Wednesday, September 28, 2011

America's Dirty Little Secret

Here is a bit from an opinion piece by Michael Gerson at the Washington Post:
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a nasty, sexually transmitted disease contracted by about three-quarters of Americans at some point. You can have it, and spread it, without knowing it. In some women, the virus causes abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix that can develop into cancerous lesions. Virtually all cervical cancer is caused by HPV. There is, however, a vaccine that is highly effective against the most dangerous HPV strains. The main side effect, as you’d expect in a procedure involving a needle, is fainting. The Cen­ters for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all girls should get it anyway.

At least this approach would have added to the public stock of health information. Instead, Michele Bachmann talked of “innocent little 12-year-old girls” who were “forced to have a government injection” by Rick Perry’s 2007 mandate of HPV vaccinations in Texas. Bachmann later added, on the medical authority of a weeping mother’s anecdote, that the HPV vaccine, or maybe it was some other vaccine, might cause “mental retardation.” Bachmann herself seems prone to a serious condition: the compulsive desire to confirm every evangelical stereotype of censorious ignorance....

Try to imagine a parent-daughter conversation about sexual restraint and maturity that includes the words: “Honey, I’m going to deny you a vaccine that prevents a horrible, bleeding cancer, just as a little reminder of the religious values I’ve been trying to teach you.” This would be morally monstrous. Such ethical electroshock therapy has nothing to do with cultivation of character in children. It certainly has nothing to do with Christianity, which teaches that moral rules are created for the benefit of the individual, not to punish them with preventable death.

This approach to moral education may appeal to a certain kind of conservative politician. How could it possibly appeal to a parent, conservative or otherwise?
America's political right is willing to play dirty, willing to use 12 year old girls, and the ugly painful death from cancer to win its political games. This is called "family values". I call it sadistic, cruel, inhuman, and vicious politics, a no-holds-barred ugly politics whose only purpose is to game power and is willing to stomp all over anybody to get to the top of the heap.

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