People who have been around these parts for a long time know that I am a vocal advocate of (occasionally) doing things on principle even if they are less than logical. For example, I've talked about online advertising a number of times. With the number of people who read this thing weekly, I could throw up some BlogAds and google thingies and make an estimated $100-200 per month. Since I could use the money, refusing to do so is stupid. But I know it's stupid. I choose to do it anyway because I hate the fact that we are being advertised to on every screen and flat surface on Earth, 24-7. But there is no way I'm going to argue that A) my one-man boycott accomplishes anything or B) this makes economic sense.
I can appreciate, in other words, the nobility of fighting for a lost cause now and then. On that level I understand the fight that abstinence-only sex education (AOSE) advocates are fighting. In some ways it is admirable to see people committed purely on principle to an idea that makes as much sense as a rubber crutch. I mean, the Catholic church can attest to the fact that despite 1,900 years of consistent effort it is pretty much impossible to convince people to stop banging. We know it isn't going to start working now. We know that kids, especially in rural areas where there isn't much else to do except meth, are going to have sex. They just are. This does not perturb the AOSE supporter. It is a matter of principle, and I understand that. But I can't respect it.
It was almost too easy to make jokes during the 2008 election about Sarah Palin's love of abstinence-only education and her teenage daughter's terrific success at getting knocked up before graduating high school. Sometimes life works out a little too perfectly. What isn't quite as funny as this news that Alaska is taking a run at becoming the Clap Capital of America. That's right, gonorrhea rates have jumped 69% (again, isn't life hilarious?) in a single year from 2008 to 2009. Look out, Mississippi! Alaska's coming, pun intended.
Principled stands are only admirable inasmuch as they don't affect anyone else. Refusing to vaccinate your child, for example, is disgusting because Mommy's little theory exposes a powerless child )and all of his/her neighbors and classmates) to substantial risks. AOSE has similar public health side effects if sex education programs have any effect whatsoever on high school students; admittedly, this might be a bad assumption. I empathize with the urge to speak out in support of one's beliefs, but I wonder how long the rest of us are supposed to play along with this anachronistic little experiment in social engineering. At best, Sex Ed classes are meaningless and AOSE isn't making anything worse. At worst, it's contributing to easily preventable public health problems. That sounds like a pretty lousy hill on which to dig in and take a stand.