Elitism, Really John?

Okay, everyone everywhere, it is time to take a breath and come to grips with a single fact; there are some subjects in which some people know more than you do. There are some things that other people can do better than you. A lot of the time, it’s because they study and practice it more than you do. When they offer those services and knowledge to you, they are not being elitist; they are doing what they were trained, practiced at, and paid to do.

So, among all the many hot button issues out there, one of my personal favorites is abstinence only education. As Steve Benen points outs, it doesn’t work. In fact, a bunch of highly educated health officials testified using hardcore data that it doesn’t work to a bunch of folks up in Congress. And for this, they are called “Elitist” by one Republican Rep. John Duncan.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Parents don’t want schools teaching their kids about sex, it’s a touchy subject, and for some of them they don’t want their children having sex ever… Well… maybe when they’re forty.

For me growing up, it was all a moot point, but that goes back to high school which was a very awkward and not very fun time for me, so we’re just going to move right along to the present where I’m awesomely sexy and everyone knows it.


So I get the whole, “We don’t want the school teaching our kids safe sex because it only encourages them.” Believe me, as a father of two daughters, forty is far too young for them to have sex. In fact, I might consider lifting the carnal knowledge ban sometime long after I’m dead. I haven’t figured out how to enforce this yet, but that’s kind of part of the point.

Part of the data that was provided to Congress was that abstinence only education doesn’t even do a great job of keeping kids abstinent. This might be because sex isn’t all that difficult. I mean, you look at those toddler toys, the ones where you put the square peg in a square hole, and you have to understand that sex isn’t all that much more complex than that (physically).

There are only two tricky things about having sex; finding someone to have it with you, and doing it safely.

If you have two kids, their hormones raging like the mighty Mississippi, and they like each other enough, they’re going to go ahead and do things they probably shouldn’t do. Biology (and inappropriately lewd toddler toys) tells them how.

What their biology and hormones don’t tell them, though, is how to put on a condom, nor all the nasty little things that can happen if they omit this all important step. Without proper education, they go into the raging hormone wars with two forces opposing each other. Massive biological forces are screaming to the kid, “YOU SO NEED TO DO THIS NOW! SERIOUSLY! IT’S GOING TO TOTALLY ROCK! DON’T WORRY I’LL GUIDE YOU THROUGH IT!” and their parents and abstinence only educators are saying, “SEX IS BAD DON’T DO IT!”

What the geniuses who promote abstinence only education seem to have forgotten is that, well, kids don’t need raging hormones to disobey their parents. They don’t even need a semi-decent reason. We’re talking teenagers here, for pity’s sake; often times their parents’ condemnation of an act IS reason enough to go all out.

The part I never got is, why does it cost any money at all for an abstinence only curriculum? I’m not kidding. Without having to teach all that stuff about anatomy, birth control devices, sexually transmitted diseases and how to avoid them, it would seem to me that you could cover the entire course by having the teacher walk in and say once a day, “Don’t have sex. If you’re with someone and it feels too good, you’re probably having sex and you need to stop, now.”

That covers it, the whole damn thing.

But, wow, did I go off track.


Right, okay, now I remember.

Look, it’s not elitist to take your degrees, years of training in the field, tons of data from intense research and offer your most well thought out professional opinion; especially when it’s asked for. That’s not elitism at all, it’s called doing your job.

Joe and Jane Sixpack don’t know everything, and recognizing that fact is not elitist. We all have weak spots. Billy Egghead can probably build a working model of a rocket using a computer and a slide rule, but if his toilet overflows, he has exactly twenty minutes to call the plumber before he’s neck deep in water of questionable cleanliness. Meanwhile, the plumber might look at Billy’s calculations and pretty much see nothing more than a jumble of numbers and symbols he’s never seen before.

It’s just how things work. Moms and Dads can be great parents, but regardless of their professions and their educational backgrounds, there are going to be things they don’t know, and its not elitist to ask them to at least listen to the advice of people who have made it their life’s work to understand some of these things better.

At least, that’s how I see it. But then, I’m a big old honkin’ elitist, so don’t bother listening to me.

More at Memeorandum: The Carpetbagger Report and Balloon Juice

(edited by DrGail)

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