Sunday, February 28, 2010

Abortion is bad – so let’s get rid of sex ed

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Teen raising her hand holding birth control pills, with a hottie teacher and partially blocked crucifix in the background
In the right mindset, this picture is ironic on any number of levels

It would seem that sexual education in Britain is in a sorry state, if the elevated teen pregnancy rate (41.9 conceptions for every 1,000 15-to-17-year-olds, according to 2007 statistics) is anything to judge by. In an attempt to try and curb these numbers (having failed – horribly – to halve them by 2010, as was their original goal), the government has now made sex ed classes mandatory for public schools (along with the usual compromises for faith-based schools – can’t have those little puritans exposed to such things as how the body works and what to do about it, right?). While this is may look like a bit of a drastic measure, I, for one, fully endorse it – the more quality sex ed kids and teens get, the better, especially with teen pregnancy rates like those. It’s just a good and sensible move overall.

But, of course, don’t expect the cranks and puritans to accept this line of thinking. In what has got to be the most pathetic bit of “journalism” since Ed West’s “FASCISM!” nonsense in the Telegraph (you just know I had to mention that), Peter Hitchens at the Mail Online presents this breathtakingly idiotic piece against sex education, and in doing so, a prime illustration in cognitive dissonance. The nonsense begins with the very first lines:

Sex education has failed. So the Establishment decrees that we must have more of it, and in fact that there shall be no escape from it.

What I don’t grasp is why the people of this country put up with so many separate insults to their intelligence in any given week.

The only “insult to their intelligence” here is Hitchens claiming that sex education has “failed”. This shows a rather abrupt misunderstanding of the nature of any education, regardless of topic. Sex ed cannot fail, no more than can education in mathematics or history. The techniques and methods used to teach sex ed may, themselves, prove faulty or ineffectual, but the matter at heart – teaching youths about the body, sex, reproduction and sexual protection – is perfectly sound and, what’s more, highly encouraged.

Now, get ready for the real stupid, people:

Despite the casual massacre of unborn babies in the abortion mills, and the free handouts of morning-after pills (originally developed for pedigree dogs which had been consorting improperly with mongrels), and the ready issue of condoms to anyone who asks, and the prescription of contraceptive devices to young girls behind the backs of their parents by smiling advice workers, and the invasion of school classrooms by supposedly educational smut, the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy has failed, is failing and will continue to fail.

Right … no ignorance-fueled prejudice there.

I’m amused, though, at his mention on the morning-after pill’s origins. According to him, something that was originally intended for dogs and that presumably worked just fine for them is, threfore, unsuitable for human usage. This really isn’t all that dissimilar from claiming that anything that works for animals is therefore unfit for people; therefore, I suppose that’s the vast majority of research and medical developments (including pharmaceuticals, medical procedures, and so on) that we shall have to abandon, considering they worked on laboratory animals before we used them on people.

Usage of ignorant flaming rhetoric is quite the standard, not to say characteristic, modus operandi of the crank. So is the deployment of their greatest weapons: the logical fallacies. Behold, the application of both correlation-vs.-causation and, of course, ad hominem:

Some years ago, I wrote a short history of sex education in this country. I didn’t then know about its first invention, during the Hungarian Soviet revolution of 1919, when Education Commissar George Lukacs ordered teachers to instruct children about sex in a deliberate effort to debauch Christian morality.

But what I found was this. That the people who want it are always militant Leftists who loathe conventional family life; that the pretext for it has always been the same – a supposed effort to reduce teen pregnancy and sexual disease; and that it has always been followed by the exact opposite.

So, basically, the first paragraph argues that because sex ed was originally used to (supposedly) try and “debauch Christian morality” (and that’s a mighty big claim I’d like to get some verification on), therefore, all sex ed is bad. Then, of course, sex ed is only ever proposed and endorsed by those evil leftists who are just out to destroy the “traditional family” … hey, hang on – did he just use the exact same dumbass reasoning used by gay marriage opponents? Why, yes, he did.

Most of us, in any other circumstance, would be highly suspicious of adults who wanted to talk about sex to other people’s children. But by this sleight of hand – that they are somehow being protected from disease and unwanted pregnancy – we are tricked into permitting it.

And our civilised society goes swirling down the plughole of moral chaos.

There is no “trick”. All there is, is instructing children to have sex safely and responsibly. Will it work in every case? Of course not. The point is not to create a perfect, teen-pregnancy-free society; simple human (and teenager) nature makes this impossible. The point is to tell them about the unwanted consequences they may suffer if they jump into sex without knowledge or preparation, and what to do to prevent it. The only adults who “want to talk about sex to other people’s children”, as Hitchens so insidiously puts it, are trained and qualified educators who know what they’re doing (at least, as much as we can hope). Of course, though, all this is simple white noise when it passes through the filters of righteous demagogues like Hitchens – all common sense and reason has been removed, transforming an honest and honorable message of caution, precaution and safety into nothing more than mere immoral, anti-Christian depravity.

Above all, though, the general message in Hitchens’ article is one of conflicting ideals. One one hand, abortion is evil and must be prevented; on the other, sex ed is wrong and should be stopped. You know, despite sexual education being the exact venue for preventing abortions, seeing as [more teens know about sexual protection = fewer teen pregnancies = fewer abortions from unwilling or unready teenage would-be parents]. But then, of course, “righteous” cranks like Hitchens also view any sort of sexual protection and contraception as being morally wrong, as is made obvious by his insidious tone when describing them, which leads us to understand that Hitchens doesn’t want kids to use any form of sexual protection at all.

Which, I suppose, only leads us to conclude that Hitchens has no idea what the fuck he wants or what he’s talking about, if he’s against both teen pregnancies, and the very things that curb teen pregnancies. Either that, or he’s just vying for some good abstinence-only sex education … which, of course, would only mean that he knows even less than nothing of what he’s talking about, considering abstinence education’s efficiency (or complete and total lack thereof).

(via Fark)