"Gay Bomb": What Would James Holsinger Say?


Our tax dollars and our brilliant military minds at work. This is precious.

From The Washington Post

“Sunshine Project Uncovers US Military ‘Gay Bomb’: Pentagon Examined Sexual Warfare Proposal From Air Force’s Wright Laboratory”

By Emil Steiner

In my job I come across a lot of strange stories, but this is one is almost too wild to believe. In December 2004, The Sunshine Project, a watchdog group based in Austin, Tex., and Hamburg, Germany, that opposes biological weapons, uncovered a “U.S. military proposal to create a hormone bomb that could purportedly turn enemy soldiers into homosexuals and make them more interested in sex than fighting.” The story got some press in early 2005, but quickly vanished into that great internet junkyard of forgotten URLs, the only memory being a lonely wikipedia entry.

There it lay, all but dead until one week ago when The Huffington Post resuscitated the tale with a tongue-in-cheek entry asking: “[i]sn’t it always the best ideas which fall by the wayside?” A CBS news affiliate in California adopted it last Friday and since then this offbeat classic has experienced a viral rebirth across the blogosphere. Here are the broad-strokes:

The proposal came from the Air Force’s Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, which requested $7.5 million to develop a so-called “gay-bomb.” Using the Freedom of Information Act, Edward Hammond, director of the U.S. office of the Sunshine Project, obtained a copy which was “part of a military effort to develop non-lethal weapons.” If completed, the bomb would release a chemical aphrodisiac “and by virtue of either breathing or having their skin exposed to this chemical… soldiers would become gay.” This would cause their units to break down as the troops “became irresistibly attractive to one another.” In addition to a “gay bomb” the proposal also mentions using chemicals which could make bees angry so that enemy forces would be attacked not only by our troops but also swarms of stinging insects.

Defense Department officials have acknowledged that such ideas were proposed by the Air Force in 1994, and then “quickly dismissed.” They played down the significance of the Sunshine report, stating that many proposals come their way that are rejected for ethical reasons. But Hammond disputes their dismissal as “absolutely incorrect.” He contends, that “if [the ideas] had been summarily rejected I would never have found them.” He went on to state that the Joint Non-lethal Weapons Directorate, based out of Quantico, actually used the “gay-bomb” idea as a marketing tool in a CD-ROM from 2001-2002 and that “the Pentagon… submitted it to the highest scientific review body in the country.”

So, much like the media’s coverage of this story, the original “gay bomb” idea may have been proposed, dismissed and then resurrected by a different branch of the military (in media terms, think print to blog to TV). Now the gay and lesbian communities, which are already suspicious of the U.S. military, have yet another reason to shake their heads in disbelief. And they are not alone. Leave aside the “Kids In The Hall” absurdity of “attack bees” and “gay bombs.” The fact that The United States Air Force asked for $7.5 million for a project that assumes a) sexual orientation can be altered through chemicals and b) homosexuals are more interested in sex than duty is certainly worthy of a second life in the blogosphere.

Advertisement
"Gay Bomb": What Would James Holsinger Say?

James Holsinger: Bush’s Wacky Nominee for Surgeon General Believes in "De-Gaying"

The United States Surgeon General has an important charge: to provide Americans with the best scientific information available in order to improve the national body politic’s health. So it stands to reason that the position of U.S. Surgeon General should be filled by someone informed by science. Unfortunately, James Holsinger isn’t capable of that. As a proponent of a 1991 white paper on “de-gaying,” he’s shown to be less than aware of basic medical science.

By Max Blumenthal, (HuffingtonPost.com), “Bush Nominates Surgeon General Who Supports ‘Ex-Gay’ Therapy”

The concept of “ex-gay” therapy, repudiated by the medical world, will be thoroughly examined when Bush’s new surgeon general nominee comes up for confirmation.

James Holsinger, President George W. Bush’s nominee for Surgeon General, has a dark view of homosexuals. In a 1991 paper, Holsinger describes homosexual sex in sickeningly lurid language. “Fist fornication,” “sphincter injuries,” “lacerations,” “perforations” and “deaths seen in connection with anal eroticism,” are some of the terms Holsinger concocted to describe acts with which he suggests at least medical familiarity (a case of participant observation, perhaps?). At the same paper, Holsinger puzzlingly issues no warnings about the dangers of heterosexual sex in his paper. To him, only “anal eroticism” is a health peril.

Holsinger’s allies — those who lobbied the White House for his nomination — include James Dobson’s Focus on the Family and the Heritage Foundation. They have predictably cast his confirmation battle as a religious test, alleging that his homophobia is a reflection of orthodox Christian views. To oppose Holsinger on the grounds of his anti-gay sentiments, the right says, is to discriminate against him simply for being a bible-believing Christian. Why should he have to check his Christianity at the church exit door? they ask. This worn-out appeal to the Christian right’s victimhood complex distracts from the most salient argument against Holsinger’s confirmation — which is exactly what it is intended to do.

For a moment let’s put aside the moral case against Holsinger’s confirmation, and objectively examine his qualifications for America’s top doctor. Holsinger and his wife were founders of Hope Springs Community Church. This church, according to its pastor, Rev. David Calhoun, has an “ex-gay” ministry that administers “reparative therapy” to people who no longer wish to be gay. “We see that as an issue not of orientation but a lifestyle,” Calhoun says. “We have people who seek to walk out of that lifestyle.”

Holsinger believes in ex-gay therapy. He therefore views homosexuality as a curable disease. Every major, reputable medical organization rejects ex-gay therapy and the notion that homosexuality constitutes a mental illness. Every single one. The most notable of these organizations is the American Psychological Association, the country’s largest organization of mental health professionals. In 1974, the APA stopped listing homosexuality as a mental disorder; last year, the group issued a pointed repudiation to the ideological proponents of ex-gay therapy. (It’s worth adding that conversion therapy supporters have not produced one single word of peer-reviewed work to support their theories).

Holsinger’s belief in discredited, crack-pot “conversion” therapy puts him in direct conflict with virtually the entire American medical community. Holsinger can believe in radical evangelical doctrine and he can hold bigoted views. As lamentable as these traits are, they don’t necessarily disqualify him for Surgeon General — though they certainly cast a dark shadow over his nomination. What instantly disqualifies Holsinger is his rejection of medical science. He can be politically incorrect, but he can’t be medically incorrect.

If history is any guide, conservatism and respect for science are not mutually exclusive. Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, the co-author of a strident anti-abortion tract with evangelical dominionist godfather Francis Schaeffer, respected science. In the face of massive resistance from right-wing activists, Koop used his prestige to advocate for sex education and condom use to stanch the rising epidemic of AIDS. For Koop’s stand on medical principle, his one-time allies pressured Reagan into forcing him to resign. There is no indication Holsinger will follow Koop’s principled path.

When Holsinger goes before the Senate, ex-gay therapy goes on trial. He and his Republican supporters should be compelled to state their views on homosexuality and the crackpot practice the Christian right employs to “cure” people of it. Is homosexuality a treatable disease and how do they know it? (This question should be asked of GOP presidential contenders as well). If and when Holsinger’s nomination goes down in flames, ex-gay therapy will have received its most decisive repudiation yet.

James Holsinger: Bush’s Wacky Nominee for Surgeon General Believes in "De-Gaying"