At least some of the public discourse on Mark Regnerus’s new study seems to be turning a corner: from critically discussing the findings (which is good and necessary), to calls for excommunicating him from mainstream media institutions and irrational, unfounded charges of “anti-gay preaching.”
At The New Republic’s blog The Plank, with the headline “It’s Time for Mark Regnerus to Get Collectively Dumped,” Molly Redden references his co-authored book Premarital Sex in America (published by Oxford University Press), and on the basis that she doesn’t like his sociological analysis of sex and youth — which she asserts (I’m glad she knows, by the way) is nothing but “his personal retrograde ideas about sex and marriage” — calls for media outlets to dump him as respectable sociological voice on anything about sex and youth.
At The Huffington Post, Eric Ethington slanders Mark Regnerus, calling him a “biased researcher” (again, I’m glad he knows), and accusing him of doctoring the findings to fit his bias. On what basis does he make these serious charges?
Mr. Regnerus has a long, sad history of anti-gay preachings, including an op-ed in The New York Times, attacks on a Pew study, and speeches at Bryan College (another article here), all showing this man’s heavy anti-gay leanings and immediately revealing that his so-called “study” shows nothing more than what he had predetermined it would show.
The only problem is that in the Pew study and the Bryan College link, he never addresses gay anything.
In the NY Times — which invited the respondents to address the “evolution” of marriage — Regnerus obliquely references same-sex marriage, but it’s hard to see how it fits the characterization of “anti-gay preaching.”
The last article Ethington links references a student’s take on a Regnerus talk at a college chapel, at which Regnerus apparently offered his view that marriage is an institution that is first and foremost a “spiritual establishment” (that was the student’s words) that neither the State nor the Church has the authority to change.
So at a private chapel, Regnerus offers a little bit of his own commentary on the nature of marriage — and this commentary reveals that he has an “anti-gay bias” and that that bias dictated his study? Even supposing that Mark Regnerus is personally opposed to same-sex marriage (which we don’t know, and frankly, don’t need to know), does this similarly mean that Judge Walker, who is gay, cannot offer rulings on gay marriage, or that same-sex marriage proponents cannot study issues pertaining to gay marriage? And does this mean that we should embark on search-and-destroy missions to the nooks and crannies of the Web to find out the personal views of every sociologist who has ever written about anything?
It’s one thing to critique a study.
It’s another thing to respectfully disagree with a person.
But it’s another thing altogether — and very sad and shameful and downright lazy– to slander people and to call for media censorship of people whose analysis you don’t personally like and agree with.