Just say no to just say no

By Phil Plait | November 19, 2007 10:00 pm

A note to anyone who wishes to comment on this post: Due to the nature of this post I can imagine how things can degenerate quickly. Please keep it mature and clean, OK?

On this blog, I try to stay within the borders of reality, and let it be known when government doesn’t. That is, when the government supports programs that are clearly contrary to all evidence, or suppresses programs that are reality-based (you can read that as science-based if you prefer; in almost all cases the two are interchangeable), I let it be known.

So here we go again. Yet another independent study shows that abstinence-only sex education doesn’t work.

“At present there does not exist any strong evidence that any abstinence program delays the initiation of sex, hastens the return to abstinence or reduces the number of sexual partners” among teenagers, the study concluded.

Shocking, isn’t it? After all, wouldn’t you expect a teenager to simply deny one of the strongest instincts bred into humans after billions of years of evolution just because you tell them to? After all, don’t they do everything else you tell them to, like clean their room and do the dishes?

Sheesh.

It really is completely clear, and you can’t wish (or pray) it away: teenagers want to have sex. Telling them not to, lecturing them, trying to brainwash them, won’t work. This isn’t a simple decision to make, like whether to have a peanut butter sandwich or a bowl of soup. This is a primordial instinct.

What the study found is that comprehensive education efforts together with abstinence support do in fact have an effect. In other words, just telling them no is worthless, but educating them about sex, teaching them about what it is along with supporting abstinence does have a positive effect.

Who would have thought that actual, y’know, eduction might have an effect?

Oh yeah. Everyone but the Bush Administration.

And Congress too, apparently. The article goes on to say:

A spending bill before Congress for the Department of Health and Human Services would provide $141 million in assistance for community-based, abstinence-only sex education programs, $4 million more than what President Bush had requested.

141 million dollars. I certainly hope they don’t approve the bill (though I bet they will, given their history). That’s the cost of a Mars probe, or a lunar lander. You could build an incredible ground-based telescope with that kind of money. Or fund research into stem cells, biological studies, health studies.

Or, of course, fund an excellent sex education effort that actually will have a positive effect, keeping kids from having sex and making sure that the ones who do do it safely.

But heaven forbid we actually teach them anything.

Sheesh.

Tip o’ the chastity belt to C&L.

Comments (114)

  1. autumn

    I must have been about four years old when I asked my mother (an RN) The Question. Her response:
    “When a man and a woman are in love, the man puts his penis into the woman’s vagina. The man has sperm, which meet the woman’s egg, and a baby begins to grow. After nine months, the baby is born.”

    I didn’t ask again until I had figured out what those words meant, and realized that my explanation was probably much more accurate than those of my peers.

    At the time, I think she simply knew that the information overload would keep me quiet for a year or two.

    I try adhere to similar standards with my own son and stepsons, not shying away from the word “penis”, for example, but I’ve found that every word, proper or slang, that references the groinal area is equally hilarious to pre-teens.

    Last story, I promise, but I find it funny.
    My four year-old son was sitting on my bed with me and the family dog, which is a medium-sized mutt, able to step over a sitting toddler quite easily. As the dog took said step, my son looked up and asked “Is Duke a boy?”
    “Yes, he is”
    “Is this his penis?”
    Yes, but don’t grab that, it’s his.”

    The next day, my son is scribbling on a piece of paper and calls me over, wanting me to show him how to draw the dog. I comply as best I can, but not well enough.
    “Where’s his nose?” I draw a little black nose.
    “Where’s his feet?” I draw some little doggie feet.
    “Where’s his penis?” I stammer something about leaving that out of the drawing, which, to a toddler is apparently infuriating.
    He spent the next full minute shouting at me to “Draw Duke’s penis! I wnat you to draw Duke’s penis!” while my wife and I tried, ever so much, to not bust a gut laughing.

  2. chris

    ohh i get first responce and i agree with you. though i am not sure what i can do to help givin that our highly intelegent govt knows exactly how to take care of us. look at how well govt housing is doing

  3. DTdNav

    I know, tell them they can’t have sex until they clean their room and do the dishes.

    Better yet, tell them they MUST have sex because it’s good for them. Reverse psychology, it worked for Life cereal.

  4. Troy

    Ignorance should never be disguised as education. That’s exactly what abstinence education is. Fear tactics, brainwashing, viewing life with blinders…sounds like religion!

  5. chris

    ok autumn beat me. but had a good story so all is well

  6. DTdNav

    @ autumn

    Great stories! LOL!

    My mom was an RN too. I knew more about how sex worked by the time I was in 5th grade than most of my teachers. Maybe that’s why I didn’t get any until I was 20. I knew too much. Hmm, I guess education DOES work. Anyway, I had all the kids saying “sexual intercourse” instead of … you know, the usual. I guess I also informed my kindergarten teacher that in no uncertain terms I did NOT have a belly button, but an umbilicus. I pressed the point until she schwacked me on my gluteus maximus. (yes, I’m that old)

  7. Quiet_Desperation

    I don’t care what they do as long as I don’t have to fund the upbringing of their little mistakes.

    Have at it, kids.

    Watch this movie for further illumination:

    http://www.netflix.com/Movie/Idiocracy/70028899?trkid=189530&strkid=1282493553_0_0

    I declare it the most prophetic film ever made.

  8. Impium Orexis

    More prophetic than Demolition Man? Pshaw.

    Have a joy-joy day!

  9. I recall a cartoon years ago that compared ‘sex education”(as abstinence only) to Driver’s Education.
    This is a car… never get in one.

    J/P=?

  10. Steve H

    What Has Atheism Done for Us?

    Ok, your turn. Please give specific examples…..

    As for teen sex? You are responsible for your own actions. Deal with it!

  11. Sili

    DTdNav reminds me of a puzzling experience of mine a few years back.

    I was in the uni pub with some other post grad. students – and one post doc even – all more or less younger than me. To my surprise they all stared at me as if I were mad (I may be, but that’s besides the point) when I mentioned “social intercourse” – I think in the context that I wasn’t particularly good at it.

    Luckily one of the junior faculty (only a few years my senior) came to my rescue, confirming that -I was indeed using proper English.

  12. Steve H

    Oh I am sorry….

    This is a NUMBER ONE SCIENCE BLOG…

    You do original and quality scientific research on this blog, so this must be very important.

    I should not make fun and I should also honestly participate in this scientific survey of human opinions.

    My answer: You are responsible for your own choices in life.

  13. Huh – I would also think that $141 million dollars could go a long way towards expanding SCHiP.

    I don’t think that Steve H really gets the concept of blogging, do you? Scientists just shouldn’t have any opinions. They should only ever and always write about science stuff and do research on the blog.

  14. Steve H

    I am 53 years old and a grandfather….

    Back when I was a teen, abortions were illegal, but they happened every day. If a woman survived the “coat hanger” form for of an abortion, she was damn lucky. If it must happen, I want a woman to have it done by a doctor and done safely.

    My daughter got pregnant in an effort for force a married man to divorce his wife and be with her. That was her choice, and it was perhaps the most vile thing a woman could do. Today, she must live with what she did.

    Today, she hates that man, but she now has a lovely daughter that we are all very proud of.

    If she had an abortion, I would never have talked to my daughter ever again!

  15. tacitus

    What Has Atheism Done for Us?

    And this is pertinent to the current thread because?

    And actually, specifically in this particular case, if the politicians and special interest groups (read religious right) backing the funding of these programs weren’t afflicted by hidebound, religious dogma, they wouldn’t be wasting our (the taxpayers) money on programs that at best don’t work, and at worst may lead to more risky sexual practices in the long run.

    Of course, one doesn’t have to be an atheist to know that, but apparently it seems to help in cases like this. Sometimes the best societal outcomes happen to line up with religious teachings, but sometimes they don’t. That’s why we need to use science to distinguish between the two.

    Things change. Surprisingly enough, condoms and reliable birth control methods weren’t all that commonly available in and around Palestine 3,000 years ago. But then, many of the women were married off in their early teens anyway, so I guess even abstinence only programs probably weren’t all that useful then either!

    P.S. I wonder how many of those responsible for promoting this useless program through Congress actually practiced what they preach? Very few, I would wager and, given what we know about Dubya’s past, almost certainly not the Decider himself.

  16. autumn

    Steve H, (and I really hope that you aren’t, by some infinitesimal chance, my older brother),

    Atheism has created the United States, or, to be more accurate, a complete disregard for the opinion of the almighty created our country, and has allowed it to prosper.
    Without utter disregard for your god’s thought, our founding fathers and mothers (give props to the better halves, whose letters probably hastened many votes to accept the Declaration of Independance) could not possibly have broken with a God given Realm. The idea that a people did not require a god to help them run a government is arguably the only original thing about the Declaration, and the following state constitutions, which soon adhered to the US Constitution’s framework of “no religious test” and the lack of mention of god.

  17. tacitus

    Back when I was a teen, abortions were illegal, but they happened every day. If a woman survived the “coat hanger” form for of an abortion, she was damn lucky. If it must happen, I want a woman to have it done by a doctor and done safely.

    So I assume you’re saying that making abortions illegal again would not stop people from having abortions anyway? That would seem to be most likely outcome. In fact, probably what would happen is that only the poor women would have the risky backstreet abortions. The wealthy ones would likely be able to find a doctor (for a little cash under the table) to have it done safely, or perhaps go abroad to have it done.

    I’m sorry that your daughter put herself and you through all that, but I’m not sure what it has to do with the inefficacy of abstinence only education.

    The way to reduce abortions is to provide good sex education which includes teaching abstinence, but also includes teaching about condoms, birth control, and how to use them properly (not just scare stories to frighten kids into not using them even when they do eventually have sex). They should also teach kids, boys and girls, that “No” really does mean “No”, and that no one should be pressured into having sex before they are ready.

  18. Steve H

    autumn:

    My sister is SUPER DUPER RELIGIOUS and everyone is going to Hell.

    Myself? I switched over to Wiccan almost 30 years ago. Not for the religion, but for some training that I needed at the time.

    Autumn, for some reason, I rather doubt that I am your older brother, unless you are about to lecture me about being a follower of Satan. LOL

  19. Steve H

    “The way to reduce abortions is to provide good sex education which includes teaching abstinence, but also includes teaching about condoms, birth control, and how to use them properly (not just scare stories to frighten kids into not using them even when they do eventually have sex). They should also teach kids, boys and girls, that “No” really does mean “No”, and that no one should be pressured into having sex before they are ready.”

    ABSOLUTLY NO ARGUMENTS WITH ANYTHING JUST SAID!

    You just said everything that I believe, better than I could have done.

  20. Steve H

    I need to explain something here…

    As a teen, object would fly around the house and hit people. It got so bad, that I would have to put on a football helmet when I went to bed at night.

    When things like that happen, a teen is usually around. Although I have always believed in science, eventually I realized that I was “it!”

    I asked every religious leader that I knew to help, but nobody had any answers. Wicca taught me how to control it, and being hit by objects soon ended.

    Oh well, that is what happened when I was a teen, and to this day, I still have absolutly no idea why.

  21. Geophysicist

    How does abstinence pass for sex education anyway? That’s like having a maths curriculum where your not allowed to use numbers.

    Put it this way prudes, would you rather that your precious little snowflakes learned what’s what in a safe and responsible environment? Or would you prefer they be forced to be autodidactic and learn it all themselves through sequential experimentation?

    Young ones will learn through theory or practice, it’s your call because avoiding the subject just ain’t an option.

    I’m going to be a dad myself soon, must confess I learned the fun way, but If my kid’s old enough to ask a question, then he’s old enough to get an answer, reality is a fascinating place.

  22. Steve H

    Geophysicist:

    Your son can do anything that he wants, if he is willing to take responsibility for his actions.

    Hopefully, that is the lesson that you have been teaching him…..

  23. tacitus

    Hey Phil, I believe you have your very own little troll. (At least that’s the charitable explanation).

    Perhaps some expedited thread pruning is in order.

  24. Lcedar

    The Federal govt should not be funding these kinds of programs, but perhaps it chooses to because parents arent doing their jobs. Teaching abstinance is a poor choice, but kids do gain something from learning some self disipline, and this seems to missing from a lot of our youth.

    Both political parties are guilty of intruding on the jobs of parents, teachers, coaches etc. Too many laws, and two many lawyers in govt. The result is runaway spending on social programs, and increased dependence of the populace on govt. Why is it the Federal govts job to fund and regulate sex education? Perhaps its because the politicians are such experts at social intercourse that they naturally feel theyre experts on sexual intercourse as well.

  25. Steve H

    tacitus:

    This TROLL will exit now.

    Oh well, this old grandfather wanted to say a little something about this subject from personal expierience, instead of only theory.

    Maybe, just maybe, someone else understood what I was actually talking about.

  26. Steve H

    tacitus:

    One last comment:

    I have only had sex with two women in my life.

    Both of them were my wives.

    Been there, done that…

    You know, some male humans actually know how to take responsibility for their own actions!

  27. The government does stupid things. Tell me something I don’t know. The government wastes copious amounts of my hard earned money. Tell me something I don’t know! Life is precious, women should have a choice, children need education, government sticking its’ nose in… You don’t know what…yadda yadda…educate my children as I see…BLAH BLAH BLAH…If they can spend ALL THAT MONEY…yackity smackity…Why can’t they get those poor castaways off Gilligan’s Island?

    Didn’t this used to be about ASTRONOMY?

    Pardon me. I have to go look at some stars.

  28. autumn

    Then why did it take two wives? Weren’t you spiritually aware of your one, true love?
    Or did your first marriage collapse because your ideas of what a woman might want physically had not been subjected to proper amounts of emperiments (and likewise to women raised to think of their first sexual partner as their last)?”
    Just askin’. No offence intended.

  29. Accurate sex education is the only effective method of discouraging teenagers from having sex.

    A teenager’s biology tells him/her to have sex. The equipment has arrived, and longs to be used. Add in peer pressure and the basic perversity of the human spirit and if the only thing you tell your teen about sex is not to do it, the most likely result is that they will.

    If you tell them that if they have sex they put themselves at risk for things like pregnancy and disease, really SELL them on the point, then maybe they have a chance in hell of making a responsible choice.

    It’s a poor kind of father who would disown his daughter for having an abortion.

  30. Steve H

    tacitus:

    In High school, I grew up with a wonderful female friend. She got pregnant from someone else and did not know what to do. She was my best friend for years and I would do anything for her.

    I had her spend the night at my home (my parents were on vacation) and insurred that EVERYONE at the school knew about it. If she wanted to claim me as the father of her child, then I was willing to do that for her. Debbie was that special to me.

    She decided to have an abortion instead…..

    Oh well, time for this TROLL to crawl back under his bridge.

  31. “Or did your first marriage collapse because your ideas of what a woman might want physically had not been subjected to proper amounts of emperiments (and likewise to women raised to think of their first sexual partner as their last)?”

    autumn, I’m not sure whether this statement is more hillariously naive or ridiculously offensive.

    Marriages fail for many reasons. Most of them have nothing to do with sex.

  32. “If she wanted to claim me as the father of her child, then I was willing to do that for her. Debbie was that special to me.

    She decided to have an abortion instead…..”

    You should take the time to thank her if you still know how to reach her. She made a responsible choice and took on a lot of pain to save your life.

  33. Steve H

    Autumn:

    “Then why did it take two wives? ”

    My first wife had to “find herself” and divorced me after 10 years. She married again, but divorced him three years later.

    My second wife and I have been married for 22 years now, and we fall in love with each other more each day.

    You know, after car and airplane accidents, when we have both been in the hospital and a few spare parts make us humans once again…

    That taught each of us how special we were to each other and why we are so much in love.

    Hey, you did ask!

    Troll crawling back under his bridge.

  34. Steve H

    “You should take the time to thank her if you still know how to reach her. She made a responsible choice and took on a lot of pain to save your life.”

    ABSOLUTLY!

    That is why I support abortion when it is the right thing to do. In her case, that was the correct choice, but I had to give her that option.

    Even today, I also know that I did the correct thing, by giving her that choice.

  35. Steve H

    JediBear;

    “You should take the time to thank her if you still know how to reach her.”

    Actually, three years ago, I did finally track Debbie down. Today, she has a wonderful family in Atlanta Georgia and is also a very proud grandmother. She ended up having two boys and a girl.

    Troll crawling back under his bridge….

  36. csrster

    “As for teen sex? You are responsible for your own actions. Deal with it!”

    Steve – I wouldn’t disagree with you there, but isn’t it a bit of a “motherhood and apple pie” sentiment? The point is that in order to be able to take responsibility for ones own actions one has to have enough information to understand the choices available – and that applies to sex education as much as it does to personal finances or bicycle-riding.

  37. Steve H

    csrster:

    If this troll is allowed back out…

    “The point is that in order to be able to take responsibility for ones own actions one has to have enough information to understand the choices available ”

    Absolutly.!

    Everyone should be taught the financial responsibility that will result because of their choices. This will not end next week, but when a child is involved, you are responsible for the next 18 years!

    Ok, every parent wishes that it would be legal to lock their child in the basement for 18 years, but we are not allowed to get away with that. What they do after they first see the Sun for the first time, is not our problem.

    Oh well, instead, we must teach them to take responsibility for thier own actions, as we train them to become adults. Is that not the primary function of a parent?

    GROWN – now I am sounding old!

    Yup, time for this old and very warty troll to hide under his bridge once again. Yuck, I am even turning a little green.

  38. Jonas

    Steve H, you are very difficult to understand. What is your point?
    Please, explain yourself in plain English without any anecdotes.

  39. gazza666

    He chose an unclear way of saying it, but other than the alleged belief in telekinesis I don’t think Steve H is really disagreeing here. He’s essentially saying that people should take responsibility for their actions, which I can’t really disagree with (a lot of frivolous lawsuits would disappear if this happened, for one thing).

    It’s difficult to argue that abstinence only education is a good idea even if it worked, which it clearly doesn’t. Funny how many of the same people who want “Intelligent Design” taught alongside evolution don’t want “safe sex” talk alongside “not having sex”.

    Hell, “condoms only” education would be bad too. In fact, there aren’t too many uses of the word “only” that are a good idea for education. The one exception would be “facts only”, but I’d be prepared to concede that if they teach the gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster alongside their “other” ID theories – I’ve read the Bible (the surest possible way to become an atheist, I reckon, although personally I’ve never really been anything else), and I’ve read the Pastafarian equivalent, and frankly the latter is a lot more believable. Beer volcanoes and strippers beats harps and wings any day.

  40. John Phillips

    Too true Phil, to see the effect that a good sex education program has one only needs look at that oh so sinful country The Netherlands. Probably one of the most comprehensive sex education programs in the West allied with the lowest teen pregnancy rates. But hey, why let the facts get in the way of a religious position, they have rarely done so willingly in the past after all.

  41. Sergeant Zim

    I always find it interesting that Denmark has some of the best sex education of any industrialized country, while the US has perhaps the worst.

    The rate of marital virginity is far higher in Denmark than in the US, while the abortion rate, and STD rate is much lower in Denmark than in the US.

    Coincidence?

  42. PK

    “Funny how many of the same people who want “Intelligent Design” taught alongside evolution don’t want “safe sex” talk alongside “not having sex”.”

    Yeah, teach the controversy!

    PS. Sex education works so well in the Netherlands because we shipped most (not all!) religious nutters of to the New World ;-)

  43. PK

    “Funny how many of the same people who want “Intelligent Design” taught alongside evolution don’t want “safe sex” talk alongside “not having sex”.”

    Yeah, teach the controversy!

    PS. Sex education works so well in the Netherlands because we shipped most (not all!) religious nutters off to the New World ;-)

  44. PK

    crap! sorry about the double post.

  45. JT

    True story: As a teacher of junior high kids in an “abstinence-only” school district, I got to witness the lack of success firsthand. One part of our curriculum (which is designed by a committee of parents, as per law) is to tell students that the only 100% effective form of birth control is abstinence. One day as I was walking to my classroom with a stack of papers from the copy machine, I heard a seventh grade girl tell another, “Mrs. ___ told us that condoms don’t work, so my boyfriend and I don’t bother using any.” I marched them straight to Mrs. ___ and asked her to set them straight. I’m not sure what the outcome was, as I no longer teach there, but I can make a prediction about these girls’ lives.

  46. Michelle

    Yay for teen sex with condoms! Hey, you should enjoy your teenage years the way you want to. And let’s face it, we’re all born for fiddles.

    Abstinence is just… well, retarded. Teenage boys learn pretty young what that thingie is for, and so does little girls. As long as they match with folks their age it’s not a bad thing if they know how how to protect themselves. Which unfortunately is sometimes not clear enough since lots of schools go insane over “Hey we can’t put condoms in school! We can’t allow them to know or else they’ll have sex!”, which is why STD counts are high (I count up pregnancy as a STD. Ha.)

    And zim: No, it’s no coincidence. I mean, if folks are brainwashed enough that omg pre-marital sex is bad, this will happen.

  47. boggis the cat

    Sex education alone wouldn’t bring the US into line with Denmark. Social attitudes (and hypocrisy around sexuality in the US, specifically) are quite different and it is these attitudes that cause the problems.

  48. jrkeller

    It’s curious (or maybe not) as to why no one has pointed out that both houses of Congress are controlled by the Democractic Party. I thought that the 2006 election would get rid of woo-woo science, but obviously not.

    Personally, the best way to ensure that your kids get a proper sex education is to teach them yourselves. All three of my children have known the mechanics of sex, and birth control since the age of six.

    Sergeant Zim that’s an interesting statistic. I would have never guessed that.

  49. Grand Lunar

    I loved you story, Autumn. Funniest thing I’ve ever heard! How do you resolve the situation? Or does it still remain unresolved?

    “After all, wouldn’t you expect a teenager to simply deny one of the strongest instincts bred into humans after billions of years of evolution just because you tell them to? ”

    Must not have been too strong with me. I still remain….er, unused.
    I figure I’m either not normal or just a loser.

  50. Hmmmm

    The developer of sex education curricula has conducted research and concluded that comprehensive sex education curricula has a positive effect. (according to the article)

    This just in! A representative from Tylenol has conducted that taking pain relieving medicine reduces inflammation.

    I guess it pays to read the whole article before commenting on it.

  51. Grand Lunar

    Oh, to be pedantic, humans haven’t been around for billions of years.
    Millions, yes (well, our ancestors anyway), but not billions!

  52. BaldApe

    The logical disconnect that proponents of abstinence only “education” suffer from is this:

    Abstinence is 100% effective in avoiding STDs and pregnancy.
    Telling kids not to have sex is not.

    The problem is, they think that telling kids to do or not to do something will be effective. They live in a Leave it to Beaver dreamworld where the kids wouldn’t dream of going against their parents’ wishes.

  53. Daffy

    jrkellar,

    Phil gets slammed all the time for not criticizing Democrats. Then when he does it, you act like he didn’t.

    Must be another “liberal media” plot.

  54. Peptron

    What’s the funniest is that when I was in highschool we WERE talked about abstinence, but not the way Bush seems to intend.

    Basically: you don’t want a baby, then don’t put your penis in her vagina. That does NOT mean you cannot have sex, there are gazillions other ways to still have sexual fun that don’t involve coitus. So yeah, some classes had a very Kama Sutra-ish bent to them. Not sure this is what those people in the US are thinking, but it STILL counts as abstinence. :)

  55. Cindy

    I teach at a private boarding high school, so I’m used to being around hormone-charged teenagers. Fortunately, my school does have a course that not only teaches about birth control but also about relationships.

    Another reason why abstinence only courses don’t work is not only is it going against strong hormone-driven instincts, but also against how the brain is maturing. In recent years, scientists have discovered that the decision making parts of the brain (frontal lobes, if I remember correctly) doesn’t fully mature until the mid-20’s.

    If we’re going to brain-wash our kids, I much rather have it be “having sex, must use birth control”.

  56. Darth Curt

    What’s wrong with giving the baby up for adoption? Unless the mother’s life is in danger or there was rape/incest involved I think that that is a much more preferable option over abortion. I know of quite a few people that can’t physically have children of their own and would love to adopt, but haven’t been able to because the waiting lists are too long. You have sex and get pregnant (and I feel that both partners are pregnant, even though the female is the carrier) do the stand-up thing and see the pregnancy through full term (the consequense of your action), and if you don’t want the baby for whatever reason, let him/her be adopted by someone who will love him/her and care for him/her.

  57. jeff

    Everyone knows that if you tell a teen not to do something, it’ll become an irresistible urge. Sex education is immeasurably important. Teaching abstinence only incites curiosity. The Bush administration’s motives have never once considered the welfare of the U.S. and its citizens, so trying to force their dangerously narrow religious beliefs onto our secular, pluralistic society, is only about their personal views, like Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking on your door to preach to you, uninvited and unwanted. And I have nothing against them if they’d just stop that. Teaching abstinence also runs alongside the Bushie’s “faith-based initiative” programs which go against the constitutiion’s implied separation of church and state. it’s all about what Bushies want and not what is right for the country. Although teaching abstinence is not new to the country and its religious freaks, the teaching of abstinence never results in its intended effect. Kinda like Howard Stern has told about cops coming to teach his class about the dangers of drugs and showing what they all look like by bringing in examples, AND explaining the affect each drug has on a person. His lesson from the cop only made him more curious, and made drugs sound more tempting. Sorry to use the Stern example. I really don’t like him much anymore, but I certainly remember that story.

  58. Well, I managed to abstain throughout all of high school and most of university, as a matter of logical choice rather than OMG SEX IS TEH SIN.

    Then again, my borderline schizoid personality may have something to do with it…

    Abstinence-only programs are of course idiotic in the extreme, but I feel that the “we were made for fiddlin” mindset, while certainly more true in a base animalistic sense, is equally irresponsible, given how these people whose fiddlin’ we’re concerned about lack the emotional and intellectual maturity to make decisions with the sort of extreme consequences involved. How I see it, a comprehensive sex education curriculum, similar to those used in Scandinavia and the Netherlands, which completely demystifies sex and emphasizes that no, it’s not just fiddlin’, and when the decision is made you’d better be damn sure to take adequate measures to protect all involved or it’s your own damn fault, is for the best. Something that neither encourages nor completely denies, but does indeed offer ‘just the facts’ in such excruciating detail that at least maybe some people lead to knowledge will take the time to think.

  59. Thank you for your post. This is an important issues, and is clearly science related. In fact, it is as important as the creationism debate to the separation of church and state issues, and to the broader choice of whether we are governed by science or superstition. I believe the abstinence only movement isn’t about preventing pregnancy and STDs, but about preventing sex, and about sneaking a particular religious view through the back door.

    The science has come down firmly on the side of teaching young people the unvarnished facts (hope no one’s surprised), and preparing them to protect themselves from some very real risks. It’s a simple reality that only a small percentage are virgins on their wedding night anymore, and more and more women are delaying childbearing or choosing not to have children at all (cf http://jfi.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/28/8/1054). For most of us, celibacy is simply not a viable lifestyle choice. As a parent, I will have to face this reality when my kids are older, and my only consideration is going to be their safety and long-term happiness. I want my daughter to know that she can delay marriage and childbearing as long as she chooses (including the option of never), and doesn’t have to enter a convent to realize her choice.

  60. Scott

    How about if every time we see a pregnent woman we just poke our kids, point at the pregnent woman, laugh and say “hahaha she puts out. What a slut. hahaha”

    Make the kids so self conscious about it they’ll never want to have sex.

    Ok, bad joke but at least we finally found a topic that I totally agree with you all on:)

  61. Richard B. Drumm

    OK, I’m calling you out, Autumn, here’s a better story! :-D
    True, BTW…

    A little boy was sitting in the bathroom with a zinger on.
    His mama looked in on him and he told her this:
    “I like it better when it’s big!”
    She ’bout asphyxiated with laughter!

    Good post, Phil! Keep ‘em coming!
    Rich

  62. !AstralProjectile

    A little boy and girl are sitting on the curb when the boy says: “I got sumthin you don’t!” And he drops trou and displays his goods. The little girl is heartbroken and runs into the house. A few minutes later she returns with a smug look on her face and says: “My mon says that with what I have I can get what you have any time I want!”

    (Sorry for nearly off-topic post)

  63. > For most of us, celibacy is simply not a viable lifestyle choice.

    I’ve been managing well enough. :/

  64. Quiet_Desperation

    >”What Has Atheism Done for Us?”

    Oh, not much. Just helped free us from twenty thousand years (or more, perhaps) of rule by arbitrary tribal chiefs, lords and kings.

  65. I dunno, QD. The intellectual basis for modernism is usually credited to lie in deism than proper atheism (although the functional difference when it comes to a scientific, rational, Enlightenment world-view is marginal, at best).

  66. kingnor

    hooray for legislateing something that parents should be doing for free.

  67. Sergeant Zim

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2372/is_1_39/ai_87080446/pg_1

    That’s one of a large number of articles that compare U.S. sex education and results with the rest of the western world.

    Here’s an interesting quote from that article:

    “In 1995 the teenage abortion and pregnancy rates in the U.S. were about seven times that of The Netherlands (29.2 vs. 4.0 and 83.6 vs. 12.2, respectively; Singh & Darroch, 2000). Dutch policy makers use research, pragmatism, and an ethics approach that tries to teach responsibility in sexual decision making as the basis for their sexual health programs.”

  68. Gary Ansorge

    If thet’re old enough to ask, they’re old enough to be told the truth.

    One result of truth telling:
    I have three grown children, all professional and well educated and no grandchildren.

    My Bro, whos ex-wife was quite religious, was unable to provide sex education to his three daughters. Result:
    All three were pregnant before high school graduation. Now he’s a grandfather six times over,,,

    Hmmmm, maybe the real reason for lying about sex is to ensure there will be a next generation???

    What the heck constitutes a TROLL???

    Gary 7

  69. Greg

    Is it just me or does the tag > at the end of the blog post strike anyone else as serendipitous?

  70. Greg

    Something got deleted in my response –

    >

    was supposed to read 69 responses – or did Phil delete it already?

  71. Seneca

    As hard as it is sometimes to understand their motivation, this government is not made up of idiots. They simply have the job of forcing policies on us that are against our interests in our majority. These are often couched in terms of plausible nonsense–and aimed at our deepest fears–in order to enjoy any hope of gaining ascendancy.

    Congress pushes abstinence because the only intimate human relationships they promote (publicly, that is) are contained within the modern nuclear family, the primary socio-economic unit. This social institution is irreplaceble for transmitting the most vulgar and inhumane values of this society onto new generations and for transferring the costs of social necessities onto individuals. Its maintenance is indispensable to the continued accumulation of wealth and power by the ruling rich. And that continuity is one critical point on which the Democratic and Republican parties are in complete agreement.

    There is no compelling human interest in denying adolescents the joys of sexual experimentation and union. In fact, forbidding teenagers to respond in a normal way to their hormonal impulses is guaranteed to help create long-lasting sexual neuroses. When examined as an integral part of the social fabric, though, we can begin to see why it is that different social forces have a direct interest in seeking to control our sexuality.

    The roots of abstinence-only notions, anti-fornication legislation, virginal fetishism, anti-gay bias and other such seeming absurdities are to be found in the ancient development of bride-price. (This was an essential step in the development of society, but lacks any redeeming social quality today.) The accumulation and bequeathal of wealth required absolutely certain knowledge of lineage, which in earlier times could only be assured by checking of maidenheads, virtual imprisonment of married women, and witnessed births.

    This is our heritage, and we still live with some of the remnants. (Oh Mary, cruising with Johnny on his motorcycle will bring you nothing but trouble. Why don’t you go out with that nice Farnsworth boy? I hear he’s pre-med!)

    Religious sentiment is not the cause of the policy; it’s just one of several flavors of political appeal made to irrational fears.

    Scientific methods can be used to understand these political developments, as long as you are prepared to accept the possibility that the answers may well challenge other tenets of your thinking.

  72. zer0

    Hey, where did Steve H go? The rest of the comments were so boring without gramps interjecting something random every other post.

  73. Darth Curt

    It’s also in human nature to kill each other. Should we promote safe ways to do that? From a spiritual religious standpoint, procreation is about bringing God’s spirit children to earth (yes, it is also fun) and killing people is sending God’s spirit children back to him (which some people say is quite fun (sick twisted people, but people none the less)). Both are in man’s nature to do, but obviously killing is wrong, so why has the opposite of that become right? If we’re all apes then why lock up the murderers… chimps kill each other all the time… quite brutally (and they don’t even have guns!)

  74. Seneca:

    While I agree that modern irrationalities have a basis in past ‘certainties’ and modes of socioeconomic thought, it seems like something of a leap of faith (if you’ll pardon the phrase) to assume a conspiracy. Europe is, after many many years of religious conflict, moving towards a post-religious secular mode of living and social order, and it is not all too unreasonable to believe that at some point the States will do the same, especially as urbanization and scientification eventually overcomes the ‘superstitious agriculturalist’ attitudes that seem to hold back progress.

    When given two possible theses: 1) that elected officials are, through some sort of sinister use of intelligence, trying to maintain with cold calculation an outdated status quo, to wit, the nuclear family and 2) that elected officials are, through an irrational emotional attachment to the nuclear family and various religions and ideologies that support such a method of human organization, trying to maintain the status quo with which they feel comfortable; I am going to have to select number 2 on the basis that people are neither purely rational nor is it usually reasonable to ascribe to a sinister nature what can be just as easily ascribed to ignorance or natural inertia against new ideas, especially ideas as fundamentally rooted as the nuclear family.

    I’d also like to see support of the concept that the nuclear family “is irreplaceble for transmitting the most vulgar and inhumane values of this society.” I don’t see other options, such as creche or communal upbringing (a la Brave New World) as being intrinsically better; if anything else, the centralization of upbringing would give additional power to the community and, as human communities as currently sized are not capable of self-organization in an anarchic sense due to monkeysphere limitations, the State. Even a benevolent paternalistic State could be expected, through institutional inefficiencies and the fact that fallible humans would be in charge of its operation and course, would be more than capable of transmitting “the most vulgar and inhumane values of [its] society” onto the next generation.

  75. Seneca

    Darth Curt is dead wrong about human nature.

    Killing other people is contrary to human nature. Otherwise, we would not universally feel a such deep revulsion at the idea, and soldiers returning from Iraq would not have mental problems. Nobody would suffer pangs of guilt from dispatching another human. It takes something special to escape this nature.

    Human nature has changed over time, as the one thing that marks us as different from other species is our ability to pass on artificial culture to new generations. As we accumulate new experiences we continuously alter who we are, but there are some very deep commonalities we share from experiences gained by our forebears millenia earlier. Avoidance of killing each other; disgust with cannibalism; and the incest taboo are several that come to mind.

    Since his other main point lies completely within the realm of personal belief, it cannot be argued against rationally.

  76. > Killing other people is contrary to human nature. Otherwise, we would not universally feel a such deep revulsion at the idea

    And those who kill in the name of their God become blessed and proceed to paradise, allowing themselves to kill and be killed with zealous smiles on their faces. Human nature is a grim, ugly animal capable of great disdain, violence, and horror to those it doesn’t personalize with and great love, kindness, and beauty to those it does. It’s also a highly varied animal.

    > but there are some very deep commonalities we share from experiences gained by our forebears millenia earlier.

    > Avoidance of killing each other;

    If they’re members of our monkeysphere-grouping, be it tribe, neighborhood, or nation;

    > disgust with cannibalism;

    Unless that’s your source of protein, a la Fiji, or a source of power, like multiple other cultures across the planet

    > and the incest taboo

    One word: Hapsburgs.

  77. Darth Curt

    Seneca… we have been programmed to abhore killing, incest, cannibalism, etc, but if it is not human nature, why do cannibals still exist, why are so many people killed when others “lose control of themselves.” “It was a crime of passion” is an arguement that is often heard. Killing IS in our nature, we just educate and indoctrinate that it is wrong, and so when one does this they feel (rightfully) guilty. But let’s not go so far as heinous crimes. What about beating people to a pulp. People do this to each other all the time. My three year old punches his five year old sister when he doesn’t get his way. We are teaching him that this is wrong… nobody taught him to punch his sister. We don’t hit him or spank him, but somewhere deep down, there is an agression in us. It is up to us to teach the younger generation to repress these impulses. I think that sex ed should still be taught in school, but when they are teaching students that sex is ok and the right thing to do, but be safe, then that’s a problem.

    Women forget to take the pill and condoms break, but if first and foremost abstinance is taught as the number one way to not get pregnant and/or spread STD’s then what’s the harm. That’s the way we were taught in school. They also showed us forms of birth control with the warning that it is NOT 100% effective, so don’t bet the farm on it.

  78. Mc Atilla

    Even those arch-christians the highly trained, I mean, indoctrinated, professional celibates of the catholic priesthood can’t keep it in their trousers all the time. What chance do horny teenagers have? What is happening to education in the US?

  79. alfaniner

    Wow. More responses here than for the blog entry about your new stapler. Who would have figured?

  80. > Wow. More responses here than for the blog entry about your new stapler. Who would have figured?

    Sex.

    Stapler.

    Sex.

    Stapler.

    What holds the human imagination for longer?

    SEX WITH A STAPLER!

    Ouch.

  81. Seneca

    Centipede:

    I reject any notions of conspiracies. I also reject any notion that government officials are idiots. That’s why I chose to start my short analysis of the reason for the unified political support to the abstinence measure with a broad overview of the relationships between basic social institutions.

    I also reject the false dichotomy you proposed as the only two possible ways to explain the situation.

    The fact that you could not think of anything which might conceivably replace the functions of the nuclear family within the contraints of the social order confirms my point: this institution is indispensible to this society.

    Now, the family-as-an-institution is under continual stress as society changes and develops. The right to divorce was won a long time ago, and social acceptance of non-married cohabitation has been fairly well established. Hell, condom ads are now shown on television. There are much bigger changes on the way.

    But without compulsion from below (read: a politically powerful social movement), it is just too much to expect a very conservative governmental institution–even when controlled by liberals–to do anything to rock the boat.

    Supporting abstinence is a very safe thing for a politician to do, because it does not challenge basic social institutions. It’s really not that hard to understand their direct motivation.

    Perhaps I tried to dive too deep with the analysis for the space. But in any case, I hope it provokes some critical thought and study to combat all the crank comments we hear.

  82. > The fact that you could not think of anything which might conceivably replace the functions of the nuclear family within the contraints of the social order confirms my point: this institution is indispensible to this society.

    Actually, I offered two such alternatives: standardized creches and truly socialized upbringing with no parent-child standards. What I failed to see were how these alternatives were naturally superior, which would support your currently unsupported claim that the nuclear family is, and I again quote directly, the “social institution [that] is irreplaceble for transmitting the most vulgar and inhumane values of this society onto new generations.” Those vulgar and inhumane values (which you failed to specify) could just as easily be transmitted using creche or socialized upbringing, and could perhaps be even more easily transmitted via standardized meme control, suggesting that the nuclear family is not indeed irreplacable for transmitting these vulgar and inhumane values, whatever they may be.

    I admit to establishing a false dichotomy out of two extremes, but simply because one acts out of a modicum of emotional irrationality does not mean one acts out of idiocy, either. I never made the assumption that our leaders our idiots, but rather that they are quite understandably swayed by their own emotional attachments to their upbringing and the basic methodology of family organization. Thus, starting from first principles, I see it as more likely that the unified upper-level support for abstinance derives from two primary (among several secondary) causes: the first is the maintenance of the nuclear family, which despite your simple assertions to the contrary has not been decidedly proven to be a bad thing (and what alternatives are proposed?); the second is the social, moral, and ethical challenges that teenage pregnancy and unwanted children impose upon society, as a matter of support and upkeep.

    > Now, the family-as-an-institution is under continual stress as society changes and develops.

    Doubtless. The structure of the human family has evolved likewise, from multigenerational ‘molecular’ families to the current ‘nuclear’ model (I do not consider the two extremely different, as parent-child relationships are maintained and the event of the nuclear family was more or less a given once humans became capable of readily going more than 25 miles from their birthplace and settling elsewhere with relative ease).

    > The right to divorce was won a long time ago,

    Right to divorce? Marriage (and divorce, by relation) have in their origin religious backgrounds and therefore the concepts of ‘rights’ as understood somewhat falls apart. The human capability to disband relationships has never been compromised except as a matter of social acceptibility. The lack of a “right” to divorce never truly stopped those with the will to disband their relationship with others.

    > and social acceptance of non-married cohabitation has been fairly well established.

    Again, a simple statement of the fact of the human animal. Non-married cohabitation is a secular analog to the religious ‘marriage’ and only differs in that those who partake in it do not answer to some sort of divine influence should they choose to disband their relationship. They are, however, influenced by their own emotional attachments and I fail to see how cohabitation, still generally centering around the individual man-woman unit in heterosexual relationships, changes the dynamic away from a nuclear-family culture.

    > Hell, condom ads are now shown on television. There are much bigger changes on the way.

    I think this has more to do with the disassociation of sex from procreation than any revolution in how families are ordered.

    > Supporting abstinence is a very safe thing for a politician to do, because it does not challenge basic social institutions. It’s really not that hard to understand their direct motivation.

    Indeed it is a very safe thing for a politician to do. However, a lack of abstinance does not seem to change the familial model greatly (see Europe).

    > Perhaps I tried to dive too deep with the analysis for the space. But in any case, I hope it provokes some critical thought and study to combat all the crank comments we hear.

    Perhaps so. However, crankery is a matter of “abstinance works 100%,” which is a matter of the ideal solution not having only limited relevance to the very real human animal, not some sort of conscious or subconscious maintenance of the nuclear family based on ancient bride-pricing. These are people who are taking their idealistic beliefs and imagining them to be more effective in reality than they probably can be. Logically, they are correct: abstinance is the only 100% effective method to prevent ‘accidents’ such as unwanted children, STD spread, et cetera. Logically, it is also correct to say the only 100% effective method to prevent airplane crashes is to stay on the ground, or the only 100% effective method to not be run over by a car is to never cross a street or live anywhere near where a car would ever be.

  83. DTdNav

    Sex is not wrong. It’s sex. It happens. It’s always happened. It’s always going to happen. It’s necessary for procreation of the species. However, it can be argued that procreation is wrong. At some point all the procreating going on WILL lead to over-population. Hell, we may be there already. Over-population WILL be corrected. How? Death. Lots and lots of death. More death than has happened in the entire history of our species. So over-procreation leads to over-population which ALWAYS leads to lots and lots of death.

    My point? Sex happens. Procreation doesn’t have to. Yes, teach abstinance. But teach logical reasons for it and include birth control as the smart back-up plan. It’s a rare individual indeed who can shut off the urge and “Just say NO.”

  84. Greg

    “Ignorance should never be disguised as education. That’s exactly what abstinence education is. Fear tactics, brainwashing, viewing life with blinders…sounds like religion!”

    And a few other things, as well, deeply believed by non-religious types all over the world.

    Here’s whatcha do: Take the Abstinence Ed and add a few things to the Sex Ed… In depth detail of STDs, how AIDS works, the consequences of pregnancy, the value of adoption, and so on. The teacher’s aid could be an experienced, ugly, hooker off the streets…

    You’ll probably see the students putting two condoms on their cucumbers!

    Sorta the “scared straight” method.

  85. > Sorta the “scared straight” method.

    Or take the Dave Chappelle approach: have the two oldest, ugliest faculty members “go through the motions” so to speak, making sure to apply plenty of mayonnaise to enhance the sound effects. Sickened straight, so to speak.

    Let them hate, so long as they fear.

  86. PK

    Just show the girls a film of the process of giving birth, in all it’s gory detail. I have it from authority that it is the best abstinence advocate on the planet.

  87. Don’t forget pubic scarring from various STDs. Effective on both genders!

    Peter Griffin: *lifts garbage bag* Hefty hefty hefty! *lifts condom* Wimpy wimpy wimpy!

  88. PK

    This is not necessarily specific to killing, but most likely related to all violent encounters: yahoo article. From the article: “The study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that by combining the figures some 20.3 percent of active soldiers and 42.4 percent of reserves had been diagnosed with some kind of mental health problem, linked to their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

    Assuming that more violence would lead to more health problems, I would say this is evidence for an inborn abhorrance of murder.

  89. > Assuming that more violence would lead to more health problems, I would say this is evidence for an inborn abhorrance of murder.

    This is actually more of an inborn abhorrance of stress. PTSD and related illnesses come up from exposure to emotionally traumatic events and are far more than mere pangs of guilt. Violence is extremely stressful and that is where those health problems come from.

    Meanwhile, there are plenty of cold-blooded killers (without the stress and chaos of, say, a soldier) who do not suffer such illnesses because their mode of lethality is not stressful. A lot of soldiers suffering from PTSD were not actually put in the situation where they had to kill; instead, they were put in the situation where they were at risk to be killed–sniper fire, mortars, similar things.

  90. It’s interesting: when I was a kid, before I learned how sex works, I used to wonder how children had the characteristics of both their father and mother, despite the being born from their mother. I’d think, maybe it’s some sort of blood transfusion… except, how would they do it in prehistoric times, before injections were invented?

    Later on, of course, my parents explained it (well, my dad just said ‘sexual intercourse’ when I asked, and then my mom explained what that means).

  91. # chrison 19 Nov 2007 at 10:32 pm

    ok autumn beat me.

    No he did NOT beat you! It’s not a bloody race to get the first response.

    Please take that childish “First!!!” crap elsewhere.

  92. Damon

    Seneca; your refusal to “believe” in conspiracies will be your downfall. It’s time to grow up, son. :]

  93. Seneca

    Damon, some of your co-thinkers have already warned me to prepare for eternal damnation as the result of a few other non-beliefs. I didn’t take them seriously, either.

  94. autumn

    DTdNav said “It’s sex. It happens….It’s always going to happen”.

    What the heck? When I was a teenager sex was very disappointingly not “always going to happen”.
    I wished it was, though.

  95. mark

    Your quote:Telling them not to, lecturing them, trying to brainwash them, won’t work. This isn’t a simple decision to make, like whether to have a peanut butter sandwich or a bowl of soup. This is a primordial instinct.

    While it’s true about the instinct, the decision really is simple, and used to be done on a regular basis. If it were true that talk doesn’t work, then before the birth control pill in the late ’60s, teenagers from 13 on up would have been in a constant state of pregnancy. It just wasn’t the case back then. It wasn’t until the ’60’s and later that teens having sex was a regular and expected activity. It may not be easy to turn back the clock, but it can be done. Sure, you will always have some that will drink, sneak out mom’s car, and give up the virginity – but you can convince the majority to wait. History proves it out.
    Mark

  96. gazza666

    I think some of the posters like Darth above are missing the point. Few people are saying that the alternative to abstinence-only education is “free luuurrvve”. By all means teach abstinence; it’s the “only” part that is problematic, not the “abstinence” part.

    Whether or not you think it is right or wrong for teenagers to be parents doesn’t really affect the fact that some of them, inevitably, are going to be. And some of their peers will have had sex and “dodged the bullet”. Given that kids having sex has happened, in one form or another, since we crawled out of the primordial ooze, it seems foolish not to at least CONSIDER the possibility that some of them will continue to do so regardless of what you tell them. And if they’re going to do it, they might as well know how to minimise the risks of pregnancy.

  97. Wicked Lad

    gazza666 wrote:

    In fact, there aren’t too many uses of the word “only” that are a good idea for education. The one exception would be “facts only”….

    You have an excellent point, except I wouldn’t concede the exception for “facts only.” It’s well worth teaching art, music, literature and formal debate, for example. Ambiguity and uncertainty leaven the loaf.

    Sex education should focus on the facts, though.

  98. To Seneca (and a lesser extent, Damon):

    I’m still waiting as to how the nuclear family unit is the “social institution [that] is irreplaceble for transmitting the most vulgar and inhumane values of this society onto new generations,” as well as what those “vulgar and inhumane values” are. Claims require evidence, or at the very least logical support.

    Let’s just say I’m skeptical.

    Also, if this is some sort of co-worker thing, leave it at the door, ‘k? I have enough co-workers and politics as is.

  99. boney

    Just remember all your comments are being read by the Bush administration to decide who, of you, will be watched for not agreeing with the gov’t’s stance on the issue. ; )

  100. Al

    This study was done by a company called ETR Associates. Who are the ETR Associates? Well, they develop and market sex education programs, including some reviewed in this study. In other words, hardly a disinterested party. Take this study with a grain of salt.

  101. > Just remember all your comments are being read by the Bush administration to decide who, of you, will be watched for not agreeing with the gov’t’s stance on the issue. ; )

    They can’t read mine, because they’re covered in ALUMINUM!

  102. To the people above who keep asking for an alternative to the nuclear family, while not so much against the nuclear family you might check out “The Ethical Slut” by Dossie Easton and Catherine Liszt.

    May items in their book talk about the couple centric vision of society. In that you are not a complete individual if you are not part of a couple. And also once you are part of a couple there cannot be any relationships outside of that.

    Now this doesn’t speak about family directly, but it does imply there are more relationships possible than most people think. Or in that there are some people that are fun to have sex with, but you might not want to share a mortgage with them. We start going into polyamourous relationships where more than 2 lovers may live together and if there are children involved there may be more people to take care of them.

    I think Robert Heinlein also brought up the concept of group marriage in some of his books _Friday_ comes to mind. Most of are are going to be part of monogamous couples, probably because that is the easiest. Although still perhaps not the best when you consider the 40%+ divorce rate. Clearly something is not quite working there either.

    I have a sense that what others have said of the nuclear family being one way to perpetuate certain values of the ruling class has some merit. It seems that even in the Soviet Union promiscuity was viewed a decadent western value, that good communists got married. And of course that marriage would be sanctioned by the state whereas in most other countries it would be sanctioned by the church.

    Sex has a way of building strong emotional bonds between people, perhaps stronger than what exists between people and their church or state so their is a need of both institutions to control sex, or some of their power wanes.

    Just some of my 2 cents worth of ramblings anyway.

  103. I’m not really asking for alternatives; polyamorous and other such mating structures are well known and I offered two alternative child-rearing structures of my own based around socialized child-rearing (as in creches). My question remains one of “Citation needed” when it comes to saying the nuclear family is… to quote yet again… the “social institution [that] is irreplaceble for transmitting the most vulgar and inhumane values of this society onto new generations.” I haven’t even gotten a word as to what those values are. Seneca’s statements also seemed to suggest that non-nuclear systems are somehow more stable and intrinsically better, which also requires support of some kind.

    That the nuclear family supports a status quo I do not presume to deny, but it also seems something of a stretch to suggest that it’s a method of control by a ruling elite. Admittedly, the ‘ruling elite’ often tends towards dalliance more than the ruled masses, but this could be a function of more eyes watching equals more sightings, and the ruling elite usually accepts these rules as well (even as it breaks them). The nuclear family unit is seen as stabilizing, and that, coupled with a staggering amount of social inertia, is why it is generally supported as part and parcel of the status quo.

  104. Irishman

    Steve H said:
    > My daughter got pregnant in an effort for force a married man to divorce his wife and be with her. That was her choice, and it was perhaps the most vile thing a woman could do. Today, she must live with what she did.

    > If she had an abortion, I would never have talked to my daughter ever again!

    What an odd juxtaposition. She did something stupid, vain, and, in your words, “the mose vile thing a woman could do” and you were able to forgive her, but you wouldn’t have forgiven her for an abortion? So what, a parent’s love only goes so far?

    Darth Curt said:
    > What’s wrong with giving the baby up for adoption?

    Nothing.

    > Unless the mother’s life is in danger or there was rape/incest involved I think that that is a much more preferable option over abortion.

    Your opinion. However, pregnancy has dramatic biological changes to the woman, and giving birth is a significant trauma to the body. Pregnancy itself can also be a burden to other activities and commitments, such as jobs, school, etc. An early abortion can save a lot of trouble for the pregnant woman who has no means/intent to raise the eventual baby.

    >I know of quite a few people that can’t physically have children of their own and would love to adopt, but haven’t been able to because the waiting lists are too long.

    Interestingly enough, there are plenty of kids growing old in foster care and group homes. Seems to me there’s a disconnect.

    >From a spiritual religious standpoint, procreation is about bringing God’s spirit children to earth

    That’s your opinion, not shared by everyone.

    >Both are in man’s nature to do, but obviously killing is wrong, so why has the opposite of that become right?

    Not killing people? Oh, you mean having sex, but you are equating that with procreating. Different things. Procreating typically involves sex, but sex is only a very short step in the long list of events to procreation. Think of it this way – I like a steak, doesn’t mean I want to eat the whole cow.

    >If we’re all apes then why lock up the murderers…

    Equating is with should. We may be apes, but we’re also moral agents. As moral agents, we are able to make determinations of right and wrong. Interfering with another person’s life, health, and welfare is generally considered wrong. There are good reasons for that.

  105. When I read the following sentences in the Blog post:

    [quote]teenagers want to have sex. Telling them not to, lecturing them, trying to brainwash them, won’t work. This isn’t a simple decision to make, like whether to have a peanut butter sandwich or a bowl of soup. This is a primordial instinct.[/quote]

    … it reminded me of a rather barbaric thing still lurking in the laws of many U.S. states (including California, where I live):

    In these states, [b]any[/b] sex involving a minor is illegal, [b]even if both parties are minors[/b]. Worse, at age 16, you can be tried as an adult. So if two 16 year olds have sex with each other, they can both be tried as an adult for a crime that requires their partner not to be an adult!

    And to add insult to injury, we now live in the age of Megan’s Law, where breaking sex-related laws puts your name on the list of Registered Sex Offenders for the rest of your [b]life[/b].

    In many ways, this situation is even worse than the thou-shalt-not morality we enforced during the Victorian Era.

  106. > In many ways, this situation is even worse than the thou-shalt-not morality we enforced during the Victorian Era.

    And there are laws saying to drive a hundred feet behind horses so as to not scare them. These laws are not enforced (and doing so would cause something of a bog in the system, methinks). Meanwhile, in the Victorian Era, it was scientific ‘fact’ (*cough*) that women couldn’t have orgasms and they put skirts over couch legs so men wouldn’t be aroused. The Marquis de Sade may have written in the late eighteenth century, but he didn’t get a real closet following in the English-speaking world until the mid-to-late nineteenth. When even the missionary position is frowned upon, why not go for the gusto?

  107. PK

    “These laws are not enforced…”

    That is no excuse. It only takes one DA up for reelection to decide to prosecute.

  108. Seneca

    The predominant form of basic family structure has changed over time as society has developed and changed. (Centipede: this is thoroughly documented; critical reading of actual books will help you get this.)

    Noting this historical fact does not constitute an assertion that the nuclear family has been consciously engineered by and cynically manipulated to serve the interests of a ruling layer in society; but that does not negate the observation that it does in fact serve these interests, as a conservatizing influence on new generations. It has been the primary socialization vehicle for children, where the core values of society are passed on. (Centipede: do you really need me to enumerate for you some of the more backward values of this society?)

    There are no mysterious, diabolical plots behind the central role family structure plays in any particular social epoch. Like the rest of human history thus far, institutions have developed in their basic forms according to the possibilities opened up by the particular economic forms holding sway. Those structures always serve to support the existing social order. They begin to break down as economic development brings into existence productive forces that can no longer be organized within the old order. Periodically these forces break out of the old social structure, laying down the groundwork for new social orders that free society up for economic expansion, clearing the way for developing new institutions and transforming old ones. That’s the historical record.

    Until the next social revolution makes possible the elimination of economic compulsion as a decisive factor in limiting and warping personal relationships, the best we can expect is the need to fight politically against some of the more inhumane aspects of these structures. We should continue to expect we’ll have to fight against both parties for measures like free public education for life; for the right of the young to receive actual, factual information about their physical functions; and for the removal of legal sanctions against their voluntary sexual activity with their peers.

    The point of my contribution to this discussion has been to try to promote an understanding of why we should not be surprised at a Democratic-controlled Congress approving such a backwards measure as the preaching of sexual abstinence to youth in the public schools.

    It is logical for them to do so, even though it disgusts me.

  109. jrkeller

    Daffy,

    Please point out where Phil actually used the word Democrat or anything similar.

  110. Tukla in Iowa

    Ah, good point, JRKeller. Phil forgot to point that out for the morons who haven’t been paying attention for the last two years. Maybe he should also explain the birds and the bees so that those same people will understand what this post is talking about in the first place.

  111. Radwaste

    Why would fundamental Christians go on about abstinence?

    It didn’t work for Mary!

  112. LOL....

    LOL@steve H.

    remember, hitler’s mother was thinking about abortion, but her doctor persuaded her not to do it…

    now u see, denying abortion is not always good!

  113. kookimebux
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