Privacy and Prohibition

It’s almost the 25th of December, that magical time, and we know what subject is on everyone’s mind:


Pogues rum sodomy lash

I have been politically dormant for the last, oh, three years, and certain parties who have ongoing political interests have raised topics that force me to look up stories and examine my beliefs.

A couple of those are that sex is private. And moralism hurts people.

(Specifically, consensual sex habits are Constitutionally protected from legal sanctions as a right-to-privacy issue. And that laws written based on opinions of what *should* be true, rather than what *is* true, backfire and hurt people.)

But how can that be, when certain sex habits make you crinkle your nose? Like… like… s-s-s-sodomy? Especially when those nasty gays are the ones that do it, and any law that puts them out of sorts can’t be a bad thing?

First, sodomy means both anal and oral sex. Yep, sure does. So that word, all Biblical and legal sounding, includes both something a bit off-putting and something quite awesome. I must insist hereon that any political official wishing to refer to anal sex alone must use the term “butt sex.” I project the number of laws addressing sexual practices would drop to zero by 2012.

sodomy laws map USA
Used without permission from

Second, my understanding is that homosexual (male) couples participate in anal sex at rates not appreciably different from those of heterosexual couples. I could be making this up. But I do know some gay men don’t, and some straight people do, so as a method of castigating gay men criminalizing sodomy is terribly inefficient. And using “gay” as a pejorative epithet is way funner!

Third, this plan *totally* leaves out gay women. They have the terribly inconvenient characteristic of not having any unique stereotypical sexual practices at all (barring the occasional, horrifying Internet meme) — what should we do, outlaw girl-girl hand-holding? No wonder gay-targeting legislators are so dude-focused — almost as if gay men were not the target of their rancor, but instead their own secret fears about sexuality, normalcy and desire. Naw, that couldn’t be it.

Anyhoo. Consensual sex is A-OK. You can’t make it illegal just because it grosses you out. Because then you would have to outlaw sex between the unattractive, the creepy, the rude, and the very old, and then eventually the law is coming for you.

Articles better researched than this one:

  • Liberty Unbound – Michigan’s sodomy law in global and historic context. Check out the map!
  • Effects of Sodomy Laws – Who do they hurt? Oh, yeah. Everybody.
  • Right to Privacy – Is it really a Constitutional right?

    The Constitution does not specifically mention a right to privacy. However, Supreme Court decisions over the years have established that the right to privacy is a basic human right, and as such is protected by virtue of the 9th Amendment. The right to privacy has come to the public’s attention via several controversial Supreme Court rulings, including several dealing with contraception (the Griswold and Eisenstadt cases; interracial marriage (the Loving case; and abortion (the well-known Roe v Wade case). In addition, it is said that a right to privacy is inherent in many of the amendments in the Bill of Rights, such as the 3rd, the 4th’s search and seizure limits, and the 5th’s self-incrimination limit.

But you know what’s not so hot? UNPROTECTED consensual sex. Owowowo. That’s no fun at all.

Ah, what every parent wants to see on their daughter’s blog

Fortunately there is an environment where all Americans are required to go before and during the onset of sexual maturity, where they can all receive the best, most complete and reliable information about how to have safer sex. That environment is called SCHOOL.

There are home schools, private schools and public schools. The first two represent the specific populations that subscribe to them, and are beholden to those populations.

Public schools represent all of us, and are beholden to all of us.


Imagine there are two neighboring island nations of Sharpia and Stickia. The citizens of both nations have, for centuries, been sticking themselves in the eye with sharp sticks when they think no one is looking. This used to result in widespread infection, blindness and death, despite centuries of the most extensive and desperate means of changing the population’s behavior. Both countries have religious texts that decry the use of sharp sticks, even of *thinking* about using sharp sticks. Yet on they go, showing up at their parents’ house with a scratched cornea and a long story.

sharp stick

However, the advent of modern medicine means that the citizens of Sharpia and Stickia no longer have to suffer (as much) as the result of their habits. There are devices that can be applied to the ends of the sticks, and devices that can be applied to the eye.

The religious scholars of both countries are horrified. If people are protected from the awful consequences of their own actions, what remains to prevent them from doing it? And how can we even tell who’s poking their eyes and who’s not?

The scholars of Sharpia and Stickia appealed to their leaders, asking them to outlaw these devices. The leaders looked at their constituents and said, shoot, son, that’ll never work.

So the scholars said, Okay, how about this: we ban *teaching kids* about these devices. They shouldn’t be eye-sticking in the first place! We’ll tell their parents that teaching them how to protect themselves will actually make them want to eye-stick more. And the parents are so ashamed of their own eye-sticking, they’ll readily accept anything that sounds like it will keep their kids from doing it.

The leaders from Sharpia were like, dude, we’ve been watching the Sharpians poke their eyes out for hundreds of years. You can’t make them want to do it *more.* And it’s y’all’s job to make them want to do it less. If you don’t tell them how to protect themselves, we’re going to end up with a generation of sick-ass, blind kids. Is that what you want?

And the Sharpian scholars were all like, of course not, we want…

But the Sharpian leaders were already working on a prevention-based health care plan.

But over in Stickia, the leaders were like, that actually sounds good. The squirm factor in all this eye-sticking is pretty high. We don’t want to do anything that sounds like we think it’s okay.

So the scholars had their way in Stickia, and the government offered special money to schools that said they wouldn’t teach about the eye-protection devices.

That went OK for a while, but then eye-gouging rates increased, and Schools started turning the money down.

So it’ll probably turn out OK in the end.

But which country would you rather live in?

What devices are we talking about? I’m so glad you asked. Unfortunately, I have to leave my awesome sharp stick metaphor, because there. Are. A lot of devices.

Birth Control Methods
From Planned Parenthood, if you trust this sort of sciencey talk

What is missing from this chart is abstinence. Let’s talk about that method a little bit.

What you see in the second column is each devices rate of effectiveness — from the low end, which is “typical,” to the high end, which is “perfect.”

Of course, if you use the “abstinence” method perfectly, it kicks the ass of all these other methods — 100% (well, one case in many billions, so that’s pretty close to 100%). But the most people don’t use “abstinence” very well. Once in a while they forget, or decide not to use it at all. When you compare the typical effectiveness rates, “abstinence” is actually not very reliable, because people are bad at using it.

But if you teach people how to use the “condom” method, it’s actually 98%! That’s more life- and health-saving power per use than a seatbelt, and nobody looks at you funny for buying one of those!

I’m tewtally leaving out some other more Pope-friendly, like withdrawal and continued nursing and Persona (OMG Persona!; but I’m going to leave the discussion of why on earth God is supposed to like one method more than another for another day.

Let’s talk about Persona right quick. In doing my meager research for this post, I found the most delicious graphic, most delicious article, and most delicious website all in a single click. I suggest you go there immeds. Evidence:

Persona Inkling graphic birth control methods
Taken without permission from Inkling Magazine

Coming Soon: One woman’s experience with an IUD. That is, trying to get one. For cheap. Wish me luck!


Draws. Sweats. Eats too much sugar-free candy.

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1 Response

  1. Alena says:

    Brilliant post. And thanks for pointing out the existence of Persona.. that thing is awesome! I’d pretty much have no use for it, as I use the last method on the chart, but I almost want one anyway. I’m such a geek. That thing is so cool!

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