Friday, December 03, 2004

Condoms! Sex! Congressman Henry Waxman! 

Sometimes issues are just a slam-dunk. This has always been one of those issues for me.

A Henry Waxman-led Congressional committee is out with a report on federally-funded abstinence-only programs, one of W's favorite things. They forbid instructions on the use of contraceptives. In the teachers' manual for one of these programs, it says:

"The popular claim that condoms help prevent the spread of STDs, is not supported by the data." This is an out-and-out falsehood, and it makes me extremely angry. The report also says that some of the programs get basic scientific facts wrong, stereotype both men and women based on no data at all, and tell kids that girls can get pregnant by touching someone's genitals! But I'm going to actually leave the appalling distortions and factual errors aside to focus on the broader issue. After all, we're used to appalling distortions and factual errors by now.

I have a policy to refrain from calling people stupid. Here I make an exception. Yes, we must tell kids that abstinence is the #1 way to be safe. But if you think they're going to have more sex because someone tells them how to protect themselves if they do it, then you're an idiot. And you're endangering children. Sorry. Same goes for handing out condoms. You need more than a condom to have sex. You need to locate someone who will have the sex with you. If you have located such a person, then you are having sex and need a condom. If you don't, you'll fill it up at the water fountain and drop it out the study hall window onto one of your friends, like I would have done at 15.

Nevertheless...just for fun, let's see what effect ignoring the existence of contraceptives can have on different groups of teens:

1) Kids who don't want to have sex because of deeply held religious beliefs. These kids will have sex three weeks into their freshman year of college, so they best know about condoms.

2) Kids who are having more sex than the teacher. Many aren't using condoms, and damn well should be.

3) Kids who would like to have sex, but can't find someone willing to take up their cause. Should probably still know about contraceptives.

4) Kids who want to have sex, but are a little worried about the consequences. The "consequences" part of the brain will eventually lose out to the "beer" part. They'd best know about condoms.

5) Kids who want to have sex, but who will ignore their friends, TV, and their own raging hormones and will be swayed by the abstinence-only education. This is the group that the religious right is targeting.**

** group does not exist

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