According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, over the holiday break the one-third of Philly high schools with the worst record for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) were outfitted with clear plastic dispensers full of free condoms.
This pilot program is touted as a pragmatic response to an “alarming public health crisis.” Nothing is said about negative repercussions.
Granted, the public health officials in Philadelphia do not find themselves in an enviable position. They are haunted by the alleged abject failure of abstinence-only programs across the country. Not only were the self-control programs a waste of time and money, but they also caused educators to develop a nervous tic. (“Here’s your abstinence-only textbook. (Wink wink).”
Health officials are forced to throw ideas against the wall and see what sticks. (Of course this makes oldtimers nostalgic for the times when the situation would be handled by a father throwing a Romeo against the wall and asking, “You want to do WHAT with my daughter???”)
Parents can sign a statement opting out of the free-condom program, but overworked school nurses are not required to cross-reference the files. So students can zip into the nurse’s office, grab some condoms and leave — no questions asked. Actually, students ought to be asking each other a LOT of questions. (“Why should I trust you behind the steering wheel of two tons of metal if you’re too stupid to use a condom unless it’s free???”)
I’m bowled over by the irony in all this. Supposedly, if religious materials are allowed within 500 yards of a school, the impressionable teens will be sucked into a life of cult membership. But if you place free condoms within easy reach of the “good” kids and make premarital sex sound as school-sanctioned as pep rallies and fundraising carwashes, they’re not going to be the least little bit curious??? (“Sorry, voluptuous classmate, the only experimentation I’m interested in is my project demonstrating Newton’s Second Law of Motion. Stop blowing in my ear.”)
What is the deeper message that students derive from this particular response to the STD epidemic? (“You say General Lee SURRENDERED at Appomattox? You mean he installed CONDOM DISPENSERS? Sweet!”)
I hope someone is taking into account the litigious nature of our society. If “they’re going to do it anyway” is the basis for school decisions, someone will sue for free Cliff’s Notes dispensers or free cigarette dispensers. If the SCHOOLS are going to start preaching “If everybody else is jumping off a bridge, be sure to wear a condom,” some 75-year-old is going to sue for REPARATIONS for being indoctrinated with the exact opposite information.
Physically, the condoms are being placed on the wall; metaphorically, they’re being placed on a PEDESTAL. Is anyone willing to deal with the aura of invulnerability generated by the deification of latex? (“My lunch break? I’m going out to the parking lot with all three Skank sisters and then I’m whupping Lex Luthor’s butt!”)
Are we ready for “What I Did During My Summer Vacation” essays that begin “I waited patiently for three months for more free condoms. Ah, nobody will fall for that…”?
Who am I kidding? There’s no use debating a moot issue.
Because, in the end, there’s no such thing as a free condom.
©2012 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades”. Danny’s’ weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info on using columns, please email Cari Dawson Bartley at email@example.com or call 800 696 7561.
- Philadelphia installing condom dispensers in schools (foxnews.com)