorant of psychology as he is of economics. There have been those who have come to Chapman’s defense, claiming that he is being censored or that criticism of him represents intolerance. These defenders, like Chapman, have trouble distinguishing fact from opinion, and don’t understand the meaning of “censorship”. No one is preventing Chapman from voicing his opinions. Criticism does not equal censorship. As for “intolerance”, it’s Chapman himself who is actually promoting that by suggesting that anyone with AIDS should be allowed to die, and by refusing to engage in any discussion with those who disagree with him. This is also not a criticism of his faith. He doesn’t say, “I believe this solely because of my faith”, even though this is the case. Instead he tries to legitimize his argument with economic numbers that don’t add up and opinions passed off as facts. The irony, though, of those who call for Chapman to be treated with tolerance is that tolerance is an act of compassion, and compassion is one thing Professor Chapman clearly does not believe in.

Update: At least one academic librarian, has written a very thoughtful, intelligent critique of Professor Chapman’s “case”. While he considers several points of Chapman’s argument, he sums it up quite well in saying,

The only economic issue specifically regarding homosexuality in the entire post is the claim that businesses expanding coverage makes it difficult for them. That’s the case for any benefits at all, though. If companies dropped all their health benefits, they’d be more profitable. Tens of millions of people would suffer horribly, but economic arguments don’t address that.