Monday, December 06, 2004


The right is very fond of the word "agenda."
Agenda: A list or program of things to be done or considered.

Every time some neo-con on the right dislikes the facts provided by someone on the left, they attempt to discount the facts by claiming the other person has an agenda.

For example, the office of U.S. Representative Henry Waxman of California issued a report on the state of Abstinence-only sex education in this country. Most surprisingly, the report didn't just find that programs that teach only abstinence fail to lower the teen pregnancy and STD rates, it showed that such programs are riddled with misleading and inaccurate information. One program actually taught teenagers that masturbation causes pregnancy. If you don't know why that's not possible, buy Our Bodies, Ourselves for a detailed description of the process.

When faced with the facts, rather than admit that the programs should be re-evaluated for effectiveness and accuracy, Genevieve Wood, a republican political strategist, just stated over and over that Waxman had an agenda. Here's one excerpt from CNN's Crossfire on Thursday, December 2, 2004:
CARVILLE: Can we agree that masturbation does not cause pregnancy, just -- it's simple enough. Yes or no?

WOOD: I'm not going to debate that thing -- no, I'm not talking going to talk -- that's not what this is about.

CARVILLE: Well, can you...

WOOD: That's not what this is about. What this is about is a political agenda.

The Frame
The implication is that the facts are false or irrelevant because the author of the report has an agenda.

The other implication is that the speaker doesn't have an agenda.

The Reality
Well, guess what? Everyone has an agenda.

When you say or write something, you do it for some purpose. If you say "Hi" to a co-worker, your agenda is to communicate welcome. If you write a "thank you" note to a friend, your agenda is to make sure your friend knows you appreciate whatever you're thanking them for.

If you write a report, your agenda (the thing you want considered) is the result of that report. If the report happens to indicate that a program funded by taxpayer money is (a) having no effect whatsoever and (b) teaching lies to our children, then your agenda is to change the program, so (a) fewer tax dollars will be wasted and (b) our children will learn the truth not lies.

And of course, Ms. Wood has her own agenda: imposing her personal views on the lives of our children, regardless of the cost in terms of pregnancy and disease.

This study dealt specifically with the content of the textbooks vs. scientific fact. The textbooks from 11 of the 13 abstinence-only programs that are used nationwide contain scientifically inaccurate or misleading information.

Additionally, the study reviewed the scientific literature on the effectiveness of abstinence-only education. Those studies showed that there's no statistically significant difference in teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease rates between students participating in abstinence-only programs and students who did not participate in any program. That is: these programs are as effective as no program at all.

The most effective programs in the US:
Combine abstinence education with medically accurate information on a variety of sexuality-related issues, including contraception, safer sex, and the risks of unprotected intercourse and how to avoid them, as well as the development of communication, negotiation, and refusal skills. Such programs have been shown to delay the onset of sexual initiation among younger adolescents by as much as 15 percent and to increase contraceptive use among older adolescents by as much as 22 percent (Brindis, 1999; Frost & Forrest, 1995).

The most effective program in the world is in the Netherlands:
Where sexuality education begins in preschool and is integrated into all levels and subjects of schooling, boasts the lowest teen birth rate in the world — 6.9 per 1,000 women aged 15–19 — a rate almost eight times lower than that of the U. S. [emphasis added] Likewise, the Dutch teenage abortion rate is more than three times lower than that of the U.S., and its overall AIDS case rate is more than eight times lower.

Why does the accuracy of the data matter if the kids aren't supposed to be fooling around anyway? Well here's an example. One of the programs, which seems to be trying to scare kids into skipping sex, teaches that condoms won't prevent the transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. It claims that the virus will pass through the condom because the virus is smaller than sperm, which is what condoms are designed to stop. Of course that's false - the pores in a condom are so small the virus cannot pass through. However, since that fact doesn't forward the neo-con "no condom" agenda, it's conveniently ignored.

So what? Why is that a big deal?

It's a big deal because kids who learn this lie will not consider using a condom when they do become sexually active. Those kids will be at greater risk of AIDS, not to mention the other diseases blocked by condoms. In one study of 15,000 cases of intercourse using condoms, between HIV-positive people and their HIV-negative partners, not a single case of HIV transmission occured. That's 0 for 15,000. I'd say that's pretty darned effective.

Is sexual activity in a teenager really worthy of a death sentence? If not, then why keep this life-saving fact from them?

Pregnancy, HPV, gonorrhea, HIV, and syphilis are much more desirable than unpunished "sin" in the neo-con extremist agenda. In their world-view, it's what your kid deserves for daring to have sex.

Personally, I prefer Representative Waxman's agenda of compassion for our children.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Progressive Women's Blog Ring

Join | List | Prev | Next | Random | Prev 5 | Next 5 | Skip Prev | Skip Next

Powered by RingSurf