Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Heading out to the alley to deposit an important package in the dumpster

Tearing apart a Kathleen Parker article is kind of like taking out the trash--not challenging or particularly fullfilling but eminently necessary on a weekly basis if you don't want to be overcome by the accompanying stench.

Her latest piece of "high-powered journalistic integrity" deals with "safe sex" in the form of abstinence programs. As usual, Parker's thesis is all over the place. But the lack of ability to put together a cohesive argument is natural for someone who literally believes that ignorance leads to mastery, and no practice makes perfect:

"What was for other generations a mysterious and wondrous thing is now the equivalent of learning to change a tire in driver's ed."

"Is not having sex ever an options for some who may prefer--oh I dunno--an actual human relationship that leads to long-term commitment, perhaps marriage, wherein sex is an expression of spiritual intimacy rather than a mechanical engineering feat involving anatomical widgetry?"

Like a war profiteering president who starts a self-interested war, but happens to overthrow a merciless dictator, Parker has hit on something worthwhile in the midst of irrational cloud of non-sequiters engineered to prop up her own selfish agenda. Parker unwaveringly wants abstinence-only education to work, but fails to acknowledge all of the research that shows that it cannot. Her last point that it is a dangerous assumption that bureaucrats should teach children values, morals and sexual practices rather than parents is easily countered by all the evidence that shows that parents are not effectively doing so and have never been particularly effective at doing so. It is utterly true that bureaucrats are not qualified either, but since when has anyone been taught sex education by a bureaucrat? I was taught, poorly, by a series of public and private school instructors.

Here we have Parker's only useful point in the article--current sexual education sucks. Students are either declared unable to deal with information, or they are given mechanical information with no guidance on how to deal with emotional and spiritual elements of sexuality. Kids aren't dumb, they just can't be expected to perfectly execute all aspects of one of the most complex and wonderful human activities without having put some thought and practice into it ahead of time. I'm not suggesting that kids be encouraged to have sex. Practice does not equal actual execution. Instead of the current curricula options of either pointing to the door of sex and saying "For the love of God, never go in there, unless you are a total adult and married and...Where did you go? Hey, come back here!*door slam*" or explaining the mechanics of sexuality, why not actually give kids information on how to have fulfilling sex?

Many will criticize this idea by saying that teaching kids about sex gives them the impression that they should be having it. I suggest that if people truly believe this idea, they go form a different society based on this "true safety is found in ignorance" ideal. They could avoid teaching kids conflict resolution because they kids will want to be in conflicts. They could avoid teaching kids CPR, because of course, kids will want their peers to have difficulty breathing. Maybe they will begin choking each other, or failing to cut up each other's food properly. The biggest benefit would be they would avoid those boring safety lectures on airplanes, after all, knowing how to handle an emergency landing will only encourage people to try to create one.

When I was a kid, I was taught all about sex, drugs, and alcohol. My parents basically answered any question I ever had on these issues. That didn't stop me from waiting to experience them. In fact, I don't know too many other people who have never had a drug or alcohol related issue. Was this because I was taught by my parents and not my teachers? Not really, basically, I just needed someone to lovingly drop some wisdom on me.

Being an effective happy person is the security of knowing that you are equipped to handle nearly any situation that might arise. If current adolescents do not feel this way about sexuality, the answer is more education, not less.

If Kathleen Parker believes that ignorance will deliver her and the rest of our children from evil, maybe her children should fire her for dereliction of duty.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Listed on