Let's get this part out of the way, right away: The fact that Republican Veep candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's 17-year-old kid is pregnant does not make the kid a fair topic of partisan political discussion or debate.
But I'm not partisan!
Still, while I often have beef with select broadcast pundits for having no shame in their underhanded personal attacks and their use of half truths as weapons, I believe in credit where it's due. And since the news broke about the Palin daughter's pregnancy I haven't heard or heard of one TV pundit who has gone after the girl.
All that being said, I believe there's a little confusion on facts vs. issues.
The pregnancy is a matter of fact. The girl is a minor. That's a matter of fact. The girl is not running for office. That's a matter of fact. The girl intends to keep the baby. That intention is a matter of fact. The girl's decision is in keeping with her family's public pro-life stance. None of those facts needs to be debated or publicly pondered. They are what they are.
But there are related issues that are fair game, and I'm waiting to see if the pundits address those issues in any detail.
For example, there are premarital sex by minors and unsafe sex. I agree with all sides that Palin's daughter is not a political pinball. However, her situation cast in the shadow of her mother's staunch position that the only good sex education is abstinence education, makes that position fair game for debate.
If you've read this blog before, you know my pops is a pastor, who is pro-life. You know that I attended a parochial high school, where we didn't get sex ed. You don't necessarily know that my school, while significantly smaller in size than nearby public schools, experienced several high profile pregnancies during my tenure. I was friends with the parties involved. To a man...and woman, they all said after the fact that in the moment they weren't thinking about anything but the act of sex itself, and getting it right.
So I'm not advocating over-the-top sex ed. In fact, I'm not advocating sex ed at all. If you want your kid to have it, make sure he is in a school where he'll get it. If you don't want your kid to have it, don't let him take the classes. But make sure you teach him about humans and sex at home. I say humans and sex, 'cause that birds and bees nonsense has to stop. I've never learned anything about how to have sex, or have safe sex from fowl or insects.
Anyway, I don't see any problem with the pundits asking whether or not some form of sex ed might have led to the introduction of condoms into the sex life of Palin's daughter and the daughter's boyfriend, and possibly have prevented the pregnancy.
It's not a knock on the kid. It's a question about a policy Palin supports for other American kids, kids who aren't hers.
And hopefully, if the question is raised, Palin's supporters will demand to see evidence that learning about condoms in school compels more teenagers to use them. Don't harp to me that there is data proving it. For every kid who answers sex life surveys in school, there are two or three more who either lie on those surveys or choose not to answer 'em. Let's not forget the wisdom of Mark Twain when it comes to statistics: On the sliding scale of fibbing, there are "lies, damned lies, and statistics!"
Frankly, if I had not been such a combo jock/dork/debate club geek/barbershop quartet member/?, I might have had a legitimate shot at sex before age 17. And if I'd had such a shot, I can't guarantee you I'd have remembered a condom in the heat of the moment. I mean I kept them in my car way back then, in the unlikely event that I'd get to use them before becoming a legal adult. But even straight A students can forget things in the heat of the moment....not that I was a straight A student, in no-sex ed or any other subject.
Last and least, since the balance and fairness of media coverage always seems to leach into political debates these days, if Barack Obama's eldest daughter was a few years older and it came out that she was pregnant by a high school boyfriend, would the media react the same way, or would Obama be taken to task for preaching the "gospel" of personal responsibility while his own daughter was engaging in unsafe sex? Would the race baiters come out and argue that Obama's family was contributing to the high rate of black children born to single mothers?
On a related note, Obama's running mate Sen. Joe Biden has been classified by both partisans and non-partisan "analysts" as a socially liberal politician. If one of his youngest sons had impregnated a girl in high school, would Biden be taken to task now for letting having let his liberal ways cloud his parental judgment and hinder him from keeping his household under control?
As always, don't get mad. I'm just asking questions!
Your opinion, please?