Sunday, February 21, 2010

Matthew Piccolo's Unfortunate Sex-Ed Op-Ed

I'm starting to believe the boys at Sutherland Institute just have a legislative opposition quota that must be met each session.  Usually you can see (if not agree, or even come close to believing) their POV in opposition to this bill or that.  But with their assault on the -- as they're saying -- PLANNED PARENTHOOD BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA "Sex-Ed" bill this session, their opposition wears a bit thin in substance, and a bit thick in brainless ideology.

Which manifests in this sorry excuse for "analysis" regurgitated by SI lackey Matthew Piccolo in the pages of the Trib several days ago titled "No need in Utah for comprehensive sex-ed reform."  In making his case that Utah has "no need for comprehensive sex ed" options for parents and teachers (and let's stress that: options for parents... we'll get back to that), Piccolo desperately cherry picks the UDOH data to make his case.  While the UDOH concludes that there has been a steady increase in STD transmission per capita among Utahns age 15-29, Piccolo bravely counters with data from only 10-19 year olds and says, "Nu-uh!, look at the 10 year olds! Everything is fine!"  Matthew concludes from his analysis of selective data

These data hardly paint the picture of a crisis. Instead, they indicate that overall our youth are doing quite well, and, in fact, are among the nation's leaders in reproductive health. Still, we should not disregard the relative few who do struggle with these problems. We should strive to help every child in need.

The solution, however, is not to require extensive instruction in contraception for all students in order to target problems that affect a small fraction of them, especially when the effectiveness of "comprehensive" education is highly debatable. Looking into why gonorrhea rates are declining might help us identify a better way.
Also highly debatable, Matthew, is the effectiveness of abstinence only.  So if we're only going to give parents and educators tools based on 100% conclusive practices, well, we're going to have to do away with health classes altogether I'm afraid.  Even "eat right and exercise" has it's doubters.  And don't get me started on all the guess work in Physics... I mean we can't even really sub-atomic particles.  What are they doing even bringing them up in front of Utah's apparently easily-pushed-around-by-learnin' children?  Huh?  Inexcusable, of course!  Or just reasonable.  Depending on whether you have a real job, or work for a think tank I guess...

But even that aside, let's take a closer look at the Sutherland "logic" on this issue.  They claim that 1) Utah's number one communicable disease, Chlamydia... wait, let me say that again... UTAH'S NUMBER ONE COMMUNICABLE DISEASE, CHLAMYDIA... is actually not "on the rise that much" if we look at the 10 year olds to 19 year olds, rather than using the foolish but well meaning Utah Department of Health's numbers of 15-29 year olds.  And 2) that no one can prove knowing how to use a condom prevents transmission of UTAH'S NUMBER ONE COMMUNICABLE DISEASE, CHLAMYDIA, so therefore it makes perfect sense to deny parents a choice for their own children.

So, let's talk about school vouchers.  Remember them?  I never get tired of talking about them.  During the school voucher "debate," Sutherland Institute and Parents for "Choice" in Education ran with the message that a school voucher system to funnel kids into private schools rather than public with a taxpayer funded "voucher" was all about giving parents choices for the the education of their children.  It was a wonderful message, just unfortunately more bullshit than fact, and voters didn't buy it, thankfully.

Now this same group of thinkers want to restrict the choice of parents.  Why again?  See above.  Focus on the bold type.  And what they oppose is a bill that simply augments current sex education law, allowing for educators to produce a "20-40min video of medically accurate data on correct use of contraception" that parents can choose to allow their children to see, if they choose.  And only if they choose.  Gasp!  The horror!  Someone bring me my salts, I feel a faint comin' on! 

Tomorrow morning, a Facebook update from SI tells me, Lil' Matty will be on the hill at 8 am, spewing this same garbage to legislative ears.  Planned Parenthood will be there too, defending what is, for all intents and purposes a very reasonable and intelligent change to current law, which will give parents more choice in the education of their child.  If you're available, stop by the Senate Education Committee meeting tomorrow morning and show your support for (Room 415).

The opposition to the bill should be ashamed of their cognitive disconnect, if not their outright misdirection on such an important issue.

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