Abstinence-only Trumped and HIV Misinformation Corrected

Amanda interviews Lynn Paltrow about the war on pregnant drug addicts, Rachel Maddow triumphs over abstinence shills, Michael Savage loses control thinking about men in uniform, and why is the mainstream media letting blatant misinformation about HIV transmission go uncorrected?

Links in this episode:
Interview with Laurie Rubiner
Maddow Fans
Maddow vs. Huber
Reviews of abstinence-only curricula
Huckabee in 1992
Praise for Huckabee dodge
Savage meltdown



On this week's show, I'll interview the director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women about a recent assault on the rights of pregnant women, criticize MSNBC for letting lies about HIV transmission slide, and praise MSNBC for at least getting it right on abstinence-only education. Also, Michael Savage goes a little nuts thinking about gay men in uniform.

For people seeking some more education on the various health care plans being offered by presidential candidates coming into the primary system, I'd like to recommend this interview about Senator Clinton's plan with Clinton's legislative director Laurie Rubiner. There's a couple parts to it, all done by a group collected by Our Bodies, Ourselves. Here's a clip from the phone interview:

*insert laurie rubiner*

It warms my heart to see this. Our Bodies, Ourselves was considered a radical feminist project, way outside the mainstream when it was first written in the 70s. Now it's an organization that commands the attention of major presidential candidates.


The site Maddow Fans pointed to a debate on MSNBC between Valerie Huber of the Abstinence Clearinghouse and the ever-brilliant Rachel Maddow on abstinence-only education, and how yet another report, this time a Congressional report, shows that it not only doesn't work to reduce STDs and unplanned pregnancy, it might actually be hurting kids. Huber tried to forebear under all the striking evidence that she was there to lie her ass off, but there were some cracks in the armor, especially when host Dan Abrams basically predicted that she'd be dodgy and dishonest from the get-go.

*insert Rachel Valerie one*

It's a testament to Dan Abrams' professionalism that he didn't say then, "Oooooh, burn." There's a real irony here, which is that Huber whines earlier that pro-choicers are using "selective science", but then she turns around and argues that the mounds of independent investigations, the rising STD and teen pregnancy rates, and this congressional study can all be completely ignored in favor of a single study done by a shady anti-choice organization in Virginia. Maybe she meant that she's for cherry-picking the evidence to suit your own agenda?

Maddow makes the killer point about the simple issue everyone can agree on, which is that abstinence-only can't even reach stated goals and is just a waste of money, it needs to go.

*insert Rachel Valerie two*

What's interesting is that Huber starts in on a new sales tactic for abstinence-only, which is that they do too teach you how to use contraception. By god, it's practically comprehensive sex education! Which tells me that abstinence-only proponents realize they're losing the war and so they have to lie about the materials in order to sneak them under people's noses.

*insert Rachel Valerie three*

If your definition of "accurate" is "distortions and lies designed to scare people out of using contraception", then she's not completely lying here. But let's take her lies on one at a time, using some information about these materials compiled by SIECUS.

What's this "relationship building" information she's referencing. Well, since these textbooks are mainly developed from pre-existing fundamentalist Christian tracts, one might expect to see relationship advice based on stereotypes of men and women and that idea that homosexuals should not exist at all. The latter is obviously there; you can't be abstinent until marriage if you can't legally marry. The SIECUS review of a popular FACTS curricula, one of many examples, demonstrates that the book has some retrograde stereotypes about how all men want is sex and all women want is love and approval. Other curricula like the Heritage Keepers puts the responsibility of sexual abuse on victims by claiming that certain kinds of immodest clothing worn by women makes men uncontrollable.

As for the claims to accurate information on contraception and STDs, well here's some lies from various curricula reviewed at SIECUS

*Claims that any sexual activity can spread STDs, as if you could get it from watching each other masturbate.

*Claims that marital sex is automatically safe from STDs.

*Claims that the syphilis rate is about 4 times what it is.

*Claims that STDs like HIV can slip through condoms, which is absolutely untrue.

I could go on, but you get the point. The curricula is really more about discouraging contraception use than anything else, almost as if they relish the idea of upping the unplanned pregnancy and STD rate.


*insert interview*


I've been doing a lot of highlighting of responsible, reality-based coverage of sexual health issues on this show, but I don't want to drop the ball on criticizing the mainstream media for repeated kow-towing to the sexphobic right wing lies out there. Things have gotten pretty ugly in the wake of the revelation that Mike Huckabee called for the explusion, er, quarantine of AIDS patients in 1992.

It's a pretty hard quote to distance yourself from, I think in part because a lot of us remember the 80s and early 90s, when a lot of right wingers could barely conceal their loathing for AIDS sufferers. I know that I often heard this particular call to seclude patients on some island and just let them die out of sight, and that's because I lived in a pretty conservative, homophobic community then.

The most reasonable, and probably only reasonable interpretation of Huckabee's comment was that he was just being another hater who saw AIDS as an excuse to shun already-oppressed people. But his excuse is that people didn't really know how AIDS was spread in 1992, and he implied that there was reason to think it was similar to TB. In 1992.

Which leads me to the malfeasance of mainstream media types who are more interested in gaming the system than telling the truth. Here’s Mika Brzezinski praising Huckabee on MSNBC.

*insert huckabee suck-up*

Charming? Authentic? Honest? For saying that there was confusion on how HIV was transmitted in 1992?

Now, in 1992 I was just an ignorant 15-year-old living in the middle of nowhere. I had a lot of ignorant beliefs. I thought you could hasten your period with hot baths. I thought REM was the best band in the world. I thought you could get herpes from a toilet seat. But I was not so stupid as to think there was any doubt, in 1992, about how you got HIV. Everyone knew the drill—unprotected sex, sharing needles, blood transfusions. If I knew that, then Mike Huckabee, who was running for Senate in 1992, has no excuse. So I’m going to have to continue to assume that he had the same motivations as anyone else spouting the quarantine line in 1992, plain old-fashioned hate.


Now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, finally getting around to a clip from popular wingnut radio talk show host Michael Savage. Savage was pushing a complaint that's increasingly common on the right, basically that some people, especially anyone pro-choice or pro-gay or those who have unapproved opinions, should not be allowed to ask questions during presidential debates. Savage was particularly incensed that retired Brigadier General Keith Kerr should have this right, because even though Kerr served the country honorably since 1953, he is gay and that erases everything.

*insert savage meltdown*

There's not much to say to someone who says that who you sleep with at night is more important to your job performance than mere technicalities like competence or integrity.


Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte

  • http://setxbayou.blogspot.com invalid-0

    Amanda, while you’re thinking deeply (and rather intelligently) about sex and life, human nature is taking its usual alternate course …and oh how interesting it will be for politicians: A new book says humans and robots will begin having sex sometime in the next 50 years … undoubtedly followed quickly by e-infidelity, insulting your motherboard, the occasional unexpected virus, and threats that you won’t be able to use your joy stick until you are networked.

    Sooo many questions arise! Could you order one who looked like Salma Hayek? If you had sex with another robot, is that really cheating? Do you take a hottie robot out to dinner or just call the Geek Squad for takeout? Will we see signs in stores that say, “Fleshies Only”? If your robot widow gets all your stuff when you die … who gets it when she crashes? Will she get jealous if you spend too much time on your computer? Do robots go Wii-Wii?

    I won’t waste any more of your bandwidth. I blogged on this provocative topic at The Bayou.

  • invalid-0

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