Article Title:(Dis)honesty is the best (Maxim) policy
Category:Features
Author or Credit:Chris Banks
Published on:5th August 2004 - 12:00 pm
Published by:GayNZ.com
Story ID:354
Text:The Maxim Institute has been called out on the carpet by no less than the Government minister responsible for the Civil Union Bill, Associate Justice Minister David Benson-Pope. He has demanded that Maxim reveal its motives – and its funding sources, often rumoured to be from fundamentalist sources in the United States. This has been denied by Maxim's managing director Greg Fleming. With informed debate on civil unions being crucial, Benson-Pope has also lashed out at dishonest and misleading campaigning. He says Maxim must be honest if it wants to be taken seriously, and that they've fallen far short of the mark so far. He believes them to be “scaremongering”. Maxim, of course, is furious at the comments. Greg Fleming is accusing the government of bullying and intimidation, and says they need to back off and allow free debate. According to Fleming, its a case of a powerful, “$40-billion government” machine trying to bully and intimidate a small charitable group into submission. $40 billion is the rough total of government expenditure annually in all areas. This is a classic example of the only area in which Maxim applies liberal values – to the interpretation of figures. It is worth noting that this “small charitable group” had nearly $1.5 million flow through its coffers in 2002-2003 purely for its own lobbying purposes, and is bankrolled by 1,400 private and corporate donors, including Rich List stalwart Doug Myers. Small charitable group, eh? And while we're on the subject of charitable, aren't “charitable organisations” as defined by the IRD allowed a tax-exempt status? Meaning that donors get a tax rebate, and the recipient pays no income tax on profits made? How convenient. But hang on... according to the rulebook, an organisation whose main objectives are political - to change or maintain the current law - cannot be a charitable organisation. Maxim has been, proudly, one of the primary protagonists in political lobbying for maintaining the current relationship laws, lobbying heavily against the Civil Union and Relationships Bills; as they did with the Prostitution Law Reform bill. Complaints regarding Maxim's manipulation of social data have fallen on deaf ears at the Institute. Fleming denies Maxim's anti-civil union campaign is misleading, and he's confident of the credibility of the information used by the Institute. He denies they've been dishonest. Well, we hope you're reading this, Greg, because you're just in time for GayNZ.com's top ten Maxim Misnomers. Counting down! THE TOP 10 MAXIM MISNOMERS 10. SIX-FIGURE TAXPAYER FUNDING FOR HOOKERS! In an opinion piece published in the New Zealand Herald (where else?) on October 3, Maxim claimed that The New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective receives $150,000 a month from taxpayers.In fact, the NZPC gets a little over $52,000 per month to run 6 offices around the country. 9. CHILD PROSTITUTION RIFE IN CHRISTCHURCH! An article on Maxim's website provides 10 reasons why the Prostitution Reform Bill should not have been passed. One of its claims is that "A Christchurch School of Medicine study found that nearly two-thirds of Christchurch street prostitutes were under the age of 18." Shocking! Is it true? Well, someone appears to not have passed School C maths. The study actually found 12 prostitutes under the age of 18, out of 303 surveyed. 8. AMERICAN FUNDAMENTALISTS? WHAT AMERICAN FUNDAMENTALISTS? In its submission to the Select Committee considering the pro-gay Care of Children Bill, Maxim states "John D. Unwin, a British anthropologist, studied 80 civilisations. In his 1934 study Sex and Culture...” Oh dear. Unwin was not an anthropologist and his forenames were Joseph Daniel. And we haven't even got to the facts yet! Oddly enough, these same errors are made on several American fundamentalist websites, which mention Unwin to support their views. But, of course, there's no connection between Maxim and those guys, right Greg? You wouldn't have lifted the quote from one of these sites, without having read Unwin's book, would you Greg? 7. HOMOSEXUALS HAVE SEX WITH HUNDREDS, NO, THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE! Maxim researcher John McNeil, in his article “Where Is the Government Taking The Family?”, quoted an American study that claimed “28% of white male homosexuals estimated they'd had sex with more than 1,000 partners” and “43% estimated they'd had sex with 500 or more partners”. Whoa! Feeling like you haven't quite kept up, guys? No matter. The study is from the late 1970s (couldn't find any helpful data that wasn't almost three decades out of date, John?) and has been well debunked. The study's authors, Bell and Weinberg, got around 40% of their self-selected gay sample from sex on site premises. The heterosexual control sample was randomly taken from the white-bread matrimonial suburbs, using Census data. 6. OVER HALF OF LESBIAN RELATIONSHIPS ARE VIOLENT! Back to Maxim's Care of Children bill submission, in which they tried to prove that the incidence of domestic violence in same-sex relationships is far more prevalent. They cited one study that showed 55% of lesbians had been in an abusive lesbian relationship at some point in their lives. The origins of this study? From the source: “Lesbians attending the Michigan Women's Music Festival in 1985 were asked to complete a survey at a workshop entitled "Lesbian Violence" and elsewhere at the festival.” Straight women surveyed reported the same level of abuse in their relationships (that, of course was not reported by Maxim). Needless to say, the study's authors stressed that their sample was not representative, but Maxim didn't. 5. A CONCERNED CITIZEN OF THE NORTH SHORE SPEAKS OUT (OR DOES SHE?) Earlier this year an apparently genuinely concerned citizen of the North Shore spoke out in the local newspaper saying she was concerned about the impact of the Civil Union Bill on her children and grandchildren. She invited other concerned citizens to join her at the Milford Baptist Church one evening in May. But when these concerned citizens turned up, they were greeted at the door by representatives of the Maxim Institute, had slick fliers thrust into their hands, and were subjected to a meeting where homosexuality was equated with paedophilia as part of a slick Powerpoint presentation – by Maxim! Concerned citizen made a brief speech at the start of the meeting to introduce her new-found friends and that was where her input ended. 4. MEN DO BETTER WHEN THEY MARRY WOMEN! So says Maxim's Ruth Oates in an opinion piece written for that other great mainstream mouthpiece for the Institute, Christchurch newspaper The Press, in June. She quotes James Q Wilson “social scientist and former Harvard professor” when he says: “The vast majority of people do better if men marry women. The sexes complement each other. Having a woman in your household makes men better, and having a man in your household makes women better." However, Wilson's qualifications are not in fact in the area of social science. According to his bio, he began his career as a professor of government at Harvard, and later earned his reputation as a criminologist, economist and political analyst. He has, however, published many morally conservative op-ed pieces in the United States, some against same-sex marriage. Maxim's use of the import-Wilson to back up their argument is pointless; he is not a qualified or even objective, sociologist, he is merely another opinion. 3. END THE TOLERANCE! Maxim's Amanda McGrail would like to see an end to tolerance, at least where it applies to same-sex couples. She would also like you to think that this doesn't mean you're a bad person: “True tolerance has limits. People don't tolerate everything – and neither does the law”, she says. To support her, she quotes Dr Frank Ellis, “British academic and author on political correctness,” He was also a recent guest at Maxim's seminar on political correctness, you may not be surprised to hear. Ellis certainly believes that tolerance has limits – Leeds University revoked his application for leave in 2000 when the media revealed he was to speak at the conference of one of America's most influential far right and racist organisations, American Renaissance. The Guardian revealed he has written articles for the hard right British publication “Right Now!” in which he supports racist theories. Ellis is also on the advisory board of the Occidental Quarterly, a "Journal of Nationalist Thought and Opinion". The Quarterly's Statement of Principles begins, "The West is a cultural compound of our Classical, Christian, and Germanic past". If gays and lesbians are first in Maxim's sights, then we can take a pretty good guess at who's next. If you wondered why there are no brown faces to be found in Maxim's front-line staff… 2. DISCRIMINATION? TISH, PSHAW, NONSENSE… Discrimination against same-sex couples doesn't exist, according to Maxim – they cited as evidence the small number of formal complaints made to Human Rights Commission by gays and lesbians (using information provided to them by the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards). However, gay Human Rights Commissioner Warren Lindberg replied that “Complaints simply represent those who are motivated to complain”, and that the number of complaints could not be used to measure levels of discrimination. The Commission's powers are also limited to “dispute resolution” – they don't issue binding rulings. Maxim's response to this? Scott McMurray declined to appear on Queer Nation and Amanda McGrail refused “politely” to answer GayNZ.com's questions, saying the Commission's figures spoke for themselves. And these are the people Maxim employ as their “communications” co-ordinators? So much for “free debate”. 1. THE SOURCE TO END ALL SOURCES The number one Maxim misnomer is, without a doubt, their use of data from discredited American social scientist Paul Cameron. Used as a direct source in Maxim's Care of Children bill submission, this is the absolute nail in the coffin of credibility for the Institute. Cameron's list of atrocities is so lengthy it requires a fact sheet of its own (of which there are several, see below), but to summarize briefly: Kicked out of the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1983 Kicked out of the Nebraska Psychological Association (NPA) in 1984 Kicked out of the Americian Sociological Association (ASA) in 1985 Labelled a “fraud” by Judge Buchmeyer of the U.S. District Court of Dallas in 1985 when called to testify as an “expert witness” on homosexuality As they went to great lengths to distance themselves from his work, the ASA stated in a release that Cameron “consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented sociological research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism”. His work concluded that gays were more likely to be mass murderers, child molesters and even cheaters on their income tax. Cameron distorted the results of other studies, and “created” a wealth of his own anti-gay data, the most famous of which, a 1983-84 study carried out by Cameron's “Institute for the Scientific Investigation of Sexuality”, was found to have six fundamental flaws, any ONE of which would be enough to debunk the research. * The Maxim Institute has been called out on the carpet by no less than the Government minister responsible for the Civil Union Bill, Associate Justice Minister David Benson-Pope. He has demanded that Maxim reveal its motives – and its funding sources, often rumoured to be from fundamentalist sources in the United States. This has been denied by Maxim's managing director Greg Fleming. With informed debate on civil unions being crucial, Benson-Pope has also lashed out at dishonest and misleading campaigning. He says Maxim must be honest if it wants to be taken seriously, and that they've fallen far short of the mark so far. He believes them to be “scaremongering”. Maxim, of course, is furious at the comments. Greg Fleming is accusing the government of bullying and intimidation, and says they need to back off and allow free debate. According to Fleming, its a case of a powerful, “$40-billion government” machine trying to bully and intimidate a small charitable group into submission. $40 billion is the rough total of government expenditure annually in all areas. This is a classic example of the only area in which Maxim applies liberal values – to the interpretation of figures. It is worth noting that this “small charitable group” had nearly $1.5 million flow through its coffers in 2002-2003 purely for its own lobbying purposes, and is bankrolled by 1,400 private and corporate donors, including Rich List stalwart Doug Myers. Small charitable group, eh? And while we're on the subject of charitable, aren't “charitable organisations” as defined by the IRD allowed a tax-exempt status? Meaning that donors get a tax rebate, and the recipient pays no income tax on profits made? How convenient. But hang on... according to the rulebook, an organisation whose main objectives are political - to change or maintain the current law - cannot be a charitable organisation. Maxim has been, proudly, one of the primary protagonists in political lobbying for maintaining the current relationship laws, lobbying heavily against the Civil Union and Relationships Bills; as they did with the Prostitution Law Reform bill. Complaints regarding Maxim's manipulation of social data have fallen on deaf ears at the Institute. Fleming denies Maxim's anti-civil union campaign is misleading, and he's confident of the credibility of the information used by the Institute. He denies they've been dishonest. Well, we hope you're reading this, Greg, because you're just in time for GayNZ.com's top ten Maxim Misnomers. Counting down! THE TOP 10 MAXIM MISNOMERS 10. SIX-FIGURE TAXPAYER FUNDING FOR HOOKERS! In an opinion piece published in the New Zealand Herald (where else?) on October 3, Maxim claimed that The New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective receives $150,000 a month from taxpayers.In fact, the NZPC gets a little over $52,000 per month to run 6 offices around the country. 9. CHILD PROSTITUTION RIFE IN CHRISTCHURCH! An article on Maxim's website provides 10 reasons why the Prostitution Reform Bill should not have been passed. One of its claims is that "A Christchurch School of Medicine study found that nearly two-thirds of Christchurch street prostitutes were under the age of 18." Shocking! Is it true? Well, someone appears to not have passed School C maths. The study actually found 12 prostitutes under the age of 18, out of 303 surveyed. 8. AMERICAN FUNDAMENTALISTS? WHAT AMERICAN FUNDAMENTALISTS? In its submission to the Select Committee considering the pro-gay Care of Children Bill, Maxim states "John D. Unwin, a British anthropologist, studied 80 civilisations. In his 1934 study Sex and Culture...” Oh dear. Unwin was not an anthropologist and his forenames were Joseph Daniel. And we haven't even got to the facts yet! Oddly enough, these same errors are made on several American fundamentalist websites, which mention Unwin to support their views. But, of course, there's no connection between Maxim and those guys, right Greg? You wouldn't have lifted the quote from one of these sites, without having read Unwin's book, would you Greg? 7. HOMOSEXUALS HAVE SEX WITH HUNDREDS, NO, THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE! Maxim researcher John McNeil, in his article “Where Is the Government Taking The Family?”, quoted an American study that claimed “28% of white male homosexuals estimated they'd had sex with more than 1,000 partners” and “43% estimated they'd had sex with 500 or more partners”. Whoa! Feeling like you haven't quite kept up, guys? No matter. The study is from the late 1970s (couldn't find any helpful data that wasn't almost three decades out of date, John?) and has been well debunked. The study's authors, Bell and Weinberg, got around 40% of their self-selected gay sample from sex on site premises. The heterosexual control sample was randomly taken from the white-bread matrimonial suburbs, using Census data. 6. OVER HALF OF LESBIAN RELATIONSHIPS ARE VIOLENT! Back to Maxim's Care of Children bill submission, in which they tried to prove that the incidence of domestic violence in same-sex relationships is far more prevalent. They cited one study that showed 55% of lesbians had been in an abusive lesbian relationship at some point in their lives. The origins of this study? From the source: “Lesbians attending the Michigan Women's Music Festival in 1985 were asked to complete a survey at a workshop entitled "Lesbian Violence" and elsewhere at the festival.” Straight women surveyed reported the same level of abuse in their relationships (that, of course was not reported by Maxim). Needless to say, the study's authors stressed that their sample was not representative, but Maxim didn't. 5. A CONCERNED CITIZEN OF THE NORTH SHORE SPEAKS OUT (OR DOES SHE?) Earlier this year an apparently genuinely concerned citizen of the North Shore spoke out in the local newspaper saying she was concerned about the impact of the Civil Union Bill on her children and grandchildren. She invited other concerned citizens to join her at the Milford Baptist Church one evening in May. But when these concerned citizens turned up, they were greeted at the door by representatives of the Maxim Institute, had slick fliers thrust into their hands, and were subjected to a meeting where homosexuality was equated with paedophilia as part of a slick Powerpoint presentation – by Maxim! Concerned citizen made a brief speech at the start of the meeting to introduce her new-found friends and that was where her input ended. 4. MEN DO BETTER WHEN THEY MARRY WOMEN! So says Maxim's Ruth Oates in an opinion piece written for that other great mainstream mouthpiece for the Institute, Christchurch newspaper The Press, in June. She quotes James Q Wilson “social scientist and former Harvard professor” when he says: “The vast majority of people do better if men marry women. The sexes complement each other. Having a woman in your household makes men better, and having a man in your household makes women better." However, Wilson's qualifications are not in fact in the area of social science. According to his bio, he began his career as a professor of government at Harvard, and later earned his reputation as a criminologist, economist and political analyst. He has, however, published many morally conservative op-ed pieces in the United States, some against same-sex marriage. Maxim's use of the import-Wilson to back up their argument is pointless; he is not a qualified or even objective, sociologist, he is merely another opinion. 3. END THE TOLERANCE! Maxim's Amanda McGrail would like to see an end to tolerance, at least where it applies to same-sex couples. She would also like you to think that this doesn't mean you're a bad person: “True tolerance has limits. People don't tolerate everything – and neither does the law”, she says. To support her, she quotes Dr Frank Ellis, “British academic and author on political correctness,” He was also a recent guest at Maxim's seminar on political correctness, you may not be surprised to hear. Ellis certainly believes that tolerance has limits – Leeds University revoked his application for leave in 2000 when the media revealed he was to speak at the conference of one of America's most influential far right and racist organisations, American Renaissance. The Guardian revealed he has written articles for the hard right British publication “Right Now!” in which he supports racist theories. Ellis is also on the advisory board of the Occidental Quarterly, a "Journal of Nationalist Thought and Opinion". The Quarterly's Statement of Principles begins, "The West is a cultural compound of our Classical, Christian, and Germanic past". If gays and lesbians are first in Maxim's sights, then we can take a pretty good guess at who's next. If you wondered why there are no brown faces to be found in Maxim's front-line staff… 2. DISCRIMINATION? TISH, PSHAW, NONSENSE… Discrimination against same-sex couples doesn't exist, according to Maxim – they cited as evidence the small number of formal complaints made to Human Rights Commission by gays and lesbians (using information provided to them by the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards). However, gay Human Rights Commissioner Warren Lindberg replied that “Complaints simply represent those who are motivated to complain”, and that the number of complaints could not be used to measure levels of discrimination. The Commission's powers are also limited to “dispute resolution” – they don't issue binding rulings. Maxim's response to this? Scott McMurray declined to appear on Queer Nation and Amanda McGrail refused “politely” to answer GayNZ.com's questions, saying the Commission's figures spoke for themselves. And these are the people Maxim employ as their “communications” co-ordinators? So much for “free debate”. 1. THE SOURCE TO END ALL SOURCES The number one Maxim misnomer is, without a doubt, their use of data from discredited American social scientist Paul Cameron. Used as a direct source in Maxim's Care of Children bill submission, this is the absolute nail in the coffin of credibility for the Institute. Cameron's list of atrocities is so lengthy it requires a fact sheet of its own (of which there are several, see below), but to summarize briefly: Kicked out of the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1983 Kicked out of the Nebraska Psychological Association (NPA) in 1984 Kicked out of the Americian Sociological Association (ASA) in 1985 Labelled a “fraud” by Judge Buchmeyer of the U.S. District Court of Dallas in 1985 when called to testify as an “expert witness” on homosexuality As they went to great lengths to distance themselves from his work, the ASA stated in a release that Cameron “consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented sociological research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism”. His work concluded that gays were more likely to be mass murderers, child molesters and even cheaters on their income tax. Cameron distorted the results of other studies, and “created” a wealth of his own anti-gay data, the most famous of which, a 1983-84 study carried out by Cameron's “Institute for the Scientific Investigation of Sexuality”, was found to have six fundamental flaws, any ONE of which would be enough to debunk the research. * With all of their money, all of their researchers, all that time on their hands, and God on their side is this the best Maxim can come up with to prove their points? If their arguments are sound, why is all their quoted research either old, out of date, out of context or non-representative in its sampling? And more importantly, why can't this Institute, which claims in its own Trust Deed – the very same Deed which gives it tax-exempt status – that it will “participate in research programmes, surveys and social analysis”, conduct any of its own research? We can't recall a single piece of original research quoted by Maxim. Are they afraid of what the results might be, or afraid that putting their own name to a study doesn't give them an easy disclaimer? (Maxim's website accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of its publications, a wise move obviously.) No, Mr Benson-Pope is correct. It's time for Maxim to give the public some answers to these questions. Then maybe some of their “free debate” will be worth listening to. With all of their money, all of their researchers, all that time on their hands, and God on their side is this the best Maxim can come up with to prove their points? If their arguments are sound, why is all their quoted research either old, out of date, out of context or non-representative in its sampling? And more importantly, why can't this Institute, which claims in its own Trust Deed – the very same Deed which gives it tax-exempt status – that it will “participate in research programmes, surveys and social analysis”, conduct any of its own research? We can't recall a single piece of original research quoted by Maxim. Are they afraid of what the results might be, or afraid that putting their own name to a study doesn't give them an easy disclaimer? (Maxim's website accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of its publications, a wise move obviously.) No, Mr Benson-Pope is correct. It's time for Maxim to give the public some answers to these questions. Then maybe some of their “free debate” will be worth listening to. Chris Banks - 5th August 2004    
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