comsc US Politics | AMERICAblog News: CNN Covers Gay Conversion...Poorly
Join Email List | About us | AMERICAblog Gay
Elections | Economic Crisis | Jobs | TSA | Limbaugh | Fun Stuff

CNN Covers Gay Conversion...Poorly

| Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK

The CNN program "Paula Zahn Now" ran an unsatisfying segment tonight on the scam known as gay conversion therapy -- the lie that people can be "changed" from gay to straight. (It's rebroadcast at 2 a.m. if you're interested.) Of course, these scams have proven worthless. Virtually every "success story" trumpeted by the far right (and it's amounted to only a handful) has collapsed within a short time. Indeed, the entire dangerous and damaging idea of conversion therapy was created by two "success stories," two men who later admitted it was all a ridiculous farce, that they were gay and loved each other and have since worked to expose the movement's lies.

You found out virtually none of this in a segment that focused on a young man whose evangelical parents sent him to "straight camp," Love in Action. His story was counterbalanced by the story of another young deeply religious man who went to Love in Action but soon realized he could be faithful and not reject what God had created him as and is now in a happy relationship and worshipping weekly. (Presumably at UU or UCC or MCC or with Episcopalians or any one of the growing houses of worship who are welcoming to gays.)

The problem? Other than these two "paths," the only outside criticism of these radical fringe groups offering pseudo-science and self-loathing to young people came from a quick comment from a psychiatrist who has written a book about homosexuality.

Not a word from the mainstream organizations like the AMA or the APA or countless others that have not only condemned these practices as little more than witch doctoring but made clear they can be extremely damaging to the people involved. Barely a mention that this "camp" is staffed mostly by untrained quacks. Not a word about how anyone connected to them can be censured or kicked out of the APA, etc for potentially doing harm to patients. Not a word from respected medical and psychiatric leaders that there is nothing to "fix" or "cure." Not a word about the man in Florida just on trial for killing his three year old son because he was worried the little child was gay and wanted to beat it out of him.

Heck, the story didn't even seem to realize how pathetically lowered the goals of these groups are. In the past, they pretended people could be cured. Now they're careful not to make that claim -- for the simple fact that they could never produce anyone who had been "cured" that managed to stay "cured" after enjoying their 15 minutes of fame and hefty paychecks from the far right for speaking engagements. Now, all these wackos claim is that people can learn to live with their homosexuality -- that's a far cry from what they pretended was possible even ten years ago.

The nice, polite, well-spoken young man profiled said he thought maybe someday he could have a relationship with a woman, but if he had to be celibate, that was fine too. He even took issue with the question as to whether he was gay -- because he thought EVERYONE was a little queer and that no one was purely straight or gay. And he's mostly banished those temptations from his mind. Mostly. Talk about issues. If he's at peace with himself, good for him. But I'd bet dollars to donuts that in ten years he'll be out and proud or deeply, deeply unhappy. For his sake, I hope it's the former.

"Paula Zahn Now" should have created an accurate story depicting a discredited scam that can do serous harm to young people and which is strongly condemned by major medical and scientific organizations in the country. They should have done a story about a "snake oil cure" that can't even pretend to offer a cure anymore because it's pathetically obvious they've failed at their mission. Instead, they ran a story that -- with minimal editing -- could have appeared on Fox News or The 700 Club. And that isn't a compliment. "Evenhandedness" about a dangerous, discredited scam that can drive children into years of self-loathing and suicide is not good journalism.

ADD: Let me put this in more stark terms. CNN ran a story on a dangerous, abusive and misleading practice condemned strongly by every single reputable health and medical organization in this country. Instead of exposing that practice for the sham it is and the long-term mental health problems in can induce in vulnerable young children who are being told to hate themselves, CNN ran an entire feature that barely paid even lip service to overwhelming medical and scientific opinion towards this claptrap. Imagine running a feature on teens taking steroids and barely bothering to speak to anyone about the health consequences. Apparently, Good Morning America is doing a "conversion" story tomorrow. Let's see if they do any better.

blog comments powered by Disqus