SpeakSpeak News

5/24/2005

The Cosby Conundrum

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 05/24/2005 @ 10:47 am

Dara Purvis, a columnist for alterna-news site The Raw Story, fumes about the double standard of banning pregnant teen Alysha Cosby from her own high school graduation while allowing her inseminator to walk.

Purvis ties the story to the conservative push for abstinence-only health education.

Alysha’s treatment comes at the same time as new developments are made in regards to that darling of the White House, abstinence-only sex education….

From a survey of the 13 most frequently-used abstinence-only programs receiving federal government funding, Representative Henry Waxman publicized several examples of students being taught that a man needs “admiration” and “sexual fulfillment” from his partner, while a woman needs “financial support.” Another program teaches that “women gauge their happiness and judge their success by their relationships. Men’s happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments.” And my personal favorite, a story in a series called “Choosing Best” told of a knight who decided to marry a common village maiden rather than a princess, because the princess kept giving him advice about how to slay a local dragon. The fable finished with “moral of the story: occasional suggestions and assistance may be all right, but too much of it will lessen a man’s confidence or even turn him away from his princess….”

In these heady days of being flush with currency to spend on social programs—it’s not like there are millions of Americans living without health insurance or anything—I suppose I should be thrilled that Bush wants to spend over a quarter of a billion dollars a year teaching little girls that if they have the temerity to imply that they might be equal to little boys, they’ll never get married.

Read Abstinence (and Sexism) Only, by Dara Purvis.

High Schooler Appalled at Fellow Students’ First Amendment Ignorance

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 05/24/2005 @ 10:37 am

Ashley Ladwig, a junior at Lake Central High School in Indiana, says she’s disturbed by a report that says people her age are woefully ignorant of their First Amendment rights.

This report was very devastating to our nation’s future. You see, if our future leaders do not understand the very principles that our whole democracy is based on, how can they uphold these principles and lead our country?

They simply cannot, which is why students must be taught their rights.

The First Amendment rights are the very basis of our freedom and they must be taught and instilled in our future leaders.

From the Northwest Indiana Times Online.

Meanwhile, Across the Pond…

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 05/24/2005 @ 10:27 am

Campaigners in the UK are pushing for more sex ed in schools. Now that’s a refreshing change.

“We have been campaigning a long time for compulsory sex education. It’s really, really important that young people are informed so they can protect themselves and make informed choices,” said a spokeswoman for the Family Planning Association.

She said that while some schools taught pupils well-rounded lessons that covered all areas of relationships as part of their personal, social and health education (PSHE) programmes, the provision across the country was patchy.

“That’s not the norm. Most schools don’t give it the time or resources it should have,” she added.

Jan Barlow, the chief executive of Brook, the sexual health charity for young people, said tackling the inadequacy of SRE in many schools by making it a compulsory part of the national curriculum must be a priority if Britain was to reduce its teenage pregnancy rate.

Britain has the highest number of teen pregnancies in western Europe and the cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among this age group have almost doubled in the last 10 years.

From the Guardian.

PTC on Paris Hilton Burger Ad: We Deserve a Break Today

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 05/24/2005 @ 10:22 am

Filed under Are-You-Sitting-Down?

Since premiering late last week, the Hilton burger commercial is getting the kind of attention Carl’s Jr. wanted. But the ad’s blatant sexual overtones are getting under the skin of critics, who say it sets a new low in TV advertising.

“This commercial is basically soft-core porn,” said Melissa Caldwell, research director for the Parents Television Council. “It’s inappropriate for television.”

The Los Angeles-based advocacy group plans to mobilize its more than 1 million members to protest and is considering petitioning the Federal Communications Commission for a ruling on whether the advertisements are indecent.

Ho hum.

From the LA Times.

PBS Prez Stands Up for PBS

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 05/24/2005 @ 10:08 am

PBS president Pat Mitchell, who shrank in the face of political threats created by Buster the bunny, now says that PBS “does not shrink in the face of political threats.” (She did not look at her watch and say, “Starting… now! No, really. I’m serious this time.")

Past errs aside, Mitchell is going to bat for PBS (the organization she’ll be leaving next year) as Corporation for Public Broadcasting chair Kenneth Tomlinson tries to bat it into submission.

In a speech she plans to deliver today at a meeting of the National Press Club, Mitchell writes:

PBS is not the property of any single political party or activist group or foundation or funder with an agenda of any kind. Our editorial standards ensure it, and public opinion polls verify it.

PBS does not belong to a red or blue or purple constituency, and it does not shrink in the face of political threats. PBS has built and maintained a steadfast resolve to never give in to pressures to reflect a political agenda. That resolve is as rock solid today as it has ever been.

(She did not say, “That resolve is as rock solid today as it has ever been, except for when we get squeamish about our animated characters interacting with, you know, lesbians. Ugh.")

In Broadcasting & Cable.

Montgomery County, MD, Officially Scraps Sex Ed Plan

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 05/24/2005 @ 9:57 am

The Montgomery County, MD, school board voted yesterday to abandon the health ed curriculum that had landed it in hot water with the right. (Previous stories.)

Gone from the curriculum will be materials that imply homosexuality is a biological trait, excluding viewpoints of those who believe same-sex attraction can be overcome.

Also dropped was a seven-minute video that was to be shown to 10th graders, in which a woman puts a condom on a cucumber to demonstrate its use.

The school system is still involved in settlement talks with Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum and Parents and Friends of ex-Gays, plaintiffs in the lawsuit to halt the spread of gay birds and bees.

From the Guardian.

Medved Complains about Complainers; Implicitly Absolves PTC

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 05/24/2005 @ 9:47 am

In a USA Today column, conservative film critic Michael Medved takes an ostensibly sensible stand on those who complain about television content.

Ultimately, the only television schedule the public and activists reliably can control is the schedule of what we watch. We might not be able to determine what the industry makes, but we always make the final decision on what we take. In short, complaining about the weather may do nothing to change it, but you always have the option to come in out of the rain.

The sky — is it falling?

Sounds great. Finally, lip service from the Right. “Change the channel, dummards!”

Right?

Not exactly.

Medved’s complaints about the complainers are targeted at blacks, Asian-Americans, and conservative PBS-bashers — not folks like Brent Bozell who excoriate broadcasters for airing content they’d rather not watch. He takes issue with racial and ethnic groups’ contentions that they’re underrepresented in TV — if not quantitatively, then qualitatively.

The complaints by interest groups illustrate the same unfortunate tendency to emphasize supply-side solutions, rather than demand-side solutions, to the problems of TV’s impact. We spend too much time fretting over the way the industry produces programming, and too little worrying about the way the public consumes it. Statistical analysis shows that black characters are over-represented on TV, while Asians are under-represented. But that hardly means that the medium is good for blacks and bad for Asians. The influence of broadcast images depends on how selectively consumers choose to watch, not the ethnically based casting decisions executives agree to make.

So, don’t like subtle racism? Change the channel!

What’s missing in Medved’s complaint about the complainers is any mention of the Parents Television Council, the undisputed godfather of the whine-about-television movement. It would seem an astounding, almost ignorant oversight, save one fact: Medved is on the PTC’s board of advisors.

In fact, Medved is quoted on the PTC’s website complaining about the very things he just finished complaining about complaints about. Now that’s a lot of ‘complaints’!

“You can put your TV in the garage, avoid movies altogether, and use earplugs to spare your hearing from the sounds of hip-hop or heavy metal, but these forms of entertainment will still change your life through their influence on everyone else in society. Though you may struggle to protect your own kids from music that encourages violence or drugs or irresponsible sex, you can’t possibly protect them from all the other kids in your community who have received full exposure.” - Michael Medved taken from The Rock & Roll Rebellion by Mark Joseph.

Moral of the story? When the PTC complains, they’re speaking for all of us and our best interests? But when a racial or ethnic coalition complains, they’re asking for special treatment?

There’s a message in here somewhere. You find it. I’m confused.

Medved’s piece in USA Today.

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