From a Political Junkie: Abstaining from Abstinence-Only

Permalink +

Mon, Nov 29, 2010, 6:16 am  //  Riley Sweeney

When it comes to most things, I am a facts-oriented guy. I believe evolution is scientific fact because it has been tested and verified. I believe if you leave milk out it spoils, and an acoustic guitar goes out of tune much faster in cold weather. I believe the more money you spend on a political campaign the more votes you get, and that the price of gas will continue to go up regardless of just about anything. These are things that can be checked, quantified and measured. In short, they are beliefs that can be tested and found to be true.
I also believe in many things that cannot be quantified. I believe in God, in the power of love, in the simple perfection of nature and the transformative power of storytelling. I believe Led Zeppelin is one of the best bands ever, that Brandi Carlile is underrated, and that Nathan Fillion, Christina Hendricks and Sam Rockwell are all going to be huge celebrities in the next five to ten years. I believe Lyndon Baines Johnson was involved in the JFK assassination, that there is no global conspiracy to control everyone, and fluoride in the water creeps me out but I can’t tell you why.  In short, they are beliefs I have that I cannot back up with hard facts, they cannot be verified and proved to be true or false.
When it comes to government policy, we should always be pulling from the top category. Basing our community problem solving on feelings and unverified beliefs is not only foolish but shortsighted. We need realistic, results-based policy making. The kind that Wonks can verify and Hacks can espouse. Which brings me to my main point: abstinence-only education.
I went to public school in Olympia. Throughout my middle and high school education, I received abstinence-only education the entire time. There was very little discussion of condoms, and if they were discussed, it was only to talk about how ineffective they were and how often they fail. The pill, the diaphragm, various other methods were barely even mentioned. Just tons of scare tactics. Our classes were filled with lots of discussion about the various sexually transmitted diseases, the potential for pregnancy and why you should not have sex.
Speaking with my peers, I found it was pretty common in Washington state to get that sort of education. A few had better teachers; most had the same routine as I. All of us got our sex ed before Christine Gregoire mandated comprehensive sex education for all Washington public schools.
This goes back to beliefs and facts.  It is a fact comprehensive sex education reduces teen pregnancies. Period. Here is a news article from earlier this year talking about California. Yet we continue to throw millions and millions of dollars away on the belief that if you tell a teenager not to do something, they won’t do it. Yeah, it sounds just as ridiculous even in principle.
I could make the financial argument that giving people the ability to decide when they have kids saves the state money in the long run, especially when you consider the aid we give to families unable to get by. But I think that detracts from the simple point that abstinance-only education simply doesn't work.
The fact is, two-thirds of all American teens will have had sex by the time they graduate high school. I know it is better to prepare them with good, medically accurate information. Just telling them "no" is not enough. We need to give them all the tools they need to make good decisions. When you look at it, it comes down to trust.
One of my favorite metaphors is gun safety. If you knew your children were going to have access to guns throughout their life, would you tell them, “No, don’t touch!” over and over again? Or, when they could understand, would you explain to them what guns are, how to safely handle them, and what the proper use is, trusting they will deal with it when they are ready?
I believe no one should be sexually active until they are ready. That is my belief, but I also know the facts on sex education. We need to push for comprehensive sex education nation-wide. Every year, the Republicans at various levels of government team up with conservative Dems to throw more money down the drain by mandating abstinence-only education. It's time we just said "no" to that.

David Camp  //  Mon, Nov 29, 2010, 11:25 am

Ham - excellent essay. I would sum up your main point as: “Prohibition doesn’t work”. It didn’t work in the Garden of Edne where there were only two humans and one prohibition enforcer, it didn’t work for alcohol in the twenties, it doesn’t work for sex, nor does it work for cannabis. It is indeed a fact that cannabis use among teenagers is lower in Portugal, where it is completely de-criminalised, than in the USA, where 800,000 people are arrested every year for non-violent cannabis “offenses”.

Dogmatic approaches to anything don’t work. When I hear the words “zero-tolerance policy” I cringe becasue here is yet one more example of people taking a cowardly and stupid dogmatic approach and abdicating from using human judgment and wisdom.

Perhaps we should put a giant condom over Washington DC and protect the rest of the country from the corruption that emenates from there.

Riley Sweeney  //  Mon, Nov 29, 2010, 11:37 am

Hold on there David, I wrote this one, not Ham Hayes. I agree that prohibition does not work for many vices (sex, booze, weed) and that the best option is always better education.

Putting a giant condom on the Washington monument might help prevent the spread of Pentagonorrhea . . . the disease you get when you have screwed too many countries.

Thank you folks, I’m hear next thursday, tip your servers

David Camp  //  Wed, Dec 01, 2010, 3:10 pm

Sorry Riley, for mistaking you for a ham!

Riley Sweeney  //  Wed, Dec 01, 2010, 4:05 pm

You were just getting into the holiday spirit early.

From a Political Junkie: Abstaining from Abstinence-Only

Mon, Nov 29, 2010, 6:16 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley Sweeney examines facts vs beliefs and comprehensive sex education

4 comments; last on Dec 01, 2010

TSA protecting us from terrorists

Sat, Nov 27, 2010, 8:19 pm  //  John Servais

TSA puts young mother with a bag of breast milk through an illegal and unbelievable process.

5 comments; last on Nov 29, 2010

Paper Dreams in Fairhaven

Next door to Village Books

Statutory Purgatory: A failure of Government

Fri, Nov 26, 2010, 2:09 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein surrender may be the key to success

5 comments; last on Dec 11, 2010

Marginal Voters and the Big Tent

Wed, Nov 24, 2010, 5:00 am  //  Paul deArmond

While Democrats pursue a Centrist strategy trying to persuade the “marginal voter,” Republicans promote wedge issues under the rubric of the “Big Tent.”

14 comments; last on Dec 01, 2010

Council passes Red Light Cameras 6 - 1

Tue, Nov 23, 2010, 10:06 am  //  John Servais

Seth Fleetwood was one vote against, saying this is an Orwellian notion.

4 comments; last on Nov 25, 2010

From a Political Junkie: Buy Local, support your local campaign managers!

Mon, Nov 22, 2010, 5:00 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley Sweeney makes the case for investing and supporting local campaign managers

4 comments; last on Dec 05, 2010

No “future” for conservation?

Sat, Nov 20, 2010, 4:13 pm  //  Guest writer

Dave Stalheim warns us the Council is poised to rob the Conservation Futures Fund.

2 comments; last on Nov 25, 2010

Red Light Cameras = Revenue

Fri, Nov 19, 2010, 12:32 pm  //  John Servais

Revenue, not safety, is the reason for red light cameras.

6 comments; last on Nov 26, 2010

When will it end?

Mon, Nov 15, 2010, 6:17 pm  //  Ham Hayes

The next round of invasive security procedures is not too far away.

2 comments; last on Nov 19, 2010

From a Political Junkie: Which Branch of Government Matters to You?

Mon, Nov 15, 2010, 5:00 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley Sweeney takes a look at the GOP's love of the executive branch, the Dems love of the legislative...and where that leaves us.


Eric Hirst Resigns Greenways Committee

Tue, Nov 09, 2010, 6:04 pm  //  Guest writer

Eric explains his resignation from the Greenways Advisory Committee and lists his concerns.

1 comments; last on Nov 10, 2010

Ya Gotta Love This Place

Tue, Nov 09, 2010, 3:17 pm  //  Ham Hayes

A Hidden Bellingham Gem


From a Political Junkie: Karma and the Election

Mon, Nov 08, 2010, 5:53 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley Sweeney returns from a drunken stupor to determine why Tuesday was so painful for the Dems


WAFed’s best option: Accept City’s offer on Chuckanut Ridge

Sat, Nov 06, 2010, 11:22 am  //  Larry Horowitz

Why Washington Federal's best option is to accept Bellingham's offer to take Fairhaven Highlands off its hands

6 comments; last on Nov 14, 2010


Fri, Nov 05, 2010, 4:00 pm  //  Paul deArmond

What went wrong in the mid-term election, why, and what we can expect now.

3 comments; last on Nov 16, 2010

Why Whatcom Liberals Lost

Wed, Nov 03, 2010, 11:25 am  //  John Servais

Whatcom Democratic Party leaders have failed local liberals again. They have no concept of inclusion and live in their own dream world.

16 comments; last on Nov 25, 2010


Election Info

County election results

State election results

Coal, Oil & Trains

Community Wise Bellingham
Powder River Basin R. C.

Local Blogs & News

Bellingham Herald

Bham Herald Politics Blog
Bham Politics & Economics
Cascadia Weekly
Ferndale Record
Friends of Whatcom
Get Whatcom Planning
Latte Republic
League of Women Voters
Lynden Tribune
Northern Light

Twilight Zoning
Western Front - WWU
Whatcom Watch

Local Causes

Chuckanut Community Forest

City Club of Bellingham
Conservation NW
Futurewise - Whatcom
Lake Whatcom
Lummi Island Quarry
N. Cascades Audubon
NW Holocaust Center
RE Sources
Reduce Jet Noise
Salish Sea Org.
Save the Granary Building
Transition Whatcom
WA Conservation Voters
Whatcom Peace & Justice



Port of Bellingham
Skagit County
State election results
US - The White House
WA State Access
WA State Elections
WA State Legislature
Whatcom Auditor
Whatcom Auditor
Whatcom County

Weather & Climate

Cliff Mass Weather Blog

Climate Audit
Nat Hurricane Center
NW Radar
Two day forecast
Watts Up With That? - climate


Adventures NW

Edge of Sports
Entertainment NNW
Famous Internet Skiers
Recreation Northwest
Sailing Anarchy

Good Web Sites

Al-Jazeera online

Alaska Dispatch
Arab News
Asia Times
Atlantic, The

Common Dreams
Crosscut Seattle
Daily Kos
Daily Mirror
Drudge Report
Foreign Policy in Focus
Guardian Unlimited
Gulf News
Huffington Post
Innocence Project, The
Intrnational Herald Tribune
James Fallows
Jerusalem Post
Joel Connelly
Juan Cole
Julia Ioffe/New Republic
Le Diplo
Media Matters
Michael Moore
Middle East Times
Nation, The
New American Century
News Trust
Online Journal
Palestine Daily
Palestine News
Paul Krugman - economics
Personal bio info
Portland Indy Media
Progressive Review
Project Vote Smart
Sea Shepherd
Stand for the Troops
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Talking Points Memo
The Crisis Papers
The Intercept
the Oatmeal
War and Piece
Washington Votes

NwCitizen 1995 - 2007

Early Northwest Citizen

Quiet, Offline or Dead

Bellingham Police Activity

Bellingham Register
Bob Sanders
Carl Weimer
Chuckanut Mountains
Citizen Ted
Citizens of Bellingham
Cordata & Meridian
David Hackworth
Facebook Port Reform
Jack Petree
N. Sound Conservancy
No Leaky Buckets
Northwest Review
Post-Oklahoman Confessions
Protect Bellingham Parks
The American Telegraph
Wally Wonders