Letters from the April 20 issue…
Stick to Rocky: In your April 6-12 issue, editor Brian Clarey addressed a topic with which he is demonstrably familiar: the Rocky movies. Although I happily defer to Mr. Clarey’s expertise in the realm of Hollywood fare, his foray into the realm of politics last month (‘“Politicians or sponges: who’s more confused,’” March 2-8) was an error- and hypocrisy-laden misadventure that requires a response.
In light of his ‘“understanding’” of conservatives, Clarey might want to consider watching fewer movies and reading more books on political philosophy. An acquaintance with The Federalist and other writings by James Madison is highly beneficial; volumes by Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk are indispensable.
Now, to the particulars of Clarey’s article. The editor writes that he finds ‘“few things more confounding than 19-year-old Republicans’” because, ‘“it’s not like they have any money.’” Here the author perpetuates the tiresome myth that the GOP is the ‘party of the rich.’
Alas, facts often contradict the musings of progressive journalists. According to an article from the Associated Press on Dec. 13, ‘“tax-exempt pro-Democratic groups’” during the ’04 election ‘“collected almost twice as much money as their Republican rivals.’” The pro-Kerry ‘“527s’” raised $266 million, while pro-Bush organizations collected $144 million. We learn from the same article another tidbit most inconvenient to Mr. Clarey: the DNC ‘“out-raised the Republican National Committee by several million dollars during the two-year election cycle.’”
Clarey also writes that conservatives ‘“shy away from change.’” Although the observation is correct as a philosophical principle, circumstances on the ground occasionally force the conservative to abandon his preference for restraint and moderation in favor of more Draconian tactics.
For instance, the judiciary’s imposition of gay marriage has compelled ‘— to use Clarey’s spooky rhetoric ‘— ‘“armies of the right’” to amend the Constitution as a means of preserving (or conserving) the Founders’ intent. The amendment is a ‘change’ that is nevertheless in accord with conservative principle: it defends something old and established ‘— the Constitution ‘— from a radical assault. Despite the fact that the Constitution is more than two centuries old, somehow, no one noticed until yesterday the elusive passage that bestows upon Americans the ‘right’ to gay marriage.
Clarey is also baffled by the fact that conservatives ‘“allow a free and easy flow of firearms to course through our streets.’” But, as a reading of The Federalist makes clear, the Founders would not object to private citizens owning guns. A true conservative defends the individual’s right to bear arms ‘— a right that, unlike gay marriage or partial-birth abortion, is enshrined in the Constitution.
‘“College’” Clarey writes, ‘“should be a time to explore new ideas, not squelch them in favor of old ones.’” Indeed. But because universities have long been dominated by progressives, conservative principles are in fact ‘new ideas.’ Clarey’s article is convincing evidence of this unfortunate circumstance.
Charles Davenport Jr.
(The author writes a twice-weekly opinion column for the News & Record.)
Abstinence message may mislead teens:Hello Brian Clarey: I just saw your recent story, ‘“Let’s Talk About Sex.’” Keith Deltano’s use of humor and analogies show an awareness of how to best reach teens. But his message is tainted by his evangelical mission. Using scare tactics to shock teens produces a strong but temporary effect, one that backfires and may actually contribute to HIV and STD risks.
Deltano isn’t just misleading teens when he downplays condom effectiveness. He also creates a divisive myth when he suggests that educators using comprehensive education (namely, abstinence plus safer sex) are somehow in it for the money. Abstinence-only funding has increased by millions of dollars during the past five years, while overall HIV prevention funding remains flat. For next year, President Bush wants to increase funding by another $38 million.
Only now are the truths about abstinence-only education becoming known. The Waxman report finds that ‘“11 of 13 abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula contain errors and distortions of health information including misleading or false information about the risks of sexual activity, the effectiveness of contraceptives, and the risks of abortion.’” This is why the state of Washington just passed a law outlawing abstinence-only education.
Just last week, the eight-year, federally funded National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which tracked 20,000 young people from high school to adulthood, found that 61 percent of teens who consistently asserted an abstinence pledge admitted to having sex before marriage. Those who pledged abstinence only were also far more likely (13% vs. 2% for non-pledgers) to engage in anal sex in an effort to retain their ‘virginity.’ While abstinence pledgers did have less total episodes of sex, they were also less likely to use condoms, potentially increasing their HIV risk.
Deltano is correct when he says that condoms are designed to prevent diseases spread through fluid exchange, and may not prevent all other sexually transmitted diseases. But a new report confirmed that consistent condom use led only half as many African-American teenage girls to catch chlamydia and other bacterial diseases compared to their peers who did not use condoms consistently.
Teens deserve the whole truth, not propaganda and myths.
President, Skills4, Inc.
Parents are friends not masters: Mr. Clarey, I’ll give you credit for impartiality in your April 6-12 issue, but in my opinion you gave Keith Deltano more exposure than he deserves.
He recently came to Grimsley High School to perform his routine for the students and also an evening show for the parents. My wife and I attended just to see how this guy could be worth the $800 of precious PTA money and the schedule interruption for all Grimsley students.
The show he performed for the parents in the sparsely-populated auditorium was about the proper way to raise children. The advice was right out of the Fifties: Don’t be’ a friend to your children ‘— be their master. Don’t put up with any junk. No means no. That sort of thing.
My wife and I are on the home stretch of our raising our children. Our two teenage daughters are excellent students and giving members of the community, not to mention loving, caring, independent, free-thinking young people. They have avoided the pitfalls of many their age: peer pressure, conformity, drugs, and alcohol abuse. We have raised our daughters as our equals, not with the iron fist methods that Mr. Deltano insists. That doesn’t mean we haven’t guided their development ‘— we have ‘— but we have always respected their opinions and listened to their input. The Deltano method may work on dogs, but I would suggest a more thoughtful approach in dealing with our children.
What bothers me about Keith Deltano is that some parent may have gone home that night and actually acted on what he was so forcefully saying. The guy is not a trained psychologist or sexual therapist. He takes a few statistics, filters them through his narrow-minded perspective and packages it all into an in-your-face, loudmouthed monologue.
What our troubled teenagers need is an open, honest dialog on sex, drugs, and other temptations, not Keith Deltano shouting at them (or their parents) about how stupid they are.
Sin Tax has more originialty than reported: Dear Brian:
Thanks for covering the April 7 Sin Tax show at College Hill Sundries. You nailed the tone and intent, but missed one key point: we write our own material! In fact, playing our own songs is the thing we’re most passionate about. (Okay, we do a few covers, but always in our own style or sometimes as foils for our originals.)
Loved your line about the ‘“Jimmy Carter era,’” because some of the originals are really that old. Of course, we’re still writing new stuff with current themes, including Nancy’s post feminist ‘“I Need a Wife’” and Doug’s ‘“Renaissance Man’” about dream in which the protagonist finds Orson Welles’ corpse under Charlie Mingus’ bass in the back of a VW van. Marilyn’s ‘“My Way’” is a neurotic warning to potential suitors. The newest Sin Tax number is ‘“Chinese Herbs’” about the middle-age drug culture of non-western medicine.
But it’s all still ‘quaint,’ like Stiv Bators.
Dave McLean, Greensboro