[This is a response to this post by my friend Elizabeth on Family Scholars.]
Far from asking good questions, Rod Dreher’s blog post about the Regnerus study asked leading questions with ugly and false implications.
In particular, Dreher claims — without the slightest bit of evidence — that “homosexuality get[s] special treatment”:
Why does homosexuality get special treatment? How is it that a blogger can write a letter to the president of the university lodging a very serious, potentially career-destroying professional complaint against a professor, and the university can turn around and effectively put the professor on trial?
Contrary to Dreher’s claim, it has nothing to do with homosexuality. As the university explained (but Dreher didn’t report), ALL complaints about scientific misconduct automatically trigger an inquiry. From Inside Higher Ed:
“Whenever we receive a complaint of scientific misconduct our policy automatically triggers a preliminary inquiry,” says Gary Susswein, a university spokesman. “It is a fact-finding mission to see if a full-blown investigation is warranted.” The inquiry will last no longer than 60 days and will be led by the university’s research integrity officer, Robert Peterson, with help from selected “experts” whose identities will not be public, says Susswein.
The spokesman tells Inside Higher Ed such formal complaints are rare, and that Austin usually receives only a handful, if any, each year. It does not matter whether the complaint comes from inside or outside academe, says Susswein.
No reasonable person could have looked at this and said this is an example of homosexuality getting special treatment (unless there’s some reason to think Susswein is lying).
My expectation is that the inquiry will say that there’s no evidence of any wrongdoing by Regnerus that would justify an investigation, and that will be the end of the matter.
Finally, many of Regnerus’ defenders are concerned that Regnerus isn’t being treated with civility by all his critics – for instance, some critics have focused on Regnerus’ alleged motives, rather than just criticizing the methodology of his study. I agree. Personal attacks on Regnerus serves no good purpose and distract from more substantial critiques of his (grievously flawed) study.
But Regnerus’s critics deserve to be treated with civility, too. Dreher uses language that implies that Regnerus’ critics are cut from the same mold as the fascists in Orwell’s 1984 (“thoughtcriminal,” etc). That over-the-top language is pretty typical of political discourse nowadays, but just because it’s commonplace doesn’t make it right. Regnerus’ critics aren’t Orwellian fascists, and Dreher’s implication that they are is unfair and makes civil disagreement harder to achieve.
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