The ethics of researching men’s room sex

by Henry on September 12, 2007

Since it’s highly unlikely that Scott is going to link to his fascinating _IHE_ column on the work and life of Laud Humphries, writer of a famous study of anonymous sex in men’s rooms, _Tearoom Trade_, I’m going to do it myself. It ain’t just Larry Craig either – the ethical issues surrounding Humphries’ research are pretty interesting:

The book was also widely discussed because of the ethical questions raised by Humphreys’s methodology. It would be an overstatement to call Tearoom Trade the main catalyst for the creation of institutional review boards, but debates over the book certainly played their part.

At issue was not the sexual activity itself but how the sociologist (then a graduate student) investigated it. Posing as a voyeur, and never revealing that he was there for research, Humphreys was accepted as “watchqueen” by the social circle hanging out at the restroom. He was entrusted with giving a signal if the police came around. He took notes on the activity taking place – including the license plates numbers of men who came around for fellatio. Through a contact in the police department, he was able to get their home addresses.

After a year, and having disguised himself to some degree, he visited them under the pretense of doing a survey for an insurance company to gather more data about their circumstances and opinions. Humphreys states that he was never recognized during these interviews. He kept all the documents generated during this research in a lockbox and destroyed them after his dissertation was accepted by Washington University in St. Louis.

This reminds me of Kieran’s “post”:https://crookedtimber.org/2006/05/11/wanting-to-know-everything/ from a while back about the little megalomaniac living inside every academic researcher (and every NSA bureaucrat). Anyway, plenty more “here”:http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2007/09/12/mclemee.

Edwards’ CITO proposal

by Henry on September 12, 2007

Via “Matt Yglesias”:http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/09/cito.php I see that John Edwards is proposing the creation of “a new treaty organization”:http://johnedwards.com/news/speeches/a-new-strategy-against-terrorism/ to combat terrorism through cooperation on policing and intelligence.

The centerpiece of this policy will be a new multilateral organization called the Counterterrorism and Intelligence Treaty Organization (CITO).

Every nation has an interest in shutting down terrorism. CITO will create connections between a wide range of nations on terrorism and intelligence, including countries on all continents, including Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe. New connections between previously separate nations will be forged, creating new possibilities.

CITO will allow members to voluntarily share financial, police, customs and immigration intelligence. Together, nations will be able to track the way terrorists travel, communicate, recruit, train, and finance their operations. And they will be able to take action, through international teams of intelligence and national security professionals who will launch targeted missions to root out and shut down terrorist cells.

The new organization will also create a historic new coalition. Those nations who join will, by working together, show the world the power of cooperation. Those nations who join will also be required to commit to tough criteria about the steps they will take to root out extremists, particularly those who cross borders. Those nations who refuse to join will be called out before the world.

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