Dec 12, 2006

Warning: This is about Sex! Could Politics be far Behind?

Just Say NO to Anything that has to do with Sex! Why didn't God Invent a Better Way?..

Today (12/01) is world AIDS day and faith groups in the US are urging the Bush administration to cut AIDS funds because they say we place too much emphasis on preventing AIDS (and other venereal diseases) without ..banning sex! Oh, and because we don't give most of the money to faith-based groups that preach the abstinence-only dogma. Never mind that this dogma doesn't work! Never mind that the US has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the industrialized world. Never mind that our kids that take "the pledge of abstinence" have higher rates for oral and anal sex! And, when they do have vaginal intercourse, they're less likely to use contraception! The states drenched in Biblical, born-again Christianity have the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and abortion! The "godless, hedonistic" Massachusetts. by comparison, has one of the lowest rates of teenage pregnancies, and the lowest divorce rate in the union! God works in mysterious ways indeed!

Is there anything we can do to fix the problems? Well, yes and no. Yes, if we employ a realistic approach, hire competent people to run educational and prevention programs, and begin to develop a healthy attitude towards sex. No, as long as sex is seen as a perversion and a vice to be resisted, then we won't make much progress in reducing teenage pregnancies, abortions, and venereal diseases. If we keep electing people to powerful positions that have an aversion to science and reason! Elections have consequences on a wide range of issues that affect our lives. This president has been promoting ignorance and rewards incompetence since he took office. Perhaps he doesn't know any better. Perhaps he's such an extreme and passionate ideologue--without the passion that rests on knowledge and the facts--that he wants only like-minded people around him.

In the name of national reconciliation and moderation after the last election, president Bush picked Eric Keroack, a theocon, to head the federal office that finances birth control, pregnancy tests and a host of other important health care services for the poor. Keroack is affiliated with a group that strongly opposes birth control! Yes, birth control! When he speaks at abstinence conference, Dr. Keroack says that having sex with multiple partners alters brain chemistry in a way that makes women not to want to form bonding relationships! Oh, you women don't worry. He's a quack-doctor, and as such his theories are complete pseudoscience.

Keroack's group, A Woman's Concern, gives pregnant women "counseling"--which basically means they try to convince women not to have an abortion. When I say "convince" I don't mean by reason and providing proper medical information, but rather by condemning abortion (in all cases), and by falsely claiming that abortions will most likely result in breast cancer! [These outrageous claims appear on the group's website] Isn't illegal to make false medical claims? Misleading advertising about ..toasters is illegal, how about our health? Yet, we all know that if a misleading or even utterly false claim is cloaked with religion then the law looks the other way.

So, what is it about sex that makes many people uncomfortable? After all, aren't we all here because of sex? Why is it sinful to engage in this activity (between consenting adults) outside some very narrow religious prescriptions? I see, it is because of religion that the human body and carnal pleasures have been identified as "unclean," "evil," etc. Somehow, a few men, a very long time ago, decided what sex should be all about; that men should have many more sexual privileges, the females should be subjugates and more harshly punished for indiscretions. Those men decided that sex-for-pleasure most certainly will land the transgressors into eternal damnation.

Keroack's group (one of many) has an issue with the sexual act. It doesn't like it! Sex for pleasure is a deadly sin. I wonder if they self-flagellate themselves after having impure thoughts... A Woman's Concern is really ..concerned about "the drugs or devices" that are "demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness." Ergo, no contraception even to married women!

I'm starting to adopt Richard Dawkins' stance that we have to be more aggressive when it comes to the arguments promoted by persons who want to impose their own unscientific absolutism on the rest of us. We have to call their arguments for what they are: personal, unsubstantiated, and dangerous beliefs. We have to tell our leaders that we expect professional competency from the persons appointed to important positions. Persons who have such extreme ideological, non-reality based beliefs should be avoided. They can exist happily in their own private sphere not make policy decisions for the commonwealth. And, yes, there is a difference between opinion based on non-evidence and opinion based on facts. It is a sign of ignorance to believe that the Earth is the center of the universe, and, I suppose, a person has the right to remain ignorant if so desires. But, applied ignorance is deadly--as we've already seen in the AIDS epidemic.

UPDATE: British Prime Minister Tony Blair urged the Vatican to "face up to reality" on condoms & AIDS: "
I think that the real key to it is education. That is about two things: educating people about sex when they are young, but also making sure that if people are sexually active, then they are taking protection. There is a big debate about this; how far are you going by saying to people, 'take protection with you'? Are you encouraging young people to have sex?" Mr Blair added: "You should try to encourage people to be responsible, but you should recognise that, if you are sexually active, it's better to be sexually active and responsibly so."


18 comments:

Kelly said...

I'm a rationalist and I think this makes me a realist. Obviously I have a strong code of morals, like caring for the welfare of my fellow humans. Providing protection, education, and treatment is the best thing for those people in need. It makes sense.

Why can't we recognize what works and what doesn't? We keep denying reality and wishing problems to go away. But, I can see why this is so... Many people believe in magic & superstition, in the supernatural. What I find contemptible is when people behave in a certain way not because they think that is the proper way but because they are AFRAID of being punished by the Divinity.

I'm happy to see that many religious people, (are the Gateses religious?) want to help prevent AIDS through education/information and condom distribution.

Anonymous said...

Moderation to Bush means damnation. He lives in a simplistic world... Either you're with him or against him.

Andros said...

Well, every totalitarian ideology (sorry, it's the teacher in me speaking) has a simple world view:
Good-bad; hero-villain; moral-sinful; right-wrong; good-evil; etc...

It's a constant struggle against the enemy ___ (insert name here). When things go wrong, it's never the fault of the ideology or the leader, but of the enemy and the traitors within.

Such ideology is rigid, absolute. Liberalism is amenable, because it allows for revision, places value on reason, observation, experience, and holds that progress is a good thing. Totalitarianism looks for no trouble... it has captured the absolute truth (with a capital T); anything else is ..wrong! That's why authoritarian people are also fundamentalists--holders of the absolute and of intolerance!

Drew said...

I love Richard Dawkins and I had the opportunity to meet him during his recent US book tour. If for nothing else, the quality of his arguments are far superior than the simple-minded, rather dumb and un-imaginative that we hear from the fundamentalists and others who deny science and the scientific inquiry.

I enjoyed your post. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Don't we need boundaries of human activity? Don't we need morals? Of course we do. Religion plays an important role in providing those guidlines. OK, some zealots take it to extremes, but that doesn't invalidate the true and good teachings and the moral lessons, and, and...

Anonymous said...

I don't know where to draw the lines about sexual behavior, but I guess what people think and do is OK with me as long as it's between consenting adults. Don't you think religion tried to provide some rules about sexual behavior and other cultural norms because there had to be some order?

Rory said...

Yes, it's insane! They don't like abortions (who really does anyway?) but what would actually prevent them--education and ..condoms--are not appropriate methods to the prolifers! Same with AIDS. No sex ed, no condoms. Just more ignorance and stupidity. Oh yeah, that'll fix the problem

Andros said...

Blindly following dogma isn't very helpful. Many, many women in Africa infected by AIDS are married! Their husbands infect them! So, there has to been education about AIDS and prevention.

Anderson said...

Bush is an ignoramus, not necessarily stupid, but definitely not a learned & inquisitive person. Yet, in many ways he reflects a great segment of the American society.

a r said...

The people of the fundamentalist flavor don't know that abortion was not always a ..sin. It was an acceptable practice and the unborn weren't considered persons.

In the United States, abortion laws began to appear in the 1820s, forbidding abortion after the fourth month of pregnancy.

Through the efforts primarily of physicians, the American Medical Association, and legislators, most abortions in the US had been outlawed by 1900.

Illegal abortions were still frequent, though they became less frequent during the reign of the Comstock Law which essentially banned birth control information and devices.

Anonymous said...

What happened?!!! The "poodle" Blair found his own voice? Good for him.

Kenna said...

The three religions I'm familiar with (Xtianity, Islam, Judaism) have scewed up something natural. Of course, they are all misogynistic and old fashion. Written by ignorant men who wanted to control their societies and regulate human behavior in the absurd.

o(-( said...

Yeah, and the pagan religions they replaced they all had a much better view of human sexuality.

Many pagan holidays and customs found their way into the judeochristian religions, but sex became a taboo.

;-) said...

Like my friend Andros would say, what better religion to have than the Hellenistic one, whereas the gods are given ideal human forms and stripped naked! It's rather humanistic, don't you think?

Samantha ii said...

Most kids of my generation (conceived before we the man on the moon) got information about sex from their peers, which meant lots of ignorance and misinformation. Our parents had so many taboos about anything sexual that they didn't talk about sex to us. I guess they ..prayed that we'd turn out OK.

Anyway, it is obvious, if you care to look, that men invented religion and customs and shaped society. It's no wonder why men got a better treatment than women. Polygamy, 72 virgins, etc... And the punishment was harsher for women. Even today, in some Muslim countries, the raped woman has to produce 3 male witnesses, otherswise she's convicted of ..adultery or some kind of sexual trespass! We still witnessing the killing of women (by men & women) because of "honor" crimes.... It's apauling!

That's another sphere where religion has screwed us up. And, its applied ignorance today is costing millions of people their lives. Ah, the self-imposed chains on the mind...

Happy Festivus

Anonymous said...

Andros, again you show your intolerance of religion. You bag everything together, because it's easier to hit it like a pinata!

Andros said...

Well, I think I can distinguish between a good deed and a bad thing. When people do good things that's ..good! When the church shelters and feeds the homeless, that is laudable, for example.

I admit, I'm not a religious man. But, I'm not many other things as well. What I am not is not the mesure by which I judge things. Same with my personal preferences. The world is not made for me to like.... or, made to my liking. I'm OK with it.

Yet, I am a moral person, a realist with ideals and a vision for a better future. I articulate my views,with reasonable clarity, I think... I just don't put "everything in the bag" to beat it as a pinata!

Why, some items do need a beating for them to come out, some others need a gentler approach. Much like religion & the Church--some is gentle, honestly caring, and understanding of the human condition, whereas some is convinced that the best way is through the Inquisition, the bonefires, and extinction of any traces of a thinking brain.

As for misleading statements, you only have to turn on your TV to see a plethora of tele-evangelists who claim the miraculous, ask for your money and deliver illusions! If this were not done under the veil of religion, they'd be criminally liable. Sure, the gullible may get what they deserve, but like the tarot card readers and the other charlatans of the sort there should be a disclaimer like, "for entertainment value only!"

Nora said...

very well said! those religious people who are offended by any criticism know, deep inside, that the criticism is fair!

the trap many people fall into is that they feel they have to be apologetic about everything related to the group they belong to. i think it takes clarity of thought and courage to criticize those members of the group that deserve the criticism and hurt the group by their own actions.