A dose of the Sith


A while back I alerted you to Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn's Star Wars-themed lunchtime talk on sexually transmitted diseases, featuring free pizza. The intended audience was young Capitol Hill staffers. Both Washington papers covered it. From the the Washington Times:

Mr. Coburn, a family physician, later said he doesn't do the slide show for shock value but sees it as a way to get medical facts to young people.

'They don't get enough information,' he said. Most new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) occur among people younger than 25, and if people know the science, they can modify their behavior, he said. ...

Yesterday, as he has done before, Mr. Coburn advised adults to refrain from having multiple sexual partners and engaging in unsafe sexual activity.

'What would happen in this country if the young women would say no [to sex] until they're 20?' he asked. 'Disease would go down, the pregnancy rate for unwed mothers would go down, the social costs for the next two generations would go down.'

Mr. Coburn also encouraged sexually active youth to use condoms.

'Condoms make a difference,' he said, cataloging the effectiveness of condoms in protecting against fluid-borne STDs such as HIV/AIDS and gonorrhea.

The problem is that condoms don't offer much prevention against several other diseases, such as herpes, human papillomavirus and syphilis, that are transmitted by skin contact, he said.

The Washington Post reports the audience reaction when the first diseased body part photo appeared on the screen:

This image was now projected up on a wall of the U.S. Capitol, and the mood shifted instantly. None of the 160 or so audience members shrieked, or giggled, or ran out of the room. They're not 15 anymore, and this is a professional environment. The chatter stopped; everyone looked straight ahead, or down at their BlackBerries. A large number of women crossed their arms over their chests. Most everyone seemed encapsulated in the bit of air around them, afraid to move or touch the person sitting next to them. The half-eaten slices of pizza, now cooling on laps, seemed deeply unappetizing.

Lest you think Capitol Hill staffers are too worldly-wise to need this sort of instruction, the Post piece includes this anecdote from a previous lecture:

"You keep mentioning the word 'monogamy'," a staffer named Roland Foster recalls one young woman asking after a lecture. "What is that?"

"That's when you have sex with only one partner," Coburn responded.

"You mean at a time?"

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on June 1, 2005 11:33 PM.

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