BRISTOL-SIZED SUCCESS

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.

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33 Responses to “BRISTOL-SIZED SUCCESS”

  1. duck-billed placelot Says:

    Is it wrong that my take-away from this article is a mild sense of irritation that I don't have a Gin And Tacos coffee mug? Preferably one that's humongous, for all the .. coffee?

  2. Julie Says:

    Well I happen to be a relatively stereotypical evangelical Christian and I still do not support AOSE. Bottom line, people have a choice to do what they want and trying to hurt them by keeping them uneducated is hardly glorious to God.

  3. eau Says:

    Well, I say fuck 'em all. Just make sure you're protected.

  4. eau Says:

    On second thought – fuck 'em all, except Bristol. Ew.

  5. tea Says:

    Just advertise. Do it! Who cares? I don't give a crap if you make money from random ads on your site. Actually, wait. PLEASE make money off of advertising to my broke-ass self. I am so anti-consumerism that it would be hilarious to advertise to me. Man, this is why leftists are losers, we can't just take the money and be cool. Principles, who the fuck cares. It's not like they would hurt your site-design. <3

  6. Xynzee Says:

    As a Christian myself, I see this AOSE as a lot mis-guided and out right stupid.

    Unless someone can connect on an emotional level to the "why" this way is better then it's a waste of time. That doesn't mean one shouldn't continue to instruct someone in appropriate behaviour — sort of like teaching history or critical thinking do we stop teaching those because kids don't get the idea behind them? However, good wisdom dictates that one says, here is God's ideal plan (abstinence, etc). But as we're human and prone to going our own way (sin), let's talk about being smart out there so protect yourself and your partners, use condoms!! Even the Pope has finally come to the party on this one.

  7. Mike Says:

    Not sure what you mean by "Sex Ed" classes, but if it's what I think you mean, it might explain why you're having a hard time on the job market.

  8. Bette Noir Says:

    We are a peculiar species with the intellectual capacity to appreciate the aesthetic of good sense whilst rarely practicing it. Apparently, in our current stage of evolution primal urges still nearly always trump good sense — so, talk the talk but wear your rubbers when you walk the walk.

    Of course this revelation doesn't hold water for our creationist friends who also happen to be huge supporters of AOSE. Not to worry; they'll be catching up any eon now . . .

  9. displaced Capitalist Says:

    Fuck with advertising. I say be a capitalist pig and sell some shit. I'd by a mug or a pen or maybe even one of these.

  10. ladiesbane Says:

    First: please consider advertisements. I was always one of those loathesome wretches who said, "I am happy to pay taxes because I like interstate roads, expert inspection of medicine and food, and good public schools." Because I like this blog, I would be happy to see it in the black as well as black & white. Also, it could get more foot trade, as we said in the book biz.

    Second: I grew up on a farm, and I would think even the most hysterical anti-sex religious fanatic could not object to mechanical lessons about reproductive biology. Parents can brainwash children as they wish, but biology is science and not a matter of morals or mores. Just the facts, ma'am. My highly Christian hometown always voted in favor of sex education in school because they didn't want to have the talk themselves.

  11. Fifth Dentist Says:

    Here in south Georgia driving to a former job I used to pass daily a billboard (think it was state funded) that said one in four teens in the state have an STD.
    I also would guess that a quarter would be about the number of my high school classmates who ended up knocked up/knocking up and getting married in their teens. Of those marriages I'd put the failure rate at in the 90 percent range — many of those people are on their third marriages now 20-plus years later . Plus the majority of those people stayed in the same small town and never went on to college but instead got dead-end jobs yto support their little bundles of joy .
    So in addition to STDs, the lack of sex education is a factor in limiting the futures of young people (except for Bristol Palin apparently).

  12. chautauqua Says:

    Abstinence is a lot easier when you're 80.

  13. JohnR Says:

    1. W/ref to your last sentence, not so much a hill as a bump on the prairie (think Little Big Horn), and
    2. G&T Coffee mugs. One pint capacity. Stylish, and functional, and I bet would sell like hot- (or at least warm-)cakes. Make it quart-sized and I'll buy two. Our local yuppie-coffee-emporium sells 'refills' at $1.25, and so far there's no adjustment for volume…

  14. Da Moose Says:

    My current pet principled stand is proving to people that walking to work is much better for our health and the environment. Unfortunately, supporting this principle by walking on the shoulder of the beltway here in DC is proving to be a more difficult task than I first envisioned.

  15. displaced Capitalist Says:

    ladiesbane are you suggesting that the problem isn't the "most hysterical anti-sex religious fanatic[s]?" Who is opposing sex ed then?

  16. Shane Says:

    It seems that one of the more interesting effects of AOSE has been the rise in "extra-curricular" sexual activities among teens and pre-teens. Anal and oral sex have apparently become the standard and while they don't carry the risk of that oh so embarrassing pregnancy scare they do still transmit STD's.

  17. Monkey Business Says:

    A classic example of "Do as I say, not as I do". "Hey kids, never mind that your mother and I lost our virginities in the backseats of cars and banged our way through college, occasionally on mind altering substances; no sex for you until you're married, and don't do drugs!"

    You know what my sex talk was? "Sex is messy, gross, awkward, and a lot of fun. Wait for the right girl to have sex with. When you have sex, use a condom.", after which my mother handed me my first box of condoms.

    To date: no pregnancy scares and STD free.

    Yes, it's entirely anecdotal, but kids aren't stupid. They're gonna fuck. Might as well make it safe.

  18. Hobbes Says:

    There's a difference between ASOE and outright misinformation. My parents were shocked when they discovered (six years after I graduated, alas) that my high school was in fact teaching us that condoms let HIV and sperm through and birth control pills are abortion. I'm pretty sure if I'd actually had the guts to talk to them about sex at the time (instead of being really ashamed because sex was always presented at school as something evil sluts did), they would have pulled me out of Catholic school and put me in public school like I wanted.

    I'm shocked more people in my class didn't have babies, but that's probably another one of those "do as I say, not as I do" situations where it's okay to have an abortion if you're a good Catholic, but not if you're anyone else.

  19. J. Dryden Says:

    Monkey Business comes closest to my read on this: this kind of legislation/public policy, like anti-drug campaigns, are the product not so much of religious zealots, but of neurotic parents. The cry we always hear is "I don't want *my* children to [fill in the blank.]" Exactly: *your* children. I doubt that the parents who beat the drum on these issues really give much of a flying fuck about *other* people's children–they're looking for a nanny-state solution to the fact that they're terrified for their own kids.

    And hey, I get it: having kids is a series of moments of panic and terror. The protective urge merges with the feelings of total inadequacy and produces this kind of hysteria. The problem with basing public policy on how you want *your* kids raised is that you're taking that choice *away* from other parents. (Though to be honest, those parents probably feel the same way.)

    Kids are, indeed, gonna fuck. And with the same certainty, parents are going to be in denial about this fact. Since parents have money and can vote, they win. Even those parents who *might* be swayed on the facts that *other* children would benefit from proper sex education, on treatment rather than imprisonment for drug charges, will never, and I mean *never* accept that this policy applies to their own precious little angels.

    (Anecdotal evidence like Monkey Business's aside. My own drugs talk was quite similar: "Look, pot is awesome, but it's illegal, and the penalties for getting caught outweigh the benefits. It's unfair, but that's just how it is. It's not going to kill you or hurt you, but getting busted will fuck up your life. So, probably best not to." And my sex talk was even better: "Disease. Pregnancy. These things are very, very bad indeed. *They're not worth the fuck.* Condoms plus another form of birth control plus monogamy is a pretty safe equation, but even then, realize that actions have consequences. Now who's up for ice cream?")

    But it's curious/hilarious that on these social issues, the conservatives (and aren't nearly *all* parents conservative when it comes to their kids?) are more than happy to engage intrusive government as a solution. I just love intellectual consistency.

  20. truth=freedom Says:

    My (admittedly as an outsider who was raised around many people who think this way) interpretation of the logic (such as it is) behind Christian support for AOSE is that if you fail to do as you're told, you should suffer The Consequences. Which consequences are far less consequential if you can just put on a rubber.

    The fact that it borders on cruel to toy with the lives of teenagers in this way isn't unrecognized– it's part of the plan. They *want* there to be examples of failure walking the street every day, disgraced, to warn the "good" ones away from "evil" (which, in their minds, is anything they tell you not to do– ain't authoritarianism awesome?). In the case that they did it themselves (as @Monkey Business discusses) and managed not to suffer said consequences or have managed to hide the consequences, it's glossed over ("I was blessed to blahblahblah").

    *I* think this kind of attitude is self-defeating for reasons related to the situation noted by @Fifth Dentist– it's guaranteed to result in pain for more than those immediately affected, be they the children or the community. I think the best solutions to try are those that account for the reality of the situation and seek to blunt its effects, even if by trickery. Call it Moral Aikido. But then to the Christians I'm amoral.

  21. svnski Says:

    Why not put the advertising question to your readers? There's plenty of polling plugins for WordPress you can use and you could ask us after a couple of weeks if we like it or not.

    Power to the people!

    You should be making some cash from this site – it's a much better read than most of the other shite on the net…

    Great post as always, mate.

  22. Monkey Business Says:

    I second the sentiment on adding small, unobtrusive ads.

    If HuffPo can make money, Ed should be able to make money.

  23. Rebound Says:

    Agreed, put up some little google ads somewhere. They're relatively unobtrusive and honestly I'd rather see those than see you go under. To good of a read for that. I like the poll idea too.

  24. twiffer Says:

    i am reminded of the same idiocy that was flying about when making the HPV vaccine mandatory. apparently vaccinating girls against cervical cancer would have "sent a subtle message that pre-marital sex was okay". this was said by some fucker who also indicated that he'd make damn sure his daughter got the vaccine. assholes.

  25. twiffer Says:

    really (apologies for double posting), the AOSE argument is remarkably stupid. it is based on the assumption that teaching children about safer sex practices implies that pre-marital, teenaged fucking about is a-okay. that is akin to saying that telling kids they should wear a life-vest on a boat implies that jumping off the boat is okay. or that a gun-safety class carries the implication that it's okay to shoot people. fucking moronic.

  26. ladiesbane Says:

    @displaced capitalist: sorry I wasn't clear; I meant to imply that hysterical zealots should not get upset — not that the don't, only that they shouldn't. I come from a hard-core Christian village, but because so many people are (or know) ranchers and farmers, there seems to be greater awareness that biology is supremely indifferent to morality.

    And hey, I would love a G&T mug or t-shirt, but that CafePress sort of income is limited and unreliable, so I still cheer for ads.

    Last, since I am logy from cutting out caffeine, I agree with twiffer — can't add to the argument, but I can cheer. Well said.

  27. John Says:

    Ed,

    You and I are about at opposite ends of the time/$ continuum these days. I read your blog in my very limited free time. I am very interested in hearing your thoughts about Wikileaks.

  28. Sara Says:

    I want a coffee mug, too, and will pay handsomely for it!

  29. eau Says:

    I will not stop reading this blog if you slap up a couple of ads.

    That said, I fucking love the fact hat there are no ads here.

  30. Zeb Says:

    +1 for the ads. Unless they're popups or giant Viagra ads, I won't care much and if it makes you a little money for your effort, I'd totally understand.

    Add my name to the list of those who'd buy a mug, too!

  31. Overlady Says:

    You know who makes a lot of money blogging? Dooce.com. And she doesn't do google ads, she sells ads directly, so that she can only sell ads to companies she thinks are OK. Maybe you could do this, make REAL money, and not have offensive ads that advertise things you think are bad.

    (Dooce is REPUTED to make about 300 large a year blogging. Yes that is right. $300,000.000)

  32. Ed Says:

    Ahh, Dooce. One of those bloggers who is wildly famous for no discernible reason. More power to her. I just don't get popularity.

  33. BillCinSD Says:

    I probably would stop checking here if you put up ads, at least after this post. If you do you won't really be the same Ed anymore and I don't think I would respect the new Ed. Coffee mugs or t-shirts or edible underwear or condoms are different.