August 2007

From the Editors desk

The New York Times has editorialized that Dr. James Holsinger, President George W. Bush’s surgeon-general designate, might not be qualified for the position because, when he served in a volunteer (United Methodist) church capacity, he ruled in favour of a clergyman who did not allow gays to join his congregation. The Times said: “The Senate should not confirm a surgeon-general who considers practising homosexuals abnormal and diseased.”

So homosexuality is not linked to disease? According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, “CDC analysis suggests that approximately 64 per cent of all adult P&S syphillis cases in 2004 were among men who have sex with men, up from an estimated 5 per cent in 1999.” About gonorrhea, the CDC reported that efforts to control the disease among homosexuals were difficult: “Resistance is especially worrisome in men who have sex with men, where it was eight times higher than among heterosexuals (23.8 per cent vs. 2.9 per cent). In April 2004, the CDC recommended that fluoroquinolones no longer be used as treatment for gonorrhea among men who have sex with men.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal has reported, “In a controlled study, 67.5 per cent of 200 homosexual men, but only 16 per cent of 100 heterosexual men, were found to be infected with intestinal parasites … These findings suggest that the male homosexual community may be an important reservoir of potentially pathogenic protozoa.”

The risk of rectal cancer increases 4,000 per cent among those who engage in anal sex. The CDC says very explicitly that anal sex increases the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. (So does the International Journal of STD and AIDS .)

The New York Times is taking a very unscientific view of homosexuality.

So, far from being homophobic (or whatever the Times considers Dr. Holsinger – they call his views “abnormal”), doesn’t the surgeon-general have a duty to inform the public, especially homosexuals, of the health risks of anal intercourse? The Times says the job of the surgeon-general is to “serve as ‘America’s chief health educator.'” That is something he could do. In fact, Holsinger could do for anal intercourse what another surgeon-general, Luther Leonidas Terry, did for smoking. But he would face further criticism from the editorial pages of the Times and hate campaigns from gay rights activists.

The Globe and Mail , too, has criticized the increasing politicization of the position of the surgeon-general. In light of recent examples – Bill Clinton held up a report on the nation’s sexual habits during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and George W. Bush prevented Dr. Richard Carmona from attending the Kennedy-family supported Special Olympics – the Canadian daily said that “the nation’s doctor needs the freedom to speak fearlessly.” But just imagine the condemnation the Globe would direct at a surgeon-general who spoke frankly about the dangers of anal sex.

It is hardly surprising that the Times would find someone who holds traditional Christian views about homosexuality to be unfit for public office. But need prospective candidates for the sub-cabinet also ignore mountains of scientific evidence in order to be considered qualified by the paper of record? Or must they simply toe the politically correct, gay-friendly line of the country’s cultural and media elites? I remember a time when the paper railed against ideological litmus tests (such as when George H.W. Bush indicated that he would only appoint pro-lifers to the Supreme Court).

I guess some litmus tests are more legitimate than others.