Dispatches from the Creation Wars

That Religious Right Logic

So I’m flipping the channels and I come across the 700 Club and Pat Robertson is talking about how there’s too much sex on television and saying this is why our teenagers are having sex (right, because we never would have thought about sex as teenagers without watching Melrose Place). He referred to some anonymous TV executive he allegedly heard once say that sex on TV was planned because it brought in young viewers and advertisers liked young viewers.

Then he mentioned that the rate of teen pregnancy in the US was higher than any other industrialized nation, in some case two or three times as high. And this apparently is where he forgot completely how to think logically (if he ever knew how in the first place). Okay Pat, let’s think about this. Are the TV shows in the rest of the industrialized world less sexy than ours? Nope. In fact, they’re generally more permissive than American TV, which is considered rather prudish by most of Europe. So the nations with more sex on TV have lower rates of teen pregnancy than us. Sounds like teen pregnancy isn’t caused by sex on TV, doesn’t it?

Now let’s go one step further, Pat. What does virtually every nation in the industrialized world have that the US doesn’t? Truly comprehensive sex education. In most of Europe, particularly Northern Europe, sex education includes birth control, pregnancy testing and STD testing, and all both free and anonymous. And all of those nations have rates of teen pregnancy, abortions and STDs that are less than half the rate in the US; in the Netherlands, the rate is a full 7 times lower. So maybe, just maybe, if we stopped obsessing over sex on TV and made sure that all teenagers had access to comprehensive birth control, we could not only cut the rate of teen pregnancy, but we could drastically reduce the number of abortions you seem so concerned about. Isn’t logic wonderful, Pat?

Comments

  1. #1 Mark Paris
    April 6, 2006

    Yes, but if we taught teenagers about safe sex, they would have more sex and more sex means more fun. And Pat would hate for someone to have that kind of fun when he didn’t get to have it.

  2. #2 Ed Brayton
    April 6, 2006

    One of the most fascinating statistics in this area is that teenagers in the Netherlands, despite the generally permissive culture and free birth control, on average start having sex a full two years later than American teenagers.

  3. #3 Roman Werpachowski
    April 6, 2006

    It’s simple. When something is well known it also less fascinating and it easier to convince oneself as a teenager that “it’s not yet the time”.

    Anyway, I think there is too much sex in the commercials, at least in Poland. I mean, even banks use sex to advertise. Do they think people think with their gonads all the time?

  4. #4 wheatdogg
    April 6, 2006

    At various times in history, the waltz was scandalous, Elvis was obscene, comic books corrupted youth and married couples on TV never shared their beds. All were suppressed, yet eventually became “main stream.” The nation still stands.

    Robertson has called for the assassination of a foreign leader, invoked divine retribution for the near fatal illness of another, and equated Muslims with satanists. Yet Chavez is still in power, Sharon is hanging on by a thread, and Muslims still walk the Earth.

    So, who cares what PatRob thinks or says? If he’s got a direct line to God, he needs to get a new cell phone provider. The message is getting garbled.

  5. #5 Roman Werpachowski
    April 6, 2006

    So, who cares what PatRob thinks or says? If he’s got a direct line to God, he needs to get a new cell phone provider. The message is getting garbled.

    I think the concern is not with what God will do after listening to Mr Robertson but with the people who believe him.

  6. #6 djsnyder
    April 6, 2006

    Ed, I’ll be in the Netherlands for the month of May. Let me know if you need additional research!

    Dave Snyder

  7. #7 Roger Tang
    April 6, 2006

    That Netherlands fact reminds me….There’s been studies done in THIS country that teens taught a comprehensive sex education program engage in fewer risky sexual behaviors AND in fewer sexual activities than those in abstinence only programs.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, the Religious Right believes in security through obscurity. And we all know how that works out in other areas of life….

  8. #8 Ed Brayton
    April 6, 2006

    Dave Snyder wrote:

    Ed, I’ll be in the Netherlands for the month of May. Let me know if you need additional research!

    Now Dave, I don’t think your wife will allow that kind of research, not even in her overly permissive native land. :)

  9. #9 djsnyder
    April 6, 2006

    What happens in Dutchie-land stays in Dutchie-land . . .

  10. #10 Raging Bee
    April 6, 2006

    As I’ve said elsewhere, the Religious Right believes in security through obscurity. And we all know how that works out in other areas of life….

    We do indeed. Which is why we don’t apply it in other areas of life. “Teaching kids to drive will make reckless driving safer and thus encourage reckless driving” doesn’t sound all that convincing, does it?

  11. #11 steve s
    April 6, 2006

    Teaching kids how to extinguish fires just encourages them to start fires.

    That’s some high-octane tard logic there.

  12. #12 386sx
    April 6, 2006

    What does virtually every nation in the industrialized world have that the US doesn’t?

    A secular education system.

    Isn’t logic wonderful, Pat?

    No, not for him, because Pat wants “more God in our schools”. Gee thanks for your help, Pat!

  13. #13 CanuckRob
    April 6, 2006

    It is not about protecting teens (or women in general) it is all about controlling what everyone else thinks and does. If the anti-humanist religous right really cared about saving people (whatever that means)they would use the experiences of other nations and of their own social scientists to find solutins that work. Instead they try to force child birth on women, to tell women thay can only have sex to procreate (seems like it’s fine for guys to screw around, just ask Bakker et al) all in the name of control and power and they use silly superstitions that no one is allowed to criticize to achieve it. They understand that providing good inforamtion to people, whether birth control or evolution, shows them up to be hate-filled hypocrites. By forcing their foul agenda on the rest of you through their intimidatin of politicians they seek to prevent the light of reason from shining into the dark holes of supersition.

  14. #14 Jim Ramsey
    April 6, 2006

    With apologies to “The Fantastiks” and thank you Google!

    Why did the kids put beans in their ears?
    No one can hear with beans in their ears.
    After a while the reason appears.
    They did it cause we said NO!

    Clearly we pick a policy, e.g. abstinence only, to get votes. The fact that it doesn’t work is irrelevent.

  15. #15 Corkscrew
    April 6, 2006

    What does virtually every nation in the industrialized world have that the US doesn’t?

    A secular education system.”

    I’m a brit, so from my point of view that’s almost precisely the wrong way round.

    What’s really interesting is that in my experience the very generic, dull approach to religious worship taken in school assemblies is actually more destructive to religion than a completely secular education. I guess it gives people the impression that they’re not missing out on much.

  16. #16 Ian Gibson
    April 6, 2006

    So I’m flipping the channels and I come across the 700 Club and Pat Robertson

    Remember kids – don’t get too smug. This could happen to any one of us. The only 100% safe thing to do is to abstain from channel-hopping..

  17. #17 blogista
    April 6, 2006

    “So, who cares what PatRob thinks or says?”

    About a gazillion wingnuts… Lawmakers… School Boards… Politicians….

  18. #18 Martin Striz
    April 6, 2006

    One of the most fascinating statistics in this area is that teenagers in the Netherlands, despite the generally permissive culture and free birth control, on average start having sex a full two years later than American teenagers.

    Well, they have all those fun drugs to keep them busy. And before you pull out the statistic that people over there actually smoke less pot than in the US, I know, I was only kidding.

  19. #19 Ick of the East
    April 7, 2006

    It should also be mentioned that the American teen pregnancy rate has been steadily declining and was quite a bit higher in the Leave It To Beaver days than it is today. (as I remember – no references)

    Hell, my Great-Grandmother walked the aisle as a pregnant teen in 1890.

    (Hey, Dave Snyder – any relation to my American Snyder cousin in Wageningen?)

  20. #20 SkookumPlanet
    April 7, 2006

    Pat “Rush” Stosselson Speaks!

    You think that’s bad!

    A few months ago I stumbled across a John Stossel report, took up a full hour of whatever that ABC magazine program is I never watch. He spends the set-up segment eviscerating U.S. education by, in great detail backed by the psychologically compelling use of actual kids on camera, comparing European kids with U.S. kids” terrible educational achievement. Math, geography, science maybe. I forget the specifics.

    OK, I’m with you John. Then, the rest of the program is an extended argument for the right’s “education agenda”, things like vouchers, school competition. He flushes the American public schools down the toilet.

    Just one leetle problem. After the set-up segment there’s nothing further about how Europe’s superior schools do it. If one had been paying close attention, one would have realized that none of the solutions he was pitching applied to Europe. He was looking at European public schools, none possessing these rightwing solutions!

    This is not stupidity, illogic, poor journalism or the like. Neither is Robertson. Neither is rightwing talk radio.
    Canuck Rob is close when he said

    … it is all about controlling what everyone else thinks and does…. By forcing their foul agenda on the rest of you through their intimidatin of politicians they seek to prevent the light of reason from shining into the dark holes of supersition.

    But they don’t intimidate politicians. It’s much smarter. They are reshaping how the minds of American voters percieve reality and the voters intimidate the politicians. How do they do that? Let Ed Luntz, Republican language guru and author of the “Death Tax” meme, explain how it works himself.

    [Regarding consistency,] there’s a simple rule: You say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and then again and again and again and again, and about the time that you’re absolutely sick of saying it is about the time that your target audience has heard it for the first time. And it is so hard, but you’ve just got to keep repeating, because we hear so many different things — the noises from outside, the sounds, all the things that are coming into our head, the 200 cable channels and the satellite versus cable, and what we hear from our friends. We as Americans and as humans have very selective hearing and very selective memory. We only hear what we want to hear and disregard the rest.

    I just posted to Stranger Fruit about how the Democrats could turn the Libby trial to their advantage. Check it out and see what you think the chances are they comprehend their you-know-what from their-you-know what.

    This type of background drip, drip, drip from many sources is the “psychomarketing” I’ve been highlighting for weeks. It works. It usually overwhelms any other approach. It’s past time we learned that.

  21. #21 SkookumPlanet
    April 7, 2006

    A slight revision if I may…

    Check it out and see what you think the chances are they comprehend their you-know-what from a you-know what.

  22. #22 386sx
    April 7, 2006

    Corkscrew: What’s really interesting is that in my experience the very generic, dull approach to religious worship taken in school assemblies is actually more destructive to religion than a completely secular education. I guess it gives people the impression that they’re not missing out on much.

    Okay, I guess you don’t have to have a “secular” education system to have a good education system. But I don’t think the theocracy that people like Robertson and D. James Kennedy want when they talk about “God in our schools” is quite the answer, though. (Maybe if their God were more intellectual instead of worrying about money and Armageddon and sex all the time.)

  23. #23 Nebogipfel
    April 7, 2006

    Puritanism: the morbid fear that someone, somewhere is enjoying themselves…

  24. #24 raj
    April 7, 2006

    386sx | April 6, 2006 05:35 PM

    No, not for him, because Pat wants “more God in our schools”.

    I beg to differ. Pat wants more dollars in his bank account. And he–like so many hucksters of religion–has discovered that the best way to get more dollars into his bank account is to pander to the rubes. Which he is doing by proclaiming “more god in our schools.”

    It’s all about money.

  25. #25 Raging Bee
    April 7, 2006

    Do they think people think with their gonads all the time?

    No, they WANT you to think with your gonads all the time. If you start thinking with your brain, you’ll quickly realize you don’t need half the stuff they’re advertizing, and you’ll stop buying it, and the economy will crumble, and the terrorists will win. Or something. Which is why TV advertizing is obsessively dedicated to preventing you from using your head, or even having a moment’s peace to organize all the noise in your head.

  26. #26 SkookumPlanet
    April 8, 2006

    Raging Bee

    I couldn’t agree more. I’ll suggest you’re even underestimating. It’s way beyond just television and just what the public identifies as “advertsing”.

    From, I think, the PBS Frontline “The Merchants of Cool”, a very informative look at the global media giants’ machinations to stay ahead of the evolution of kid’s “cool” in order to use “cool” to sell everything to them.

    The average, naturally gonadal-thinking American teenager “processes” about 3,000 ads [professionally produced persuasion messages] a day!

  27. #27 QrazyQat
    April 8, 2006

    No need even to go to Europe for sexy TV and lower teen pregnancy rates; just head north. Despite the many similarities between Americans and Canadians, and the fact that Canadian broadcast TV shows frontal nudity (and F-word swearing after 9pm) their teen pregnancy rates are far lower than in the USA. (And note that the Candian rates are higher than they would be if you knocked the far north, specifically the NW Territories, out of the mix — it’s nearly twice as high as the next highest province/territory.)

    In contrast to the U.S.’s 88.7 pregnancies per thousand women aged 15 to 19 in 1998, in Canada there were 41.7 pregnancies per thousand women in that age group in Canada.

    Note too that teen pregnancy in Canada peaked in 1974, whereas the USA rate went up from 1974 levelled off during the Carter and early Reagan years, and then rose dramatically until the Clinton years.