Friday, May 30, 2014

Dr Bain's actual testimony (and responses to the typical talking points . . . including by the Gleaner in a May 29th editorial)

It seems that there is a debate as to what Dr Bain actually said, and on whether or not his firing affects academic freedom. 

Okay, first things first:
1: Dr Bain's actual testimony is HERE (from the Gleaner site, in my OCR-ed version).

2: The petition on his behalf (that anticipates and answers  most of the talking points being used to blame the victim) is here.

3: The petition organisers have given a point-counterpoint on the talking points being used to confuse the situation, which I have collected here.
Dr Bain's testimony in a nutshell, is that on . . . uncontested, and supported by the Jamaican Medical Association! . . . research findings, whether or not there is a buggery act on the books, certain sex acts (especially those involving penis-anus or mouth-anus contact) are highly prone to spread HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Because male homosexuals are highly prone to carry out such acts, and to be involved in sexual networks, they show a pattern of dominating the spread of HIV/AIDS in countries with or without buggery acts on the books.
(NB: Dr Bain did not say it, but buggery acts forbid certain sex acts, they do not make having a sexual attraction to other males a crime. The original intent of such law is to block the corruption of boys into catamites, formerly the main target of many male homosexuals; hence the harsh penalties. Homosexuality is an attitude of being attracted sexually to other males, not a specific sex act. (Cf. here on the "my genes made me do it" claim about its roots and whether such attraction can change: yes, and spiritually focussed disciplines such as those in the 12-step type addiction recovery programme can makes a big positive difference.) The statement in the 2008 - 12 Caricom strategy document which is commonly reported in the media and by advocates of homosexualism, is false and misleading. Such advocates also fail to tell us that the very next sentence of Ch 3 of that document implies in context that in the same name of enhanced access to HIV support and treatment, their agenda is also putting the age of consent and statutory rape laws -- designed to protect especially underage girls -- under sexual pressure: 
"legislation that makes male homosexuality a crime deters the development of programmes in support of MSM.  Similarly, current laws constrain the provision of services to sexually-active girls and boys under the legal age of consent." [CARICOM Strategy Document 2008 - 12, ch 3.]
Is this the consensus of our regional experts on HIV/AIDS and public health? If so, something has plainly gone very wrong.
Studious silence on the second "lesson" drawn from 2002 - 6, suggests to me that activists think we are not "ready" for that demand yet.
Let us note, too, that there is no regional record of a large number of prosecutions of homosexuals caught in the act because police broke down the doors of their bedrooms, nor is there a pattern of medical doctors, counsellors and pastors handing over such to the police for prosecution. Likewise, as the Jamaica Association of Evangelicals pointed out to UWI, in a May 11, 2014 letter to the Vice Chancellor, Professor Nigel Harris:
 "in 2102 UNAIDS reported that the percentage of men who have sex with men who were reached through the National HIV programme in Jamaica was 87%. This compares well with other developing and developed countries for example Germany 69%, Bahamas 79% and Brazil 39%."
 That is, in fact the "reach" of HIV/AIDS outreach activities has been world class in Jamaica, never mind the buggery provision on the books. Further, the programmes formerly headed by Dr Bain stressed addressing improper stigmatising and discrimination against victims of the disease, regardless of how they acquired it. So, it seems the assertions in the strategy document and the implied agendas are lacking in warrant.  How -- apart from assumptions, assertions and views of activists -- did they ever come to be identified as the first lessons learned from the initial wave of action in 2002 - 6 and presented as a "consensus"?)
Dr Bain's recommendation is therefore more or less glorified commonsense, though again it is supported by the literature. Notice, he makes sure to point out that this relates to ALL sexually active people in our region, not just male homosexuals:
All sexually active persons [--> notice, this is across the board] must be urged to take responsibility for private and public behavior change [--> note the implication, that we do have capability to choose what we do, and how we behave as a result] as part of a comprehensive national approach that includes individuals delaying their sexual debut, reducing the number of their intimate sexual partners, getting tested for HIV and other STIs in relation to known risky exposure, learning and practising assertive skills in order to avoid coercive sex, disclosing the presence of an STI to prospective partners, using approved barrier protective devices, avoiding the use of mind-altering drugs -- especially during or in temporal proximity to intimate sexual activity, and eliminating behaviours that carry the highest risk of coming into contact with infections. Successful programmes to stem the tide of HIV infections and other sexually transmissible illnesses must be comprehensive rather than piecemeal. In this approach, public and private health and education authorities ensure that everyone in the nation has accurate information and is supported and enabled to take responsibility for the health and safety of self and others.  

A comprehensive approach calls for honest collaboration rather than confrontation.
It is a pity the homosexualist activists and their allies in institutions and halls of influence and power have determined to push an agenda rather than heeding Dr Bain's call for honesty and genuine collaboration instead of hidden agendas and domineering and freedom destroying power plays.

Let us also observe carefully some telling points underscored by a Ms Marsha Thomas in a well-written letter to the editor of the Gleaner:
After reading the report twice, I was amazed to see that the professor made no call for the retention of the buggery law. I clearly remember a particularly outspoken representative of a pressure group stating that Professor Bain's support for the retention of the buggery law made his position at CHART untenable. However, now I realise that the professor made no statement on the retention of the buggery law. The professor has been fired for a statement he has not made!

I believe that much of the condemnation of Professor Bain's testimony is due to his listing of the sexual repertoire /activities of MSMs. I believe the pressure groups know that when many Jamaicans read of these activities they will start to opine that certain activities cannot be cloaked in the idea of privacy of a bedroom but involve specific public-health and economic issues. Professor Bain worked in the trenches and, therefore, his testimony has legitimacy that even his detractors cannot deny.

I am also disappointed with UWI whose representatives saw it fit to link Professor Bain's Christian faith and his submission of the expert statement. Professor Bain's report made no reference to Christian principles and no Bible verses were quoted. His report was based on research and medical facts.
Sadly telling.

Now, too, the Gleaner has weighed in, in a May 29th 2014 editorial that in my view on fair comment, is less than helpful or accurate, especially:
Having allowed his supporters to peddle the fallacy that his sacking was an attack on academic freedom and free speech, we can now only wonder at the intent of Professor Brendan Bain.

For by failing to declare the larger contextual truth, Professor Bain is helping not only to deepen the poles between protagonists in the gay-rights debate but distracting attention from, and potentially weakening, a project to which he has made an invaluable contribution: the delivery of care to people living with HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean . . . .

Professor Bain is entitled to express his opinion on any topic. But if, outside the halls of academia, those publicly declared opinions are at variance with settled consensus of the agency he serves, leading to a loss of confidence in his leadership, he should leave with dignity.
This editorial opens with a questionable accusation of fallacy, not a fact, leading to an unworthy insinuation against Dr Bain's integrity.

There is obviously no settled consensus in the agency Bain led.

Or at least perhaps, it is his firing that has established a "consensus" in the teeth of the evidence Bain so carefully stated to the Belize Supreme Court, a "consensus" established by ruthless radical tactics, brute force and violation of academic integrity based on evidence and the chilling effect of such a firing; rather than by what the Medical Association of Jamaica has called for:
Stressing that, doctors are trained and have expertise in science and scientific research, Dr. Alexis emphasized that “the veracity of a scientific conclusion should only be challenged on the basis of science and NOT on emotion or sentiment its conclusions may evoke.” He added that “statements of fact [here, Dr Bain's findings as communicated as expert testimony to the Belize Supreme Court] are never meant to be offensive.”
In short, we have a case where first, the primary issue is, what are the empirically grounded facts. 

They are, uncontested, essentially what Dr Bain has summarised. 

The MAJ through its President, has called for these facts to be faced on their merits, and if objectors have better facts, let them come forward with them. 

Which, has obviously not been done.

Repeat: which has not been done.

That absence of counter-facts is telling.

In addition, it can be pointed out, that CHART's primary clients are not activist groups, but Health and public health educators, the wider public and those vulnerable to and/or who are victims of HIV/AIDS. 

It is by no means obvious that Dr Bain has breached the trust of these circles as a whole by standing up for the integrity of empirically grounded facts and linked concerns on impacts on the public and on costs, and for making a prime focus on the patterns of behaviour among the sexually active that is the mechanism by which HIV/AIDS is spreading and wreaking havoc, at great cost.

So,we may reasonably, sadly, conclude:

a:  a firing imposed by an institution cowed by activists with agendas (which, let us note, plainly include doing away with age of consent laws, on the same premise that they wish to eliminate buggery laws . . . ) and 

b: plainly backed up by "who pays the piper calls the tune," therefore
c: imposes a false "consensus" by force and intimidation, and 
d: spreads that crushing and silencing of truth by the chilling effect of firing someone who stood on academic integrity and professional and personal responsibility to tell a Court "the truth, the whole relevant truth and naught but the truth" as an expert witness.
Contrary to the Gleaner's implied demand that Dr Bain should have silently walked away in the face of such agendas and threats now carried out, he has done our region one final honourable service: 
e: by standing up for evidence-backed truth even at the cost of his career, Dr Bain has trumpeted a clear warning on the sort of radical agendas and ruthless tactics that are at work across our region, riding on the back of our concerns regarding HIV/AIDS.
Now, too, we must stand up for what is right, before it is too late.

Kudos, to Dr Bain, Medical Doctor, Public Health and Education professional, honest scholar, and courageous Christian gentleman. END