Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Jon Stewart Drops the Ball

Jon Stewart is one of my favourite men on television. He’s very smart, he’s incredibly funny and he’s very relevant. He’s turned the Daily Show from a smarmy-celebrity-mocking show hosted by Craig Kilborn into one of the must-watch shows on television. Stewart has accomplished the near unthinkable in turning a comedy program into one of the most informative news shows on television.

His coverage of the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election was more informative than that of any other major US network, as he would often show us in two clips what their entire afternoon of programming had consisted of, and his team would often shed incredible light on the real issues through their comedic pieces. Furthermore, Stewart accomplishes the near-impossible in having consistently good interviews, whether they are lighter pieces with celebrities or heavier ones with academics and politicians.

However, if there’s one noticeable weakness to Jon Stewart, it’s that he tends to drop the ball when the pressure is on. He had Colin Powell on his program and gave him a pass on the weapons of mass destruction controversy and his interview with John Kerry was met with widespread, and deserved, criticism.

Last night Jon Stewart had Rick Santorum on the program, and in my mind Stewart let Santorum walk right over him. Santorum is a legislative extremist, a demagogue and a raging homophobe. He’s one of my least favourite politicians in the US, and stands for an incredible amount of things I disagree with. He was on the show promoting his book It Takes a Family: Conservatism and Common Good.

Stewart, who likes to point and ridicule talking points to no end, and I love him for that, has rarely seemed so unable to rebut an interviewee’s talking points. Santorum is exactly the sort-of person that Stewart usually rips into in an interview, but last night he was instead genially agreeing to disagree with the man.

Stewart: Can you confuse virtue with heterosexuality? Because I live in New York City. I'm literally - we're in a sea of homosexuality here. (Santorum giggles) It is - and also evangelism and Jewish and Muslim — it's New York. There's 8 million people. You've got more of everything. My experience has been virtue is unrelated to sexuality. APPLAUSE. And by the way on the other side of that...unrelated to religion. I think that's why the argument and concern in that vein is so confusing.

Santorum: I would say that certainly people who are homosexuals can be virtuous and very often are. The problem is that when you talk about the institution of marriage as the foundation and building block of society which I say the family is, and the marriage is the glue that holds the family together. We need to do things to make sure that that institution stays stable for the benefit of children.

Stewart: Children are best raised in male/female is what you're...

Santorum: Yeah, one man one woman.

Stewart: One man, one woman, good job...

Santorum: Absolutely...I mean I talked about all those aspects of society...

Stewart: But if you don't have the ideal? Cause you know they say you go to war with the army that you have...

Santorum: But government should be for the ideal that doesn't mean that a single mom can't and in most cases will raise great children. That [doesn't] mean that other forms can't and won't raise good children. What government should be for is what's best because a lot's at stake - the future of our country. And so we should have a system that builds around what's best, and that's the traditional, what I call natural family. It's not to say that other people are bad.

Stewart: Isn't even the natural family evolving? All the way up until the 60's and 70's there were those head of household laws that a family could decide to move but it was basically the man who had final say, you know, and before that marriage was more a property arrangement. You know, love marriage only came in the 1700's and moved on from there. Is it possible that, through an examination or as we go along, or is this just a basic difference of opinion about what the nature of sexuality is and what the nature of virtue is?

Santorum: No I think it's the nature of what's best for society. From four thousand years of history we've decided and determined that marriage was so important, having a mother and father who had children who were together for the purpose of children. Remember, the reason societies elevate marriage to a special status is not because they want to affirm the relationship between two adults. That's important. A love relationship is important.

Stewart: But isn't that more a religious paradigm than..

Santorum: No, no. Again, what's society's purpose in marriage? Society's purpose - the reasons civilizations have held up marriage is because they want to establish and support and secure the relationship that is in the best interest of the future of the society, which is, a man and a woman having children and providing the stability for those children to be raised in the future.

Stewart: Wouldn't you say though and with that same thing and I completely agree, although I always thought the purpose of marriage was a bachelor party but that's beside the point. (laughter) But wouldn't you say that society has an interest in understanding that the homosexual community also wants to form those same bonds and raise children and wouldn't a monogamous, good-hearted, virtuous homosexual couple be in society's best interest raising a child rather than a heterosexual couple with adultery, with alcohol issues, with other things, and by the way, I don't even need to make that sound as though a gay couple can only raise a child given failures in other couples.

Santorum: You're matching up best case vs worst case.

Stewart: I'm talking best case because...

Santorum: If it's best case best case, the best case everywhere is one man, one woman, their child, raising that child.

Stewart: Can you legislate an ideal? [next words inaudible]

Santorum: We have to. We owe it to children. Children need a mom and a dad. There are differences between mothers and fathers. And young girls and young boys need both.

Stewart: I would, okay. (pause - laughter)

Stewart: Ultimately you get to this point where it's this crazy stopping point where literally we can't get any further. I don't think you're a bad dude. I don't think I'm a bad dude. But I don't think I can convince you of the idea that I think it's doing society a disservice to dismiss the potential of all these really...

Santorum: I don't think it's dismissing the potential. I think we should honor every person in America - that every person has worth and dignity. There's a difference though, when it comes to changing the laws of the country, that could harm children.

That partial transcript was thanks to Andy and you can download the segment in its entirety by clicking here. Stewart handled himself okay in the interview, it’s not like it was a complete disaster, but still, this is exactly the sort of person Stewart should be going after like the mainstream media never does.

Why didn’t Stewart ask Santorum what he meant when he said homosexuals “can be virtuous people,” when he accused homosexuality of leading down a path towards incest and bestiality a couple of years ago in an interview with AP? How can Santorum possibly call someone virtuous if they are committing acts that lead to incest and bigamy? Why didn’t Stewart ask Rick what these “differences” between “mothers and fathers are” such that children need both of them? Why didn’t Stewart challenge this quote from Santorum, “elevate marriage to a special status is not because they want to affirm the relationship between two adults,” because that’s exactly what I first think of when I think of a marriage, and I think you can make a very strong argument that that is the purpose of a marriage. Why didn’t Stewart ask Santorum how this quote “And so we should have a system that builds around what's best, and that's the traditional, what I call natural…” with a different ending phrase (say, family structure, colour divisions), is any different from the ones used to justify patriarchies or segregation? Why didn’t Stewart ask Santorum why his book leaves no place for women in society, but barefoot and pregnant? Finally, why didn’t he suggest that Santorum’s views aren’t different, they are intolerant?

For what it’s worth, Stewart apparently devoured that idiot Bernie Goldberg last week. I wish I had seen that. And he’s still 100 times better than most news shows.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Ten Things I Now Know

They say you learn something new every day. Well, I could recall ten things I learned this week, so I decided to pass them along. This puts me three above the curve, and now I’m passing them onto you, so you can take the rest of the week off.

1. Which universities are Ivy League

I always thought I knew this, but then I recently made a remark about UPenn being an Ivy League school. The person I was talking with asked me if I knew the Ivy League schools and I couldn’t get the last couple. So, in case you are wondering, the answer is Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Cornell, Columbia, Dartmouth, Brown and the University of Pennsylvania.

2. My approximate odds of developing vision loss

In Canada the odds are one in nine of developing permanent vision loss by age 65 and one in four by age 75. That is from the October 14, 2004 Globe & Mail, which I had lying in my room for some reason.

3. How astronauts poop in space

Watch the video here .

4. Where to find the transcript of Jon Stewart on Crossfire

We all know it, we all love it. It’s a classic bit of TV history. And it can be read, in its entirety, right here.

5. The funniest line ever uttered about Team America: World Police

I recently stumbled across this gem from comedic genius and free-speech victim Bill Maher. "Will people please stop talking to me about Team America? If I was interested in wooden sex with strings attached I'd have gotten married."

6. The date of the birth of the world’s first test-tube baby

Louise Brown was the world’s first baby born through in-vitro fertilisation, which is such a common method of conception that it now accounts for about 1% of the births in the United States. Louise was born at 11:47 PM on July 25th, 1978, hence the connection, in Oldham, England, under the supervision of Dr. Robert Edwards and Dr. Patrick Steptoe.

7. Who India’s first female police officer was.

India’s first female police officer was Kiran Bedi, who joined the Indian Police Service in 1972. She was born in 1949, and after getting her MA in political science she worked as a university lecturer for two years before joining the Indian Police Service. She served on the force for a number of years, and completed both her LLB and PhD while on the force. Eventually she worked her way up to Inspector General of Prisons, where she instituted several reforms included introducing detoxification programs. Currently she works as a police advisor to the UN peacekeeping department.

8. Who Disneyland’s first guest was

When Disneyland opened on July 18, 1955 the first paid admission was college student Dave MacPherson, now a 72 year-old retired journalist living in Monticello, Utah. MacPherson received a lifetime pass for four to Disneyland and all other Disney parks that opened, a prize that was not announced beforehand. MacPherson decided to attend on the spur-of-the-moment, after watching television coverage the previous day when the park was opened to the media and special guests. He drove his motorcycle up to Anaheim and got in line at 1 AM, which is remarkably late considering the massive lines that now accompany major events. As the crowd swelled to around 6,000 MacPherson held his place, and when the doors opened he became the first paying customer Disneyland ever had. He then promptly went to the washroom and left the park without riding anything or
even buying a souvenir. Unfortunately it seems the heat may have got to MacPherson, as he had his own camera with him but didn't take any photos. Years later he recounted, "Why didn't I shoot pictures. I even forgot to ask Walt Disney for an autograph. I must have been balmy."

9. How many people kill themselves in China, on average, a day


10. What 70 year-old men can do

This weekend the San Francisco Giants played the Florida Marlins, which marked the first time in professional sports history that two teams with managers in their seventies opposed one another. Felipe Alou, the Giants skipper and ex-Expos manager, is 70, while Jack McKeon, the cigar-smoking manager who guided Florida to the 2003 World Series is 74. This is a pretty good accomplishment, if you think about it. I just hope to be alive at 70, and these men are competing with the pressures of managing a professional sports team and the rigours of a 162 game schedule.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

World Stupidity Awards

This sounds like an event worth attending. It is part of the Just for Laughs comedy festival and it’s hosted by one of the funniest and angriest men around, Lewis Black. And it involves my sworn mortal enemy, Ann Coulter. Oh, how I’ve hated her for years and years.

The World Stupidity Awards will be given out Friday in Montreal at the Just for Laughs comedy festival. Here are the nominees:

Stupidest Man of the Year: U.S. Senator John Kerry; Former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma; columnist Ann Coulter; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Players Association director Bob Goodenow (shared); U.S. President George W. Bush

Dumbest Moment of the Year: Ashlee Simpson on SNL; Basketball fight featuring Ron Artest; Prince Harry showing up to party in Nazi suit; Tom Cruise on Oprah; Russell Crowe throwing a phone at somebody's head.

Stupidest Statement of the Year: "Can you handle my truth?" - Britney Spears; "Go (expletive) yourself." - U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney; "Nooooooooooooo" - Darth Vader, in Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith; "They never stop thinking of ways of harming America, and neither do we." - U.S. President George W. Bush; "That's hot." - Paris Hilton.

Stupidest Movie of the Year: Elektra; The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; Alexander; Alien vs Predator; The Pacifier

Stupidest Woman of the Year: Paris Hilton; Ashlee Simpson; Brangelina; The Runaway Bride; Paula Abdul

Stupidest Trend of the Year: Religious Fundamentalism of all kinds; War; Crystal Meth; Seeing the Virgin Mary in toast, hamburgers etc...; Climate Change

Stupidest TV Show of the Year: Britney Spears, Chaotic; Surreal Life; The Simple Life; The Beauty and the Geek; Dr. Phil

Dumbest Government of the Year: Iran; United States of America; Canada; North Korea; The United Nations

Stupidity Award for Reckless Endangerment of the Planet: Kim Jong Il, Dictator of North Korea; U.S. President George W. Bush; The Vatican; The Government of Iran; Paris Hilton

Media Outlet Which Has Best Furthered Ignorance: Fox News; CBS News; CNN; Al-Jazeera; Newsweek

Stupidest Award Show of The Year: The Oscars; The Grammys; The Daytime Emmy Awards; The Golden Globes; The World Stupidity Awards

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Well, Bush went away from the expected names on the short list and instead nominated Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to the US Supreme Court. I think, from Bush’s point of view, this is an astute pick. He is picking someone with less name recognition that some of the usual suspects (such as Alito, Wilkinson, Luttig and Owen) and henceforth, someone the Democrats likely have not spent significant amounts of time preparing for. Roberts could well turn out to be as Conservative as some of the other well-known names, but Bush is avoiding the “controversial” choices in this scenario. Furthermore, he is also appointing a young jurist who promises to be on the bench (if he makes it through Congress) for a long time.

Rather than tell you what I think of Roberts, I’ll direct you to some links which should shed some light on him. I’m sure by now we all know that he once said, “Roe is wrongly decided and should be overruled,” but at his 2003 confirmation hearing said, “"Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land. ... There is nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent.”

What else can we find out about the man? Here are some tidbits.

Here is Roberts’s questionnaire from his Senate confirmation.

Here is a record of his campaign contributions to Bush.

Here is a report from the People For the American Way on Roberts.

Finally, here is a report from the Alliance for Justice on Judge Roberts.

That’s a ton of reading on the guy, which I don’t even the time to summarise on and comment like I usually would.

I will leave you with a quote, however.

"The president is a man of his word," said Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group. "He promised to nominate someone along the lines of a Scalia or a Thomas, and that is exactly what he has done."

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Hot Student

This tidbit comes from BSM (Boston Sports Media), which is the best website out there for covering the Boston sports journalism scene that I’ve encountered. Anyhow, I’ll let David Scott take over.

Scott’s Shots has learned that former Boston Herald sports columnist, Michael Gee, is, according to Boston University director of media relations, Colin Riley, “no longer teaching this term” at BU, a result of Gee’s somewhat suggestive observations regarding a female student.

Those words – made on a public message board – apparently cost Gee his second job in two months. (He took part in the recent Herald buyout offer.)

On July 5, Gee, according to his own post at www.sportsjournalists.com, had begun a stint as fill-in instructor for a summer communications/journalism course at BU.

Here is what Gee wrote at sj.com on that day: “Today was my first day teaching course 308/722 at the Boston University Dept. of Jounralis (sic). There are six students, most of whom are probably smarter than me, but they DON'T READ THE PAPER!!! Not the Globe, Times, Herald or Wall Street Journal. I can shame them into reading, I guess, but why are they taking the course if they don't like to read

But I digress. Now here's the nub of my issue. Of my six students, one (the smartest, wouldn't you know it?) is incredibly hot. If you've ever been to Israel, she's got the sloe eyes and bitchin' bod of the true Sabra. It was all I could do to remember the other five students. I sense danger, Will Robinson.”


(For those wondering, sportsjournalists.com, in a nutshell, is a place where sports desk editors, as well as sportswriters and others, vent over how crummy this paper or that columnist is. It’s also a networking spot to get info on the latest openings and movement at papers across the country. Like most message boards, it serves a purpose and then serves the fellowship of the miserable even more. Point is – it’s well-read within the biz. Many posters use aliases, but Gee, who has been registered at the site since Sept. 4, 2004, uses his own, full name. Earlier this summer, Gee had even posted his resume in hopes of attracting work (See: Shots, June 17, 2005.)


What on earth was Gee thinking, when he made these inappropriate comments? Further, what editor would hire a guy who publicly admits to drooling over his student? Even more perplexing was Gee’s response after at least one SJ poster gave this friendly advice: “Congrats on the gig and the proximity to a hottie, but be careful. Not with her, but with this site. She or your bosses could Google your name and the university at any point and find this thread.”

Even that lucid warning didn’t seem to have an effect on Gee’s libido or his proud postings: “Dear Folks: I suppose I should be flattered that many of you think this gorgeous woman who's half my age would consider having sex with me. Which, if I have any news instincts, she won't. My problem is losing my focus when I meet her to-die-for eyes.”

First of all, in case you are wondering, “sloe eyes” are “slanted dark eyes.” I didn’t know before this, either. To be fair, it does sound sexy.

Secondly, how dumb does this guy have to be to post about his attraction towards a student of his on a website frequented by those in the sports journalism community? This is obviously something that isn’t going to sit well with BU’s administration, especially when he admits “losing focus” when he looks at her and “sensing danger” about his teaching situation.

As long as you have people in power, they are going to be attracted to people in subordinate positions. However, it’s one thing to keep those feelings to yourself or share them with some close colleagues over a few beers. It’s an entirely different thing to post them on the internet in a place where they are bound to be seen by people in the same industry as yours. So, kids, if you are attracted to subordinates later in life, do not post in on the internet on a public domain.

Now, all of this raises the interesting question of how long is it going to be until ramifications over internet posting become commonplace in political campaigns? It seems likely to me that the internet will be to early 21st century politics like marijuana and similar “scandals” were to 80’s and 90’s politics. I suspect we’ll see several wannabe-members of Congress have their campaigns detrimentally affected by someone dragging up something they posted on the internet years ago. It’ll be like Jeff Gannon, except this time it will be that a Republican posted a blog entry that abortion is ethically okay.

I wish I was important enough to worry about what I posted here.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Beat the Gayness Away

If you missed this Onion article from a couple weeks ago, it’s well worth the read. It’s The Onion at its best.

SCOTTSDALE, AZ—Citing "something vaguely effeminate" about his eight-month-old son Michael, first-time father Joe Oebrick, 32, reported Tuesday that he suspects the infant may be a homosexual.


Among the many "small signs" that suggest that his son may be gay, Oebrick cited a home video in which the toddler crawls across the living-room carpet of the family's suburban Scottsdale home, wiggling his hips from side to side.

"I don't think it's normal for a baby to move like that," said Oebrick, wincing as the infant paused and flapped an arm in the air. "Don't you think that's a little strange?"

According to Oebrick, Michael has an excessive fondness for bright colors and "things that sparkle."

"Sequins, glitter, feathers," said the recent father, listing some of the things that Michael likes. "And he really likes flowers."

According to Oebrick, Michael is fussy during meals and picky about his clothes. When he hurts himself, he "cries like a baby." Additionally, the toddler has a "very strong attraction" to a stuffed lion with a rainbow-striped mane, an apparent preference for bottle-feeding over breastfeeding, and an evident love for bouncing up and down in his jumper device "like some guy at a club."


Oebrick said he doubts that strangers can even tell that Michael is a boy when they first meet him, but he acknowledged that this is not his biggest concern. According to the recent father, his most urgent concern is the confused baby's constant need to suck on a pacifier.

"That can't be right. Can it?" Oebrick said.

Oebrick said he first began to worry about Michael's sexual orientation when the boy was two months old.

"He would giggle constantly," Oebrick said. "And he had a very weak handshake."

Oebrick recalled the first time he saw his newborn child smile.

"Obviously, I was thrilled," Oebrick said. "But the thing is, he kept on smiling. He'd smile through breakfast, he'd smile in his car seat, he'd smile at strangers. It was excessive. It was around then I started to think, 'What if Michael can't help himself?'"

According to Oebrick, there were several months during which the infant's head would wobble if it wasn't supported by an adult.

"He was always swinging his head around," Oebrick said. "Our pediatrician told me it was normal, but it seemed pretty... well, gay."

Oebrick's worries were renewed last month during a Memorial Day cookout, when Michael "seemed too interested in my buddies," staring at them for long intervals.

"My friend Ben was bouncing Michael on his knee, and he was giggling and drooling like crazy," Oebrick said. "That didn't bother me so much, but when Ben put him down, Michael started crawling after every other guy at the party, giggling and grabbing at their pants legs like crazy."

"It was like he was the belle of the ball," Oebrick said. "When Rob played peek-a-boo with him, he got so excited he actually wet his pants."


Unfortunately, the story also tragically mirrors recent events in Tampa.

A 21 year old Tampa man is charged with murder after his 3-year old son was pummeled into unconsciousness and then died.

Ronnie Paris Jr. went on trial for his own life this week in a Tampa courtroom. The toddler's mother, Nysheerah Paris, testified that her husband thought the boy might be gay and would force him to box.

Nysheerah Paris told the court that Paris would make the boy fight with him, slapping the child in the head until he cried or wet himself. She said that on one occasion Paris slammed the child against a wall because he was vomiting.

The court was told there had been a history of abuse by Paris. Prosecutor Jalal Harb said that in 2002, the Florida Department of Children & Families placed the child in protective custody after he had been admitted to the hospital several times for vomiting.

He was returned to his parents Dec. 14. A month later he went into a coma and was rushed to hospital. Six days later he was removed from life support and died. An autopsy showed there was swelling on both sides of his brain.

"He was trying to teach him how to fight,'' Nysheerah Paris' sister, Shanita Powell told the court. "He was concerned that the child might be gay.''

Owen Wilson Likes Derrieres

I can’t help, but like Owen Wilson. He’s a lovable goof in stupid-but-also-somewhat-funny comedies like Meet the Parents, Zoolander (overrated, but still) and Starsky and Hutch. He’s made some bad movie choices, such as I Spy or Behind Enemy Lines.

Regardless, he’d be praiseworthy enough for his acting in the four Wes Anderson films, as well as his writing credit in the first three of them. That elevates him to near-God in my mind.

However, the New York Post has discovered Mr. Wilson also likes a little ass. From Page Six:

It takes more than a cheeky blind item in PAGE SIX to aggravate Owen Wilson. We recently ran a "Just asking" about a "blond stud nicknamed the 'Butterscotch Stallion' " who brought a woman back to his hotel room and "proceeded to lick her buttocks for over two hours."

Readers familiar with Wilson's 'Butterscotch Stallion' moniker correctly guessed his identity, but the easygoing actor was hardly embarrassed. "It's like, 'Who cares?' " Wilson told Rolling Stone when asked about the item. "I play it as it lays. OK, so I may not be the greatest lover in the world. Well, let's make that angle work. There's lots of different paths to the waterfall. You don't have to be Don Juan. And wasn't it Gloria Steinem who said that women have to be responsible for their own orgasms? Well, I take her at her word. I'll do my best, OK, but at a certain point you've got to, like, you know . . ."

Do you know what the hell’s he talking about? I sure don’t.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Work Sucks, I Know

Apparently, I’m being a better-than-average employee.

U.S. workers say they squander over two hours a day at the workplace, with surfing the Web, socializing with co-workers and simply "spacing out" among the top time-wasting activities, according to a survey released on Monday.

Most U.S. companies assume about an hour of wasted time, but workers admit to actually frittering away more than twice as much time at a cost of $759 billion in annual paid salary that results in no apparent productivity, an online survey conducted by America Online and Salary.com showed.

Wasted time did not include the standard lunch hour.


Men and women wasted an equal amount of time at work, but older workers were significantly more attentive than younger workers, the survey showed. Workers over 55 years old wasted an average of just 30 minutes a day, according to the survey.


And I only get half an hour for lunch.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Playing Doctor

You'd think with potentially millions of dollars professional athletes would be quite careful when it comes to taking care of their body.

However, apparently that's not always the case.

On Monday, [potentially injured Oakland A's outfielder Eric] Byrnes drove from his home in Half Moon Bay to Oakland for X-rays on his shoulder. The medical assistant asked him if he wanted to see them. He said yes, then after a few moments of trying to decipher them, said, "OK, what am I looking at?"

The assistant didn't know and the doctor wasn't in the office, but Byrnes explained Tuesday, "I drove an hour, I wanted to see what was going on."

He had an inspiration and requested an X-ray of his healthy left shoulder for comparison's sake. When he held up the X-rays, the shoulders looked the same.

"So I cleared myself," Byrnes said.

All those years of medical school that people go through in order to gain the knowledge necessary to become a practicing doctor? Nah, that's not really necessary.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Is Male Bisexuality a Myth?

A few days ago the New York Times came out with an article that reported on the findings of a study done at Northwestern University (with help from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto) that investigated male bisexuality. I have problems with the study itself, but first I want to deal with the article. It is entitled, "Straight, Gay or Lying? Bisexuality Revisited" and can be read here, although registration is required so I'll paste the relevant excerpts below. Firstly, nothing like a nice scandalous title to draw the reader in. No time for a simple and reasonably accurate title, such as "Study Casts Questions on Male Bisexuality" or "Researcher Claims Bisexuality a Myth." Instead, the reader is automatically told that people are either gay, straight or lying and there is also no mention that the study refers to males only and has not attempted to deal with female bisexuality.

The article states:

The study, by a team of psychologists in Chicago and Toronto, lends support to those who have long been skeptical that bisexuality is a distinct and stable sexual orientation.

People who claim bisexuality, according to these critics, are usually homosexual, but are ambivalent about their homosexuality or simply closeted. "You're either gay, straight or lying," as some gay men have put it.

In the new study, a team of psychologists directly measured genital arousal patterns in response to images of men and women. The psychologists found that men who identified themselves as bisexual were in fact exclusively aroused by either one sex or the other, usually by other men.

The study is the largest of several small reports suggesting that the estimated 1.7 percent of men who identify themselves as bisexual show physical attraction patterns that differ substantially from their professed desires.


The discrepancy between what is happening in people's minds and what is going on in their bodies, [Dr. Lisa Diamond] said, presents a puzzle "that the field now has to crack, and it raises this question about what we mean when we talk about desire."

"We have assumed that everyone means the same thing," she added, "but here we have evidence that that is not the case."


In the experiment, psychologists at
Northwestern University and the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto used advertisements in gay and alternative newspapers to recruit 101 young adult men. Thirty-three of the men identified themselves as bisexual, 30 as straight and 38 as homosexual.

The researchers asked the men about their sexual desires and rated them on a scale from 0 to 6 on sexual orientation, with 0 to 1 indicating heterosexuality, and 5 to 6 indicating homosexuality. Bisexuality was measured by scores in the middle range.

Seated alone in a laboratory room, the men then watched a series of erotic movies, some involving only women, others involving only men.

Using a sensor to monitor sexual arousal, the researchers found what they expected: gay men showed arousal to images of men and little arousal to images of women, and heterosexual men showed arousal to women but not to men.

But the men in the study who described themselves as bisexual did not have patterns of arousal that were consistent with their stated attraction to men and to women. Instead, about three-quarters of the group had arousal patterns identical to those of gay men; the rest were indistinguishable from heterosexuals.

"Regardless of whether the men were gay, straight or bisexual, they showed about four times more arousal" to one sex or the other, said Gerulf Rieger, a graduate psychology student at Northwestern and the study's lead author.

Although about a third of the men in each group showed no significant arousal watching the movies, their lack of response did not change the overall findings, Mr. Rieger said.


A 1979 study of 30 men found that those who identified themselves as bisexuals were indistinguishable from homosexuals on measures of arousal. Studies of gay and bisexual men in the 1990's showed that the two groups reported similar numbers of male sexual partners and risky sexual encounters. And a 1994 survey by The Advocate, the gay-oriented newsmagazine, found that, before identifying themselves as gay, 40 percent of gay men had described themselves as bisexual.

"I'm not denying that bisexual behavior exists," said Dr. Bailey, "but I am saying that in men there's no hint that true bisexual arousal exists, and that for men arousal is orientation." But other researchers - and some self-identified bisexuals - say that the technique used in the study to measure genital arousal is too crude to capture the richness – erotic sensations, affection, admiration - that constitutes sexual attraction.


About 1.5 percent of American women identify themselves bisexual. And bisexuality appears easier to demonstrate in the female sex. A study published last November by the same team of Canadian and American researchers, for example, found that most women who said they were bisexual showed arousal to men and to women.

Although only a small number of women identify themselves as bisexual, Dr. Bailey said, bisexual arousal may for them in fact be the norm.

Researchers have little sense yet of how these differences may affect behavior, or sexual identity. In the mid-1990's, Dr. Diamond recruited a group of 90 women at gay pride parades, academic conferences on gender issues and other venues. About half of the women called themselves lesbians, a third identified as bisexual and the rest claimed no sexual orientation. In follow-up interviews over the last 10 years, Dr. Diamond has found that most of these women have had relationships both with men and women.

First of all, it's almost impossible to tell what occurred in the actual study through this reporting. All I know is a "monitor" was used to measure "sexual arousal" and found that bisexual men were aroused by one sex or the other, but showed "little" arousal to the other sex. That's incredibly vague and really doesn't tell me anything of importance. I know the Times isn't going to reproduce the article, but one would think that they could do a much better job of explaining what happened.

While browsing the internet in an attempt to find the study online, I stumbled across a blog which explained the study in this post. Chris explains the study very well, so I will now quote what he wrote:

The evidence is reported in a paper titled "Sexual arousal patterns of bisexual men," by Rieger, Chivers, and Bailey (Rieger and Chivers are two of his graduate students) that is currently in press at Psychological Science. Here are the basics of the experiment. Bailey and his students recruited 30 gay, 38 straight, and 33 bisexual men through "gay-oriented" and alternative magazines in the Chicago area. Sexual orientation was measured entirely through self-report, using the Kinsey scale, with 1 indicating homosexuality, 5 indicating heterosexuality, and 2-4 indicating bisexuality. They had these men view six 2-minute videos of sexual material, along with videos of sexually-neutral material. Two of the sexual videos showed male-male sex (oral and anal), two showed female-female sex (oral and vaginal penetration using a strap-on dildo), and two showed male-female sex (oral and vaginal). They measured physical arousal using a technique called plethysmography that measures changes in the circumference of the penis. This is a fairly widely used technique, and short of neuroimaging (which comes with its own set of problems), it's the best way to measure physical arousal. In addition, they had the participants rate their subjective arousal continuously, using a lever that could be moved in a 180 degree arc, with 0 meaning no arousal, and 180 meaning orgasm-level arousal.

After weeding out several participants due to insufficient levels of arousal to any of the sexual videos (plethysmography is notoriously bad at detecting low levels of arousal), they compared the physical and subjective arousal of the 22 remaining self-reported bisexual to the 21 straight and 25 gay men who made the statistical cut. The question was, do self-reported bisexual men show and report significantly more arousal to male-male sex videos than straight men, and to female-female videos than gay men? This is what we would predict if bisexual men are attracted to both sexes. This is in fact what they found for the subjective arousal measure. Bisexual men showed high levels of subjective arousal to both male-male and female-female videos. However, the measures of physical arousal were not consistent with bisexual attraction to both genders. Instead, the bisexual men showed high levels of arousal to either the male-male or female-female videos, but not both. Most of them showed high levels of arousal only to the male-male videos. Bisexual males were the only ones in the study whose subjective and physical arousal levels did not show high positive correlations.

Now, thanks to that excellent summary I know exactly what happened during that experiment. I have a couple of minor quibbles with other parts of reporting in the article, but I am going to proceed to talking about and critiquing the experiment itself.

My first problem with the study is why did the researchers target young men, and not middle-aged men? I don't know what their justifications were for this, perhaps related to sex drive, but this point seems suspicious and almost certainly bound to skew the results of the survey. As was noted in the Times article, many gay men go through a phase where they self-identify as bisexual. This especially seems relevant as the ads were run in gay magazines, seemingly raising the chances the individuals who responded were gay men who were still questioning their orientation. Growing up homosexual is certainly not an easy thing to go through and it only makes sense that many gays rationalise their attraction towards other men by telling themselves that they are bisexual, which still gives them the possibility of having relationships with women and living a "normal" life. That fact is hardly controversial and I would be surprised if many people would argue against it. It also partially explains, but does not really justify, a lot of the scepticism and hostility bisexuals face from both the gay and straight communities.

I don't know how Dr. Bailey and his team defined young, but I imagine it was something like young men aged 18-25. Now, it really shouldn't be surprising that a noticeable percentage of 22 young, self-identifying bisexual men are actually homosexual. It's to be expected that amongst those men there are likely several individuals who have either not yet realised or failed to come to terms with their homosexuality. In fact, I'd be quite surprised if a number of these men were not living as homosexuals in a decade. I'm quite curious as to whether a study of 25 middle-aged bisexual men who had lived in committed relationships with both men and women would have reached the same results. Nevertheless, this still does not explain why every single person studied failed to show the expected arousal to both sexes, because even accounting for the above point there should still be some who are truly bisexual individuals.

Secondly, the aforementioned blog says that plethysmography is the best method of measuring arousal, but still the fact that a full one-third of the study’s participants had to be disqualified for arousal levels too small to be measured seems troubling. If a DNA testing method was faulty one-third of the time, it would be laughed out of court. Yes, this isn’t a life-and-death matter like some criminal trials are, but the fact that one out of every three times the study has to say, “Well, you’re likely aroused in some manner but we can’t measure it,” doesn’t leave me thinking this method is very reliable. Plethysmography is notoriously bad at detecting low levels of arousal apparently. It is also true that most bisexual people aren’t equally-bisexual in that they are attracted in equal parts to both sexes. Most probably find one sex more attractive on average than the other, but may find certain males or females attractive. It seems plausible that the bisexual people were perhaps slightly aroused by the pornography of their non-preferred sex, but to an extent where the machine could not detect it properly.

Third, pornography does not always equal real-life arousal in any case, either. There are numerous people with some extreme fetishes which likely arouse them when they view them in porno movies or magazines, but who would actually not be aroused in reality when this happened to them. One example that comes to mind is the rape fantasy, which doesn’t appear to be incredibly uncommon among women. These women may be aroused when watching porno movies that involve a rape scene or when they imagine themselves in a rape scenario. However, if they were actually in a situation where they were about to be raped, I imagine most of them would be completely scared shitless and not aroused in any manner. What one likes in pornography does not always equal what one likes in day-to-day sexual situations.

Finally, in what maybe the most important point anyway, arousal does not always equal attraction, and vice-versa. This was mentioned in the article when some sexual researchers stated their problems with the fact the study did not capture the “richness” which is sexual attraction. Although, the Times made them sound somewhat self-defensive, as it was mentioned that some of them were bisexuals themselves. Regardless, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that sexual attraction is a somewhat mysterious thing. Maybe I’m not the best person to be talking here, but who can explain why someone is attracted to one person but not the other, when there are great degrees of similarity between the people. When I’m attracted to someone I could list any number of qualities that make that person attractive to me, but yet I couldn’t really say why I’m not attracted (or not nearly as attracted as I am to Person A) to another person who possesses very similar attributes and features.

It seems completely unreasonable to say that just because a man was significantly more aroused by gay pornography that he couldn’t be attracted to a woman in the right situation or vice-versa. Long-lasting relationships and marriages work because of a number of factors, of which sexual arousal is just one of the parts that constitutes the overall attraction to the person. Bailey’s claims that arousal equals attraction is completely absurd in my opinion. Sexuality is such a complex thing and exists on such an imprecise spectrum that it’s inconceivable to me that Bailey can just decisively claim that whatever arouses a man is what he’s attracted to, and is the only thing he’s attracted to.

Many women are attracted to “bad-boy” types, but also realise that these guys often aren’t the ideal person to enter a long-term relationship with and after a few short-lived dating disasters begin to date different sorts of individuals. The same thing exists with men dating, for lack of a better word, “bimbos.” As hot as the girl is, some guys realise that this isn’t a person they want to enter a serious relationship with. So is it completely unreasonable to postulate that some men are more attracted to men, but also find it better emotionally to enter a long-term relationship with women. It seems like this sort of thing could explain why there are a number of men who have sex on the “down-lo” with other men (both before and after marriage), but who do not have dysfunctional relationships where they are obviously homosexual and instead have great sex and lots of passion with their wife.

I don’t mean to sound dogmatically anti-science, but there are so many problems with this study I can’t fathom how it could be taken seriously by anybody who is seriously interested in the study of sexuality. The only thing that can be taken from the study is that there appears to be a disconnect between physical arousal and attraction in bisexual males. However, that is still subject to all the caveats about the sample size, the problems with young bisexual males, the problems with pornography, the problems with plethysmography, etc… etc…

Besides, if what Bailey says is true, we can also safely conclude that homophobic men are usually closeted homosexuals.

Before and after each type of videotape, which subjects watched individually in a soundproofed room, arousal was measured using penile plethysmography. In addition, subjects provided a subjective rating of their sexual arousal using a 10-point scale following each of the three tapes.

The men in both of the groups had similar degrees of arousal after viewing the videos showing the heterosexual couple and two women having sex. A significant difference between the two study groups appeared, however, following the video depicting male homosexual acts.

According to researchers Henry Adams, Lester Wright Jr., and Bethany Lohr of the psychology department at the University of Georgia, the men in the homophobic group displayed significantly greater increase in penile circumference after the all-male videos, while the nonhomophobic subjects showed dramatically lower arousal levels. They report that 24 percent of the nonhomophobic men, but 54 percent of the subjects who scored high on the homophobia scale showed some degree of tumescence in response to the homosexual video. In addition, 66 percent of the nonhomophobic group showed no significant increases in tumescence after this video, but only 20 percent of the homophobic men failed to display any arousal.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Angelina Jolie Adopts Again

I was planning to do a nice full-length critique of something else, but unfortunately I got back too late from the game to write it tonight unless I did rush job, which is something I want to avoid. So you can look for it late tomorrow, hopefully, and in the meantime I’ll leave you with this tidbit.

A lot of celebrities get flak (some well-deserved and others not) for engaging in charitable ventures because they are seeking publicity themselves and to be, for lack of a better word, cool, while not truly being committed to the cause. Now, as I’m sure you probably have heard by now, Angelina Jolie adopted an Ethiopian girl earlier this week. The child will be named Zahara Marley Jolie and will join Jolie’s adopted Cambodian-born son Maddox.

In my opinion, Jolie is the perfect example of a celebrity who truly cares about what she is doing. Since 2001 she has been a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and she travels frequently to impoverish nations to raise awareness of the effects of poverty. In fact, Jolie has criticised other actors for not doing enough to help charities. Furthermore, Jolie reportedly donates 1/3rd of her income to charitable organisations which, although it leaves her with a fortune, is head-and-shoulders above almost every other celebrity. Jolie has even said she’d quit acting and concentrate solely on her UN work if she didn’t need the money to help pay for her endeavours. And what how many other actresses have adopted two children from needy countries as a single mom? Angelina Jolie is the real deal, and there’s no denying that.

And she is now officially the hottest person ever to adopt a baby from Ethiopia.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Shitty Canada Day Weekend

Alright, who had a worse Canada Day weekend than me? I will wager nobody who actually reads this little page did. In case you care, here is a recap:

Thursday, June 30: Awake at 6:15 AM, left the house by 6:40 AM for a hospital visit. I arrive there and found out I forgot to take some necessary medication prior to the procedure, which delays the start of it by about an hour and a half. So after that happens, I have a very painful procedure which lasts about two hours or so followed. Following hours of bedrest to ensure I have properly recovered, I leave the hospital about 6:30 in the evening.

Friday, July 1: Spent all day sore and lazing around in bed or on the couch recovering from Thursday. I was unable to attend fireworks display in Centennial Park, although I finally dragged myself out for a trip to my beloved Wendy’s.

Saturday, July 2: Not too terrible of a day, as I didn’t feel that bad. I didn’t really do anything except watch various parts of Live 8 and then a very frustrating Blue Jays loss.

Sunday, July 3: Woke up at 3 AM with incredible stomach pains. Incredible pains. I thought I needed to go to the bathroom, but I did that and it didn’t help. Half an hour later I realised I wasn’t vomiting and something was wrong. So I woke up my parents and they decided it’d be best to go to Emergency, as it could be complications from Thursday. So we got there shortly after 4 and I promptly violently vomited. The incredible pain continued and I was brought in. They took blood tests and about half an hour later (it was probably about that long, although it felt like two hours) I was given some morphine. But it wasn’t enough, so I got some more. On a side note, there are a few surprisingly attractive doctors and nurses working the night shifts on holiday weekends.

Meanwhile, I underwent about three different tests to ensure that it wasn’t complications from Thursday. I puked again, although the pain had been dulled by the morphine. They couldn’t figure out what it was and when the morphine wore off things hurt a lot less, so once I managed to convince them I could hold down food (I didn’t want to be admitted overnight) I left at about 2 in the afternoon. So I spent the rest of Sunday feeling somewhat sick, but not as bad as I did earlier that day.

As to what caused it, it doesn’t seem to be complications from Thursday. It appears to be either food poisoning or some sort of violent reaction to fluoride-type products (long story) for tooth care (but that’s also suspect because my sister had used that stuff previously fine and it never mentioned intense stomach pain on the side effects and it was also the first and only time I was using them). I doubt food poisoning, because I ate Wendy’s for supper Saturday and Dave Thomas would never poison me. Also, my brother ate it and was fine and my burger didn’t look poisonous, either. And that’s the best test I’ve got.

So, I’m at a loss, but I’ll just assume it was like that planted finger at Wendy’s and that things will be fine next time I eat there. But, goddamn that was some bad pain. It was “chop off my foot so I have something else to distract me from the pain in my stomach” sort-of pain. The moral of the story is, avoid pain.

Monday, July 4: Decided to take the day off work because I needed to register for my courses and I am still not feeling great because of yesterday. So I wake up at 7:30 AM (nice sleep-in on my one day off) to get ready for course requests. However, Queen’s has the most incredibly stupid system in the world where all the students try to logon to some stupid program that can’t handle it and so most of them spend an hour getting booting off and thus miss out on many courses they want, while others get on and get everything. So I spent from 8:00-8:30 getting kicked off constantly and I was MSNing with a housemate, who was getting into his courses, no problem (well, not no problem but the problem wasn’t with QCARD). So I asked him to do mine when he was done and he generously agreed.

However, at 8:40 one of my courses had already filled up, so I couldn’t take that one. Secondly, Queen’s neglected to inform you but only first-years can take their first-year Canadian history course, which I planned to take to get my Canadian history credit and I only found this out by my housemate phoning the history office this morning. So therefore I have no Canadian history credits going into fourth year and am entirely at the mercy of the 2006 timetable, and, based on this year, Queen’s offers no good Canadian history courses to begin with. I don’t mind Canadian history in some aspects, but there’s nothing to take. Thirdly, my nicely-planned timetable is now screwed up and my schedule now has openings that I have to fill and am having trouble doing so. I got most of the courses I want, but this QCARD crap sucks and I am still pissed about history.

So, I also went to the dentist today, and I hate the dentist, even though my dentist is pretty nice. My dentist informed me that, although I have no cavities, I also have crappy tooth enamel which makes me very likely to get cavities and gum disease and all that fun stuff in the future if I don’t massively improve my brushing habits and/or reduce my intake of sugars (which I don’t eat that much of, besides pop). The only plus side to the trip to the dentist was that I ran into one Ms. Gloria Bacci and we had a nice conversation about my old dentist, licence-exit tests and the trauma of routine car accidents.

So that was my weekend of not fun, so if anyone wants to give me $40 or season tickets to the Blue Jays or anything, that would be much appreciated. Also, you can now appreciate how good your weekend was, even if you did absolutely nothing of note.

And that all was surprisingly non-cathartic.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Andrew Sullivan and HIV, “Catch It if You Can”

Andrew Sullivan, is a gay, HIV-positive, generally conservative blogger and political commentator, who writes for various magazines and is a senior editor at The New Republic. He supports issues such as gay marriage, but I think no one would argue against the point that if you had to classify him on the political spectrum, it would be on the right-wing end. Sullivan is a hero amongst many gay conservatives, for his support of George Bush, the Iraq War, as well as homosexual rights, and his distaste for many liberal policies and concerns.

I’ve hardly ever read Sullivan’s blog, but when I was exposed to his writings through magazines or links elsewhere, I usually found myself disagreeing with his opinions. However, usually I was able to respect his opinions as reasonable and not completely bereft of common sense. At least, despite Sullivan’s support of Bush and conservative policies (and to be fair, a gay person shouldn’t have to make their sexuality the predominate issue in their politics), I was able to say at least he’s not a Mary Cheney, who actively campaigned for a very homophobic administration.

However, I was recently pointed to a piece Sullivan wrote for The Advocate, a national GLBT newsmagazine. This piece is entitled “Still Here, So Sorry” and can be read in its entirety here, but I’ll reprint some of it below.

It’s been almost 12 years since I became infected with HIV, and I haven’t died yet. I haven’t even had the decency to get sick. I am a walking, talking advertisement for why HIV seems not such a big deal to the younger generation—and indeed, many in my own age bracket. I know this is a terrible thing, and I promise in the future to do better. As gay activist Michelangelo Signorile recently told The New York Times, “If everyone in your group is beautiful, taking steroids, barebacking, and HIV-positive, having the virus doesn’t seem like such a bad thing.”

I’m sorry. At the tender age of 41—a year longer than I once thought I would live—I have never felt better. HIV transformed my life, made me a better and braver writer, prompted me to write the first big book pushing marriage rights, got me to take better care of my health, improved my sex life, and deepened my spirituality.


I’d even be prepared to stop taking my meds if that would help. The trouble is, like many other people with HIV, I did that three years ago. My CD4 count remained virtually unchanged, and only recently have I had to go back on meds. Five pills once a day. No side effects to speak of. I know that others go through far worse, and I don’t mean to minimize their trials. But the bottom line is that HIV is fast becoming another diabetes.


Do you have no sense of social responsibility? Young negative men need to see more of us keeling over in the streets, or they won’t be scared enough to avoid a disease that may, in the very distant future, kill them off. You know, like any number of other diseases might. They may even stop believing that this is a huge, escalating crisis, threatening to wipe out homosexual life on this planet.

What a piece of fucking crap. I think that it’s important to acknowledge Sullivan’s point that it is no longer as scary for many well-off gay men to catch AIDS as it was ten years and that people in the gay community, or the world at large, should not stigmatise gay men who are HIV-positive. However, Sullivan has taken any reasonable points he could make in that article and buried them under a pile of egotistical drivel that seems bound to do much more harm to the gay community than good. It’s also very interesting that Sullivan doesn’t link to this article at his blog, read by many conservatives, as this seems very out-of-character for a man who links basically every time he appears in print.

First of all, diabetes is not AIDS. No matter how much Sullivan tries to equate the two, they are not the same. Not amount of cutesy language about “five pills a day” is going to make that point true. Even if we are talking about AIDS in modern Western world terms only and not about the disease that kills about 2.1-2.6 million people annually in Africa, that still doesn’t make his statement true. First of all, diabetes is a serious disease that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Diabetes is the largest non-traumatic cause of amputations, dialysis and blindness in North America. There are about 18 million diabetics in the United States alone, and it is estimated that the number of diabetics will double by 2025. The situation is so serious the Centre for Disease Control has termed it an epidemic. So, if something is turning into “another diabetes” it is still very serious. However, there are lots of breakthroughs being made in treatment against diabetes and AIDS is still an incredibly debilitating illness in many cases that cannot be controlled as easily as diabetes can be by the proper eating and exercise habits. AIDS is not another diabetes and that’s an incredibly irresponsible statement to make.

Secondly, these medications are incredibly expensive. While this may barely register with a pretty wealthy person like Sullivan, a 20-year-old bricklayer in Kansas City with no health insurance is going to find himself in an incredibly difficult situation should he contract AIDS. He’ll likely be unable to afford these medications that Sullivan takes for granted and without them, his health will likely deteriorate over time until he dies. For a great deal of people in America (not to mention millions in Africa) medications are simply unaffordable. However, gay men influenced by Sullivan’s comparison of AIDS to a broken pinkie are going to read that he didn’t take medications for a long time and now that he does he takes five little pills a day. I doubt that experience is typical for many HIV-positive men and Sullivan completely neglects to mention the costs of AIDS drugs. This is especially significant given AIDS’ prevalence in the African-American community, as blacks make up 52% of new AIDS infections but only 13% of the general population and are four times more likely than Caucasians to be infected through male-male sex. Blacks account for 72% of the female infections, regardless of infection method and two-thirds of AIDS cases among teens, even though they are only 15% of the teen population.

Finally, on the point that Sullivan is making about the fact that AIDS is no longer as serious a disease as it was during the 1990’s, he is not wrong there. However, why is that the case? It is because of medical breakthroughs that had not been discovered twenty years ago and partly because of an educational campaign to alert people to the dangers of AIDS and how to stop the spread of the disease. People are no longer dying because of the disease in the numbers they once did, but that’s because people are also aware of how to prevent the spread of the disease and information about how to engage in safe-sex is available for many.

While fear may not always be the best way to publicise a campaign or fact, it is often the most effective. There is little incentive without fear to follow some suggestions, and if Sullivan’s article was used as the media campaign to educate people about AIDS, I’d wager dollars to doughnuts that AIDS rates significantly increased within five years. It’s great that AIDS has turned Sullivan into a better man, but young gay (and straight) people need to learn about the thousands of Americans who have died prematurely from AIDS-related causes and who have spent years of their lives in the hospital and had their plans and dreams irreparably altered by a positive diagnosis.

Michelangelo Signorile, who Sullivan criticised in his article and who had feuded with Sullivan for years, published an open letter to Sullivan on his website attacking his views. A couple of the most important parts of the letter are below.

Now honestly, Andrew, what is the purpose of this column - beyond you masturbating on your testosterone-fueled self? There is nothing wrong with building self-esteem, for yourself, for others who are HIV positive, or for people who are challenged by any adversity in life. But this is an angry rant in which you’re speaking not to positives but to negatives, about whom you have enormous contempt for what seems like one simple reason: They are still negative.


If I am wrong, please answer, clearly, the following questions: Should gay men try as hard as they can to stay negative, including always engaging in protected sex? Unless we warn them against getting HIV by using the fear of becoming infected, what else will be the incentive to stay negative? And why are you so angry, anyway, about people using fear as way to warn people to play safe – the way we use fear to warn people that obesity will lead to adult onset diabetes or smoking will lead to lung cancer -- even if it sometimes isn’t as effective as we’d like it to be?


And that tells us, Andrew, that you don’t feel good about having HIV at all. You perhaps even hate yourself for having allowed yourself to become infected via unprotected sex long after it was known how HIV is spread. It’s been difficult for you, someone who found yourself at the center of attention, the golden boy editor of the New Republic , the Gap model, to suddenly be in a group that is certainly not, nor should ever be, considered “hip.” So you would turn that around, and write about how wonderful it all supposedly is. And this is where I believe that you actually want young gay men to seroconvert. You want them to become positive. You want them to join your club, so that it just becomes hipper and hipper and those mean negative people just look more and more marginalized.


I’m concerned about young gay men who read the Advocate. They don’t have a clue who you are or what you are about. They don’t have any idea of the fraud you’ve perpetrated – distorting studies on infection rates, or putting out completely false information -- nor your hypocrisies. Some will say that the editors thus had a responsibility in this regard, and I’m not going to absolve them of that. But I’m writing specifically to you here. These young men are struggling every day to maintain safer sex practices. Some are very successful, while others will look for every rationalization to have unprotected sex. And now you just handed them another one: That their careers, their bodies, their sex lives will be fabulous and that there’s no downside at all, really.

You’re glamorizing illness, for your own selfish reasons, for your own ego. And I think you know that because, oddly, you have not linked to the Advocate column on your web site, where all of the legions of your right-wing, Republican conservative fans can see your recklessness and irresponsibility, and be appalled. It’s funny because you link to everything you write, making sure your fans can get every bit of Andrew Sullivan. But this column, directed squarely at the gay audience in the Advocate – and particularly at all those horrible negative people – seems to have gotten overlooked. Why Andrew? Hey, if you are really so secure and proud of your HIV infection, you might even link to this open letter of mine too, so your conservative Republican fans could see how supposedly ridiculous I’m being. But I bet you won’t.

Whether or not Signorile slightly exaggerates a couple of his points, there is far more truth in his letter than in Sullivan’s. Sullivan’s article is simply reckless and all I can do is simply offer my sincere condolences to anyone who winds up with an HIV infection after using Sullivan’s opinions as a last justification for unprotected sex, and then realises a few years later that it was one of the biggest mistakes of their lives.