Republican Convention 2008

Bristol Palin and the Underestimating of Social Cons

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Some hack needs to coin the phrase "Juno Vote," and it might as well be me. Kibbitzing about the Bristol Palin story yesterday with a delegate (a lady!), I got another whiff of 2007's surprise hit for social conservatives. "Of course I don't approve of the behavior," this delegate said, "but I think they're making the right choice, and this humanizes her."

I don't feel one way or another about the behavior or the choice, and I'm even not a big fan of humans, but it reminds me of why on the topic of good ol' American humpin', I sometimes feel more sympathy for social conservatives than for people I agree with politically. I don't subscribe to the idea of trying to rein in all sorts of private erotic behavior, but I can respect their view of sexual desire as something destabilizing, crazy-making, unpredictable, and fundamentally threatening to plenty of social norms. That, in my view, is an argument for free love and wild sex, not against. But at least the social cons have a sense that eros is more than just another boring political issue or side in the culture war. (Not to mention that I'm unsure being reluctant to have some public school time-server teach your kids how to screw in a sex-ed class marks you as a knuckle-dragging naif.) As his comments the other day indicate, Dan Savage is one of the few people who can hold both a politically mature view of sexual freedom and a realistic idea of how wacky and uncontrollable sexual desire is (and I'm not just saying that because Dan Savage is fine).

Put another way: It's inevitable that everybody's first response to the knocked-up story focuses on political calculus, given that the grandmother-to-be is trying to become the vice president. But if your first reaction to hearing about this is to say "This is the result of abstinence-only education," and you actually believe that, your view of sex is as goofy and clueless as that of any bible thumper who worries that electing the wrong president will cause men to leave the natural uses of women and burn in their lust one after another.

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  1. When will we see a post on something a little more important like, I don’t know, how she tried to ban books she thought were obscene from the Wasilla Public Library? That scares me more than whether her daughter got knocked up or not.

  2. Dan Savage is one of the few people who can hold both a politically mature view of sexual freedom…

    Oh kiss my pale hairy ass Tim. Get over your man-crush on Dan Savage. While I applaud and admire him for the santorum campaign. He’s far too willing to engage in journalistic shit slinging. “Mature” is a word that should never be applied to Dan Savage.

  3. juno is a terrible terrible movie.

  4. It’s inevitable that everybody’s first response to the knocked-up story focuses on political calculus

    Hold on there, chief. What about those of us who couldn’t give two shits?

  5. But if your first reaction to hearing about this is to say “This is the result of abstinence-only education,” and you actually believe that, your view of sex is as goofy and clueless as that of any bible thumper

    Savage has been saying over and over and over on the Slog that this is the result of abstinence-only education.

  6. “This is the result of abstinence-only sex education” is a misstatement of the actual argument, “This is a result of ordinary sexual behavior, as performed by undereducated dumbasses.”

    Abstinence-only sex education doesn’t cause teenagers to have sex; life does that. Abstinence-only sex education operates from the premise that it can interfere with that dynamic. Well, not so much, really.

    Abstinence-only sex education didn’t cause this to happen; it just failed at its proclaimed mission of preventing it, as objective studies have repeatedly demonstrated it does.

  7. But if your first reaction to hearing about this is to say “This is the result of abstinence-only education,” and you actually believe that, your view of sex is as goofy and clueless as that of any bible thumper who worries that electing the wrong president will cause men to leave the natural uses of women and burn in their lust one after another.

    Both arguments fail to acknowledge the fact that you can teach them abstinence only and safe sex, and yet at the end of the day, the teens will do as they please. It is also moronic to automatically condemn a parent for the conduct of their teenage or adult offspring because by that age, they’re old enough to know what’s right and wrong, and choose to disobey it.

  8. But if your first reaction to hearing about this is to say “This is the result of abstinence-only education,” and you actually believe that…

    …you are daft, since neither Bristol Palin nor the dude had abstinence-only education.

  9. I didn’t think “This is the result of abstinence-only education.” I did wonder why we’re spending money on it when teen pregnancy is regarded as cute, at least when it happens to rich Republican white girls. If Chelsea had gotten knocked up at 17, would Republicans be cheering or jeering?

  10. In the ideal America, where the government is (for the most part) out of education, individual schools and school boards should decide how to teach their students about sex education.

    However, I am weary about “comprehensive sex education” like Tim. I wouldn’t want my children to be taught how to give blowjobs or that if their worried about getting pregnant and don’t have a condom, they can just do anal.

  11. If Chelsea had gotten knocked up at 17, would Republicans be cheering or jeering?

    Nice talking point, did you think of it yourself?

    We don’t know the answer to that question.

    We do know at least 2 paper bags would have been employed at conception.

  12. If you think comprehensive sex ed means blowjob lessons you are a little confused. Would you rather have your kids taught that condoms fail most of the time and defenseless women hurt inside if they don’t become mommies?

  13. I wouldn’t want my children to be taught how to give blowjobs

    Why not?

    or that if their worried about getting pregnant and don’t have a condom, they can just do anal.

    If they can’t figure that out for themselves, they should be sterilized for being too stupid to procreate.

  14. Yah, hate to burst your bubble 🙂 but public school sex ed does not in fact “teach your children how to screw” in any district that I’ve ever heard of. And I expect we would have heard of it!

    On Palin: the daughter probably *did* have abstinence-only sex education where the most important sex education always happens: at home. And it seems entirely plausible that if she had had more extensive education about birth control technology she would not be headed for motherhood at 17. So I think it’s perfectly legitimate to bring this up. If Palin was an advocate of keeping the government out of our bedrooms and our private parts, she might get a pass; given that she thinks the government ought to be in there peering into my private life (who I can marry, what happens in nearby wombs), I think it’s entirely fair that we get to peer into hers…

  15. I’m not sure from which old movies and TV shows I got my stereotypes about Alaskans and hardy pioneer folk, but my first reaction was that its keeping with Wild West tradition to get knocked up then get married, in that order.

  16. “at least the social cons have a sense that eros is more than just another boring political issue or side in the culture war…”

    Are you kidding? It is precisely the social conservatives who have reduced eros to politics — as in “abstinence only education” programs that everyone who is in the least way apolitical knows are a hopeless farce that only result in exactly the situation the Palins now face.

    Put differently, it is not a question of “having no sympathy” for the Palins; it is a question of “having no sympathy” for the social conservatives who have yet again proven themselves to be detached-from-reality jackasses.

  17. But at least the social cons have a sense that eros is more than just another boring political issue or side in the culture war.

    Oh please. They’re using this story for their own selfish purposes every bit as much as (certain) Democrats. They’re orgasming right now over the fact that she didn’t get an abortion.

    And it seems entirely plausible that if she had had more extensive education about birth control technology she would not be headed for motherhood at 17.

    “Entirely conjectural” is more likely. Unless someone points to some statistics showing that teaching birth control leads to fewer babies, the argument’s useless.

  18. or that if their worried about getting pregnant and don’t have a condom, they can just do anal.

    Taking it up the ass is worse than getting pregnant? Wow.

  19. it seems entirely plausible that if she had had more extensive education about birth control technology she would not be headed for motherhood at 17.

    Do you really think that she and her boyfriend didn’t know how babies were made? That their idea of birth control was to blast away at storks circling the chimney with the family shotguns?

  20. I’m still not convinced she’s human. I require more evidence.

  21. I am not an evangelical but I grew up around them and dated a few. In my experience evangelicals are not Catholics. They do not have the fucked up guilt complex usually associated with Christians. To put it more bluntly; evangelicals like to screw. They really do. The Churches put out all of this propaganda about women doing their wifely duty and the secret joys of marriage.

    Certainly, they are against public porn and sex before marriage. Once married, however, they really have few hangups about sex behind closed doors. Your typical young evangelical chick is dying to put out for the guy who gives her a ring or in some cases promises to give her one.

  22. All this talk about sex ed might mean something if there was any evidence that any significant number of teenage mothers did not already know about birth control before they got pregnant.

  23. “Entirely conjectural” is more likely. Unless someone points to some statistics showing that teaching birth control leads to fewer babies, the argument’s useless.”

    Certainly no one who ever used a condom ever got pregenant. Of course everyone is totally cautious and uses birth control at all times. No one ever got horney and said screw it, lets take our chances.

    Come to think of it, this whole privacy thing is overrated. This girl owes the FBI a polygraph test on national TV explaining how many times the alleged father nailed her and what kinds of birth control she did or did not use. It is a matter of national interest.

  24. Or else, what Abdul said.

  25. “Put differently, it is not a question of “having no sympathy” for the Palins; it is a question of “having no sympathy” for the social conservatives who have yet again proven themselves to be detached-from-reality jackasses.”

    What the fuck does that even mean? No they can’t be forgiving and think it is none of their business. They must be the crazy bigots I think they are. How is it detached from reality to see a teenager get pregnant and go “those things happen sometimes”?

  26. Pshh. Have you not noticed that conservatives stopped talking about sex around the time Newt Gingrich got caught having an affair whilst attempting a coup for the exact same behavior in the president? They don’t care about sexual morality anymore–it would be ridiculous if they made an issue of it these days. Society has matured, and it certainly doesn’t help that every foot-tapping, page-screwing politician happens to be a moralistic Republican.

    No, they only have one issue left, abortion, and Bristol, like her mother, is a shining hero to them for carrying her unplanned baby to term. These people (not all social conservatives, only their surrogates who appear on teevee) only care about one single solitary issue, to the exclusion of torture, economic fairness, education, illegal wars, name it. And they don’t even care about it except when it helps their corporately-owned party win elections. There is nothing to admire here but the sheer vastness of the cynicism.

  27. P.S.

    I should have said, they stopped talking about heterosexual sexual morality in the late 90s. They milked homosexuality for what it was worth up to 2004 when it won them the presidency. Anyone’s moral rectitude increase since that time? No, but Republicans sure did win that election.

  28. Taking it up the ass is worse than getting pregnant? Wow.

    The Catholic-bashing on this site has really gotten out of hand.

  29. Psst,

    If you care about economic fairness beyond making sure the market is allowed to operate, you are moron.

  30. But if your first reaction to hearing about this is to say “This is the result of abstinence-only education…

    Oh, quit being a naive scold.

    I think it’s a safe assumption that if this was one of Obama’s girls winding up pregnant the SoCons would NOT be so forgiving. The SoCons would be the FIRST in line to politicize it.

    No matter how soft and fuzzy you feel about SoCons, their pattern is forgive only their own for the things they attack in others.

    It’s the social conservatives that proclaim that we wouldn’t have social problems like teen pregnancy and abortion if everyone would just take their families to church and let us pray in schools.

    So when a SoCons daughter winds up preggers, in my book, they don’t get to play the “she’s only human” card and get off without getting some justifiable comeuppance.

    It’s a perfectly rational repudiation of SoCons feeble understanding of social problems.

  31. These people… only care about one single solitary issue

    And even that issue is more about power and control than “defending” life. When’s the last time you heard a social con tell you that they’re pro-life, and therefore against the death penalty, since after all – Jeezus taught us that every human soul can be redeemed? When’s the last time one of them said “hey, wait a minute, bombing other countries into the stone age should be a LAST resort, y’know – in self defense!”

  32. Dan Savage is a bestiality advocate!

  33. “If you care about economic fairness beyond making sure the market is allowed to operate, you are moron.”

    The market being allowed to operate without controls is the antithesis of economic fairness. It means a few plutocrats gobble up all the wealth and pass it to their children and everyone else suffers. This happens every single time controls are lifted, and (I realize this is enemy territory), frankly your religious devotion to something that has never been tested, let alone proved, doesn’t make me the moron. Indeed the few times it has been attempted (usually at the kind behest of the American CIA), poverty soared and citizens revolted. Perhaps they’re morons too. Or perhaps they are rational creatures who like to be able to afford food.

    I like you libertarians when you are for the government not interfering with what I do with my genitals and such, but your economics have long been debunked by all but a few fanatics, most of whom found their niche in the same Republican party trying to undermine personal freedom.

  34. John,

    I prescribe four consecutive listenings of the Frank Zappa classic, “Catholic Girls.”

    “With the teeny-weenie mustache” Let’s give it up for the Portuguese community of northern Rhode Island woot woot!!

  35. I didn’t think “This is the result of abstinence-only education.”

    Me neither. I thought it was the result of Bristol fuckign her boyfriend.

    And it seems entirely plausible that if she had had more extensive education about birth control technology she would not be headed for motherhood at 17.

    I kind of doubt it. Birth control is not exactly a big secret, especially among your upper middle class; kids who want to use it, will, and those who don’t, won’t, regardless of whether they’ve been bored by it in a classroom.

    Besides, for all we know, the babydaddy used a rubber, and, as they are prone to do, it failed. Or Bristol was on the pill, but botched her schedule. Mom isn’t opposed to contraception, you know. Just abortion.

  36. Birth control isn’t a big secret.

    People whose beliefs and parents prevent them from securing it know perfectly well how to get it.

  37. Kibbitzing about the Bristol Palin story yesterday with a delegate (a lady!)

    *gasp*

    Aw, HELL no!

  38. “People whose beliefs and parents prevent them from securing it know perfectly well how to get it.”

    There is no evidence that any significant number of teeagers who got pregnant did not know about birth control.

    Places in the USA that have “comprehensive” sex ed have roughly the same levels of teenage pregnancy as those that don’t.

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