MSNBC.com Asks ‘Can Homophobia Kill You?’

MSNBC.com continues to show that it is more of a liberal blog designed to peddle extreme talking points than an actual news website. Take for example their newest article with the headline that screams “Can Homophobia Kill You.”

Author Emma Margolin began her February 23 piece by huffing that “it comes as no surprise that anti-gay prejudice carries with it a wide range of damaging effects, but could one of them be death?” Margolis’ ridiculous and inflammatory statement came in response to two studies, one published in the journal Social Science and Medicine which claimed that “sexual minorities living in high-prejudice communities faced shorter life expectancies by approximately 12 years.” 

 

Margolin continued her rant by claiming that:

Sexual minorities living in high-prejudice communities faced shorter life expectancies by approximately 12 years. An analysis of specific causes of death showed that suicides, homicides and cardiovascular diseases were all elevated among sexual minorities (i.e., individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual) in communities with more prominent anti-gay attitudes.

And what exactly was used in determining whether or not someone had anti-gay prejudice? The studies in question used a survey from the General Social Survey, which “determines a person’s prejudice score based on answers to four questions: 

1.  “If some people in your community suggested that a book in favor of homosexuality should be taken out of your public library, would you favor removing this book, or not?”

2. “Should a man who admits that he is a homosexual be allowed to teach in a college or university, or not?”

3. “Suppose a man who admits that he is a homosexual wanted to make a speech in your community. Should he be allowed to speak, or not?”

4. “Do you think that sexual relations between two adults of the same sex is always wrong, almost always wrong, wrong only sometimes, or not wrong at all?”

So according to this questionnaire, anyone who is a religious social conservative, or who believes in traditional values, would probably be identified as highly prejudiced. Margolin continued to promote the study by noting that: 

Using responses to the GSS between the years 1988 and 2008, researchers analyzed the mortality rates of participants, 4,216 of whom had died by the end of the study period. Their results: researches found that anti-gay prejudice was specifically associated with increased risk for cardiovascular-related deaths.

Why? Well, a lot of it probably has to do with anger. As the study notes: “Anger is a core affective component of anti-gay prejudice among heterosexual men. In turn, physiological changes associated with anger, such as increased cardiac responses, have been linked to the development of hypertension and to coronary heart disease.”

Margolin’s continued failed attempts to rationalize the studies findings didn’t stop, as the MSNBC.com reporter doubled-down even further: 

So does that mean every member of the Westboro Baptist Church should stock up on diuretics and beta-blockers? Not exactly. It’s important to note that while the studies show an association between anti-gay prejudice and mortality, the research does not show that stigmatizing gay people causes death. In the American Journal study, researchers also sought to control for variables that could also be linked to when a person dies – such as age, income, education, gender, self-rated health, and race, among others. 

Both studies concede several limitations and the possibility for confounding variables. For example, areas with high levels of anti-gay prejudice may have other risk factors affecting mortality that the study did not fully control for, such as “availability and quality of health care, air quality, crime rates, and the built environment.” Additionally, the GSS does not consistently measure certain behavioral factors – like mortality, diet, smoking, and alcohol consumption – all of which are known to affect health.

So after all that fear-mongering and demonizing, Margolin’s story seems to have no real purpose other than to smear social conservatives as prejudice people who may or may not have a shorter life than those who favor same-sex marriage. Margolin concluded her rant by throwing in one last hyperbolic claim: 

Does this mean a great deal of people are at risk? Not necessarily. There’s a bright spot for sexual minorities living in high-prejudice communities. In the past decade, America has seen a significant shift in public acceptance of gay rights, and recent advances on the marriage equality front suggest the trend is not likely to end soon.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.