By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
I think I get it now.
The latest pitiable GOP plan, from what I can tell, goes something like this: To make it all so absurd, to make the remaining Bush administration proposals and doctrines and cultural stratagems so outlandish and silly and degrading and insulting to your mind and your heart and your very own beleaguered genitalia that you cannot help but take note of their existence and laugh and cringe and sit back and go, Oh my God these people have got to be kidding.
At which point (they hope) you will turn to your spouse or your significant other or your dog and say, Hey honey, check this out, did you see the latest moronic and horrible dictum from the Bush administration? We should totally try it, just for kicks!
Then the GOP will gloat and say: See? The world still loves the GOP! Yay us! And then they shall proceed to smack themselves in the face with a brick.
It is the only viable explanation. It is the only way to account for something like, say, the latest twist in the Abstinence Education Program from Bush's increasingly laughable Department of Health and Human Services, a $50 million slice of embarrassing government detritus that is now actually encouraging all states to tell their single, youngish residents that they should -- how to put this so you don't shoot coffee through your nose? -- that everyone should avoid sex entirely, until they turn 30.
See? See your reaction? You are like: No way. You are like: Is the United States government really saying that? You are like: Laughter, a smirk, maybe a shrug and a sigh and a sad shake of the head and another glass of wine because, you know, what the hell is wrong with these people?
Maybe you think I am making this up. Maybe you think that our fair government, as sad and lost and nipple-terrified as it is, can't seriously be suggesting that, to avoid STDs and unwanted pregnancy and unchecked misery in their obviously sad and irresponsible little lives, single people under 30 should not have sex, like, ever. And maybe not even then.
You would, of course, be wrong.
It's for real. It's an actual HHS dictum and there are people who actually believe it should be adhered to, and I'm right now guessing you broke this rule this very morning and if you didn't you really, really wanted to, and if you're over 30 and/or married chances are you are sitting there right now wishing you were still single and/or under 30 just one more time just so you could squishily, juicily break that rule again, oh my God yes please. Just a guess.
Ah, abstinence education. Could there be a more dizzy, glaring example of a first-rate BushCo failure? Could there be a more insulting, demeaning program the sole intention of which appears to be to deceive humanity and undermine every succulent human impulse and shove sexuality back into the 1850s and induce 10 million teens to resent and mistrust adults even more than they already do? Verily I say unto thee, there is not.
To be fair, the HHS says this new rule is just a guideline, not strict dogma. No one actually has to refrain from having sex until they're married or 30, because that would be, you know, silly. Draconian. Talibanian.
Also: Were it actually imposed, everyone in America except perhaps for a few confused evangelicals and most Mormons would not be able to stop laughing -- a side effect that, while it might stop some people from having sex for a few moments, would do very little by way of helping the government scare Americans stupid.
It is enough to make you wonder: Will there ever be, in our lifetime, a president, a Senate subcommittee, a government program that will dare emerge with a sex-positive, unashamed, salacious and delicious new guideline suggesting that we should all get naked as much as possible so long as we work to understand our bodies and enjoy ourselves responsibly and lovingly and respectfully and orgasmically because it shall make the country and the planet a better place?
In other words, will there ever be a time when we can honestly look to the United States government for valid and reasonable and healthy and truly informative, positive information about human sexuality, information that does not embarrass us and humiliate us and insult our libidos the same way Dick Cheney insults sunlight? Do you already know the answer?
I remember Joycelyn Elders. I remember this feisty and outspoken surgeon general, appointed by Clinton back in '93, who dared to suggest, in public, that masturbation is fine and healthy and nothing to worry about and perhaps should be taught to teens as a safer alternative to riskier forms of sex.
The nation blinked. The Christian right, of course, was apoplectic. Clinton was forced to ask Elders for her resignation. Later, on the lecture circuit, Elders famously said, "As long as I was in Washington I never met anybody that I thought was good enough, who knew enough or who loved enough to make sexual decisions for anybody else." And there you have it.
This is what I wonder: I wonder if every administrative lackey who is right now stuck deep in the bowels of HHS and who is assigned to the dissemination of sneering abstinence misinformation, I wonder if they sigh heavily every day, if they stare miserably at the beige government walls, at their buggy Windows terminals, lost in a vague misery, wishing they could have more sex, curious as to where their life went wrong.
I wonder, if you asked them, would you hear the common refrain of those locked in miserable and joyless jobs under the Bush regime? "I have no idea how it came to this. I have no idea how I got here, doing this horrible thing in this horrible place with these miserable people and this awful boss. Every single day, my very soul is being leached through my teeth. What the hell happened to me?"
I believe this is how it must be, tenfold, in the Department of Health and Human Services, Abstinence Division. Among those who are charged with spreading the worst and most debilitating sexual propaganda BushCo has to offer: only misery. Joyless, sexless, unfortunate as the right-wing congressmen who shoved this bitter and lubeless ideology onto their daily plate.
I know, I know, it's all a bit silly. After all, the Bush government is all about restriction, contraction, containment and self-righteousness and pain. They're about as likely to pump out some positive sex vibes as the pope is to offer free condoms in the Vatican gift shop.
But Jesus with a Hitachi Magic Wand, one thing you can reasonably hope for is a government that's at least remotely in touch and relevant, the slightest bit informed about how life really is and hence will stop throwing these obnoxious bones to the gasping sexless Christian right. This is what you hope.
Meanwhile, we're still stuck with the same old questions: Is this really what our government is all about? Will this ever change? Can they really not hear all the derisive laughter?
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