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"Abstinence" becomes "biblical sex only":

Walter Olson, who runs a terrific website about litigation abuse, sends me some info and commentary about the latest salvo in the culture war from the Bush administration:

According to online reports, the Bush administration in January issued regulations redefining "abstinence" in federal educational programs to mean avoidance of sex at any age whatsoever except within the framework of conventional heterosexual marriage. Loads of tax dollars will now be spent in American classrooms to enforce the message that gays and unmarried heterosexuals, no matter how ripe in age, should never have sex at all, no matter how monogamous. To quote the regs:

Abstinence curricula must have a clear definition of sexual abstinence which must be consistent with the following: "Abstinence means voluntarily choosing not to engage in sexual activity until marriage. Sexual activity refers to any type of genital contact or sexual stimulation between two persons including, but not limited to, sexual intercourse."

[And later:] Throughout the entire curriculum, the term 'marriage' must be defined as "only a legal union between one man and one woman as a husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife." (Consistent with Federal law)

Olson adds this additional commentary:

It seems to me that a classic bait-and-switch has gone on here. The federal government has devoted more than a billion dollars to "abstinence-only" education programs in schools. These programs have commanded fairly broad public support or at least tolerance, I think, because people who disagree on many other things will often agree that youngsters are better off postponing sexual experience until they are old enough to handle the consequences. Now it turns out that the message wasn't "teens are better off if they wait" but "let's reverse the sexual revolution".

Note also the confusion about "consistent with Federal law". The regulation-writers do not seem to realize that the Federal Marriage Amendment hasn't actually passed, and that nothing in federal law forbids Massachusetts from marrying same-sex couples. Such language inadvertently makes clear, however, that the abstinence program has cut loose from whatever original public-health rationale it may have had, and is now about enforcing social conformity, not reducing risks of disease or out-of-wedlock pregnancy or empowering novices to make more considered decisions.

An additional source of information on the new guidelines, complete with more links to the problematic nature of this policy, can be found here.

Joel B. (mail):
Okay, first...Federal Law does define marriage as the union of one man and woman. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defense_of_Marriage_Act

Further it seems that we could do a lot worse than encouraging abstinence until marriage in our schools and we frequently do. As far as the abstinence program "cutting loose" from any public health rationale, let's not forget that many people, reasonably so, believe abstinence until marriage not only to be the best for people's physical health, but mental, emotional health as well.
4.22.2006 11:24am
Richard Riley (mail):
While Walter Olson is probably right that the Bush Administration is pushing "abstinence only" beyond its fair meaning, but he is not right to accuse the administration of "confusion" about federal law in this area. The Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, 1 USC 7, states:

"In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife."

The regulations that Walter Olson criticizes are simply quoting a federal statute currently on the books. Bad policy, maybe, but no "confusion."
4.22.2006 11:28am
jab (mail):
Joel &Richard,

I think it is pretty obvious/clear from context that Dale was referring to the fact that nothing in federal law prevents individual states from recognizing same-sex marriage, not that federal law does not recognize same-sex marriage vis a vis federal institutions/regulations.
4.22.2006 11:39am
ak (mail):
To the extent that the guidelines expand the Defense of Marriage Act's definition of "marriage" into the only allowable, legal definition -- completely ignoring state law to the contrary -- they're misleading.

And one other weird element of the above-quoted text: "Sexual activity refers to any kind of sexual stimulation . . . between two persons." What doesn't this include? Kissing? "Second base"? Just one more area in which the Administration has acted in bad faith--and incidentally wasted a lot of taxpayer money.

Which is too bad, since a more modest (and honest) abstinence program, simply letting HS kids know that they're probably too young for intercourse and urging them to wait a couple of years, might do some good.
4.22.2006 11:47am
Been There, Done That:
Kids understand the difference between what is achievable and what is not. It's hard enough to contain the hormones to refrain from sex until some measure of adulthood, but they're just going to tune out the message of celibacy until marriage... the average age of which is not what it used to be.

So while the original abstinence message may get some traction, this Biblical approach is destined for complete failure.

I wonder whether the President and all his staff and the members of the GOP congressional delegation were all virgins on their wedding nights. Assuming the answer is yes, they are dangerously detached from modern American society and cannot possibly have a perspective on things relevant to leadership. Of course the answer is no, which suggests some combination of rank hypocrisy and self-delusion.

To those more libertarian right wingers, it is another embittering and alienating moment: this administration sells out free speech with mccain feingold, it generally pays no respect to our civil liberties, it cannot or will not preserve the tax cuts, it allows horrendous out of control spending, creates new entitlement programs, wants to put Harriet Miers (!) on the court...

but they are committed to repressing sex. That's what the GOP has become. The party of big government, but without sex. That's what we get voting for these guys. Not smaller government, not sound economic policy, not respect for individual rights, not much effort to fix the judiciary... just Bible study. ....sigh....
4.22.2006 11:50am
Freder Frederson (mail):
As far as the abstinence program "cutting loose" from any public health rationale, let's not forget that many people, reasonably so, believe abstinence until marriage not only to be the best for people's physical health, but mental, emotional health as well.

But I would be willing to bet that the vast majority of the people, including most mental health professionals, in this country, do not. This is nothing but a very small minority trying to impose their warped, stilted, view of sexuality on a majority that is not buying it. What does this ultra-orthodox view of sexuality say to all those kids of divorced parents who may be in sexual relationships. Are they supposed go home and condemn their parents for being fornicators?
4.22.2006 12:06pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I wonder what would happen if I called someone else's sexuality "warped" or "stilted." I'm guessing I'd be called a bigot by several of the usual suspects on this board.
4.22.2006 12:10pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
I wonder what would happen if I called someone else's sexuality "warped" or "stilted."

I didn't call anyone's sexuality "warped" or "stilted", I called "view[s] on sexuality" warped and stilted. There is a huge difference.
4.22.2006 12:16pm
check yourself:
Dale and others:

I disagree with much of what is being said here. Simply because it is unrealistic to expect people to live in accordance with the policy the government is promoting doesn't mean we shouldn't promote it. Should the speed limit laws go, simply because no one follows them? Of course not - they serve to dramatically reduce the average speed of a driver.

So, too, I would argue that abstinence education serves to reduce the number of sexual parterns one has in their lifetime. Even if it only reduces that number by 1 partner, that will significantly slow the spread of AIDS. And there is simply no question that the federal government has the power (and perhaps responsibility) to fight chronic communicable diseases. I see no reason to bash the Bush administration for wanting the "reverse the sexual revolution."

In libertarian terms: Why should my tax dollars be spent on AIDS research and treatment if I'm willing to engage in lifelong monogamy? AIDS is like drunk driving - virtually completely prventable at the individual level. We don't spend time and money teaching people how to safely drive drunk. Instead, we enforce abstinence. Surely, I don't want to criminalize sexual behavoir. But is it really that different?
4.22.2006 12:16pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
ahhh... huge difference. I see. So what happens if I call someone's VIEWS on sexuality warped? Would that be ok then?
4.22.2006 12:18pm
ak (mail):
ahhh... huge difference. I see. So what happens if I call someone's VIEWS on sexuality warped? Would that be ok then?

If someone is not pushing their views about sexuality on you, then it would be rude. If, however, that someone is trying to get a billion dollars of Federal funds to push their views on your children ... well then, I think it's ok.
4.22.2006 12:26pm
Quarterican (mail):
Of course, it's my impression that there are no studies to suggest abstinence education of the sort being pushed by the right wing is effective at preventing kids from having sex, AND ESPECIALLY at encouraging them to have safe sex once they do.

Who here has actually had sex ed in school in the last decade? (Raises hand.) Luckily, I was at a private school, where they covered the basic mechanics of sex, the risks involved to your physical health, the emotional aspect, how to have safe sex/what constituted safe sex, told that contraceptives weren't 100% certain (only 99%!) and that abstinence is the only surefire way to avoid disease and pregnancy, encouraged not to be so immature as to have sex due to some sense of peer pressure, and that it was our choice to do what we wanted when we felt we were ready. That's an effective message, I think, certainly helped by the fact that it was supported by my parents, and quite different from the "abstinence education" method, which seems like a shoddy way of fighting the spread of communicable diseases since it doesn't actually provide you with a complete set of tools to do so.
4.22.2006 12:27pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
ahhh... huge difference. I see. So what happens if I call someone's VIEWS on sexuality warped? Would that be ok then?

Yes, it's okay with me--as long as you are not just using it to cover for a direct attack on that persons sexuality.

So, too, I would argue that abstinence education serves to reduce the number of sexual parterns one has in their lifetime. Even if it only reduces that number by 1 partner, that will significantly slow the spread of AIDS. And there is simply no question that the federal government has the power (and perhaps responsibility) to fight chronic communicable diseases. I see no reason to bash the Bush administration for wanting the "reverse the sexual revolution."

Well, you can argue that abstinence education serves to reduce the numbers of sexual partners one has in their lifetimes and aids in HIV prevention, but the facts would be against you. The studies show that abstinence education, while delaying first vaginal intercourse, actually increases the incidence of unprotected sex at first vaginal intercourse and other risky behaviors like anal intercourse.

The government is trying to impose a sexual morality on the nation that is a distinctly a minority view. Are you seriously arguing that most Americans believe that any sex outside of marriage is per se wrong and a point of view the government should be advocating?
4.22.2006 12:29pm
TheSaint517:
I think the point my sex-ed teacher made was along the lines of this:

"Sex with a condom is like wearing a rubber glove...you don't feel as much. So you should wait until you're married so you can get the full pleasure without a condom."

Now that's compelling education!
4.22.2006 12:33pm
Shangui (mail):
So, too, I would argue that abstinence education serves to reduce the number of sexual parterns one has in their lifetime. Even if it only reduces that number by 1 partner, that will significantly slow the spread of AIDS.

Except that the NIH's own studies have shown the students who take the "abstinence pledge" and actively participate in these programs, while they lose their virginity and average of about a year later than other students, are more likely to have unprotected sex when they do. So goodbye to any public health rational for the program.

See: "According to Columbia University researchers, virginity pledge programs increase pledge-takers’ risk for STIs and pregnancy. The study concluded that 88 percent of pledge-takers initiated sex prior to marriage even though some delayed sex for a while. Rates of STIs among pledge-takers and non-pledgers were similar, even though pledge-takers initiated sex later. Pledge-takers were less likely to seek STI testing and less likely to use contraception when they did have sex" (Brückner H, Bearman P. After the promise: the STD consequences of adolescent virginity pledges. Journal of Adolescent Health 2005; 36:271-278. Bearman PS, Brückner H. Promising the future: virginity pledges and first intercourse. American Journal of Sociology 2001; 106(4):859-912.
4.22.2006 12:34pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Only the government would seek to define sex by regulation. I hope they complied with the Administrative Procedure Act, the Paperwork Reduction Act, NEPA, etc., etc. And didn;t try any categorical exclusion BS under NEPA, because sex affects the population affects the environment. It should have been done with a full blown Enviro Impact Statement.

By the end of the rulemaking, it will have achieved its end of encouraging abstinence. Government intervention will have made sex so boring that for the first time in the history of the human race no one is interested.
4.22.2006 12:35pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Well, I really don't want to get into another discussion of who's "pushing" what... I just felt like pointing out the rather hostile tone of Freder's post.

I've noticed something while reading the threads dealing with sexuality... When the rhetoric becomes especially nasty, it always seems to favor the "left." (I use that term because it's pithy and understandable... I understand it's far from perfectly accurate.) People attempting to (effectively) argue in favor of traditional sexual mores often go out of their way to avoid "hostile" language because it's understood that no one will be persuaded if you come across like a homophobic redneck or a crazy bible-thumper. (Yes... I realize these people exist, but I think on this board we can probably presume they don't represent the thrust of the argument)

On the other hand, people in favor of loosening or eliminating sexual stigmas in this country seem to benefit by turning the debate in as nasty a direction as possible. When the discussion degenerates into a snarling session of ad-hominems and name-calling, it naturally seems to favor the side that can claim "injury."

I dunno... I probably haven't seen this from every angle yet, but I just find it odd that Freder can use terms like "warped" to describe my "view of sexuality" when some kid can't use the word "shameful" without being subjected to government censorship. One side of this debate is being silenced because the rules of engagement are being written by the other side. I think I'm going to start calling people out on their rhetoric more often.
4.22.2006 12:42pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
The above discussion reminds me of the "would you sleep with me for a million dollars ... we've already established that, we're just working out a price" story.

Does anyone really believe that a govt that is empowered to do something (teach values in this case), will always do it the desired way.

Perhaps using schools for "social education" wasn't such a good idea. After all, different folks think that social education means something else.
4.22.2006 12:48pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
People attempting to (effectively) argue in favor of traditional sexual mores often go out of their way to avoid "hostile" language because it's understood that no one will be persuaded if you come across like a homophobic redneck or a crazy bible-thumper. (Yes... I realize these people exist, but I think on this board we can probably presume they don't represent the thrust of the argument)

Apparently, you have never read any of Clayton's postings whenever the subject turns to homosexuality.

And what exactly do you mean by "traditional sexual mores"? Those held by a small portion of the Western European Elite, (and then very hypocritically, check into the estimated number of prostitutes in Victorian London) for a couple hundred years?
4.22.2006 12:51pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Well, I really don't want to get into another discussion of who's "pushing" what... I just felt like pointing out the rather hostile tone of Freder's post.

Well, I do get hostile when the government tries to impose what is a distinctly minority view of what is unquestionably an issue of personal morality (which most of us should agree the government has no business having any opinion on--the private consensual sexual activities of adults).
4.22.2006 12:55pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Yes, freder... those.

And yes. I read almost all of Clayton's threads, unless I don't pick up on it until the 80th post or something. I stick by my last post.
4.22.2006 12:57pm
Joel B. (mail):
Clayton is so unfairly maligned on this site it is amazing, even the way he was treated during his short residency was pretty grating.

Why shouldn't the government encourage private morality? Don't most "private" moralities eventually spill over to the public. It is amazing to watch however that what appears to be a very short period of time, that which used to be good and decent has become warped and stilted, and that which use to be considered damaging to oneself and others has become the paramount freedom. The most amazing thing is how few people choose to realize this is course of events is exactly the kind of behavior that is predicted.
4.22.2006 1:12pm
Fishbane (mail):
Sexual activity refers to any type of genital contact or sexual stimulation between two persons including, but not limited to, sexual intercourse."

Does that mean that under this definition, 3-ways are OK?
4.22.2006 1:20pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Why shouldn't the government encourage private morality? Don't most "private" moralities eventually spill over to the public. It is amazing to watch however that what appears to be a very short period of time, that which used to be good and decent has become warped and stilted, and that which use to be considered damaging to oneself and others has become the paramount freedom.

What particular private morality should the government encourage? Mitt Romney is considering running for president. Do you want you want the private morality of a religion made up by some Vermont whackjob a hundred sixty years to become the official policy of the U.S. government? What if Tom Cruise became president? Do you really want us to have government pushing morality based on the ravings of a second-rate science fiction author?
4.22.2006 1:23pm
Christopher M. (mail):
There doesn't seem to be proper appreciation here of how extreme these regulations are. Under the definition of "sexual activity," the message here is supposed to be that it's immoral or at least wrong to engage in any sexual touching whatsoever until marriage. In other words: until your wedding night, men, you should not have touched your wife-to-be's breasts; you should not have engaged in any kissing of body parts below the neck (if that's even allowed); you should not have pressed your bodies tightly up against each other while kissing. Women: you should go into marriage never having touched, even through clothes, your husband-to-be's penis; probably never having even seen it. Probably never having let your hand even graze over his rear end -- again, even through clothes.

I know people sometimes like to call views "extreme" when they're not, but come on. These are not mainstream views, and they certainly do not describe the way the vast majority of Americans (of this generation or the last or the one before that) lived their dating/courting years. And you're not going to fool many high school kids into thinking that this standard is anything close to normal.
4.22.2006 1:28pm
Bryan Long:
One side of this debate is being silenced because the rules of engagement are being written by the other side.

Is this like the 'teach the controversy' argument put forward by the adherents of 'Intelligent Design'? The response here is identical to the response there: there is no controversy. Practically no one not servient to a fringe ideology supports such a view; its logical underpinnings are nonexistent and unsupported by either scientific research or lay intuition.

I would go beyond Freder and assert that it can scarcely be called a moral issue rather than a sectarian one. And I think we can all agree that the government should never be in the business of promoting sectarian viewpoints, particularly when devoid of secular value.

It is amazing to watch however that what appears to be a very short period of time, that which used to be good and decent has become warped and stilted, and that which use to be considered damaging to oneself and others has become the paramount freedom.

It would be my guess that prohibitions against premarital sex have largely been ignored where young people have not married as adolescents. And this when the specter of damnation had a much tighter grip on the minds of the people than it does now. In other words, however 'good and decent' it may be, it has never been anything more than an unworkable ideal; its only abiding contribution to the sexual lives of teenagers has been to make their sexual lives more confused, haphazard, secretive and guilt-ridden.

But this is all speculation and opinion, which is worthless. Can anyone on either side of the argument produce links to the effects (or lack thereof) of abstinence education? Does it serve the secular purpose it claims to, or does it have little value outside its crypto-Biblical underpinnings?
4.22.2006 1:29pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
If Tom Cruise were president and tried push an agenda of "sexual morality as dictated by Scientology," and assuming congress went along with it, it sounds like that would be quite a campaign issue, wouldn't it? Now what happens if the Supreme Court tells us we all have to obey the ACLU's vision of sexual morality? What are our options then?

Frankly, I'll take my chances on the bet that Tom Cruise will never be elected.
4.22.2006 1:30pm
Shangui (mail):
Clayton is so unfairly maligned on this site it is amazing, even the way he was treated during his short residency was pretty grating.

No, he pretty much maligned himself. His obsession with his belief that eating shit is a regular part of male homosexual culture and his tendency to get increasingly angry until he starts saying things like "now you're arguing like a homosexual" really don't do him any credit.
4.22.2006 1:42pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Sexual activity refers to any type of genital contact or sexual stimulation between two persons including, but not limited to, sexual intercourse."

Does that mean that under this definition, 3-ways are OK?


I suppose the question would be whether "two persons" means "only two" or "at least two." I hate it when regulations are drafted imprecisely. Perhaps the justification given for the final rule in the Federal Register would give a clue.
4.22.2006 1:43pm
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
My response whenever confronted with an ethics expert's lecture is to raise my hand and ask if it's ever okay to lie.

I hope this program doesn't prohibit shacking up with your girlfriend, by the way.

Perhaps that could be formulated as another question.

In any case, mocking is the way to go, here.
4.22.2006 1:44pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Why shouldn't the government encourage private morality? Don't most "private" moralities eventually spill over to the public.

Side issue: what do we mean by private morality? Schools and other institutions do stress "save the earth," "Earth Day," etc, whether or not the earth cares about being saved, or from what. They chastise certain behavior (smoking) in the terms that a puritan minister might use for homosexual behavior. Debate about global warming, and near-religious faith in or against it, has replaced debate about transubstantiation.
4.22.2006 1:48pm
lee (mail):
YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK! Just when you think nothing could be more stupid than "the war on drugs", Voila! Sorta reminds me of Orwell's anti-sex league in "1984".
4.22.2006 1:59pm
Reg (mail):
I think the federal government should teach kids that it is better for them to abstain from sex until they enter a heterosexual marriage.

We aren't talking about banning anything here, only about what we will tell high school kids they ought to do. From the perspective of society as a whole, I don't see any benefit arising from telling people to have gay sex. What is the argument here? Gays might have their feelings hurt? True, but they are free to go to a different school if they don't like the message taught in public schools.

Like all these debates about what to teach in public schools, the easy answer is vouchers. But until then, telling kids what they ought to do should reflect what is best for them and society, and I'm not convinced by any argument I've heard or personal experience I've had that any good arises from telling kids that gay sex is just as good for them as sex in a heterosexual marriage.
4.22.2006 2:54pm
Shangui (mail):
they are free to go to a different school if they don't like the message taught in public schools.

What exactly is your definition of "free"? 20K+ a year?
4.22.2006 2:58pm
therut:
Above comments is why Sex Education in school should only be voluntary and with permission of the parents. One group wants to teach children that sex is O:K as long as you do it safely(by their standard) and both people are consenting. Their slogan has gone from "Do what feels good" to "Do what feels good but with a condom". No matter the age, gender, marriage status of the two persons. Another group believes in the traditional Biblical idea of fornication as a sin. As abstience as the ideal and wish their children to be taught this if anything about sex. Sex education has become nothing but a political football for adults pushing their views of the world and their perticular sexual perversions or freedoms upon children.
Hence another reason to have separation of schools and government.
4.22.2006 3:05pm
Fishbane (mail):
I hate it when regulations are drafted imprecisely.

Exactly my point. Absent other guidance, though, a textualist might say that the drafters could have said "two or more" and didn't.

That this is the type of absurdity this sort of morality legislation leads to makes me agree with Ron and lee above: the propert response is mockery.
4.22.2006 3:11pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):

his tendency to get increasingly angry until he starts saying things like "now you're arguing like a homosexual" really don't do him any credit.

Mcbain: That outfit makes you look like a homosexual.
Audience: Booooo!!!
Mcbain: Maybe you all are homosexuals
4.22.2006 3:19pm
WPT:
There's a lot of philosophical speculation in the preceeding comments. But how does sex-ed really work in the real world?
If abstinence-only delays sexual activity by about a year, that's still much better than the "values neutral" sex "education" espoused by Planned Parenthood who is the biggest purveyor of sex-ed programs other than the abstinence-only advocates. Before they stopped taking post-education surveys a few years ago, their follow-ups indicated that their "values neutral" program actually
increased the rates of sexual activity, STD's and teen-age pregnancies over the rates experienced by groups of teen-agers who had no formal sex ed whatsoever. So this is better than abstinence-only approach?

From another viewpoint, a few years ago my wife, who is an ER nurse, had to explain to a young woman who was a college student that she was pregnant. Which, according to the young woman couldn't be because she and her fiance always stopped short of "real" sexual intercourse, or done an "alternative." Yes, her hymen was intact. But it was a real baby she delivered a couple of hours later. It was not a case of strong denial, her doctor who had treated her for gastrintestinal inflammation and bloat only a month earlier also believed her when she said she "hadn't had sex." According to some of the critics of the above quoted regulations, she hadn't had sex, either. But she was pregnant, nonetheless.

Critics who scoff at this definition of sex in the regulations forget that this was actually the socially accepted definition up until the early part of the 20th century. It didn't work perfectly, but from my far from scientific or statistically valid observations of those who don't generally agree with such a definition, it works better than the more "liberated" and "modern" approach.
4.22.2006 3:24pm
Smithy (mail) (www):
I enjoy watching the relexively anti-Christians of the people here. These counrty was founded by Christians, for Christians. If you don't like it, move to Iran.

The whole notion of what constitutes Biblical sex is complicated. I think that some view it too restrictvely. Anyone who has read the Song of Songs knows that Christianity is a sensual religion. The Bible does forbid sex outside of marriage, and the government should discourage it as well, but within the context of marriage, I do not believe that there are any Biblical restrictions on sexual activity.

That's my two cents.
4.22.2006 3:25pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Speaking of inflamatory rhetoric...
4.22.2006 3:31pm
Huh:
Health tip:

Just burying your head in the sand will NOT prevent infection or pregnancy. You must actually immobilize the entire torso with sand in order to fully immunize against disease and babies.

And gay-ness.

And impure thoughts.

In all seriousness, I'm not against the government voicing its opinion on the matter. Even if that opinion ignores all evidence of reality. It's okay to dream.

But I can't understand why you wouldn't want to provide kids with useful, practical information just in case the whole abstinence thing is unable to overcome the average teenager's tornado of hormones. Why not support a marketplace of ideas in this context? Why not tell them everything, and see what works?
4.22.2006 3:47pm
Porkchop (mail):
Fisbane wrote:


I hate it when regulations are drafted imprecisely.

Exactly my point. Absent other guidance, though, a textualist might say that the drafters could have said "two or more" and didn't.

That this is the type of absurdity this sort of morality legislation leads to makes me agree with Ron and lee above: the propert response is mockery.


We'll have to interpret as best we can. I think that it depends on what is contact with what and when. Some forms of the daisy chain might be okay, I think. :-D
4.22.2006 3:47pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Ahh, the "Reefer Madness" underpinning of the abstinence-only argument finally comes into the open: "One French kiss before marriage and you're doomed to a miserable AIDS-ravaged death"

Check yourself says "Simply because it is unrealistic to expect people to live in accordance with the policy the government is promoting doesn't mean we shouldn't promote it." After all these years, does no one recognize that when aouthorities promote unrealistic policies that no one expects most people to actually follow, all it does in the long run is engender contempt for authority?

Daniel Chapman writes: "Now what happens if the Supreme Court tells us we all have to obey the ACLU's vision of sexual morality? What are our options then?" Honestly, if any arm of government puts forward a regulation mandating adolescent sex and making homosexuality compulsory, I'll man the barricades with you. But no one has ever proposed such a thing--not even the ACLU--and no one would. It would clearly be a hostile act, and everyone would understand the hostile reaction--which is why your feigned surpirise at the sometimes hostile reactions to a hostile act like these new regulations is so clearly disinigenuous.

These regulations are just this generation's version of the Nanny State--writ large.
4.22.2006 3:48pm
Smithy (mail) (www):
"One French kiss before marriage and you're doomed to a miserable AIDS-ravaged death"

Caricature much? Kids will be kids. A little experimentation of that sort is probably healthy. No one is coming out against letting teen-agers make out. Except the nonexistent extremists that exist in the minds of the far left.
4.22.2006 3:54pm
Garrett Biehle (mail):
No one has mentioned (not really, anyway) the message this new definition of "Abstinence Only" gives to gay/lesbian/bi youth: "You are never to have sex. Sex is for marriage, and marriage is not for you. You can never fulfill your deepest desire for companionship, nor can you address the loneliness you feel, unlike us normal people." The subtext is loud and clear: "You are subhuman. You pollute the air of good people. You create evil in whatever you touch. It would be better if you were dead." You think I am exaggerating? This is the message that I and my gay friends got very strongly when we were growing up. Gays who despair of monogamous relationships turn to promiscuity.
4.22.2006 4:09pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Some have articulated one danger of abstinence-only indoctrination (it's hard to call it education, since it withholds so much information). As Shangui says "while they lose their virginity and average of about a year later than other students, are more likely to have unprotected sex when they do."

The other side is increased divorce. Why is it that the Bible Belt states have the highest divorce rates? Simple: Adolescents see marriage as a license to have sex, so they marry too early and too quickly, then end up divorcing, disrupting real families and real children. Abstinence-only education under these guidelines will only increase that problem.

Finally, I find it ironic that WPT tells the story of a college woman who thought she couldn't be pregnant, since there had never been penetration--somehow without realizing that this is a clear indictment of abstinence-only sex-education. Comprehensive sex-ed would have made it clear that pregnancy could happen without penetration.
4.22.2006 4:10pm
wm13:
I think people are missing an important point. Most people here seem to believe that sexual activity outside marriage is okay for adults, but not young teenagers, and criticize the guidelines for going well beyond that point. But quite a few studies have shown that telling teenagers that an activity is for "adults" is totally counterproductive. Come on, guys, every teenager wants to be a grown up. Just think, for example, why did you (the cool ones, that is) start smoking? Would telling you that smoking is for adults have stopped you or encouraged you?
4.22.2006 4:10pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
My point was that SOMEONE has to decide what form of education is best for our society. School boards and legislatures (and to an extent, Presidents) seem to be the lesser of two evils. In order to take them out of the process, the Courts step in and say what can or can't be taught. I never intentionally implied that the Supreme Court would be "making homosexuality compulsory," and I don't see how you came to that conclusion.

My "feigned surprise" was neither feigned nor surprise. It was just a comment on a trend I've noticed that's been going on for a long time. Believe me, there is nothing disingenuous about my concern.
4.22.2006 4:13pm
Chimaxx (mail):
I wrote:
"

One French kiss before marriage and you're doomed to a miserable AIDS-ravaged death"


Smithy replied:

Caricature much? Kids will be kids. A little experimentation of that sort is probably healthy. No one is coming out against letting teen-agers make out. Except the nonexistent extremists that exist in the minds of the far left.


But isn't that in the plain language of the regulation?

"Abstinence means voluntarily choosing not to engage in sexual activity until marriage. Sexual activity refers to any type of genital contact or sexual stimulation between two persons including, but not limited to, sexual intercourse."


Under what possible definition is french kissing or "making out" not "sexual stimulation between two persons"?

If you want to argue that that part of the definition is an ideal not to be taken seriously, then what part isn't? Why doesn't making the expectation so restrictive encourage an "in for a dime, in for a dollar" mentality among adolescents? ("Making out is just as much against the rules as intercourse, so since we've already broken the rules by making out, we might as well go all the way")
4.22.2006 4:19pm
AA (mail):
"Mitt Romney is considering running for president. Do you want you want the private morality of a religion made up by some Vermont whackjob a hundred sixty years to become the official policy of the U.S. government?"

Are Romney's attempts to preserve the traditional definition of marriage as well as oppose bias and intolerance directed at gays and lesbians generally considered the "private morality of a religion made up by some Vermont whackjob?"
4.22.2006 4:19pm
SLS 1L:
That's pretty darn impressive. "Abstinence" means not "abstinance from sexual intercourse" but "abstinence from all sexual contact other than kissing on the mouth or face"?
4.22.2006 4:24pm
Perseus:
I'm just waiting for Judge Reinhardt to prohibit a student from wearing a T-shirt saying "Fornication is shameful" in a health education class because it constitutes a "verbal assault[] that may destroy the self-esteem of our most vulnerable teenagers and interfere with their educational development."
4.22.2006 4:30pm
Smithy (mail) (www):
Do you want you want the private morality of a religion made up by some Vermont whackjob a hundred sixty years to become the official policy of the U.S. government?"

Seeing as there's Vermont whackjob running the Demoacratic National Committee, maybe that's not the best point to try to make.
4.22.2006 4:34pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Daniel Chapman:
My point was that SOMEONE has to decide what form of education is best for our society. School boards and legislatures (and to an extent, Presidents) seem to be the lesser of two evils. In order to take them out of the process, the Courts step in and say what can or can't be taught. I never intentionally implied that the Supreme Court would be "making homosexuality compulsory," and I don't see how you came to that conclusion.


I was just reacting to the plain language of what you wrote: "Now what happens if the Supreme Court tells us we all have to obey the ACLU's vision of sexual morality?" and I honestly thought you meant that literally--that some Supreme Court would mandate that all US citizens had to obey the ACLU's vision of sexual moality (whatever that is). Sorry I missed the context that would have made it mean something different.

But as to the point you meant, I've never seen the courts "step in and say what can or can't be taught." I've only ever seen the courts respond to lawsuits by parents disputing regulations, then weigh whether the regulation accords or conflicts with existing laws. Sometimes these suits are from parents who want more restrictions on sex-related education (like recent cases in Massachusetts) and sometimes less. Sometimes the case goes in favor of the parents and sometimes in favor of the schoolboard/legislature/president--regardless of which side brings it. Sometimes the cases are decded well and sometimes not. Each side in this debate can point to a handful of cases that went against their interest and try to pretend it's a trend of discrimination against them. But overall, the results of the court challenges have seemed to steer a middle course. Am I missing something?
4.22.2006 4:35pm
wm13:
I realize that everyone here is having too much fun making fun of Christians to use actual legal analysis, but under the doctrine of noscitur a sociis, sexual stimulation should be construed as involving the sex organs, so kissing won't qualify.
4.22.2006 4:35pm
SLS 1L:
wm13 - The rule has to do with "sexual stimulation," and lots of things that don't involve the sex organs can sexually stimulate.

Dale - I'm unconvinced taht this is a "Biblical" definition of sexuality. Where does the Bible say "no second base until marriage"?
4.22.2006 4:49pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I dunno... I saw the conversation moving towards the "It's religious indoctrination to teach abstainance" meme, which tends to carry the implied "It is unconstitutional to teach it in public schools" in my mind. I see now that based on what's been said (explicitly) so far, I probably jumped the gun by invoking the Court.

I still believe there's nothing wrong with elected officials deciding what should be taught in sex ed. (As the lesser of two evils, of course... vouchers would be a better solution) As long as we're going to have sed ed in schools, the majority will decide what's appropriate to teach. If you disagree, use it as a campaign issue and change the officials.
4.22.2006 4:49pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
Something that has yet to be quoted, yet, I think holding the most weight is that little thing called the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . .


This, I think to some degree at least, not only dictates against saying religion X is the official religion and religion Y is prohibited, but also, to some degree dictates against creating law as reflected in that same religion.

Also, this nation was not built by Christians, for Christians. This nation was built by reasoned men for all men regardless of religion. For one, Jefferson was by far not a Christian as one, today would classify a Christian. He believed in Jesus only to the extent that the teachings thereof were the morals by which to live. As to dictating religious standards Jefferson said

"I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the United States. Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in religious discipline has been delegated to the General Government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority." --Thomas Jefferson

The free exercise of intercourse between consenting adults cannot, in anyway be deemed injurious to another person. These activities ought to be up to the individual to determine whether or not they are in-line with their own views of morality.

As far as teaching our students, I do not believe we have a right to teach rules of morality on anyone. There is a difference between the example of smoking, drunk driving, and saving the environment. Obviously, the later 2 have direct negative impacts on others. The drunk driver who hits and kills a child is not acting in a way injurious to himself, and therefore it is the responsibility of society to curb this behavior. Society cannot prevent one from drinking, nor can they prevent one from driving for merely consuming alcohol. But, when that consumption reaches the degree of impairment that leads to injury or death to another, it becomes a risk to others; thus, it is under the realm of the government.

As to saving the environment, no matter your views on global warming, all individuals with any sense of logic are able to see the injurious affects of pollution-- at least some types of pollution. The reason for requiring emissions standards is not to ease global warming, but is to prevent many toxins from entering the air and causing breathing problems for all residents of the area. This is a public good by definition.

Smoking can go either way; one can argue that the second hand smoke is in fact injurious to others, thus, can be regulated. I agree with this argument to the degree that it is up to the community to decide-- not the federal government (which is how it is regulated). However, not banning smoking doesn't mean you cannot speak of the dangers of smoking. Telling people not to smoke because it can cause lung cancer is not the same as telling people smoking is wrong; therefore, you are not to do it.

Similarly, if schools were to teach that abstinence is best because of the risk of pregnancy and disease, it would be ok. However, for the schools to say practice abstinence because sex is bad unless in the case of marriage is not ok. There is a difference; this is a moral guideline that which it is not the school's responsibility or authority to teach. Parents and religious leaders serve this role, not public school teachers. This is the type of moral discipline spoken of by Jefferson. Not that Jefferson saw this "sexual revolution;" but that Jefferson anticipated the family to instill moral views on children, not the government.

Furthermore, sexual activity includes genital contact and any sexual stimulation. Stimulation can be defined as:

Any stimulating information or event; acts to arouse action

Does this, therefore, include words spoken that may cause arousal? This seems to be a bit far-fetched in defining sexual activity. I am not necessarily fighting for the Bill Clinton definition of sex; but, this is going way too far. I do not see why what I learned about 10 years ago is not sufficient.

We were told sex causes pregnancy and many diseases can be transmitted through sexual contact, including but not limited to intercourse. Condoms were the best form of protection against disease and pregnancy. They were, however not 100% effective. The only 100% effective way to stay safe was abstinence. Therefore, you should, in order to prevent disease and pregnancy practice abstinence. If you were going to ignore this; use a condom.

Why are we so repressed a society that this is no longer acceptable? Why do we force moral beliefs on others? Whether it is the majority view or the minority view does not matter; the minority is to be protected from the majority, just as the majority ought to be protected from the minority. An issue so sensitive as ensuring the health and welfare ought to be based on science and logic; not religious or political beliefs.
4.22.2006 4:50pm
Jacob T. Levy (mail):
I enjoy watching the relexively anti-Christians of the people here. These counrty was founded by Christians, for Christians. If you don't like it, move to Iran.

Of course, the country was founded [in large part] by deists and unitarians who explicitly disavowed doing it *for* Christians only; the intense linking of Americanness with Christianity postdates the founding.

The whole notion of what constitutes Biblical sex is complicated. I think that some view it too restrictvely. Anyone who has read the Song of Songs knows that Christianity is a sensual religion.

Er... I rather thought that it was Jews who viewed the SoS as actually being about sex and love between humans, and that Christianity tended to identify it as being about soemthing else entirely...
4.22.2006 4:50pm
Broncos:

These counrty was founded by Christians, for Christians. If you don't like it, move to Iran.


Mullah Smithy has obliterated the unintentional comedy scale.

Maybe we should create a word for this; just so we can distinguish this type of perverted mess from the loving theology that the rest of us normal, God-loving Christian people partake in? Something along the lines of "Christiano-Fascism"?

And does Jesus really require the power of the United States government? Give me a break. This is just (some) of our churches being lazy; and refusing to take individual responsibility for their own failures. They're is just lobbying for a government handout. And a second dose of irony.
4.22.2006 4:53pm
SLS 1L:
Daniel - Apologies if I'm misunderstanding you, but you seem to be saying that there's something improper about criticizing the decisions made elected officials unless you are in the process of making a campaign issue out of it. Why can't we criticize the decision as it's made?
4.22.2006 4:55pm
TheSaint517:
wm13, if that were the case then why did the author of this language specifically write "genital contact or sexual stimulation"? It would seem to me that the intent was to include things other than just the sex organs.
4.22.2006 4:58pm
Smithy (mail) (www):
As far as I'm concerned, the most important errogeneous zone is the one between your ears. Sexuality doesn't have to be crude, not in the context of marriage. There's more to the birds and the knees than the hips and the knees.
4.22.2006 5:04pm
wm13:
Well, Saint (and others), under your interpretation, the words "genital contact" are entirely superfluous, since that is obviously a subset of "sexual stimulation."

I have set forth the proper interpretation. People who aren't using standard canons of construction, which is most of the people here, are just playing silly word games. In fact, I have to believe that most of the comments about the wording of the regulations aren't being written by people with law degrees. Is there someone in the group who believes that they can write any document directing future behavior (from legislation to loan agreements) that can't be misinterpreted by someone who is wilfully trying to do so? The impossibility of that enterprise is maybe the most important thing I learned in law school.
4.22.2006 5:07pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Oh by all means criticize it... I'm not sure I agree with this one myself. (But since all I've heard so far was Mr. Carpenter's explaination, I'm guessing I might be persuaded as I learn more.) I was specifically responding to Freder's claim that "government" shouldn't be able to decide this issue. I take the position that it can and should. If the "government" makes a mistake, criticizm of that mistake will tend to lead to a change in government.

"What particular private morality should the government encourage? Mitt Romney is considering running for president. Do you want you want the private morality of a religion made up by some Vermont whackjob a hundred sixty years to become the official policy of the U.S. government?"
4.22.2006 5:11pm
SLS 1L:
wm13 - I don't have a law degree, but exclusio unius ex exclusio alterus cuts the opposite way from the canon you've cited. The whole point is that sexual stimulation is different from genital contact, but your interpretation says it's the same thing.

In any case, not all genital contact is sexual stimulation, unless "genital contact" (implausibly) means "two people's genitals contacting each other" rather than "one person contacting the genitals of another person."
4.22.2006 5:13pm
Shangui (mail):
I enjoy watching the relexively anti-Christians of the people here. These counrty was founded by Christians, for Christians. If you don't like it, move to Iran.

It's a sad moment when the comment thread hits the point at which Clayton Cramer jumping in with his thoughts on sex might actually raise the level of discourse.
4.22.2006 5:18pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
I was scared the first time I had sex...I was all alone...My daughters a great kid..in highschool she was voted most likely to conceive..
4.22.2006 5:25pm
wm13:
No, no, no, sls1l, that's not what expressio unius est exclusio alterius means. It's quite common in legal writing to use two words or phrases which are more or less synonymous e.g. "ordain and establish" or "null and void." Expressio unius est exclusio alterius does not mean that the two phrases "genital contact" and "sexual stimulation" have to be interpreted to mean radically different things. In fact, noscitur a sociis means that they should be interpreted to mean something similar.

In this case, we have two phrases that might encompass slightly different but closely related activities, as in such legal phrases as "assign or sublease" or "bequeathe and devise." "Sexual stimulation" might include, say, cunnilingus (since neither the tongue nor, arguably, the clitoris is a genital organ). The reader may exert his mental energies in coming up with something that is "genital contact" but not "sexual stimulation."

It most assuredly is not the case that any court, administrator, or lawyer who was actually trying to give good advice would interpret "sexual stimulation" in the regulation to encompass, say, looking someone in the eyes and saying "I love you." Only someone who was playing silly word games as part of an anti-Christian fulmination would do that.
4.22.2006 5:30pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

These counrty was founded by Christians, for Christians. If you don't like it, move to Iran.


Smithy


Of course, the country was founded [in large part] by deists and unitarians who explicitly disavowed doing it *for* Christians only; the intense linking of Americanness with Christianity postdates the founding.


Jacob T. Levy

Professor Levy is right. I should note that anyone interested in the scholarly case for the religious views of the Founders should check out my blogs; this is one of my specialties.
4.22.2006 5:46pm
Shangui (mail):
As far as I'm concerned, the most important errogeneous zone is the one between your ears. Sexuality doesn't have to be crude, not in the context of marriage. There's more to the birds and the knees than the hips and the knees.

Smithy, real human being, or computer generated weird cliche machine?
4.22.2006 5:55pm
BobN (mail):
What do you call a wasteful government program which ignores established science and promotes an unrealistic, hypocritical, even absurd policy related to the sex lives of other people?

Food for the base.
4.22.2006 5:56pm
Anonymous Reader:
To all:

The comments in this thread have been very interesting. I for one am a proponent of abstinence education. Should we teach children "how" to have sex and how to wear protection and whatnot? Since many parents fail to educate their own children, which leads to experimentation, then YES... With one big caveat... most high schools require some kind of biology or anatomy class and if my memory is correct (I attended HS in the 90's), we learned a lot about sex of many different species, to include humans. So, if the concern is that the only place kids can learn about the mechanics of sex is Sex Ed, then I would have to disagree. If the concern is to teach kids the responsibilities that come with sex (premarital or marital), and how to best protect themselves, then yes, teach it in a Sex Ed class.

I remember we had a banner on the wall in my Sex Ed classroom that said something to the effect,

"Abstinence if the best form of birth control."

I have yet to hear anyone say that if you don't have sex, you can still get pregnant or STD's, simplistically speaking that is. All I know is that I've seen more and more pregnant teenagers and young unwed mothers. Of course the govt has a compelling interest in stemming the tide of early pregnancy! Let's see.... teenage pregnancy will cause young women to either carry the psychological scars of an abortion... or women who due to their unmarried state, must rely on WIC or other govt social programs to stay afloat in life... or even worse, we end up with children raised by "children" who perpetrate the cycle.

I would ask for someone to please show me where I am wrong. Show me that the number of pregnant teenagers has gone down due to the current Sex Ed curriculum. I am just going off anecdotal evidence that I've seen with my own eyes and my own experience. Also, answer this question, when should Sex Ed be taught? Doesn't it sadden you when you hear about a pregnant 12year old? Show me that the govt has no business in trying to provide the best possible starting point for HS graduates by promoting abstinence education (after age 18, you're on your own). With everything on MTV and other popular shows, people still think the govt shouldn't stress abstinence? If they don't? Who will?

Anonymous Reader
4.22.2006 5:57pm
jvarisco:
Waiting until marriage is the ideal, not the practical result. We have speed limits, but expect people to go a couple miles over. It is hardly extreme to want people to limit their sexual activity during their lifetime to a single person who they eventually marry, and in fact would be quite beneficial in stopping AIDs and other diseases. It has also been the ideal for nearly two thousand years in Western society.

Most of the libertarians here oppose abstinence in itself. I don't see anything making this worse - telling consenting children rather than consenting adults not to engage in harmful behavior? For most of us, graduating from hs/college hardly confers the capability to judge any better than most children, and this is borne out by the number of adult single mothers. Not to mention that the majority of abortions are for people (in the libertarian view) old enough to decide if they should have sex.
4.22.2006 6:01pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):

Smithy, real human being, or computer generated weird cliche machine?


I don't know, but I'm sure one could spend hours racking the old "errogenous zone" trying to answer that.
4.22.2006 6:05pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Mike BUSL07:

Re your "Simpsons" reference, it was just perfect. Bravo.
4.22.2006 6:05pm
BobN (mail):

Where does the Bible say "no second base until marriage"?


I seem to recall some biblical admonitions, but apparently it's ok to go to third base, in fact, it seems to be encouraged:


Then, shalt thou count to three. No more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three.


Pardon the descent into Monty Python, but when faced with absurdity in real life, where can one turn?
4.22.2006 6:06pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Are Romney's attempts to preserve the traditional definition of marriage as well as oppose bias and intolerance directed at gays and lesbians generally considered the "private morality of a religion made up by some Vermont whackjob?"

That's the problem with Mormonism. To outsiders they present such a reasonable and clean cut image. They call themselves "Christians" and most people who are unfamaliar with the cult actually think Mormons are Christians. But once you really talk to a Mormon and find out what you believe you realize that their religion has very little to do with Christianity at all. Their beliefs are every bit as bizarre and heretical as anything Tom Cruise spouts while he is jumping up and down on the couch on Oprah.

But back to the main subject. Do you really want your kids to learn that it is absolutely wrong to have sex outside of marriage? I don't have kids, but in between marriages (I'm on my second now), I dated a woman with high school aged kids. Are you seriously telling me you want the public high schools telling people that is wrong for two forty-year old consenting adults who care deeply for eachother to have sex. "Hey kids, your mom is a slut!". Gee, that is real sensitive to the children of divorce who are trying to deal with their parents dating.
4.22.2006 6:09pm
SLS 1L:
Anonymous Reader - if a man ejaculates sufficiently near the vagina, the sperm may be able to crawl in, leading to pregnancy. Very rare, but it does happen.

wm13 - I think we are being thrown off by an unaddressed underlying interpretive question: namely, what does "genital contact" mean? You seem to think it means "genital-to-genital contact," while my default reading is to take it to mean "one person's genitals contacting another person," so mutual masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, etc. would be "genital contact." If it means "genital-to-genital contact," then you may well be correct about "sexual stimulation," but if "genital contact" means what I think it means then it would be insane to give "sexual stimulation" your reading, since lots of things that don't involve the genitals will be sexually stimulating.

Either way, I don't think it's plausible that it includes sex talk.
4.22.2006 6:15pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Thanks Joseph - I try to conceal the extent to which I'm a Simpsons geek, but sometimes i just can't help it.
4.22.2006 6:16pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
It is hardly extreme to want people to limit their sexual activity during their lifetime to a single person who they eventually marry, and in fact would be quite beneficial in stopping AIDs and other diseases.

Speak for your own damn self. I find it extreme to expect or even want people to limit their a single person during their lifetime. I didn't. I'm not a worse person for it. And yes, I had a couple sexual encounters I regretted. But do I feel like I am a morally corrupt or bad Christian because of my sexual history or ashamed of what I have done. Hell, no. I think have had a healthy, normal, sex life.

I think it is silly for the government to believe that such a policy is either desirable, realistic or even something that they should be concerned with.
4.22.2006 6:22pm
Keith (mail):
Unfortunately this is the kind of hijinks that really give the overall conservative movement the bad rep as a bunch of repressed, missionary position only, finger pointers.

I will be the first one to argue that a young teenager is usually not ready emotionally for a serious sexual relationship. Not to mention the other possible health consequences or the impact on ones future of an unwanted pregnancy. At the same time, abstinence only is akin to sticking ones head in the sand (aka South Park with Muhammed). At the other extreme, having pre-teens or teenagers practice using condoms by putting them on dildos or bananas in class seems to go to far in the other direction of explicity encouraging their sexualization. Let them enjoy the relative innocence of their teen years.

Logically the rationaly response would seem to be to emphasize that sexuality is an integral part of being human, while also emphsizing the the complexity and emotional/health/moral belief issues of a sexual/romantic relationship. In short, don't treat pre-teens and teenagers like little children, or full grown adults, but rather like burgeoning adults they are. Give them good and detailed information, discuss the issues in an open manner without explicitly encouraging sexual activity and let them make the decisions.

Unfortunately, you have the extremes on both sides that shout the loudest.
4.22.2006 6:24pm
jvarisco:
Freder) If they care deeply, they should get married. If they don't care that much, then no they should not have sex.

Keep in mind, this is being taught to hs kids. Regardless of the message, they are being told not to have sex. How long they are supposed to wait is less relevant than the message of abstinence itself. It's not like 40 year olds are being forced to go to a class and told not to have sex.
4.22.2006 6:24pm
Keith (mail):
Unfortunately this is the kind of hijinks that really give the overall conservative movement the bad rep as a bunch of repressed, missionary position only, finger pointing nannies.

I will be the first one to argue that a young teenager is usually not ready emotionally for a serious sexual relationship. Not to mention the other possible health consequences or the impact on ones future of an unwanted pregnancy. At the same time, abstinence only is akin to sticking ones head in the sand (aka South Park with Muhammed). At the other extreme, having pre-teens or teenagers practice using condoms by putting them on dildos or bananas in class seems to go to far in the other direction of explicity encouraging their sexualization. Let them enjoy the relative innocence of their teen years.

Logically the rationaly response would seem to be to emphasize that sexuality is an integral part of being human, while also emphsizing the the complexity and emotional/health/moral belief issues of a sexual/romantic relationship. In short, don't treat pre-teens and teenagers like little children, or full grown adults, but rather like burgeoning adults they are. Give them good and detailed information, discuss the issues in an open manner without explicitly encouraging sexual activity and let them make the decisions.

Unfortunately, you have the extremes on both sides that shout the loudest.
4.22.2006 6:25pm
Keith (mail):
Ooops, apologies for the double post.
4.22.2006 6:26pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Freder) If they care deeply, they should get married. If they don't care that much, then no they should not have sex.

Like I said, you have no right to lecture me.

It's not like 40 year olds are being forced to go to a class and told not to have sex.

No but their children are. And the vast majority of people in this country see nothing morally wrong with two unmarried consenting adults having sex, your morality notwithstanding. For the government to teach children a moral stance (and that is what it is, nothing more) that directly contradicts the established mores of the society at large, is just appalling. What kind of message does it send the children? That their parents are immoral sinners? Although you may agree with that sentiment, that is certainly not the prevailing view. What's next, the government teaching that divorce is wrong?
4.22.2006 6:34pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Speak for your own damn self. I find it extreme to expect or even want people to limit their a single person during their lifetime.

At least you're honest, freder. I disagree completely.
4.22.2006 6:37pm
Shangui (mail):
For Mike BUSL07:

"Because they never gave in to their throbbing biological urges."

From the Fluffy Bunny sex-ed film ("she faking it").
4.22.2006 6:40pm
Cornellian (mail):
I think the federal government should teach kids that it is better for them to abstain from sex until they enter a heterosexual marriage.

That would be under the often overlooked "promote abstinence" clause of Article I.

Remember when conservatives believed in a federal government of limited and enumerated powers?
4.22.2006 6:40pm
Cornellian (mail):
Of course, the country was founded [in large part] by deists and unitarians who explicitly disavowed doing it *for* Christians only; the intense linking of Americanness with Christianity postdates the founding.


Heck, today's evangelicals are very recent arrivals on the scene, historically speaking. They have very little in common with the view of the Founders.
4.22.2006 6:43pm
Anonymous Reader:
Freder,

Sorry, but I have to completely disagree with you. Murder is wrong, lying is wrong, etc, so you're saying the govt shouldn't create laws about that? I know I'm generalizing, but you get my point.

I would like for you to prove to me or anyone who may agree with me why it's okay for teens to become pregnant. Granted, it's not like in the old days with the negative stigma, but was that necessarily a bad thing? Do you feel that teenagers these days are ready and able to handle the complex world of being a parent? I don't think they know enough to make that kind of decision. There are plenty of adults that I know that don't feel ready to have kids either. Shouldn't we do our damnest to steer children towards waiting until they were older and wiser to make that kind of life changing decision? I don't care for making moral judgements about adult behavior, what I care about is if teenagers should be taught about abstinence, with the understanding that they will also learn what safe sex is, but with an emphasis on abstinence being the best form of birthcontrol.

Anonymous Reader
4.22.2006 6:43pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
At least you're honest, freder. I disagree completely.

Your loss.

And I hope when you say you disagree, you disagree with whether or not it is better to only have sex with one partner, not whether I am a moral person or not. To judge someone's morality who you have never met would be mighty unchristian of you.
4.22.2006 6:44pm
Cornellian (mail):
Abstinence curricula must have a clear definition of sexual abstinence which must be consistent with the following: "Abstinence means voluntarily choosing not to engage in sexual activity until marriage. Sexual activity refers to any type of genital contact or sexual stimulation between two persons including, but not limited to, sexual intercourse."

So for now at least, it appears that solo masturbation is still beyond the purview of Big Brother in Washington. Of course, only a fool would think that that isn't on the religious right's agenda of evils to be eradicated. They just haven't got round to it yet.
4.22.2006 6:52pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
I would like for you to prove to me or anyone who may agree with me why it's okay for teens to become pregnant. Granted, it's not like in the old days with the negative stigma, but was that necessarily a bad thing?

Where in this entire thread did I say teenage pregnancy was a good thing or it was okay for teens to be sexually active or pregnant? I never said any such thing and never came close to implying it.

This proposed regulation promotes the outrageous proposition that any sex outside of marriage is wrong. That is what I object to. Every point I made referred to sex between consenting adults, not teens. I agree wholeheartedly that the vast majority of high school students are too immature for sex and that high school sex education should carry that message. I did advocate sex between 40-year-olds, however I know a few of them who I consider too immature to have sex too.

I don't think that there is a magic age when you are suddenly "ready" to have sex, but just because you get married doesn't mean you are ready either. But for the government to adopt a position that sex is only acceptable within the confines of marriage is just perverse.
4.22.2006 6:59pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
As a matter of public health education, AIDS is as much a STD as gonorrhea, syphilis and genital herpes, isn't it?

It is spread by genital-genital contact, genital-anal contact and genital-oral contact, between one HIV positive individual and one HIV negative individual. In addition, it may be spread by contact with blood from or a needle used by or administered to one who is HIV positive. That seems to be the extent of scientifically recognized means of transmission.

As a matter of public health (not religion), does anyone on this thread seriously question the following statements:

That reducing the above-described contacts will reduce the risk of acquiring AIDS.

That having oral, anal or vaginal sex with individuals whose HIV status is unknown increases one's risk of acquiring AIDS.

That those faithfully following the tenets of at least three of the world's traditional religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) will reduce the contacts described above, and thus decrease the risks of acquiring AIDS.

Just asking.
4.22.2006 7:00pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
That would be under the often overlooked "promote abstinence" clause of Article I.

Remember when conservatives believed in a federal government of limited and enumerated powers?


"Commerce, undoubtedly, is traffic, but it is something more--it is intercourse." Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) 1 (1824). Trump.
4.22.2006 7:05pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
That those faithfully following the tenets of at least three of the world's traditional religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) will reduce the contacts described above, and thus decrease the risks of acquiring AIDS.

I thought the main tenet of Christianity is that we all fall short of being able to faithfully follow its tenets. Therefore, we shouldn't expect absolute perfection and abstinence and should prepare our children for when they do succumb to temptation (by teaching them about condoms).
4.22.2006 7:07pm
Fern:
What strikes me as bizarre is that religious people (and I consider myself part of that group) keep on pushing the definition of marriage as being a legal union between a man and a woman. But that's not what I believe my marriage to be. If I had forgone getting a marriage license, I would still believe myself to be married. It seems that the religious people in government are turning marriage into nothing more than a piece of paper. However, I'm married because my husband and I created a special covenant with G-d, not because some cranky government employee working at a California Courthouse issued me a piece of paper giving my husband and I a quick way to exchange legal rights. The state doesn't have the power to speak for G-d, therefore the state can offer nothing more than a civil union.
4.22.2006 7:08pm
Porkchop (mail):
wm13 wrote:

"Sexual stimulation" might include, say, cunnilingus (since neither the tongue nor, arguably, the clitoris is a genital organ). The reader may exert his mental energies in coming up with something that is "genital contact" but not "sexual stimulation."

Not to nitpick here, but the last time I checked (this morning), my wife's clitoris was definitely part of her genitalia. :-p
4.22.2006 7:12pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
"Commerce, undoubtedly, is traffic, but it is something more--it is intercourse." Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) 1 (1824). Trump.

I bet you took a trip to Pennsylvania just so you could take a picture of the road sign that says "Intercourse 69"
4.22.2006 7:13pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Fern, not that I agree with the government's position on marriage - and plainly enough, I don't - but the "marriage as a piece of paper" is a standard under which both sides muster. By the other side, I mean pro-gay marriage folks, (of which I am one). Sure, you can have a meaningful union without a stamp from the state, but the tax treatment alone can be worth fighting over (for couples that benefit). If a couple, gay or straight, believes their union to be right in the eyes of God, and that is important to them, then that's that, but I don't think it's what the fight is about.
4.22.2006 7:15pm
Sydney Carton (www):
"For the government to teach children a moral stance (and that is what it is, nothing more) that directly contradicts the established mores of the society at large, is just appalling."

Apparently, the voters disagree with you. Bush was elected, he gets to make the policy. Too bad for you.

"What kind of message does it send the children? That their parents are immoral sinners?"

Implicit in this statement is the assumption that their parents are regularly engaging in adultery and sex outside of marriage. Somehow, in the vast swath of Red State America, I doubt that's the case.

"Although you may agree with that sentiment, that is certainly not the prevailing view. What's next, the government teaching that divorce is wrong?"

Hopefully. Because it is.
4.22.2006 7:15pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Cornellian: You're absolutely right... in fact, "conservatives" were the ones who were against sex education in schools in the first place, weren't they? I think that ship has sailed though. Same could be said for having the (federal) government involved in public education in the first place.

Freder: If course I'm not judging you. I think you're wrong, and I would encourage the rest of society to adopt a different moral stance than you've taken. Divorce is bad, monogomy is good, and sex within marriage is the ideal. Although momentum seems to be moving your direction, I still think the population at large agrees with me on these points, and there is a legitimate government interest in promoting them no matter how isolated it makes you feel.
4.22.2006 7:15pm
plunge (mail):
Let's not forget that "abstinence only" is really just another name for "keep kids less informed."

Next, we hould push for biology free science classes! Oh.... wait.
4.22.2006 7:16pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
So for now at least, it appears that solo masturbation is still beyond the purview of Big Brother in Washington. Of course, only a fool would think that that isn't on the religious right's agenda of evils to be eradicated. They just haven't got round to it yet.

There's already been a move to regulate it, from the left. I'm serious -- in my files I've got a proposed rulemaking, from the very end of the Carter Administration, proposing consumer safety rules for dildos. It makes for hilarious reading as the authors try to describe, in stilted bureaucratese suitable for the Federal Register, just what they are used for and how the standards would be laid out (pardon the phrase). As I recall, concerns included electrical fires (maybe they had some 110 volt jobs back then, or the agency knew no better), friction burns from overuse, and some other worries. Fortuantely, the new administration killed the proposal.
4.22.2006 7:17pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
FF:

I agree with you that the commandment against adultery has been broken since it and its nine companions were first brought down from Sinai. Jews and Christians alike believe that.

That doesn't mean that a large proportion of believers didn't (and still don't) take it and the other nine seriously and try to live according to those teachings.

To the extent they are successful in so doing, I think the point still remains.

While Christians do believe that all fall short of the laws and glory of God, most adherents do not believe they have a special license to break them.
4.22.2006 7:18pm
Porkchop (mail):
As an unabashed libertine in my younger years, I definitely agree with Fred Frederson on this. It's none of anyone' business how many sex partners anyone has.

I find it odd for someone to base his concern with people having multiple sex partners on the potential for transmission for disease while defending a policy that, at its heart, seems to be "keep 'em ignorant and scared, and maybe they won't 'do it.' " That is, as we have seen, a recipe for increased pregnancy and/or disease transmission.
4.22.2006 7:20pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Implicit in this statement is the assumption that their parents are regularly engaging in adultery and sex outside of marriage. Somehow, in the vast swath of Red State America, I doubt that's the case.

You really don't get out much, do you? And check the stats, Red State America, as a whole, has higher rates of all the bad stats (divorce, teen pregnancy, etc.) than blue states. That hot bed of liberalism, Massachussetts, has the lowest rate of divorce in the country. Generally, the Red States are not very good at practicing what they preach.
4.22.2006 7:23pm
Sydney Carton (www):
"I thought the main tenet of Christianity is that we all fall short of being able to faithfully follow its tenets. Therefore, we shouldn't expect absolute perfection and abstinence and should prepare our children for when they do succumb to temptation (by teaching them about condoms)."

Um. No. The main tenent of Christianity is NOT that we're so flawed that we should prepare people for when they succumb to temptation (aka: sin). I can't believe you'd actually suggest with a straight fact that Christianity's main tenent is to PREPARE PEOPLE FOR SIN. Have you ONCE read the New Testament at all?

For the record, the main tenent of Christianity is that Jesus is the Son of God and that on the Third Day he rose from the dead, in fulfullment of the scriptures. His main teachings were: 1. To love the Lord God with all your might (implying following his laws and commandments), and 2. To love your neighbor as yourself. According to the New Testament, Jesus said that that was the summary of the law and the prophets.

I'm still shocked by the ignorance or perverse lunacy of people's ideas about Christianity on this blog. The idea that its main tenent is that we're so unperfect so that we should prepare you for when you sin... it's just so STUPID. Sheesh....
4.22.2006 7:24pm
plunge (mail):
"That reducing the above-described contacts will reduce the risk of acquiring AIDS."

It will reduce a person's risk if they have less sex, yes.

"That having oral, anal or vaginal sex with individuals whose HIV status is unknown increases one's risk of acquiring AIDS."

Again, yes.

"That those faithfully following the tenets of at least three of the world's traditional religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) will reduce the contacts described above, and thus decrease the risks of acquiring AIDS. "

For them personally, yes.

But here's the kicker. Depending on the sexual habits of the population as a whole, it could actually make the rate of AIDS transmission go UP. And if prudish people all suddenly started having more sex, in many cases, the rate of AIDS transmission in the population as a whole would go down. Counter-intuitive? Sure. But still true. :)
4.22.2006 7:24pm
Sydney Carton (www):
"You really don't get out much, do you?"

Liars believe everyone lies. Theives believe everyone steals. Adulterors believe everyome commits adultery.
4.22.2006 7:28pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Yeah, though I resent Freder's (usual) vitriol, I totally agree with him that sexual promiscuity is an indiviudual choice, and for a lot of people not a bad one.

Also, an interesting policy comparison can be drawn with the way we regulate the stock markets. When people who, quite frankly don't know their ass from their elbow when it comes to investing and are in that sense "children", decide to trade in securities, we make companies fall over backwards to ensure that someone with a 2nd grade education has access to all sorts of information he will never understand.

On the other hand, we have children, who will have sex at some point, probably fairly early on in their lives, yet the government wants to shut down the streams of information that help make informed decisions. I understand that there are huge distinctions here, but I think it's still worth a reflection.
4.22.2006 7:30pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
No one cares how many sex partners you've had... but that doesn't change the fact that as a group, we are better off if the national average remains as close to one per lifetime as possible. We're not talking about throwing you in jail if you reach a certain number, but we should definitely try to promote monogomy as the standard. No enforcement, just the general promotion of the idea that you're not "expected" to have sex. I think the STD epidemic outweighs your need to feel good about yourself.
4.22.2006 7:31pm
Quarterican (mail):
Liars believe everyone lies. Theives believe everyone steals. Adulterors believe everyome commits adultery.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Sydney Carton demonstrating some of that "snarkiness and vitriol" blogs are so famous for!

Seriously, though, it's not like Freder is always (frequently?) the politest fellow in the room, but way to (a) insult him while (b) at least partly missing his point.
4.22.2006 7:35pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
MA has the lowest divorce rate in the country as a ratio of divorces per population. They also have the 3rd lowest marriage rate in the country as a ratio of marriages per thousand population. You can't have divorces without marriages.

I really wonder when people will stop citing that article from the National Center for Policy Analysis... it's intentionally misleading.
4.22.2006 7:36pm
Sydney Carton (www):
"No one cares how many sex partners you've had... but that doesn't change the fact that as a group, we are better off if the national average remains as close to one per lifetime as possible. We're not talking about throwing you in jail if you reach a certain number, but we should definitely try to promote monogomy as the standard. No enforcement, just the general promotion of the idea that you're not "expected" to have sex. I think the STD epidemic outweighs your need to feel good about yourself."

Well said, though of course I think we could do a lot more to promote monogomy. We could end no-fault divorce, could get serious about private lawsuits against parties who interfere with a marriage, etc. And of course, it's not just some concern about STDs. Multiple sex partners and having multiple children through them all isn't exactly the greatest way to get oneself out of poverty. Adultery is a frivolty for the rich but a trap for the poor. There are many reasons other than STDs to encourage monogomy.
4.22.2006 7:37pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Adulterors believe everyome commits adultery.

You're calling me an adulteror and I am the accused of hurling vitriol. I never questioned anyone's morality here and now I am being accused of being an adulteror--fornicator maybe but never an adulteror (my first wife is a different story though--that's why I'm not married to her anymore).

You can believe whatever you want, but people are out there having sex, deal with it.
4.22.2006 7:37pm
Shangui (mail):
Implicit in this statement is the assumption that their parents are regularly engaging in adultery and sex outside of marriage. Somehow, in the vast swath of Red State America, I doubt that's the case.

Liars believe everyone lies. Theives believe everyone steals. Adulterors believe everyome commits adultery.


This has nothing to do with Freder thinking that other people have gotten divorced because he has. The statistics are well-known and quite clear. Red States have higher rates of just about every conceivable (no pun intended) social problem from divorce to teen pregnancy. And yes, Mass., that hotbed of immorality, does indeed have the lowest divorce rate in the country. Of the 10 states with the lowest divorce rates, 9 were blue states in the last election. Of the 10 with the highest divorce rates, all ten were red. But I'm sure you find more security in the fantasy of your cute little saying, Sydney. Much more convenient than facts.
4.22.2006 7:39pm
Sydney Carton (www):
I don't know if Freder is an adulteror. I have no idea of his personal history. So I apologize for implying he's an adulteror. But he also has no idea if I get out much or not, either. I'm well aware of how bad things are, thank you very much. New York City isn't exactly some place that's isolated from the rest of the country.

As for Red States and the statistics, I'm not going to doubt they're true. They probably are. Although I do doubt that their problems are worse than those in the inner cities. And of course, I'd note that certain statistics like divorce might be higher in the Red States, because people there ACTUALLY marry, instead of merely shacking up for several years outside of marriage.
4.22.2006 7:44pm
ema (mail) (www):
This proposed regulation promotes the outrageous proposition that any sex outside of marriage is wrong.

It also promotes the outrageous proposition that a marriage certificate is protective against an unintended pregnancy, or STIs.
4.22.2006 7:45pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):

It also promotes the outrageous proposition that a marriage certificate is protective against an unintended pregnancy, or STIs.

AGain, a disclaimer - I firmly believe in meaningful sex education, not absence thereof couched in the term "abstinence ed." But with that said, I would be very surprised if there was not at least a strong correlation between being unmarried and STD's. I don't have time to do the research, and I'm not saying that there is ironclad causation. But hte correlation doesnt appear unreasonable.
4.22.2006 7:52pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
Plunge:

Some whose sex is strictly monogomous are not prudes. They even understand how the mechanics work, and have a hell of a time.
4.22.2006 7:53pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
OK, I am going to draw some differences with everyone, yet agree with everyone. First of all, Freder, I'm not sure I agree with your statement that your view of sex is the majority view. And, frankly it doesn't matter; whether or not you are the majority or not, your view is protected. I'm not sure you are the mjaority but you are definitly a large portion of society.

Anonymous Reader, the issue here is not over whether or not abstinence should be taught and whether or not teens should be pregnant. Most would agree teens should not be pregnant and that abstinence is best. But, to ignore the fact that many, in their teen years or older will have sex outside of marriage is not helping the problem. The issue of the government's interest here is not to prevent people from having sex; it's to prevent disease and unwanted pregnancies. Thus, abstinence should be taught with a disclaimer that says but if you are not abstinent then.....
Also, the analogy to murder and other crimes is flawed. Murder, it is true, is generally accepted to be wrong; similarly, it is illegal. Murder, however, is not illegal because it is wrong based on a relgion or ethical view; but, because society has defined it as such in law. Actions may be illegal and unethical; but actions falling in one category do not ipso facto fall in the other.

Sydney, whether or not Freder is right or wrong as to the majority doesn't matter. Laws can only be created that are legal. A group, whether or not they are the majority dictating what other groups can do, in order to place their own moral views on them is not acting lawfully. To say that the bible belt is the majority, therefore the law of the land is now the beliefs of those people is not acting according to our constitution. This is inherently different than an approach like Freder's because though he would allow sex, he is not preventing you from not having sex. However, if you try to limit sex, you are now causing harm to others, as they have to follow this requirement.

If you teach kids about abstinence and condoms, they may be choose to abstinent, but if they don't they will use a condom. If you only teach abstinence, those that will be abstinent will abstinent and the others will not be educated in order to protect themselves for disease. Speaking of condoms does not force people to have sex with a condom; but, eliminating information about condoms does prevent people from practicing safe sex. Thus the former causes no harm other than providing unused information; the later causes the harm of depriving necessary information.
4.22.2006 7:56pm
Joel Mackey (mail):
Forgive me if I am redundant, my time is worth more than wading through all the posts.

Illicit sex is not fun if it is not illicit. I repeat, illicit sex is not fun if it is not illicit.

Swirl that around in your noggin, think of the implications. If we make all imaginable sex between "two concenting adults" legal, acceptable, even encouraged societally, where does that leave us? We have to turn to sex that is not between "two consenting adults" to find illicit sex.

Do you realize that by making gay sex, adulterous sex, and pre-marital sex societally acceptable, we force people to seek sex which is not between "two consenting adults". Do you think the group sex people arent going to try to get thier gig acceptable? How about the NAMBLA guys and thier need to be socially acceptable. Then we will have to deal with the people who want farm animals to be included into the acceptable realm. Before long , not only will cats and dogs be sleeping together, they will want civil unions.
A strict governmental definition of "proper sex" is desirable. A strict enforcement of thier definition is not. Face it, we are living in the silver age of sexuality (the golden age being the 60's free love movement).

If we keep liberalizing our sexual conduct, we are going to have to find some really freaky aliens to maintain any sense of illicit sex, and quite frankyly I dont think that is forthcoming.
4.22.2006 8:00pm
Fern:
Mike--I also support gay civil unions. And I agree that the legal benefits associated with marriage are important (which is why I did get a marriage license). But my concern is that the religious right's obsession with defining marriage as the legal union between one man and one union is turning marriage into nothing more than an exchange of legal rights. The beauty and meaning of people promising to love and support eachother for the rest of their lives is sucked out of marriage when bureaucrats get to decide who can partake in a religious covenant and who can't. If the government wants to hand out legal benefits to couples then call it a civil union and stop interfering with religious rituals. Religious people shouldn't want government interference in that area, but they are inviting and even demanding that the government interfere in a realm the government has no business entering.
4.22.2006 8:02pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
18 U.S.C. 1030: Perhaps you could back up your implication that "morality" laws are uncontitutional? "Murder is wrong" is a law that codifies the moral belief of a majority... the majority happens to be VERY large, but that's irrelevant. There is definitely nothing in the Constitution that says the federal government can't regulate conduct based on the moral views of the majority, much less state governments.
4.22.2006 8:02pm
Fern:
Oops. The sentence beging "But my concern..." should read, "But my concern is that the religious right's obsession with defining marriage as the legal union between one man and one woman is turning marriage into nothing more than an exchange of legal rights."
4.22.2006 8:03pm
Sydney Carton (www):
"Murder, however, is not illegal because it is wrong based on a relgion or ethical view; but, because society has defined it as such in law."

Murder is illegal because there's a law against it? Fancy that. I wonder why they wrote the law about it, though? Gosh, do you think that maybe the legislatures thought it was BAD? Holy moly, BAD, as in, an ethical judgment against it?!!? Wow.

"A group, whether or not they are the majority dictating what other groups can do, in order to place their own moral views on them is not acting lawfully."

But we just established that the whole point in making murder illegal was because legislators thought it was wrong according to their ethical view. Now you say that they CANNOT do this?

"To say that the bible belt is the majority, therefore the law of the land is now the beliefs of those people is not acting according to our constitution."

Oh ye of little logic. If they are the majority and they pass these laws, they ARE the laws of the land. Heck, if you get enough of them to agree, you might find they could pass a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT against something like abortion!!!!! Oh NO! What sort of argument would you make against them if they did that!? Would THAT be illegal also?

You need to learn a lot about how democracies work, Mr. 18 USC 1030.
4.22.2006 8:11pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
States can fed can't. Look under Article 1 Section 8 and let me know where it allows for laws of morality. Closest thing I find is general welfare. Murder's prohibition can easily fit under this. But I disagree that moral views of sexuality do. Seems to me that is more of a religious dictate.
4.22.2006 8:13pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
Democrocies can only go as far as the Constitution allows. Legislatures can only create laws for the purposes allowed by the Constitution. Perhaps I was a bit vague in my rant; but, if a moral objective is contrary to the Constitutional guidelines for creating law, it is Unconstitutional. Never did I question the ability to create such a statute via an amendment. However, as I recall that would require a bit more than a majority vote in the house and senate....

Our democracy was not set up for the majority to put down the minority. Our democracy was set up to value all peoples.
4.22.2006 8:17pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
It's a spending clause thing, I think. If you're just saying that the federal government should get their nose out of education, then we're on the same page, though.
4.22.2006 8:18pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Fern, thanks for that clarification. I totally agree that the spiritual value of marriage "generally," may be diminished by ill-conceived (pardon the pun and the plagiarism) campaign by some one the right to reduce the institution to a "mere" piece of paper.

With that said, one must bear in mind that folks like yourself will find sanctity in your own marriage, presumably, regardless of what happens outside of it.
4.22.2006 8:20pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
Daniel, I agree it's a spending clause thing. But as I said, show me where it allows for such laws. I agree they do it under the spending clause, my argument is they don't have authority to do so. That was never the intention of the spending clause.
4.22.2006 8:22pm
Quarterican (mail):
Murder is illegal because the continued health of the state requires the state to have a monopoly on violence. I imagine that back when humans were first figuring out their moral codes, there was a perfect correlation between what behavior was deemed immoral and what behavior, if permitted, would've destroyed the community. These many thousands of years later, there's a lot of overlap between commonly held morality and the category of "things that are illegal for the health of the state" but I'd imagine most people no longer think that the two categories are the same.

Personally, I don't think teaching kids the proper use of a condom is a threat to the continued existence of the United States.
4.22.2006 8:22pm
Donald Meaker (mail):
Another reason why I homeschool my children.

And I also teach abstinance.
4.22.2006 8:24pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
I remember the old maxim that the government is the legitimate monopoly of coersive power. Issue is the government only mantains that monopoly if it is acting legitimately. I for one do not feel that preventing the discussion of condoms is all that legit.
4.22.2006 8:27pm
Sydney Carton (www):
18 USC 1030: You're clinging to federalism as your argument? Oh please. 18 USC 1030 is a federal law regarding fraud in connection with computers. Do you think that perhaps Congress thought, in their ethical judgment, that FRAUD regarding computers was bad? It's like they're passing laws regarding morality here! And all those laws about insider trading, banking fraud, etc, etc.... all of them sound like morality laws! I guess we'd better scrap them all. But your complaint has nothing to do with federalism - I'd suspect you wouldn't want individual states dictating morality.

No, your main problem is that you really know that laws are passed that have underlying ethical viewpoints to them. They'd passed all the time. But you want to somehow argue that it's ILLEGAL or unconstitutional to do it when it comes to passing laws about sex, but it's ok to do it for things like fraud and murder. Probably because you'd say that everyone agrees about fraud and murder, but people disagree about sex. Except the reality is, people disagree about ethical views like murder too (see "partial birth abortion" as an example of people disagreeing about murder, and whether something is in fact murder).

You claim that laws about sexuality impose more of a religious dictate than laws about murder. But you present no evidence for that, and there's no reason to believe that the ethical views of one activity have anymore of a religious component to it than the ethical views about things like partial-birth abortion.

What really bugs you is that the voters have spoken and you're in the minority. Get used to it. Abortion is yet still legal in America, so I've had to live as a minority on that for a while. If the government promoting abstinence bothers you, then organize people to vote against it next time. But suggesting that the government cannot pass laws based on ethical views is completely idiotic.
4.22.2006 8:28pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
No no... he's on to something. Disband the dept of education and get the federal government out of the business of educating kids. Problem solved!
4.22.2006 8:35pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
Sydney, hate to bust your bubble but I am a right of center Christian who personally is against sex before marriage. However, that does not mean I have the right to put that view on anyone else. Call me a bad Christian if you wish, but my view on MY religion is that it is just that; MINE. It is the morals I have decided to live by, not those I think I have the right or moral obligation to put on others; sorry.

As to fraud and the like, Congress is given the right to regulate interstate commerce. Prohibiting fraud helps to ensure a free economy which is the purpose of regulating interstate commerce. I am not saying that some laws are not also deemed morally bad; but that does not mean they are illegal because they are viewed as bad.
4.22.2006 8:35pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):

Sydney, hate to bust your bubble but I am a right of center Christian who personally is against sex before marriage. However, that does not mean I have the right to put that view on anyone else. Call me a bad Christian if you wish, but my view on MY religion is that it is just that; MINE.

Well done. "Pwned," as the kids would say.
4.22.2006 8:39pm
speedwell (mail):
Liars believe everyone lies. Theives believe everyone steals. Adulterors believe everyome commits adultery.

People with dirty, nasty, sex-obsessed minds think everyone else is obsessed with dirty, nasty sex.
4.22.2006 8:41pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
Speedwell
No, just that people have the right to be obsessed with dirty, nasty sex.
4.22.2006 8:42pm
speedwell (mail):
You misunderstand me. People with clean, decent minds don't spend their time desperately worried sick that other people are having sex of which they personally disapprove.
4.22.2006 8:53pm
Sydney Carton (www):
"However, that does not mean I have the right to put that view on anyone else."

If you get enough people who agree with you, it sure as hell does. You can write a law about it if the people agree. It's called majoritarian rules. And it's fundamental to democracy.

"Call me a bad Christian if you wish, but my view on MY religion is that it is just that; MINE. It is the morals I have decided to live by, not those I think I have the right or moral obligation to put on others; sorry."

Your treatment of social concerns involving ethical views as purely private matters is cute, if not ignorant. Would you make this argument regarding infanticide? Partial-birth abortion? Abortion in general? The fact is, since the invention of Democracy, law is an instrument of morality as reflected in the community.

You said: "if a moral objective is contrary to the Constitutional guidelines for creating law, it is Unconstitutional."

Thank God you're not on the Supreme Court.

Which moral objectives are contrary to "Constitutional guidelines" for creating law? Only those involving sex? Is the reason for a federal law against prostitution purely economic, or was it REALLY done because Congress wanted to stop prostitution?

Would it be illegal to tax unmarried couples living together at a rate higher than married couples?

Would it be illegal to not tax married couples at all, while taxing single couples and single people?

Would it be illegal to force unmarried fathers with children to pay child support?

Would it be illegal to restrict a child-tax credit to married couples?

Would it be illegal to restrict a child-tax credit, marriage credit, or any other credit, to opposite-sex couples?

Forget "couples." What about polygomous marriages?

Forget "marriages." What about people who live in the same household?

Forget living together. What about people who they both claim to raise children, but in fact, live apart?

Are there moral objectives behind these laws? Does it matter if there are also other reasons? Are moral objectives contrary to those other reasons?

I reiterate: Thank God you're not on the Supreme Court. My answer: Congress can do whatever it damn well wants regarding tax credits, etc, in the above examples. They can make it so that only gay people would have to pay federal income taxes, or they could swing the opposite way and say that only opposite-sex married couples have to pay taxes. And they can have whatever reason for those laws, or none at all. Congress could make it legal to engage in insider trading, but could make it illegal to commit adultery. The check on this activity is not a Supreme Court, but the people.
4.22.2006 8:57pm
Elais:
When was the first time you guys and gals had sex? Were you so traumatized that now you're begging the government to tell your children that they can't have sex until marriage?

I'm single and approaching 40 and not interested in marriage right now. Why on earth should I have had to wait until marriage to have sex? And furthermore, why on earth should marriage be only option provided to teenagers? What's wrong with being single? Apparently everything according to the federal government.


Does that mean that horny 16-year-olds across the country will now want to get married in order to have sex now? Is that what abstinence only folks want now? Teenage marriages so the kids can have 'legitimate' sexual marriage? That is a terrible thing to inflict up children.

Has America forgotten that sex is supposed to be GOOD THING?
4.22.2006 9:04pm
Shangui (mail):
"However, that does not mean I have the right to put that view on anyone else."

If you get enough people who agree with you, it sure as hell does. You can write a law about it if the people agree. It's called majoritarian rules. And it's fundamental to democracy.


Sydney, his point is obviously that he doesn't think he should have the right to enforce his own moral views on what happens between two consenting adults. That means murder, child abuse, infanticide, and for many people, abortion are realms in which the gov't should interfere to protect the rights of one person. You know, the whole "my right to swing my fist stops at your face" thing. If, however, two consenting adults of whatever gender want to provide mutual oral, genital, etc. stimulation outside of the context of marriage but in the privacy of their own home, that's their business. In other words, he's putting forward a pretty straightforward libertarian notion of what laws should and should not do. I assume he feels this way because he understands that it is very important to protect the minority from having certain rights taken away by a majority because those rights are just that important. Any of this ringing a bell? So you can't tell two men they can't suck each other's penises (I'm doing my best not to force this comment to be deleted) in the privacy of their own home or hotel room and if, by some chance, snake worshippers become a majority, they can't force you to bow to their slithery master. If you think majority rules is the absolute answer, then I feel for you, because your general views on sexual morality on the way out.
4.22.2006 9:30pm
Shangui (mail):
Wow, I'm just a mess of typos. Sorry!
4.22.2006 9:43pm
Sydney Carton (www):
"In other words, he's putting forward a pretty straightforward libertarian notion of what laws should and should not do."

If he was making merely a "should"-type argument, that'd be another discussion entirely. This thread originally started out that way. But then 10 USC 1030 said that "if a moral objective is contrary to the Constitutional guidelines for creating law, it is Unconstitutional." What he means is that certain moral objectives are unconstitutional. That has nothing to do with "should", and everything to do with fundamental powers. He's basically suggesting that it's unconstitutional for Congress to use morality in crafting law (which is why he diverted down the "federalism" argument for a brief moment). Now, last I checked, I missed the part of the Constitution where it said that use of morality is unconstitutional.

Can you explain to me if the entire federal tax structure, as currently written, is unconstitutional because it doesn't permit polygomous marriages, or gay marriages, to claim certain tax credits? Again, I have no problem with a "should"-type discussion, but it's clear that the tax code isn't unconstitutional, and that views of morality are inherent to crafting law.

And the reason that those laws passed? Because the majority agreed with the morality underlying them. The majority thought, for instance, it was a good thing to have a child-tax credit (as opposed to, to take a wild counter-example, a virutal reality porn tax credit).

"If you think majority rules is the absolute answer, then I feel for you, because your general views on sexual morality on the way out."

I'm not so sure about that. But we'll see.
4.22.2006 9:45pm
Riccardo Schiaffino (mail) (www):
Syydney:


If you get enough people who agree with you, it sure as hell does. You can write a law about it if the people agree. It's called majoritarian rules. And it's fundamental to democracy.


I doubt that democracy is "whatever the majority decides", without any check or balance.
Let's check the alleged logic of what you say: if the majority decides, for example, that it is a good idea to deprive a group of people of the right to vote, would that be democracy? (you know, something like "Since the purple party is in power, and won a majority of the vote, we'll now pass a law that it is a crime to vote for any other party except for the purple party. We won the elections, so this is a perfectly legal and democratic decision, of course")
4.22.2006 9:50pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
Sydney

Which moral objectives are contrary to "Constitutional guidelines" for creating law?

All objectives for creating law not outlined in Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution are contrary to Constitutional guidelines.

Would you make this argument regarding infanticide? Partial-birth abortion? Abortion in general? The fact is, since the invention of Democracy, law is an instrument of morality as reflected in the community.

Infanticide I think we can all agree goes to general wellfare-- its called murder and is illegal, based on Article 1 Section 8 Clause 1.

Abortion, though I am personally against it, both for myself, and if asked by a friend for advice; I think until it can be shown by science when "life" begins, it is up to one person to decide what they will or will not do with their body, based on their own morality. Murder is the killing of a living person. When science tells me for a fact what constitutes life, then I will be happy to enforce it. Until then a living person is just that; a living person, i.e. born.

As for prostitution, you still do not understand my concept. It is not that laws with moral asspects can't be codified, it's that such laws must be based on a legal right provided the congress. The federal statute prohibits the travel for purposes of prostitution, as that is all that it has the right to prohibit. I am not sure I agree that it should be illegal. But that is definitly for another day.

Your tax examples are all unconstitutional because they are arbitrary and would be viewed as a discriminatory use of the authority tax.

As to the issue over child support, the federal government requires the states to have child support laws. Yes, this is allowed. Why? Because it helps to ensure the general welfare. If parents did not support their children, we as a society would be forced to pay more to provide services to these children. In order that society is not forced to pay for children, parents are mandated to pay for their own. Now before you try to equate this to abstinance teaching, the difference here is that this is a child that exists that society is not forced to pay for, not a child that could, possibly be born.

The major issue here is the fact that in all your examples, you were speaking on actions on the part of the government to regulate certain behaviors. The abstinance training is a regulation of ideas and speech. There is an inherent difference between these.

If the purpose of this is to help society by reducing the number of cases of STDs and to reduce the number of unwanted pregnencies, then surely it is responsible to provide with the abstinance information, information about safe sex. Otherwise, those who don't follow the abstinance advice will face the only other option they are given: unprotected sex. This is seems runs contrary to the purposes of the policy; unless the only purpose was a moral one, which is then quite a weak argument.

As to the Supreme Court, I believe that the justices ought to have the view that if the Constitution doesn't allow for it, congress cannot do it. That doesn't mean the majority can't have their way; it means the majority must show it is their view by enacting a Constitutional amendment. I think you need to understand OUR democracy better. You may have a firm grasp of the perfect democracy; but this nation is not a democracy of men, it is one of law. I for one am glad that laws cannot be passed based on the whim of the government. If you want the purpose of our government, take a look at the Preamble of the Constitution, I'm pretty sure it doesn't allow for the prohibition of things we disagree with. It was meant to be all inclusive not all exclusive.
4.22.2006 9:50pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
One last comment on your prostitution thing, YES I believe it is for financial reasons that the prostitution statute is codified. Remember, prostitution is not illegal everywhere in the nation. It is illegal based on the STATE's right to declare it so.
4.22.2006 9:56pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
We know where life begins. Biologically, it begins at conception. You're talking about "personhood," which is a completely different story.
4.22.2006 9:56pm
narniabound (mail):

Kids understand the difference between what is achievable and what is not. It's hard enough to contain the hormones to refrain from sex until some measure of adulthood, but they're just going to tune out the message of celibacy until marriage... the average age of which is not what it used to be.

So while the original abstinence message may get some traction, this Biblical approach is destined for complete failure.

I find this rather insulting. I was a teenager once and had all the same urges that teenagers have today, and yet I've only slept with one man--my husband--and we didn't do it until our wedding night. Perhaps the fear of God had a little to do with my self-control, but I think I was more afraid of getting pregnant than of God. God would have forgiven me.

On the other hand, I don't think excluding sex-education is a good idea at all. Kids these days learn about sex from other sources than school, but they don't necessarily learn the consequences of their actions from those sources. It seems that there is a disconnect in the minds of teenagers: information does not always translate to knowledge, which then does not transform into responsibility. Why is that? That seems a more relevant question.
4.22.2006 10:00pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
Daniel, Thanks for catching that. Yes, I meant person as is needed for murder. I know life begins at conception and made a typo.
4.22.2006 10:04pm
SLS 1L:
Daniel - while I'm mostly inclined to agree, an unimplanted fertilized egg is arguably not alive, much in the same way an unplanted acorn or seed is arguably not alive.

Sydney - don't you know that the income tax is unconstitutional because the constiutional definition of income is corporate profits, not individual wages and salaries?
4.22.2006 10:05pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
SLS, I wasn't even going there as to income tax.
4.22.2006 10:07pm
SLS 1L:
I was kidding. But more seriously, a lot of the stuff Sydney lists should be unconstitutional as sexual orientation discrimination because sexual orientation should be a suspect class.
4.22.2006 10:11pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
I know you were, but I wasn't going to make any jokes, wanted to (hopefully) keep the list of his disagreements short.

I agree with you on the orientation discrimination issue. Seems to me some people don't understand that the Constitution limits the power of the government and, for that matter, the power of the majority. If the government was supposed to be run by pure majority rule, there would be no need for the bill of rights, nor any of those pesky amendments affecting equal rights. Most notably the XIII XIV XIX XXIV XXVI, respectively.
4.22.2006 10:24pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Hell... the conversation has wandered everywhere else... why not?

No... "homosexuality" should not be a protected class under equal protection because it is fundamentally dissimilar to race, which is what the 14th amendment actually protects. It's practically cliche by now, but sex acts are "conduct" not a "characteristic." Just because someone has a propensity towards a particular conduct, even to the exclusion of other acceptable conduct, does not entitle one to a constitutional right to engage in said conduct.

At best, an argument can be made that the right to get your jollies off in whatever way you choose is "essential to our concept of ordered liberty" under the due process clause. (I disagree) Also, the 4th amendment obviously protects people from the government snooping that is always the bogeyman in sexual rights discussions.

Equal protection though? No.
4.22.2006 10:35pm
Sydney Carton (www):
"Your tax examples are all unconstitutional because they are arbitrary and would be viewed as a discriminatory use of the authority tax."

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! Is the graduated income tax arbitrary? How many brackets is constitutional? FLAT TAX, HERE I COME! Phew! Ah, me. This is where your argument becomes the absurdity that it clearly is. The Federal Income Tax is perfectly constitutional. The Code has always assumed traditional norms of concepts like marriage. It has never allowed pologymous couples to engage in multi-joint filings. (Note, SLS 1L: my lists were broader than mere sexual orientation, as they dealt with pologomy, single parents, etc. as well. Unless everything under the sun is a suspect class, you're always going to have someone on the outside.)

Did you file your taxes this year? Claim any credits or exemptions based on marital status? Were you penalized in some way because of your marital status? Did you claim anyone as a dependent? I'll bet dollars to donughts that you're not suing the IRS right now, or that you failed to pay your taxes because you reject the IRS Code.

I've gotta say, between declaraing that morality is commonly used as a basis for morality and thus ok, or claiming that morality cannot be used as a basis for morality EXCEPT for those laws that I agree with which OBVIOUSLY promote the general welfare, you go with the WEAKEST of the two, and as a result, are forced to declare that the IRS Code is Unconstitutional. I'll wager that your argument will find little supporters in the Federal Judiciary, or probably even on this website (which hopefully would recognize that an argument that so casually dismisses something obviously constitutionally sound as the Tax Code is clearly wrong).

"The major issue here is the fact that in all your examples, you were speaking on actions on the part of the government to regulate certain behaviors. The abstinance training is a regulation of ideas and speech. There is an inherent difference between these."

The training at issue is GOVERNMENT SPEECH, and hence, the government can say whatever it wants to say. Something tells me you'd have more of a problem with a law that regulated private behavior than one regulating government speech. This law has nothing to do with private speech, and don't insult me by pretending otherwise.

You back all of your hyperbole up by pretending that laws which impact morality that you find acceptable fit into the "general welfare" clause of the Constitution, and hence are ok. I could try playing your game and suggesting that laws that I like fit into the "general welfare" clause, and that laws I don't like do not, but I have too much respect to accept such a weak argument. It is such a cowardly move. How convenient for you that all the laws you like fit into the general welfare clause, while all the laws you despise do not! I wish I had that kind of magic formula.

18 USC, give it up. I'm betting that even SLS 1L, probably a liberal who never met a sex law he wouldn't strike down, thinks that you're on rocky shores here. But nevertheless, it's been fun tearing you a new one. If you persist in your absurdity, it won't be a surprise to me, nor to this weblog. But I promise to have lots of fun with your arguments in the future. Until then!
4.22.2006 10:37pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
Daniel, will you accept partaking in homosexual acts is not a legal justification for taxation?
4.22.2006 10:38pm
Sydney Carton (www):
darn. The third paragraph's 1st sentence of my last post should read:

"I've gotta say, between declaraing that morality is commonly used as a basis for LAW and thus ok...."
4.22.2006 10:39pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
I never claimed tax code to be unconstitutional. I claimed your examples were based on your examples. I did not use specific arguments for each example in order to make the post shorter. As to your pologomy examples, I'd say the government cannot tax something they dictate is illegal. I disagree with any regulation as to marriage restrictions. But, so long as you have your pologomy statute, the government can't tax it. Perhaps the problem is I am weighing each issue against the text. You are arguing based on what you like. If the Constitution had a "moral standard" clause, then I'd be perfectly accepting of the abstinance lecture. But it doesn't. Remember, I am not in favor of these behaviors I am personally not in favor of 24/7 sex; that however, does not mean I cannot look upon the text with some logic.

As far as enjoying ripping me a new one, I'm glad you enjoyed it, but I'm not certain that was the result.
4.22.2006 10:49pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
When it comes to sex how do you tell a novice from a professional?

The same way you do in law. Look for the license.
4.22.2006 10:56pm
BobN (mail):
Heterosexuality is "God's plan", "the foundation of society", "the greatest thing since slice bread".

Homosexuality is a sex act.

God, I hope some of you don't have kids.
4.22.2006 11:03pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
The longer marriage is delayed the more sex partners a man is likely to have.

I read a study once that Jewish men had on the average 12 sex partners before marriage. Reason: marriage age averaged 28.

BTW Jewish men in general are considered good husbands. I wonder if there is some causation here. Or just correlation.

In any case: Nature will not be twarted.
4.22.2006 11:13pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I just did a text search... the first time the words "god's plan" show up in this thread was your post, bob. Who were you quoting?

USC: a POOR justification for taxation, sure. But a LEGAL justification? What in the constitution forbids it? I do not believe it should be a protected class under the EPC, so I guess it's legal.
4.22.2006 11:15pm
SLS 1L:
Daniel - for better or worse, Lawrence v. Texas is the law of the land today, and a tax on gay sex would probably be unconstitutional under Lawrence.
4.22.2006 11:27pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Yes... that example was so absurd I naturally assumed that isn't what he was talking about. I assumed he was commenting on something like a marriage credit.
4.22.2006 11:29pm
ReaderY:
Roughly half the states in the country have fornication laws, and some are still enforcing them. Why shouldn't education programs be consistent with the law? After all, a quarter had sodomy laws as of Lawrence, perhaps an eighth to a quarter more were struck down by courts against the will of legislatures and their constituents, and several states had voted down repeal laws within the few years before.

Surely a subsidy, at any rate, is an easier sell than a direct prohibition. Whether the law is good policy or not is another question, but shock? If a dry county had a school program about not drinking alcohol, one could debate the merits of alcohol prohibition, but shock? Surely it's reasonable for the law and education policy to be consistent. Surely the existence of dry counties, or fornication laws, shouldn't surprise anyone.
4.22.2006 11:30pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I mean what are they going to do? Ask you to declare it on your 1040?
4.22.2006 11:31pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
Even still, I think that the following tax credit would be ruled unconstitutional.


Any, and all heterosexual persons that are the natural parent or legal guardian of a child under 18 years of age are entitled to a credit of $150 dollars; this credit is not to extend to any homosexual person claiming guardian ship of any child (natural or adopted), whether, single, in a relationship, or, if allowed by state law, married/Civil Union.
4.22.2006 11:37pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I find the position of those defending the Bush policy here to be completely disingenuous. There's two basic questions here: (1) should people be abstinent if they are not in a heterosexual monogamous marriage, and (2) even if (1) is not true, should we teach kids this anyway?

With respect to question (1), I am going to go farther than some of the posters (who simply portray this as a matter of contested morality) and say NO. You heard me, NO! Not everyone is going to find sexual fulfillment in a monogamous marriage. Gays, for one thing-- and many closeted gays are in heterosexual marriages that are completely unfulfilling for them and often end in tragic results. ("Brokeback Mountain" did a very nice job of portraying this.) But not just gays. Has it occurred to any of the folks here that sex is a learned skill, that you get better at it with experience, and that you may not know whether you really "click" with another person until you try it with them? I would venture to say that most of the people out there who have had multiple partners in their lives would report that their first partner wasn't their best partner.

Really, what this comes down to is because of some HIGHLY contested interpretations of religious texts, some people believe that even an unmarried 40 year old or a divorced or widowed person, or even a person whose spouse dumped him or her or was abusive, should never, never go out and have some fun with another person. After all, the ideal number of sexual partners, according to one comment above, is ONE!!! To me, this is just as much a case of where what we have learned has "disproved" religious beliefs as the evolution debate is. We know quite a bit more about human psychology and sexuality than the folks who authored the Bible did 2,000 years ago, and it is perfectly clear that the idea that every person should find a single person of the opposite sex to have exclusive relations with all their lives is simply not the way we are programmed.

With respect to (2), therefore, the question comes down to whether we should lie to the kids and tell them that all sex outside of marriage is forbidden. That question answers itself-- sex education classes are only going to work if they are credible. If kids think they are getting propaganda (and they know perfectly well that in the real world, unmarried adults have sex with each other all the time, don't get diseases, and live happier lives doing it), they aren't going to listen to it. Nor should they.

But in addition, consider two other things. First, preaching abstinence outside of marriage, as is often noted, means suppressing the second half of the message about what to do when you do decide to have sex. There are good reasons, indeed, for not only single people to use condoms but for married people to use them. That commenter's teacher who said that waiting 'till marriage is better because you can take the condom off is full of it. The condom, after all, is a method of birth control and also protects married people as well as singles from STD's. Or are married couples simply supposed to assume that their spouses never cheat, and that their spouses were actually virgins when they got married? (Also, just as an aside, sex without a condom with someone who doesn't know what the heck he or she is doing is probably not as pleasurable as sex with a condom with someone who does know how to do it.)

The second thing to consider is that one reaction that horny kids will have to the abstain until marriage message (as opposed to the "wait a while" message) is to get married quicker. Indeed, in the Bible Belt where the no sex outside marriage ethic flourishes, the average age of a first marriage is younger than elsewhere. But those marriages are more likely to end in divorce, and are more likely to feature abuse. Plus, it is a terrible idea for many young women to quit school to raise young children, and that is much more likely to happen when teens are getting married. That may serve the social agenda of those who oppose gender equality, but to the rest of us, it should serve as a reminder that one of the reasons the sexual revolution happened is because the old system entrenched male dominance over female sexuality.
4.22.2006 11:41pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I'm not seeing a rational relation between the tax and the condition, so yeah... it probably is.

Also, I would argue that "homosexual person" is an ambiguous term. Are we talking self-identification? Someone who's engaged in one sex act with a person of the same sex in the past year? "Ever seen a grown man naked?" What about someone who's happily married, but was always... curious?
4.22.2006 11:43pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
I was making an absurd argument. But, what if it was a tax credit that went to married heterosexual couples. But, homosexual couples that were married, as allowed by state law were not entitled to the credit?

I'm not sure there is a rational for that either.
4.22.2006 11:51pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around a state that would allow gay marriage but refuse to allow a tax credit. Sorry... but I really don't want to play the hypothetical game all night on this.
4.23.2006 12:03am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
What strikes me as bizarre is that religious people (and I consider myself part of that group) keep on pushing the definition of marriage as being a legal union between a man and a woman. But that's not what I believe my marriage to be. If I had forgone getting a marriage license, I would still believe myself to be married. It seems that the religious people in government are turning marriage into nothing more than a piece of paper. However, I'm married because my husband and I created a special covenant with G-d, not because some cranky government employee working at a California Courthouse issued me a piece of paper giving my husband and I a quick way to exchange legal rights.

Obscure point: until fairly recently, marriage was a matter of canon law. And until the Council of Trent in the 16th century, it was indeed a matter of private agreement. If two people agreed to be married, they were. Ceremony, let alone gov't license, optional.
But that made it real easy for teens to elope. They didn;t even need to elope! And led to legal disputes over who was married... was the wording of the statement ambiguous? Had it happened at all?
So they required that the agreement be witnessed by a priest. But then the teens just ran up to a priest after church and proclaimed they were married.
Finally, the church imposed elaborate requirements. Announcement of intent to marry at three (I think) services before the event, and a formal event with ceremony.
Don't know when the custom of government issued licenses came in.
4.23.2006 12:07am
SLS 1L:
I think government licenses are a 19th century invention, although the legal effects that flow from marriage are not.
4.23.2006 12:10am
18 USC 1030 (mail):
I'd prefer not having the hypothetical argument all night either. Just for the record though, the hypothetical was a fed credit example not state.
4.23.2006 12:16am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
You misunderstand me. People with clean, decent minds don't spend their time desperately worried sick that other people are having sex of which they personally disapprove.

I only desperately worry that other people are having sex of which I disapprove when I visit the homepage of Babbette the Inflatable Love Ewe.
4.23.2006 12:23am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
And with that, this thread has reached its apex. Sorry folks, but we can't do any better... it's all downhill from here.
4.23.2006 12:25am
Smithy (mail) (www):
I think taxation is a very smart, free market way of dealing with all of this. Why not have a tax policy that promotes abstinence? Promiscuity costs the government money -- out-of-wedlock births and STDs are expensive -- why shouldn't the government tax it?
4.23.2006 12:42am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
sooooo many things wrong with that statement...
4.23.2006 1:05am
Cornellian (mail):
There's already been a move to regulate it, from the left. I'm serious -- in my files I've got a proposed rulemaking, from the very end of the Carter Administration, proposing consumer safety rules for dildos. It makes for hilarious reading as the authors try to describe, in stilted bureaucratese suitable for the Federal Register, just what they are used for and how the standards would be laid out (pardon the phrase).

Great, we have a choice between a government that wants to regulate that sort of thing and a government that wants to flat out prohibit it.
4.23.2006 1:45am
jvarisco:
http://www.zogby.com/soundbites/ReadClips.dbm?ID=7710

http://www.zogby.com/search/ReadClips.dbm?ID=11347

Libertarians and hippies think casual sex outside of marriage is fine. No one else does. And 75% of this country wants abstinence education. More than 60% do NOT want comprehensive sex ed. You may still oppose it, but be clear: you are opposing the will of the majority of parents.

My parents are liberal democrats. They are not religious. They vote democratic. And they taught me that sex outside of marriage was wrong. This is not a matter of religious dogma, but of common sense. Having children outside of a stable heterosexual relationship (marriage) is harmful; sex leads to children; therefore, sex outside of marriage is harmful.
4.23.2006 1:57am
Shangui (mail):
I think taxation is a very smart, free market way of dealing with all of this. Why not have a tax policy that promotes abstinence?

Do you really not see the the contradiction in saying "taxation is a...free market way..."? Really???
4.23.2006 2:06am
18 USC 1030 (mail):
Having children outside of a stable heterosexual relationship (marriage) is harmful; sex leads to children; therefore, sex outside of marriage is harmful.


I do not know where to begin with the flawed logic here. It may actually be worse than the "free market taxation" idea.

Sex need not lead to marriage. If there is comprehensive sex-ed it is understood that sex does not per se equal pregnancy. Marriage is not a requisite to be stable. Stableness is not a requisite of marriage. Then there is the issue of homosexual relations. I'm not sure you can become pregnant this way. These are all religious based moralities. They are not dogma. But they are in the judeo christian tradition.
4.23.2006 2:15am
Shangui (mail):
Libertarians and hippies think casual sex outside of marriage is fine. No one else does. And 75% of this country wants abstinence education. More than 60% do NOT want comprehensive sex ed. You may still oppose it, but be clear: you are opposing the will of the majority of parents.

Well, given that 70-80% of American men (and a slightly lower percentage of women) report actually having had sex before getting married (and this does NOT include sex while married, but outside of that marriage), apparently Libertarians and hippies are among the few who aren't hypocrites. As a side note, are there still hippies around? Haven't seen many since Jerry Garcia died and the Dead broke up.

sex leads to children; therefore, sex outside of marriage is harmful.

I've been having heterosexual sex for the last 20 years on a regular basis and, thanks to what I learned in sex ed and from my parents (republican Catholics with open minds), it has not lead to children. You do realize that modern science has pretty much de-coupled the two, if one uses sufficient care, right? You may bemoan this, but it's a fact.
4.23.2006 2:16am
Cornellian (mail):
Libertarians and hippies think casual sex outside of marriage is fine. No one else does. And 75% of this country wants abstinence education. More than 60% do NOT want comprehensive sex ed. You may still oppose it, but be clear: you are opposing the will of the majority of parents.

Cute, slipping "casual" in there, but the proposal from Big Brother in Washington is to preach against ALL sexual activity outside of marriage, whether "casual" or not and regardless of the age of the people involved. Yes, even 45 year old divorced people need to be "educated" that they have to stop having sex now that they're divorced, even if they're in a long term, monogamous relationship. Do you seriously expect us to believe that 75% of the country thinks the government should be telling them not to have sex? I'm not even sure you could come up with 17%, let alone 75%.
4.23.2006 2:23am
Cornellian (mail):
Having children outside of a stable heterosexual relationship (marriage) is harmful; sex leads to children; therefore, sex outside of marriage is harmful.


This proposal requires educators to advocate against even post-menopausal women having sex unless married.
4.23.2006 2:25am
BNDR:
Ugh. Just...ugh.

Abstinence until in a stable, committed relationship is an excellent ideal to uphold...but only when it takes reality into consideration. And the reality is that unintended pregnancy happens. STIs are transmitted. We live in a world with rape and bad relationships and diseases and unwanted kids and abortions and all kinds of things that are not fluffy bunnies and kittens and white wedding dresses.

But, it's the job of the parents to teach these morals, not public schools. What is the purpose of schooling, anyway? Isn't it to prepare kids for the real world? In the real world, people do their taxes, write letters, and have sex. So in school, we teach people how to properly (safely) fill out their tax forms, construct sentences, and have sex. Give them the facts and implications of not protecting themselves (against pregnancy or the IRS), and then let them make their own decisions. People will take into account what their parents say, what their friends say, what their religion says, what the media says, and what their experiences tell them...but without real facts, which they won't get from other perspectives, the choices they make can't be good ones.

My viewpoint is that one can never be too prepared, or have too much information given to make a decision. More is always better.
4.23.2006 2:48am
SLS 1L:
jvarisco - care to provide the link to the actual polls, rather than the versions spun by the Christian Broadcasting Network and the Heritage Foundation?

Even if the poll really does show that most Americans want abstinence-only sex education, I'd be shocked if the poll made it clear that "abstinence-only" means:

1) No below-the-neck sexual contact of any kind until marriage;
2) If you're divorced/widow(er)ed, still unmarried at 40, etc., then no sexual contact of any kind unless you marry;
3) No sex of any kind for gays, even in states where gay marriage is legal.

Do Americans really want their kids taught that breast-touching, handjobs, etc. are OK only if you are married?
4.23.2006 2:51am
Perseus:
apparently Libertarians and hippies are among the few who aren't hypocrites

It's very easy not to be a hypocrite if you lower your standards enough, so that's not a very impressive virtue.
4.23.2006 3:16am
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Perseus on hippies, libertarians:

It's very easy not to be a hypocrite if you lower your standards enough, so that's not a very impressive virtue.

Perseus, the beauty of the country we live in is that you are free to hold and espouse that (unabashedly self-righteous) opinion. And you may petition your government to teach that view in schools, and indeed, the government sees it your way. I'm not saying you can't do it. I'm saying that as an original matter, your view is wrong.

All endeavors which cut strongly enough against the grain of human nature are destined for failure. If you assume the position that people want to do more for others than for themselves, you will fail. (See: Communism). If you assume the position that people eschew strength in numbers in favor of uncontrolled individualism, you will fail. (See: Anarchism). If you assume the position that teenagers, for some reason, after thousands upon thousands of evolution saying the opposite, are not going to fuck, you will fail. (See: Abstinence Education).

In fact, to fully inform yourself of the utter inefficacy of abstinence education, consult its history in the Soviet Union. (HINT: It didn't work so well.)
4.23.2006 3:32am
lee (mail):
I'm having a problem with some of the interpetation here. Statements like "inforcing" abstanence, when it seems to me the desire is to teach the benifits of abstanece, not enforce it. Also, where is it written that the goal is to teach abtanence and withhold all other information? That would be one short class. It appears there's a little hysteria from the hump anybody as often as possible crowd.
I think the general welfare responsibility of the government demands that resposible sexual conduct be promoted and taught(as opposed to enforced)by the public schools, and it's ignorant to deny that anything less than abstanence as expected of school children is the responsible position to take as adults giving our children their best shot at life.
As an aside, people that aren't Christians shouldn't try to preach tenents of Christianity and judge whether people who are Christians are behaving as such or not.(Yes, that means you Freder, you freak)
For you folks that feel having as many sexual partners as possible is the way to nirvana, it's been my experiance, as someone that's had more sex partners than the norm, that sex in a long term relationship with someone you really cherish makes everything else no better than masturbation. Not knowing that Freder is your loss.
4.23.2006 3:38am
18 USC 1030 (mail):
Here is a link to a study that may or may not say whether parents want to teach safe sex. But, it does say that 98% of the population uses some method of safe sex...
4.23.2006 3:39am
18 USC 1030 (mail):
by safe I mean contraceptive. Sorry, it is getting late and I've devoted way too much time and energy to this argument.
4.23.2006 3:42am
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Lee:

[I]t's been my experiance, as someone that's had more sex partners than the norm, that sex in a long term relationship with someone you really cherish makes everything else no better than masturbation

Don't knock masturbation. Like Woody said - it's sex with someone you love.
4.23.2006 3:50am
RBG (mail):

Heterosexuality is "God's plan", "the foundation of society", "the greatest thing since slice bread".

Homosexuality is a sex act.

God, I hope some of you don't have kids.

Ironically, dumb heterosexuals will out-reproduce smart homosexuals on a pretty consistent basis.
4.23.2006 3:51am
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
RBG, that's true. Yet perhaps even more ironically, smart heterosexuals are the beneficiaries of this trend, because presuming a steady pro rata demand for intellect, intellect as a resource will prove more valuable in a world where there is less of it, again - ratably.
4.23.2006 3:53am
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Hmmm. Maybe I should write a snooty, elitist paper, with that as the thesis.
4.23.2006 3:54am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Sexual morality has more to do with male to female ratios than any rules in a book.

Whant to improve females attitude towards promiscious sex? Make sure there are enough quality men to meet their marriage needs. In aproximatelt 50/50 malew/female ratio.

Now just what government progran can do that?

Government program to reduce number of marriage age men and other interesting demographic stuff.
4.23.2006 4:13am
lee (mail):
Mike,
Haha, I wasn't actually knocking masturbation,(By the way, does the author of that quote become a pun?) I was just clumbsily trying to make the point that sex is elevated by keeping it a special sacrament between a loving, committed couple, rather than treating it as a biological necessity like animals in heat.
4.23.2006 4:24am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Let me try again without typos. PIMF:

Sexual morality has more to do with male to female ratios than any rules in a book.

Want to improve females attitude towards promiscious sex? Make sure there are enough quality men to meet their marriage needs. In aproximately 50/50 male/female ratio.

Now just what government progran can do that?

Government program to reduce number of marriage age men and other interesting demographic stuff.
4.23.2006 4:26am
jvarisco:
My point was not that sex must lead to pregnancy. However, it has the potential to do so. People are for the most part irresponsible, so for many it will. Therefore, all should be told not to; if people have parents capable of teaching them safe sex, by all means they can practice it. Those people are the exception.

This is why we have things like social security - some people will save, but many won't. And the rest of us will have to pay for the consequences. Who pays to support single moms? Not to mention the harm to children.

I'm not a paying member of zogby, anyone who happens to be is welcome to post more specifics of the poll. But last time I checked, it was hardly a front for James Dobson; it had Kerry winning by a decent margin last election, in fact. And I doubt zogby would allow a misrepresentation of a poll they did on their own website.

Last time I checked, one of the tenets of Christianity was that everyone is a sinner and the only salvation is if God forgives you, even though you don't deserve it. Does that make Christians hypocrits for sinning? We are all human, we all have weaknesses, that does not mean we should pretend such behavior is good. Most people don't exercise or eat well; does that mean that being obese is not in fact a bad thing?

I consider sex outside of a committed relationship to be casual sex. Within a committed relationship, I see no reason not to get married. Where is the problem here?
4.23.2006 5:28am
Perseus:
All endeavors which cut strongly enough against the grain of human nature are destined for failure.

That's the gist of the argument made long ago by Machiavelli, Mandeville, Montesquieu, Hume, et al. in their attack on traditional moralists, but being more knowledgeable than you, they never made such a sweeping claim because they were aware that several republics of antiquity constituted notable exceptions to that general rule.

In any case, I was not making any implicit claims about the efficacy of contemporary abstinence education. Rather, I was expressing my preference for hypocrisy over authenticity because the former at least pays homage to virtue.
4.23.2006 7:26am
Cornellian (mail):
I think the general welfare responsibility of the government demands that resposible sexual conduct be promoted and taught(as opposed to enforced)by the public schools, and it's ignorant to deny that anything less than abstanence as expected of school children is the responsible position to take as adults giving our children their best shot at life.

Read your Constitution more carefully. Nothing in it gives the federal government the power to do whatever it concludes would promote the "general welfare" of the United States. The phrase "general welfare" you're citing appearing in Article I, Section 8, Clause 1, the Taxation Clause. It reads:

The Congress shall have the Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the Common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.

By no stretch of the imagination can "general welfare" in the context of that clause, be transformed into a federal government authority to preach abstinence.

The phrase also appears in the Preamble, but that just explains why the Constitution was created, not what the federal government is empowered to do.
4.23.2006 9:34am
Porkchop (mail):
Lee wrote:

For you folks that feel having as many sexual partners as possible is the way to nirvana, it's been my experiance, as someone that's had more sex partners than the norm, that sex in a long term relationship with someone you really cherish makes everything else no better than masturbation. Not knowing that Freder is your loss.

First of all, neither Freder, nor I, nor anyone else said that life was, or should be, an exercise in indiscriminate, promiscuous, sex for the sake of chalking points on the wall. Nor has any one said that there was something wrong with long-term relationships. Sometimes the journey to the "right one" has a lot of detours, potholes, and wrong turns. This is not a discussion about adultery -- it is a discussion about PRE-marital sex. There's a difference.

Going back to the origin of this thread, the points that those of us who think abstinence-only is a bad policy have made boil down to: It is unrealistic, counterproductive, and ineffective to achieve the stated goals; further, it is a thinly-disguised attempt to limit the information received based upon a particular religious viewpoint.

Those who are concerned about their own children learning "too much" can, at least in my state, Virginia, opt out of the classes that discuss the issues of premarital sex, contraception, etc. The school sends a form home at the beginning of the school year and again before the particular classes are given. Given that parents already control the information conveyed to their own children, the abstinence-only approach is clearly intended to limit the information given to other people's children.

I have three daughters, two of whom are teenagers. One is a junior in college. I don't want them having sex, but short of requiring chastity belts and/or chaperoning every date they go on, I do not have absolute control over that. Programs that discourage teenage sex are good; programs that point out that if you are going to have sex you should have safe sex are also good. Having most or all teenagers understand the foregoing is also good.

As a separate issue, predicating abstinence-only programs on bases that may place the children in direct conflict with their parents behavior (e.g., divorced adults having sex -- which by the way, is not adultery, since their is no cuckolded spouse) is a bad idea, although the reaction is less likely to be "Mom, you're a whore!" than "Mrs. Grundy, that's just stupid. My divorced parents have sex with people they date, and everything's just fine. Why should I believe this only-in-marriage stuff?"
4.23.2006 10:20am
Freder Frederson (mail):
For you folks that feel having as many sexual partners as possible is the way to nirvana, it's been my experiance, as someone that's had more sex partners than the norm, that sex in a long term relationship with someone you really cherish makes everything else no better than masturbation. Not knowing that Freder is your loss.

Ahh, here we go, I had lots of sex and now I regret it, so nobody else should have more than one partner.

And as an aside on polls of sexual activity. They are notoriously inaccurate. There was one very well conducted poll several years back that had all the trappings of a completely scientific poll. Well defined questions, nothing leading or vague, a large random sample of heterosexual adults. Yet, when the poll results were published it was found that men had vaginal intercourse with an average of 7 women and women only had 4 partners. This of course is impossible, unless American men have found a treasure trove of slutty foreigners to have sex with. (the averages should have been the same, median would have accounted for the Madonna-Whore factor.)

The only conclusion that can be drawn from the poll is that people lie about their sexual experiences, even in anonymous polls.
4.23.2006 10:28am
Duncan Frissell (mail):
Boy, 209 comments.

I guess SIECUS and the various promoters of Slave Schools and the promotion of Sex therein didn't count on elections. Sauce for Goose Sauce for Gander. I think it's pretty well established that the Feds can do anything they want with your local Slave Schools. Maybe state monopoly education wasn't such a good idea in the first place.

We did warn you about Federal Aid to Education at the time but you chose to ignore us.

Since it's fairly well established that faithful, married, heterosexuals are happier, wealthier, and longer-lived than promiscuous singles (of any orientation) if you think your schools can teach their charges not to smoke, vote Republican, tell ethnic jokes, etc. then you can hardly argue that your schools can't teach their charges not to screw.
4.23.2006 11:02am
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Hmm i don't know about married heterosexuals being happier, Hugh Heffner looks pretty damn happy every time I see him on TV,,and Jimmy Carter always looks like his hemmorhoids are flaring up..Nixon never looked very happy either. the Gipper had a long happy marriage, but that was after he cheated on his first wife.
4.23.2006 11:17am
_Jon (mail) (www):
Did anyone else notice that "(Consistent with Federal law)" is eerily similar to "In accordance with Islam" that we see in other contexts?
4.23.2006 11:52am
Smithy (mail) (www):
You may still oppose it, but be clear: you are opposing the will of the majority of parents.

Javrisco: The liberals have no respect for democracy. Didn't you know that? They would prefer to have left-leaning black-robed tyrants rule from the bench. Most Americans believe that God should have more of a place in the schools -- that means abstinence training, giving creation science and ID equal weight as the theory of evolution, it means prayer, and it means respecting the president at a time of war, no matter how the teachers feel about it themselves.

This was meant to be a Christian nation. And most Americans want it be a Christian nation. And eventually, we'll get enough judges on the courts who agree so that we can be a Christian nation again.

Democracy will prevail. They tyranny of the left will cease. And I don't think that's just wishful thinking.
4.23.2006 12:01pm
Fran (mail) (www):
I was going to write something about the intense polarization in the political/philosophical areana of this country...
...why bother.
4.23.2006 12:13pm
nrein1 (mail):
Let me pile on jvarisco a bit. First neither of your links had anything to do with your numbers, but I did find something I found interesting.

Not surprisingly, parents overwhelmingly support the abstinence message. A December 2003 Zogby poll found that the overwhelming majority of parents—91 percent—want schools to teach that adolescents should be expected to abstain from sexual activity during high school years.[xi] Only 7 percent of parents believe that it is okay for teens in high school to engage in sexual intercourse as long as they use condoms, which is the predominant theme of “comprehensive” sex education.

So 91% of parents believe that children should be taught that they are expected to abstain during HIGH SCHOOL. This is exactly what I was taught, but I was also taught how to use a condom and other such things because it was realized at some point I would no longer be in high school. That is the big thing with this abstinence only education, not absitinence in high school but until marriage whenever that is. That is the thing, there is a difference between what people expect for high school kids and what they expect for the rest of their childs life.

Should civics class not teach about voting since most high school kids will not vote while in high school. No clearly that is ridiculous as the point of school is to teach kids the skills they need for their entire life.
4.23.2006 12:17pm
Smithy (mail) (www):
Sorry, nrein, but you're trying to waffle this. You can't teach kids about condoms and then say "by the way, don't use these, stay abstinent." It's like giving your kid the keys to the car and then telling him not to drive.
4.23.2006 12:28pm
Quarterican (mail):
Smithy -

I'd say, per your analogy, if the kid has any spending $ then he has the keys to the car. Actually, the analogy starts falling apart pretty quickly because most parents seem to think it's important to stress seat belts from an early age. Maybe the kid doesn't understand the finer points of automotive braking systems? Or that he'll have a much safer driving experience if he uses his turn signal? It gets tricky.
4.23.2006 12:42pm
Smithy (mail) (www):
I see your point Quaterican, but I disagree. If a kid wants to sneak into the car to drive, he can reach into the glove compartment and read up on the braking system and the use of turn signals. Similarly, those kids who are determined to have sex know damn well that people get pregnant from sex, and they can to read up (on the internet or in a public library) about birth control. But to tell them about birth control and then say "don't use it, you should be abstinent" just doesn't work.

Yes, kids will break the rules. But let's not give them advice on how to do it.
4.23.2006 12:50pm
Ross Levatter (mail):
Freder: "the averages should have been the same, median would have accounted for the Madonna-Whore factor."

Hey, I know this has been an inflammatory thread, but there's no reason to insult Madonna like that! Besides, all those celebrities sleep around...no need to pick her out specifically.
4.23.2006 12:52pm
plunge (mail):
I still don't see how anyone can justify keeping children misinformed and underinformed.

As Seanbaby said in his great article on the ban on teaching kids about the existence of homosexuality:
http://www.seanbaby.com/news/measure9.htm
"So it may not be a beautiful thing, but it is at least a thing. Not teaching kids about it isn't going to help anyone. In fact, if you don't ever tell them what it is, you're going to find two little boys having sex, and they won't be embarrassed. They'll call you over, "We invented a new game! It's called Buttball!"

In a worst-case scenario you might come across an entire team of Buttball players with homemade jerseys and helmets playing for the Buttball state championships against another school. And someone had better tell these kids that what they're doing is sex before they start letting their teams' animal mascots get in the game."

"Jim Rhoads (mail): Plunge: Some whose sex is strictly monogomous are not prudes. They even understand how the mechanics work, and have a hell of a time."

Lol: but how would they KNOW it was a hell of a time? Compared to what? :)
4.23.2006 12:55pm
Ship Erect (mail) (www):
Since it's fairly well established that faithful, married, heterosexuals are happier, wealthier, and longer-lived than promiscuous singles (of any orientation)

Couldn't you say that whites are happier, wealthier, and longer-lived than blacks (of any orientation)? The dominant class will always have all three characteristics. The point is to reduce ill effects for those who do not fit into those categories.
4.23.2006 1:08pm
jvarisco:
nrein) Do you think a majority of this country does not believe sex outside of marriage, or at least a stable heterosexual relationship, is a bad thing? Perhaps not 91%, but I would be surprised if you could find anything showing a majority for the other side.

Personally, I think teaching kids safe sex (without condoning or promoting it) is a good idea. However, pretending that Bush is somehow subverting the will of the majority is disingenuous; he is actually siding with them here. He is trying to reverse the sexual revolution, but that's one of the main reasons he was elected in the first place.
4.23.2006 1:10pm
Smithy (mail) (www):
The trouble here is that we have two conflicting world views here. That's why the rhetoric becomes so heated. Those on the left have a knowledge-based approach to the world. They believe that knowledge will solve all the problems of the world, and that children should be given as much knowledge as possible. Those of us on the right believe the opposite -- that faith is more important than knowledge and that we must keep things from our children that might interfere with the development of their faith.

This is something about which reasonable people can differ. Being knowledge-based ("reality-based" I think is the phrase many on the left embrace) is not a bad thing. It's better than being ignorance-based. But most Americans will choose faith over knowledge. America has always been and will continue to be a faith-based society. That's why I don't care -- and most American don't care -- when they find some new fossil that fills in some gap in the theory of evolution. I follow Christ and no number of fossils is going to change that. I am defined by my faith. The world can change but my faith stays the same. And I believe that's how most Americans feel and that our laws and schools should reflect that.
4.23.2006 1:11pm
Public_Defender (mail):
Smithy writes:


This was meant to be a Christian nation. And most Americans want it be a Christian nation. And eventually, we'll get enough judges on the courts who agree so that we can be a Christian nation again.


Where in the text of the Constitution would a strict constructionist judge find support for this? Your quote is almost a parody of itself.


He also writes:


Sorry, nrein, but you're trying to waffle this. You can't teach kids about condoms and then say "by the way, don't use these, stay abstinent." It's like giving your kid the keys to the car and then telling him not to drive.


No, it's like telling them not to get into accidents, but to wear a seat belt just in case.
4.23.2006 1:15pm
Medis:
Sorry if this is redundant, but I only skimmed the above.

Anyway, I wanted to note that one of the many unscientific and counterproductive aspects of this policy is that it treats "sexual activity" as an undifferentiated category of behavior. As it turns out (although this is completely unsurprising), humans develop sexually in stages throughout childhood, starting at a very early age. This natural process of sexual development often involves children spontaneously participating in activities that would be included in this policy's extremely broad definition of "sexual activity" (eg, it is natural for children to "play doctor" at a relatively young age, and it looks like that sort of activity is ruled out until marriage by this policy).

Accordingly, this policy effectively tries to prevent all natural sexual development prior to marriage, which is bound to be both unhealthy and ineffective. The alternative is to design a policy which encourages children of any given age to limit themselves to age-appropriate sexual activities, but does not discourage children from engaging in age-appropriate activities. And although I won't belabor the details here, it turns out that this natural process leads to most children learning how to become sexually responsible, largely monogamous adults. But expecting children to become such adults without going through this natural developmental process is pretty foolish.
4.23.2006 1:18pm
Ship Erect (mail) (www):
Most Americans believe that God should have more of a place in the schools -- that means abstinence training, giving creation science and ID equal weight as the theory of evolution, it means prayer, and it means respecting the president at a time of war, no matter how the teachers feel about it themselves.

If your purpose is to utterly destroy American education, this would be the right way to do it.

This was meant to be a Christian nation. And most Americans want it be a Christian nation. And eventually, we'll get enough judges on the courts who agree so that we can be a Christian nation again.

So, everyone else out? Are you in favor of loading Jews get on a boat for Madagascar?

Why are "judges" even necessary to complete this process, when those unelected, elitist judges are supposed to simply interpret law, not force their morality upon others? Or is this something that you only criticize the left for doing?
4.23.2006 1:20pm
Medis:
By the way, Smithy sets up a false dichotomy. People can see the virtues of both empirical knowledge and faith, and I don't think most Americans feel compelled to choose one or the other.
4.23.2006 1:21pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Personally, I think teaching kids safe sex (without condoning or promoting it) is a good idea. However, pretending that Bush is somehow subverting the will of the majority is disingenuous; he is actually siding with them here. He is trying to reverse the sexual revolution, but that's one of the main reasons he was elected in the first place.

Well, your second paragraph contradicts your first one. In your first you are not willing to go as far as the Bush administration goes (that all sex outside of marriage is wrong). I doubt you would find a majority in this country who would honestly answer that all sex outside of marriage is wrong (or even a large minority).
4.23.2006 1:23pm
Quarterican (mail):
Smithy -

If you were correct about the content of abstinence only education programs - i.e., they don't teach kids about condoms, under the assumption that kids who're going to have sex will go the library and check out a book that I'm not entirely certain you wouldn't rather not be in the library for the kid to check out in the first palce - that'd be one thing. I'd disagree with you, but there'd be, you know, a sliver of honest reasonableness in your position.

The problem is that federally funded abstinence only programs LIE as part of their curricula. They teach errors about the effectiveness of condoms, the health risks of abortion, etc. It's not enough to simply not mention these topics - after all, without mentioning them, there'd be no substance to the abstinence only curriculum: "Abstain from sex until marriage. Do you understand? Good, you all get As." The use of contraceptives has to be *discredited*.

To use your framework, that moves beyond choosing faith over knowledge. That's choosing to lie - surely, an immoral act? - to suppress knowledge in the name of faith. Which frankly drives me crazy. Why the hell are you so concerned with the weakness of your faith that you need to lie so that your faith need not be tested? After all, Smithy, your personal faith is clearly strong enough to not be jarred by the discovery of fossils; you're convinced that there's no good scientific evidence for evolution.
4.23.2006 1:25pm
Smithy (mail) (www):
I didn't mean to make it sound like a dichotomy. I agree that there are some people in the middle. But most lean one way or the other. And there are certainly some faith-based people on the left who seek to reconcile knowledge with faith. But I think most fall into one camp or the other. Essentially, we have two parties politically: the Democrats, who are knowledge-based, and the Republicans, who are faith-based. It's not either/or on a person-by-person basis, but culturally it is.

I realize, BTW, that God is not mentioned in the Constitution. But most of the framers had degrees from religious institutions and almost all were Christians. The notion that they were deists (other than Ben Franklin, who may have been) has been thoroughly debunked.
4.23.2006 1:26pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
"Sexual activity refers to any type of genital contact or sexual stimulation between two persons including, but not limited to, sexual intercourse."

I guess orgies are not "suxual activity" then. :)
4.23.2006 1:33pm
Ship Erect (mail) (www):
But most Americans will choose faith over knowledge. America has always been and will continue to be a faith-based society.

Easily explaining the popularity of get-rich-quick spam and fad diets, not to mention American Idol.

That's why I don't care -- and most American don't care -- when they find some new fossil that fills in some gap in the theory of evolution. I follow Christ and no number of fossils is going to change that.

I'll call the ACLU and tell them to get those commie scientists to work harder on their forgeries next time.
4.23.2006 1:37pm
lee (mail):
Lol: but how would they KNOW it was a hell of a time? Compared to what? :)

Ahhh, but the flip side of that is, if someone has a different partner every night, of every size, temperment, race, and religion, how will they know about the superior sex that is experianced in a long term, monogomous relationship?
You may pity the fool that hasn't had the experiance of multiple partners, But I pity those that lack the experiance of sex with someone that they have spent years and years with, through the bad times as well as good, and that knows them better than themselves.
It's not that I regret having multiple partners, it's that I know now that there's something better, and I wish I would have been taught THAT.
4.23.2006 1:39pm
Shangui (mail):
Those of us on the right believe the opposite -- that faith is more important than knowledge and that we must keep things from our children that might interfere with the development of their faith.

Everytime I start to think that, as a libertarian, perhaps the Republicans are ultimately the lesser of two evils, I run into things like this (and Bush being the biggest gov't spender in recent memory). Smithy basically thinks we should lie to our children, or at least keep them ignorant of what his statement of the issue implies are true facts (i.e. "knowledge") so that they will then believe something that isn't necessarily true but parents (or other people in power) think is more important. Needless to say, leaders in the USSR, the PRC, Cuba, and many others have believed similar things, this doesn't make it a good way to run a country, a society or even a family. Smithy alone is obviously not enough proof that this is what the American Right stands for, but everything these days just seems to point to the GOP becoming the other party of big government, but this time with repressive social ideals that they are determined to force on the public.

This doesn't mean I'm going to start voting for the Dems, but it certainly doesn't convince me to vote GOP either.
4.23.2006 1:39pm
Medis:
Smithy,

Again, although you disclaim it, your entire analysis depends on the premise that seeing value in faith and value in empirical knowledge are somehow mutually exclusive. But that is not true, and I don't think most Americans believe that. For example, how many Americans with religious faith also see MDs for medical treatment? Or hire trained mechanics to fix their cars? Or engineers to design their bridges?

When you actually think about your proposition for even a brief moment, it is clear that this is not just a false dichotomy, but an absurd one. And the only reason to promote such an absurd notion is to further the political ends of those whose power is derived from opposition politics--in other words, to aid those who make a living out of creating divisions and playing Americans against each other.
4.23.2006 1:42pm
Broncos:
I think of myself as libertarian/conservative, and Christian, and sometimes I just can't believe that I share the same politics with Smithy.

e.g. Knowledge. Does anybody here remember the Republican Revolution? Newt Gingrich? What conservatives promised (and sometimes delivered) was the use of new knowledge to create new solutions to our problems. They ridiculed simply faith in the old - i.e. turning to the power of the state (whether the federal dept. of education or otherwise) as a one-size-fits-all solution. How far we have come.

Honestly, these last 8 years have corrupted not only the Republican party, but any last remaining traces of good ideas. Now every solution is just to use the power of the federal government.

I become more disgusted, daily.

When I vote, I go on what I know about individuals, and then for the rest I vote Republican. This year, I'm considering voting for the people I like, and then abstaining from people that I don't know about.

If the Republican party wants me, they better remember why I voted for them in the first place. If not, screw 'em. Keeping them in office doesn't do any good.
4.23.2006 1:45pm
plunge (mail):
"I realize, BTW, that God is not mentioned in the Constitution. But most of the framers had degrees from religious institutions and almost all were Christians. The notion that they were deists (other than Ben Franklin, who may have been) has been thoroughly debunked."

Well sure: if you consider someone that believes that the ressurection and other miracles were superstition, but still believed that the religion was a good thing to keep the common people in line and that Jesus had some good things to say (and the rest you cut out with a pair of scissors!), then they were "Christians." Sheesh.

But at that point, who cares anyway? The founders did not get together to do something Christian. They got together to work out the details of a secular power. For this, the religious leaders of their day called them atheists, heathens, pagans, and so forth. They spent centuries trying to pass constitutional amendments to turn the country into a Christian Nation and denouncing the founders.

And then they wised up, in the last couple of decades. What if we simply started calling the founders Christians and insisting that everything we want to happen is really the original intent in the first place!

It's a smart strategy. But pretty dishonest, no?
4.23.2006 1:46pm
Smithy (mail) (www):
Medis, I haven't explained my point very well at all. Yes, we all go to mechanics and want engineers to build our bridges and so on. Those are all arenas where faith and knowledge do not conflict with each other. I say we're faith-based and the left is knowledge-based, but I mean that only in terms of choosing sides when the two come into conflict. Most conservatives obviously seek knowldege in most things, and some liberals are certainly church-goers.
4.23.2006 1:57pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
I think of myself as libertarian/conservative, and Christian, and sometimes I just can't believe that I share the same politics with Smithy.

Hey, you (libertarian, fiscally conservative, socially liberal --or at least socially moderate--and "traditional" Republicans) made a deal with the devil (hardcore socially conservative, Pat Robertson, James Dobson type wingnuts) twenty years ago. Now you have to sleep in the bed you made. Did you really think these people were going to be played for suckers forever? They want what they were promised--a fundamentalist Christian Theocracy.
4.23.2006 2:10pm
Adam K:
I stand firmly behind the position that teenagers should not be taught to drive in heavy traffic, at night, or in snow, sleet, rain, or other inclement conditions. Every rational person knows that it is optimal for teenagers to drive on dry roads during daylight hours when the roads are free of traffic, and if they are taught to drive in less than optimal conditions, the chances of their doing so and being injured or killed rise dramatically.
4.23.2006 2:14pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Medis, I haven't explained my point very well at all. Yes, we all go to mechanics and want engineers to build our bridges and so on. Those are all arenas where faith and knowledge do not conflict with each other. I say we're faith-based and the left is knowledge-based, but I mean that only in terms of choosing sides when the two come into conflict. Most conservatives obviously seek knowldege in most things, and some liberals are certainly church-goers.

Sorry to tell you, but the laws of physics and mechanics that make cars run and bridges not collapse are the very same physical laws that prove the earth is 4 billion years old and the universe 15 billion and that the enable the dating of fossils and are the basis for the proof of the theory of evolution. They also prove that the earth moves around the sun and the flood of Noah never happened (the Jews just modified the epic of Gilgamesh for their own purposes).

You can't believe science is valid for one purpose (bridges) and discount it for another (the age of the earth or evolution). Science just doesn't work that way.
4.23.2006 2:17pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
Franklin was the only deist? Have you ever seen the Jefferson bible? Take a look sometime. He believed in Christ only to the degree that the teachings were the purest rules of morality put forth by man. Yes, that's right, by man. He cut out of the bible every mention of immaculate conception, miracles, and resurection.

I still, for the life of me do not understand why people believe their views on morality ought to be the law of the land for everyone. This nation was founded so laws WOULDN'T be based on religious views; not that they would. No one is preventing us Christians from keeping our faith. No one is suggesting we not grow in faith. What they, and I, are suggesting is that our religious or moral views do not translate to law. Sure, there are many laws that are based on some sense of morality; but morality is not justification for laws. Morality can be the purpose of law, but the Constitution is the only justification.

Depriving information is absurd. I have no problem allowing opt outs. But to think that kids, if not taught about contraceptives in school will run to the library to study is absurd. The government isn't, or shouldn't be in the business of regulating morality. The sex-ed programs ought to serve the purpose of preventing unwanted pregnancy and transmitting STD's. If a person, based on moral teachings of parents and religious leaders would follow abstinance, the mentioning of condoms will not change that.

However, if students do not have that moral guide, then the government has a compelling interest in preventing the spread of disease. In order to do this, condom usage ought to be taught. Those believing in the religious traditions will not immediately give up their religious beliefs because they hear the word condom. If faith is so weak that the mere mention of information destroys the moral views of people then I suggest you find a new religion. Religious views should be strong enough to withstand the teaching of a sex-ed class. My Christian beliefs have not been tarnished by hearing information. I do think that the religious need to determine why morality dictates ought to be law. What if the liberal agnostics gained power and eliminated the free practice of religion? Would that be ok because it is the majority view?
4.23.2006 2:18pm
Jason Fliegel (mail):
Anonymous Reader wrote:

I have yet to hear anyone say that if you don't have sex, you can still get pregnant

Anonymous, I refer you to Matt 1:18 and Luke 1:26-34.
4.23.2006 2:22pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
He cut out of the bible every mention of immaculate conception, miracles, and resurection.

Immaculate conception is a peculiarly Roman Catholic concept that has no basis anwhere in the bible. It refers not to Jesus being born of a virgin, but of Mary also being a virgin birth and didn't become the official doctrine of the Catholic church until the mid-nineteenth century. The Catholics consider sex so sinful that even Jesus' Grandmother had to be a virgin. And of course Mary remained a virgin her entire life even though the bible states clearly that she was married and Jesus had brothers.
4.23.2006 2:24pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
Freder, I, in my quick writing mistyped. I did, of course mean virgin birth.
4.23.2006 2:33pm
nrein1 (mail):
jvarisco

Do you think a majority of this country does not believe sex outside of marriage, or at least a stable heterosexual relationship, is a bad thing? Perhaps not 91%, but I would be surprised if you could find anything showing a majority for the other side.
It really doesn't matter what the majority of people think, what seems to me to be more important is the way a majority of the people act. I don't know what the percentage of people that did not have sex until they were married, but I would bet it is much less then 50%. Even in a stable heterosexual relationship there is still the chance for pregnancy and trasmittal of STDs, it seems to me we should be teaching our children how to minimze these risks.

One thing that seems to be that has gotten left out of this debate is pregnancy. So let's say I am married and I have never had sex with anyone before and I also know nothing about birth control. I like sex, I enjoy it with my wife, but she keeps getting pregnant. What am I to do? Obviously this is a bit of an extreme and most people would have some idea of what their choices were, but their knowledge might not be accurate. I would much rather have them taught facts that are correct then have to rely on bits and pieces of information they picked up during their life.
4.23.2006 2:41pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Smithy:

It's better than being ignorance-based. But most Americans will choose faith over knowledge. America has always been and will continue to be a faith-based society. That's why I don't care -- and most American don't care -- when they find some new fossil that fills in some gap in the theory of evolution. I follow Christ and no number of fossils is going to change that. I am defined by my faith. The world can change but my faith stays the same. And I believe that's how most Americans feel and that our laws and schools should reflect that.

You seem to be ignorant of the fact that Christ legend which you adhere to is hardly the only one. There is a substantial portion of the population which believes the separation of church and state is a fundamental tenet of the New Covenant. Indeed, even if, as you believe, the majority of the American people subscribe to your version of Christ, your assertion that the Framers intended that vision of Christ (or whatever vision is most popular at any given time) to be enshrined in the doctrine of the state is patently false. I give you James Madison, from Federalist 10:

Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.
4.23.2006 3:15pm
Perseus:
Immaculate conception is a peculiarly Roman Catholic concept that has no basis anwhere in the bible. It refers not to Jesus being born of a virgin, but of Mary also being a virgin birth and didn't become the official doctrine of the Catholic church until the mid-nineteenth century. The Catholics consider sex so sinful that even Jesus' Grandmother had to be a virgin. And of course Mary remained a virgin her entire life even though the bible states clearly that she was married and Jesus had brothers.

Immaculate conception means nothing of the sort. What it means is that Mary was exempted from all stain of original sin; it has nothing to do with the manner of her generative conception. In fact, the Catholic Church accepts that Mary was conceived naturally. See here.
4.23.2006 3:21pm
Broncos:

Hey, you (libertarian, fiscally conservative, socially liberal --or at least socially moderate--and "traditional" Republicans) made a deal with the devil (hardcore socially conservative, Pat Robertson, James Dobson type wingnuts) twenty years ago. Now you have to sleep in the bed you made. Did you really think these people were going to be played for suckers forever? They want what they were promised--a fundamentalist Christian Theocracy.


1. Nobody was promised what Smithy seems to be asking.
2. Who else were we supposed to deal with?
3. Who else are we supposed to deal with today? e.g. Democrat's primary response to Social Security reform is that the current system isn't predictably endangered by demographics; and that people who claim so are simply "fear-mongering." Democrats have made their own deal with the devil; i.e. "the democratic wing of the democratic party."
4.23.2006 3:46pm
Cornellian (mail):
"I realize, BTW, that God is not mentioned in the Constitution. But most of the framers had degrees from religious institutions and almost all were Christians. The notion that they were deists (other than Ben Franklin, who may have been) has been thoroughly debunked."

I see, so these framers, who were undoubtedly familiar with Christianity, sat down to write the Constitution and came up with this preamble:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Wow, not a single mention of God or Jesus or Christianity, what in the world were they thinking? You'd think they could at least slip in a "blessings of God" instead of a "blessings of Liberty." Well if you're going to insist that somehow the Founders intended to create a Christian state, perhaps you'll have a take a page from the Earl Warren playbook and claim that "we want to create a Christian state" is lurking in a penumbra of the Constitution somewhere.
4.23.2006 3:46pm
Randy R. (mail):
All this debate, and it misses so many of the important points.

Apparently, the government feels the need to promote absinence, and the cover is to prevent STDs. So does that mean if there were no STDs, than extra-marrital sex would be okay? I mean, what is the REAL message the feds are giving?

Look to Europe. Their rate of HIV is actually pretty low, and yet there is virtually no social stigma to sex outside of marriage. Hell, in most of those societies, if you don't have sex by the time you are 20, there is something very wrong with you!

In many of these cases, the Europeans have greater sense than we have. I have a friend from Denmark, and they serve beer in the high school cafeteria. Shocking, no? And yet he explains that students are taught in Europe to treat alcohol as a part of life, and that moderation is the key. And so the kids in high school and college don't go on binge drinking.

The same for sex. Sex is considered something as normal and healthy as eating and drinking. As a result, most european men (so women tell me) make better lovers than American men. They don't go around screwing every person they can find. In short, it's a healthier way of living all the way around.

Here in the States, though, sex is mixed up with religion, and considered dirty and shameful if outside of marriage, and only-for-reproduction inside marriage. Above all, according to the many religions, it shouldn't be done for pure enjoyment. And yes, even the early catholic church forbid any form of enjoyable sex.

And then we have the opposite extreme, such as the messages we get from tv, that anyone should have sex at any time for whatever reason. That's not healthy either! We could put half of our therapists out of business if we only taught that sex is like a good wine -- you have it to enjoy it, have it when you like, but be choosy about the vintage!

All kidding aside, perhaps if we took a mature and healthy look at out of wedlock birth, abortions and STDs would all reduce.
4.23.2006 3:56pm
Sydney Carton (www):
<i>Immaculate conception is a peculiarly Roman Catholic concept that has no basis anwhere in the bible. It refers not to Jesus being born of a virgin, but of Mary also being a virgin birth and didn't become the official doctrine of the Catholic church until the mid-nineteenth century. The Catholics consider sex so sinful that even Jesus' Grandmother had to be a virgin. And of course Mary remained a virgin her entire life even though the bible states clearly that she was married and Jesus had brothers.</i>

Um. No. Immaculate conception means that Mary was free of original sin. Next time, before you profess on matters religious in which you clearly have ZERO knowledge, please check to see if you're not spewing pure bunk. Who knows? You might learn something. Google "Catholic Encyclopedia" and you'll find a ton of KNOWLEDGE there.

And that leads me to my 2nd point. Smithy, I have to assume your distinction/description of faith-based and knowledge-based camps is really simplistic, to put it mildly. I think it's a terrible description, and I have to suggest that you're probably viewing the camps from an Evangelical perspective. As a Catholic, for me there is little difference between faith or knowledge. Since the early Church, it has been a longstanding doctrine that reason informs our faith, and provides a pathway to faith. Heck, in one of the Letters of the New Testament (I think one written by Paul) it's basically said that the complexity and glory of the natural world is evidence of the nature of God. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Hence, it's also why the Catholic Church has no problem with evolution as a TOOL of God (however, the Church doesn't believe in wholescale, absolute, 100% randomness which would imply that Mankind is a mere fluke). In fact, despite public confusion over the Gallielo episode (which was really a political dispute the Church got sucked into), the Church for the most part has embraced science. The conflicts that arise today between scientists and the Church are not based on some knowledge/faith distinction, but rather over the proper way to proceed so that science doesn't eventually become a series of Nazi experiments (which, basically, is the view of the Church regarding embryo experimentation).
4.23.2006 4:50pm
Sydney Carton (www):
One last thing: About Mary's immaculate conception. There is Biblical support for it, and it wasn't invented out of whole cloth (although, the Church did Authoritatively declare it to be doctrine). The Bible notes that the Angel Gabriel says that Mary is "full of grace." That, and the tradition, are the basis for the immaculate conception.
4.23.2006 4:54pm
Hans Gruber (www):
First, do we even know if this is true? The "according to online reports" phrase makes me wonder.

While I disagree with the policy, I am having trouble understanding the absolute *outrage* over this. I can understand that people are upset that their view isn't being taught (have sex but be safe), but why this notion of illegitimacy? Moreover, parents are still free to teach their kids what they want. If you think abstinence education is stupid, then tell your kids that. That anger so many here feel is probably pretty similar to what fundamentalist Christians feel when they read about some scandalous sex education program or schools handing out condoms.

The irony of it. Each side pointing fingers and feigning outrage that somebody would dare to impose their view of morality on others! What a joke.

While it's true this view doesn't command majority favor, neither has the other end of the spectrum (Joecyln Elders wanting to teach masterbation to young children, to take one outrageous example).

My advice to both sides of this debate: Get a grip.
4.23.2006 5:01pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Hans, in your apparent desire to ride the higher horse, you conveniently overlook a major aspect of the debate. Many posters here are not arguing from the position that the government does not, or does to, have the right to do this. Many of the responses address the underlying question - of whether teaching sex ed a certain way is a good idea in the first place. To put it very broadly, there is a difference between law and policy. I'm surprised you are unaware of it.
4.23.2006 5:17pm
ReaderY:
It's worth reminding everyone that not only are anti-disceimination laws implementations of morality, but at one time principled libertariarians argued against them for that reason, claiming, as a matter of consistent principle, that consenting adults should be allowed to associate with whomever they pleased and to choose for themselves which aspects of their lives and which kinds of associations — work, domestic, or other — they personally regarded as important to them.

There may be policy reasons to favor restraints on occupational associations and disfavor restraints on domestic ones. But we ought to admit that such questions involve the practicalities of policy, not matters of principle. The libertarian principle of universal free association either applies everywhere or nowhere.

Abstinence until heterosexual marriage prevents, for example, venereal disease, as well as increasing the likelihood that children will have two parents biologically related to them and able and willing to care for them. This is all the rational basis needed. Whether these and various other arguments that can be made for it outweigh those against is another matter.

I don't see any difference between calling fornication laws "fundamentalist christian" and calling minimum-wage laws "Negro". Association with a disfavored group, even one which one believes to be habitually wrong as well as repugnant, is not a reasoned argument against a proposition.

The fact that people "know" a proposition to be true and regard its truth as obvious does not excuse them from following rules of reasoned argument. Much of the argument given here so far, strikes me, quite frankly, as falling into one of three classic categories of bad argument: repitition (simply repeating assertions until the other person agrees); ad-hominen(associating the proposition with a person or group and then attacking the group); or inappropriately generalization (asserting as always and universally true propositions that one actually believes in only partially, simply ignoring that they actually have a variety of exceptions in a variety of contexts).

Fornication laws and/or abstinence education may be bad ideas, but I frankly wouldn't have any way of concluding that from much of the argument given on this site. Do lawyers only use good or careful arguments for propositions that they think need it? Is there an inverse relationship between the quality of lawyers' arguments and their actual degree of belief?
4.23.2006 5:21pm
Sydney Carton (www):
"Fornication laws and/or abstinence education may be bad ideas, but I frankly wouldn't have any way of concluding that from much of the argument given on this site."

That's the understatement of the century.
4.23.2006 5:27pm
You Know Who:
Sydney,

Nominally related but pertinent:

Brian St. Paul writes about the AIDS crisis in Crisis, and says the following:


But while condoms clearly won't solve the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa (or anywhere else), there is an approach that will: abstinence. Indeed, in African nations — where HIV/AIDS is transmitted almost exclusively through sexual contact — abstinence is the obvious solution.

And better yet, it [abstinence] has been proven effective.



St. Paul goes on to bolster his point. As they say in the blogosphere, Read the whole thing.

I am not sure I accept St. Paul’s entire argument but it’s a rational response to the meme that “condoms work and abstinence doesn’t”, particularly when such a view may have had (and has had, in St. Paul’s opinion) devastating consequences for Africans.

http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/facts/fm0045.html
4.23.2006 5:48pm
SLS 1L:
ReaderY: Perhaps this will constitute "repitition," since most (all?) of these criticisms have already been raised in this discussion, but here are some reasons why abstinence-only education is a bad idea:

1) It's not effective at promoting abstinence: kids who go through abstinence-only education are not much more likely to delay intercourse until marriage.

2) It involves the propagation of falsehoods, or at least misleading statements. Abstinence-only cirricula are based around scaring kids with misinformation about how ineffective condoms, etc. are.

3) It's bad for kids' health: kids subjected to abstinence-only curricula are less likely to use birth control when they do have sex, and are thus more prone to pregnancy and STD's.

4) The things Dale cites about "abstinence" meaning not just "abstinence from intercourse" but "abstinence from anything below the neck even in a committed relationship between divorced or widow(er)ed people" which I (and others) do not consider to be a normal or healthy view of sexuality.

5) The curricula involve saying that gay people should never have sex at all, even in Massachusetts or states that recognize Massachusetts marriages.

Reasons 4 and 5 are not likely to be persuasive to someone who believes all kinds of sexual contact outside marriage are immoral, but reasons 1, 2, and 3 are still relevant to such a person. If abstinence-only curricula produce neither abstinence nor health, then they ought to be a bad idea.
4.23.2006 5:57pm
You Know Who:
Note: I meant to lead my comment with "Brian St. Paul writes about the African AIDS crisis in Crisis . . ."

It goes without saying that St. Paul's comments may be limited to the situation in Africa and may not generalize elsewhere. But the drumbeat of "use condoms if you're going to have sex" could increase rates of sexual intercourse among youth and the attendant problems related thereto.
4.23.2006 6:00pm
jvarisco:
Freder) There is no contradiction. While I don't support the policy, at least a majority of those who voted for Bush feel strongly about it, and I can accept that. I don't feel it is terrible, just not ideal. I went to a private school; we were taught different methods of birth control, but at the same time told that the best way, and what we should use, was abstinence. It's better than telling kids having sex is ok or handing out condoms (we just taught you how to use these, and now we're giving you some, but don't use them?).

nrein) A majority of people speed. Should drivers ed tell students that speeding is all right? Apparently a majority of hs kids also use drugs - should schools say drug use is fine now too? The fact that people are weak and do bad things does not mean we should ignore the fact that such things are bad. The realistic goal is not to stop casual sex, but to reduce it.

Another problem is the suggestion that with condoms sex is perfectly safe and good. Even with condom use, they can break. Furthermore, there are several diseases that are not prevented (e.g. herpes). That has to be made clear also.

I don't see where faith comes in here. Promoting abstinence is part of most religions, but it's also common sense. Casual sex leads to unwanted pregnancies, which are bad. Unless there was some way to make sure that condoms always worked and people actually used them (which there is not) the best way to reduce such pregnancies is by discouraging sex.
4.23.2006 6:04pm
You Know Who:
SLS 1L:

Is there any good peer-reviewed research (with random assignment and proper controls) that shows that abstinence plus programs (or comparable programs) actually lower rates of STDs or pregnancy among youth, relative to abstinence only programs?

If so, I would appreciate the reference(s).

Thanks
4.23.2006 6:10pm
SLS 1L:
You Know Who: Peer-reviewed research with random assignment? Doubtlessly the answer is 'no'.
4.23.2006 6:22pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Much of the argument given here so far, strikes me, quite frankly, as falling into one of three classic categories of bad argument: repitition (simply repeating assertions until the other person agrees); ad-hominen(associating the proposition with a person or group and then attacking the group); or inappropriately generalization (asserting as always and universally true propositions that one actually believes in only partially, simply ignoring that they actually have a variety of exceptions in a variety of contexts).

You are apparently ignoring the arguments made by the people who think this policy is ridiculous. We have supplied plenty of rational reasons backed up by rational arguments (mainly that it has been shown over and over that abstinence only education simply doesn't achieve its stated goals and that this society accepts sex between unmarried adults as normal and healthy) of why this is a completely ludicrous policy. The people defending the administration's policy (and it is a policy and regulation, not a law, apparently slipped into the CFR--and I wouldn't be surprised if they somehow managed to circumvent the normal rulemaking process since this administration seems to think the normal rules don't apply to them) are the ones who defend this policy on the basis of "this is what people in this country want" without a shred of evidence that this is true.
4.23.2006 6:26pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

I realize, BTW, that God is not mentioned in the Constitution. But most of the framers had degrees from religious institutions and almost all were Christians. The notion that they were deists (other than Ben Franklin, who may have been) has been thoroughly debunked.


The notion that the Founders were all "Christians"* except for Ben Franklin has been thoroughly debunked.

See my blog(s)

In particular see this post where I recommend a book, "The Faiths of the Founding Fathers," by David L. Holmes (a professor at the College of William and Mary).

In one passage, the author writes:


But if census takers trained in Christian theology had set up broad categories in 1790 labeled "Atheism," "Deism and Unitarianism," "Orthodox Protestantism," "Orthodox Roman Catholicism," and "Other," and if they had interviewed Franklin, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, they would undoubtedly have placed every one of these six founding fathers in some way under the category of "Deism and Unitarianism." pp 50-51.



* When I use the word "Christian" I mean orthodox-Trinitarian Christian. One could argue, indeed, that virtually all of the Founders were "Christians" only if we read the word "Christian" very broadly to include theological Unitarians who rejected other key tenets of orthodox Christianity.
4.23.2006 6:27pm
Hans Gruber (www):
Mike,

Of course not every commenter is pulling the "don't legislate morality" fallacy, but a suprising number of them have.
4.23.2006 6:29pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
A majority of people speed. Should drivers ed tell students that speeding is all right? Apparently a majority of hs kids also use drugs - should schools say drug use is fine now too? The fact that people are weak and do bad things does not mean we should ignore the fact that such things are bad. The realistic goal is not to stop casual sex, but to reduce it.

This policy aims to tell high school students that all sex outside marriage is wrong. That is patently absurd in this society. Rather than your examples, how about this one. It is illegal for teenagers to drink. Does that mean that as part of alcohol prevention programs, high schools should teach that all consumption of alcohol is wrong except for sacramental wine (and then only if you belong to denomination that requires the use of wine for communion). Imagine all the converts the Catholics, Episcopaleans and Orthodox Church would get.
4.23.2006 6:32pm
SLS 1L:
Hans - very true. I think the development of this fallacy is a side effect of the way "morality" has become a euphamism for "sex."
4.23.2006 6:35pm
ReaderY:
Freder Frederson

"this society accepts sex between unmarried adults as normal and healthy"

I am sorry, but this is an example of what I mean by repetition or tautology. Since this is simply another way of stating the very proposition being debated, using its assumed truth be used to justify itself as a conclusion is tautological.

This is a policy passed by a majority of a democratically elected legislature. It would seem the folks who elected the minority of the legislature ought to hesitate before dismissing the ideas of the folks with the majority as rediculous in light of what they claim "society" believes.

Why this dissing of democracy whenever it happens to lead to results one doesn't like? Does democracy have no intrinsic meaning or value? Does "society" refer to ones own friends or ones sophomore pyschology students? Why is the recent enactment of a democratically elected legislature not to be accepted as anything other than the very definition of what "society" does and does not accept? Isn't that what we mean by the law of a democratic society? Do lawyers or courts ever have the right not to accept it as such? If so, when, why, and on what evidence?

Claiming the legislature doesn't represent society is an eminently valid argument for voting out the current legislature and replacing them with representatives of ones own viewpoint. But it's a political argument, not a legal one. Until the electorate is convinced, "society's" viewpoint is what their current representatives say it is.
4.23.2006 6:46pm
SLS 1L:
One could argue, indeed, that virtually all of the Founders were "Christians" only if we read the word "Christian" very broadly to include theological Unitarians who rejected other key tenets of orthodox Christianity.
And whose theology bears little, if any, resemblance to that of the sorts of people who tend to argue that the United States is a "Christian nation" and should be governed as such.

Also - can anyone explain why this thing is telling me that the blockquote tag is disallowed if I type it in myself, but thinks it's OK if I enter it by hitting the "Block Quote" button?
4.23.2006 6:47pm
Hans Gruber (www):
"A majority of people speed. Should drivers ed tell students that speeding is all right? Apparently a majority of hs kids also use drugs - should schools say drug use is fine now too? The fact that people are weak and do bad things does not mean we should ignore the fact that such things are bad. The realistic goal is not to stop casual sex, but to reduce it."

For those who consider extra-marital sex a moral wrong in itself, this makes sense. But a lot of people oppose extra-marital sex because of STDs and illegitimacy. For the this latter group abstinence education only makes sense if it's good at reducing the social ills of promiscuity--STDs, abortion, illegitimacy.

So, we have two groups who presumably support abstinence education--those who want to increase the number of individuals who practice the moral life of abstinence outside of marriage, and those who want to decrease the prevalence of STDs, abortion, and illegitmacy. Thus a hypothetical result in which the number of abstainers doubles as well as the prevalence of STDS (beause those who don't abstain are not versed in safe sex practices) can be viewed as a partial succcess for the one group and a total failure by the other.
4.23.2006 6:48pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Hans, there we agree. I took issue only with what I took to be an overly general statement, but yeah, some folks definitely conflated the question of the government's power with the issues surrounding the underlying policy.
4.23.2006 6:51pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
This is a policy passed by a majority of a democratically elected legislature.

You obviously don't understand the difference between a regulation and law. This is not "a policy passed by a majority of a democratically elected legislature". It is a regulation promulgated by an unelected, unaccountable, appointed bureaucracy--and I daresay a very small group made almost completely of political appointees at that (something the Republicans used to hate). Congress, or any other legislative body, had absolutely zero input into the regulation. The Department of Education published it and school districts throughout the country will have to follow it as a precondition to receiving federal funds.
4.23.2006 6:54pm
SLS 1L:
ReaderY: Leaving aside the fact that this is a regulation, not a statute, legislatures are only sort of "democratic," and legislative action is a very poor proxy for the will of the people. Some classes of people - big campaign contributors and fundraisers, moneyed special interest groups, etc. - have a disproportionate amount of influence over the process relative to your average voter. A small but powerful group of people who care a lot about policy X may be able to force X through even if X is widely opposed, provided that the people who oppose X (or would oppose it if they knew about it) don't care enough about it to let it change their votes.

For example, voters don't want scads and scads and scads of pork-barrel spending, but it happens anyway. The problem is that each individual pork-barrel project means a lot to someone, and voters don't feel strongly enough about it to let it be the determining influence on their vote.
4.23.2006 6:57pm
ReaderY:
Societal sexual morality historically tends to be cyclical. Permissiveness tends to be followed by restraint and vice versa. There have been past sexual revolutions and past repressions. There is no reason to believe that the fact that the pendulum was at a particular point in ones youth determines how things should be for all time. It is not unreasonable to regard the matter as a balance-point, like a speed limit or whether to invest in stocks or bonds, that depends on time and place. Speed limits can be raised and lowered as conditions change.

New venereal diseases, for examples, have historically led to greater sexual strictness. The middle ages were pretty rip-roaring on the whole, but the spread of syphilis made virginity much more popular.
4.23.2006 7:01pm
Medis:
Smithy,

You write: "Medis, I haven't explained my point very well at all. Yes, we all go to mechanics and want engineers to build our bridges and so on. Those are all arenas where faith and knowledge do not conflict with each other. I say we're faith-based and the left is knowledge-based, but I mean that only in terms of choosing sides when the two come into conflict. Most conservatives obviously seek knowldege in most things, and some liberals are certainly church-goers."

Once again, you are assuming that there is some unavoidable area of conflict between empirical knowledge and faith. And once again, I would note that I do not think that most Americans believe that. Indeed, I think many would agree that faith is about precisely those matters which empiricism cannot address.

In fact, I think it is clear at this point that you are not talking about "faith" in general. Rather, you are talking about something like Biblical literalism, and I think it is clear that many Americans who are devout Christians are not Biblical literalists.

In fact, I suspect that not even a majority of Republicans are Biblical literalists. But because of the importance of Biblical literalists to the Republican coalition, they do seem to have a disproportionate influence on internal Republican politics. But you might want to ask the ex-members of the Dover, PA, school board about how Americans in general feel about these matters.

By the way, for those non-theocratic Republicans who do not see becoming a Democrat as a viable option, here is one suggestion: become an independent. Additionally, you might consider my simple political strategy, designed to encourage smaller government and discourage corruption and abuses of power: at any given time, always support whichever of the two major political parties has the least amount of power. Right now that happens to be the Democrats, but with the way things are going in the polls, you might not have to support them for long before switching back again.

Of course, the one notable downside to this strategy is that you are never playing on a winning team. But unless you want to be a professional politico yourself, I don't see that as more than an issue of ego.
4.23.2006 7:03pm
ReaderY:
I certainly understand that the legislature doesn't perfectly represent the electorate or rules the legislative enactment, but in this case I think "abstinence" had a pretty clear meaning to people who favored it, and regarding it as a euphemism for "chastity" is on the money. May or may not represent society as a whole, but does represent the law's key supporters. And it got passed.
4.23.2006 7:09pm
SLS 1L:
ReaderY - no, it had a clear meaning for the people who actively advocated it. Many ordinary people who said they supported it when polled or nodded when some politician spoke up in support of it probably had something very different from this regulation in mind

"Kids should be taught not to have sexual intercourse before they are married" is not at all the same as "kids should be taught that any kind of below-the-neck sexual activity is wrong unless they are in a heterosexual marriage, even if they are divorced, widow(er)ed, or gay."
4.23.2006 7:15pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
May or may not represent society as a whole, but does represent the law's key supporters. And it got passed.

As I said above, this is not a law, it didn't have any "key supporters, other than its authors (who will probably remain anonymous), and it was and never will be "passed". It is a regulation that will be published in the federal register.
4.23.2006 7:15pm
SLS 1L:
Freder - this regulation definitely had "key supporters." Did nobody consider the opinion of James Dobson et al? I doubt it.
4.23.2006 7:18pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
this regulation definitely had "key supporters." Did nobody consider the opinion of James Dobson et al? I doubt it.

True, I should have said key elected supporters, not our Star Chamber.
4.23.2006 7:29pm
ReaderY:

We conclude that activities such as the regular commission of sexual acts in the home by unmarried people, failing and refusing to counsel the children against such conduct while acknowledging this conduct to them, allowing the children to see unmarried persons known by the children to be sexual partners in bed together, keeping admittedly improper sexual material in the home, and Mr. Tipton's taking the children out of the home without their father's knowledge of their whereabouts support the trial court's findings of "improper influences" which are "detrimental to the best interest and welfare of the two minor children."


Pulliam v. Smith, N.C. 1998, http://www.aoc.state.nc.us/www/public/sc/ opinions/1998/499-96-1.htm

There are zillions of cases like this throughout the courts of conservative states. Is there any serious doubt that there is currently a dispute in society?
4.23.2006 8:43pm
SLS 1L:
ReaderY - is anyone saying that there isn't a dispute in society about this? If there weren't, it would be rather odd for us to be having this argument in the first place.
4.23.2006 9:12pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Cute, slipping "casual" in there, but the proposal from Big Brother in Washington is to preach against ALL sexual activity outside of marriage, whether "casual" or not and regardless of the age of the people involved. Yes, even 45 year old divorced people need to be "educated" that they have to stop having sex now that they're divorced, even if they're in a long term, monogamous relationship. Do you seriously expect us to believe that 75% of the country thinks the government should be telling them not to have sex? I'm not even sure you could come up with 17%, let alone 75%.
Uh, you realize that we're talking about schools, right? How many 45 year olds, divorced or otherwise, are still in high school?
4.23.2006 9:39pm
Cornellian (mail):
Cute, slipping "casual" in there, but the proposal from Big Brother in Washington is to preach against ALL sexual activity outside of marriage, whether "casual" or not and regardless of the age of the people involved. Yes, even 45 year old divorced people need to be "educated" that they have to stop having sex now that they're divorced, even if they're in a long term, monogamous relationship. Do you seriously expect us to believe that 75% of the country thinks the government should be telling them not to have sex? I'm not even sure you could come up with 17%, let alone 75%.

Uh, you realize that we're talking about schools, right? How many 45 year olds, divorced or otherwise, are still in high school?


The point is that the guidelines require educators to say that all sex outside marriage is wrong, regardless of the age of the participants, whether their relationship is monogamous and whether they have been married before. It's an idiotic, hopelessly unrealistic message whether it's being preached to high school students or anyone else. Teenagers have very highly attuned BS detectors that will be going off the scale when someone tries to "teach" them this. Personally I'd be asking the teacher how old he was when he got married and whether he was a virgin on his wedding night.

Do you think George Bush, the head of the executive branch that promulgated this regulation, had never had sex before marrying Laura? How about Dick Cheney? How many Senators or members of the House were virgins until marriage? Telling teenagers to adhere to a standard that virtually all adults completely ignore is no way to instill values in them. It simply compromises the educator's credbility on all issues.
4.23.2006 10:08pm
jvarisco:
What is the definition of casual sex? It is sex outside of a committed monogamous relationship. There is no reason not to get married in such a relationship, so then by definition extra-marital sex is casual sex.

Freder) Schools can and should teach that all excess consumption of alcohol, and consumption of hard liquor, is bad. Getting drunk is the problem, not having a glass of wine. There are people who drink alcohol yet never to excess, and there is no problem there.

40% of the votes for Bush were from evangelical Christians. Any way you look at it, the majority of the people who voted for Bush prefer abstinence. As the policy is up to him, it seems to make perfect sense that he would do what his voters want. If you don't like the policy, vote for Kerry. Maybe we can start handing out condoms in kindergarten.

Hans) How could abstinence fail to reduce pregnancy, STDs, etc.? They are spread by sex, without sex they won't get spread.
4.23.2006 10:46pm
SLS 1L:
jvarisco - there are lots of reasons why people don't get married even though they're in committed relationships. For just one example, consider money. Seniors whose spouses are dead often don't marry their partners because it would (a) imperil their social security benefits and (b) give the new partner a claim on assets they want to go to their children, not the new partner's children. This is actually quite common, but the relationships aren't really less committed for that.
4.23.2006 11:10pm
pattypleb (mail):
Hi, I realize that this thread is rather old, and that this response isn't directly relevant to sex ed classes, but I must say I'm surprised that no one corrected Mr. Sydney Carton's misleading comment about Christianity.

"I thought the main tenet of Christianity is that we all fall short of being able to faithfully follow its tenets.
Um. No. The main tenent of Christianity is NOT that we're so flawed that we should prepare people for when they succumb to temptation (aka: sin). I can't believe you'd actually suggest with a straight fact that Christianity's main tenent is to PREPARE PEOPLE FOR SIN. Have you ONCE read the New Testament at all?

For the record, the main tenent of Christianity is that Jesus is the Son of God and that on the Third Day he rose from the dead, in fulfullment of the scriptures.
I'm still shocked by the ignorance or perverse lunacy of people's ideas about Christianity on this blog. The idea that its main tenent is that we're so unperfect so that we should prepare you for when you sin... it's just so STUPID. Sheesh....

Actually, the original poster was entirely correct. What Mr. Carton leaves out of his response is why, exactly, Jesus the Son of God died and rose - as I recall from Sunday school, it was because all of humanity is infected with original sin (except for Mary), and that we are entirely incapable of saving ourselves due to this fact.

I'll admit I left the Church a good long while ago, but that seems to have been the gist of it. Thus the original poster (sorry, I forget who it was) was perfectly justified in listing human imperfection as the major tennent of Christianity (especially since the schism between Catholicism and Protestantism is due in part to how one makes up for original sin through Christ's sacrifice - belief or the confessional?).

On the main topic of the post - I'm not quite twenty yet, and thanks to a lot of moves as a kid, I've been through abstinence only, information-based, and so on, and I gotta say that the informative ones were generally associated with high schools and middle schools that weren't gripped by gonorhea and herpes epidemics. If kids are going to do it, they're going to do it, and they might as well do a condom. The amount of sex, and the time of virginity loss, of every single person I know correlates a lot more directly to their relationship with their parents and views taught at home than anything their schools instructed them in.

Has anyone checked to see if the statistics that indicate that abs only education leads to a one-year delay in intercourse are controlled for family situation, personal religious views, etc? Maybe abstinence-only happens to be taught more frequently at schools where both the students and the parents have strong religious views, and the parents lay down the sort of rules that make illicit affairs more difficult?
4.23.2006 11:29pm
Cornellian (mail):
What is the definition of casual sex? It is sex outside of a committed monogamous relationship. There is no reason not to get married in such a relationship, so then by definition extra-marital sex is casual sex.


Unless of course, your commited, monogamous relationship is with a person of the same sex, in which case 49 states and the federal government prohibit you from getting married.
4.23.2006 11:42pm
Cornellian (mail):
40% of the votes for Bush were from evangelical Christians. Any way you look at it, the majority of the people who voted for Bush prefer abstinence. As the policy is up to him, it seems to make perfect sense that he would do what his voters want. If you don't like the policy, vote for Kerry. Maybe we can start handing out condoms in kindergarten.

Forty percent isn't a majority and I highly doubt that 100% of people who describe themselves as "evangelical" would agree with the proposition that sex between two unmarried people is always wrong, regardless of the age of the participants, whether they've been married before or whether they're in a long term committed relationship.
4.23.2006 11:46pm
TFKW:
Shouldn't "biblical sex only" at least mean "legalized polygamy", if not a whole lot more?
4.24.2006 12:15am
Quarterican (mail):
TFKW -

You know, I was going to say "Oh, be fair, you know that's not what Dale Carpenter meant by 'biblical'" but then I looked at the language of the regulation, and it says abstinence is "voluntarily choosing not to..." etc., etc. So what about when the sex is involuntary? If I'm hosting two strangers and a gang of guys are banging on my door demanding that I let them "know" these strangers, and I offer instead to send out my virgin daughters for the men to "know" as they see fit...can I provide the men outside my door with condoms? I'd sure feel better about the whole situation if everyone was practicing safe sex.
4.24.2006 12:29am
Sydney Carton (www):
patty,

I think it's obvious that Christ died for our salvation (aka: salvation for our sins), so I didn't think it was necessary to point it out. But the original poster was saying that the main tenent of Christianity is that we're supposed to prepare people for their eventual sins, not that Christ can redeem them. His logic was entirely backwards: instead of Christ redeeming sin, he was saying that since we sin we should embrace it (why else "prepare" for it?). It is perverse logic and totally turns Christianity on its head.
4.24.2006 1:39am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Smithy says this was meant to be a Christian nation. I think he was wrong.

It was meant to be a Jewish nation.

Back to the old time religion. If it was good enough for Jesus it is good enough for me.
4.24.2006 1:42am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
I read a study once that kids taught abstinence only had sex later but were more likely to get pregnant than those taught abstinance and birth control.

Sounds about right to me.

So what do we want most? Fewer out of wedlock births or delayed sex.
4.24.2006 1:56am
David M. Nieporent (www):
The point is that the guidelines require educators to say that all sex outside marriage is wrong, regardless of the age of the participants, whether their relationship is monogamous and whether they have been married before. It's an idiotic, hopelessly unrealistic message whether it's being preached to high school students or anyone else. Teenagers have very highly attuned BS detectors that will be going off the scale when someone tries to "teach" them this. Personally I'd be asking the teacher how old he was when he got married and whether he was a virgin on his wedding night.
Why would that possibly be relevant?
Do you think George Bush, the head of the executive branch that promulgated this regulation, had never had sex before marrying Laura? How about Dick Cheney? How many Senators or members of the House were virgins until marriage? Telling teenagers to adhere to a standard that virtually all adults completely ignore is no way to instill values in them. It simply compromises the educator's credbility on all issues.
Of course it doesn't. Values are aspirational. We teach children what they should do -- knowing that they will fall short sometimes, knowing that we will fall short sometimes. It's not "BS" to tell them that they should do something that's hard to do. That's the _only_ way to instill values in them.

Telling them that because people fall short, they shouldn't try might be a good way to avoid the dreaded charge of "hypocrisy," but it doesn't really instill any value at all.

You wouldn't tell kids "Try not to use racial slurs too much," would you?
4.24.2006 2:01am
SLS 1L:
David - Kids' BS detectors are directly relevant, insamuch as we are talking about kids' education. If kids decide what they're being taught is bullshit, teaching it to them probably isn't going to be very effective and a curriculum change is called for.

As for values, I think you've hit the nail on the head. The question is, is public school sed ed's principal purpose to instill "values" or to promote public health by preventing unwanted/teen pregnancy, reducing the spread of STD's, etc.? If you're willing to come out and say that you care more about reducing sex than about the public health, then we're down to what's pretty much a bedrock disagreement.
4.24.2006 2:37am
Cornellian (mail):
Personally I'd be asking the teacher how old he was when he got married and whether he was a virgin on his wedding night.

Why would that possibly be relevant?


Because if you're trying to convince teenagers that sex before marriage is a bad idea, the fact that you, the teacher, had sex before marriage yet somehow managed to avoid the raft of horrors predicted by the Falwell types behind this regulation seems directly relevant to me. I'd call it Exhibit #1 in the case against the proposition that sex outside of marriage is a bad idea.
4.24.2006 3:12am
Cornellian (mail):
Values are aspirational. We teach children what they should do -- knowing that they will fall short sometimes, knowing that we will fall short sometimes. It's not "BS" to tell them that they should do something that's hard to do. That's the _only_ way to instill values in them.

Telling them that because people fall short, they shouldn't try might be a good way to avoid the dreaded charge of "hypocrisy," but it doesn't really instill any value at all.


I see, so this "do as I say, not as I do" pitch goes something like this:

You, skeptical teenager, should listen when the federal government tells you that sex outside marriage is really bad, something always to be avoided, despite the fact that I, the teacher telling you this had sex outside of marriage and not only survived, but went on to become a teacher and normal, functioning, law abiding member of society. So did my parents. So did your parents. So did President Bush and Vice-President Cheney. So did virtually every Senator and member of the House. Yep, all those hundreds of people had sex outside of marriage with no apparent ill effects, but you can't. Or shouldn't. Bad things will happen to you, even though they didn't happen to any of us. You can trust us. We're grown ups.

How many teenagers do you think are going to buy that pitch?
4.24.2006 3:18am
Medis:
SLS 1L,

And don't forget abortion . . . it is entirely possible, indeed likely, that choosing an ineffective sexual education policy will lead to more abortions.
4.24.2006 5:07am
Steve in CA (mail):
Cornellian makes a good point. It's like anti-drug education -- you're telling kids that smoking pot will lead to some horrible future, yet most successful people they see smoked pot when they were high school or college-aged. The kids can see that it didn't destroy their lives, so they see that the anti-drug bullshit is just that, bullshit.
4.24.2006 2:28pm
Randy R. (mail):
Most of this discussion is involving speculation and ideas on a perfect world. perhaps we should consult someone such as Dan Savage, the sex columnist. He has written quite often that the 'no sex until marriage' thing is way overrated. Why?

He states that you would not believe the number of letters he gets from women who waited until marriage to have sex, and they have been faithful throughout their marriage. But after 5-10 years, they are incredibly bored with the same old sex. They are dying to know what sex would be like with another guy. They basically want a way to have sex with another guy without cheating on their husband. Of course, they can't. Savage has some recommendations for these women, but he also states that it is very often GOOD to have sex before marriage, and with several partners, so that you can become experienced and better at sex. Then when you settle down, you know exactly what you are getting into.

Another point that is missing in this debate -- The social conservatives who run the federal governmnet HATE the fact that some people engage in homosexual activity, whether they are gay or not, and they want to stamp it out in any fashion that they can. This is a direct attack at all people who are gay, or experimenting. Why? Because they just really really hate gays. And that is no reason to base an federal program. Certainly not with my tax dollars involved.
4.24.2006 2:44pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
18 USC 3030 writes:

Also, this nation was not built by Christians, for Christians. This nation was built by reasoned men for all men regardless of religion.
Explain to me, then, why there are so many state constitutions from the Revolutionary period that explicitly privilege Christians (and in some cases, Protestants). For example, the North Carolina Constitution of 1776:
That no person, who shall deny the being of God or the truth of the Protestant religion, or the divine authority either of the Old or New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding any office or place of trust or profit in the civil department within this State.
Or the Maryland Constitution of 1776:
That no other test or qualification ought to be required, on admission to any office of trust or profit, than such oath of support and fidelity to this State, and such oath of office, as shall be directed by this Convention or the Legislature of this State, and a declaration of a belief in the Christian religion.
Or the requirement that the Delaware Constitutional Convention of 1776 imposed on its delegates:
And each member, before he takes his seat, shall make and subscribe the following declaration, viz:
I do believe in one God, the creator and governor of the universe, the rewarder of the good and the punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine inspiration.


And no further or other religious test shall ever hereafter be required of any civil officer or magistrate in this State.
>Or the South Carolina Constitution of 1778 that required elected officials to be Protestants. Or the New Jersey Constitution of 1776 that guaranteed the right to hold public office to:
all persons, professing a belief in the faith of any Protestant sect. who shall demean themselves peaceably under the government, as hereby established, shall be capable of being elected into any office of profit or trust, or being a member of either branch of the Legislature, and shall fully and freely enjoy every privilege and immunity, enjoyed by others their fellow subjects.


Or the , which not only provided for a state establishemnt of religion (generally funding the Congregational Church, but sometimes others were the population's majority wasn't Congregationalist), but required the legislature to pass mandatory church attendance laws.

There are many other examples that I can give you. The notion that America was founded by a lot of non-Christians is very popular in homosexual circles, but it is demonstrably false--unless you think that a bunch of non-Christians went out of their way to grant specific rights and privileges to non-Christians.

Of course,
homosexuals rely on falsification of history to win court cases--like in Lawrence. The alternative would be to tell the truth, and lose.
4.24.2006 3:54pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Cornellian writes:

Forty percent isn't a majority and I highly doubt that 100% of people who describe themselves as "evangelical" would agree with the proposition that sex between two unmarried people is always wrong, regardless of the age of the participants, whether they've been married before or whether they're in a long term committed relationship.
I'm not aware of any evangelical church that teaches that sex between unmarried person is okay. Some of the mainstream churches, like the United Methodists, probably don't have a problem with this, but then again, they aren't normally considered evangelical churches.
4.24.2006 3:57pm
Steve in CA (mail):
Clayton, I think the argument is that Jefferson and the rest of the founders of the United States of America were fairly secular, not that the founders of the individual states were. I think the U.S. Constitution is a beautiful document for many reasons, among them its brevity and its implied seperation of church and state. The Constitution of North Carolina apparently didn't have those virtues -- so? Maybe that's one of the reasons nobody celebrates the founding fathers of South Carolina.

Also, despite that fact that "the notion that America was founded by a lot of non-Christians is very popular in homosexual circles," I am not, in fact, homosexual. Amazing, isn't it? If your remember, I'm also the guy who doesn't think there's anything wrong, or even rare, about kinky sex. And yet -- not gay! Your head must have exploded by now, I know.
4.24.2006 4:02pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Cornellian writes:


You, skeptical teenager, should listen when the federal government tells you that sex outside marriage is really bad, something always to be avoided, despite the fact that I, the teacher telling you this had sex outside of marriage and not only survived, but went on to become a teacher and normal, functioning, law abiding member of society. So did my parents. So did your parents. So did President Bush and Vice-President Cheney. So did virtually every Senator and member of the House. Yep, all those hundreds of people had sex outside of marriage with no apparent ill effects, but you can't. Or shouldn't. Bad things will happen to you, even though they didn't happen to any of us. You can trust us. We're grown ups.
You are making some assumptions about "virtually every Senator and member of the House." Unless you have some evidence to back up this claim....

This may surprise you, but there are an enormous number of people who take their marriage vows and "long-term committments" very seriously. While not as common, there are still couples out there who get married as virgins--and a fair number for whom their only premarital sex was with the person that they married.

In any case, I've lost count of the number of people I know who smoked pot in high school or college and who think they made a terrible mistake. I know more than a few people who look back with a mixture of horror, disgust, and relief that we survived the 1970s without picking up an STD. Sometimes, people learn from their mistakes, and do their best to encourage their children not to make the same mistakes. This doesn't make them hypocrites. I gues that you were prefer that every generation make the mistakes of the past without any warnings like, "This caused some damage to my generation--you would be better off without it."
4.24.2006 4:04pm
Steve in CA (mail):
Clatyon,

There's a big difference between, "evangelical churches teach that sex outside of marriage is wrong," and "actual evangelicals believe sex outside of marriage is wrong." Certainly, judging by their behavior, most Americans don't see a big moral problem with sex outside of marriage, per se. Maybe they don't like teen sex or gay sex or prostitition or promiscuous sex or whatever, but most people do a bit of pre-marital humping in their lifetimes, and they don't seem too conflicted about it.
4.24.2006 4:05pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Clayton, I think the argument is that Jefferson and the rest of the founders of the United States of America were fairly secular, not that the founders of the individual states were. I think the U.S. Constitution is a beautiful document for many reasons, among them its brevity and its implied seperation of church and state. The Constitution of North Carolina apparently didn't have those virtues -- so? Maybe that's one of the reasons nobody celebrates the founding fathers of South Carolina.
Your ignorance of history is showing. Jefferson was certainly one of the most secular of the Founders--by modern standards, he would be squarely in the mainstream of a liberal church like the United Methodists. He also had nothing to do with writing the Constitution. (He was in France at the time.)

There is nothing "implied" about separation of church and state in the First Amendment. The same Congress that passed the First Amendment demonstrated repeatedly that they did not believe in such a separation. Non-establishment is quite a bit different from the ACLU's notion of "separation of church and state."

Pretending that the Framers were substantially different from the people that wrote the state constitutions is absurd.


Also, despite that fact that "the notion that America was founded by a lot of non-Christians is very popular in homosexual circles," I am not, in fact, homosexual. Amazing, isn't it? If your remember, I'm also the guy who doesn't think there's anything wrong, or even rare, about kinky sex. And yet -- not gay! Your head must have exploded by now, I know.
"On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog." There have been a few too many sex changes take place among commenters here for me to completely believe you.

In any case, lying about history is a fundamental part of homosexual legal challenges. I am not surprised that liberals would commend it.
4.24.2006 4:10pm
Steve in CA (mail):
You know, part of me doesn't want to feed the troll, but I would like to point out that Clayton Cramer actually just responded by calling me gay. Or at least, doubting my claim that I am not, in fact, gay. Awesome.

I do know plenty about Jefferson's role in the founding of the country, and I know he wasn't a part of the Constitutional convention. I think it's going too far to say that means he wasn't a founder, period.

Side note: "Evangelicalism" as it exists today didn't even exist until the mid to late 19th century. From the founders through Lincoln and beyond, we had politicians who by today's standards were unelectably "secular."
4.24.2006 4:14pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Clatyon,

There's a big difference between, "evangelical churches teach that sex outside of marriage is wrong," and "actual evangelicals believe sex outside of marriage is wrong." Certainly, judging by their behavior, most Americans don't see a big moral problem with sex outside of marriage, per se. Maybe they don't like teen sex or gay sex or prostitition or promiscuous sex or whatever, but most people do a bit of pre-marital humping in their lifetimes, and they don't seem too conflicted about it.
1. How do you know that they aren't conflicted about it? I certainly meet people who have done things that they know are wrong--but they did them anyway. Of course, you may not have a problem with this, if you define that anything you want to do is therefore right.

2. Evangelical Christians aren't born that way. There's a saying that college is when, "Wild kids go Christian and Christian kids go wild." I've seen a lot of it. (I've experienced it.) A lot of people do things in their teens and early 20s that they later recognize were dumb, immoral, or foolish. A lof evangelical Christians have done things at one time in their life that they now would like to discourage others from doing--just to reduce unnecessary pain.
4.24.2006 4:16pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I do know plenty about Jefferson's role in the founding of the country, and I know he wasn't a part of the Constitutional convention. I think it's going too far to say that means he wasn't a founder, period.
You were the one that raised Jefferson in the context of the U.S. Constitution.

Side note: "Evangelicalism" as it exists today didn't even exist until the mid to late 19th century. From the founders through Lincoln and beyond, we had politicians who by today's standards were unelectably "secular."
Utterly wrong, on every count. You really should crack some history books about the period. Patricia U. Bonomi's Under the Cope of Heaven is a good starting point. Politicians who were outside the mainstream (i.e., who were unsure about the divinity of Christ) were careful to make sure that this didn't get too widely known. As an example, there's the letter Ben Franklin wrote to Ezra Stiles shortly before Franklin's death, and after mentioning his own uncertainty, asked Stiles to not spread around that Franklin had doubts. The divide between fundamentalism and mainstream Christianity wasn't because fundamentalists left the mainstream, but that mainstream denominations adopted more liberal views about inerrancy of the Bible, Creationism, and original sin.
4.24.2006 4:24pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
By the way, the text of Franklin's letter to Ezra Stiles is here.
Franklin is definitely among the more liberal thinkers of his day on religion--and he knew full well that exposing that liberalism would not go over well:

As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals, and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England some doubts as to his divinity; tho' it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble. I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequence, as it probably has, of making his doctrines more respected and better observed; especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his government of the world with any particular marks of his displeasure.

...

P.S.... I confide that you will not expose me to criticism and censure by publishing any part of this communication to you. I have ever let others enjoy their religious sentiments, without reflecting on them for those that appeared to me unsupportable and even absurd. All sects here, and we have a great variety, have experienced my good will in assisting them with subscriptions for building their new places of worship; and as I have never opposed any of their doctrines, I hope to go out of the world in peace with them all.
4.24.2006 4:29pm
jvarisco (www):
Because if you're trying to convince teenagers that sex before marriage is a bad idea, the fact that you, the teacher, had sex before marriage yet somehow managed to avoid the raft of horrors predicted by the Falwell types behind this regulation seems directly relevant to me. I'd call it Exhibit #1 in the case against the proposition that sex outside of marriage is a bad idea.

This is not in fact the case. I would openly concede that many, even most, of the people who have sex outside of marriage face no consequences. But the fact is that it is risky. Most people who do drugs grow up and do fine. But some of them die. It is because of those few people that no one should - because it is a risk that should not be taken. I could have sex without protection, and I might get a disease, or I might get a girl pregnant. But if there were 100 people who did it, and only 20 got dieases or caused pregnancy, it would STILL be bad a thing that kids should be told not to do. Some kids might use protection, but some won't, and of those, some will be harmed. Therefore they should all be told not to do it at all.
4.24.2006 4:45pm
Steve in CA (mail):
Clayton,

We're arguing from different first principles. I don't think there's any reason that having sex with one's significant other, outside of marriage, could be called "wrong." It doesn't seem to correlate even one bit with wehther one is a good person. Now, adulterly certainly does, but that's not what we're talking about. The only objection to consensual, regular-old sex between adults who aren't married is a religious one -- and that's why it has no place in the public schools.
4.24.2006 5:03pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

Franklin is definitely among the more liberal thinkers of his day on religion--and he knew full well that exposing that liberalism would not go over well:


Yes, and the Founders also thought it was utterly tyrannical that the masses had this power over what clearly belonged in the realm of personal opinion. In England, not too culturally different than America at the time, it was a crime to publicly deny the Trinity until 1813.

Yet, virtually all of America's key Whig Founders were theological Unitarians (thus, according to Clayton Cramer himself, outside the realm of "Christianity"). Ironic, isn't it, that our Founders religious views, had they been known, could have publicly ruined them, disqualified them for under various state's religious tests, and gotten them into legal trouble under various state laws.

No wonder why George Washington had Martha burn his private correspondence letters.
4.24.2006 5:34pm
Medis:
jvarisco,

The fact that there is some risk associated with an activity is not enough to show that no one should participate in that activity. Indeed, by that standard, no one could ever justify crossing the street.

Of course, your hidden assumption is that there is no conceivable benefit to any nonmarital sex under any circumstances, such that the benefits of engaging in nonmarital sex might sometimes outweigh the associated risk. And although you might not share this view, you are undoubtedly aware that many people think nonmarital sex, at least in some circumstances, can be healthy, enjoyable, and generally beneficial.
4.24.2006 5:38pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
By the way, when it came to denying the Trinity, John Adams (and of course, Jefferson) wasn't as polite as Franklin.

See this post.


"The Trinity was carried in a general council by one vote against a quaternity; the Virgin Mary lost an equality with the Father, Son, and Spirit only by a single suffrage."


John Adams to Benjamin Rush, June 12, 1812.

And:


"An incarnate God!!! An eternal, self-existent, omnipresent omniscient Author of this stupendous Universe, suffering on a Cross!!! My Soul starts with horror, at the Idea, and it has stupified the Christian World. It has been the Source of almost all of the Corruptions of Christianity."


John Adams to John Quincy Adams, March 28, 1816.
4.24.2006 5:38pm
Barbar:
I am an umarried man in my late 20s who has had sex, mostly in the confines of serious committed relationships but also while casually dating (in between relationships). And I've also used a few drugs, though nothing too frequently. I drink once in a while.

Oh how my soul is tortured by the risks I run! All of my horrible foul acts slowly poison me, rotting my character, eroding my morality. Even though I haven't contracted a sexually transmitted disease, I've acquired something much worse -- a disease of the spirit, crushing me, cutting me off from God and other decent law-abiding human beings.

Oh sure, it's been "fun," and I'm a "happy person who enjoys life," but that's just massive self-deception at work. I'm really a poor sufferer who is tormented by my immoral choices, even though they haven't harmed anyone, and in fact have made people happier. Woe is me!

You know what would make this world a better place? If sex carried with it more consequences, so that it was harder to avoid pregnancy and disease. Oh yeah, because then I would have some real incentives to avoid my immoral behavior, instead of living like a soulless deviant who is able to pretend that everything is OK and fine.

(Side comment: my favorite Volokh post of all time would have to be the one about whether it is reasonable to talk about gays recruiting people, where the reasonable law professor carefully established that gays indeed try to recruit people, but that it was actually reasonable for them to do so. Brilliant.)
4.24.2006 5:44pm
Quarterican (mail):
Steve in CA -

Clayton's done it before; weirdly enough, that was ten days ago, off by about 30 minutes by my timestamps. Same quote, similar response, which makes wonder how often the topic comes up with him. Maybe he's a robot!
4.24.2006 5:48pm
BobN (mail):
When the Constitutional Congress cast their eyes around the colonies, they saw those with Christianity explicitly required in their constitutions and THEY CLEARLY REJECTED THAT APPROACH.

Wise men, Christians and non-.
4.24.2006 6:00pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
CC wrote:


Your ignorance of history is showing. Jefferson was certainly one of the most secular of the Founders--by modern standards, he would be squarely in the mainstream of a liberal church like the United Methodists.


The United Methodits are now theological Unitarians?


He also had nothing to do with writing the Constitution. (He was in France at the time.)

There is nothing "implied" about separation of church and state in the First Amendment.


But Madison not only had *something* to do with writing the Constitution, but is commonly referred to as its architect. And Madison's views on the First Amendment and the doctrine of Separation are more or less the same as Jefferson's.

See here for some of Madison's quotations:


The civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability, and performs its functions with complete success, whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the State (Letter to Robert Walsh, Mar. 2, 1819).

Strongly guarded as is the separation between religion and &Gov't in the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history (Detached Memoranda, circa 1820).

Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together (Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822).

I must admit moreover that it may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to a usurpation on one side or the other or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them will be best guarded against by entire abstinence of the government from interference in any way whatever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order and protecting each sect against trespasses on its legal rights by others. (Letter Rev. Jasper Adams, Spring 1832).
4.24.2006 6:00pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Clayton,

We're arguing from different first principles. I don't think there's any reason that having sex with one's significant other, outside of marriage, could be called "wrong." It doesn't seem to correlate even one bit with wehther one is a good person. Now, adulterly certainly does, but that's not what we're talking about. The only objection to consensual, regular-old sex between adults who aren't married is a religious one -- and that's why it has no place in the public schools.
Just about every criminal statute we have is based on a religious principle. Legislating morality is what law is.
4.24.2006 6:41pm
Seamus (mail):

Some of the mainstream churches, like the United Methodists, probably don't have a problem with this, but then again, they aren't normally considered evangelical churches.



Not anymore, but when Methodism was getting started (and for more than a century afterwards), Methodists were the evangelicals par excellence.

Of course, that was when the New England Congregationalists (now part of the Democratic party at prayer, better known as the United Church of Christ) were Puritans, so things certainly do change over time.
4.24.2006 6:42pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Jon Rowe writes:


Yes, and the Founders also thought it was utterly tyrannical that the masses had this power over what clearly belonged in the realm of personal opinion. In England, not too culturally different than America at the time, it was a crime to publicly deny the Trinity until 1813.
And yet it was several decades before states changed their laws to conform to your claim about their views. By the way, blasphemy was still a crime in New York State until about 1815, as I recall. It appears that these laws stuck around even later in other places. Maryland's 1879 Revised General Code still has a blasphemy law:
If any person, by writing or speaking, shall blaspheme or curse God, or shall write or utter any profane words of and concerning our Saviour, Jesus Christ, or of and concerning the Trinity, or any of the persons thereof, he shall, on conviction, be fined not more than one hundred dollars, or imprisoned not more than six months, or both fined and imprisoned as aforesaid, at the discretion of the court.
The statute was apparently passed in 1819, and may not have been much prosecuted by 1879--but it does suggest that your view of the influence of the Framers wasn't shared by the people that wrote the laws.


Yet, virtually all of America's key Whig Founders were theological Unitarians (thus, according to Clayton Cramer himself, outside the realm of "Christianity"). Ironic, isn't it, that our Founders religious views, had they been known, could have publicly ruined them, disqualified them for under various state's religious tests, and gotten them into legal trouble under various state laws.
It suggests that you are incorrect about their beliefs, or that the "key Whig Founders" you are using were pretty exceptional among the movers and shakers of their time.
4.24.2006 6:49pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

This is not in fact the case. I would openly concede that many, even most, of the people who have sex outside of marriage face no consequences.
Unfortunately, it isn't a tiny fraction. I get so depressed when I see herpes ads on television. The silent epidemic of HPV-related cervical cancer is even more depressing. There are an enormous number of young people who have been told by the left's domination of the media that:

1. Casual sex is fun.

2. A woman isn't really a woman unless she's servicing a man.

3. A man isn't really a man unless he taking advantage of lots of different women.

4. There are no real consequences to casual sex except pregnancy, and there are no consequences to abortion.
4.24.2006 6:53pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

But Madison not only had *something* to do with writing the Constitution, but is commonly referred to as its architect. And Madison's views on the First Amendment and the doctrine of Separation are more or less the same as Jefferson's.
But both Madison and Jefferson, as President, operated in a manner that shows that they did not share the ACLU's view of what "separation of church and state" means.
4.24.2006 6:57pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Clayton,

We're arguing from different first principles. I don't think there's any reason that having sex with one's significant other, outside of marriage, could be called "wrong." It doesn't seem to correlate even one bit with wehther one is a good person. Now, adulterly certainly does, but that's not what we're talking about. The only objection to consensual, regular-old sex between adults who aren't married is a religious one -- and that's why it has no place in the public schools.
STDs. Pregnancy. Kids having sex who are not emotionally ready for it, and the rather strong and sometimes conflicting emotions that come from it. These are the reasons for encouraging kids to wait at least until they are legally adults. The STDs and unwanted pregnancies are also good reasons for adults to regard sex as something a bit more special than blowing your nose.
4.24.2006 6:59pm
Chimaxx (mail):
Clayton wrote:
STDs. Pregnancy. Kids having sex who are not emotionally ready for it, and the rather strong and sometimes conflicting emotions that come from it. These are the reasons for encouraging kids to wait at least until they are legally adults. The STDs and unwanted pregnancies are also good reasons for adults to regard sex as something a bit more special than blowing your nose.


And if that's what the policy actually said, it would have wide support from those who are currently disagreeing with it. I could happily support a policy that said:

Abstinence curricula must have a clear definition of sexual abstinence which must be consistent with the following: "Because of the risk of sexually-transmitted diseases and pregnancy, as well as the emotional and psychological dangers that can be caused by abortion, STDs and early sexual activity itself, teenagers are encouraged to avoid genital contact or sexual stimulation until they are legally adults, and preferably until marriage. Unmarried adult students should also be reminded of the dangers of STDs and unwanted pregnancy and reminded that while various birth control methods can reduce the spread of either one, only abstinence from sexual activity is 100% effective in preventing both."

Fact of the matter is, I'm surprised that there haven't been more arguments from the RIGHT against the new policy as written, given its tacit support of teenage masturbation "Sexual activity refers to any type of genital contact or sexual stimulation between two persons." People have joked about "so are three-ways okay," but no one has acknowledged the fact that inclusion of "two persons" in the definition is to specifically but indirectly give a green light to masturbation. So even in this era of new repression, times have changed.
4.24.2006 7:40pm
Chimaxx (mail):
quick correction: for "spread" read "incidence"
4.24.2006 7:42pm
Broncos:
The following isn't a slam on this comment thread so much as the culture wars in general. The culture wars infect every societal problem, and reformulate them into a good guy vs. bad guy political issue. Fund-raising is more profitable, and constituents get to feel more righteous, but it is irresponsible and wasteful.

We are talking about homosexuality, but the *actual* topic of debate (should be) curriculum. In 2003, 14% of adults were functionally illiterate, and less than 1/3 were "proficient" (the highest level). Illiteracy is a massive problem, perhaps - in a close tie with mathematics - the largest failure of our educational system.

WHY are we spending time and money lobbying for curriculum regulations on how/when/who kids should be having sex with? Given how hard it is to make kids care about school, and the bullshit cynicism they apply to everything that comes out of a teacher's mouth, why don't we have teachers focus on things that they can plausibly instruct kids in? Like reading, writing, and arithmatic? e.g. Make every class an english class - the different subject matters don't matter so much as the student's reading comprehension. You're worried about graduate's ability to function in a democracy? Well, news-flash: the average kid is self-absorbed and generally doesn't care about social issues (liberal or conservative) until very late in high school. If you ensure that they enjoy reading by that time, public debate will be much better informed than whatever is contributed by a half-illiterate kid who has been spoon-fed whatever crap federal regulations have prescribed for the last 12 years.

The reason we lobby/regulate what teachers tell kids about sex is because the culture war's primary response to every situation is to focus public debate upon profitable issues of its own choosing. In the (rare) event that solutions are proposed for actual problem, they convert it into a cultural conflict. (e.g. "liberal" versus "conservative" teaching methods.) It lets us all feel righteous, but it is irresponsible. I, for one, have contributed to it, but I now regret it. How much time and energy has been wasted.

Anyway, I have enjoyed reading this comment thread. I've learned about religion, history, etc. Subjects such as whether legislating morality is permissible or desirable, whether homosexuality is good or bad, what the founding fathers thought etc. is all interesting. But the *actual* subject here is regulation of our educational system. The culture wars have an interest in diverting attention from mainstream solutions to its problems, because they want us all divided into 2 pots of funding. So sex and homosexuality become the issue. What crap.
4.24.2006 7:45pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

It suggests that you are incorrect about their beliefs, or that the "key Whig Founders" you are using were pretty exceptional among the movers and shakers of their time.


By key Whig Founders, I mean, among others, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, and some others.

They were the first four Presidents, a majority of the drafting board of the Declaration, the author of the Declaration and the architect of the Constitution. They were the movers and shakers of their time. Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin were unquestionably anti-Trinitarians. And Madison and Washington likely were; although, because of the context -- having one's reputation ruined or getting into legal trouble under state laws by wearing one's heterodoxy on one's sleeve -- Madison and Washington were wisely mum on the specific details of their creed.

Now, you (Clayton) or anyone else tell me: Look at the blasphemy statute that that was reproduced:


If any person, by writing or speaking, shall blaspheme or curse God, or shall write or utter any profane words of and concerning our Saviour, Jesus Christ, or of and concerning the Trinity, or any of the persons thereof, he shall, on conviction, be fined not more than one hundred dollars, or imprisoned not more than six months, or both fined and imprisoned as aforesaid, at the discretion of the court.


Now, look at what Adams wrote about Jesus and the Trinity and tell me whether there were grounds for prosecuting John Adams for blasphemy under this law:


"The Trinity was carried in a general council by one vote against a quaternity; the Virgin Mary lost an equality with the Father, Son, and Spirit only by a single suffrage."


John Adams to Benjamin Rush, June 12, 1812.


"An incarnate God!!! An eternal, self-existent, omnipresent omniscient Author of this stupendous Universe, suffering on a Cross!!! My Soul starts with horror, at the Idea, and it has stupified the Christian World. It has been the Source of almost all of the Corruptions of Christianity."


John Adams to John Quincy Adams, March 28, 1816.
4.24.2006 7:45pm
jvarisco (www):
Medis) I am not saying you should not. Nor that anyone should not. Just that kids in public school should be told not to, the same as they are told not to do drugs. They need to be made aware of the risks, and as they are often too young to appreciate them, they also need to be told not to engage in them.

Broncos) The problem is that any sex ed program is legislating morality. You either say it's wrong, or it's not wrong. Both are oppositional moral positions. If we must choose one, we should choose that of the majority of voters. Teachers are not allowed to teach that Christianity is true - but neither are they allowed to teach that Christianity is false.
4.24.2006 9:47pm
Broncos:

The problem is that any sex ed program is legislating morality. You either say it's wrong, or it's not wrong. Both are oppositional moral positions.

You don't have to choose between saying "it's wrong" or "it's not wrong," because the decision of whether to have sex ed (or what it contains) does not have to be based on moral grounds.

There are many things that we choose to exclude from a school curriculum, simply because we have made decisions of priority.

For example, we could introduce kids to the moral philosphies of Plato and Aristotle. (or Confucius. Or Acquinas. Or Augustine. Or Bentham. Or Nietzsche. Or Satre. Or Derrida. Whoever, take your pick. We'll argue about them later.) Some (usually private) schools do. Some people might really support a curriculum that includes philosophic moral reasoning. Other people might have serious ethical issues with their children being taught Derrida's moral theory; and many people would have problems with how teachers present it. The culture wars could easily turn this into a righteous debate. It could easily turn into a "you must choose if X is right or wrong" issue.

But, in fact, we don't teach philosophic moral reasoning isn't (usually) a part of the curriculum, and so we don't spend time arguing about who should be taught or how they should be presented. It is purely an issue of priority: We currently have more pressing educational needs. If kids want to read the Platonic dialogues, they can do it or their own or after high school. Under different circumstances - e.g. if we reform education and kids master literacy and generally have a high reading level at an early age - then the priorities might be different and it might make sense to start debating whether moral philosophy should be introduced into the curriculum at a later age. But under the current circumstances, it's just not a priority.

My point is that the culture wars elevate what should be relatively insignificant issues (given the circumstances) up the priority chain and shove out what really should be prioritized. So here, instead of focusing upon how to construct a curriculum that ensures reading, writing, and arithmatic skills; we argue forever about sex ed and what it should contain. But there's no need to take a moral position. Given the crappy state of our students, trying to get students to listen to teachers about sex or homosexuality (or whatever) simply shouldn't be an educational priority. Kids hear about these subjects from many other sources, and don't think of a school teacher as an especially authoritative source on these subjects. But who else will teach them to read?
4.24.2006 11:00pm
Randy R. (mail):
Well, we wouldn't even have to discuss homosexuality if every school and teacher and adminstration simply accepted gays students as equally as they accept straight students, right? I mean, the culture wars could end right now and we could get on with discussing philosophy and what not. Hell, I agree we should be teaching those things!

But then we have the federal government saying that gay sex is unacceptable under any circumstances. Perhaps to you, a heterosexual, that seems hardly like a big issue. But to a gay student, that is saying that HE or SHE is unacceptable. Why? Because we don't choose our sexuality, and our identity as people is tightly bound up with our sexuality. Don't believe it? Then just call any straight boy "gay" and see what reaction you get out of him.

The problem is that gay students have stood up and demanded to be treated as equally as straight students, and some people have resisted that. Therein lies the tension and so much wasted energy. Gay people are gay people, and nothing is going to change that -- the sooner people realize that the sooner we can all move on with our lives. Until that day, however, we must struggle against the ignorance.
4.24.2006 11:39pm
Broncos:

Well, we wouldn't even have to discuss homosexuality if every school and teacher and adminstration simply accepted gays students as equally as they accept straight students, right?


I'm talking about a curriculum. Why would we need general societal agreement about sexuality prior to teaching our kids about algebra? Why would we all need to agree about pre-marital sex or homosexuality prior to teaching kids how to read and write?

We don't need to chose schools as an arena in which to do cultural battle. To think so is the fallacy of the culture wars. Our kids can barely read. They are worse at math. We can shape a curriculum around these problems without general societal agreement on sexuality.

In the current environment, the more we choose to do cultural battle in the schools, the more we endanger their core function.
4.25.2006 12:07am
Randy R. (mail):
Well, don't forgot -- many people say that the schools should be teaching morality, ethics, values and the like. Once you get into that arenas, you are going to have a big debate.

Although you make a good point, that schools should concentrate on the basics, the fact is that there are some students who are bullies and tease other students. Schools should take steps to stop that, as every kid should feel safe and be educated in a nonthreatening atmosphere. And who do kids bully? Usually the minorities, often the gay kids.

If you were a parent whose kid got killed Columbine, would you argue that schools should teach only the basics, or would you say that schools should help identify troubled kids and counsel them?

You might argue that that is not curriculum. But I argue it is very difficult to separate curriculum from other activities. Schools are a part of our society, and they need to address the issues that society confronts. Teach only science? ha! Some jurisdictions want to teach creationism, under it's various guises, in place of science. This is a cultural issues, and our schools are no vacuum.
4.25.2006 2:03am
Randy R. (mail):
I have several close friends who are school teachers. ONe thing they agree on is that after the kids hit the age of 13 or 14, the hormones take over, and it's really difficult to teach them anything. Sex is on their minds night and day. It's only makes sense that schools bow a little bit to their minds and address the issues of sexuality. To not do so is to be blind to their adolescence.
4.25.2006 2:06am
Medis:
jvarisco,

You say: "Medis) I am not saying you should not. Nor that anyone should not. Just that kids in public school should be told not to, the same as they are told not to do drugs. They need to be made aware of the risks, and as they are often too young to appreciate them, they also need to be told not to engage in them."

But originally we were talking about telling kids not to engage in sex until they are married. Now it sounds like you want to tell kids not to engage in nonmarital sex until they are adults. In that sense, "drugs" is the wrong analogy, if by that you mean illegal drugs. It now sounds more like you want to adopt our message with respect to something like drinking alcoholic beverages (that it is too risky for kids, but OK for adults).

Personally, I think that message about sex (the one we use for alcohol: OK for adults, bad for kids) will also be ineffective and counter-productive--see my post above on age-appropriate sexual development, and also comments from others about why telling teens that an activity is associated with adulthood might in fact encourage rather than discourage them. For that matter, I think our experience with alcohol suggests that we should also look to learn something from those other cultures which gradually introduce children to alcohol, rather than trying to treat it as something for adults only.

But in any event, a "for adults only" message would be far less controversial than the message we have been discussing here, which is "for married people only".
4.25.2006 9:51am
Medis:
Randy R.,

Interestingly, though, children of that age also tend to be very interested in forming romantic relationships, meaning they develop strong feelings of romantic attachment to specific individuals, they want to have exclusive and special relationships with those individuals, and they want their peers to recognize the status of their special romantic relationship with these individuals.

So, one message that does seem to work pretty well with children of that age is that sexual activity is something that should be explored only through gradual stages within a monogamous romantic relationship.
4.25.2006 9:58am
Cornellian (mail):
This is not in fact the case. I would openly concede that many, even most, of the people who have sex outside of marriage face no consequences. But the fact is that it is risky. Most people who do drugs grow up and do fine. But some of them die. It is because of those few people that no one should - because it is a risk that should not be taken. I could have sex without protection, and I might get a disease, or I might get a girl pregnant. But if there were 100 people who did it, and only 20 got dieases or caused pregnancy, it would STILL be bad a thing that kids should be told not to do. Some kids might use protection, but some won't, and of those, some will be harmed. Therefore they should all be told not to do it at all.

So why don't well tell kids never to drive a car, lest they get into a traffic accident? Never eat sushi because raw food is riskier than cooked food? Never go skiiing because they might have an accident? Never take a job on a construction site because they might get hurt?

Heck on that logic, why say it's ok to have sex once you're married? Lots of spouses cheat, your spouse might be cheating on you, pick up a disease and infect you. Surely the only safe message we should be telling our kids is abstinence for life whether married or not. Reproduction will be via artificial insemination, after the sperm is carefully screened for diseases. It's the only way to be safe.
4.25.2006 1:38pm
plunge (mail):
The reason Mass has lower rates of marriage is that people get married later in life (so there are more single people in the population). This leads to more stable marriages.

It also has much lower rates of teen pregnancy. Of course, back when the Puritans were around, more than a third of all children were concieved out of wedlock, usually with the girl as a teenager. You know, back in the golden ages of sexual morality.
4.25.2006 2:15pm