4.7 Sexual Innuendos Per Hour


At Conservative Home, Tim Montgomerie notes Nadine Dorries MP’s introduction of a Ten Minute Rule Bill on abstinence education for girls:

The Tory MP for Mid Bedfordshire is not saying abstinence should be the only message for children but that it should be part of the overall message. Our schools should be saying to children – bombarded by a culture that encourages sexual experimentation – that it’s okay to wait and that there can be big benefits from doing so.

Ms Dorries quoted Joan Bakewell, now a Labour peer, and her analysis of what TV throws at us in prime time: “A typical prime time hour contains 2.6 references to intercourse, 1.2 references to prostitution and rape, 4.7 sexual innuendos, 1.8 kisses and 1 suggestive gesture. Not to mention internet, phones.”

It looks like the quote was given to Montgomerie in advance: in the actual debate, Dorries didn’t mention either the “kisses” or the “suggestive gesture” – see Hansard (I also checked against Parliament’s video stream):

Dame Joan said that our society is saturated in sex: a typical prime-time hour on TV contains 2.6 references to intercourse, 1.2 references to prostitution and rape, and 4.7 sexual innuendoes.

This is somewhat botched. Dorries’ speech references an article on the sexual revolution which Joan Bakewell wrote last year for the Radio Times (5-11 June 2010, pp. 122-3), but Bakewill did not come up with these statistics she did not cite them. Bakewell’s original piece is not on-line (although I’ve seen it), but it was discussed and quoted widely in other media at the time; it is almost certain that Dorries has drawn on these secondary sources, and none of these include any reference to the statistics either.

The statistics’ provenance is another reason Bakewell would not have used them: they are actually a boilerplate talking-point which has been doing the rounds on Christian websites for years, sometimes attributed to a “Florida State University study”. One example of their use is the 1993 book by Bill Hybels and Rob Wilkins, entitled Tender Love: God’s Gift of Sexual Intimacy. According to them:

According to one study, a typical network prime-time hour contains an average of 1.6 references to intercourse, 1.2 references to prostitution and rape, 4.7 sexual innuendoes, 1.8 kisses, and 1.0 suggestive gestures.

Note that Dorries has sloppily upped “1.6 references to intercourse” to “2.6”, but it’s clearly the same source. A variation appeared in a secular publication, Entertainment Weekly, in 1992:

According to a Florida State University study published last fall, a typical network prime-time hour contains an average of 1.58 references to intercourse, 1.17 references to prostitution and rape, 4.68 sexual innuendos, 1.76 kisses, and 0.99 suggestive gestures. On average, the study says, TV characters today talk about sex or display sexual behavior 15 times an hour — or once every four minutes.

So, the source is old, obscure, American, and propagated for the most part by evangelical websites. The statistics are also hopelessly decontextualized: what kind of “references” are meant? A much more sensible and relevant source for Dorries to work with would have been Mis-selling Sex: A Study of the Representation of Sex on British Television Screens, which was published in 2010 as part of the NHS’s “Sex: Worth Talking About” campaign.

Dorries’ use of the American statistics would appear to be more evidence that she is is getting her talking points directly from Christian Right lobby groups such as Christian Concern.


Ironically, the origin of the American statistics is perhaps a study undertaken in 1987 for Planned Parenthood. According to the New York Times in January 1988:

Americans are bombarded by sexual messages on network television but are hardly ever reminded of the results of sex, according to a study conducted for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and made public yesterday.

The study, by Louis Harris & Associates, concluded that 65,000 sexual references a year are broadcast during the prime afternoon and evening hours. That’s an average of 27 an hour, the study noted, including 9 kisses, 5 hugs, 10 sexual innuendos and between 1 and 2 references each to sexual intercourse and to ”deviant or discouraged sexual practices.”

…Announcing the results of the study, the federation president, Faye Wattleton, said: ”Clearly the American television networks are doing us -their viewers – a tremendous disservice. They obviously see no need to balance their overly romanticized and unrealistic portrayals of sex with messages about responsibility.”

Walid Shoebat Wants Donations for “Safe Houses”

An announcement from Walid Shoebat:

The Walid Shoebat Foundation and Forum For Middle East Understanding launch new web site www.rescuechristians.org please visit this web site.

The purpose of this web site is to make more people aware of the plight of persecuted Christians worldwide as well as raise money to effect real rescue operations for persecuted victims with a primary focus initially in the Pakistan region.

Our work will involve providing safe houses, food and medical care for persecuted Christian families with direct one and one support, with no administrative costs or waste. Our work will also involve the gaining of visas for these families to restart their lives in Western countries so they can rebuild their lives. Full details of the program detailed on www.rescuechristians.org. We are already helping two families with many more on a waiting list for assistance…


Keith Davies
Executive Director Walid Shoebat Fdn

Confusingly, the website calls the organisation both “Rescue Christians” and “the Raoul Wallenberg Project”, depending on which page is clicked on (there is of course no association with the famous Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, which I doubt has given permission for the use of Wallenberg’s name). The website explains:

The Raoul Wallenberg Project is working with people on the ground who are well connected in the Christian community. They have reached out to us for our support to help alleviate their suffering, and in certain situations, help with their escape. For their protection we cannot expose their names publicly. In the future, large donors who are concerned about the transparency of funding, we can provide the names and details privately.

…Our financial goal is to raise one million dollars a month – solely for the Raoul Wallenberg Project – which will allow us to make a significant impact to alleviate much of the suffering of persecuted Christians and remove them from their circumstances. We are working behind the scenes with members of Congress, in particular the staff of Congressman Allen West, who has kindly offered his help on Capital Hill. Other members of Congress will be recruited as public opinion puts pressure on them for their support of this real, and dangerous threat to Christians worldwide.

…What you should know is that all of the people who are working with this project are doing so with no compensation for their time… We have experienced PR and business people with 40 years of business experience, as well as 14 years between working experience between Walid and Keith Davies (Directorof the Walid Shoebat Foundation). We’ve assembled a group who have been involved in running a charity, and are aware of working with activists.

…The cost of helping one family is approximately $1000 per month. That coupled with the initial set-up expenses of a safe house means we will need $10,000 the first month. After that, supporting six families will cost around $6000 a month. Legal costs will run about $7000 per family over an eighteen month period, plus the cost for airfare for each family will be $4000 – $8000. This just a drop in the bucket when we consider all of the hundreds, even thousands of cases of persecution.

This doesn’t seem to me to have been thought through very well at all. The names of the Christians they are supposedly helping are either confidential or they are not – leaking them to “large donors” is an amateurish way to demonstrate “transparency” and would anyway show very little about how efficiently or competently the organisation is being run. Why is there no formal board structure, or any trustees? Why haven’t Shoebat and Davies established a 501(c)(3), with all the checks and balances which would come with that? Further, “40 years of business experience” is so vague as to be meaningless. Shoebat was a computer programmer before he joined the right-wing pundit circuit; Davies used to sell greetings cards. What’s needed is expertise in arranging safe houses and in dealing with the various obstacles that are likely to emerge. Who is going to look after these “safe houses”? How will their safety be assessed? What protocols are in place should emergencies occur?

There are already well-established Christian organisations working in this area, such as  Open Doors and Release International. I’m sure there’s room for some more – but any new group surely needs to demonstrate a thorough understanding of what work in this area entails. Instead, the “Rescue Christians” website puts most of its emphasis on advertising Shoebat’s various books and videos on the evils of Islam.

There’s also the danger that Shoebat’s inflammatory approach to Islam will actually make life more difficult for Christians seeking refuge. As I’ve blogged previously, Shoebat’s utterances are so extravagant as to be absurd: he claims that he knows that Obama is a Muslim (“Islam could not defeat us by destroying the twin towers. But they are able to defeat us by sneaking in their man”), and he wishes that “nukes” would “take care” of the Muslim world. He also teaches that the Bible predicts the coming of a Muslim Anti-Christ.

Last July, Pam Geller and SIOA announced that they could provide “safe houses” for ex-Muslims in the USA. The announcement seemed to me to be a stunt rather than a serious project, and I note that there are no reports that any “safe houses” have been requested or provided since then.

Pam Geller and the Ulsterman

Charles Johnson draws attention to a new post by Pamela Geller, in which she cites a website that claims that Osama bin Laden only met his end because the military overrode the wishes of the President: “it appears Obama had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the OBL operation”, she tells her readers. Johnson notes:

Her source for this ridiculous rant? A site called “NewsFlavor” (it has the flavor of news without all those fattening facts), featuring unprofessional “articles” written by anonymous Internet non-entities. This article is credited only to “Ulsterman.”

Stay tuned, because the killing of Osama bin Laden has motivated Geller to plumb new depths of bad craziness. I have a feeling she’s just getting warmed up.

“Ulsterman” has been posting online for several months; he purports to be receiving information from a “White House Insider” (or “Deep Thoat 2”), and his “scoops” have included “Obama Battling Severe Depression” and the like, written in breathlessly polemical style (he’s also a birther, naturally). However, “Ulsterman” has been debunked as a hoax for months; this blog documents fake sources and names that have appeared in “Ulsterman’s” articles on a range of other subjects.

In November, Sam Gefland of the Twin Cities Daily Planet published circumstantial evidence that “Ulsterman” is a certain Anthony G. Martin; Martin has a Twitter feed and Youtube channel under the name “Welshman”, and he writes regular pieces praising and echoing “Ulsterman” on Conservative Examiner:

It would appear that the explanation is simple: Anthony G. Martin is the blogger known as Ulsterman.  He writes unfounded articles and publishes them on Newsflavor, a website that will print anything without any sources.  Then, he references the Ulsterman articles to back up his opinions.  Because his opinions have no facts to back them up, he creates the facts.  And, at the end of the day, it may not just be a political argument that he’s trying to win.

Triond pays its writers for how many clicks their articles get.  The more people who read the Ulsterman articles, the more money he receives.  Even though this amounts to a few pennies or maybe dollars per month, it is still clearly a motivating factor for Triond writers, who often make up outrageous and false stories in hopes of earning easy cash. 

Martin denies being “Ulsterman”, but it’s a pattern I’ve seen before on the internet: sites of ambiguous or obscure authorship that appear to know each other intimately, and which use citations to compensate for and distract from the fact that purported information being peddled cannot be traced back to any authoritative source. The hope is that the false impression of independent endorsements and of a wider conversation taking place will eventually lead to the information trickling up into the wider blogosphere or media. For that to happen, you need someone higher up the food-chain you can hoodwink or who doesn’t care a damn about what’s true or what’s false, just so long as it serves their interests. Step forward Pamela Geller.

Martin also has a website called “Martin Christian Ministries” (again posting as “Welshman”), where he advertises himself as a “Pastor, chaplain, evangelist, revival preacher”, who is available for “concerts, preaching, Bible conferences, all on a free-will, love-offering basis”.

I wonder if John Bolton ever feels embarrassed that his endorsement continues to appear on Geller’s website, or for providing a foreword for her anti-Obama book?

UPDATE: Robert Spencer is flirting with the same material; Christian Right newssite OneNewsNow reports:

Many critics think Obama is trying to use bin Laden’s demise as a way to prop up his credibility in the foreign policy arena.

“He’s certainly going to try,” notes Jihad Watch director Robert Spencer.

“He’s already taken credit for it, even though a series of revelations [has] come out now that indicates that he was quite reluctant to do it and that it was other people on his team, notably Leon Panetta, who were ultimately responsible for it. Nonetheless, he’s been taking credit for it and [will] continue to do so.”

There’s also an absurd coda:

…he points out that though Obama may have Islamic leanings, that does not mean he favors terrorism, as he may oppose it as a matter of principle.

So, although Obama may be a secret Muslim, he might not be a member of Al Qaeda. Right…