Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Lights Out, Man on Top, and Don't Enjoy It
Our American theocracy is marching on this morning. The Bush Administration is out with new guidelines for organizations seeking grants to fund abstinence-education programs. To get money, programs must define abstinence as "voluntarily choosing not to engage in sexual activity until marriage. Sexual activity refers to any type of genital contact or sexual stimulation between two persons including, but not limited to, sexual intercourse." (The way I read it, that means threesomes are OK, but that's probably not what they mean.) The programs must also define marriage as "only a legal union between one man and one woman as a husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife. (Consistent with Federal law)"

So this means, as Think Progress put it yesterday, gay people must be celibate. But it seems to me that the regulations also say that heterosexuals of any age must not boink one another without the benefit of clergy, either. The anti-gay stink of the guidelines aside, their focus on the proper place for sexual activity is utterly removed from reality. In America, marriage has never been a requirement for people to have sex. Not in the 1950s, not in the 1920s, not in the 1860s, not in 1776 or 1620 or 1492. By trying to shove this definition down the throats of American schoolchildren, the American Taliban are trying to do what the Puritans couldn't.

We can see in these guidelines the looming shape of a more distant wingnut goal. During the confirmation hearings for Chief Justice Roberts last year, a lot of pixels and ink were spilled over his belief in a Constitutional right to privacy. One of the cases on which the right to privacy rests is Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972), which established the right of unmarried couples to possess contraceptives--the same right established for married couples in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). These guidelines, even though they're only for abstinence education programs at the moment, represent some sort of wingnut utopia--and it would clearly be a utopia where Eisenstadt is overturned. (The harder nuts wouldn't mind seeing Griswold tossed out, too, in the name of making sex entirely about babies. A year ago, I speculated that this was unlikely--but now I'm not so sure.)

Recommended Listening: I've written here and here in the last week about the need for popular music that addresses the political realities we live in, as popular music so often did in the 1960s. This record, by Pink featuring the Indigo Girls, is as fine an example as we're likely to get. As blunt as it is, few radio stations will have the stones to play it, but that's what the Internet is for. Disseminate it widely, please.

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