Monday, September 01, 2008

On abstinence and common sense

On abstinence

Kathy Shaidle and Girl on the Right have weighed in on the Bristol Palin pregnancy.

And I’d like to weigh in on this, too. (And go off on a long tangent).

I disagree that Bristol Palin is an idiot for getting pregnant. It may have been a dumb thing to do, but I don’t consider her an idiot.


Because seventeen-year-olds have not finished growing. They’re still kids. Even the smart ones do stupid things. Most of them do, when their parents aren’t looking.

Abstinence cannot be purely a matter of individual will, especially the will of a seventeen-year-old.

The innocence of teenagers is one contributing factor to teenaged sex. They don’t know any better, they’re innocent.

Yes, they know what causes pregnancy, but teenagers are not always good at predicting the nature of the consequences of their actions. Magical thinking is part and parcel of the adolescent
mindset. They plan their lives by excluding the possibility of bad things happening to them.

I know how liberals would respond to this: give them contraception.

And my answer is: who says Bristol Palin wasn’t using it? Contraception doesn’t always work. It is sometimes used badly. It is sometimes forgotten.

Any sexual activity is a kind of baby lottery. That’s why abstinence is the only answer.

If social conservatives want our children to remain abstinent, we must do the things that promote abstinence. We must protect their innocence. We must control their environment. We must stop the practice of teens getting too serious about the opposite sex too early in life.

Adults who’ve had experience in the world can be expected to control themselves.

The same cannot be said for teenagers. Their level of self-control is not the same as adults. That’s why we do not allow them to drink alcohol (which is another contributing in teen pregnancy). That’s why we do not allow younger teens to drive cars.

The responsibility for teen abstinence doesn’t just belong to the individual. It has to be a parental and collective effort. We tend to see sexual activity as purely a private matter. But let’s look at the results of not protecting teenagers’ innocence and their whereabouts. Let’s look at the results of allowing them to see sexualized imagery. Let’s look at the results of allowing steady relationships in their teens.

How badly do you want your kid not to be involved in pregnancy?

The tackiness of welfare families (or rather “the underclass”—because it’s not just welfare people) doesn’t originate in the fact that one teen in the family got knocked up. It comes from the fact that they live a lifestyle that is devoid of a sense of responsibility—for themselves and their kids. There’s no sense of trying to be on the straight and narrow-- doing what is “proper”. In these families, the things most people think of as very bad, is not catastrophic to them.

Girl gets knocked up, father leaves? Oh well.

Drop out of high school? Oh well.

Work 20 weeks a year and spend the rest living off of EI? Oh well.

Had several children with several men? Oh well.

Kids ruin the neighbour’s yard and they don’t pay for damages? Oh well.

It’s not a religion thing. It’s a common sense thing. There’s an overwhelming lack of “doing the proper thing” in these families. There’s no sense of honour, that you should expect yourself and your family to live to a high expectation. Some people feel no shame or regret at having done all the things I mentioned.

And then they and our societal “betters” scream “DON’T JUDGE!”.

Any family can face an unplanned pregnancy. Family breakdown doesn’t automatically happen after this. The difference between families that perpetuate dysfunction and those that don’t is that they do not allow such mistakes to become chronic. Nobody’s perfect, but they don’t let that phrase become an excuse to engage willy-nilly in dysfunctional behaviour.

In dysfunctional families, it’s not just one thing that’s wrong.

It’s a lot of things.

It’s the smoking (waste of money)

It’s the chronic joblesseness (in an economy where jobs are plentiful)

It’s the drug use.

It’s the irresponsible sexual behaviour

It’s the delinquency.

And on and on.

There’s a kind of denial of what needs to be done in order to obtain the correct results. Their sense of honour is so poor that when you suggest what needs to be done, they think you’re crazy.

Not have sex? Must be crazy.

Work a crappy job to get off the government teat? Only suckers do that.

Order your kids in the house after dark? You mean people do that?

They place so little value on their personal sense of doing the right thing, that they don’t want to invest the energy and swallow their “pride” and do what needs to be done. In their world, only losers don’t have sex, shun drug use, work hard, are strict with their kids, etc.

To me, the worst form of poverty is not having to shop at a food bank. The worst form of poverty is being raised in a morally deprive environment because the kids don’t learn any better. How does a sixteen-year-old kid raised in a dysfunctional family know that she’s not supposed to have sex? How does she learn how to get a job and develop a sense of respectability if her parents (re: her mother because dad’s not around usually) if there are few people to model this?

And sometimes, it’s not that people don’t really know what to do. In spite of a lack of role models, through exposure of the world, they realize what would produce the best results.

But they don’t want to make an effort to do what needs to be done. It would feel weird. They lack an urgent sense of self-respect, that desire to anything that is needed to preserve one’s sense of honour.

I believe that the situation with Bristol Palin will turn out well, based on the general demeanour of the family. I do not discount the possibility that her situation could worsen, but it doesn’t look like it’s headed in that direction.

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