Friday, June 07, 2013

When things go wrong

You know, I’m quite an optimistic person, really.  No, really, I am.  I couldn’t be a scientist if I weren’t.  Being a scientist is - for me – at least partly about wanting to make a better world. Scientists have to believe that newly-created knowledge will not be abused to make the world worse. My own work on privacy has this potential: the more I find out about how people can protect their privacy, the more I learn about how to exploit people to find out their stuff and about the potential value of that stuff. But I’m optimistic that my work will lead to people being able to protect themselves from exploiters rather then helping the exploiters exploit. Optimistic, see?

But then something happens to crush my optimism and it is almost always comments in the Daily Mail.

There’s an article about – in the DM’s words – “ Gay parents have ‘healthier and less argumentative children’.” Ah yes, the ubiquitous DM airquotes. What better way to absolve responsibility? But that’s a whole different rant.  I’m talking about the comments. And so you don’t have to visit the site, I’m reproducing them here. Entirely without permission because – let’s face it – these people are fucktangles.

But some housekeeping is necessary. I haven’t read the paper but if the study is as reported then it might be flawed. There are at least four ways for a gay couple to have children: adoption, surrogacy, children from a previous relationship or insemination by whatever means. None of these means are exclusive to gay couples, of course.  But let’s assume – as absolutely every single commenter there does – that the only way a gay couple could have a child is through adoption, then there could be an important selection bias. It would be a better idea to compare children adopted by gay parents with children adopted by not-gay parents. But that assumption is not valid. Lots of gay people have children through any of those four means. The article doesn’t describe the study’s methods, so it’s possible that the study is flawed but I – unlike the Mail commenters, apparently – don’t know whether that’s true.

But the main point is that it doesn’t matter.  It isn’t necessary for gay parents to be statistically superior for them to be parents. There are kids who need parents and couples who want to be parents and the solution seems pretty simple to me. If the study shows anything, it’s that it is certainly possible for the children of gay couples to be happy and healthy, which seems to rob some of the people I’ve been quoting of their ammunition, doesn’t it?

But it’s not that simple to the Mail. It’s not that simple to the Mail at all. So, as promised, here are some of the comments. Usual trigger warning of abject assholeary:

what a load.....i wonder what gay lobby group Sponsored this study? i am not a bigot but what ever became of the traditional nuclear family that has existed for thousands of years? one father is good two fathers is better......right?

- Dark Stanley , san diego, United States,

Then let them have their own kids oh wait a minute they can't and why because it's not natural.

- vote-ukip , Lancashire, 07/6/2013 00:17

Gay parents have --- No they don't HAVE they look after someone else's children, they cant have children. Only a man and a women can HAVE a child. As for one previous comment, sorry but is the Gays who need to get over themselves not the straights.

- Chris , Sidmouth, 07/6/2013 00:16

Maybe they are less argumentative because they are more submissive to the dominant male in the family? Just a hypothesis?

- Twostars_83 , Roving, United Kingdom,

nicer soft furnishings...

- truebrit , Plymouth, 07/6/2013 00:09

Well, who knew that we were doing it wrong all these centuries. Should we now look forward to a world where all children are conceived in vitro and turned over to same sex couples to better raise them? And what of the research that has long suggested that a child needs a mother AND a father. No matter what fresh Utopia liberals may seek, homosexuality will never be the norm nor will it ever be preferable to Mother Nature's design.

- gobnait, this fresh hell, 7/6/2013 2:09

There are so many hetrosexual happy families. This is trying to justify gay adoption. Gay people have made their sexual choice and should accept cannot produce. Children are not pets, they are what hetrosexuals produce.

- Black Panther, Bedfordshire,

Too early, much too early to say. And who wrote the report, gays?

- Vivien, Mulhouse, 7/6/2013 0:25

........I know, let's all be gay! That way, we will all be better parents. This survey has probably been taken by a handful of people to come up with this ridiculous result. Honestly...... Better self esteem!!

- iNXS, The land downunder, Australia,

Then let them have their own kids oh wait a minute they can't and why because it's not natural.

- vote-ukip, Lancashire, 7/6/2013 0:17

I don't believe this rubbish. Go away.

- Peach, London, 7/6/2013 0:07

"Gay parents have healthier & less argumentative children" I didn't know gay people can have children, oh wait they take SOMEONE ELSE'S CHILD

- truthhurts, Birmingham, 7/6/2013 0:05

Oh, and so on. You get the idea. Lovely people. There are currently 459 comments, overwhelmingly of this sort. They didn’t publish mine, even though I nearly bust my keyboard clean through my desk typing it.

Stop pretending that your objection to gay parents adopting is anything other than prejudice toward homosexuals. Your arguments don't make any sense and I think you probably know that.

Lots and lots of things to talk about, will do it later.

1 comment:

  1. Bit late reading your story - but looking at the link its more positive how many good non-bigoted comments are upvoted and how many assholes are downvoted. Could be the "latsot" effect of thousands of ure readers voting them up/down ;-)

    I like the idea of you bashing your keyboard in writing the comment. Makes me want to add some js to my blog to capture stats about how fast ppl type comments/make mistakes etc. No pressure info available though.