All Ben Shapiro Really Needs Is Some Serious Deep-Dickin\'

In what is sure to be an ongoing series, here is your Ben Shapiro quote of the day:

But the most interesting question [in Seventeen's February 2005 issue] came from one fifteen-year-old girl from Syracuse, Utah: "Me and my boyfriend had sex about three weeks ago, and he wasn't wearing a condom. He didn't come inside me, but I'm still worried--I'm having really bad mood swings, my breasts feel tender, and my stomach is, like, hard, and I can't suck it in. Do you think I'm pregnant?" "If you're pregnant, you need care and advice," the advice columnist responds, "and if you're not, you need to get birth control, so you'll avoid another situation like this." Or she could stop acting like a fifteen-year-old tramp. But that doesn't seem like a viable option if she's writing to Seventeen for advice.

- Shapiro, Ben. Porn Generation: How Social Liberalism Is Corrupting Our Future, Washington, DC: Regnery, 2005. 82-83

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I'd be pissed if I found out

I'd be pissed if I found out my 15 year-old daughter was having sex. That's not prudish, that's trying to protect her.

- Josh

From the book description,

From the book description, he sounds like a hell of a prude for a 21-year old. I'd way rather live in a world where 15-year olds are taught how to tramp safely if they want to than one in which they are discouraged from tramping at all. Heck, I don't even mind if they are encouraged to tramp - tramping is fun at any age!

OTOH, priggish parents are welcome to send their kids to uptight colleges - and should be allowed to send them to uptight grade schools without having to double-pay. But I'll happily back the libertines against the prigs in a bet on who gets less STDs.



Tom, Haven't several recent


Haven't several recent studies shown that kids in abstinence-only sex education programs actually have _higher_ rates of unwanted pregnancy and STDs than do kids in other sorts of sex-education programs?

You are certainly right that abstinence works better than any other form of birth control, but you leave out the most important caveat: abstinence works better only if kids actually are abstinent. Abstinence education has been shown to delay the age at which kids start having sex, but it doesn't substantially reduce the number of teenagers having sex. Rather, it just results in older rather than younger teenagers having sex, with those older teenagers being then far more likely to have unprotected sex in their first encounter.

Look, I remember being 17. It wasn't that long ago. I'm pretty sure that wanting to have sex when I was 16 had nothing to do with parents and teachers who told me about condoms. It had a whole lot to do with a sudden influx of all sorts of new hormones. Telling a teenage boy how to use a condom isn't going to suddenly make him horny. Nature already pretty well takes care of that.

Think of it this way. As a good libertarian (assuming you are), you presumably believe that humans are basically self-interested. Capitalism as an economic system takes advantage of self-interest and, ideally, makes us all better off in the long run. You would think it silly of me to complain that capitalism just encourages people to be self-interested. Not so, you'd say. We're already self-interested; capitalists just acknowledge that fact and then incorporate that fact into their social policy.

Well, teenagers want to fuck. Teaching them about using condoms doesn't make them want to fuck; they already do, and our social policy should simply acknowledge that fact and plan accordingly.

Tom-- I'll grant you all of


I'll grant you all of the above except for one point:

The overwhelming majority of early marriages among the folks I grew up with (mid 1990's, Bible Belt) were among the "let's wait until we're married" crowd.

This isn't to say they constituted the majority of early pregnancies, which are arguably worse--but still, this would suggest that there's a happy medium to be found there.

Let's start with some

Let's start with some basics:

Less teen sex = less disease + fewer unwanted children + fewer early (and often unhappy) marriages

Parents who want to protect their children therefore try to teach them to eschew sex because of its potential consequences. Abstinence -- by definition -- works better than prophylaxsis and contraception.

Parents who encourage their children to use contraceptive devices are, in effect, encouraging them to have sex. Parents who encourage their children to abstain from sex -- and tell them why they should do so -- are doing the right thing by their children. They won't succeed 100 percent of the time, but they're bound to succeed some of the time, unlike those parents who -- by their attitudes -- give the impression that they just don't care.

BTW, I'm not defending religion here; I'm not religious. I'm just trying to bring some balance to the discussion.

Oh, man. Excerpts aren't

Oh, man. Excerpts aren't enough. You've got to let me borrow the book when you're done Micha--or we should have a Ben Shapiro book club and sit in a circle reading it out loud (preferably while passing around Playboys at the same time).

It's like _Slouching Towards Gomorrah_ for Generation Y.

I think having mom and pop

I think having mom and pop sit me down for a graphic lecture on condom-application would have had the opposite effect of making me horny when I was a teen. One thing that didn’t reduce my fascination with sex, however, was being told that sex is only for those rebellious few who play by their own rules, don’t listen to authority, have the balls to do what they want and have the guts to take chances. But who wants to be like that? Just give me a bible, timid self-repression and a submissive attitude towards human contact, thank you very much.

And on a similar note, perhaps we should stop encouraging teens to wear seat belts – that would in fact be encouraging them to engage in vehicular collisions. “Just say NO to car accidents!”

Joe Miller responded

Joe Miller responded thoughtfully to the issues I raised. I take his point about the apparent correlation between abstinence programs and the incidence of pregnancies and STDs. But...I'm not talking about formal programs, I'm talking about parental guidance -- not parents who harp on "sin" but parents who tells their kids the facts of life and the potentially dire consequences. The second study cited by Eric seems to support the idea that that kind of sex education works. I mainly object to parents (and others) who cavalierly say that kids are going to "do it anyway," and simply point them in the direction of a drugstore.

I'm not suggesting that we discourage kids from "wearing seatbelts" as Eric seems to think (if he was responding to my comment). I'm suggesting that we discourage kids from "driving" before they've taken "driving lessons" and teach them about the dire consequences of "driving accidents." Should they be denied access to prophylaxis and contraception? No. But they should know that "accidents will happen" even if they're wearing their "seat belts."

Justin, First, point taken


First, point taken about reading the study more thoroughly. I will say that I find it odd to characterize the APA as an advocacy group, though. Perhaps you and I just have different ideas about what counts as advocacy.

_One could just as easily write, for example: condoms work better [than unprotected sex] only if kids actually use condoms_

Yes, this is true. There is, however, something of a difference here. At best, abstinence-only programs simply delay the onset of sexual activity in teens. Now that might be a good thing, depending on your view about the innate goodness or badness of teenage sex. As far as I can tell, there doesn't seem to be any evidence that abstinence education makes a terribly big dent in the overall amount of teenage sex. You cite an 11% gap, but that doesn't actually say anything about abstinence education as a program. The group of kids that makes such a pledge is self-selecting. One would need to control for the percentage of kids who wouldn't have sex before marriage even without abstinence education.

There does, however, seem to be some evidence that teaching kids how to use condoms does result in higher condom-use. So given that, even in the best case as you describe it, 88% of kids in abstinence-only education still have sex, doesn't it seem like rather a good idea to teach them how to use a condom? Even looking more objectively at the facts as you present them, they don't seem to paint all that pretty a picture for abstinence.

Joe makes an interesting

Joe makes an interesting point:

abstinence works better [than condom-based sex ed] only if kids actually are abstinent

Which points to the disconnect of this entire discussion. One could just as easily write, for example:

condoms work better [than unprotected sex] only if kids actually use condoms

What's interesting is that the bar for abstinence ed is to outdo safe-sex ed, while safe-sex ed competes, essentially, with nothing. The underlying question (as Patri & commenters illustrate in the follow-up post) is really whether one believes it's better for kids to have sex or not to have sex. The surface question, which Joe addresses here, is how the two types of sex ed compare with each other on an objective measure such as diseases.

What Joe doesn't delve into, citing reports that are essentially advocacy pieces for one side, is whether those "recent studies" show what the advocacy pieces claim. The APA, for example, relies heavily on a study by Bearman & Bruckner (2004) that specifically addresses only one-time abstinence pledges and raises more questions than it answers. Those pledges — by themselves — delayed initial sex by 18 months (e.g., junior-year midterms to the senior prom). Moreover, the numbers for condom usage — measured at age 23, as I recall — are such that unprotected sex within marriage was counted in the same way as unprotected sex with strangers at a bar. Even moreover, the STD numbers showed abstinence pledgers coming in with fewer disease — a fact that the researchers dismissed as statistically insignificant (which, of course, means that it's hardly evidence the other way). And finally, it was still a point of fact that the 88% of pledgers who had premarital sex compared with 99% of nonpledgers who did.

The point: if you're more interested in an objective analysis than in supporting one side on the above-mentioned underlying question, you really have to look into the numbers.

Well, I know that, at least

Well, I know that, at least after an earlier iteration of the same study, the researchers stated that they had measured "pure pledge" effect:

"A typical argument against our findings would be that the kind of kids who pledge are those who would not have sex anyway," Bearman said in a statement. But although that was true to some extent, the data proved "confidently that the delay we saw was real."

As for the "control," I'm not sure what you're asking for. 99% of subjects who did not take the abstinence pledge had premarital sex. I'm not sure whether the non-pledge was a wilfull refusal, but that's still a pretty dismal failure for safe-sex programs for which the typical template is to "encourage abstinence." Of course, we all know that that phrase is just rhetoric included to keep the prudes from gaining critical mass. (I remember wondering why the teachers would be giving me condoms if I wasn't supposed to use them.)

And that raises an important point that you skirted from my previous comment. To put it differently: "abstinence-only" doesn't mean that the program bans discussion of everything else. Rather, it's more like abstinence is the only commendable option. The factors that you skirted were that (1) non-pledgers still had higher STD rates, and (2) the condom-usage data was of 23 year olds (who had pledged as teenagers), among whom twice as many pledgers were married (obviating the dire necessity for condoms).

So how pretty of a picture do you want? Even if "abstinence education" improves on "safe-sex education" only marginally, special cases excluded, it apparently yields at least the same improvement over no education, and it keeps the government and education establishment out of the business of sexualizing children.

Justin, _To put it


_To put it differently: “abstinence-only” doesn’t mean that the program bans discussion of everything else. Rather, it’s more like abstinence is the only commendable option._

I don't think that this is what abstinence only programs actually do. As you point out elsewhere in your post, pretty much all sex education programs talk about abstinence as the best option. Abstinence only programs, however, do just what their name implies: they teach abstinence only. If you want to talk about programs that teach both, fine; I've no problem with that. I don't particularly have any objection to such programs.

We may be talking past one another to some extent here. I don't doubt that abstinence-only programs really do delay the age at which people have sex. I was actually making reference to your statistic that 88% of pledgers still have premarital sex. At least, that's what I take that sentence to be saying. Sure that's a lower rate than the 99% of non-pledgers. But that's hardly telling. After all, wouldn't it follow that those who refuse to take an abstinence pledge are pretty likely to have sex?

My point was rather that if 88% of those who take a pledge and 99% of everyone else are all having sex, then that's damn near everyone. If abstinence-only programs protect 11% of whatever percentage of teenagers who take abstinence pledges, then that's great. I'm worried about the presumably more than 90% of kids who are still having sex. Well, I'm not worried that they're having sex; I'm worried that they're having unsafe sex.

_I’m not sure whether the non-pledge was a wilfull refusal, but that’s still a pretty dismal failure for safe-sex programs for which the typical template is to “encourage abstinence.”_

It's a dismal failure rate only if the yardstick is preventing teens from having sex. I can think of no good reason for making that the measure of success. It strikes me that pregnancy rates and STD rates are better indicators. That abstinence may get marginally lower rates of STDs is an important point, but I think that the fact that only a small handful of teens actually are abstinent rather cuts against that statistic.

_Even if “abstinence education” improves on “safe-sex education” only marginally, special cases excluded, it apparently yields at least the same improvement over no education_

I'll grant you that abstinence education is an improvement over no education at all. But that's not really the point here.

_it keeps the government and education establishment out of the business of sexualizing children_

Do you remember puberty? Or biology? I don't remember needing government or the education establishment to sexualize me. Nature pretty much took care of that for me. I'm never quite sure what to make of the claim that kids will want to have sex only because teachers tell them about it. Teenagers want to have sex already. As Eric already mentioned, tell them it's wrong and that their parents and teachers will disapprove--you think that makes it more appealing or less?

Joe, You're turning things


You're turning things around. I wasn't saying that teenagers need "the government or education establishment to sexualize" them. Rather, I don't see why (particularly in company of libertarians) it is the government's place to play a role in that process. (Unless you're claiming that government, school, and society in general have no effect on the degree to which children are sexualized, which both common sense and history would prove a foolish claim.) Or is libertarianism now a rejection of the idea that one of mankind's defining qualities is the ability to master instincts and emotions?

Regarding children's tendency to rebel, I'd suggest that our society won't always be in the shadow of the '60s or living according to the cultural dynamics of Kevin Bacon's Footloose. Teenagers don't have to instantly translate "don't" into "must do," and the shortsight of adults who insist that they do and will as a matter of... well... instinct, is a large glop of the grease sliding the rebel without a cause down toward existence as a frothing id.

Justin, Well, for starters,


Well, for starters, I'm not a libertarian, so I do have concerns about the proper role of the state in educating children, and for me, those concerns aren't really about the fact that the state is educating children.

You're probably right that at least part of the rebelliousness of teenagers is culturally based and not inherent. Still, it is a fact, however it came about. I thought that libertarians typically criticized, say, Marxists for endorsing a social policy that was predicated upon rather widespread changes in human behavior. But isn't that just what you're doing when you argue for a policy that is based upon teenagers someday not thinking that it's cool to rebel?

I'm not really old enough to be an authority on this, having not been born until the '70s, but is it really true that teenage rebellion is a product of the '60s? Didn't Elvis tap into that whole teen rebellion thing several years earlier? Wasn't the same true of, say, the jazz scene in the '20s and swing in the '30s and '40s? Has there been an era in which parents haven't claimed that their kids were rejecting all sorts of good normal stuff (you know, the stuff they liked as kids that their parents hated) in favor of weird new things? I guess that I'm just not convinced that teenage rebellion isn't at least partly inherent.

Joe, Marxists' problem isn't


Marxists' problem isn't so much that they require widespread change in human behavior. Any group in history that wished for an advancement of civilization against barbarism has wanted that. (And it's telling that libertarianism, to which I am not an adherent, often seems to represent a chute for individuals back to that state.)

Marxists' problem is that their required changes conflict with human nature.

Micha, You're presupposing


You're presupposing human nature as a monochromatic thing. Human nature contains elements that conflict with each other. For simplicity's sake: a desire for universal ontological meaning versus a desire for actions to have no consequences. Thus, change can work within human nature, while certain approaches to change (i.e., Marxism) can conflict with human nature as a state of being.

To give Ben Shapiro some

To give Ben Shapiro some deep dickin' you'll need to take the stick out of his ass first!

All required changes

All required changes conflict with human nature in some sense, else they would not be called "changes." If human nature already led to the desired behavior, there would be no change needed.