The platforms of both major parties are out. When it comes to sex, one is bad, the other worse. So listen up, Dems and GOPers, here's the sexual health plank you desperately need. Presidential aspirants, steal this material at will, and promise the following:
* Sex education: All sex education must be scientifically and medically accurate. Children shall be instructed with the proper names for genitalia on the first day of their first class. Non-public schools and those subjected to the 18th-century practice of home-schooling shall be subject to the same requirements as public schools.
* Municipalities wishing to regulate or limit sexual expression (swing clubs, adult bookstores, etc.) shall be required to demonstrate peer-reviewed scientific proof that they pose a danger to the average person.
* Abortion: You don't want one, don't have one. No one who wants an abortion will be faced with waiting periods, unwanted medical procedures, lectures from doctors, or any other insulting, dangerous, and cynical activities not-so-covertly designed to discourage abortion.
* Other reproductive choices: Contraception has increased the health and well-being of tens of millions of American individuals, families, and children. There shall be no barriers to advertising, selling, or purchasing these supplies. Licensed pharmacists will be required to sell and provide accurate information about these products, the same as they are required to handle all other products.
* Adult pornography: You don't like it, don't watch it. All erotic material made by adults and featuring adults shall be decriminalized. Film productions will have the option, not the obligation, to include condoms and other protective gear. The onerous, unconstitutional 2257 regulations that are driving porn production overseas (free of any American regulation) will be eliminated.
* States will stop taxing strip clubs and nude dance clubs differently than opera, ballet, and showings of Adam Sandler films. Government is not supposed to favor some entertainment content over others; the marketplace does that.
* No one convicted solely of a non-contact sexual offense (exhibitionism, "sexting," etc.) shall be designated a sex offender. No minor shall be designated a sex offender if he or she has not been convicted of coercive sexual violence.
* Government shall stop trolling adult chatrooms for entrapment opportunities. Talking online about sex with another adult will be legal, even if one or both are pretending to be someone (age, gender, etc.) they aren't.
* Same-sex marriage: You don't believe in gay marriage, don't marry a gay person. As long as government gives legal privileges to married people that it denies to single people, all couples wishing to marry can marry. Of course, there are many other sexual health issues that need to be addressed—regarding STDs, prostitution, sex research, etc.. Let's start with the above, and then we can talk about the rest. Oh, the name of this program? Sexual Intelligence.
I've started my second week in Poland, studying history and lecturing a bit (my new book, Sexual Intelligence, comes out in Polish this week). I've decided that one of America's problems with sex is that we've had it too easy.
Today, tens of millions of Americans are demanding FEWER rights regarding sex. The Republican platform says no abortion, no way. Concerned Citizens pleads for corporations like Marriott to "prevent us from watching porn in hotel rooms." The Abstinence Clearinghouse demands that school boards "prevent my kid from knowing the facts about sex." Concerned Women of America demand that pre-teens be denied Gardasil, which vaccinates them against HPV, reducing cancer. Residents in hundreds of cities are demanding that their municipalities prevent other residents from going to strip clubs.
Here in Poland, the idea of people demanding fewer rights is laughable. For centuries, the Poles have suffered occupation by Prussians, Austrians, Russians, Nazis, and Communists. The idea of determining their own future has always seemed sweet and elusive. Ideas like personal freedom, benefitting from science freed from ideology, and of privacy from government intrusion are cherished by millions of Poles.
Maybe Americans need a few centuries without those things so they could appreciate having them.
Here's what personal freedom looks like: you do what you want, I do what I want. We both tolerate the aggravating knowledge that our neighbor is doing something of which we disapprove. We let science determine reality, and let the marketplace adjudicate people's commercial choices. You don't want people to go to strip clubs or use condoms? While MYOB is the best option, here's another: talk them out of it. Don't bully them with the city council or Congress. If you change others' attitudes, the products and services you oppose will wither and die. If you fail, you still have the personal freedom to abstain yourself.
The Poles have had a series of dictatorships forced on them, most recently by Berlin and Moscow. The Nazis and Communists said they were protecting good people from bad, good ideas from bad. America's self-identified patriots are apparently so frightened of sexuality that they're willing to demand government dictatorship to protect them.
For years, I've been saying that the PTC website is a valuable tool for pre-teens looking for raunchy TV. PTC helpfully charts the upcoming week's TV shows with special tags warning (or guiding) viewers about where they can find "gratuitous sex," (what about artistically necessary sex?) "explicit dialogue" (Hey Mabel, how about some gratuitous sex?), and "obscene language" (words that no one ever hears at home, like "bitch").
And of course, "violence" (wanting to shrink the government smaller and smaller until its only function is censoring speech).
This week, PTC helpfully let me know that Comedy Central had scheduled a roast of Roseanne Barr, featuring "unbelievably graphic sex talk." To help me decide whether or not I wanted to watch it, they actually ran a very brief transcript of it. In fact, they even added a 45-second clip—filled with the expletives that they don't want you to have the privilege of watching on your TV.
A few samples:
Amy Schumer: "Roseanne bought a nut farm, which is also the nickname for Ellen Barkin's mouth at an audition."
Jeff Ross: "Roseanne was molested as a child. That poor molester."
Roseanne: "Gilbert Gottfried. You know the difference between Gilbert's voice and a sandpaper dildo? After 20 minutes, you might start enjoying the dildo."
True, not exactly "Who's on First" or The Soup Nazi or Woody Allen's finest. Steve Martin won't lose any sleep over the competition.
But the whole PTC thing is so transparently juvenile: laying out in meticulous detail something so awful that we should all avoid it—after we enjoy it. The Roast is self-consciously stupid, and because it doesn't take itself seriously, we can laugh at it. But the PTC is unintentionally stupid, and takes itself ultra-seriously, so we can't laugh at it. We shouldn't laugh at it. It's too dangerous.
The PTC are the people who also said the Republic would fall when children saw Janet Jackson's nipple for a half-second. They warned the Republic would fall when Cher said "fuck 'em" on an awards show (actually, Cher getting a singing award at this point may, in fact, signal the upcoming end of civilization as we know it).
What PTC doesn't get is that censorship threatens our way of life far more than any sexual words or pictures. Bill O'Reilly said it all when he claimed that "the word uterus destroys children's innocence." He's superstitious, fearing magic syllables the way our ancestors feared witches. What he doesn't fear is limiting others' self-expression and creativity, or his own exposure to ideas other than his own.
The PTC takes its mission of scrubbing the airwaves so seriously that it doesn't realize that scrubbing the airwaves is a dangerous mission. They're willing to burn down the house to roast the pig. Reducing TV to what's fit for (ignorant) children—that's like, as Mark Twain said, "saying a man can't have a steak because a baby can't chew it."