Where the Rubber Doesn't Meet the Road

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Bush Administration officials are trying to warn kids about the dangers of prophylactics. Advice columnist Amy Alkon says:

They're hot to put warning labels on condom packets saying what they don't do: protect from genital warts. What do they think, kids will say, "Oh, we're going to get genital warts so we won't have sex at all?" Right. What they're more likely to say (while tearing off all their clothes for some nice unprotected sex) is, "Oh, why bother using a condom?"—putting themselves at risk, not just for genital warts, but syphillis and HIV.

Though for absurdist reasons, I kind of like the idea of the FDA Office of Device Evaluation—yep, that's the name—issuing warnings about what certain tools don't do. That toothbrush? Doesn't cure cancer.

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  1. Should materials for Abstinance Only sex ed courses come with warnings about what THEY don’t do?

    Like reduce sex. Or pregnancy. Or STDs.

  2. or make sense.

  3. Anti-condom hysteria has been a obsession for the Right since the AIDS epidemic reared it’s ugly head. Besides the belief that rubber avalibility will futher the erosion of America’s puritanical attitudes toward sex, conservatives have long claimed that condoms don’t really work against HIV because “the virus is far smaller than the pores in the latex material.”

    Of course I guess the latex gloves that health care professional use (not to mention Police when they impliment those messy body cavity searches) won’t work either, right?

  4. I’ll do things to you that are beyond all known philosophies. Wait until I get my devices!

  5. Another example of religious ludditism.

  6. “I’ll do things to you that are beyond all known philosophies. Wait until I get my devices!”

    Oooh, that sounds kind of sexy. I just hope the devices are UL-approved.

    Speaking of sex, my toothpaste did NOT turn me into an irresistable sex goddess, even though the TV commercial all but guaranteed it would! Who can I sue?

  7. what’s the big deal? i bet a LOT of people think they protect you from all STDs.

  8. Shh, heh2k, we’re having a mindless Bush-bashing session. Don’t interrupt with common sense.

  9. That toothbrush? Doesn’t cure cancer.

    Bad analogy. There isn’t a common presumption floating around that toothbrushes protect you from cancer. There is, however, a presumption that covering your skin with plastic will keep diseases from spreading.

    That’s not to say I’m into the whole FDA/regulation thing in the first place. Just pointing out the flawed logic in this particular rebuttal.

  10. The idea of mandating advertisers to carry government messages certainly predates the Bush administration. It started with warnings of disease risks in cigarette advertising, and at that point was reasonable. But the government has, characteristically, leaped to the notion that it is entitled to force advertisers to convey any message which the bureaucrats think is desirable. It’s forced speech, specfically at the expense of those who will be most adversely affected by the compulsion. This is allowed by the Emperor’s New Clause in the First Amendment: “except commercial speech.”

    There isn’t anything specific to the right or to religion about this pheneomenon; I’ve generally associated it with left-wing health nazis.

  11. Heh2k-
    Nobody would complain, I don’t think, if the label said “This DOES protect from A, B, and C; hoever, it does NOT protect from X, Y and Z.” But no–the label will say “Does not protect from X, Y and Z.” Many people, especially horny clueless teenagers, will therefore assume that they protect against nothing, so why use them?

    I don’t think the gov’t really wants to reduce AIDS or teen pregnancy or STDs–they want to punish people who have nonmarital sex.

  12. Where does a condom tell you that it protects you from all STDs? If kids think that condoms protect you from all STDs, then either a) the sex ed they already get should tell them that condoms help prevent (HIV, gonhorrea, etc) and don’t help prevent (gential warts, HPV, etc.) or b) their own damn parents should tell them. Should there be a warning on all ballots that say, “Warning: If elected, candidate may not keep promises”?

    Besides, isn’t the truely libertarian solution 0 “mandatory” warning labels?

  13. What they need to do is find a suitable price for the old rain coat !

  14. “There is, however, a presumption that covering your skin with plastic will keep diseases from spreading.”

    That presumption exists because it has this tendency to actually work. I’ll admit that condoms are not a silver bullet. Since we operate in a universe governed by Murphy’s Law, comdoms can break or leak, especially when they are not used appropriately. However, if given the choice between sex with a condom and unprotected sex, guess which one I’m going to pick?

    Of course the Mullahs on the christo-fascist side will tell us that “abstinence is 100% effective!” Yeah, but it’s also 100% boring. I’ll take the risks rather than die a virgin, thanks.

  15. “Many people, especially horny clueless teenagers, will therefore assume that they protect against nothing, so why use them?”

    Come on, doesn’t anyone remember going to public school? I had sex education four times in 8 years, starting in *fifth* grade. I understand that kids are retarded but not everyone’s Corky from Life Goes On… the idea that teens across the country will rip their condoms off when they read condoms don’t protect against genital warts is flagrantly dumb.

    You are being just as patronizing as They are.

  16. Brian-
    Actually, more and more schools are doing away with sex ed, or having abstinence-only classes, courtesy of the same religious pricks who want these new condom labels.

    So I reiterate: they don’t want to reduce STDs, pregnancy et al; they want to reduce non-marital sex, and punish those who choose to do it anyway.

  17. Of course, the ultimate answer for this would be to put our efforts into find effective cures and vacines for sexually transmitted disease. Of course, then the bible-beaters won’t be able to use STDs as a boogey-man against all that filthy, unchristian sex.

    And heaven forbid we find a cure for AIDS that comes from genetic research, particularly stem cells. When last I checked, the JEZus-freaks hate abortion just as much as they hate homosexuals.

  18. Whoops! Make that: “finding effective cures and vaccines…”

  19. Whoops! Make that: “finding effective cures and vaccines…”

  20. Shh, heh2k, we’re having a mindless Bush-bashing session. Don’t interrupt with common sense

    “Common sense” says that if a label is to be attached to condom wrappers, it should be a label listing the diseases and problems condoms are provably effective at preventing. That is how other medical products work.

    The problem with that, of course, is that a large percentage of social conservatives refuses to concede that condoms are probably effective at anything. They consider it important that nobody consider condoms effective at anything; thus, their willingness to support a “what it doesn’t do” label, but not a “what it does do” label.

  21. So who’s worse, the religious zealots who want these warnings to try to discourage people from having sex altogether, or the sex zealots who don’t want these warnings because they contradict the safe-sex mantra? It’s hard to tell, but one thing’s for sure: making well-informed personal decisions about sex is definitely out of the question.

  22. but i would think for libertarians in particular the idea that life is both risk and reward should be fairly comfortable.

    making well-informed decisions are easy. making perfect decisions…less so.

  23. Not to mention the fact that condoms actually DO offer protection from gential warts. GWs are spread from skin-to-skin contact. Obviously condoms don’t cover enough skin to make them effective against GWs, but what’s covered is protected. It ought to be embarrassing when the facts conflict with one’s official dogma, but the nature of zealots is that confronting reality only strengthens their resolve to deny it.

  24. “but i would think for libertarians in particular the idea that life is both risk and reward should be fairly comfortable.”

    Indeed, it is. If I go out and have sex with the aid of a prophylactic and I still get an STD, guess what? It’s still MY fault. unless I can somehow prove I was coericed into intercourse or that the comdom manufacture was knowingly making defective rubbers, I don’t have anyone to blame for my plight but myself.

    I don’t need a warning label to tell me that sex can be risky and deserves repect and responsibility, especially when it comes from those who don’t think I should be allowed to fuck unless it’s under the umbrella of holy servitude… I mean, wedlock.

  25. Well, in all fairness, if Catholic priests are dissuaded from using condoms they’ll leave more physical evidence and make it easier to prosecute their crimes… ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Josh — good point. I was appalled when I discovered that several of my lefty, “sex positive” female friends in their late 30s and early 40s didn’t know that condoms don’t provide reliable protection from HPV, or that HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer. A few of these ladies are quite sexually active and trust no information that comes at them from what they perceive as “the right.” It also took some convincing to get them to realize that their chances of having a pregnancy free of serious complications has been significantly diminishing since their early 30s.

    Lefty propoganda can also be a health hazard.

  27. “It’s hard to tell, but one thing’s for sure: making well-informed personal decisions about sex is definitely out of the question.”

    Explain to me again why we’re arguing about which government warning should be applied to condom wrappers (which, by the way, I find endlessly fascinating. I can’t count the number of times I’ve called off an entire session of debauched copulation because the wrapper text had me so absorbed. I’m always careful to not rip the warning text, just in case I need to read it again later) and not why the government has any business forcing this sort of statement in the first place?

  28. Before I get some strange looks, note that I am aware that the text I quoted was written in sarcasm, so I’m not criticizing it.

  29. db-

    We’re not debating over which gov’t warning should be applied. We’re lampooning a proposed gov’t warning, and observing that by comparison this one looks even more idiotic than the others. There’s a difference.

    And to the guy who said earlier that this was a Bush-bashing session: I count 5 references on this page to the President’s name (counting mine). The first identified “Bush administration officials.” (OK, that’s 6 references now.) The second was by you, accusing us of bashing him, even though his name hadn’t been mentioned in any of the replies. The third use was to say that this activity pre-dates the current administration. The 4th was in a reply to you, and the last 2 are in this post.

    Why is it that any time a thread is full of sentiments that might offend conservatives, we get accused of mindlessly bashing the current President?

  30. db-

    My reply above was written before your second post. Sorry.

  31. “We’re not debating over which gov’t warning should be applied. We’re lampooning a proposed gov’t warning, and observing that by comparison this one looks even more idiotic than the others. There’s a difference.”

    OK, good point. As long as we’re having fun at the expense of government, not simply the current administration (which is funny enough without the special treatment).

  32. As for the ?religious pricks? that want abstinence taught in school. Gasp! Omigod! Teach abstinence? Why it?s just like Reefer Madness all over again.

    The proper course is obvious; since parents don?t know shit from breakfast we must yield to the dictates of those self-righteous meddlesome PRICKS that are hell bent on teaching my kid how to put on a rubber despite their inability to teach him to read.

    Yet another argument on an unending list of arguments for the complete abolition of public education.

  33. since parents don?t know shit from breakfast we must yield to the dictates of those self-righteous meddlesome PRICKS that are hell bent on teaching my kid how to put on a rubber despite their inability to teach him to read.

    Well, yeah, if your kids can’t read, it’s pretty much fair to say that you as a parent don’t know shit from breakfast. ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. As for the ?religious pricks? that want abstinence taught in school. Gasp! Omigod! Teach abstinence? Why it?s just like Reefer Madness all over again.

    What the “religious pricks” in question want to do is prevent anything BUT abstinence from being taught in school. In other words: “no, we won’t tell you how to avoid pregnancy or disease in the event that you sex. Just don’t have sex, that’s all you need to know”. That attitude, even if it stems from pure motives, is dangerously stupid. When it comes to AIDS, syphillis, and pregnancy, ignorance is NOT bliss.

    You don’t need a school to teach abstinence; any parent is capable of that. What few parents are capable of is providing accurate information about the precise risks, and means of avoiding those risks, associated with sex. That is why schools should provide high-quality sex education.

  35. “The proper course is obvious; since parents don?t know shit from breakfast we must yield to the dictates of those self-righteous meddlesome PRICKS that are hell bent on teaching my kid how to put on a rubber despite their inability to teach him to read.”

    And what about the self-righteous, meddlesome PRICKS that are hell bent on teaching kids that pre-marital sex is immoral despite their inability to think?

  36. These peoploe who are so offended by the though tof sex ed in the schools: what did you think about my assertion that the government’s goal here is to punish people who have premarital sex?

    For me, the problem here isn’t that the government is forcing condom makers to put warnings on their packaging; it’s that the government forces them to use warnings which have dishonest implications which would lead folks to think that they are useless.

    Teaching kids that the only way to avoid STDs is to abstain from sex altogether is like teaching fat people that the only way to avoid obesity is to refrain from eating altogether. Both are unrealistic bullshit.

  37. Uh–that was supposed to be “people” and “thought of” and. . .well, you can probably see through my typos.

  38. Jennifer,

    I agree with you, but it’s hardly valid to consider as equivalent the body’s absolute necessity for food and the teenager’s strong desire for sex.

  39. Mark, I hadn’t noticed that those meddlesome pricks have had much influence during the last 30 years or so of sex ed. Not for lack of trying though.

    But see, that’s my whole point.

    You are so obviously right, I mean it is so prima facie self-evident that pre-martial sex is not immoral and those guys who say it is are just pricks. Or are they?

    You might be surprised that I mostly agree with you, with the exception of one really crucial distinction that seems missing from this thread.

    It isn’t the state’s business to teach my kid how to put on a rubber nor is it the state’s business to teach him that sex is immoral.

    Most of the population seems to think it either has to be Heather Has Two Mommies or Jerry Falwell’s Grade A Chastity Belts.

  40. Replace “necessity” with “need” and it makes more sense.

  41. TWC-
    If you ignore the Bible, the Koran and other arguments from authority, then what evidence have you that premarital sex is immoral? Heck, scientific evidence shows that, for males at least, regular orgasms reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

    Besides, this isn’t a matter of schools teaching kids to have sex; kids are doing it anyway, and schools are teaching them how to do it without having to die. In an ideal world the parents would do that, but that isn’t the case. And, if a parent is truly opposed to sex ed, his kid doesn’t have to attend.

    And how did Heather’s two mommies enter the discussion?

    DB-
    True, food is an individual necessity and sex is not, but both involve biological urges that cannot be wished away. Maybe I should instead compare abstinence education to those who would tell people not to scratch or put anti-itch cream on a mosquito bite–just use willpower to ignore the itch and it will go away!

  42. I have to throw in my schools ham-handed sex education when I was in 8th grade. The taught the girls how to put condoms on a banana and they showed the boys a diagram that looked like a cow skull (sorry ladies, but they do look like that). How useful is that? Teaching boys how to put on a condom is going to prevent a lot of broken condoms. Teaching girls how to put on condoms helps a little but, outside of bondage situations, is not a necessity.

  43. Dan et al,

    The term “religious pricks” is a pejorative term that was used early on in the discussion by Jennifer. I’m merely embracing it and fondling it and repeating it to make the point that it is pointedly dismissive and paints a whole lot of people with a very broad brush. FYI, I am not a religious prick–just a regular one (and I actually can recognize breakfast when I see it).:)

    The entire slippery slope of this issue rests on the fact that we have ceded our duty to educate our children to the state. That puts the stink of politics on everything about education and whichever group has the biggest club (sorry Ayn) is going to win. If that group happens to be religious pricks you get abstinence.

    Aside from that, we have a public education system in California that can’t teach half the kids to read and yet most of you seem to think they can do an adequate job of teaching kids to avoid sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy.

    While I?m sure that some kids have derived some benefit, the proof is in the pudding so to speak.

    Kids have access to knowledge of sex matters undreamed of by their unenlightened grandparents, the result of which has been a teen age pregnancy rate at least double what it was back in the dark ages before sex ed. Dude, that?s like using 10 gallons of fossil fuel to make 8 gallons of ethanol. It ain?t what I call success.

    And I agree that kids need to have accurate and honest information about sex. But I am not blind to the reality that public school sex education is about as effective in preventing pregnancy among modern teens as showering in a raincoat was for the parents of baby boomers.

  44. Dan:
    “What few parents are capable of is providing accurate information about the precise risks, and means of avoiding those risks, associated with sex. That is why schools should provide high-quality sex education.”

    But why AREN’T parents capable of providing this? Afterall they ought to know it themselves. And if they don’t they ought to be able to research it. It often seems that as a society we have more and more education and less ability to find out anything ourselves.

    Brian
    “Come on, doesn’t anyone remember going to public school? I had sex education four times in 8 years, starting in *fifth* grade. I understand that kids are retarded but not everyone’s Corky from Life Goes On… the idea that teens across the country will rip their condoms off when they read condoms don’t protect against genital warts is flagrantly dumb”

    I went through the California public school system and was only taught sex-ed in school as a small part of biology and health classes. The fact that a kid is exposed to x years of sex-ed doesn’t guarantee they will know ANYTHING. How much history does the average kid remember from school despite having years of the stuff, how much math? I would imagine it is very little. However, sex is admitedly a more interesting subject.

  45. Jen,

    I never said premarital sex was immoral.

    I said that sinners and fornicators would spend eternity writhing in unbearable pain in the theological place of eternal punishment if they ever dared to touch a man’s nasty before lawful wedded bliss.

    It’s not the same thing.

    You may have noticed that it doesn’t apply to guys either.

  46. Jennifer:

    “Maybe I should instead compare abstinence education to those who would tell people not to scratch or put anti-itch cream on a mosquito bite–just use willpower to ignore the itch and it will go away!”

    That’s a better one. Although it’s exactly what I do for mosquito bites, it certainly won’t work for everyone.

  47. “What few parents are capable of is providing accurate information about the precise risks, and means of avoiding those risks, associated with sex. That is why schools should provide high-quality sex education.”

    But why AREN’T parents capable of providing this?

    Because most adults don’t have accurate knowledge of the risks and precautions either. To name one trivial example: a sizable percentage of the American population (although, thankfully, a minority) do not believe that condoms can prevent the transmission of HIV.

    Afterall they ought to know it themselves.

    The two things parents are guaranteed to know is (a) how to have sex and (b) how to get pregnant. If your goal is for kids to have sex and get pregnant, then yes, parents are guaranteed to be capable of the job.

    What parents are not guaranteed to know much about is how to avoid pregnancy, and how to avoid sexually transmitted diseases.

    And if they don’t they ought to be able to research it.

    Sure, they ought to be able to, but most don’t.

    Sex education is, like literacy and math skills, something everybody needs to know. That is why schools should teach it — because parents should not have the right or the ability to deny their children needed knowledge.

  48. First, the cited Alkon text falsely implies that the “no protection against HPV” warning will be placed in lieu of language indicating the diseases that condoms do protect against. Package labels now say that condoms, if properly used, reduce the risk of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. That language will not be deleted under the proposal. Rather, it will be augmented by additional language clarifying that HPV is not one of the “other sexually transmitted diseases” that condoms prevent.

    Second, what horny kid reads the label on a condom anyway?

  49. Aside from that, we have a public education system in California that can’t teach half the kids to read

    Well one thing’s for certain — they failed to teach you basic math skills. The California illiteracy rate is five percent. That’s one-tenth of “half” (not all that bad, considering that about six percent of California consists of illegal immigrants from non-English-speaking countries)

    and yet most of you seem to think they can do an adequate job of teaching kids to avoid sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy.

    What you are arguing is that schools should be forbidden to impart knowledge to teenagers, on the basis of the fact that they will sometimes fail to impart knowledge to teenagers. That’s insane.

    Let’s take another look at California illiteracy. In five percent of cases, neither the school nor the parents manage to teach the kids to read. In ninety-five percent of cases, the combination of “school” and “parents” results in a literate child. We have NO data on how much of that 95% is the schools’ doing, and how much is the parents’; there are too many variables.

    Now imagine someone came along and argued, on the basis of that data, that schools should be forbidden to teach students how to read. The exact effect of such a policy couldn’t be known in advance — but *possible* outcomes range from “the illiteracy rate stays at 5%” to “the illiteracy rate climbs to 100%”. The effect of the policy will *never* be a drop in illiteracy, because by definition the only people who become illiterate are people whose parents are either illiterate themselves, or completely fucking useless as parents and teachers.

    Now look at birth control. The only kids who don’t already have access to accurate information about birth control and STDs are the children of parents who are too stupid, too religious, too self-absorbed, too naive, or too embarassed to impart the knowledge to their children. So in a worst-case scenario, state-run school-administered sex education will fail to impart good information to that percentage of children whose parents are fuckups. In a best-case scenario, children unfortunate enough to have inadequate parental instruction will have access to solid, accurate information about a crucial topic.

    In short, forbidding schools to teach kids about birth control and STDs will, at best, have no effect on pregnancy and disease rates among kids. At worst, it will see an increase. A policy whose effects can only range from “neutral” or “bad” is a stupid policy to follow. Requiring schools to teach kids about birth control and STDs will, at worst, have no effect on pregnancy and disease rates among kids. At best, it will see a decrease. A policy whose effects can only range from “neutral” to “good” is a smart policy to follow.

  50. Dan,

    According to the Director of Education at Reason Foundation well over 50% of students entering college cannot read at grade level and must take remedial reading in college.

    That is poor performance in anybody’s book and you are clearly confusing the ability to identify the term “Big Mac” on a menu at Mickie Dees with literacy.

    –Requiring schools to teach kids about birth control and STDs will, at worst, have no effect on pregnancy and disease rates among kids.–

    Except that statistically STD’s and pregnancies among target groups, namely teens, are far greater today then they were before schools taught sex education.

    The problem isn’t better. It’s worse. Education clearly isn’t solving the problem.

    On a slightly different note, I think it would be ever so cool if you could send your kid to a school that was known for it?s exemplary sex ed curriculum. Don?t you?

    Too bad there’s no such thing as choice in public education.

  51. Dan,
    I think that the flaw in your argument is that it assumes that parents are going to try their hardest to teach their kids regardless of what the school teaches. But I think that there is a high illiteracy rate, and a high rate of misunderstanding about the facts of sex, because parents assume that the job is being done by the state. If the schools don’t claim to be teaching a subject that the parents feel a kid needs to know, they will put more effort themselves into making sure their kids learn the subject.

    That is how it is possible for students to become statistically more educated in a subject once the schools stop teaching it, or before the school starts teaching the subject.

    I think a big recuring problem is the fact that so many parents fail to take full responsibility for the education of their kids, they assume that the schools are responsible for educating the kids instead of the schools being just an aid to the help parents ensure the education of their offspring. Also parents assume that the police are responsible for the morals of their kids (such as whether they are drinking or not). Neither the schools nor the government are capable of being responsible for children.

    That is one reason why I am in favor of vouchers, because to a small extent it makes the client of schools the parent, instead of the government. Maybe a first step to getting some personal responsibility of the raising of kids back to parents. Parents can decide whether they want their kids to be taught abstinence, or Heather has two momies.

  52. According to the Director of Education at Reason Foundation well over 50% of students entering college cannot read at grade level and must take remedial reading in college.

    So the definition of “illiterate” that you’re using is “unable to read well enough for college”? That’s a very interesting definition, but it’s not a terrible useful one.

    That is poor performance in anybody’s book

    It is poor performance. What it isn’t is what you claimed it was: “schools failing to teach half of students how to read”.

    you are clearly confusing the ability to identify the term “Big Mac” on a menu at Mickie Dees with literacy.

    I am “confusing” the ability to read and write with literacy. You are confusing college-level reading ability with literacy. The difference in our confusion is that mine corresponds to commonly accepted English meanings of the word “literacy”, and yours does not. Which, ironically, calls your own literacy into question. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Except that statistically STD’s and pregnancies among target groups, namely teens, are far greater today then they were before schools taught sex education.

    There are two possibilities here. One is that you are attempting to claim that the increase in teen sexual activity was caused by sex education, which is both laughably stupid and unsupported by any evidence. The other is that you are trying to say that sex education failed to prevent an increase in sexual activity; to that, I say simply that, statistically, STDs and pregnancies among teenagers are dramatically less common in schools with sex education programs than they are in otherwise-equivalent schools that lack sex education programs. Furthermore, nations with equivalent rates of teen sexual activity (the UK, Sweden, France, and Canada) have dramatically lower rates of STDs and pregnancy — and, not coincidentally, better sex education and access to birth control.

    In addition to that, teen pregnancy rose during the 1980s, when social conservatives forced a deemphasis of sex education, and fell during the 1990s, when the comparatively liberal Clinton administration encouraged sex education.

    The problem isn’t better. It’s worse.

    Violent crime rates dramatically climbed during the 1980s and 1990s, despite the fact that criminals were being arrested, police were patrolling the streets, district attorneys were prosecuting, and criminals were being locked up. Should I therefore conclude that police, prosecutions, and jail sentences do not deter crime?

    What matters isn’t that teen STD and pregnancy rates climbed; what matters is that, thanks to sex education, they didn’t climb as much as they would have otherwise.

    Education clearly isn’t solving the problem.

    Education clearly is solving the problem, since educated students are less prone to pregnancy and disease than uneducated ones.

    What you are also forgetting is that the religious right has fought tooth and nail for decades to prevent accurate sex education, and to prevent access to birth control, for teenagers. The result has been that very few schools have evey implemented effective sex ed. The fact that sex education is still dramatically effective in spite of religious pricks’ attempts to fuck it up is just one more argument in its favor.

    On a slightly different note, I think it would be ever so cool if you could send your kid to a school that was known for it?s exemplary sex ed curriculum. Don?t you? Too bad there’s no such thing as choice in public education

    Yes, that is indeed unfortunate. But I’m not sure how it bears on the argument at hand. I’m not a supporter of public education; I’m just an opponent of the belief that blind ignorance is preferable to public education. Especially since my tax dollars end up paying for the children of teenagers who get themselves knocked up.

  53. Sex ed is responsible for the fact that so many teens hump like bunnies? Okay. And I suppose driver’s ed is responsible for the fact that teenage drivers have such high accident rates. Sheesh.

  54. Crimethink-
    Actually, there are many cases of parents who killed their children–or rather, allowed them to die–and got off for religious reasons. Skeptical Enquirer magazine has many such instances listed each month. Just a month or so ago, some jackasses tried to “exorcise demons” out of their autistic child, who suffocated to death as a result. I believe the parents got probation. Parents are allowed to refuse life-saving surgery and life-saving drugs for their children. The most egregious case was something I read about in Newsweek about four years ago–some white-trash piece of shit joined a no-medicine cult. His faith remained firm and steadfast as he watched his two sons fall into diabetic comas and die, but then, a few months later, the man started having back pain, and so he dropped out of the cult so he could take pain medicines.

    Yep, I have no need to question God’s will when it comes to letting my children die, but getting an owee-owee boo-boo on my own back is something else entirely.

  55. Wow, everyone in this thread is showing some disturbingly authoritarian tendencies. Half of us think that parents who are too religious or stupid to teach their kids about condoms and STDs should have no right to keep them out of “sex ed” classes

    Could you take a moment to explain why it is authoritarian to deprive someone of their “right” to deprive a third person of their rights? Perhaps you could familiarize me with which Constitution, or which philosophy, lists “The right to keep your children ignorant” as among the fundamental rights of humankind?

    Children are not their parents’ property. They are individuals; they have a right to hear beliefs that their parents don’t approve of. It is only if both the parents refuse to allow the teaching AND the child, without being coerced, agrees, that a case could be made that mandatory sex education is a form of state authoritarianism.

    But wait a minute — not so fast!

    You see, the government pays parents to raise children — every single parent in America who has claimed the dependent tax credit for his or her children has accepted a government handout. Ditto for any parent who accepts school vouchers, who who enrolls their child in public school, or who enrolls their child in a private school that accepts federal money. The government — or, more specifically, the democratic society that funds that government — has the right to place mandatory requirements on the decision to accept those handouts.

    Would you consider it acceptable for the government to say “if you accept the dependent deduction, or school vouchers, or public school enrollment, or government-backed college loans, et. al, you must agree to mandatory sex education for the child in question”? That seems fair to me. And don’t give me that “the parents paid taxes, they have a right to the service” crap; I pay all manner of taxes for services the government doesn’t see fit to let me use. Furthermore, the average parent receives more child assistance than he pays for in taxes, simply because of all the money leeched from childless people for that purpose.

    So, yes, I will concede that parents who refuse the government’s *financial* assistance in raising their kids, and whose children of their own free will agree with their parents’ assessment that sex education is bad, shouldn’t be coerced. Nor should they ask the government for AFDC assistance when the dippy little bastard inevitably knocks someone up, or for Medicaid assistance when he contracts syphillis.

  56. I think it is safe to say from the comment above that poice, prosecutions, and jail sentences to not solve the sitution. Or that they do not, on thir own, even deter crime enough.

    Ah, so now we’ve moved from “does it deter” to “does it deter ENOUGH”, with “enough” left conveniently undefined. I have no response to that, nor is any possible; you’re evading the point, not responding to it.

    And the same can be said of teen pregnancy and the spread of STD’s, and the ability of public education to curb it enough.

    As I noted, numerous western nations, with children every bit as sexually active as American children, enjoy teen pregnancy and STD rates dramatically lower than our own. The difference? Their sex education programs teach birth control and disease avoidance; few of ours do. All of the available evidence demonstrates with perfect clarity that sex education programs which include accurate information on birth control and disease prevention — e.g. how to use a condom — dramatically reduce teen pregnancy and STD rates.

    Bear in mind that until recently, “sex education” in the United States meant “abstinance-only sex education”. The idea of, for example, teaching kids how to *use* condoms and other forms of birth control, didn’t even begin to catch on until the late 1980s and 1990s — after which, unsurprisingly, teen pregnancy rates began to plunge.

    The argument now is that because thorough sex education failed to completely eradicate teen pregnancy within a few years, we should abolish it in favor of the sex education plan that was a catastrophic failure for decades. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sick.

  57. Dan-
    I LOVED your last two posts. But I must point out that in America there’s already a precedent allowing parents to keep their children abysmally ignorant–Amish parents can pull their kids out of school after eighth grade, thus ensuring that if the kid ever decides he wants to leave Amish country he’ll be woefully unprepared. (I have long been opposed to this, by the way.)

    Here in America you can mistreat your kids to the point of death, but as long as you claim “religion” it will be okay. Example: say I have a kid who has appendicitis. If I refuse to get him an appendectomy because I’d rather not spend the money, I go to jail after he dies. If I refuse the appendectomy because my RELIGION says it’s a no-no, I get sympathy because my kid’s dead.

    Some of the posters on this thread apparently believe that their kids ARE, in fact, their property. I recommend that these people learn to love bedsores, because in forty years they’ll be writing irate letters to Ann Landers, wondering why their kids stuck them in substandard nursing homes and never bother to visit.

  58. Jumping in late here, but I could not resist an expression of incredulity at both the frequency of occurence as well as the content of the question “Why can’t parents teach (…) themselves?”
    Could it be that it is at least in part because these very parents are themselves products of the “education” system?

    Shirly Knott

  59. this may be naive on my part, but bruh…THEY HAD KIDS!!!!!!!!

    like, ya don’t need a first aid class to figure out if you stab yourself in the ass, yer ass is gonna bleed.

  60. because you figure that out the first time you stab yourself in the ass, i should have said.

  61. Jennifer,
    The Amish thing, and the appendectomy thing is sad. But I am pretty sure that the bigger problem in America is that there are parents who want to give their kids the best education but can’t, more than the few parents who want to give their kids a bad education on purpose.

  62. having taugh what amounted to remedial sex ed throughout college (i was the guy with the slideshow of all the dripping sores) i can vouch for the fact that children, even from very nice (financially) homes at a private college, are stone cold fucking stupid nine times out of ten when it comes to sex, reproduction, infection transmission, etc.

    doing the condom over the banana thing with people in their early 20s was sad. trying to explain that regular testing for people with multiple sexual contacts is a good thing was sadder.

    “won’t the clinic think you’re a slut?”

    and so on. the list of truly bone-stupid, think about it for five minutes dear lord please type questions was endless. and forget how poorly we did trying to give away condoms…the only college group that we were able to ditch a few hundred on was the gay and lesbian group, who, to their credit, tended to be extremely well-versed in disease prevention.

    i went to a public school that had virtually no sexual education. they explained everything but the sex, the condoms and the STIs. which is like taking an engineering course before your first drive.

    i think an adequate balance is found in “the responsible abuse of pleasure.” not likely to become the standard of anything anytime soon.

    and maybe i’m crazy, but one of the good things about america in my mind is that parents can withold medical treatment from their children on the basis of faith. same reason i’m for abortion – i’d rather have the parent involved do the killing than the government. i’d just rather people follow their own conscience than someone else’s. maybe the JW’s are right, after all, and i don’t wanna fuck with their steeze.

  63. Dan,

    Thank you for the demonstration of the authoritarian attitude I was referring to. You would coerce parents to accept your opinion of what their children need to know.

    You may consider a teenager who hasn’t been instructed in the use of a condom “abysmally ignorant,” but that’s your own opinion. There are plenty of people who would think that a kid who hadn’t been exposed to the Bible is “abysmally ignorant,” but I doubt you would agree to forcing kids in public school to take Bible classes.

    No, the child is not the property of the parents, but they do have the responsibility, and hence the authority, to decide what (s)he is exposed to. They surely have much more of a right to do so than you.

  64. Jennifer,

    Example: say I have a kid who has appendicitis. If I refuse to get him an appendectomy because I’d rather not spend the money, I go to jail after he dies. If I refuse the appendectomy because my RELIGION says it’s a no-no, I get sympathy because my kid’s dead.

    And then you go to jail.

    Yes, parents have gone to jail for child neglect etc *despite* the fact that their religion forbids medical treatment. When the life and basic human rights of a child are *directly* jeopardized by the action or inaction of the parents, then the state has the duty to get involved. This is not true, however, in the case of teaching them how to do stuff that their parents (and a significant portion of the community) consider immoral.

  65. dhex,

    What were lesbians using condoms for? ๐Ÿ˜€

  66. covering toys to ease cleanup later?

    there are thousands of legitimate uses for condoms. for example, unlubed condoms, cut down the middle, form an excellent and cheap dental dam, which *can* help prevent the spread of warts and herpes by preventing skin on skin or saliva on skin contact.

  67. Wow, everyone in this thread is showing some disturbingly authoritarian tendencies. Half of us think that parents who are too religious or stupid to teach their kids about condoms and STDs should have no right to keep them out of “sex ed” classes; and the other half think that parents who are lax and licentious must submit their kids to “abstinence education.”

    How bout the schools worry about teaching the kids how to read, write, and do math — things that all parents would agree to — and leave the controversial stuff to the decision of the parents, whom we expect to provide for the child financially etc.

  68. A guy in my lab used condoms for an experiment because he needed a flexible plastic membrane.

    Imagine justifying that expense on the grant application!

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