Wednesday, February 16, 2005

CBS, Sex Education, and Porn

Drudge highlighted a story on the imminent outbreak of open warfare at CBS over the blame placed on selected executives for the use of forged documents in a story attacking the President. The New York Observer article is long and interesting, with a lot of detail on who did what to whom.

The report again indicates weaknesses in the CBS internal investigation, including the fact that there were no recordings or other verbatim records of interviews with CBS personnel.

As it turns out, the three executives asked to resign by CBS after the report of the investigation was published are still at work. Seems that as the old mainstream media suffers its death throes, some of its denizens refuse to "go gentle into that good night," in the words of Dylan Thomas, preferring to "rage, rage against the dying of the light." Josh Howard, in particular, seems primed to file a lawsuit as he struggles to survive.

The elephant in the room, of course, is Dan Rather. The pattern of not mentioning him very much continues. However, it doesn't take a lot of imagination to understand that this iconic superstar and his trusty sidekick, Mary Mapes, rammed the story through the CBS system.

The chickens have indeed come home to roost at Black Rock. And it's about time.

* * *

Nicholas Kristof took on the issue of "abstinence only" sex education today in his New York Times column. He characterized Administration policy as "a sex scandal in the heart of the Bush administration."

To get federal funds, for example, abstinence-only programs are typically barred by law from discussing condoms or other forms of contraception--except to describe how they can fail. So kids in these programs go all through high school without learning anything but abstinence, even though more than 60 percent of American teenagers have sex before age 18. ...

Other developed countries focus much more on contraception. The upshot is that while teenagers in the U.S. have about as much sexual activity as teenagers in Canada or Europe, Americans girls are four times as likely as German girls to become pregnant, almost five times as likely as French girls to have a baby, and more than seven times as likely as Dutch girls to have an abortion. Young Americans are five times as likely to have H.I.V. as young Germans, and teenagers' gonorrhea rate is 70 times higher in the U.S. than in the Netherlands or France. ...

...there's plenty of evidence that abstinence-plus programs--which encourage abstinence but also teach contraception--delay sex and increase the use of contraception. So, at a time when we're cutting school and health programs, why should we pour additional tax money into abstinence-only initiatives, which are likely to lead to more pregnancies, more abortions and more kids with AIDS? Now, that's a scandal.

Kristof is right on the mark. This is a perfect example of religious ideology overtaking sound policy.

* * *

In the Washington Post, Richard Cohen wrote about a documentary film called "Inside Deep Throat." When I saw the headline, political junkie that I am, I headed straight for it. I expected to see something more about who "Deep Throat" of Watergate fame may have been. But no. This is a documentary about the making of the porn movie "Deep Throat."

So I read it anyway. I mean, after all, I was already there. So why not?

I won't pay to see this particular documentary, unless it's a forced choice between it and "Fahrenheit 911." However, Cohen's column is interesting and a good read. Quote:

What is repellent about pornography, we are always told, is that it depicts sex unconnected from love. And what is repellent about celebrity is that it often represents fame unconnected to achievement. People want to be famous. They do not necessarily have to be famous for something--although that is always to be preferred--but no matter what, they want to be famous. Fame provides meaning, supposedly, to meaningless lives. Fame is rocket fuel--VROOM! and you're up and over the mundane--and because this is America it will make you rich and therefore happy, or so it is almost universally believed.

However, the stars, Linda Lovelace and Harry Reems, didn't fare so well:

Lovelace thought she had struck it rich and so did Reems, who got $250 for the movie. They were incredibly famous, more famous maybe than the next "American Idol" or the worm-eater on some reality show or the cop who gets up at 2 in the morning in the West to briefly appear on the "Today" show in the East. Reems and Lovelace thought that Big Things would follow--they say so in the film--but what followed was ignominy and poverty, a celebrity so hollow it nearly consumed them both.


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