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Prosthetic Conscience

Jason McBrayer's weblog; occasional personal notes and commentary

Wed, 07 Apr 2010

iw8 ridiculousness

OHAI. This has been sitting in my Commonplace Book since mid-Februrary waiting for me to publish it. Now I have enough of a morning routine that I may be able to do a few computer things before work again once in a while, so this is getting spit out.

So, I got an invitation to a group on Facebook called iw8. The invitation comes from an elementary school friend and high school acquaintance who has joined some kind of cult of evangelical WASPs who for some reason believe they are Jewish. The group itself seems to be dedicated to teaching youth to wait until marriage to have sex.

This is so insane that I lack the vocabulary to describe it. I’m not going to go into the details of why abstinence-only sex education doesn’t work. Instead, I want to talk about the basic social context of chastity-before-marriage.

In a society where the median age at first marriage is 14-16, like in most peasant agricultural societies, abstinence until marriage is no problem, almost a no-brainer. It’s a cultural norm that hardly even needs to be enforced in order to be effective.

In a society where the median age at first marriage is more like 18-22, like in post-WWII America, abstinence before marriage is still ideologically tenable, but is starting to bump up against biological realities, so that you can expect to see widespread hypocrisy and double standards emerging. In the US, this mostly took the form of most of the boys having premarital sex with a few “bad girls” and then going on to marry the “good girls.” Exactly how well this worked is depicted in the film Splendor in the Grass.

But when the mean age at first marriage is well over 25, and pushing towards 30, it is full-on, reality-denying, flat-earth, batshit, bugfuck insane to expect people to wait for marriage before they have sex. Indeed, it’s almost impossible to construe a literal meaning from iw8’s message. Do they mean that you should wait until you’re 26 to have sex? Or that you should marry at 18? The first is simply ridiculous to expect of anyone who’s not axsexual and does not have a calling to a celibate religious order. The second is incompatible with a society in which both men and women look to an extended period of higher education as the basis of economic opportunity. Teenagers are not stupid, and they have a lower tolerance for hypocrisy than adults. If you give them an abstinence-only message, they will correctly deduce that you are either an idiot or a hypocrite, and will tune out everything you have to say.

Sex education is essential to preventing unwanted pregnancy, and the transmission of STDs. And sex education has to be premised on the fact that teens are going to have sex. We must teach young people the facts, with a focus on safety, responsibility, and communication. The two goals have to be preventing young people’s first sexual experiences from having damaging consequences, and building a strong foundation for their later, mature sexual relationships. An abstinence-only approach doesn’t help achieve either of those goals.

[ Posted: 07:00] | [ Category: /politics] | Permalink | Comments: ]

bbcode-mode.el: a simple emacs mode for editing bbcode

A couple of years ago, I looked for a bbcode mode for Emacs, and, not finding one, wrote a very simple derived-mode for it. For some reason, syntax highlighting only worked intermittently, which I didn’t have time to put too much effort into trying to fix, and so I didn’t actually release the code for public consumption. Recently, though, I saw on Planet Emacsen an explanation for why it wasn’t working; I’ve tried to find that post to link to it and credit the author, but unfortunately, I can’t.

Anyway, having fixed the font-locking issue, I’ve released bbcode-mode.el at bitbucket. In the process of releasing it, I searched for other bbcode modes to make sure I wasn’t taking a name that was in use. It turns out that in the meantime while I wasn’t releasing my bbcode mode, Xah Lee released another, xbbcode-mode. The two modes are rather different in design, so depending on your tastes, you might reasonably prefer either one or the other.

A side note: I wish bitbucket supported org-mode README files like github does.

[ Posted: 06:43] | [ Category: /computing] | Permalink | Comments: ]


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