Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Curious Logic That Makes Sense

I am opposed to encouraging teenagers to use seat belts. They will just drive faster and with reckless abandon knowing they are safer wearing seat belts. Therefore, we should risk having them get injured for life or killed rather than insisting they wear seat belts.

That is the kind of reasoning used by conservatives who are opposed to teaching teenagers about contraception. It will just encourage them to have sex, they say. So it is better to risk having them get pregnant than to make contraception available.

What is wrong here?

What is wrong is a perverse sense of values and the failure to see the wisdom of a curious form of logic.

So what should we do? My message to teenagers and everybody else is this: Don't drive too fast or take chances on the road, but if you do at least wear a seat belt because it might save your life. I will take the chance that using a seat belt might lead to complacency. Saving a life is where the priority ought to be.

Likewise, I would say to male and female teenagers: Don't have sex until you are mature enough to understand fully what you are doing and its dangers, but if you do at least least protect yourself from an unwanted pregnancy. I will take the chance that knowing how to prevent pregnancy and having the means to do so might encourage more sex. An unwanted pregnancy is worse than promiscuous sex.

Why don't conservatives agree with this point? I don't know for sure, but I suspect it is because they have a kind of emotional aversion or psychic revulsion at the thought of premarital sex. This is more than a conviction that such behavior is wrong. I suggest this as a result of examining my own inner feelings from years past. Were not something like this at work, the subject would be more open to a dispassionate study of the facts. The evidence is that comprehensive sex education does not lead to earlier or more sex in young people.

In any case, I insist on the cogency of sentences that have this curious form: Don't _________but if you do, _____________________.