Burch: No hand-holding

Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 10:05pm
By Michael R. Burch

The lunacy of Tennessee legislators seems to know no bounds.

After concluding that the “Don’t Say Gay” bill wasn’t going to fly, they immediately decided to attempt to legislate morality. Like Puritans, they now want to silence any and all talk about sex.

SB 3310/HB 3621 requires sex education in Tennessee schools to “exclusively and emphatically” focus on abstinence. The bill could label normal teen behavior — holding hands, flirting, hugging, etc. — as “gateway sexual activity,” and threaten schools with stiff penalties if they don’t do everything in their power to discourage it. But as we all know, having been teenagers ourselves, nothing that we do is going to keep teenagers from holding hands and flirting. Like absence, total abstinence only makes the heart grow fonder.

According to the Tennessee chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, “If this bill is signed into law, schools will only be able to tell students to remain abstinent. [But] preventing our teachers from providing information about sexual activity will not stop young people from seeking out the answers on their own. It’s more likely the information they cobble together will be uniformed, ill-advised, or downright wrong.”

The ACLU also pointed out that providing teens with information about sex and its consequences helps them delay having sex and protects their health. Nationwide, teenagers who participated in sex-ed programs that discuss the importance of delaying sex and which provide information about contraceptives were significantly less likely to report teen pregnancies than those who received no sex education or attended abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, according to a Journal of Adolescent Health study (Kohler).

Abstinence-only programs endanger teenagers’ health because teens who participate in such programs are less likely to use contraception or get tested for STDs, according to another Journal of Adolescent Health study (Bruckner and Bearman).

Major medical groups support comprehensive sex education, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Society for Adolescent Medicine.

And our own experience should inform us, as well. Nothing our parents said or did was going to keep us from holding hands and flirting. Boys are going to be boys, and girls are going to be girls, once they reach puberty. If they want to know the facts of life — and nearly everyone does, at some point — they can get all the pointers in the world from TV shows, movies and magazines that glamorize sex. So no one should be fooled into believing that not talking about sex is going to do any good whatsoever. What does make sense is to be sure that children know the dangers of having sex, and the advantages of waiting to have sex and of having protected sex when the time finally arrives.

Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.

69 Comments on this post:

By: slacker on 3/30/12 at 2:59

Not that there's anything wrong with that!

By: BenDover on 3/30/12 at 3:04

lol slack.

By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 3:26

The Captain walk into the blank and say. Where is the weekend? {Splash}

By: yogiman on 3/30/12 at 4:03

I see where a cartoonist with "The Daily Texan" newspaper at the University of Texas has been fired because of a cartoon she drew. It showed the wording and made a comment about a white man killing a "handsome, sweet,innocent colored boy".

Then some facts were given: The picture shown of Trayvon was 41/2 years old making him look as innocent as a 12 year of boy. He had "grown up" and developed into a pattern and had a history of selling and doing drugs. He had multiple suspensions from school and trouble with the law.

He apparently isn't that innocent little boy he's been shown to be.

By: Mike Burch on 3/31/12 at 1:37

If BenDover is badmouthing me, I must be doing something right!

I'm sure the Nazis managed to pass a few good bills before they ensured the destruction of Germany.

The GOP has lost its marbles, and if it starts more wars in the Middle East and bankrupts the country, or triggers World War III, or destroys the environment by denying the evidence of science and "trusting in the LORD" to save them at the last possible moment, a few more reasonable bills here and there are not going to make any difference.

If people like BenDover weren't criticizing me, I would be very, very worried about my sanity, since I would be blind to the obvious like them. A few good bills mean nothing, when one's intentions are to keep repeating the errors of the past until the world ends. Einstein defined insanity as doing the same things over and over, expecting different results. The GOP's stance on Iran, Israel and the environment is, literally, insanity.

By: Mike Burch on 3/31/12 at 1:43


How many young white kids get suspended from school and have minor run-ins with the law? If Zimmerman was attacked and his life was in peril, he may have grounds for self-defense. But half the guys I hung around with were drinking, doing drugs, trespassing, and committing minor acts of vandalism, wanting to seem "cool." If someone shot them, we would all consider that a wild overreaction. So the real question is whether Zimmerman was attacked, or whether he went way, way overboard. Hopefully the facts will come out and we will know. Until then, everyone is speculating, and doing drugs is no reason for anyone to be killed.

By: yogiman on 3/31/12 at 6:07

Hey, Mike,

The dumbocrats are in charge of the government now..., remember? Your man Obama is the "leader" that is bankrupting America and he will be in charge of getting us in war. Do you remember any president being replaced when the USA was in war? He wants re-usurpation.

Now you compare the white kids against the black kids being suspended. I can't actually compare the two, but I can't see where a kid would not be suspended because of their race if they commit a crime.

Any superintendent who would do that should be fired immediately.

By: BenDover on 3/31/12 at 6:19

Burch opens with a Godwin violation. I recommend adding a little Friedrich Hayek to your reading diet to better understand which philosophy leads us down the path to totalitarianism. The top-down, central-planner, everyone-else-is-an-idiot mentality of the left offers a clear path to destruction; yet thankfully our founding fathers understood this and put many speed-bumps in the constitution to slow our progress down that path.

But, in truth, if you read my criticisms you will see it's more a critique of the City Paper, as Burch's piece is clearly opinion. Unfortunately, though, the only dissent found in this paper that only tilts left anymore is found in the minority of the comment section.

By: BenDover on 3/31/12 at 6:25

I do have to compliment you though Burch on the first tempered and logical, "let's find out the facts first" view that I have seen from anyone on the left regarding the Zimmerman thing.

By: Captain Nemo on 3/31/12 at 6:45

Once again our resident racist (at worse) or (at best) village idiot, tosses out and inflammatory remark trying to prove his point. He seems to leave out a few interesting views as to Martin being unarmed and Zimmerman having a gun and doing what he should have not been doing at the time of Martin’s killing. That was encountering a suspect. That goes beyond the duties of a Neighborhood Watch.

He then goes on to remark that the cartoon makes Martin to look like a 4 and ½ year old. I think that he got facts all wrong.

By: yogiman on 3/30/12 at 5:03
Then some facts were given: The picture shown of Trayvon was 41/2 years old making him look as innocent as a 12 year of boy. He had "grown up" and developed into a pattern and had a history of selling and doing drugs. He had multiple suspensions from school and trouble with the law.

(Could this be the cause of yogi’s confusion?) Protesters not only wanted to address the Martin depiction, but they also wanted to bring to the surface how African-American issues on the campus go continuously unaddressed and are marginalized. The school’s African-American population is only 4.5 percent.

4.5 41/2

By: yogiman on 3/31/12 at 8:59

The picture shown of Martin was a picture of a 'boy' 41/2 years younger than than his age. Why? And why was Zimmerman's picture of someone in an arrested prisoner. Why?

It's funny this situation has been brought out so much when it never made any news when young black men killed two white men. Wasn't that news? After all, that was two foreign men killed by American men. That isn't news?

By: Captain Nemo on 3/31/12 at 10:29

Were the two white men armed with Skittles?

By: Captain Nemo on 3/31/12 at 10:38

You are not clear about your 9:59 post so why don’t you give some reference to what the hell you are talking about yogi? One black man killing two white men and what is this about this foreign thing?

By: Captain Nemo on 3/31/12 at 10:40

What am I talking about…yogi, is never clear about anything. LOL

By: Captain Nemo on 3/31/12 at 10:53

I could not find the incident of which you hinted about, but I did run across this. Here you go yogi; I dare you to look at this.


By: BenDover on 3/31/12 at 11:42

Well... this story was buried and did not make national news.


and the Duke Lacrosse faux rape case set a national wild-fire of media coverage.

If it matches the template of an idea they wish to advance it makes national news... if it contradicts the template then it largely gets buried. 5 rich white guys accused of raping a black girl with no evidence and a sketchy accusation vs. 5 black gangster thugs raping, torturing, mutilating and murdering a white couple they car-jacked at gunpoint.

Nothing is certain yet about the Trayvon / Zimmerman circumstance except that a bunch of race baiters and the national media want to highly emphasize this killing over others that lack or contradict a white on black racial component.

By: Ask01 on 4/1/12 at 10:28

I'm not sure how we progressed from discussing a bill which would keep youngsters ignorant of the realities of sex and the possible consequences of rampant teenage pregnancy, back alley abortions, and epidemic proportion STDs to the Trayvon / Zimmerman affair in Florida.

No problem, though. I will play along.

First, if parents are going to abdicate their responsibility to educate their children in at least the basics of sex, pregnancy prevention, anf he risks of STDs, it must fall to the schools to protect interests of the general public who will in the end most likely have to deal with the aftermath.

Teach your children or the state will be forced to step into the void.

As far as the Florida incident. All the further information being released is in my opinion either character asassination to smear the dead boy or damage control to render the shooter less odious.

If Zimmerman approached Trayvon in a threatening manner and Trayvon "stood his ground," reacting to a threat, I believe Zimmerman instigated the incident and the shooting was an extension of Zimmerman's initial act of aggression. Therefore, Zimmerman is at fault for meddling where he had no business.

At the core is the well meaning but dangerous "stand your ground law" which allows citizens to kill, then claim self defense. So long as a thorough investigation follows to ascertain the facts, there should not be a problem.

The incident in Florida as reported seems as though the Florida police said, in effect, "Oh, you were attacked by a black kid wearing a hoodie, armed with Arizona Iced Tea and Skittles and you had to shoot him in self defense? Let's see. OK here it is. Yep, that's a justifiable homicide. You're free to go. Good job citizen."

Perceptions are very important and it seems the Florida police were ignorant of the fact of figured no one would question them.

I fear this is far from over.

By: Captain Nemo on 4/1/12 at 1:43

Ben there is one big difference in the two murders, one was swept under the rug for a time and the other was not. One was due to the fact that the NRA had pushed a law that has now come back to bit them in the PR.

I wish those on the right would not keep trying to make this a race issue. The facts are a man died by another man that should have not been given a gun permit and that man maybe uses that law for other means than self protection.

By: acluu on 4/1/12 at 2:41

New infections among 15- to 24-year-olds have more than doubled in the past five years, and 48 percent of those who are aware they’re infected are untreated, the Metro Public Health Department revealed. Its annual report for the Ryan White Program covers 13 Middle Tennessee counties.

But the rate of new infections among teenagers and 20-somethings increased 26 percent from 2009 to 2010. The longer trend line is even more disturbing, with a 140 percent increase from five years ago.


The "Don't say gay" bill would seem more appropriate.