I may choose to ignore people who comment anonymously. I choose never to be anonymous online myself. I have little tolerance for this behavior.

Monday, October 25, 2010

False Assumptions and False Logic

A Reuters blog posting by Gregg Easterbrook entitled, "Gay suicides and media hype" published October 7, 2010 caught my attention.

I along with many others have been saddened by the suicides of young people especially who have had to endure bullying and committed suicide. Recent news headlines have contained reports of several including Tyler Clementi.

But, I agree with Easterbrook that this may not constitute a trend in the technical sense.

The exact figure is disputed, but a good estimate is that three to four percent of the human family is homosexual. Based on the suicide rate for those 15 to 24, we’d expect somewhere around 150 gay or lesbian young people to kill themselves in a year. That’s terrible – but also shows a few instances of gay suicide do not constitute a trend. This ABC News report laments “five suicides by gay teenagers in the last three weeks,” implying a sudden new development. Other things being equal, statistics would suggest nine suicides by gay young adults in a three-week period.
Even though it hasn't been proved to be a trend, it is still a tragedy. Please don't mistake me. Suicide for any reason is a tragedy. Bullying for any reason is a tragedy. I fully support efforts to mitigate both.

What I don't like is the news media labeling it a trend when it isn't. Easterbrook points out that there is a proven trend in military suicides.  That fact has received relatively little attention. Irresponsible news coverage is also a tragedy.


In a country of 300 million people, you can find an instance of practically anything. Surely one could find instances of happy, well-adjusted gays and lesbians who are perfectly content with their lives. That would not prove a trend of treating homosexuals fairly, any more than a gay person’s suicide proves a trend of treating them unfairly.
No one has pointed out that Tyler Clementi might still have committed suicide if his sexual encounter was heterosexual rather than homosexual. Also, no one has suggested the young people guilty of streaming it to the Internet should also be charged with obscenity although hate crime charges, manslaughter, negligent homicide and privacy charges have been proffered.

The other portion of media hype that bothers me isn't addressed by Easterbrook but seems to be a theme running through most news, commentary and media.

There is an underlying assumption that if there were acceptance, or at least tolerance, (often considered the same concept nowadays) then gay and lesbian suicides would decrease.

By extending that logic, because the Church, including Elder Packer's recent address, condemns homosexual behavior they are seen as impediments to reducing the suicide rate.

I do not think that tolerance or even full acceptance of homosexual behavior will do anything to reduce suicides amongst homosexuals. Why? Because you cannot do something wrong and feel right. It is that simple. Engaging in homosexual behavior is wrong. That fact will trump acceptance or tolerance on any other level.

It is tempting to assume that acceptance of homosexual behavior will lower the suicide rate because that is the solution that you and others have chosen. Whether it will or not has yet to be seen. I'm going on record of the opinion that it won't.

Note: Also see
 "Activitists: Mormon beliefs factor in LGBT struggles" an Associated Press article by Jennifer Dobner from the Washington Post published, Monday, October 25, 2010. This article states there is "no hard data directly linking faith and suicide."

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