An Electronic Newsletter
Written and published by Marty Klein, Ph.D.
Issue #68 -- October 2005
1. Maine Says No to Abstinence
2. FBIs Porn Squad
3. Requiring Pharmacists to Be Professionals
4. Love The Sinner?
1. Maine Says
No to Abstinence
Maine has become the third state, after Pennsylvania and California, to reject federal funds to teach kids the alleged importance of sexual abstinence until marriage.
Maine has accepted $1,000,000 in federal money to promote abstinence-until-marriage since 1998. But the state did not apply for $165,000 in these funds this fiscal year and will not seek it for '05-'06.
"This money is more harmful than it is good," said Dr. Dora Anne Mills, the state's public-health director. With this money, "You can't talk about comprehensive reproductive information." And since gays can't marry, the government message requires lifelong abstinence for them. Of course, since ¼ of self-identified high school "virgins" have had oral sex, that might not be quite as bad as it sounds.
Until recently, Washington allowed states to emphasize three of its eight abstinence funding guidelines. And so in the past, Maine used these funds to discourage premature sexual activity; show that alcohol and drug use compromise sexual decision-making; and describe abstinence as the best way to avoid unwanted pregnancies and STDs.
But last year, federal officials "strongly encouraged us to emphasize all eight of them equally," said Nancy Birkhimer of Maine's Department of Health & Human Services. And two of those guidelines state that "a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity," and "sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects."
It's terribly painful to think that our government requires public schools to teach this to children. Imagine using such frankly religious, scientifically inaccurate nonsense to teach about, oh, the origins of Earth. Wouldn't that be silly!
2. FBI's Porn Squad
Since it's won the War on Drugs and has just about won the War on Terror, the Bush administration has officially declared a War on Pornography.
The FBI has been instructed to divert agents and support staff into a special anti-obscenity squad, which will gather evidence against "manufacturers and purveyors" of pornography–made by grown-ups, for grown-ups, featuring grown-ups. Otherwise known as Your Legal Entertainment.
The Bureau's Washington Field Office describes this initiative as "one of the top priorities" of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. In all fairness, we should note that "Congress has directed the Department to focus on other priorities [besides terrorism], such as obscenity," according to Justice Department press secretary Brian Roehrkasse. Sure--every hour the FBI spends looking at Jenna Jameson is an hour less they can chase down Congressional campaign bribes and ethical violations.
Anti-porn advocates use the tired old Big Lie that the government should crack down because pornography can turn people into sexual predators. But the science--not that the Bush Administration or so-called "morality" groups have any use for science--clearly contradicts this fear.
In a 1991 study, Dr. Berl Kutchinsky of the University of Copenhagen showed increased access to porn did not lead to increased sex crimes in the United States, Denmark, Sweden and West Germany. Eight years later, a lengthy paper by Dr. Milton Diamond of the University of Hawaii Medical School validated that study. "It is clear from our data that a massive increase in available pornography in Japan has been correlated with a dramatic decrease in sexual crimes," he said.
If porn use created sexual predators, the U.S. would have tens of millions of them, and they'd be easy to identify. According to the FBI, we don't, and they aren't.
The anti-porn movement isn't about crime, or "the children," or those poor exploited actresses. For the religious Right, it's about sex: sex for pleasure, sex for money, sex as a way of exploring the world or affirming your personhood. And they want it stopped.
If the FBI fired every one of its officers who uses porn at home, it could no longer function. Until Congress is ready to mandate that, it should leave the rest of America's 50 million porn users alone.
3. Requiring Pharmacists to Be Professionals
Acting on verified reports of medication being withheld from patients, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has ordered that the state's pharmacists fill prescriptions for emergency contraception (EC). Now Judge John Belz has denied a petition brought by an anti-choice law firm asking to block the law's enforcement.
The governor's order requires pharmacies that sell any type of prescription birth control to fill prescriptions for EC. If the pharmacy doesn't seem to have the drug in stock, it must now offer an alternative treatment, order the drug, or transfer the prescription to another pharmacy. Failing these, the pharmacist must return the prescription to the customer so she can have it filled elsewhere.
The behavior required by this order is so adult, so professional, so respectful of American pluralism that one wonders why it was necessary at all. It's because so-called "pro-life" pharmacists are demanding the "right" to decide which medicines they are willing to dispense.
As we said in issue #63, pharmacists don't have this "right." Your Aunt Mabel does--in private. Indeed, pharmacists have the same rights as you and your Aunt Mabel to withhold, cajole and bully in order to shape others' behavior--in private.
But pharmacists and pharmacies are licensed by the state to provide health care. As such, they must adhere to standard U.S. medical practices and serve the entire community--regardless of race, ethnicity, age, height, eye color, and shoe size. Or medication requested, or condition it's designed to treat. That's the responsibility pharmacists take on in exchange for the privileges of their license.
A wide range of medical practices offend someone's cherished beliefs, including organ transplants, blood transfusions, and even giving anesthesia during childbirth ("In pain shall you bring forth children," says the Bible). As long as there is no widespread consensus on moral values in America (where, unlike in Iran, the government is not allowed to decree what everyone's values must be), people will disagree about what others should do. We simply can't have the medical profession balkanized into dozens of groups with different rules about what they will and won't do.
The government's job is to set standards based on science so consumers, who can't possibly evaluate professional competence, are safe. Consumers can use any criteria they like, including moral values, to decide which medications and procedures to use or avoid. That's the promise of America.
Living according to your own values is honorable. Forcing others to live according to your values is dishonorable, even if the bullying is described with religious language.
Pharmacists who won't dispense EC need to have their Viagra prescription denied, and their eyeglass prescription confiscated. Since their religion doesn't teach them compassion, perhaps these experiences would.
4. Love The Sinner?
The Vatican will soon start reviewing each of America's 229 Catholic seminaries for "evidence of homosexuality" and dissent from church teaching.
The plan is a response to recent revelations of priests having sex with children; settlements in such cases have cost the Church hundreds of millions of dollars. Church officials here and in Rome agreed that they want to examine how seminary candidates are screened, and whether the 4,500 students are being prepared for lives of celibacy.
American archbishop Edwin O'Brien, who is supervising the seminary review, said several weeks ago that "anyone who has engaged in homosexual activity or has strong homosexual inclinations" should not be admitted to a seminary. He didn't say whether this also applies to the 30% of heterosexual men who have had some same-gender sex as adults.
He did tell the National Catholic Register that this should apply even to those who have been celibate for a decade or more.
A Church study last year found that about 80 percent of the young people sexualized by priests were boys. But priests are far more likely to have access to male targets--like altar boys or junior seminarians--than to females. And the overwhelming majority of adult-child sexual contact in America is between heterosexual adults and children, not homosexual adults and children. Thus, the Church's concern is naïve at best--and, more likely, disingenuous.
The Church claims they are against men having sex with men. If a celibate man has integrity, whether he is forsaking sex with men or women (or both) should be irrelevant. The challenges of preparing for a life of chastity are huge regardless of sexual orientation. Besides, we know that heterosexual men in all-male institutions are sometimes sexual with other men, still retaining their self-identification as straight. Assembling a group that is 100% heterosexual in no way guarantees there will be no male-male sex.
The hunt for gays in seminaries, and proposals to exclude even celibate gays from the priesthood, adds to the Church message that homosexuals are not embraced by Church or God. If this whole thing is primarily a message that the new Pope is serious about purifying the Church and resisting modernization, it makes gays the sacrificial lambs.
There have been gay priests for two thousand years, some of them extraordinarily gifted. Should they not have been ordained? What does it tell us that the overwhelming majority weren't discovered, or dismissed for being lousy priests?
If the Church believes that same-gender sex is a sin, men who abstain from that sex are not sinning. The Church says it takes sex seriously. If so, when they see would-be priests who happen to be gay sacrificing their sexuality--what more can they ask?
You may quote anything herein, with the
"Reprinted from Sexual Intelligence, copyright © Marty Klein, Ph.D. (www.SexEd.org)."