|And a dirty dozen more|
Judith Ann Reisman (April 11, 1935–April 9, 2021) was a wingnut social conservative activist notable for her crusade against sexologist Alfred Kinsey. She believed homosexuality is the cause for the rise of Nazism, that pornography is pretty much the source of all evil, and that Kinsey was a fraud. She wrote for the WorldNetDaily.
Reisman was also a visiting professor of law at Liberty University, despite the fact that she received her Ph.D. in communications. She was also Liberty Counsel's favored expert on issues pertaining to sexuality, and her advice was endorsed by Rick Santorum, who also supported a ban on pornography.
Allegations against Kinsey
Critics have alleged Reisman's preoccupation with Alfred Kinsey is related to the molestation of her daughter, who later died from a brain aneurysm. Reisman has, for instance, accused Kinsey of being a fraud who employed and relied on pedophiles for his research, and even that he himself sexually abused children. Kinsey biographer James H. Jones has dismissed allegations against Kinsey himself as "groundless".
However, Jones agrees in his Pulitzer Prize-nominated biography of Kinsey that some of the data in Kinsey's research came from “a predatory pedophile. Over the course of his long career as a child molester [a man known as Mr. X] masturbated infants, penetrated children, and performed a variety of other sexual acts on preadolescent boys and girls alike. Betraying a huge moral blind spot, Kinsey took the records of Mr. X’s criminal acts and transformed them into scientific data.":1253 Data on child molestation was in fact included in the Kinsey report on men. Furthermore, Jones also reports Kinsey had a "benign view" of pedophilia, with a colleague reporting "[Kinsey] would always tell us … that pedophilia wasn’t as black as it was painted, that it could be, under proper circumstances, beneficial or something like that”.:1257-1258
Jones also reports that Kinsey was in fact a deeply disturbed individual who engaged in extreme masochistic acts for sexual pleasure. In 1954 after his funding from the Rockefeller Foundation was cut off, Kinsey went to the basement of his office, “tied a strong, tight knot around his scrotum with one end of the rope dangling from the pipe overhead. The other end he wrapped around his hand. Then, he climbed up on a chair and jumped off, suspending himself in midair”:1824 while dangling from the rope pulled tight around his gonads. This habit led to a painful and serious pelvic infection.
So like it or not, Reisman kinda had a point about Kinsey even if she was wrong on other details.
In 1991 Reisman sued the Kinsey Institute, its then director June Reinisch, and Indiana University for defamation as well as intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress regarding alleged attempts to censor her book Kinsey, Sex and Fraud. The case was ultimately dismissed with prejudice in 1994.
Reisman declared that there is a physiological mechanism that accounts for the dangers she ascribes to pornography: when pornography is viewed, an addictive mixture of chemicals she dubbed "erototoxins" floods the brain, causing harm. She did not really manage to come up with a plausible mechanism or any evidence for the hypothesis, or for that matter any acceptable definition of "harm", but she did express hope that MRI studies will be able to prove the existence of porn-induced physical brain damage. If such damage could be proven (and Reisman was confident that it could), she predicted that there would be a slew of lawsuits against distributors of pornography along the lines of the lawsuits against Big Tobacco.
In addition, she claimed, if pornography can "subvert cognition," then "these toxic media should be legally outlawed, as is all other toxic waste, and eliminated from our societal structure." Most importantly, individuals who have suffered brain damage from "pornography are no longer expressing "free speech" and, for their own good, shouldn't be protected under the First Amendment." One sometimes gets the feeling that her primary concern with regard to these matters was not the well-being of patients.
When Rick Santorum claimed that "a wealth of research is now available demonstrating that pornography causes profound brain changes in both children and adults, resulting in widespread negative consequences," the "research" he referred to was largely the pseudoscientific rants of Judith Reisman.
Campaign against pornography
In 1983 Reisman gave a talk on CNN’s Crossfire about "connections between sex education, sex educators, and the pornography industry". Despite the lack of evidence for her already highly dubious claims and reliance on pseudoscience, she was subsequently invited by the United States Department of Justice (when Reagan was president) to apply for a grant to conduct a "study at American University to determine whether Playboy, Hustler, and other more explicit materials are linked to violence by juveniles." The grant, for the amount of $734,371, was approved without competition. In short, the Department of Justice gave Reisman $734,371 to spend three years reading porn. The project was rather predictably criticized for its costs, with Pamela Swain, director of research, evaluation and program claiming that the study could be accomplished for $60,000.
The resulting report "Images of Children, Crime and Violence in Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler", was also rather predictably criticized for its lack of quality. In the report Reisman claimed that among "372 issues of Playboy, 184 issues of Penthouse and 125 issues of Hustler" she had found "2,016 cartoons that included children apparently under the age of 17 and 3,988 other pictures, photographs, and drawings that depict infants or youths." Sex crime researcher Avedon Carol commented that the report was a "scientific disaster, riddled with researcher bias and baseless assumptions", and criminologist Robert Figlio pointed out that "The term ‘child’ used in the aggregate sense in this report is so inclusive and general as to be meaningless." American University refused to publish the completed work.
Despite its lack of methodological credibility the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography concurred with the report, with the result that several stores stopped selling Playboy and Penthouse.
Reisman was a supporter of Scott Lively and his completely insane screed, The Pink Swastika. She claimed that she believed that a homosexual movement in Germany gave rise to the Nazi Party and the Holocaust. She enthusiastically and unconditionally endorsed criminalization of homosexuality, despite the fact that homosexuals were were one of the Nazis' target groups for annihilation.
Reisman claimed that the homosexuals employ recruitment techniques that rival those of the United States Marine Corps to transform innocent children into raving homosexuals. According to Reisman homosexual "recruitment is loud; it is clear; it is everywhere."
Reisman was one of those who endorsed Lauren Stratford's book Satan's Underground, calling Stratford's testimony "only too credible."
Turns out it wasn't.
- Daniel Radosh. "Why Know?" The New Yorker. 2004 December 6.
- Judith Reisman, Kinsey, Sex and Fraud: The Indoctrination of a People. 1990.
- See Reisman's columns at WorldNetDaily here.
- Santorum’s Porn Nonsense by Ed Brayton (April 4, 2012) Patheos.
- Her Kinsey Obsession: Judith Reisman believes sex researcher Alfred Kinsey is responsible for all the cultural decay and sexual permissiveness that she sees. And she's got the ear of the Christian right and the White House by Max Blumenthal (December 14, 2004, 11:00 PM GMT) Alternet.
- The Joy of Sexology: Does it matter that Alfred Kinsey enjoyed his work more than he let on? by Christina Larson (December 7, 2004, 11:00 PM GMT) Alternet.
- Kinsey. Online Forum: I have heard that one part of Kinsey's dark side was that he became a pedophile. Do you have any info about this? Answered by James H. Jones (February 15, 2005) PBS (archived from March 7 2005).
- James H. Jones, Alfred C. Kinsey: A Life. New York, WW Norton & Company, 2004, ISBN 0393327248.
- Kinsey institute sued by thwarted clinic (May 9, 1991) The Bulletin (AP).
- Internet Porn: Worse Than Crack? (11.19.04 11:00 am) Wired.
- Sex on the brain by Mark Pilkington (13 July 2005 19.02 EDT) The Guardian.
- Santorum's bad porn science: The candidate claims that "a wealth of research" shows porn "causes profound brain changes." Experts say he's wrong by Tracy Clark-Flory (Mar 20, 2012 1:20 PM PDT) Salon.
- Memo: $798,000 Porn Study Could be Made for $60,000 (Mar 5, 1984) The Palm Beach Post (AP) (archived from 24 Jan 2013 15:40:10 UTC).
- Images of Children, Crime and Violence in Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler by Judith A. Reisman (1990) Huntington House.
- Why Know? by Daniel Radosh (December 6, 2004) The New Yorker.
- Judith Reisman: All Posts About Judith Reisman Right Wing Watch.