Sexual Intelligence
An Electronic Newsletter

Written and published by Marty Klein, Ph.D.

Issue #45 -- November 2003


1. Kissing in Baseball?
2. Anti-Choice = No Right To Die
3. Vatican Lies About Condoms
4. Double Victory in Wyoming
5. Gun Sites Filtered, Too
6. BYU Too Liberal?
7. Yes, It Can Happen Here
8. Protection From Pornography Week



1. Kissing in Baseball?

Well, yes and no, according to Fox TV. During Game 2 of the recent World Series, broadcaster Joe Buck was talking admiringly about Florida Marlin Ivan Rodriguez. "Pudge" is a skillful catcher who's quick, powerful, graceful, and darn good-looking, too. Everyone's impressed with how the veteran catcher handled his many young Marlins teammates this season, especially the pitchers.

Out of nowhere, broadcaster Steve Lyon interrupted to note that some viewers were wondering about the "peck on the cheek and hug" that Rodriguez had exchanged with reliever Ugueth Urbina after they won Game 1. With convenient video of the brief moment in the background, Lyon assured us that "Pudge says it means nothing... it's their Latin passion, enthusiasm for the game, and true friendship."

So who was more concerned--the players, the broadcasters, or the network? Did Fox run the comment to reassure us, titillate us, or both? Well, message received: these are real men playing a manly sport. Their "passion" is genetic, their enthusiasm solely for the game, and their friendship is "true"--nothing sissy about these guys.

We all know that these non-sissies won the World Series. Maybe the Yankees should have spent less time practicing and more time smooching.

2. Anti-Choice = No Right To Die

Perhaps you've been following the Terri Schiavo situation. We may never know the answers to questions specific to her case, such as if she really did tell her husband that she wouldn't want to live in a vegetative state.

But one thing we do know, and it isn't being discussed enough: the same groups fighting against the right to abortion are in the forefront of the gang of strangers demanding that Schiavo's life should be maintained.

This should be no surprise, and it shouldn't go unnoticed. These groups are open about the connection: they want to dramatically and permanently change how our society defines "what is a human being?" and "when is a human being with rights present?" These "right to life" groups (sound familiar?) are cynically using the Schiavo case to advance their cause.

This is the same tactic these people have used in the Laci Peterson murder trial. As we recently discussed (issue #39), anti-choice groups have been cynically using the murder of the pregnant woman to advance the cause of fetal rights--through the back door of fetal murder laws.

If only these moralistic crusaders would return to discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Questions like defining a human and the legal rights that this philosophically-defined being has are way too important to leave to an evangelizing, media-savvy, well-funded mob. The rest of us need to elbow our way into the discussion--before it's too late.

3. Vatican Lies About Condoms

"Relying on condoms is like betting on your own death," said Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, the Vatican's spokesperson on family affairs, last week. He reiterated his opinion that condoms are too permeable to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS, an opinion that Bishops and Cardinals are repeating across four continents.

The World Health Organization immediately denounced this view, saying it was particularly dangerous while the world faces a pandemic that has already killed 20 million people. Scientific research by groups such as the U.S. National Institutes of Health has found "intact condoms... are essentially impermeable" to HIV, and that "condoms provide a highly effective barrier to transmission" of HIV. The Vatican's Trujillo responded: "They are wrong about that... this is an easily recognizable fact."

Ironically--and disastrously--the Catholic Church is growing fastest in Africa, where AIDS is not just killing individuals, but also depopulating entire towns and destroying the demographic balance of a half-dozen countries. In Kenya, for example, where an estimated 20% of people have HIV, the Church condemns condoms for promoting promiscuity and repeats the absurd claim about permeability. Nairobi Archbishop Raphael Ndingi Nzeki says "AIDS... has grown so fast because of the availability of condoms." Mistrusting condoms, many infected Africans are still trying to cure AIDS by having sex with virgins, further fueling the epidemic.

Fellow cardinals distanced themselves from Trujillo, but their voices were soft and betrayed more institutional ignorance. While Belgian Cardinal Danneels "deplored" Trujillo's comment, he said "It does not befit a Cardinal to deal with the virtue of a product... I don't know if what he said is reliable." And Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles said he himself doesn't "have any scientific information about that."

Once again, the Catholic Church has set itself in opposition to science. It is a too-straight line from the torture of Galileo, forced to retract his discoveries before the Inquisition, to this latest rejection of scientific truth.

But ultimate responsibility for Cardinal Trujillo's death-inviting manifesto lies not with him, but with his supervisor--Pope John Paul II. And in this, the Pope's hands are very, very dirty.

While the Pope's impending death has inspired an international outburst of sentimental tunnel vision (including the demonic idea of awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize), let's focus on reality. This is a Pope who took an emerging, liberalizing institution and sent it reeling backwards by centuries--not accidentally, and not once or twice, but meticulously, in hundreds of ways small and large. Whether by divine inspiration or more earthly design, this man has undone the work of his predecessors, ushering in a totalitarian Papal regime.

Recall that after Pope John XXIII assumed the papacy in 1958, he convened a Vatican Council to end centuries of what he called "holy isolation," exhorting the church to participate in humanity's struggle for peace and justice. He died shortly after, but by the 1970s, Catholics were playing a leading role in resistance to apartheid. "Liberation theology" was reconnecting the church with the impoverished peasants of Latin America. In Europe and North America, archaic ideas about gender and sexuality were under challenge.

The future John Paul II attended the Vatican Council meetings in the 1960s and opposed the changes. Upon taking office he undertook to reverse them. For twenty-five years, the Pope has refused to recognize the role that contraception could play in reducing the world's poverty and hunger he claims to care so much about. And he continues to deny millions of gay Catholics the full blessings of the Church that they support. Now near death, he stubbornly refuses to support the many non-monogamous members of his flock in battling the disease that is destroying them.

According to Time Magazine, John Paul II has "steadfastly held the line against those...who saw in Vatican II an opening to democratize the Church... inside the Church his own rule will be remembered as nothing if not authoritarian."

Lamentably, the Pope's death will not rescue the Church or its followers, because he has appointed 96% of the Cardinals who will choose his successor. He has, in effect, picked his replacement.

By resorting to lies about condoms, the Vatican reveals its mistrust in the faith of its own flock; fearing that people won't abstain from condoms for theological reasons, the Church provides pseudo-scientific ones. And in resorting to autocracy, it shows it doesn't trust its own future.

4. Double Victory in Wyoming

Perhaps you know that Reverend Fred Phelps and his Baptist Church lead annual anti-gay protests in Wyoming on the anniversary of the murder of local college student Matthew Shepard. You may also know that Phelps has told Caspar, WY officials that he wants to erect a monument in a city park declaring that Shepard is in hell for being gay. Phelps claims that the presence of a Ten Commandments monument, which has sat in the park for nearly 40 years, means that all monuments must be allowed. He has a good argument.

Fortunately, Caspar, like other cities across the country, was already debating the fate of its Ten Commandments monument. The Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation had asked Caspar to remove the monument, citing recent legal decisions against similar monuments in Alabama (issue #43) and elsewhere.

In the end the Caspar City Council decided to remove the Ten Commandments monument and reject the Phelps monument. City Manager Tom Forslund says "There's a strong consensus here that no one wants Phelps' hate monument or message of hate in our community, whether it's on park land or on private land."

Damn fine thing, we say. And it proves that people can do the right thing--even without government sponsorship of religious codes of morality.

5. Gun Sites Filtered, Too

National Rifle Association members were outraged when they discovered that the popular internet blocking software Cyberpatrol screens out pro-gun and pro-Second Amendment websites--but not gun-control websites like the Brady Center's.

Peter Nesbitt, an air-traffic controller and NRA volunteer, says "it's terrible" that CyberPatrol blocks gun-rights websites. "The people who are engaging in censoring gun rights or gun advocate groups are the opposition who want to further their anti-gun agenda" he fumed--as if liberals have control over CyberPatrol's decisions.

CyberPatrol blocks websites that computer owners (such as parents and employers) believe are unacceptable for computer users. In addition to "protecting" children, such software also limits computer usage by adult users of public libraries, employees of various companies, and many university staffs. These days, most purchasers of these products are interested in restricting access to sexually-oriented material.

We have written before (issues 1, 12, 28) about the dangers of this blocking software. These products are created by private corporations who refuse to disclose which sites are blocked, or the criteria for blocking. As we and others point out, it is impossible for any algorithm to block only what its owners intend, without blocking an unknown number of legitimate, untargeted sites.

We feel delighted to be supported in our position by the NRA. While Sexual Intelligence deplores the use of CyberPatrol, and its over-zealous, paranoic exclusion of as much sexual material as it can imagine, it is delicious to have someone with an agenda other than sexual access complaining about CyberPatrol's policies. As the old saying goes, one's viewpoint depends on whose ox is being gored--or shot, as is the case here.

6. BYU Too Liberal?

You just can't get rigid enough to suit some people--such as Donald Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association.

Wildmon and his supporters bombed Brigham Young University with thousands of emails last week. Wildmon is upset that Marriott hotels offer soft-core porn as a pay-per-view option, and so he wants the Mormon college to refuse future donations from Marriott.

The hotel chain's founders J. Willard and Alice Marriott gave more than $12 million to BYU, which named the business school after them. Now deceased, the Marriotts were active members of the LDS Church, which owns the university.

Like many conservative crusaders, Wildmon is obsessed with sex. When most of us see a Marriott, we think of rooms, elevators, towels, maybe a mint on the pillow. Wildmon sees "buildings built with porn dollars." Where we see a TV with 30 free and a dozen pay channels, Wildmon only sees porn. We see a corporation making money on food, alcohol, and rack rates, but he sees only a company making money on porn.

Wildmon lives in a simplistic black and white world. If he really believed his own rigid principles, he'd have to distance himself from Bill Bennett (gambling), Newt Gingrich (extramarital sex), Rush Limbaugh (drug addiction), Bill O'Reilly (lying), and the Bush daughters (all of these).

And Wildmon isn't alone in his monomaniacal extremism. The Nuremberg Files, an internet database that targets abortion supporters as guilty of crimes against humanity, now lists the apparently ultra-liberal George W. Bush. President Bush was added because of his decision to allow some fetal stem cells for medical research. Website creator Neil Horsley calls Bush's decision "A covenant with the Devil," saying that although Bush claims to be a Christian, "he has this nation chasing the illusion of eternal life by depending on science rather than on the Lord Jesus Christ." For some people, the most anti-choice President in half a century isn't anti-choice enough.

It must be comforting to live in a world of such moral clarity--as long, of course, as you're in the right. With a Mormon University, President Bush, and who knows how many other "liberals" heading there, hell is looking less enticing by the moment.

7. Yes, It Can Happen Here

On October 21, the United States Senate passed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.

The law criminalizes a medical procedure that is safe and optional. Supporters claim this law will contribute to the moral soundness of our country. Apparently, they don't realize the Constitution's guarantees apply to pregnant women.

8. Protection From Pornography Week

"Pornography can have debilitating effects on communities, marriages, families, and children." This is the opening sentence of President Bush's proclamation that created October 26-November 1 as Protection From Pornography Week.

The 250-word document mentions child abduction, sex offenders, child sexual exploitation, child predators, child protection, and child pornography (three times). It omits reference to masturbation, healthy sexuality, erotic intimacy, or couples' viewing habits. The President calls upon "public officials, law enforcement officers, parents, and all the people of the United States to observe this week with appropriate programs and activities."

Sexual Intelligence, in compliance with this Presidential call, therefore issues our own proclamation:

Now, therefore, Sexual Intelligence proclaims the 21st century "Protection From Porn Hysteria Century."



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