Clayton Cramer's K-Tel Classics
We hate it when our friends become famous, goes the song. And one of the odder experiences that the internet offers to us old-timers is that of watching our former sporting companions in the increasingly nostalgic exercise known as "usenet flamewars" become transmuted through the magic of ceaseless self-promotion into Acknowledged Authorities on one of the subjects in which they were previously considered Tiresome Cranks.
So it is with the strange case of Clayton Cramer. A decade ago, Cramer was such a notorious blowhard that he rated his own, not at all complimentary section in the (now long defunct) net.legends FAQ, on account of his nigh-pathological inability to refrain from endless debates about homosexuality, no matter how inappropriate the forum. His very name still prompts shudders of immense retrospective annoyance from the people who frequented Usenet at the time. He was a crank's crank, and his arrival in a discussion group was like the sudden appearance of a bloody inscription on the mantelpiece — Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin — or a group of circling buzzards: a grim herald of another formerly useful and/or amusing forum about to enter its death throes.
But of course, nobody reads Usenet any more, and blogs are the flavor of the moment. And in the blogging format, Cramer has come into his own. To the surprise of many, he's turned out to have interests other than counting the average number of sexual partners of the average gay man: Cramer has now restyled himself as an "amateur historian", and in 2002, he emerged to claim his 15 minutes of fame while playing his part in the debunking of Michael Bellesiles' "Arming America".
Since then, Cramer has become a small but noted authority figure in the online libertarian punditocracy, enjoying regular citations by nominally respectable commentators like Glenn Reynolds and Eugine Volokh, among others.
Clayton seems to be enjoying his current run of luck as a "respected amateur historian" a bit too much to indulge in hysterical gay-bashing these days, but as a veteran of several "debates" (if that's the word) with him from back in the last decade, I do like to make sure that his work from that era is still in general circulation. So, presented for your approval, via the magic of google, Clayton Cramer's once and forever magnum opus, the grim capstone of half a dozen Usenet newsgroups, The Mother of All Flame Wars: Scholarly References On Sexual Orientation & Child Molestation. This is presented without inline commentary and in its original form; suffice it to say that a modicum of skepticism is advised. If you fall for this, you'll fall for anything. Behold, readers, as "amateur historian" Clayton Cramer attempts, with the help of Redbook magazine and handful of self-help books, to "prove" that granting civil rights to homosexuals will spark a tidal wave of child molestation!
I'm not in any position to cogently criticize Mr. Cramer's second amendment scholarship, and the general consensus seems to be that he knows his stuff on that score: I'm happy to assume that that's correct. But based on Mr. Cramer's creative approach to the truth back when I had the inclination to personally joust with him (just to save you a bit of time: the money quote from the above-linked exegesis is where he manages to dig up an article from from Redbook Magazine in the 70s that claims that homosexuals perpetuate themselves via assaultive pederasty; this is presented as ipso facto proof the subseqent scholarship on the subject is a coverup), I would suggest that if Clayton Cramer claimed that the sky is blue, you'd probably want to rent a spectrometer and double-check to be sure.