Will's Coffee House

John Dryden, Dramatist, Critic, Poet Laureate, and my ancestor, frequented a coffee house called Will's almost daily, where he would hold forth on sundry subjects with great wit and aplomb. Same deal here, only without the wit or aplomb.

Location: Large Midwestern City, Midwestern State, United States

I am a stranger in a sane land...

Monday, February 14, 2005

Oh, For the Love of--

I mean--

Can somebody please--


OK, see, here's the thing: Bush unveiled his budget. And yeah, sure, it did all the things we knew it would--mostly increasing funding for areas where there's been horrible mismanagement and outright f***-ups--the Military comes to mind. (Look, I'm not against Military Spending, you understand--I actually do think that our soldiers deserve the body armor and the vehicle armor and the--you know what? Just let them make up a shopping list and drive over to the Pentagon's local Costco and start pulling the stuff off the shelves, OK? Increased military spending only infuriates me because A. Wolfowitz completely and utterly lied when he told us that this war would pay for itself. I mean, he was as wrong as a weatherman who predicts sunshine and gets firey hail, hurricanes, and the Ride of the Valkyries. Said weatherman would be fired, don'tcha think? And yet Paul's still around, spitting into his comb right before appearing on FOX to tell us how well it's all going. So, that. Plus, increased military spending might not have been necessary if there'd been one competent senior official in the DoD. But such officials were ostracized and ousted like they were child molestors at a PTA meeting because they were the ones who objected to the war in the first place. But never mind that. Increased funding to the military--fine. We need it. We shouldn't, but we do. Fine. But maybe, just maybe, since we suddenly have this sudden huge drain on our treasury, this might be a time to roll back those gag-inducing tax cuts for the rich--you know, just to keep the water in the well through this period of drought? No? Really? Deficit spending makes us all happier? Whatever...F***ers.) And of course, along with increased spending in the predictable areas, there'll be decreased spending in other, equally predictable areas (mostly those areas that involve aiding brown people who don't vote Republican).

And then there's the one that just leaves me silent with a mixture of nausea and depression and paralyzed bemusement.

We're increasing funding on abstinence-only sex education programs nationwide.

Let me repeat that.

We're increasing funding on abstinence-only sex education programs nationwide.

Um--how to put this--what's the phrase--F***ING WHY???????

Look, I recognize why people in power tried to institute abstinence-only sex-ed--which, for those of you not up on the lingo, is exactly what it sounds like--sex education that stresses--nay, abolishes any alternative to--abstinence as 'safe' sexual conduct. Just Don't Do It. Condoms? Oh, they're mentioned--but they're mentioned only in sentences that contain the words "break," "fail," "don't work," and "won't keep you safe from." The pill? You mean aspirin, right? Diaphragm? That's the thin dome of muscle that enables breathing--and nothing else. Nope. Just don't have sex. Period. The End. And so of course, kids being kids (that is, "horny" and "stupid"), off they go to bone away as they inevitably will, without the slightest clue of what to do about not getting knocked up or--more importantly--not spreading all kinds of new and wonderful versions of disease. (Hey! Not quite tangentially! Check out the New York Times of last week: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/12/health/12aids.html --looks like AIDS is back with that good old Kill-You-Dead vengeance! Nice time to be telling kids condoms are pointless!)

To reiterate: I get why folks in power wanted abstinence-only education. Because A. there's the whole religion thing that places fornication right up there with murder on God's No-No list. (Interesting to think that the Lord wouldn't really discriminate between rapists and consensual lovers, since apparently He sends both to the firey pits for eternity. But then, He's always been a wacky Supreme Being.) So fine, boning is a priori bad, and telling kids about birth control and disease prevention will somehow send the message that it's OK to have sex. (Which to me is like saying that telling them about wearing a bullet-proof vest will send the message that it's OK to take a .38 slug to the chest, but whatever.) And then there's B.--which is really lurking behind A. anyway--Adults Are Terrified About Their Children's Sexuality. And there it is. Adults don't want kids to grow up. Adults don't want kids to become adults. And having consensual sex is definitely a major step away from one camp and into the other. So, no sex. Ever. Not under my roof, young lady. Because I said so. Because. Because I'd have to admit that I'm old enough to be the parent of an adult. The maturation of youth terrifies, you see, because it reveals the ossification of the already mature. Not a pretty thing. And so I've some sympathy. I get why, as I say, abstinence-only programs were initially rubber-stamped (pardon the pun.)

But, see, thing is--and this is really why I'm cheesed off about the whole "increasing the funding for such programs in the new budget" thing: These programs don't work. They don't work because--oh for God's sake, do I really have to explain why programs designed to keep teens from having sex don't work? How 'bout I explain why programs designed to teach people not to sneeze don't work? Or programs designed to have bowling balls fall up instead of down? They don't work because they can't work. And here's the thing: there's evidence that they don't work. Check the stats: Teens In Abstinence Program--Teens Not In Abstinence Program. Guess what the difference between the number of teens who have sex in each group is? If you guessed "next to nothing, with kids in the Abstinence only program actually MORE likely to have sex," you win tonight's grand prize of a great big "DUH" T-shirt. Let me say it all in italics so you'll get my implied tone of "don't argue with me" seriousness: Abstinence-only sex education is failed policy. It does not do what it sets out to do. It doesn't work. And yet--let me say it one more time--we're increasing funding on abstinence-only sex education programs nationwide, while cutting spending on programs--like drug treatment--that DO work. WHYYYYYYYYYYY???? This is akin to throwing virgins into the volcano in order to change the weather, and upon discovering that this stupid practice has no effect, concluding that the answer is "We need to throw more virgins into the volcano." Are we really so revoltingly dogmatic that we're willing to throw good money after bad in a pitiful attempt to reverse biological programming which has shown itself demonstrably unsusceptible to such reversal???

Yes, yes we are.

But what we're really doing is so much more. Because we know--we know that kids are having sex. We don't want to think about it--we clap our hands over our ears and chant "LALALALALALALALALA" every time the subject comes up. (Unless of course the subject comes up on perennial favorites like 90210, Dawson's Creek, and The O.C.--then it's cool. Because they're not our kids getting laid. We suck.) But clap and shout all you want, parents--your kids are making the beast with two backs. And by keeping them ignorant about it--by not giving them their educational due--you're not just increasing the likelihood of an unwanted grandchild, or a life-scarring abortion. You're putting your childrens' health--and their lives at risk because you're so f***ing squeamish about, well, f***ing. You don't want your children to grow up? Fine. Keep it up. And more and more of you will get your wish. Because your children will not live to see maturity.

I shouldn't wish that on you, I suppose. But the darker, angrier part of me does. Because abstinence-only "education" (and please note the subtle use of quotation marks--those indicate irony!) is like putting a loaded gun in the hands of each of your children and teaching them nothing about gun safety except "Don't pull the trigger." Happy landings, cowards. Oh, and thank you, Mr. President, for making the lives of the young people in this country even worse than they already were. I suppose "No Child Left Behind" means "No Living Child Left Behind." F*** the dead--after all, they don't pay taxes.


Anonymous Traci said...

Bravo! I'm sick to death of all of Bush's bulls**t! If we survive the next four years, it'll be a miracle.

1:04 PM  

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