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June 13, 2007

Outrage In Boulder: Students Encouraged By School Speaker To Have Sex, Do Drugs "Appropriately"

Boulder, Colorado. Go figure.

No, Dave Kopel isn't a left-winger, but I do think he is, as O'Reilly says (and I can't believe I'm writing this) an "S-P." How can he be anything else and yet defend the Boulder school system?

Kopel slams O'Reilly for taking comments supposedly out of context. I don't know about you, but I have trouble imaging what possible context could rescue these comments from the category of "grossly irresponsible suggestions that high school students have sex and take drugs."

Even if the transcript does include a warning that condoms should be used, it can't help but be noticed the guy's delighting in telling kids how awful condoms are, and really, how much better sex is without one. Hey, you're preaching to the choir, buddy; and yet I don't think this is a very good message for kids who really oughtn't be having sex anyway. It's like one of those old High School Confidential type magazines in the fifties, where a salacious storyline of sex and drug use by a "bad girl" passed censorship standards by including a halfhearted moral at the end (the bad girl sees the error of her ways, whatever). That sort of tacked-on moral -- which everyone ignored in the fifties too; hey, people weren't reading these salacious books for the strong moral teaching contained in the concluding paragraph -- really don't offset the main message: Sex is fun; sex with condoms is less fun; drugs are fun; cool people have sex and do drugs.

I've seen these sorts of cats in high school -- basically they're just out of high school themselves, maybe a couple of years out of college, tops, and sort of get off on the power trip and ego-stroke of being able to talk to young people about all sorts of forbidden topics, speaking, as they do, from a place of greater experience. I had a substitute teacher, right out ofo college, come in to health class and tell us about the night a chick in his dorm "pulled a train" -- i.e., indulged in a full-dorm gang-bang, all comers served -- and we all just thought he was too cool for telling us all about it.

In fact, he was a douchebag loser, thinking he was all high and mighty because he could speak authoritatively about sex to a group of kids who had precious little experience in that regard. (I should note that his tone was much more sedate and down than the guys in Boulder -- he had a somewhat-sorrowful tone as he told us of the long line outside the girl's dormroom -- who are downright gleeful about underage sex and drug usage.)

Encouraging same-sex "experimentation" as "natural" is just the cherry on the sundae.

Kopel says it's up the parents of Boulder high school students to decide if a school should be telling kids to have sex (hey, condoms suck, man!) and do drugs (at least take drugs "appropriately," whatever that means). And yet he concedes that the Boulder high school system did not inform parents or students they could opt-out of this repulsive panel -- so how can Kopel claim that parents were able to exercise their rights to raise their children the way they would like in this case?

And frankly, if Boulder parents want to teach their own kids to have sex at age 14 and do drugs, they can do so in the privacy of their own homes; they hardly need the state's assistance in this regard, do they?

After all, if you're going to be a Cool Dad or Cool Mom who encourages your kids to have sex and do drugs, don't you want the credit of being a Cool Parent? Why let the Boulder High School System steal your Coolness Thunder?

Meanwhile, for the rest of the kids whose parents might not quite be on-board with the Sex, Drugs, & School Spirit program promulgated by Boulder high school administrators, they still know -- kids talk -- that the official adminstrative suggestion coming from school authorities is that only geeks and losers and Jesus freaks don't fuck and smoke hash.

I'm so tired of the attitude of people like Kopel, who insist (as Bill Maher noted) that children are actually just "Li'l Adults," who can and should be "trusted to make their own decisions" about sex and drugs. Well, as a practical matter, they will be making all such decisions themselves; no parent can keep track of his child's every movement.

But forgive us "censorious" conservative troglodytes, Mr. Kopel, if we happen to believe that the official message that should be communicated to underage children is that sex is something that can wait and drugs are something to be avoided.

In Fairness: Kopel makes at least one decent point -- in context, the condoms-suck message is indeed part of a warning to use condoms.

Whether or ot the warning is effective given his quite-true statements about how godawful condoms are is another story entirely.

Here's at least one place where Kopel goes off the rails into pettifogging apologism:

As oft-played on O’Reilly and C&S, Prof. Joel Becker began:
I’m going to dovetail off a little bit of what Andee said, but I think I’m going to go in a little bit of a different direction, because I’m going to encourage you to have sex, and I’m going to encourage you to use drugs appropriately. (applause and cheering from audience) And why I’m going to take that position is because you’re going to do it anyway. So, my, my approach to this is to be realistic, and I think as a psychologist and a health educator, it’s more important to educate you in a direction that you might actually stick to. So I want to, I’m going to stay mostly today talking about the sex side, because that’s the area I know more about.

Becker’s particular remarks on safe sex consisted of the dangers of having sex under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and a warning against have sex before one is emotionally ready. Yet Caplis & Silverman wrongly claimed “They encourage the kids to drink, do drugs, and have sex all at the same time.”

He provided some examples about 14-year-olds to illustrate his point about not being emotionally ready. The largest part of his presentation consisted of encouraging masturbation as an alternative to having intercourse or oral sex with someone else. This discussion was offensive, ignorant, and religiously bigoted. It was another example of how the panel was undermined by its lack of balance. It was also another example of the type of material for which parental consent should have been sought in advance, and the many parents who would object should have been given the opportunity to say no.

Becker undercut his own point about “you’re going to do it anyway” by citing a survey showing that a third of Boulder High students had had sex—which of course implies that most do not. But the crucial missing context comes in the final Q&A from a student. Student Daphne White:

…Mr. Becker, you discredited abstinence, and this is something that a lot of people feel very strongly about, and I just want everyone to know that there are two sides to the argument, even though this has been fairly one-sided. And also, I noticed that you were taking some of these serious issues to be humorous, and I think that, if anything, kind of encouraging teens to kind of the opposite of what I thought this panel was supposed to be about, encouraging teens to be abstinent.

Panelist Andee Gerhardt then said, “I personally want to thank you for being brave enough to do that. I don’t know that I would have ever been brave enough to do that, so I think you should give—feel really good about that.”

Becker then answered:

I would second that opinion, and even though I think you may have thought that I was—what did you say, something about abstinence—I actually tried discrediting it? I wasn’t discrediting it. In fact, I started by saying, I’m not telling you whether you should or you shouldn’t choose abstinence; I just think if you choose abstinence, it doesn’t obviate your need to still be educated about sex...

Becker gave himself too much credit, because the most reasonable meaning of his opening words was to discredit abstinence. But once Becker realized that his ill-chosen opening words had been construed to discredit abstinence, he specifically affirmed the validity of abstinence as a personal choice.

To play Becker’s opening remarks, without also playing (or at least summarizing) his subsequent explanation of what he meant to say is incomplete and misleading. Again, I think that White’s interpretation of the meaning conveyed by Becker’s opening words is more persuasive than Becker’s own interpretation. But Becker did specifically repudiate the message he had wrongly conveyed, though poorly-chosen words, about abstinence.

Remember, Kopel is defending Becker and the Boulder HS system, and this is the best he can come up with. He acknowleges Becker did in fact encourage sex and drug use in teens -- but claims it's "misleading" to state he opened with this exact, admitted exhortion, because later, after being chastised by a student for so grossly crossing the line, he halfheartedly acknowleges abstinece is also an option.

Just not a particularly good one, it seems, or else he would not have "encourage[d]" (his words) students to have sex and do drugs.

Right, Kopel. "Misleading." Because he bends to a pissed-off student's rapping of him for encouraging sex and drug use to even acknowlege that other kids (dweebs, losers, Jesus-freaks) may choose to do differently. Because he realizes that he has crossed the line -- badly -- when a student objects to his enthusiastic championing of sex and drugs and tacks back away slightly, it's "misleading" to say he encouraged kids to smoke hash and fuck.

That's Kopel's big defense of this guy -- that when cornered by a student, he allows for the acceptability of not doing drugs or having sex while underage and unmarried. Doesn't bring that up himself -- merely acknowleges that it's a possible path that some (misfits, dolts, cowards) may choose, after braggin' on how great sex, masturbation, and drugs are for fifteeen minutes.

Gee-- he says kids are allowed to not have sex or do drugs when pressed on the point by a student! What a positive social message!

Mr. Kopel -- if that student had not been so brave to bring up the slim possibility of avoiding sex and drugs, would Prof. Becker have mentioned it at all?

You concede implicitly he would not have -- so how the fuck is it "misleading" to note, quite properly, that the main point of his little pep talk was to encourage kids to have sex and do drugs "appropriately"?


Kopel Is Himself "Misleading" And Quoting Selectively: Even as he reports Becker's comments, they're awful. Yes, he allows for the possibility of teenagers choosing not to have sex or do drugs when cornered into allowing for this.

But check out the rest of his quote about this option -- nicely buried by Kopel in a footnote:

I also think that—I’m so glad to hear the student body clap for this young woman, because I see that you have respect for a person who has views different than you, and you’re saying that this is this girl’s choice to make. One of the things I’m afraid happens in the religious movement is they don’t give the same choice to other people. They try to tell other people that what they’re doing is right, and what these people are doing is wrong. That’s my issue. I think you’re very right for you.

Kopel acknowleges himself in the footnote this is "anti-religious" and "fatuous," and that Beckel ought to have stopped himself from talking earlier in his allowance that kids aren't required to have sex and do drugs. One point to Kopel for including it all; but nine demerits for hiding it away in a footnote.

But check out the condescension. And check out the main message: Only brainwashed Jesus freaks don't do drugs and have sex. People who believe in "choice" and "thinking for themselves" will of course opt to do these things. But, Young Stupid Christian Sheep-Girl, your stupid moronic Victorian choice is fine... for you. And other braindead cowards who bury their heads in the sand about the joys of sex and mind-expanding drugs.

Who the hell would want you to reproduce anyway? And when a stupid Jesus-Bot like you gets pregant, she stays pregnant, unfortunately, refusing to use abortion clinics "appropriately."

Yeah. "Misleading." O'Reilly's really misrepresenting the tenor and thrust of Bekcer's speech, huh?


Instapundit... took Kopel's side in this, by the way. But I can't imagine he read Kopel's woeful defense.

I think he just took a look at the parties in the dispute -- Kopel and O'Reilly -- and guessed that Kople was the reasonable, rational one, and O'Reilly the pandering idiot.

That would be a good guess -- 9 out of ten times.

But this would be that tenth time.


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posted by Ace at 08:48 PM

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