Almost thirty years ago Allan Bloom wrote the wakeup call to America with the Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students. All of those students who were students then have grown up and a number occupy chairs of sociology in our leading universities and sadly are now an even more problematic part of academia.
Nowhere is the closing more obvious, more openly practiced than in sociology when the issue is one relating to sexuality: be it abortion, contraception and, these last few years, on homosexuality.
It is a given in all sciences that the most important data is the data that does not ‘fit’ the preconceptions of practitioners and commentators in a field. It is the most important because it is from such data (once confirmed as reliable) that new insights arise.
It is also a given of human nature that data which disturbs preconceptions will be resisted by most, because of entrenched ideas, attitudes or interests. However it is the role of the sciences to foster amongst its aspiring practitioners intellectual habits and attitudes that will override these normal reactions. But in American sociology the opposite is the case when the sacred cows of sexuality are crossing the street. In this case, not only are these normal human proclivities not eradicated, instead they are aggressively fostered and formed in undergraduates, doctoral candidates, post-doc researchers and young untenured professors. They are all being shaped to not pay any attention to contrary data on the sexual. Should they dare to do so they will suffer the consequences that range from failing grades, denial of entry to graduate school or tenure or publication. No American journals now carry contrary data in the area of homosexual parenting since the Regnerus dust-up as no editor wants to suffer the harassment James Wright, eminent editor of Social Science Research suffered, nor any professor to suffer as Regnerus did.
The bullying is not subtle. Yet it is effective and, in the land of the free, has closed down the debate on campus. The grandchildren of the “greatest generation” are no match for the “thought-dictators” in this sector of the social sciences. But contrary data can never be made non-contrary. It just is. It just will be. It will continue to be the prime way forward in the discipline. It is a respecter of no political alliance, right, left or center. It cannot be. It will always be a thorn. And a boon to true science.