Probability, schmobability

   I refuse to give money to any environmental group that does not include birth control among its top priorities. Comedian and sage Dennis Miller once said that a developer is someone who wants to build a house in the woods, and an environmentalist is someone who already has a house in the woods. Don't get me wrong; I'm about as pro-environment as you can get. After all, your environment is what surrounds you, and given a choice between new car smell, sick building smell, or woodsy smell, I'll take the woodsy smell, no matter what they make those little pine tree-shaped air fresheners out of. And I'll take birth control, even a particularly medicinal-smelling condom, over whatever comes out of a baby.
    The abstinence-only education crowd cite the occasional birth-control failure as a reason to reject any sort of protection and promote only self-control. But according to the law, any birth control failure rate includes people not using it correctly. For example, the condom failure rate takes in account not just people not using rubbers correctly (like putting it on before penis insertion) but men who own condoms yet don't actually use them. This is honesty to the point of ludicrousness.
   In a way it follows the Catholic reasoning on birth control. You want to have sex -- that's a given -- but if you purchased birth control that means you planned to do it, and therefore you're a slut. Planning and forethought are predmeditation, but worse, they're honesty -- you can't say it just happened: you had condoms with you and you were wearing black lingerie. So teen-age girls get knocked up and use the "I don't know how it happened" excuse. It's a lot fewer Hail Marys but the penance is long term. I don't know about you, but I'd sooner say rosaries from sun-up to sun-down then be a parent at 17.
    Do we include in seat belt statistics people who drive cars with seat belts but don't use them? No wonder so many cars strap you in automatically. They should take the same approach to birth control. Making out in a vehicle should trigger a condom automatically sliding into place. If you're in a Volvo, it'll be a boxy, but extremely safe, condom.
    Norplant is like an airbag; you don't have any choice of whether or not it'll work. But you still have the idiotic anecdotal story about the guy who would have survived if only he'd been blown clear.
    Since some lesbians are having children be artificial insemination, homosexuality is no longer a reliable means of birth control. Given the number of Catholic priests in the news for affairs with parishioners, celibacy is no sure form of birth control, either. I'm not sure how it compares to being heterosexually active, but they seem to have fewer kids than lesbians. But I guess that depends on the definition of "have." For years, homophobes have been warning us about homosexuals "recruiting" to add to their numbers. You don't see much success in recruiting priests these days.
   I think all young women should be given Norplant as soon as they approach puberty, even if they want to be lesbian nuns when they grow up. No taking chances. We don't need to know what you're doing, just no bastards on our tabs. And all boys should get reversible vasectomies. If they really want to be daddies, they should be willing to go under the knife a second time. And just to be safe, give them Norplant too, just in case there's a lesbian nun in that boy trying to get out.
    There's been talk about bringing back the stigma of illegitimacy, and that's all well and good, except it's the stigma that makes it so darn appealing. Forbidden fruit and all. When I use the word "bastard" I mean it as a technical term, the way others would use "children at-risk." At risk of what? At risk of making more bastards, if you don't get some Norplant in them.
    (I admit, though, that I occasionally use the word "bastard" to describe the idiot tailgating me who's got such a boner for getting to the next red light that his stick shift really ought to have that "new condom smell" emanating from it it.)
   It's not the apple-pie acceptability of motherhood that lures teen-age girls into getting knocked up. It's their own stupidity, combined with what Lou Reed once referred to as "the smooth soothings of some Neaderthal." Many teen-agers are just plain stupid, after all, and you can't rely on something as subtle as a scarlet letter to get the point across. To be a good parent, you have to have your shit together, and teen-agers don't have their shit together. It's all part of our society's extension of adolescence into college and then again into middle-age, at least for balding men with penis issues.
   Now some people may argue that elsewhere in the world and in our own history girls were becoming full-fledged mommies at the age of 16 with no problem. All well and good, if picking rocks and sweeping dirt were marketable skills in this country. Birds that lay eggs before they make nests are what scientists call extinct.

© 1999 Randel Shard


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