Thursday, June 24, 2010

Special form of the general law

Judith Levine, Harmful to Minors, pages 102-3, emphasis mine:
Following the implementation of the [sex ed funding rules in the Clinton-era welfare "reform" legislation], a study of 659 African American Philadelphia sixth- and seventh-graders, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, returned the same verdict. A year after the classes, the kids who had undergone an abstinence-only program were engaging in intercourse in the same numbers (about a fifth) as kids who had received lessons stressing condom use, with the dangerous difference that the first group hadn't been taught anything about safe sex. "It is difficult to understand the logic behind the decision to earmark funds specifically for abstinence programs," commented JAMA's editors. ...

If it is difficult to understand the logic behind abstinence-only policy, it may be instructive to know that its proponents were proudly unswayed by logic. Although the law's impetus came in part from the continuing concern over nonmarital births, the House staffers who worked on the legislation admitted, in the commentary circulated in Congress, that "there is little evidence...that any particular policy or program will reduce the frequency of non-marital births." Now, this is not true; any number of policies, from contraceptive education to college scholarships for women, can reduce the frequency of nonmarital teen births. But the welfare law was not really intended to reduce teen births anyway.
Levine goes on to imply that the law was intended to make a statement that the Congress was on the side of social conservatism; I would argue instead that it was intended as a form of class-based social control.

Regardless, though, she makes a point that is important to remember: our Leaders neither form nor market policy based on what "logically" will accomplish what they claim in public to be trying to do.

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