for Molly Ivins
On first hearing that the "christian" right had come up with chastity rings, fingers weren't the first appendages to come to mind. Know what I mean? Then I heard about their even weirder sister, ceremonies in which very little girls, indeed, symbolically give their reproductive organs to their daddy for safe keeping. He then is to hand them over to the groom at her wedding. I might not be the most financially savvy guy but this is sufficiently brazen as to glow like the sun. Electra becomes money. Keepin' it is a growth industry.
For those who might find this neo-folkway just too strange or the overhead too high there is the alternative of abstinence "education" carried out by private contractors at public expense. In this alternative, misinformation and all too temporary fear take the place of custom jewelry. The short history of this quaint idea is complete with evidence that it doesn't work very well. It also seems to have the unintended effect of leading young people who just can't keep it to engage in more dangerous activities than protected sex.
This evidence doesn't seem to bother proponents one little bit. They deny the evidence but I suspect that even if they did accept it they wouldn't mind much. If the recent stories about sexual moralists' opposition to the new vaccine which will prevent potentially fatal venereal disease is any indication it would seem that they might see it as another mark... uh, teaching opportunity. Making certain that the wages of sin are death would seem to be their goal.
Much as I'd like to turn this into a piece about the statistical evidence of their depravity, that will have to wait. My purpose is to investigate the morality of traditional sexual taboo from a different angle. Incorporating the outcome.
The traditional moralist holds that it is essential to issue a flat ban on prohibited activities, end of question. A flat ban with no exceptions. No alternative consideration is necessary for morality to be satisfied. In fact, to consider anything else would weaken the flat ban and thus be wicked of itself. That experience has shown throughout recorded history the ban will not be followed doesn't matter. That enormous suffering and even death result from the impossibility of many, if not most people keepin' it within the confines of monogamous, heterosexual marriage is not a downside to the traditional sexual moralist. They just ignore it. Deaths of women who bear their eleventh child before they reach the age of thirty, venereal disease, children who can't be cared for, grinding poverty, ... all taken in stride by the traditional sexual moralist. Even those who don't find this suffering good in the sight of the Lord find it insufficiently awful to reconsider a single word of the flat ban.
Well, here's a thought. Any moral proclamation that causes suffering, disease and death is evil. Any moral teaching that willfully ignores the pain it causes is phony morality and should be junked. For those who think the left has no moral absolutes, there is one for you. Replacing scientifically informed sex education with this kind of exercise in sadistic pseudo-morality is evil. No matter how longstanding, it is superstitious and evil and destructive of the public good. It should be prohibited for public money to go to this pseudo-religious clap trap. And a clap trap it is.
This kind of stuff isn't confined to sex education. Ending needle exchange programs are another clear example. Drug addicts exchanging HIV and hepatitis is a direct result of needle exchanges being made impossible by the War on Drugs industry and their moralist camp followers. We have ample evidence that needle exchange programs work to lessen the horrors of disease among drug addicts. Addictive drugs, and some which aren't addictive, are allegedly banned because they cause suffering and in the case of addictive drugs that is true. To assert that you are banning them to prevent suffering and then to ignore HIV transmission is to be the direct cause of suffering more awful than the addiction. Treating addiction as a moral failing punishable by death instead of a treatable disease has led us into the obscenity of the war on drugs we find ourselves in today.
Many children being born with HIV are a direct result of the lies of the chastity industry and the drug moralists. Many adults contract the virus in the same way. Their suffering is taken with remarkable equanimity by these protectors of public morals. Any feeling person with an intact brain can see that their suffering is morally unacceptable. Any person of good will can see the calm acceptance of children and adults dying of entirely preventable AIDS is absolute proof of the moral decay of traditional sexual moralists. These facts definitively impeach the moral pretensions of religious conservatives and it would be entirely immoral for the left to let them get away with it another minute without a fight.
How about this for some real sexual morality. Ignoring preventable suffering resulting from the inability of people to go without sex is evil. People who ignore suffering and so help more of it into the world are evil. Ignorance is a leading cause of suffering. So is discouraging the use of condoms.
Revised from the piece first posted on olvlzl, Friday, May 19, 2006
Please note that an unexpected family emergency will keep me from posting during the assigned shift Echidne scheduled me for so these pieces will have to do.