Title: Debate: Richard... I don't have ESP! Credit: Jim Peron Comment Wednesday 23rd June 2004 - 12:00pm1087948800 Article: 306 Rights
Richard Randerson "takes Peron to task" and implies that I have less credibility because I allegedly got a few things wrong. He says I responded to things he didn't say and then makes two alleged references to such incidents. First, he says I ignored his pro-gay position. No I didn't. I saw it but said that the conflict within the Anglican church was one that people who go in for that sort of thing have to sort out for themselves. I was in fact commenting on some very specific things he said. I did say that he seemed to dismiss Vercoe's antigay remarks by couching them in cultural terms. That certainly is the very strong impression that one gets from Randerson's comments as reported in the Herald on June 5. And I made it clear that those comments were based on the Herald report not to his commentary that was published four days later. Those are two separate pieces. To appeal to the one I wasn't commenting on to disprove what I said about the other one is not exactly kosher. If Mr. Randerson was quoted out of context, or if the Herald misreported his remarks, I don't know. I would have no way of knowing that and Mr. Randerson knows, I wasn't there when he was interviewed. He didn't appear to make any corrections to that article in his own Herald commentary on June 9. I assumed, perhaps wrongly, that if his meaning had been distorted that he would have said something when he had the chance. Perhaps I was in error in doing so and he was merely turning the other cheek. Since I saw no such correction by him I assumed he was happy to leave it as it stood implying he had no problems with the way his remarks were reported. As I reread the Herald article there is no expression in the article by Mr. Randerson that Vercoe's remarks were morally wrong. He basically said Vercoe was appointed because it was “time” to appoint a Maori and then said Vercoe's views were based on Maori culture. It appeared to me then, and still does, as some sort of excuse for that position. If Randerson believes that cultural values do not justify antigay remarks he should say so clearly. It appears to me he skirted that issue. Vercoe's remarks were bigoted and biased and it doesn't matter one iota what is his cultural background. Randerson says: “The view attributed to me was hence not my own, but that of Maori General Synod members, although that difference was not discernible from the Herald report.” If that difference was not discernible in the Herald why take me to task? He did not to correct the Herald's error in his own commentary. Nothing in the article said this was the view of the Maori General Synod but Randerson implies I'm less than reliable for not knowing that which was not reported. Not only am I supposed to be commentator but presumably one blessed with ESP. Even so he admits that was a minor point I made and that my main focus was to the reference he made about the Spitzer study. That's true. He excuses his reference to the Spitzer study by saying: “I went on to reject the conclusions of that report, citing the counter-view of Robert Epstein in the American journal Psychology Today, and referring to the harmful side-effects reorientation attempts have for members of the gay and lesbian community.” In fact he did not actually “reject the conclusions of that report” as he now claims. He said the Spitzer study “found that reorientation therapy had a high success rate among those who voluntarily undertook it.” That is the conclusion of the Spitzer report. He says he cited the counter-view of Epstein. What were those views according to Randerson's own essay? - that a third of the people seeking to change their sexual orientation can do so and there can be unpleasant side effects for some people. What I was challenging was the idea that such therapy changes sexual orientation at all. Randerson still seems to think therapy can do that. I was saying that the first part of his statement is totally wrong. The Spitzer ‘study' didn't prove that people can be reoriented sexually. Whether it has side effects is a secondary issue and citing side effects does not excuse citing a bad study in the first place. I won't reargue my case here as people can read it for themselves. I was taking on the study and I still think it was in bad taste to even mention the study especially in light of the flaws I outlined. Too often I've seen bigots latch on to remarks like this and cite them. I can see Maxim types quoting Randerson as saying: “A study conducted last year by Dr Robert Spitzer, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, found that reorientation therapy had a high success rate among those who voluntarily undertook it.” They can quote him because that is what he said. In the end what I see is that the first statement of mine is one that Randerson himself admits comes from how the Herald reported his comments. The fault then lies with them. Since he never corrected that report when he had the chance in his own commentary my comments seems to be logical ones to make. I suggest that if Mr. Randerson feels misquoted in the future that he correct that instead of later complaining about people who report the statements which he allowed to stand unchallenged. His second complaint is invalid because my commentary was on his claim that the Spitzer study somehow proved a high success rate in sexual reorientation. The report didn't prove that and pointing to a second sentence he made, which was correct, still leaves the first one hanging out there and in now way mitigates it. - Jim Peron is a gay man and executive Director of the Institute for Liberal Values Jim Peron - 23rd June 2004    
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