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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Just don't tell 'em what it is, they'll never figure it out

That's the working theory in Texas on teenagers and sex. After all, there was no such thing as sex before 1956, when Elvis invented it to piss off parents and good Christians. And now they want to teach it in schools! What next--how to brew beer?

This week, the Texas school board will decide whether or not to wipe sex off the face of the planet completely in the way that the Christian right best knows how--take it out of the school books and voila! It doesn't exist anymore. It worked for evolution, didn't it?

Kudos to those in this debate who work hard on their hopeless causes, both sides. On the side of right, in the sense that they are right that teaching kids how to take care of themselves will help them, we have the pro-education people. They are fighting a losing battle. The Christian right in this state wields far too much power over the school board, and soon we will be teaching our kids out of nothing but Jack Chick tracts. On the other side of right, the right wing nuts that is, they are also fighting a losing battle. People aren't going to stop fucking any time soon. Of course, if the goal of the right is to increase the HIV transmission rate, then they will succeed. Oh yeah, and the rate of STD transmission overall. And the rate of unwanted pregnancy. Which of course means the rate of abortion. Good work, guys!


Blogger La Lubu said...

Forgive my ignorance....but what is a Jack Chick tract?


Blogger amblongus said...

Here's a good place to start if you're a Jack Chick newbie" The Birds and the Bees. And don't miss the movies!


Blogger nerdlet said...

This is my personal favorite tract, but I don't think non-RPG-players will get it.


Blogger Ron said...

Damm. My GM hasn't asked me to join a cult and he wears leather and has tatoos and everything. WTF? What a poseur.


Blogger lawrence krubner said...

" On the other side of right, the right wing nuts that is, they are also fighting a losing battle. People aren't going to stop fucking any time soon. Of course, if the goal of the right is to increase the HIV transmission rate, then they will succeed. "

You're ignoring the central issue, which is whether the law is there to create the world that "should be" or is there to deal with the world as it actually exists. Both the Left and the Right in America occassionally fight for unlikely utopias. Prohibition (of alcohol, 1920-1933) is the best known example of crusaders in America using the law in an attempt to create a utopia here on Earth. Some crusades seem unlikely to succeed but do, in the end, succeed. The end of slavey, women voting, women driving cars, women getting their own checking accounts, and the end of Jim Crowe were all supposed to be unsupportable reforms that would bring about the collapse of America society, but instead strengthened it. The right-wing has its own utopia that it is fighting for, and in that utopia people go back to having unmarried sex at the levels last seen in perhaps 1820s. If this means people need to go back to getting married at 17, that is okay with the Christians.

The far-right and the far-left are free of the need to defend the utility or dis-utility of a law, since they tend to justify their policies on other grounds (the right can justify its laws on the moral absolutes derived from religion). Utility forms the basis of moral reasoning in the liberal philosophy, and is one of the central things that makes liberalism different from most of the religious based ethics. Utility has been a central part of the liberal philosophy since Jeremeny Bentham suggested it as the justification of social reform in 1789. His calculus of utitlity was based on consequences, thus liberalism tends to have a pragmatic streak that deals with the world as it actually is. He argued that laws should be passed that do "the greatest good for the greatest number" and that "good" could be determined based on how much pleasure the law would bring, or displeasure it might allow to be avoided. Thus, using Bentham's understanding of utility, a liberal can argue that sex education needs to be taught in all the schools and that birth control needs to be widely available, because unwanted pregnancies bring massive displeasure to both the parents and the child. But people who reject utility-based reasoning have no need to come to this conclusion. (More on Bentham here:

There are some problems with utility that make most people uncomfortable. Utility suggests that if you murder someone, you can make up for that later by doing a great deal of good. Most religions favor moral absolutes - murder is always wrong. In the liberal philosophy, forgiveness can come from the utility of one's actions, in most religions forgiveness, if any is to be had, can only from God.

America is founded on liberal ideals and has a liberal legal history. Perhaps 99% of its citizens accept the basics of liberalism - contested elections are the best indicators of the legitimacy of governments, and all citizens should be ruled equally by the law. Both major parties contain factions that fight for differenent aspects of our liberal heritage - there are business people in the Republican party who fight to remind us of Adam Smith's faith in the individual to find their own best economic good, and there are many in the Democratic party who fight to remind us of Mill's belief that freedom of the press is always good, even when people use it to publish things that seem hateful. Both major parties also contain illiberal factions - the socialists and black nationalists in the Democratic party, the Christian fundamentalists in the Republican party. Of these, right now the fundamentalists are the most terrifying, because they are in power.

It's useless to tell these people that most of their fellow citizens are going to keep fucking. The fundamentalists can simply reply, "Well, they shouldn't." You'd have to first convince them that the law should avoid attempts to create utopia and should instead focus on the world as it actually is. And that conversation would likely be quite frustrating, long, and futile, and you shouldn't even start on it unless you yourself belief what you are arguing for.


Blogger Amanda said...

You're right--this will always be a losing battle if utility and common sense are argued. I say that our side needs to quit being weak and start arguing values.

Good sex ed in the classrooms is about freedom. You are not free if some choices are hidden from you. These kids need all the facts so they can be free to choose for themselves. It's a false form of Christianity if they are forced into it. It doesn't count unless they choose it for themselves.

Of course, they Christian right knows their agenda is so unappealing that it has to be forced on people, but I see another opportunity to cast shame on them here.



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