I understand why certain people want to push abstinence in schools

October 9, 2014

When I was in grade 10 (1990) I thought it was weird to see a girl in grade 12 pregnant. I sat beside her in band and it was just …weird. Why does that happen? is probably something I asked myself at the time. I don’t mean “how do babies get made” because I knew that but why didn’t they use protection and avoid the whole risk? Did she really want to start a famiy so young? Made no sense.

By the time I was in university, though, the high school had a daycare running. My mother used to work a few hours a week there. I think I thought it was a little weird then, too, but if you have high-school age moms, isn’t it smart to have a day care at the school so they can finish grade 12? Or 11? Or 10? or whatever..

I wasn’t sexual in school. Not by a long shot. I had very tame crushes on a few of the boys in my class but would have been mortified if any of them talked to me or noticed I was interested. I fantasized about holding their hands and having dates like in the song Palisades Park.

There were a few girls who — going by rumours anyway — were active enough sexually to have rumours flying, though. I remember there being one girl in grade eight or nine who supposedly was out of school on account of her intestines collapsing, but everyone I knew who talked about her said it was an abortion. I don’t even know if I knew what that was at the time. (I don’t know if I caught that bit the first time I watched Dirty Dancing, either. Young Minion: synonymous with clueless.)

In grade seven there were rumours about a new girl at the school who’d gotten pregnant and given the kid up for adoption or something. (At the time I thought just sitting on a boy’s lap was enough to make pregnancy happen and got slightly scared when my period was late one time…)

There was another girl in junior high whose nickname was “the wiener lady” because she’d supposedly experimented with certain processed meats and had an emergency hospital visit. I was still friends with her at the time and never did ask if any of the rumours were true. I think it was just a case of her being a bit weird and people creating a story to add to her weirdness.

Long lead up, but here’s the story from way back in July 2014: Edmonton school board drops abstinence-based sex ed after complaint

Eighteen-year-old Emily Dawson and her mother Kathy have filed a human rights complaint over a workshop that the Edmonton Pregnancy Care Centre put on at McNally High School last year, which she says misled students about contraception, sexually transmitted infections and other issues in an effort to push abstinence.

“That was highly disappointing,” Dawson told CBC News.

Phone calls, emails and social media comments in response to media reports about the Dawsons’ complaint prompted board officials to make the change.

“We’re getting a significant (amount) of push back on the group, in terms of the program that they’re offering in our schools,” said Lorne Parker, acting superintendent with Edmonton Public Schools.

I would hope so. Abstinence doesn’t work and it’s been proven time and time again to not work. But, schools like this still continue to push it as the only proper way to deal with teenage sexuality and do a great disservice to their students and the community at large.

The flaws in this strategy have been making headlines since at least 2007:

For the report, Christopher Trenholm and colleagues at Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. interviewed more than 2,000 teenagers with an average age of 16 1/2. They lived in rural and urban communities in Florida, Wisconsin, Mississippi and Virginia.

About 1,200 of them had taken part in abstinence-only education programs four to six years before.

“Over the last 12 months, 23 percent of both groups reported having had sex and always using a condom; 17 percent of both groups reported having had sex and only sometimes using a condom; and 4 percent of both groups reported having had sex and never using a condom,” the researchers wrote.

Abstinence-only sex-ed made little difference in terms of likely sexual encounters.

And we can go further back using studies published in 2014:

A new report on Mississippi’s sex education programs highlights how disastrous the state’s approach to teen sexuality has been over the past decade. The report, produced by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), notes that Mississippi has consistently had some of the worst sexual health indicators in the country. The state has the second highest rate of teen pregnancies, the second highest rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia infections, and the seventh highest rate of HIV infections.

It’s a far better idea to lay the facts out there, offer up the birth control options and just admit that kids are gonna do it so they ought to do it safely.


Update to the posing with Jesus story

October 8, 2014

I wrote about this back in August so it was nice to see an update to the story about the 14 year old boy who posed with a Jesus statue and made it look like he was getting a blow job. He’s banned from social media for a while and has 350 hours of community service to complete.

Among the other punishments, he must obey a curfew of 10 p.m., no alcohol or other controlled substances monitored by random drug testing and stay in school.

District Attorney Bill Higgins presented the decree to the court.

After accepting the agreement and while settling the number of community service hours, Judge Ling focused on the religious rights of Love in the Name of Christ, noting that the juvenile’s actions infringed upon their rights to practice their faith.

I bold the bit that makes no sense. He didn’t storm their church and shoot everyone who tried to pray to Jesus or tie them up and take all their bibles away. He posed outside on the lawn for a stupid picture. How does posing for a picture get in the way of their right to worship? Explain that to me.

Upon successful completion of these terms and conditions, his case will be dismissed and the juvenile will have no criminal record.

Personally, I think it should have been tossed out of court from the get-go with a “don’t be that stupid again” warning as he went out the door.

“I know that there are many groups that say this case is about religious rights, and quite frankly, they are right,” said Higgins in a written statement. “But it is the religious rights of the Christian organization that owns the statue and has placed it for display on their private property that have been implicated. They have every right to practice their faith unmolested. In American [sic], we all enjoy the right to freedom of expression and the freedom to practice our religious beliefs without interference, but that right ends where those same rights of another begin.”

Get him for trespassing on private property, maybe, but his behaviour did not infringe on anyone’s rights to worship. He was just doing a stupid thing and took pictures of himself doing it. He did not molest parishioners, he posed with a statue.

Maybe they should have considered the possibility of it being mistreated before sticking it out there. Maybe it could have been on a higher, less easy to access pedestal, or a design that wouldn’t give people these kinds of kinky notions. People are weird.

Off topic a bit, I’m amused by churches that use their billboards to advertise their faiths but choose the weirdest sexual innuendos by which to do it.

Archbishop caught with child porn videos

September 29, 2014

Over 100,000 of them.

A former Vatican archbishop accused of paedophilia stored tens of thousands of child porn videos and photos on a computer in his office at the Holy See diplomatic compound in the Dominican Republic, it has emerged.

Details of Jozef Wesolowski’s massive child porn stash have been revealed after the 66-year-old was arrested at the Vatican earlier this week.

He is the highest-ranking Vatican official ever to be investigated for sex abuse, and the first top papal representative to receive a defrocking sentence. He has been charged with sexually abusing minors and child porn possession and might face up to seven years in the Vatican’s tiny jail.

I wonder how many years it took him to get that many videos onto his work computer.

Some 160 videos showing teenage boys forced to perform sexual acts on themselves and on adults and more than 86,000 pornographic photos were meticulously archived in several category-based folders, the paper said.

Investigators said that at least another 45,000 pictures were deleted, while a second stash of material was found on a laptop Wesolowski used during his trips abroad.

Holy Allah on a dress, Batman! Book ’em, Danno!

September 12, 2014

That’s how seriously I take this case. I can make bad jokes about it.

Sadly, it’s no joke. Salman Khan of Bollywood fame runs a non-profit organization in India called Being Human. The website isn’t well designed but it advertises that whatever money he earns through the site will be donated to really good causes. The NPO recently organized a fashion show to raise funds and this is what generates the news story. One of the models went down the runway in a dress with Arabic script on it that spelled out the word Allah.

Not being Muslim, I don’t give a crap. Muslims there, though, got very irate over it so the police came to collect Salman Khan and book him under under IPC Section 295A:

deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs

I don’t know if the dress was chosen to deliberately outrage anyone or if it’s merely incidental. The dress is kind of neat, actually, but perhaps could have been made without Allah printed on the fabric. Why put it there in the first place?

Investigating Officer Dilip Chavan said the police are probing the case.

“We are investigating the case. The complainant has provided a video clipping of the fashion show,” the report quoted the police officer as saying.

If the point of all this was to drum up some PR for the Being Human project or something, then mission weirdly accomplished.

“Why are you in jail?” “I posed for a picture with Jesus…”

September 12, 2014

“… and made it look like oral sex.”

It’s totally immature, but is it worth criminalizing him for it?

A Pennsylvania teenager is facing criminal charges after posting pictures to Facebook of him simulating a sex act with a statue of Jesus.

The young man posted that he took the pictures in late July at the statue of a kneeling Jesus in front of the “Love in the Name of Christ” Christian organization in his hometown of Everett.

The criminal charge, which will be heard in family court, consists of “Desecration of a Venerated Object.”

Pennsylvania law defines desecration as “Defacing, damaging, polluting or otherwise, physically mistreating in a way that the actor knows will outrage the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or discover the action.”

The teen, whose name has not been released, could face up to two years in a juvenile jail if convicted.


JT Eberhard at Patheos looked up the penalties for vandalism in Pennsylvania and this is over the top.

a 14 year-old does something stupid that causes literally zero property damage and he could face two years in juvenile jail because it’s a “venerated object”? That’s insane. That’s really ludicrous.

If he had spray-painted the statue, I’d be all for charging him. If he had done any damage, he should be punished in accordance with the damage done. Hell, I even think a slap on the wrist for trespassing could be appropriate. But fucking with a kid’s life for being immature at an age when pretty much everybody is immature is petty, vindictive bullshit. This law about venerated objects needs to be challenged and unmade, and I hope this case can be a vehicle for that.

Hopes going on here, too. This is clearly brought about by hurt feelings and easily offended locals who just don’t see it as funny. I see it as funny. I think the picture is one of the funnier things I’ve seen lately, and I’ve scrolled through the pictures of Satan with an erection. All of them I could find.

As an update to my previous post about that, apparently there’s a petition up now to ask for the statue to be put up again.

The petition, called ‘Bring the Giant Satan-With-An-Erection Statue Back to East Vancouver‘, has more than 1,000 signatures already. It was created by Darryl Greer and mentions that if the city can install a statue of a porcelain dog on Main Street with a price tag of almost $100,000, it can install a statue of Satan with no cost to taxpayers.

Although the poodle has admitted it is jealous of the statue

Click the link to read the amusing Twitter quip made on the fake dog’s behalf.

Posing with statues is something people do and get their pictures taken doing it. If they can make it somehow sexually suggestive, they will. It’s fun for all ages, too.

Not the original point of the art when put out in the world to see, but people are innovative and funny like that. These days it seems everyone has a camera and it seems everyone has access to quick internet uploading of the pictures they take whether they’re quality shots or absolute crap.

I say sorry that the boy picked your Jesus statue to pose with but it was at just the right height for his pubic public stunt to work. Had it not been there, he couldn’t have done it.

And let us all give thanks to the Flying Spaghetti Monster above for the fact that he kept his clothes on. Other might not have, like this man who stripped and climbed onto the head of the Duke of Cambridge and this woman who recently gave a naked hug to Nelson Mandela.

I wonder how effective “Don’t Say the Pledge” will be.

September 11, 2014

Being Canadian, I can’t quote any part of the Pledge of Allegiance without looking it up. (Thanks, Wikipedia, for the rundown of how many times the Pledge has changed over the years, and when.)

On Monday, Sept. 8th, the American Humanist Association started this movement to urge people to remain seated during the pledge as a means of protesting the inclusion of the words “under God,” which were added to the pledge in 1954. The Knights of Columbus (via the wiki page: “the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization”) came up with the idea to add it a few years earlier and the idea caught on like wildfire. They claim they got it from a line in the Gettysburg address but in 2004 a linguist named Geoffrey Nunberg suggests they did it wrong. Amusing if true.

The original supporters of the addition thought that they were simply quoting Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. However, Nunberg said that to Lincoln and his contemporaries, “under God” meant “God willing” and they would have found its use in the Pledge of Allegiance ungrammatical.

Though not all manuscript versions of the Gettysburg Address contain the words “under God”, all the reporters’ transcripts of the speech as delivered do, as perhaps Lincoln may have deviated from his prepared text and inserted the phrase when he said “that the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom.”

Onto the Don’t Say the Pledge website:

With “under God” added, the Pledge is not a statement of patriotism. Instead, extremist preachers and politicians point to the language to validate their view that those who don’t believe in God don’t belong.

Until the Pledge is restored to its inclusive version, we can take it upon ourselves to refuse to participate in what’s become a discriminatory exercise. (Note: A Supreme Court case – West Virginia vs. Barnette –gives public school students the absolute right to sit out the Pledge, for any reason. Public schools might not tell you about this right, but if anyone questions you about sitting out the Pledge, contact the AHA’s Legal Center.)

The Wikipedia article touches on that, too. Part of it centered around Jehovah’s Witnesses and their belief that standing for the flag was akin to idolatry and thus forbidden in their faith. First the courts wanted to force the kids to stand and pledge but later rulings reversed that decision.

Probably a lot of people would rather sit than stand for this pledge but stand because they fear judgment from peers and authority figures.

On the god and Canada side of things, our national anthem mentions “God keep our land, glorious and free” and there have been murmers around about wanting to edit God out of that line. On Canada Day (July 1st, you foreigners) a 9 year old made a name for herself by replacing God with Please in her version. It did not go over well if this report can be believed.

Her father explains Selaena’s reasoning to sing “please” as follows:

She wanted to be inclusive, given that her and a lot of her friends don’t even know what ‘god’ is. My children are secular and neutral – free to make up their own minds when they are old enough to do so.

But, this alteration of the anthem led to organizers cancelling Selaena’s performance at a festival later in the month.

I realize that many people are offended by the removal of the word ‘god’ from the anthem, but they too must realize that in our multicultural society, the millions of Canadians that do not recognize any god or gods are equally offended by its inclusion. It was for this reason alone that my children have always sung the anthem this way – my daughter didn’t think she was doing anything that would be considered wrong. This will be my fight to have with the government, and has nothing to do with my daughter nor the CCC Festival.

It’s unlikely we’ll get God out of the anthem any time soon. In 2010 requests were made to change the lyrics, “true patriot love in all thy sons command,” to something less man-centric.

“We offered to hear from Canadians on this issue and they have already spoken loud and clear. They overwhelmingly do not want to open the issue,” said Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office. “The government will not proceed any further to change our national anthem.”

If we ever get rid of Harper, maybe we can try again…

Public parks should not endorse religion says FFRF yet again

September 4, 2014

A sculpture to honor World War II vets is set to be placed in an Indiana State park but the Freedom From Religion Foundation wants it know that creating a sculpture including the shape of a cross within it isn’t very inclusive to the faiths (and lack) of all soldiers who died for the country. Govorner Mike Pence will, of course, fight for its right to be there.

The Wisconsin-based atheist group last month sent a letter to Clark telling him that a cross attached to a new war veterans memorial statue has no place at the park. The park, about 80 miles east of Indianapolis, was formed in 1949 and dedicated to World War II veterans from Union, Wayne, Fayette and Franklin counties in east Central Indiana.

The 14-inch, white-painted cross is at the bottom of an 8-foot-tall wooden chainsaw-carved statue. At the top of the statue is a bald eagle perched above lettering that says, “All gave some; Some gave all.” One side of the eagle’s perch is an Indiana state flag. On the other side is a soldier.

“No secular purpose, no matter how sincere, will detract from the overall message that the Latin cross stands for Christianity and the overall display promotes Christianity,” Markert wrote.

That being Rebecca Markert, the FFRF’s attorney who couldn’t be reached for comment at the time. There’s rumor that the FFRF was considering serious legal action.

The debate over the cross erupted earlier this summer when a Liberty man sent a letter to the DNR after he saw the statue on display at the park because he thought the cross amounted to a government-sponsored “religious shrine.”

Veterans’ groups and other residents donated money to pay for the carved memorial. No taxpayer funds were used for the carving, which was donated to the park.

And it does look like a religious shrine to my eyes. The religious patriotism is well evident within the design.


The sculpture could honour everyone if the cross was removed. This way it really looks like it’s sponsoring the very incorrect notion that only Christians fought in the war. The only way this would be fair is if every other faith got to put up a statue honouring their fallen soldiers, too. There were Jewish soldiers, Wikipedia mentions:

During World War II, approximately 500,000 American Jews served in the various branches of the United States armed services. Roughly 52,000 of these received U.S. military awards.[29] The historian Solomon Grayzel, in A History of the Jews: From the Babylonian Exile to the Present, records that more than a million Jews were officially enrolled in the fighting forces of the Allies and that the largest number were Jewish Americans. Grayzel gives a number of 550,000 Jews in military service in the United States during World War II out of a total population of 4,770,000 American Jews.[30][31]

Nobody would ever say a star of David is all inclusive, so how can a cross be?