Judith Ann Reisman is a wingnut activist most famous for her deranged crusade against sexologist Alfred Kinsey and insane hatred of homosexuality, which she believes was the cause for the rise of Nazism. Her thoughts are often published by the WND, RenewAmerica and The New American, the magazine of the John Birch Society. Reisman is also visiting professor of Law at Liberty University (her education is not in law; the important thing is that she is an ideological fit), and Liberty Counsel’s favorite expert when it comes issues pertaining to sexuality. Reisman’s advice was endorsed by Rick Santorum, who also supported a ban on pornography (Reisman claims that pornography is ultimately the source of all evil.)
Reisman on Kinsey
Reisman’s attacks on Kinsey (more details here) are unconstrained by truth, reality or reason. She has, for instance, falsely accused Kinsey of being a fraud who employed and relied on pedophiles for his research, and even that he himself sexually abused children, based on the fact that she doesn’t like the results of his work. Indeed, Reisman views Kinsey as some kind of Satan who is personally responsible for what she perceives to be the cultural decay of America. In 1991 she sued the Kinsey Institute, its then director, and Indiana University for defamation and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress regarding alleged attempts to censor her book Kinsey, Sex and Fraud (they criticized it, for its remarkable falsehoods and misunderstandings), a case ultimately dismissed with prejudice in 1994. Her follow-up book Sexual Sabotage: How One Mad Scientist Unleashed a Plague of Corruption and Contagion on America was, shall we say, not better, and according to one critic “takes the unseemly shape of a paranoid sermon on American decency held together by acerbic ad hominems, a tapestry of slippery slope arguments, a string of unwholesome linkages (“Nazi serial pedophiles”), and a litany of medieval, Victorian, and McCarthyian diagnostics.” In the book, published in 2010 by the wingnut conspiracy theorist press WND Books, Reisman calls Kinsey a “traitor” to America because in her mind, he and his researchers deliberately set out to defame the Greatest Generation and destroy the world. Even Kinsey’s death is a conspiracy: Reisman claims that he died of “brutal, repetitive self-abuse” (i.e. masturbation) when in fact he died of heart problems and pneumonia.
Prior to the release of the 2004 film Kinsey, Reisman and wingnut extremist Laura Schlessinger attempted to place an advertisement alleging that Kinsey was a pervert and a pedophile, or, as she put it elsewhere, “a scientific and moral fraud, a certifiable sexual psychopath as well as a sadomasochistic pornography addict and a sexually harassing bully” (“certifiable” in this context does not mean what ordinary people ordinarily think it means) and that “Dr. Kinsey’s most egregious fraud is that he wasn’t a scientist. He was an ideologue who was most importantly a sex offender at best, and, beyond being a sex offender, he was certainly a child sexual abuser and/or solicitor and guide in the perpetration of that abuse.” At least we can pretty firmly establish that Reisman is unable to see the distinction between a scientist and an ideologue. Ultimately, Reisman wishes to discredit not only Kinsey but the entire field of sexology, “the sexindustrial complex” that has grown out of his work: “One doesn’t measure American sexual habits,” she said. “That’s not a science.” At least what she is doing certainly isn’t.
In 2012, Reisman predictably blamed Kinsey for the child abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church, pointing out that it is no coincidence that the abuse “problem in the Church” began just when Kinsey published his work, which is technically true given that there is not even remotely any correlation in the timelines here that could even be said to be coincidental.
Pornography, according to Reisman, is dangerous, and not only for spiritual reasons. According to Reisman there is a genuinely physiological mechanism that makes pornography dangerous: If you view pornography, an addictive chemical mixture floods the brain and harms it. Reisman has dubbed this mixture “erototoxins”. Of course, she has not actually provided any evidence for the existence of erototoxins, nor described any plausible mechanism, or even attempted to define “harm” as in “harms the brain”. She has, however, expressed an impressive degree of confidence that MRI studies will prove the existence of porn-induced physical brain damage. And such proof will be followed by a mass of lawsuits against distributors of pornography. Reisman is ready. Yes, it is a little bit sad, but remember that Reisman is really evil, too.
More importantly, insofar as pornography can “subvert cognition”, then it stands to reason that “these toxic media should be legally outlawed, as is all other toxic waste, and eliminated from our societal structure.” Indeed, as she sees it, there cannot really be any substantial arguments against her position, since individuals who have suffered brain damage from “pornography are no longer expressing ‘free speech’ and, for their own good, shouldn’t be protected under the First Amendment.” (This really, really isn’t how the First Amendment works.)
The 2002-2011 Proceedings of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences state, concerning Reisman’s public statements about erototoxins, that “facts stood in the way of her opinion and testimony.” As of October 2018, PubMed still contains no results either for “erototoxin” or for “erotoxin.”
When Rick Santorum claimed that “a wealth of research is now available demonstrating that pornography causes profound brain changes in both children and adults, resulting in widespread negative consequences,” he was referring largely to Reisman. “Research” and “demonstrating” are not really the correct word choices. Similarly, at a 2004 congressional hearing convened by Sam Brownback, Reisman, apparently billed as an expert on addiction, testified that “pornography triggers myriad kinds of internal, natural drugs that mimic the ‘high’ from a street drug. Addiction to pornography is addiction to what I dub erototoxins,” proposing a ban on all sexually explicit images as mind-altering drugs because they cause the release of opioids. We will grudgingly admit that it takes some effort to really comprehend the abysmal depth of the idiocy expressed here.
Erototoxins emitted from pornography are also to blame for homosexuality, and apparently sex-ed rewires the brain and consequently promotes homosexuality. To back up the claims, Reisman has pointed to a case where pheromones were used to confuse male gypsy moths in order to prevent them from mating with females, which is evidence that pornography is similarly confusing men by emitting erotoxins and thereby make them less attracted to women (or something like that); according to Reisman: “Pornography is a visual pheromone, a powerful 100-billion-dollar per year brain drug that is changing sexuality even more rapidly through the cyber-acceleration of the Internet. It is ‘inhibiting orientation’ and ‘disrupting pre-mating communication between the sexes by permeating the atmosphere’ and Internet.” Apparently this passes as “science” at the creationist institution Liberty University.
But sex-ed is of the devil, of course; sex ed turns children into prostitutes and “little sexual deviants,” says Reisman, and sex ed classes are designed to brainwash children into thinking they might be gay, transgender or “all kinds of other things”, making “these kids become fodder for adult predators.” Accordingly, she has argued that public schools should face class action lawsuits from parents for illegally “grooming” children for sex (an idea taken up by Michigan state representative Gary Glenn). In 2013, Reisman engaged herself in the fight against sex-education in Croatia. According to Reisman, George Soros has “brought in pedophiles from around the world” to the country as part of the effort to set up the system and make kids gay. Yes, Soros is turning kids gay. And to repeat ourselves: Reisman, with no education in law (or psychology), is a visiting professor of law at Liberty University, an institution that pretends to be a university.
Her anti-porn campaigns have been going on for a while, but really took a turn with a 1983 talk on CNN’s Crossfire about “connections between sex education, sex educators, and the pornography industry,” a talk that really made for an interesting study in delusional imagination and the ability to make up conspiratorial connections from nothing. She was subsequently invited by the US DOJ to apply for a grant to conduct a “study at American University to determine whether Playboy, Hustler, and other more explicit materials are linked to violence by juveniles” for the amount of $734,371, which was approved without competition. Reisman subsequently spent three years reading porn (Pamela Swain, director of research, evaluation and program claimed that the study could be accomplished for $60,000), and produced the report “Images of Children, Crime and Violence in Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler”, which was, perhaps needless to say, void of anything resembling quality, rigor, accountability or accuracy. In the report, Reisman claimed that she had found “2,016 cartoons that included children apparently under the age of 17 and 3,988 other pictures, photographs, and drawings that depict infants or youths.” Sex crime researcher Avedon Carol commented that the report was a “scientific disaster, riddled with researcher bias and baseless assumptions”, partially since (in the words of expert reviewers) “the term ‘child’ used in the aggregate sense in this report is so inclusive and general as to be meaningless.” American University refused to publish the completed work. Despite its shoddiness, the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography concurred with the report, with the result that several stores stopped selling Playboy and Penthouse.
When Playboy and Penthouse printed nude photos of Madonna in 1985, Reisman warned that because of the entertainer's idolization by youth, their publication would destigmatize and “encourage voluntary display by youngsters,” leading to an increase in child pornography. This is not remotely how this works.
Expert testimony at the Mapplethorpe exhibition obscenity trial
During the 1990 obscenity trial of Dennis Barrie, director of the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, for displaying controversial photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe, Reisman was called as (the only) expert witness for the prosecution, after having had, the previous year, written an editorial in The Moonie Times with the title “Promoting Child Abuse as Art” accusing “Mapplethorpe of being both a Nazi and a child molester”. (The defense argued that she was not qualified as an art expert, but the judge allowed her to testify as a rebuttal witness.) During her testimony, Reisman did not discuss the explicit content of Mapplethorpe’s work, but argued rather that the five photographs were not works of art because they either did not display a human face, or, in the case of Self-Portrait, just a face that “... displayed no discernible emotion,” and that without emotion, the placement of the photographs in a museum implied that the activities displayed were appropriate. She also testified that “anal sodomy is traumatically dysfunctional and is definitely associated with AIDS” and claimed that the pictures of nude children legitimized pedophilia. One really, really wonder what the prosecution thought of her defense. Barrie and the Center were acquitted of all charges by the jury.
Reisman is apparently still being called as expert witness by various deranged and bigoted conspiracy theorists, both in the US and abroad.
Reisman is a fan of Scott Lively’s The Pink Swastika and apparently believes that the homosexual movement in Germany gave rise to the Nazi Party and the Holocaust. Thanks to Alfred Kinsey, warns Reisman, the American homosexual movement is poised to repeat those crimes: “Idealistic ‘gay youth’ groups are being formed and staffed in classrooms nationwide by recruiters too similar to those who formed the original ‘Hitler youth.’” Accordingly, she has enthusiastically endorsed criminalization of homosexuality.
According to Reisman, homosexuals employ recruitment techniques that rival those of the United States Marine Corps to transform innocent children into raving homosexuals: homosexual “recruitment is loud; it is clear; it is everywhere.” People like Judith Reisman tend to think things are everywhere.
And the ultimate goal of gay people is not what they say it is. According to Reisman, “the whole point of the objective” of GLSEN’s (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network – a “modern version of the Hitler Youth,” according to Reisman) anti-bullying efforts is to promote pedophilia; indeed “the aim of homosexual males and now increasingly females is not to have sex with other old guys and get married but to obtain sex with as many boys as possible.”
Not happy with the decision to allow gays to join the Boy Scouts, Reisman claimed that it is a result of a debate going back to Alfred Kinsey: “The Boy Scouts are up for grabs at this point in time, and I mean that in many ways,” Reisman said. And what will happen is, as Reisman sees it, that gay Boy Scouts will “train” and sexually assault other scouts and then trick them to “believe they are naturally ‘that way.’” In fact, it is a step in a strategy to implement … communism. That’s right: gay rights is ultimately about communist tyranny. How is that going to work, you may ask. Well, “the drive for homosexual, bisexual, bisexualization of the children” is meant to make people become “controlled by their sexual lust.” At that point, they will become a “slave population” who will lose their sense of right and wrong (homosexuals “aim to wipe out all morality – whatever legal mechanisms that have protected the weak from the strong for thousands of years,” says Reisman) and “buy into the tyranny.” You probably shouldn’t ask.
In 2015 Mat Staver, on behalf of Reisman, submitted one of the most bizarre legal briefs in the history of legal briefs submitted in the context of same-sex marriage cases.
There is a decent Judith Reisman resource here.
Diagnosis: We probably shouldn’t, but it is hard not to speculate whether much of what Reisman says about gay people tell us more about Reisman than she wants to reveal (and certainly more than it tells us about gay people). A raving lunatic monster in any case, and her influence is greater than I think most reasonable people (whose paths she rarely crosses) realize.