Reason #364 Why We Love Rachel Maddow

And you thought Oprah tore James Frey a new one on her show? Last night, Rachel Maddow invited Richard Cohen, the controversial (and unlicensed) psychotherapist who claims to have counseled thousands of men and women out of being gay, on her show. In his book Coming Out Straight, Cohen argues that there are psychological underpinnings to homosexual attraction—he says he was gay because he was “trying to experience the unobtained bond with my dad that never happened”—and that by coming to terms with what’s behind the attraction, you can become straight. After all, he did it! He’s been married for 27 years and has three kids! Although he admits in part two of the segment that for some of those years, he was still doing dudes.

Maddow, who’s a lesbian, obviously took issue with his argument and critiqued it point by point, especially since some of his quotes suggest gay folks are out to recruit children. But even more than that, she was furious about how Cohen’s work has been interpreted in Uganda.In the African nation, a group of politicians are lobbying to pass a bill, which has come to be known as the “Kill the Gays bill,” which would make it legal to punish and even execute people for homosexual behavior. The politicians pushing for the bill have quoted Cohen heavily in their speeches, and Maddow points out that Cohen not only sent a member of his organization to speak to them but also donated books. “You’re telling them exactly what they need to hear to justify the Kill the Gays bill,” says Maddow. “This is fake-authoritative stuff that in other countries is being taken as scientific fact and being used to justify literally killing gay people … I believe you have blood on your hands.”

So what do you think—is Cohen responsible for how his work has been used, or can he not control what happens once a book is published? [Newser]