November 2nd, 2005


Dammit, Discovery!

I rarely post about the content of my work, but I'm really pissed off about it today. First, a program on STDs claims "abstinence is 100% effective" at stopping STDs. I *hate* that factoid; like most such things, it is false, misleading, and dangerous. Abstinence does not protect against genital lice, and there are several vectors it doesn't block, including rape, needle-sharing, and contaminated blood transfusions. All that statistic does is encourage people to view STDs as a punishment for immoral or irresponsible behavior, which does NOTHING to help control the spread of disease.

The second program to piss me off was much, much worse, though. It was aimed at young kids, and about a picked-on kid named Larry who brings a gun to school. The alien turtle (don't ask) investigating is told that the kid is a "loner"; the kid himself tells he has told adults about his problems and they didn't do anything. So what's the advice the show offers kids like Larry?

1) Think about the consequences before you act. Unfortunately, we're talking about children, here. Their capacity for long-range consideration of consequences and rational thought is rather limited. Could be worse -- teenagers are incapable of even rudimentary cognition.

2) Talk to your friends. Except that Larry is a loner, remember? What friends?

3) Tell an adult about your problem. Which, of course, will provoke laughter and "boys will be boys" from the adults. Possibly with stories about how they were teased, too. Yeah, that's real helpful.

What should the video have said? Something along the lines of "You are an animal among animals, and the keepers are asleep. You cannot make it better, but you can make it much, much worse. Do nothing."
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