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Voices Online Edition
December 1998, Volume XIII, No. 4
Book Reviews ...
Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth
by Jeffrey Satinover
Hamewith Books, a division of Baker Books, 274 pages; paper.
(ISBN 080105625X) $17.99
Reviewed by Sherry Tyree
As homosexuality takes center stage nearly everywhere we look -- politics, religion, TV, movies, theater, books, and newspapers -- thoughtful Catholic observers find it necessary to get beyond sound bites and simplistic political/media generated propaganda.
Where can we find a thorough, authoritative, trustworthy and compassionate understanding of the complexities of homosexuality? Dr. Jeffrey Satinover's Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth is an excellent place to start and a superb handbook for countering politically correct "facts".
Dr. Satinover, who has practiced psychoanalysis and psychiatry for more than twenty years, is a former Fellow in Psychiatry and Child Psychiatry at Yale University and a past president of the C.G. Jung Foundation. Holding degrees from MIT, the University of Texas, and Harvard University, Dr. Satinover is married, the father of three children and a practicing Jew. He is also a medical advisor to Focus on the Family.
His book is divided into two parts: 1) the examination of science and 2) the "consideration of the deeper sources of human motivation psychology, human will, and faith".
But first the Introduction. Satinover depicts with empathy his first encounter with a man dying of what we now call AIDS. At that time, there was no name for the sudden onset of Kaposi's sarcoma (a type of cancer) afflicting clusters of young men. Soon, however, it became known as GRID, "gay-related immune disorder", reflecting the fact that, then as now, AIDS is hugely disproportionate among male homosexuals. Later, GRID was inclusivized to become AIDS, even though "gay male anal intercourse and promiscuity created the American reservoir for HIV and continues to preserve it". The politicization of AIDS was well on its way.
This fiddling with language to obscure truth (reminiscent of feminist propaganda) was the beginning of an odd, illogical reaction from the homosexual community. Faced with the horror of AIDS (which had followed ten years of a "startling increase" in gay-related medical conditions: hepatitis B, bowel parasites and non-AIDS related immune dysfunction), the homosexual activists set up priorities. First, was to protect homosexuality "as a perfectly acceptable, normal, and safe way of life". Second was to protect gays from straight disapproval/hatred. Third was protection from the illness itself.
One result of this skewed hierarchy is that 15 years into the epidemic "30% of all 20-year-old-gay men will be HIV positive or dead of AIDS by the time they are age 30" (American Psychiatric Association Press, 1994).
In order to protect homosexuality itself -- if not individual homosexuals -- gay activists allied themselves with the mental health community. Together, the goal was and is to persuade the rest of us that homosexuality is 1) genetically determined, 2) irreversible and 3) normal.
As with feminism, the end is seen as justifying the means. One ploy is the deliberate confusion of two dimensions, the personal and the political. "They insist", states Satinover, "that respect for a person is identical with accepting his or her political claims for equality in all areas of life". Thus, principled opposition quickly becomes translated/perverted into homophobia and many a sensitive critic withdraws for fear of offending individual homosexuals. Meanwhile, the gay activist agenda marches on, into the schools and into the churches.
Dr. Satinover deals with these issues and more, including "sin, guilt and reconciliation with others and with God". Keenly aware of his credentials ("today a minister is just a minister, but a psychiatrist is the new tribal high priest whose words come wrapped in the aura of the new high canon: science"), Satinover, balances clear, colorful writing, always empathetic with what he calls "the neutral, rigorous, statistics-based tenor of modern research methodology". The result is a book both highly readable and eminently quotable even in the most scientific of settings.
Sigmund Freud taught that universal sexual repression was the price of civilization. Satinover concurs, acknowledging "it is a simple and sobering fact that no society that has sanctioned unconstrained sexuality has long survived". Our own concurrence and the horrific realities of the present situation challenge us to deepen our knowledge of homosexuality. Satinover's book, as described by Rabbi Daniel Lapin (Toward Tradition), is "a beacon of light to anyone struggling to emerge from homosexuality or struggling with the homosexual debate".
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