Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Breaking News: Unsafe Sex Can Lead to STDs

In light of recent STD surveillance findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that reported high rates of STDs among teenagers and other groups, I could have been a written an "attention-grabbing" headline saying this:

Men Give Teenage Women STDs in Alarming Rates!

Or, perhaps:

Heterosexual Sex Leads to Disease!

But, you see, I didn't.

I'm not going to stoop to the level of anti-gay and anti-sex bigots who salivate at any study regarding the rates of HIV/AIDS/STDs among gay men or those who outright lie about the rates of STDs among lesbians.

I'm not even technically a journalist. But I do know that the job of a journalist is to report rather than distort.

Unfortunately, some people who consider themselves journalists have an agenda to distort news for purposes of making some other statement about a group of people. In light of CDC data showing that nearly half of African-American teenage women have one or more STDs which is much higher than the rates of other racial groups, I could have also twisted this data a la LifeSiteNews and written something along the lines of:

African-American Behavior Fuels STD Epidemic!

But I won't.

See, instead of stating conclusions about the morality of the sex lives of African-Americans and stating unrealistically that people should just not have sex, I want to instead do something a little more.... useful. Like, perhaps, ask why. What are the health disparities that contribute to these rates? Are there access to education/information/treatment issues that we, as a society, should be rectifying?

"The news" is far more useful to society when it is used for purposes of problem-solving rather than propaganda and morality-imposing.

See, along those lines, I could add fuel to the culture war and ask those who are obsessed with gay sex why they are largely silent about the high rate of STDs among African-American teenagers compared to other racial/ethnic groups. I could imply that, perhaps, these bigots are racist in addition to being homophobic. But I won't do so. Because, I have no way of knowing if the straight people obsessed with gay sex are also racial bigots.

We could make many sinister statements about morality and absolutes using this data, indeed.

But isn't the point of science to draw honest implications from data, trends, and external phenomena rather than to blather on with useless moralizing that only makes people ashamed of sexuality?

So to all of the "traditional values" types out there I can only say this: Instead of obsessing about gay sex or butt sex or so-called immoral sex, perhaps you should begin by focusing on your own families. And from there, without a moral agenda, we can start looking at real causes and solutions to health disparities.

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