En Tequila Es Verdad/progressive conservatism/post/2009/04/17/1633

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April 17, 2009 4:33 PM - Woozle

Woozle said...

I apologize for being an absentee debater for the past few weeks, but our wonderful conservatively-correct competitively-outsourced mental health care system here in until-very-recently-red North Carolina has me investing most of my time trying to get mental health care -- not for me, though I could probably use some, but for my hypertwin's profoundly-autistic teenage boy -- rather than actually getting something in exchange for all that work, leaving me with very little time in which to meaningfully contribute to what's left of our economy, and consequently even less time for leisure activities such as ranting about screwed-up political ideologies.

I did, however, have a thought which seems significant.

I have been stipulating all along that "abstinence is the only 100% reliable method of birth control".

On reflection, I realize that this is actually an extremely misleading statement, because it completely fails to take human weakness into account. If a couple of kids decide to use abstinence as their preferred contraceptive, fail to buy condoms or pills or anything else as backup (because, you know, those methods are so unreliable), and then in a moment of passion find themselves suddenly being, you know, not abstinent, I should think that this should be counted against abstinence's "perfect" track record (especially if they end up preggers as a result).

"Oh, but that's hardly the method's fault," you say? "If two kids can't keep their clothes on, then they're no longer being abstinent, and they have only themselves to blame!"

Elephant feces.

Those kids are being set up to fail. It's not like we don't know their hormones are especially strong at that age. It's not like we don't know that they haven't yet learned how to deal with those urges. It's not like absintence-only education teaches them anything about dealing with those urges -- and high-minded admonitions don't count; their utter lack of effectiveness is, by now, well-documented and agreed-upon by all.

To put this in the most precise terms: abstinence as an act may be almost 100% effective (in much the same way that staying locked in your house all day is 100% effective against sidewalk-related injuries), but abstinence programs clearly are no better than any other programs -- and there is some evidence that they are worse, especially in areas that are less well-educated generally: http://thinkprogress.org/2009/01/07/teen-pregnancy/ Mississippi, A Hotbed of Abstinence Education, Now Boasts Highest Teen Pregnancy Rate In America] That said, I don't yet see any evidence that abstinence-only is worse than no education at all, and I don't believe I ever claimed this. What I did (and still do) say is that as the numbers come in, I wouldn't be at all surprised that it did turn out to be worse.

It seems overall rather barbaric and wrong-headed to teach that not doing something is the only safe way of doing it, and I can't see much good coming of that -- especially when the "it" in question is something that is so basic to our existence as biological organisms.

[sarcasm](Why, Mike, rampant sexuality is a long-standing cultural tradition in Western society! How could you deny its significance by attempting to deprive our youth of it just when they need it the most? You're trying to "change the definition" of sex to include "not having any" -- surely this is a sign of the End Times!)[/sarcasm]

Take-away point: saying that abstinence is 100% reliable as a taught method of birth control is as meaningful as saying that condoms are 100% reliable as long as they work properly.