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Campaign launched to block Hall of Fame honors for James Dobson

by Nick Langewis

Dr. James Dobson, founder and chairman of Colorado-based Focus on the Family, has been nominated by Chicago's Museum of Broadcast Communications as a 2008 inductee into its Radio Hall of Fame. Dobson, also founder of the Family Research Council, produces a daily radio show, which is broadcast on over 7,000 radio stations worldwide, along with about sixty American television stations.

If inducted, Dobson would join figures such as talk host Rush Limbaugh, syndicated Top 40 DJ and "Disco Duck" auteur Rick Dees, stage and radio actor Orson Welles, and comedy duo Abbott and Costello.

"The fact that James Dobson is an accomplished broadcaster is offset by the fact he is an even more accomplished liar," Wayne Besen, founder and Executive Director of Truth Wins Out, told PageOneQ. "He has built his following by exploiting fear, promoting hatred and appealing to humanity's lowest common denominator. His broadcasts have sharpened divisions in society, poisoned politics and made America a more hostile nation. It is utter madness that one would be honored for such a disgraceful career."

Induction into the Radio Hall of Fame generally requires between ten and twenty years of "contribution" by a broadcaster to the radio industry, who has "distinguished him/herself" at local and/or regional levels, or "has been a leader in developing or improving radio programming at the national level."

Dobson is an outspoken opponent of marriage equality and anti-discrimination legislation, having placed blame on same-sex couples for the collapse of the heterosexual marriage and declining marriage rates.

"Homosexuals are not monogamous," Dobson told The Daily Oklahoman in October of 2004. "They want to destroy the institution of marriage. It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth."

Dobson, also an author, is heavily criticized for his backing of "ex-gay" conversion therapy and his use of sociological research to back claims that same-sex couples make inferior couples and parents.

Among those whose research Dobson is said to have distorted for his ends is sociologist Dr. Carol Gilligan, author of international best-seller In A Different Voice. Dobson quoted Gilligan's work in his Time Magazine guest column, entitled "Two Mommies Is One Too Many," condemning the Vice President's daughter, Mary Cheney, and her partner Heather Poe, who at the time were expecting their son.

"I was stunned that James Dobson had quoted me in Time Magazine," said Gilligan. "I was mortified, frankly."

"I think there's no ground in my research for supporting his attack on Mary Cheney and her plans to raise her child with her lesbian partner," Gilligan went on. "My research has nothing to say that would support his claim that...that's unhealthy for children."

Dr. Gilligan wrote a letter to Dobson demanding an apology, and that he stop incorrectly quoting her work, especially for ends with which she did not agree.

"This practice is not in the best interest of scientific inquiry," she wrote, "nor does bearing false witness serve your purpose of furthering morality and strengthening the family.

"Finally, there's nothing in my research that would lead you to draw the stated conclusions you did in the Time article. My work in no way suggests same-gender families are harmful to children or can't raise these children to be as healthy and well-adjusted as those brought up in traditional households."

"James Dobson built his radio empire on a foundation of lies and on the backs of GLBT people," Besen added. "It is an outrage that the Radio Hall of Fame would even entertain the idea of nominating this contemptible bigot. By doing so, the Hall of Fame has surrendered its credibility and respectability and should immediately remove Dobson from consideration to clear its tarnished name."

"The one thing that I think we could all agree on in terms of raising children," Gilligan concluded, "is that what children need is to be raised in an atmosphere of love."

Truth Wins Out has started a petition to formally request that the Museum of Broadcast Communications remove James Dobson from consideration as a Radio Hall of Fame inductee based on a lack of "character and integrity" and misuse of scientific research to further his political ends.

"We believe that character counts as much as building an audience when deciding who should make the Hall of Fame," said Besen. "Just as Pete Rose was barred from the Baseball Hall of Fame for gambling, Dobson should be banned for his habitual lies and chronic distorting of science."

Below is a video interview, courtesy of Truth Wins Out, with Dr. Carol Gilligan. More footage and information are available at Truth Wins Out.


Originally published on Friday July 11, 2008.

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