Published December 22, 2023
Rolling back evil sexual ideologies will be a long, difficult fight, but defunding their champions is a good and easy place to start.
If conservatives want to win the culture war, we need to stop funding our enemies. Republicans are finally realizing this — well, some Republicans are, about some of their enemies.
For example, the Indiana Legislature passed a 2024 budget that bans state funding for the notorious Kinsey Institute. That radical bastion of the sexual revolution has long been hosted at Indiana University, becoming an official part of the university in 2016. IU and the Kinsey Institute are now planning for their separate futures, albeit in a desultory way.
Neither seems to want to accept that it’s over, so they have set up a working group that will host “a series of public listening sessions aimed at better understanding specific and diverse concerns related to the State’s funding restrictions and the university’s protection of the Kinsey Institute.” The general vibe is of an institution that is shocked that conservatives actually turned off the cash spigot to an organization that hates them and everything they believe.
After all, though conservatives have long complained about government funding for this sort of thing, they have rarely done anything about it. Now some are, and the Kinsey Institute is a particularly apt target. Conservatives loathe it not only for its predictably leftist views on sex and the sexes, but because of its notorious founder and namesake. Alfred Kinsey’s goal was to break down sexual norms and restraints; he achieved this by collecting data to show that they were already being widely broken.
Kinsey was an activist, not a disinterested scientist, and as Al Mohler laid out recently in a World magazine opinion piece, Kinsey lied about the sources for some of his data. But as Mohler noted, that scientific dishonesty is nothing to the enormity of what that data was about: the sexual responses of children, including infants, data that was collected by sexually abusing them. Kinsey was enthusiastic about getting data from a prolific child molester and offered him money and support to bring him to the institute.
Furthermore, by publishing data on children’s sexuality that was supplied by a pederast, Kinsey gave support to the old pedophilic excuse that the victims wanted to be abused and enjoyed it. Indeed, it could hardly have been otherwise, given the source. But Kinsey was determined to sexualize even infants as part of his fight for sexual liberation. And the Kinsey Institute still defends what he did.
Consequently, the fight over funding the Kinsey Institute is about more than relitigating the life of its vile namesake. Rather, it is about his intellectual and cultural legacy. The reflexive defense of Kinsey takes on more sinister overtones given the left’s renewed emphasis on viewing children as sexual agents, exemplified by its obsession with “LGBT kids.” Today’s LGBT movement is not about what adults do in private, but about claiming kids as its own.
Yet even as they focus on children, LGBT activists are admitting that their justification for doing so — the mantra of “born this way” — was a lie, albeit one they view as noble and effective. As Lydia Polgreen recently wrote in The New York Times, “Believing gay people had no choice but to be gay was a critical way station on the road to accepting homosexuality as just another way of being in the world.” But as she acknowledged, her own experience was very different. As she wrote, “like many queer people, I had many different romantic entanglements in my youth, and had I not met my wife in college it is not impossible to imagine that I might have ended up on another path. I certainly did not experience myself as being born any particular way.”
She then admitted that many people change their sexual orientation, and added, “I think most of us know intuitively that sexual orientation is not binary, and is subject to change over the course of our lives.” Polgreen concluded, “To many queer people, myself very much included, it feels like an incomplete account of their experiences, a simplification that shortchanges their lives.”
In short, the supposedly innate and immutable sexual and so-called gender identities that are being used to attack parental rights and claim kids for the rainbow-elect are a lie. But activists are not backing down; they are only pivoting to a new, even more radical vision of childhood sexuality. Polgreen’s column was an extended defense of medically transitioning children, even though they are not “born this way.” She presumably believes it is now safe to admit that the real goal of sexual liberation is not to be slotted into the identity one was supposedly born with, but to be free to choose whatever sexual or gender identity one wants at any given time. Thus, we should forget “born this way” because what matters is what someone, even a child, wants today.
Instead of asserting that we must respect the innate sexual and gender identities of children, the new argument is that we must respect the chosen sexual and gender identities of children, who are sexual agents. And this brings us back to Kinsey, and his pedophile-powered “research” on children’s sexuality. Kinsey argued that there is nothing normal or normative in human sexuality, and our culture has bought into this nihilist understanding of ourselves.
Rolling back this evil ideology will be a long, difficult fight, but defunding its champions is a good and easy place to start.
Nathanael Blake, Ph.D. is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. His primary research interests are American political theory, Christian political thought, and the intersection of natural law and philosophical hermeneutics. His published scholarship has included work on Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Alasdair MacIntyre, Russell Kirk and J.R.R. Tolkien. He is currently working on a study of Kierkegaard and labor. As a cultural observer and commentator, he is also fascinated at how our secularizing culture develops substitutes for the loss of religious symbols, meaning and order.