Sexual Intelligence
An Electronic Newsletter

Written and published by Marty Klein, Ph.D.

Issue #39 -- May 2003


1. Sen. Santorum: Memo to the Nation
2. Alabama Can't Stop Vibrating
3. Laci: Murder and PR Victim
4. Kansas: Sex, Power, Ignorance, & Courage
5. Circumcision Debate Cut Off
6. www.SexEd.Org--New & Improved


1. Sen. Santorum: Memo to the Nation

Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, the Republicans' third-ranking senator, recently told the Associated Press "I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts."

In discussing the Supreme Court's review of Texas anti-sodomy laws, Santorum took the dangerous, discredited position that the Constitution does not grant a right to privacy. He also said that if the Court grants a right to gay sex in the home, "then you have the right to bigamy, incest, on child, man on dog, or whatever..."

President Bush and other Republican leaders have been either silent or supportive on this. They apparently don't believe that being anti-gay is a liability in the same way that Trent Lott's anti-black comments were a liability. That's bad enough. But there's a lot more going on here than homophobia.

So here's a Memo to the Nation--particularly politicians and journalists:

And finally, Memo to Gay Republicans: Isn't this enough to get you to switch? Not away from being gay, but from being Republican?

Senator Santorum actually believes he is a good guy when he says he doesn't hate gays, only gay acts. Well, Rick, I don't hate Republicans--only Republican acts.

2. Alabama Can't Stop Vibrating

We may have to start a separate section of SI just to keep up with Alabama's continued obsession with sex toys. Regular readers know that when we last looked (issue #33), a federal judge ruled the state's ban on the sale of sex toys unconstitutional. This had reversed a federal appeals court decision upholding Alabama's criminalization of vibrators and similar dangerous objects (issue #9).

Apparently, Alabama legislators are not about to let some silly idea about Constitutional rights obstruct their commitment to preventing local citizens from enhancing their private sexual pleasure. While the state's latest appeal of the court decision overturning their ban is still pending, a majority of Alabama's House of Representatives voted against removing the ban on their own.

Since the sex-toy ban is contained in an anti-obscenity bill, Alabama's obscenity laws are now unenforceable. We'd like to believe that this is the progressive, ulterior motive behind legislators' supporting the sex-toy ban, but that's probably giving them way too much credit.

So now as locals temporarily cuss and look at dirty pictures, Alabama legislators and bluenoses can resurrect their paranoia about the federal government trying to undermine their way of life. If Alabama lawmakers have their way, the South will rise again--relying only on Viagra, not vibrators or Playboy.

3. Laci: Murder and PR Victim

Sleepy Modesto, California has given us a second sensational murder case, as Laci Peterson's disappearance breathed life into CNN for much of the pre-Iraq winter. The media coverage has subtly exposed a linguistic battle that's part of America's larger culture wars.

It started with the media referring to Peterson as a "pregnant woman." While this detail certainly mattered to her husband and family, it was a journalistic choice with serious political implications. Shall we soon start hearing of other murder victims as "fertile," "sterile," or "sterilized"?

I hear people sadly remark that Laci being pregnant somehow makes her murder worse. This may be true for her family and friends. To the rest of us for whom Laci is just a news story however, her pregnancy doesn't actually matter. It's a juicy tidbit that the media, supported by the Right, is cynically playing up for our sympathetic consumption.

The coverage soon started referring to the "double murder," the murder of "Laci and her unborn son," and worst of all, "the murder of Laci and Connor." TV audiences have been flooded with pictures of memorials to the two of them, as if "Connor" had somehow been a real person. He wasn't. A fetus is still a fetus, even if dead.

Except in the tortured thinking of California (and 20 others states') law. It seems that killing a fetus now counts as a separate murder, and for that reason alone, prosecutors can ask for the death penalty if Scott Peterson is convicted--of "multiple murder."

The California Supreme Court ruled in 1994 that a defendant can be charged with murdering a fetus regardless of whether it is old enough to survive outside the womb. That's like triggering the cop-killer death penalty when a 10-year-old boy is killed because he planned to be a policeman. In fact, by this logic every murder of a fertile woman is a multiple murder--of the woman and her potential offspring.

"Abortion rights" may seem like an abstraction, but they aren't--they're rights that some people have and others don't, and the decision is made by actual people who live in actual American communities. A group of unborn cells with legal rights despite their inability to survive outside the womb--now that's an abstraction. Unless, of course, you're headed to the electric chair because of it.

4. Kansas: Sex, Power, Ignorance, & Courage

Dr. Dennis Dailey is a 63-year-old award-winning college professor, a grandfather trained to be a Methodist minister. He happens to teach one of the most popular courses at the University of Kansas--human sexuality--which 500 kids have taken from him each semester for 20 years.

Last month, State Senator Susan Wagle challenged Dailey's use of "obscene" videos in the class, and led the legislature in passing a bill that would deny funding to any public university department using "obscene" videos. Wagle did not look at any of the videos, attend any classes, or talk with Dailey or his department chair before doing so. She based her crusade on conversations with a single student, who was reporting back to Wagle throughout the semester. In the other 49 states, we call that "spying," but never mind.

Wagle also objects to Dailey's use of "street language" and gestures. She said the professor encourages students to discuss their sexual habits and explore their own bodies for homework. Apparently, she wants a human sexuality course taught without consideration of any, um, human sexuality.

Last week, Governor Kathleen Sebelius courageously vetoed the punitive measure. "In a democracy, academic freedom in higher education is essential," Sebelius explained, calling the law she vetoed "an inappropriate use of legislative powers designed to impinge upon academic freedom."

Americans tend to think our government and educational systems are the best in the world, certainly better than those of corrupt dictatorships. Our systems are glorious--as long as they have integrity. And that's what frightened censors like Wagle forget, or care too little about. Academic freedom, the marketplace of ideas, the training of minds to think instead of to simply follow orders--like fine watches or delicate human organs, they are easily destroyed by blunt instruments. The ignorant, frightened, and angry will always have weapons that the tolerant do not.

Dailey has experienced an enormous outpouring of support, from his university, students, and neighbors. He's also received some ugly messages, including a death threat. The American movement that opposes sexual rights, including open discussion of behavior and ideas, is well-organized and funded. And they make things personal. They kill physicians who do abortions, remove books from libraries, and threaten Dennis Daileys across the country. Dailey says he's close to retirement anyway, but an incident like this could destroy the career of someone with less experience and support.

Wagle has, ironically, provided Dailey's students with a powerful lesson in "human sexuality." Better than any video or text, she has demonstrated exactly how fear, ignorance, and hatred interfere with wholesome sexual exploration and meaningful experience.

5. Circumcision Debate Cut Off

Circumcised men appear to have the same degree of penis sensitivity as men who are uncircumcised, a new study suggests. Dr. Arnold Melman presented his findings at the recent American Urological Association conference. "We demonstrated that there are no significant differences in penile sensation between circumcised and uncircumcised men in both patients with and without erectile dysfunction," said Melman, of New York's Montefiore Medical Center.

Around three-quarters of American-born men are circumcised, although that number is declining in some parts of the country. In addition to its religious and cultural aspects, circumcision is also known to help prevent urinary infections and STDs.

In recent years, a few vocal opponents have created controversy around the procedure, likening it to mutilation. Some men even claim to remember the pain of the procedure, even though memory is essentially impossible at that age. Other men go through agonizing surgical procedures to "repair" their penises, or spend their lives bitterly resenting what has been taken from them. I am sad for such men--not because they've been circumcised, but because they hate their penises. Fortunately, that problem can be fixed without surgery--but many anti-circumcision activists seem more interested in rage than in adjustment and fulfillment.

6. www.SexEd.Org--New & Improved

I'm pleased to announce that the redesign on my website is complete, uploaded, and now available for your dining and dancing pleasure. Take a look at the original articles, answers to some 100 questions, descriptions of my workshops, and more. As before, you'll also find an archive of Sexual Intelligence, all the way back to the beginning of the century. Do let me know how you like it--and check back periodically for new articles, more Q-&-A, and new audiotapes. Oh yes, the ordering process for books and tapes is now streamlined--feel free to use it.



You may quote anything herein, with the following attribution:
"Reprinted from Sexual Intelligence, copyright © Marty Klein, Ph.D. ("