Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sometimes I hate the Post

Yesterday, the Washington Post printed this letter:

Regarding the Jan. 13 letter by Jatrice Martel Gaiter, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, about mandatory vaccination for human papillomavirus (HPV):

Perhaps instead of vaccinating young people to prevent a disease transmitted by (promiscuous) sexual relations, or promoting artificial birth control and abortion to alleviate the problem of unwanted pregnancy due to promiscuous sex, Planned Parenthood and the District government should promote abstinence programs, whose main side benefit would be respect for the dignity of young women.


Dear God. HPV isn't transmitted by "promiscous" sexual relations--it's transmitted by sexual relations. Someone needs to inform this woman that, like pregnancy, only having sex one time is enough. In other words, a woman can remain abstinent (and dignified, according to the letter-writer) and not have sex till her wedding night, and still contract HPV!

I am not, however, angry at the letter-writer. I assume she is woefully misinformed/ignorant precisely because she herself received abstinence-only education. No, I am angry at the Post for printing a letter like this without comment. Surely this woman was not the only one to write in opposing the HPV vaccination and promoting abstinence-only education. So why did the Post choose to print a letter with lies? Instead of worrying so much about "balance," the Post should be calling bullshit.

28 Comments:

Blogger Gina said...

The "balance" crap is what happened to the LA Times, whose readership is probably 99.2 percent left-leaning. They fired Robert Scheer and brought in some crazy (and not all right-leaning people are crazy, but these guys are nuts) people who wouldn't know a fact if it hit them in the face.

Suffice it to say, I, like many other people, cancelled my subscription.

11:30 AM, January 24, 2007  
Anonymous nutso-ranter said...

I'm calling "bullshit" on you APL. (Or maybe I'm calling you bullshit??) Me thinks you are suffering from lack o' sleep. A servere condition also caused by too much (promiscuous) sex, and for which there is no vaccine.

You know I love you babe... but "lies"? C'mon... "woefully misinformed"-yes. "stupid" - yes, "inaccurate" - yes... "lies"????? I don't know.

Go back to bed.

1:28 PM, January 24, 2007  
Blogger Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

Huh, NR? The letter writer is basically averring that unwanted pregnancy and HPV are caused ONLY by promiscuous sex.

And she's sayng that Planned Parenthood supports "artificial" birth control, which I can only assume is how she refers to any birth control method with less than a 100% rate.

Three lies, right there.

(And I actually got enough sleep last night--7 hours, in two 3.5-hour chunks--for the first time in days. Yay.)

1:43 PM, January 24, 2007  
Anonymous nutso-ranter said...

Fact: PP does promote "artificial" birth control (which I interpret as any kind of birth control (condom/pill/etc) OTHER than the "rhythym method" I was taught in Cathlic school sex ed... which works soooo well, that Catholic families (such as mine) are usually teeny tiny---NOT!)

Fact: there IS a problem of unwanted pregnancies due to promiscuous sex (there is also a problem with unwanted pregnancies due to non-promiscuous sex-- lets face it.. unwanted pregnancies are a problem!)

I don't doubt that the writer would classify most sex as promiscuous, but i don't think she's saying that HPV can only be passed through "promiscuous" sex... where does she say that? I think her sentence syntax sucks, and as a closet-sentence-diagrammer, I expect that you noticed that. But I think you're reading too much in to this to call it a "lie" (thus blaming my beloved Post)... I just see it as a stupid argument made by someone with crappy writing skilz.

Glad you got some sleep last night ;)

2:13 PM, January 24, 2007  
Anonymous nutso-ranter said...

P.S. - I'm so dismayed you didn't catch my joke about your lack o' sleep problem being caused by sex. Or was it just that I wasn't funny?

I will go laugh to myself... har har.

2:46 PM, January 24, 2007  
Anonymous Lex said...

NR, step aside. The grownups are here.

1) Abstinence-based sex ed isn't totally worthless, but it's a lot closer to totally worthless than anything else out there.

2) Notice to the scientifically illiterate and the science-bashers: Slowly put down the country and put your hands in the air. You don't run things anymore. Our turn now. Buh-bye.

3) I'll start taking people like the letter writer seriously when they stop f*cking with the rights of people to make their own decisions about sex. Going after abortion rights is bad enough; now they're going after birth control, which, the Supreme Court said in Griswold v. Connecticut, is none of the government's damn business. It's awfully hard to claim a shred of credibility on the issue of illegitimacy when you've been doing your dead-level best to convince the country that no one should have any artificial birth control of any kind, anywhere, ever, which is pretty much what the American Taliban have been pushing, although they lie and deny it. (Actions, not words, baby.)

Oh, and as a religion writer who has been tracking issues related to Christian nationalism and Reconstructionism for more than a decade, I can assure you: The scare stories? Mostly true. I haven't read Chris Hedges' new book on this subject yet, but I've read Michelle Goldberg's, and its only flaw is that she doesn't claim to be as alarmed by her own findings as she ought to be.

As an American the behavior of the American Taliban infuriates me. As a Christian, this infuriates me even more, because it's doing the exact opposite of what Christ called us to do. When Christ walked into the temple and kicked moneychanger ass, it was the James Dobsons and Pat Robertsons of his day he was going after. They need to confess and repent, NR, and so do you. On your knees. Right now.

3:15 PM, January 24, 2007  
Blogger Yankee, Transferred said...

I am speechless. For many reasons. And you know how rare that is.
I love you, APL.

4:08 PM, January 24, 2007  
Anonymous nutso-ranter said...

I repent. I do. On my knees.

I repent that my writing is so bad that I have now been equated to a Pat Robertson-loving, science-hating, anti-PP, religious pro-lifer.

Egad. Where did I go wrong?

4:23 PM, January 24, 2007  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

I also love you, APL. And Lex's "Abstinence-based sex ed isn't totally worthless, but it's a lot closer to totally worthless than anything else out there" is my favorite sentence of the day. Hands down.

4:34 PM, January 24, 2007  
Blogger Not so little sister said...

APL, well written post. The close minded tunnel vision drives me batty! Thanks for "balancing" things out.

4:39 PM, January 24, 2007  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

Amen, sister.

7:01 PM, January 24, 2007  
Blogger Rev Dr Mom said...

Holy cow--great post, and Lex's comment is awesome, too. Could I just add AMEN?

7:28 PM, January 24, 2007  
Blogger Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

I think NR's writing was way off today, as she herself has pondered, because it definitely came off (to me) a little right of center/crackpot. BUT I must assure you all that NR is one of those very liberal Catholics who I hold dear. For some reason, though, the very opposite came across in her comments.

9:38 PM, January 24, 2007  
Blogger kathy a said...

excellent post, APL. and kudos to lex as well.

10:49 PM, January 24, 2007  
Anonymous di kotimy said...

"I think NR's writing was way off today..."

Probably just lack of sleep.

12:20 AM, January 25, 2007  
Anonymous Genevieve said...

This is the Post quote that made me scream (though not at the Post for including it - I'm very glad they did, so people can see what we're up against - but I wish this was getting more press):

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/22/AR2007012201365.html


""Roe v. Wade is going to be overturned," he told the cheering crowd. Brownback predicted that would happen "a few years from now," and abortion will be illegal unless a mother's life is at risk, he said.

Isajiw of the Catholic Medical Association rose to argue that even an exception to protect a mother's life is unnecessary. "That's a good point," Brownback responded. "Well said.""

WHAT THE HELL!?!?!
I'm sorry, I can't come up with anything much more coherent to express my outrage.

3:06 AM, January 25, 2007  
Anonymous Lex said...

For some reason, though, the very opposite came across in her comments.

Well, you know her better than I do. But particularly in this medium, words have meaning (and by the way, I don't apologize one damn bit for what I added in the comment you spiked -- read pre-WWII German history and you'll see how appropriate it was). Her words are very similar to those of some of the most despicable human beings ever to be admitted to the halls of power in this country. Being a liberal Catholic (or anything else) doesn't get you off the hook for that behavior, nor for snark in the defense of it.

7:00 AM, January 25, 2007  
Anonymous di kotimy said...

Whoa! Lex, easy there.

N.R., for what it's worth, I think I actually understood what you were saying -- and it doesn't come anywhere near making pre-WWII German history relevant.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but I think all NR was doing was attempting to make a distinction between stupidity/ignorance and willful deceit. And frankly, I think she's probably right -- the letter writer probably had nno intention ofintentionally misrepresenting the frequency of sex required to transmit HPV. She's just mechanically parroting a bunch of judmental schlock about how abstinence will rid the world of evil.

I don't think NR *ever* implied agreement with this position -- she just took issue with the word "lies" to characterize it.

7:33 AM, January 25, 2007  
Anonymous nutso-ranter said...

Thanks God for you di kotimy. You have made my point much more clearly than I did.

Lex, simmer down. If you go back and re-read what I said, I'm not defending the writer's opinions at all. I think they're schlock... but I view them as "opinions"... not "facts". I think in order for there to be "lies" there first has to be a statement presented as fact.

10:05 AM, January 25, 2007  
Blogger Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

I think in order for there to be "lies" there first has to be a statement presented as fact.

And that's where I disagree, because I saw the writer's use of "a disease transmitted by (promiscuous) sexual relations" as a deliberate misstatement of the truth, and I decided to call it what I think it is: a lie. But I see what your point is.

10:20 AM, January 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, miss a post, miss a lot at APL's place.

Butterflyfish

12:25 PM, January 25, 2007  
Anonymous Lex said...

NR, NSAH has intervened on your behalf. I've known him a long time and trust his judgment. (To clarify, I've known APL about as long and trust her judgment, too, but she hasn't said anything directly to me about my comment.) So at his request, and because I do not want to abuse our hostess's hospitality, I'll rethink. It'll be a few days -- I'm about to be medically laid up for a bit and am trying to get some work done first.

'til then, peace.

1:56 PM, January 25, 2007  
Anonymous notso-nutso-ranter said...

Peace, Lex...

APL intervened on your behalf too... she told me to go sit in the naughty corner and sing "kum-ba-ya" 30 times.

APL and NSAH - sorry I stirred up trouble on your blog.

3:16 PM, January 25, 2007  
Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Wow! Fun day at APL!

I think you're right on, APL.

According to NIH, there are 20 million people in this country already infected with HPV and 6.2 million new cases are reported every year. At least 50 percent of sexually active men and women will acquire HPV at some point in their lifetimes. Many have no symptoms and, at the moment, there is NO approved test to detect HPV in men.

What does this mean? Unless everyone in this country abstains until marriage, you can get HPV. There's no way to test your future husband for it. And you may have it and not even know it. So as far as I'm concerned, people who are complaining that this vaccine shouldn't be given to young women because it promotes promiscuity are just plain crazy. Play russian roulette with your own life and your own health if you want but leave everyone else alone!

8:41 PM, January 25, 2007  
Anonymous Lex said...

OK, I'm back, gaping surgical wound and all. (Kidding. It's mostly healed, although my son's climbing into bed with us a couple of nights ago and jamming a knee into it did set things back a bit. Yes, wince, all of you except APL and the other moms, who probably suffered more in only their respective second hours of labor.)

Now, then, where were we ...

whose main side benefit would be respect for the dignity of young women.

Actually, no, that would not be a side benefit. It would be an ostensible motivation. The real motivation would be to control the lives of other autonomous human beings, but that just doesn't fit nicely into a Post LTE, now, does it?

I am not, however, angry at the letter-writer. I assume she is woefully misinformed/ignorant precisely because she herself received abstinence-only education.

I, however, am totally angry at the letter writer, but then APL is a better person than I. I do not assume the writer is woefully misinformed. I offer her the respect of presuming she is smart and aware enough to know exactly what she is doing, mainly because it gives me the moral justification for holding her in utter contempt. ;-)

N/R, this is where you and I came in. (Assume smiley here; I don't want to clutter up the page with them.)

I work in the bidness, and I agree with APL that a newspaper has a certain obligation not to print things, even in letters to the editor, that it knows are objectively untrue. As I said above w/r/t the letter writer, I think it's entirely possible she is lying. Whether she is or not, she is certainly and obviously inaccurate, and the Post had a duty to its readers to call her on it, pre-publication. It need not have spiked the letter; it could have suggested revision.

And, finally, to N/R: As to overall theme, I did indeed misread you, and it was not your fault. In fact, reading back through the comments leading to my first, I'm not quite sure what I was thinking. Therefore I'm pleased to apologize, publicly and abjectly, if belatedly, for having misread your comment and having criticized you as a result. That probably sounds snarky as hell, but I mean it.

(Lex and his wound exeunt.)

10:05 PM, February 05, 2007  
Blogger Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

Lex, you are so eloquent I am embarrassed for the often-jumbled content of my blog.

I wish you and your wound a speedy recovery.

4:17 PM, February 06, 2007  
Anonymous Lex said...

Geez, APL, you just had a baby and all. You have nothing to be embarrassed about.

In fact, I didn't think new mothers COULD be embarrassed about anything. Certainly not the once- (and twice) new mother to whom I am married. But then not much embarrasses her even aside from childbirth. (As the kewl computer kidz say, that's a feature, not a bug.)

BTW, I've stopped blogging except for work, and, having played out my part in this thread, pretty much stopped commenting elsewhere as well. Best wishes to all. I've enjoyed it, except for the part where I was totally wrong. That kind of sucked. :-)

4:28 PM, February 06, 2007  
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