Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Anti-Sex League 

Via the excellent Mahablog: We're sure that by now someone has slipped you a copy of Rep. Henry Waxman's extremely steamy House Reform Committee report, "The Content of Federally Funded Abstinence-Only Education Programs" (and be sure to see the movie as well: Liam Neeson is OscarrificTM as Waxman). Did you know that HIV can be transmitted through tears and sweat? That women who have abortions are more likely to become sterile later in life, or give birth to premature and/or mentally retarded children? That remaining a virgin "all but eliminates the possibility of becoming pregnant" (the qualifier, we assume, was added because of that one freakish case a couple of thousand years back)? That "touching another person's genitals" can result in pregnancy? If you didn't know any of the above, don't be concerned; thanks to Uncle Sam, the kids of America do, and it only cost you the taxpayer $170 million to fill them in.

Since both abstinence promotion and outright lying about sex would seem to qualify as "red state values," it occurred to the canny Ross at ItAffectsYou.org to examine one statistic that might provide a very rough indicator of the various programs' overall effectiveness, and based on his findings you may be tempted to conclude that there is no dearth of genital touching in the Republican heartland. Bush states in red, Kerry states in blue; numbers represent pregnancies per thousand girls ages 15-19, based on data taken from a CDC report:

ItAffectsYou.org is doing a series of similar charts as part of its Red State Project:
My goal was never to bash red states. I wanted to find some data to support the position that many of their elected officials had failed to deliver for them in one particular area. But one piece of data led to another, and another, until I realized how big this could be . . . .

What I intend to do is continue to explore the data I already compiled and take it in all the directions I am able. In many red states, why is the poverty rate so high? Why are they near the bottom in life expectancy and infant mortality rates? Why do they rank poorly in education? Etc. More than that, I am creating this project so that, rather than simply collect this sort of data, we can find ways to use it constructively.

I hope to provide a very basic blueprint for more progressive minded candidates in these states. I've read a little bit about the Democratic party's success in Colorado this year (something I will now study further.) It is my understanding their success was based in a large part on their hammering away at issues while state Republicans were talking about prayer in school and same sex marriage. So my goal here is to bring attention back to issues that matter in other red states.
If you're curious, chart #2 -- infant mortality by state -- has just gone up at the link above.

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