Monday, May 7, 2012
Gateway to Absurdity
State law criminalizes “gateway sexual activity.”
It’s the gateway to hell and perdition, that’s what it is. It doesn’t necessarily lead to drugs but it will drag you in the direction of Ess Eee Exx. And while sex is probably not addictive in the traditional sense, it is always and inevitably very bad when unaccompanied by marriage and the procreative urge.
Like anthropology’s search for the “missing link,” or the physicist’s search for a “unified field theory,” psychologists and social workers have spent decades hunting for the mythical gateway drug. This is the drug that, when used regularly, will head you reliably down the path of full-blown addiction. The findings of addiction medicine now make the identification of any kind of universal gateway drug an antique pursuit. Every addict finds his or her own gateway, and pushes through. If any drugs qualify as gateway drugs in a broad sense, it would have to be alcohol and tobacco, simply on the basis of ready availability.
But a gateway for full-blown recreational teenage sex—did you ever think about that? One might have thought the legislators would answer, yes, it’s called puberty, and move on. But no. The Tennessee legislature, led by Rep. Jim Gotto (R), managed to push through a bill “allowing parents to sue teachers and other outside parties for ‘promoting or condoning gateway sexual activity’ by students.”
Interestingly, the bill apparently fails to define such activity in concrete terms. Evidently, Rep. Gotto has attempted to outlaw “first base.” Or, as TPMMuckraker put it, “other things.” Gateway sexual activity is defined, according to what I shall dub the bill’s "money" sentence, “sexual conduct encouraging an individual to engage in a non-abstinent behavior.” Okay, then. Earnest glances, hair tossing, hand holding—all potentially actionable, should any sex ed teachers be caught “promoting” such activities.
And not without reason: According to data released last month by the National Center for Health Statistics, the states with the highest teen birth rate in 2010 include Tennessee, which ranked 10th worst with 43.2 births per 1,000 teenage girls. And according to a 2009 risk behavior study in Memphis City, 61 percent of high school students have had sex, along with 27 percent of middle school students, putting Memphis City, and by extension Tennessee, considerably above the national average.
Apparently, the real target here is Planned Parenthood, which has been known to provide sex education information in Tennessee schools, and which would be facing fines and penalties under the new law. The bill calls for abstinence-only instruction.
Photo Credit: http://cbcpforlife.com/?p=4277