Can't Be Reasonable Without Reason

« June 2008 »

Memo to Katherine Kersten: YOU ARE DUMB.

Time once again to pay a visit to Minneapolis' official pet conservative, columnist Katherine Kersten. I'd been worried, over the past few weeks, that Kersten had been abandoning her traditional schtick of extreme conservatude hiding behind soft, banal paeans to reasonable compromise. I was concerned that she was angling toward becoming a green-bean casserole version of Ann Coulter; Michelle Malkin on a stick. But thanks to Shakopee Middle School, Kersten has returned to her insipid form.

You see, Shakopee Middle School, like any middle school full of eleven- and twelve-year-old kids, has a sex-ed unit. Lasts about two weeks. This year, the traditional script that has played itself out since the sixties made its return to the stage. Students come home, tell parents they learned about vaginas, parents lose their shit and yell at the school.

In this particular case, the parents' concerns focused around two things - first, that their official "We're Going To Teach Your Kids About Vaginas" letter was vague, calling the unit "Human Growth And Development". And second, that the boys and the girls learned about the boys and the girls together. In the same room. Gasp. Shock. Horror. Stupid.

And when stupid people in the Twin Cities area are being stupid, one woman heeds their call and leaps to their defense. It's a bird, it's a brain, it's BIRDBRAIN:

"The district passed off the class it was foisting on 11- and 12-year-olds as “Human Growth and Development.” As a result, neither parents nor self-conscious pre-adolescents suspected that teachers would show a 'picture of a developing girl' to a room of boys and girls sitting side by side."

These would, I presume, be the same parents that were surprised that Mortal Kombat had fighting to the death in it. A girl is a human. A developing girl is a developing human. They taught students about a developing girl in a class on human development. DO THE MATH.

I mean, yeah, they vagued it up a bit, but come on. It's 2008. The parents of the eleven- and twelve-year-olds in Shakopee very likely went through their own two week sex ed classes when THEY were in middle or high school. If the school's going out of its way, toward the end of the school year, to send you a letter warning you that your child is about to go through a special two-week unit on "Human Growth and Development", you don't have to be either Dr. or Mr. Spock to figure out that your kid's about to learn how fucking works. It's basic cultural literacy, assholes. Learn it.

But cultural literacy is not a valued asset on the far side of the culture wars, which is why you get Kersten saying stupid shit like: "Today’s clinical sex-ed programs often run roughshod over boys’ and girls’ natural modesty. If you want to guarantee a classroom of kids drawn up in the fetal position, show them “developing girl” pictures in mixed company."

First of all, why is it the developing girl parts that send the boys and girls into seizures? Having seen many a clinical diagram of human reproductive organs in my time, and I'll take the gentle, ram's-head fallopian cross-section over the series-of-tubes sack and wang side-shot every single time. But no, it's the mysteries of womanhood that are so utterly disturbing and embarrassing to both boys and girls alike. Right.

But the kicker is this. The parents themselves complain about the program's failure to "teach about the emotional and beautiful part of sex, focusing instead on the biological part.", causing Kersten to echo with the even more ludicrous "Middle school is a time when parents and teachers should show great sensitivity, and guard against reducing the mysterious and beautiful aspects of sex to mere biology."

By following this logic chain, we reach the inescapable conclusion that the ideal sex education program would preserve the mystery of sex. Which makes no goddamned sense, but that's what happens when you try to sound reasonable while still finding a way to object to knowledge.

Sex IS biology. So is emotion. So is beauty, for that matter. Kersten is so concerned about the comfort level and the modesty of the students? Well, a clinical, biological approach to sex ed maintains that a hell of a lot better than a seventh-grade teacher trying to tastefully describe the emotional, beautiful, and apparently metaphysical aspects of boot-knocking.

"Emotion" and "beauty" are just code words for 1950s style closed-door married missionary fucking, anyway. I would love to see the reactions from Kersten and her ilk if a school system chose to teach about the emotional aspects of sex by actually instructing students on the full range of reasons, motivations, and emotional outcomes of sex, from the bathroom-stall quickie to the hairy campground orgy. Somehow, I think they'd be diving for the overhead projector with the uterus transparency faster than you could say "human development".