O'Reilly Freaks Out Over "Uterus"
Last week, Bill O'Reilly pretended to have a conversation about sex education with my dear friend Debra Haffner on his TV show. She's the co-founder and director of the Religious Institute for Sexual Morality, Justice, & Healing.
The faux news hook was Barack Obama's comment supporting sex education in kindergarten. The show's producer helpfully cued the audience with a visual of condoms and oral contraceptives--completely irrelevant to the discussion, but predictably inflammatory. And that, not informing people, is the show's mission.
O'Reilly criticized some abstract "them" for injecting too much fear into the cultural dialogue about childhood sexuality--without, of course, noting that his show and his network lead the galaxy in gratuitously terrifying people about sexual danger.
So he told Haffner that he agreed with her about the need to teach kids about sexual danger and safety (not at all Haffner's central message), and the value of teaching them basic stuff like families, boys-and-girls, bodies are cool, etc. But this was merely a genteel prelude to the Big Game that O'Reilly was hunting. He created the chance to vehemently disagree with Haffner when he asked her how she'd tell kids where they come from.
When Haffner replied like a reasonable adult-she'd tell them babies grow inside mom in a place called a uterus--O'Reilly found his target. He believes that certain magic syllables can "destroy" childhood and childhood innocence (which he believes are synonymous). When Haffner suggested that six-year-olds understand the word "elbow" and the basic concept of the heart, O'Reilly said "uterus" was "beyond their capacity to understand." This simply makes no sense. It's also a ridiculous leap to say that a kid who's told a baby grows in a uterus and doesn't understand this somehow loses his "childhood innocence." Why this is isn't true when kids don't understand subtraction or thunder or "i before e" he didn't say.
And that's a key issue--the belief that "too much" history or "too much" math doesn't damage kids, but "too much" information about sexual biology does. "Too much" information about the heart, lungs, ears, or nose is just boring, but "too much" information about the penis or vulva somehow hurts. "This is your brain. This is your brain on certain syllables..."
Such people say "sex ed" belongs only in the home. They're wrong. Education--that is, information presented in an age-appropriate manner--belongs in an educational institution. If parents want to undermine this information with judgments, beliefs, and proscriptions, home is the place to do it.
We know the second is occurring daily. O'Reilly and other religious terrorists should stop blocking the first.
Vitter's Political Hypocrisy Far Worse Than A "Sin"
Senator David Vitter of Louisiana has been caught frequenting prostitutes. His behavior stands in stark contrast to the conservative "family values" and harsh sex-negative positions he relentlessly championed in the Senate and state legislature.
Vitter says he has "received forgiveness from God" for his "sins." Thus conveniently cleansed, he now accuses "political enemies" of undermining his future work. Yesterday his wife criticized the news media for "following us every day last week," as if Vitter had merely been caught with an overdue library book.
That's the problem with conceptualizing one's free choices as "sin"--you can simply admit you're not perfect, claim that God forgives you, and take absolutely no responsibility for yourself. This is particularly repulsive in political figures like Newt Gingrich, Ted Haggard, and now Vitter--who make a living blasting tens of millions of American adults following their own vision of sexual morality, when Vitter and colleagues can't follow their own. Or can't admit what their own sexual code really is.
The average adult into S/M, swinging, premarital sex, or
porn doesn't try to force these choices on others. She or
he certainly doesn't demand legislation requiring others to
expand their sexual repertoire.
But "decency" advocates like Vitter aggressively attempt--often successfully--to force every American to live according to a single, rigid set of ideas--which only the "decency" crowd gets to formulate. This power, and the confidence with which they wield it, is what's truly immoral.
And Vitter's going to get away with it. He's going to walk with his head high, because he won't be held to any adult standard of responsibility. He won't be challenged to feel the guilt and shame you're supposed to feel when you lie in public. He won't be challenged to explain how he could demand laws punishing others who do what he was doing. He won't be challenged to halt his attacks on the private sexual choices that he personally knows are the product of simple human desire, not some perverse, destructive impulse.
Vitter's behavior has been profoundly immoral. Calling it "sin"--meaning he need take no responsibility for it--guarantees he'll learn nothing, change nothing, and continue exploiting others. He's the perfect Senator for those who can't face their own sexual feelings, and need someone to denounce and exorcise them.
It's people like Vitter who give "morality" a bad name.
Adults Continue Criminalizing Childhood
Two 13-year-old Oregon boys have been jailed for playfully smacking the butts of a few female classmates.
Now out on bail but banned from school, they face possible 10-year sentences and lifelong registration as sex offenders.
Ten years. Sex offenders.
Yanked out of school in handcuffs, refused contact with their parents for 48 hours, jailed with actual criminals, these children have been permanently damaged.
They could have been your kids.
How many more lives will be destroyed by America's obsession with sex? By its terror of male and female bodies? By its rage that children can't be protected in sterile cocoons from real life?
Middle-schoolers Cory Mashburn and Ryan Cornelison are not the criminals. Let us name the true criminals in this case:
* The teacher's aide who sent the kids to the vice-principal's office. She should stick to looking for guns and chewing gum in the hallway.
* Vice Principal Steve Tillery: He called in the police instead of handling this himself. What a coward. What is his "educational" philosophy? Does it include teaching thinking or judgment?
* McMinnville cop Marshall Roache: He pursued the "case" and handcuffed the children instead of calming down the principal or insisting the kids' parents be called.
* His supervisor, Capt. Rob Edgell: A bureaucratic worm who helped create the fascistic environment in his department. "We totally support everything that has gone on in this case."
* District attorney Bradley Berry. He said his office "aggressively" pursues sex crimes involving children. "These cases are devastating to children," he said. Who's been devastated-the girls whose butts were slapped, or the children he jailed? Is this an election year, Brad? You've sure shown you're tough on crime.
* Rhonda Pope, mother of one of the "victims," who says the charges are justified. "Slapping somebody on the butt is sexual harassment. Considering that my daughter was offended, it is a crime." Mom, will you jail your daughter when she offends you? Will you try to jail a boyfriend who breaks poor Christina's heart in a few years?
It would be bad enough to prosecute this as an assault. To classify it as a sexual assault shows exactly what's going on here: an attempt to control the normal sexual feelings of children. Classifying uninvited butt-slapping and forcible rape as the same crime clearly shows that the crime is sex. Sexual energy. That little erotic charge you find whenever humans congregate. Unless they're half-dead, which is apparently what school and police officials in this pathetic American town.
Sex education? Abstinence? Contraception? Masturbation?
Way too sophisticated for these aggressive, vindictive adults. Let's start simple. How about human rights?
Ex-Surgeon General Should Apologize, Not Complain
Richard Carmona was America's Surgeon General from 2002-2006. He recently revealed that for four years, the White House told him what to say and what not to say, regardless of science or public health.
In the safety of a Democratic Congressional Committee hearing, a full year after his last Washington paycheck, Carmona complained that information that doesn't fit President Bush's "ideological, theological, or political agenda is often ignored, marginalized, or simply buried."
This is consistent with the current Republican theocracy's dismantling of science as a respectable, objective pursuit. For six years we've heard about this regularly, from world-class NASA scientists down to high school biology teachers and even the fired U.S. Attorneys. More Americans believe in the Rapture than in Evolution. This will prepare us quite well to live in the shadow of China and India in decades to come.
But Carmona is no victim here--he is a perpetrator. He implemented, or silently acquiesced in, disgusting decisions regarding abstinence-only sex "education," the withholding of emergency contraception, the near-destruction of stem-cell research, the hysteria over the HPV/cervical cancer vaccine, the undermining of gynecology training of medical students, federal funding of anti-abortion centers, and the creation of an anti-child molestation panic.
Carmona was an accomplice to the creation of sexuality as America's Number One Public Health Problem.
And for this he cannot be forgiven.
Why didn't Carmona complain publicly on the eve of the 2004 elections? Why didn't he resign to great media fanfare when it would have done some good? Why didn't he announce that Americans are risking the health of their children?
Thanks for telling us what we already know, Mr. Ex-Surgeon General--after you've dreadfully damaged the nation's health. What a coward you are.
For the record, Mr. Carmona has already taken his next job serving the nation's health--as CEO of Canyon Ranch Resort and Spa.
Church Offers Everyone (Mostly Useless) Marriage Advice
America's Catholic bishops have launched a media campaign aimed at promoting and strengthening marriage. This is like an arsonist discussing fire safety while watching your house burn.
Despite their obsessive campaigns to deprive men and women of condoms, despite hundreds of priests molesting thousands of kids, despite their evil work to limit sexual expression to less than half of Americans, the Church has launched the National Pastoral Initiative on Marriage.
You'll soon be seeing the Campaign's TV ads, featuring ordinary people talking about what they do to enrich their marriages--extra hugs, carrying a wife's purse, leaving lovenotes. There's also a website.
The central message seems to be that if spouses are just a little nicer to each other, love will take care of the rest. This is the "watch your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves" theory of relationships.
I'm no expert on Catholicism, but after 27 years as a Licensed Marriage Counselor--that's 30,000 sessions with men, women, and couples--I can tell you that being a little nicer to each other is not the answer for most marriages.
For starters, people need to prepare for marriage. Abstinence is not the way to do that. Neither is being phobic about masturbation or contraception, passively believing that God will direct you to the right partner, or two sessions of boilerplate premarital counseling.
The Campaign is also clueless about the role of sexuality in marriage. Their website perpetuates the same old myths: healthy sexual interest is driven only by love; sex isn't important enough to investigate seriously prior to marriage; cohabiting offers nothing of value.
There's no mention that divergent sexual ideas or appetites could be a deal-breaker. And their solution for contrasting sexual interests? He should light candles and be romantic; she should "resolve not to say 'no' too quickly." They should "compromise." Tell that to someone who wants sex four times a year. Tell that to someone who selfishly believes she or he "deserves" sex whenever they want it.
The worst part of the Campaign is the Church's intention to get these ads placed as PSAs--that's right, they want stations to donate air time so the "public" can "benefit" from the ads, whose tag line is "A message from the Catholic Church." What greedy chutzpah--billions of dollars of tax breaks, and they ask for handouts to spread their propaganda. How incredibly insulting to practically everyone.
With the huge Catholic rates of divorce and sexual dysfunction, with exactly what expertise does the Church plan to "benefit" us?
The Campaign's website continually repeats that marriage is healthy for people--emotionally, medically, sexually, spiritually. If that's true, how can the Church deny its advantages to millions of gay men and women without feeling a deep sense of shame?
Yes, married people score higher on indicators of physical and mental health than non-married heterosexuals. Maybe that's why priests keep committing these awful crimes. Obviously, they need the benefits of marriage more than anyone.
Happy Birthday, Meese Commission
Twenty-one years ago this month, the "Meese Commission"--the U.S. Attorney General's Commission on Pornography--released its 2,000-page report.
President Reagan set up the Commission to reverse the findings of the 1970 report on pornography released under Richard Nixon, which recommended that legislation "should not seek to interfere with the right of adults to read, obtain or view explicit sexual materials."
Although it was supposed to document the damage caused by using pornography, the Commission could find no such thing. It admitted that "The contribution of pornography to sexual deviance remains an open question." It noted their data "do not support any causal link between readership of ['men's'] magazines and sexually aggressive behavior." And it sourly acknowledged that "what role pornography plays in the construction of [aggressive sexual] fantasies remains to be answered."
Nevertheless, the Commission was supposed to find damage and perversion, and it did. It concluded that pornography depicts sexual activities "talking place outside the context of marriage, love, commitment, or even affection. None of us believes this to be a good thing."
In fact, even if porn depicts sex within that idealized state, it is still suspect for the Commission: "The very publicness of what is commonly taken to be private is cause for concern. Even if we hypothesize a sexually explicit film of a loving married couple engaged in mutually pleasurable and procreative vaginal intercourse, the depiction of that act on a screen or in a magazine may constitute a harm in its own right...solely by virtue of being shown."
Who needs science when you already know what's morally wrong for people? This prejudice continued to rule the wealthiest, most powerful government in the history of the world, and still does.
To this day, most policy makers believe that the Meese Commission proved that porn causes personal and social damage. In fact, in its inability to document this, it strongly suggested the opposite. If the Commission had found anything of substance, lobbyists like "Morality in Media" would be quoting it constantly.
Fast forward 21 years to 2007. Despite ever more money and political determination pouring into the project, there is still no documentation that consuming sexually explicit material or adult entertainment causes widespread damage. Of course, there are plenty of anecdotes that Mr. Smith is a porn "addict" or Ms. Jones hated her job as a porn actress, but as Alan Leshner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science says, "the plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data.'" After all, there are plenty of people who are lactose (milk) intolerant or allergic to penicillin, but no one suggests that either one is dangerous for the public.
For decades, fearful people have demanded that pornography be limited because they believe that it's dangerous. Recently, Congress and so-called decency groups have made the simple-minded leap that because divorce and early sexual activity have increased since porn became common on the internet, they are obviously caused by pornography. They fail to mention that whatever social and sexual pathology increases they decry have occurred at the same time that Church attendance and Bible study have increased dramatically.
Shall we draw the "obvious" conclusion, or rely on science?
The entire report is available at www.Porn-Report.com.
Mitt Romney Tries Sex Both Ways, and Loses
Ever-obsessed with pornography, "decency" activists are going after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for being soft on porn while sitting on the board of the Marriott hotel chain.
What a pleasure to see conservative Christian sharks eating one of their own. It's the delicious sequel to the American Family Association demanding that (Mormon) Brigham Young University refuse future million-dollar donations from the Marriott family because the cash is "tainted by porn" (issue #45).
Romney's latest critics include Phil Burress, the self-proclaimed "porn addict" who's still trying to clean up Ohio (his motto: porn ruins your marriage, and if it doesn't, gays will); and Focus on the Family, the James Dobson wolfpack who believe that sex is only legit for about a third of the country (i.e., married people) (issue #s 32, 79).
Like almost all large hotel chains, Marriott makes tens of millions of dollars on in-room adult films. In fact, porn supports the rest of the pay-per-view system. "If we were to eliminate the 'R' and non-rated offerings, the systems would not be economic," Bill Marriott recently wrote the American Decency Association.
Having already abandoned his pro-choice position like an uncomfortable shirt in order to win Republican votes, Romney has been pulling a "I didn't inhale" routine about his 9-year tenure on the Marriott board. He says he did not recall the board discussing porn, and said he didn't know how much revenue pornography generates for the hotel chain--despite being a "hands-on" member of the Audit Committee.
On the one hand, Romney has taken an admirable position--i.e., a reasonable, democratic, adult view--that "I am not pursuing an effort to try and stop adults from being able to acquire or see things that I find objectionable; that's their right." But like all those encouraging fear to make censorship sound reasonable, he continues, "I do vehemently oppose practices or business procedures that will allow kids to be exposed to obscenity," conveniently ignoring the fact that any parent can lock any child out of porn on the family or hotel TV set.
Showing his true colors, Romney blamed porn for the Virginia Tech massacre: "Pornography and violence poison our music and movies and TV and video games," he said 8 weeks ago. "The Virginia Tech shooter, like the Columbine shooters before him, had drunk from this cesspool."
It's hard to tell what Romney lacks more: insight or integrity.
"America's War On Sex" Wins Award!
America's War On Sex: The Attack on Law, Lust, & Liberty has won the prestigious "Sexuality Book of the Year" award from AASECT--the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists.
The book's foreword is written by Nadine Strossen, President of the ACLU. In it, she says the book "shines a welcome spotlight on the many public policies today that continue to stifle full and equal freedom of choice for all mature individuals in the essential arena of sexuality." She adds that "All of us who share the inspiring vision of Justices O'Connor, Kennedy, and Souter about "the heart of liberty" should be heartened by Marty Klein's book."
In presenting the award for AASECT, Dr. Joy Davidson noted the book was frightening, funny, and a great read. She underlined its achievement in presenting a clear picture of how the repression of various aspects of Americans' sexuality--health care, education, entertainment, private expression, art, victimless crimes--is all related. The Religious Right, American government at all levels, and so-called "decency" groups are systematically undermining secular democracy as they work together to over-regulate sexuality.
In gratefully accepting this award, I reminded the 600 people in attendance that when it comes to sex, there are no trivial political issues:
"Banning sex clubs--as Phoenix, Indianapolis, and St. Paul have done--isn't trivial. Preventing adult bookstores from advertising--as Missouri and Kansas have done--isn't trivial. Criminalizing vibrators--as six states have already done--isn't trivial. And jailing teens for consensual sex with other teens--as Georgia and Nebraska have done--isn't trivial." These injustices aren't trivial because they're all related, and the power and financial strength of this movement is increasing daily.
For more information about the book, see www.AmericasWarOnSex.com. In fact, buy it at the site with discount code SI10, and get 10% off the price until August 15.