Friday, January 20, 2012

Stupidity Is Not Confined to The American Right

You think stupidity - specifically moral stupidity - is only to be found amongst the religious base of the Republican Right? You think only the likes of Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum harken the virtues of chastity rings and the teaching of abstinence in US schools?

You believe Bill Maher is a genuine intellectual when he points out that conservatives in Europe are to the Left of Democrats in the United States?

Well ... welcome to David Cameron's Britain. And, ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce you to the British Michele Bachmann, Nadine Dorries, Conservative MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, which is a community not that far to the North of London and not that far South of the metropolis of Birmingham - so we're not talking about either the sticks or the boondocks.

The venerable Nadine, it seems, is pushing a bill which would allow abstinence to be taught as part of a sex education program in UK schools. Good luck with that, considering that UK schoolgirls have access to free contraceptives, including the morning after pill doled out to girls as young as eleven in junior schools, upon demand, by the school nurse, and the UK still manages to have the highest rate of teen pregnancies in Europe, not to mention the highest rate of teens indulging in underage sex.

Anyway, Ms Dorries has been given the go-ahead to present her bill for a vote in the Commons, as per The Guardian:-

The bill, proposed by Nadine Dorries, the Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire, would require schools to offer extra sex education classes to girls aged 13 to 16 and for these lessons to include advice on "the benefits of abstinence".

In May, MPs voted 67 to 61, majority six, in favour of allowing Dorries to bring forward her bill. It is listed to receive its second reading on Friday morning, though it is unlikely to become law without government support.

(Don't think this government enlightened enough to squelch this. David Cameron, Mr Austerity, is all about cut, cut, cut - sound familiar? - and it costs nothing to teach kids, or attempt to teach them, just to say no.)

But not everyone is a happy bunny with this.

The bill has angered feminists, humanists and pro-abortionists, hundreds of whom will be demonstrating outside parliament while the debate takes place.

Beth Granter, a socialist and feminist who has organised the demonstration, predicts that at least 300 will join it. Some 750 have shown their support on Facebook.

The bill has elicited considerable criticism from politicians in all three of the main political parties.

Dan Rogerson, co-chair of the Lib Dems education and family backbench committee and an MP for North Cornwall, said the bill would result in girls being given a "dire warning about their future prospects".

"To single out girls is at best unhelpful and at worst damaging," he said. He said boys and girls needed to be given high quality advice on all aspects of relationships.

Niki Molnar, chairman of Conservative Women, which has at least 4,000 members, said boys needed to be included in classes on sex and relationships to ensure that they learned to respect women.

A spokesman for Dorries stressed that the abstinence classes for girls would be taught alongside sex education lessons, rather than as a replacement for them.

A bit like creationism being taught alongside evolution, don't you think?

Dorries introduced the bill, originally, as a counter to what she sees as a society saturated in sex. But there's a whiffy smell emanating from all of this; it comes from the Right, and it has everything to do with religion. Yes, folks, the religious Right is alive and well and living in Great Britain ... the natural successors to the Puritans of old.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) said the bill had so far been supported predominantly by socially conservative Christians and had little chance of succeeding.

However, Naomi Phillips, head of public affairs at the BHA, said it was "yet another attempt by a lobby on the religious right to promote and impose on others, a narrow, unshared and potentially damaging perspective regarding sex, sexual health and abortion rights".

"All children and young people have a right to high quality, comprehensive and objective sex and relationships education in all schools, including 'faith' schools, which would and should equip young people – both boys and girls – with the information and skills to say no to sexual activity if that is what they choose."

Dorries has also campaigned to reduce the time during a pregnancy when an abortion can take place from 24 to 21 weeks.

Darinka Aleksic, campaign co-ordinator for Abortion Rights, said the bill served to further Dorries' "moral agenda, which involves restricting abortion and teaching teenage girls that they, unlike boys, must save themselves for marriage".

"This approach has been disastrous in the United States, leaving a generation of young people uninformed about sex. The last thing we need is a US-style chastity crusade," Aleksic said.

Well, they got that last bit right; and whilst they may not need a US-style chastity crusade, they do need to do something about the growing underclass of gymslip mums and their progeny. I actually think Mr Cameron's substantial benefit cuts will do more in the way of promoting chastity than any actual chastity drive will.

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