Utah Legislature Avoids Messy Facts, Science; Advances Bill Dropping Sex Ed

Utah State Capitol

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Sadly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, Utah’s Legislature is moving forward on HB363, a piece of legislation that would effectively end any comprehensive sexual education in Utah schools. The Salt Lake City Weekly:

House Bill 363 sponsor Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden, argued that teaching contraception only encouraged immoral behavior, so his bill would allow for schools to teach abstinence-only or to opt out of teaching sexual education entirely. Wright said teaching sexuality wasn’t a priority in education. “This is not like all our students are going to die if they don’t learn promiscuous behavior,” Wright said. (emphasis mine)

Yes. That’s what he said.

In an editorial for the same paper, Rebecca Walsh opines

Anti-sex-education crusader Bill Wright would have loved me.

In seventh grade, I was just like the tiny blond granddaughter the Republican legislator from Holden hauled up to Capitol Hill last week as a prop for his legislative campaign, House Bill 363. I was the pristine product of a sex-free Utah public education and Mormon parents—innocent, naïve, clueless.

Then one day, I overheard a boy in the hall at school crudely describing the mechanics of copulation. In an instant, Troy rendered irrelevant my parents’ denial that we needed to have the talk and showed me the limits of my teachers’ silence. It was the end of innocence, delivered by a pimply teenage boy.

And that’s the problem with Wright’s (and my parents’) plan: It’s not rooted in real life.

American teens are shockingly misinformed about their bodies, birth control and pregnancy—Utah kids even more so.

A 2008 study by Self magazine and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found many young adults had “magical thinking” when it comes to sex—unsure of how often to take birth-control pills, unfamiliar with 28-day fertility cycles.

And that was among young adults with some level of sex education. In the information vacuum created by Utah lawmakers, sex ed ranges from abstinence-only programs in four school districts—Alpine, Canyons, Jordan and Nebo—to oblique references from frightened biology and health teachers in others.

When are we going to wake up to science and truth? High school students are having sex. Right now. Probably without condoms, birth control, and in Utah, without rudimentary knowledge of biological processes.

While this “teaching kids about sex causes them to have more sex” nonsense avoids the reality of the situation: as a society, we are ridiculously stupid about sex.

Ridiculously.

And if this bill gets through, that ridiculousness will be enshrined in Utah law.

The Palinization Of The GOP

Buckley (right) and L. Brent Bozell Jr. promot...

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“The headline on Democratic strategist Paul Begala’s recent Newsweek essay dodged subtlety: “The Stupid Party.”

“Republicans used to admire intelligence. But now they’re dumbing themselves down,” was the subhead.

Democrats couldn’t agree more. And quietly, many Republicans share the sentiment. They just can’t seem to stop themselves.

Republicans aren’t really stupid, of course, and Begala acknowledges this. But, as he also pointed out, the conservative brain trust once led by William F. Buckley has been supplanted by talk radio hosts who love to quote Buckley (and boast of his friendship) but who do not share the man’s pedigree or his nimble mind. Moreover, where Buckley tried to rid the GOP of fringe elements, notably the John Birch Society, today’s conservatives have let them back in. The 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference was co-sponsored by the Birchers.

Meanwhile, the big tent fashioned by Ronald Reagan has become bilious with the hot air of religious fervor. No one was more devout than the very-Catholic Buckley, but you didn’t see him convening revivals in the public square. Nor is it likely he would have embraced fundamentalist views that increasingly have forced the party into a corner where science and religion can’t coexist.”

The GOP will continue to be ridiculous as long as it courts the ridiculous…. Make sure and read the whole thing- it’s good.

Reasonable Evangelicals Disavow “Fundamentalist Rejection Of Reason”

Today’s Op-Ed piece in by Karl Giberson and Randall J Stephens in The NYT is a piece well worth reading.

For many people, “Evangelical Christian” has become code for “Christian, anti-scientist”. The writers of todays column point out that this isn’t necessarily so- or fair. The vocal minority who claim Evangelical Christianity are, in fact, not so. They are Fundamentalists. Excerpt:

Like other evangelicals, we accept the centrality of faith in Jesus Christ and look to the Bible as our sacred book, though we find it hard to recognize our religious tradition in the mainstream evangelical conversation. Evangelicalism at its best seeks a biblically grounded expression of Christianity that is intellectually engaged, humble and forward-looking. In contrast, fundamentalism is literalistic, overconfident and reactionary. (emphasis mine)

Fundamentalism is dangerous. In case you have forgotten, Fundamentalists were the ones who hijacked and piloted planes into the World Trade Center. Of a different religion, yes, but adhering to the same principles. The writers haven’t forgotten, and they are reminding the rest of the world that these few don’t speak for the rest:

Americans have always trusted in God, and even today atheism is little more than a quiet voice on the margins. Faith, working calmly in the lives of Americans from George Washington to Barack Obama, has motivated some of America’s finest moments. But when the faith of so many Americans becomes an occasion to embrace discredited, ridiculous and even dangerous ideas, we must not be afraid to speak out, even if it means criticizing fellow Christians.

Amen.

The Montana Taliban’s Jihad

Yesterday, the Montana House of Representatives voted to nullify any local anti-discrimination ordinances (Missoula and Bozeman), forcing cities and towns to rely on state law which doesn’t protect LGBT persons from discrimination. 60 Republicans voted for the bill, all 32 House Democrats joined by seven enlightened Republicans voted against. From The Missoulian

It was the second bill that passed Tuesday to nullify a locally adopted policy in Missoula. Earlier, the House banned enactment of local initiatives such as the one Missoula County voters approved in 2006 to make marijuana crimes the lowest priority of law enforcement.
“It is ironic that the first bill of the day and the last bill of the day both intend to override the expressed will of Missoulians to govern ourselves as we see fit,” said Rep. Diane Sands, D-Missoula.

It’s time to call a spade a spade.

There is only one way to describe the faction of the Montana Republican party which is voting to legislate their own arrogant morality, usurping the clear will of persons in municipalities to govern themselves in favor of theological, idealogical and biblical precepts while blatantly ignoring science, reason and due diligence: Religious extremism.

Like The Taliban.

And there is not much they won’t do to erode the rights of other human beings- including ignoring valid democratic processes. I almost believe that they won’t be happy until the statue of the Goddess of Liberty is torn from the top of the Capitol Building and replaced with a cross….

In my opinion, term limits have simply contributed to this process, giving people no chance to cultivate relationships and actually govern. Instead, people are focused on issues and positions, not long-term goals and objectives.

Montana’s Taliban needs to be called to accountability. I refuse to believe that the will of the people is to strip other human beings of protections which were carefully put into place by those who know them best. I refuse to believe that the majority of Montanans approve of the ignorant, dirty dancing these legislators are doing in the name of God their constituents. I refuse to believe that most Montanans want LGBT persons discriminated against, maimed- perhaps dead, because of a lack of protection.

Prove me right. Please.