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1999: Not read, still criticized 

In contrast to the 1997 articles, the public suddenly discovered the meta-analysis. The first reactions were a flood of rejections. I have already told about this in "Mister president…" (Newsletter E6) and in "Science and Morality" (Newsletter E7), so I will be short now. 

NAMBLA was the first to discover it and presented it as "Good news!" on their web site. This text disappeared quite soon after NARTH discovered it and criticized the meta-analyse vehemently. Someone read this and informed "Dr" Laura Schlessinger about it. She has no PhD, but has a radio program with many listeners. She began a heavy attack in her emotional talks. She is well-known because of her anti-gay stance. She attacked the APA, the publisher of the meta-analysis.  

The APA had to react and distanced themselves from the content of the meta-analyse, not because they disputed the scientific data but because of political correctness and morality. The APA confirmed its moral code: abuse may be in fact less harmful than is thought, but it is still (morally) wrong. 

The Family Research Counsil also reacted. This conservative-Christian group has never published any research, but it informed politicians. Several states rejected the meta-analyse, as did the US Congress. The Congress rejected a correctly written scientific report, not because of the facts, but because of morality.  

In this phase of the debate, most critics had not even read, or understood the meta-analysis. People published "quotes" that could not be found in the article at all. People spoke about "condoning pedophilia", a word that is not used in the article at all. Critics uttered objections, which already were refuted in the article itself. In May and November 1999, the Rind team wrote its first defences. Needless to say the authors were attacked in many ways. The State could not stop their jobs by refusing to pay their income at the universities, because all research is done in free time. Later on, this happened to Harris Mirkin.  

During this phase David Spiegel published his first critical article. Spiegel is a leading person in an association with an impressive, but narcissistic name; Leadership Council for Mental Health, Justice, and the Media. In a press release (May 24, 1999), this council proudly presented itself as an organization "whose membership includes many of the nation's most prominent mental health leaders", but this is not true. It's an organization of people who believe in multi personality disorders and repressed memories, which they recall during therapy. These therapists are frequently convicted for making false accusations, and many scientists do not take them for serious. 

Spiegel, David, The price of abusing children and numbers, Sexuality & Culture 4-2, Spring 2000, 63-66, < http://www.ipce.info/library_3/files/spie_price.htm  > and

Spiegel, David, Suffer the children: Long-term effects of sexual abuse, Society, 05/01/2000, 37 -4, 18-20, < http://www.ipce.info/library_3/files/spie_suffer.htm  >
Both articles have the same content and partly the same text.

Spiegel calls the meta-analyse “abusing children and numbers”. By doing research among college students, one misses the worst cases, the people who, because of the sexual abuse, has problems with drugs and more, and so never reached any college study. He also misses the PTSD, the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, in the analysis. Further, his opinion is that there are too many light problems in the meta-analyse, so the more heavy problems seem to be a small minority.

[This objection concerns the original 59 researchers, not the researchers of the meta-analysis. The first have chosen very broad definitions of CSA as well as of ‘problems’,]

“I don't believe for a minute that sexual abuse is not emotionally damaging. I consider it inconceivable that a child can meaningfully consent to sexual relations with an adult, and I believe it to be a moral outrage to put forward such an idea.”
” The way this meta-analysis was conducted, the facts could not speak for themselves, any more than a child can when approached for sex by an adult. There is a great beauty in the innocence of childhood, which is already being invaded enough by the incessant barrage of violence and sex on television, in movies, and in print media.

Sex with children is morally wrong as well as emotionally and physically damaging, Rind et al. notwithstanding. Clear-eyed reason and common sense do not diverge here. Statistical abuse has as many bad after-effects as sexual abuse. We should not tolerate either.” 

Spiegel’s reactions are typical for this first phase of the debate. There follows a second phase, in which the debate changes.  


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