Indignant conservative groups are protesting this week's opening of the film "Kinsey," (search) denouncing it as propaganda seeking to glorify the researcher they blame for inspiring the sexual revolution.
"Alfred Kinsey (search) is responsible in part for my generation being forced to deal face-to-face with the devastating consequences of sexually transmitted diseases, pornography and abortion," said Brandi Swindell, head of a college-oriented group called Generation Life that plans to picket theaters showing the film.
"Kinsey," starring Liam Neeson (search) as the pioneering professor, opens in limited release Friday and nationwide in the following weeks.
Its writer-director, Bill Condon (search), has described the film as "a sort of litmus test for one's own ideas about sexuality."
"Kinsey was a very complex man, in some ways damaged beyond repair," Condon said. "I thought it was important to present it all, and let people form their own opinions."
Although the film portrays Kinsey as a flawed adulterer, conservative critics nonetheless contend it is too admiring. They argue that it omits unflattering details about Kinsey's interest in pedophilia and exaggerates the accuracy of the findings in his groundbreaking sex-behavior studies of 1948 and 1953.
"Instead of being lionized, Kinsey's proper place is with Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele or your average Hollywood horror flick mad scientist," said Robert Knight, director of Concerned Women of America's Culture & Family Institute.
Condon, in a telephone interview Wednesday, said Kinsey's research is open to legitimate criticism, but suggested that those denouncing his film were "confusing discussion with endorsement."
"Their real aim, by maligning him and destroying his reputation, is to pretend that the last 50 years didn't happen," Condon said. "Kinsey affected everybody's life, and I hope the film gets a little breathing room for people to see it and think about it for themselves."
Focus on the Family, an influential Christian ministry based in Colorado Springs, Colo., said in a review of the film that "Kinsey" mocks Christianity and condones immorality.
"To say that it is rank propaganda for the sexual revolution and the homosexual agenda would be beyond stating the obvious," wrote reviewer Tom Neven.
Focus on the Family and its allies blame Kinsey for a host of ills — including clearing a path for candid, comprehensive sex education programs espoused by organizations like the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.
A SIECUS spokeswoman, Adrienne Verrilli, said the sexual revolution of the 1960s would have happened even without Kinsey, as the birth control pill became widely available, Playboy magazine grew in popularity, and the feminist movement encouraged women to rethink their roles and relationships.
"There were a lot of smart, dedicated people trying to find out more about sexual behavior," said Verrilli, though she noted that sexual research faces political opposition even today.
"We can't help people have healthy sexual lives if we don't know what they're doing," she said. "Asking people about their sexual behavior doesn't make them have sex."
Swindell, interviewed by telephone from Boise, Idaho, said the planned Generation Life protests are intended to discourage people from seeing the film, at least until they do their own research on Kinsey's life and works.
She said protesters would be handing out anti-Kinsey pamphlets and carrying signs with slogans like "Criminal, Not Hero."
"If this was a true documentary, they would have included more negative information," Swindell said. "They're sugarcoating the issue, trying to make him look like a genius who all of humanity should be grateful for."
Robert Peters, president of the conservative watchdog group Morality in Media, saw an advance screening.
"Kinsey wasn't wrong about everything," Peters said. "No question there was an unhealthy shame about sex that prevented people from getting help. ... There were a lot of people who were suffering."
"A film could have been produced that would have shown that side of Kinsey but also shown the hell that he released," Peters added. "That's part of Kinsey's legacy — AIDS, abortion, the high divorce rate, pornography — and there's not anything in the film to connect him with it."