ID:47936
 
Keywords: politics
Speaking of FactCheck.org, this very disappointing item came up today:

Off Base on Sex Ed

This discusses a McCain ad claiming Obama supported comprehensive sex ed for kindergartners. It's an inexcusable distortion of the truth (the ad is available at that location; I don't want to appear to be perpetuating the rumor, like certain Gravel-interviewing hosts might do in the reverse situation, so I won't embed it here).

The key points:

FactCheck: It's true that the phrase "comprehensive sex education" appeared in the bill, but little else in McCain's claim is accurate. The ad refers to a bill Obama supported in the Illinois state Senate to update the sex education curriculum and make it "medically accurate." It would have lowered the age at which students would begin what the bill termed "comprehensive sex education" to include kindergarten. But it mandated the instruction be "age-appropriate" for kindergarteners when addressing topics such as sexually transmitted diseases.


Obama: We have a existing law that mandates sex education in the schools. We want to make sure that it's medically accurate and age-appropriate. Now, I'll give you an example, because I have a six-year-old daughter and a three-year-old daughter, and one of the things my wife and I talked to our daughter about is the possibility of somebody touching them inappropriately, and what that might mean. And that was included specifically in the law, so that kindergarteners are able to exercise some possible protection against abuse, because I have family members as well as friends who suffered abuse at that age. So, that's the kind of stuff that I was talking about in that piece of legislation.


There is a valid argument to be had, in that McCain is apparently staunchly anti-sex ed (something Palin disagrees with him on), and Obama is clearly not. It's pathetic that instead of presenting that argument, McCain chose to go into the sewer on this one.

P.S. Why am I so political lately? Well, first off, it's hard not to be in the couple of months leading to the Presidential election.

Second, aside from my post on where I stand generally on the election, most of my coverage is really about correcting myths, which is something that, as a dyed-in-the-wool skeptic, I just get drawn to. I truly don't care who you vote for, but I do hope you'll vote based on reality and not on made up crap.

I have no intent of repeating every campaign mis-statement here (that's what places like FactCheck.org are for) -- but I am likely to cover the particularly egregious cases that might swing votes if they are not countered.
I scanned the bill -- is there a section where it actually spells out what is and isn't "age-appropriate"? I didn't see one anywhere. If there isn't such a section, then "age-appropriate" is just whatever teachers and judges can agree on.

I may be too cynical on this topic, but when the subject of mandatory sex ed comes up I tend to think of Brave New World:

From a neighbouring shrubbery emerged a nurse, leading by the hand a small boy, who howled as he went. An anxious-looking little girl trotted at her heels.

"What's the matter?" asked the Director.

The nurse shrugged her shoulders. "Nothing much," she answered. "It's just that this little boy seems rather reluctant to join in the ordinary erotic play. I'd noticed it once or twice before. And now again to-day. He started yelling just now "

"Honestly," put in the anxious-looking little girl, "I didn't mean to hurt him or anything. Honestly."

"Of course you didn't, dear," said the nurse reassuringly. "And so," she went on, turning back to the Director, "I'm taking him in to see the Assistant Superintendent of Psychology. Just to see if anything's at all abnormal."
I wish I had erotic play in school!
Gughunter wrote:
I scanned the bill -- is there a section where it actually spells out what is and isn't "age-appropriate"? I didn't see one anywhere. If there isn't such a section, then "age-appropriate" is just whatever teachers and judges can agree on.

You might be able to say he wrote a badly-designed bill, but where I think it's way over the top is to claim he wanted "comprehensive sex ed for kindergartners", especially when he has said in detail what he intended there, and there's no reason to believe otherwise.

It would be totally fair to do an ad saying, "Obama supported a bill that left it up to evil teachers and judges what to teach your kids about sex!" and that would at least be more or less accurate.

But the mere fact that the bill referenced age-appropriate puts the lie to the McCain ad.

I suspect the thinking behind the ad is not that they really intend to go with the claim, but that they want to bait Obama into trying to clarify his position, which will get him talking about sex and kids in the same sentence and probably go badly.

Given that Obama has been taking the bait on everything lately, it wouldn't be surprising...
Jmurph wrote:
I wish I had erotic play in school!

That would most likely be filled up mainly with guys and girls who's parent don't care about them (I doubt they would be kept in the dark)... unless it is a mandatory one ;/
Jmurph wrote:
I wish I had erotic play in school!

I wish I had erotic play anywhere. =(
Popisfizzy wrote:
Jmurph wrote:
I wish I had erotic play in school!

I wish I had erotic play anywhere. =(

Steps to get wiminz at a dance:

1) Lose all inhibition.
2) Get the DJ to play what my friend refers to as a "black song" (Low by Little John - not Flo Rider - is one of these).
3) Enter the grindfest.

Sex ed for anyone under 12 is just plain wrong. Telling little kids that you should never let people touch your private parts is good enough!
Just ranting here, but I've never understood the conservative preponderance for "sexual education should only be taught in the home" when it's obvious that most parents are downright afraid to tell their kids that yes, they had sex in order to make them. I wouldn't trust the average family to teach me about sex. I know my parents gave me a passable attempt at the subject, but I learned the majority of it from school and literature.
Some American cultural conservatives want religion taught in school, not sexual education. Apparently, parents are responsible enough to teach their own kids about sex, but not to obey God.
Heh, my school starts teaching kids about sex education in the 4th grade (which ranges 9-11 years of age for the kids). Granted we had to get permission from our parents, but that's how it was done at my school.
Just to throw a monkey wrench in here, I'm not sure conflating Barack's position with "sex-ed for kindergarteners" is as overblown as it sounds, though it's obviously by no means his intention. The saving grace in the legislation is age-appropriateness; the loophole is who determines age-appropriateness. In the end it's tacking more onto a sex-ed curriculum that probably is already more than adequate, and it's putting more power into the hands of bureaucrats. That said, implying Obama wants to bring sex-ed to the schoolrooms of very young children is a severe hyperbole, whereas implying he wants to empower the same useless idiots who've already screwed the pooch when it comes to education would be a lot closer to the truth.
Lummox JR wrote:
Just to throw a monkey wrench in here, I'm not sure conflating Barack's position with "sex-ed for kindergarteners" is as overblown as it sounds

The comments here have me thinking the claim isn't as outside the bounds of the acceptable as I originally felt -- you and Guy are correct that the legislation does leave it wide open.


That said, implying Obama wants to bring sex-ed to the schoolrooms of very young children is a severe hyperbole, whereas implying he wants to empower the same useless idiots who've already screwed the pooch when it comes to education would be a lot closer to the truth.

I still come back to this -- McCain had a powerful argument about Obama as a bad legislator, using this item as an example. But instead of making the powerful, and frankly more believable, argument ("Obama wants to put more power into the hands of judges and government!"), they went for the tawdry, unbelievable "sex and kindergartners" line.

"Sex and kindergartners" won't stick and is a silly exaggeration, so I think this ad is a real failure of the campaign. A lost opportunity.
I'm not sure there are too many good ways to make hay out of this though. The problem is that while throwing more power at the hands of school board morons is a phenomenally bad idea, it's difficult to get across in a commercial, and anything that managed to convey the message would probably get the attention of someone or other in a teachers' union. "McCain is against education" is an even worse hyperbole, but it'd be the unending refrain of the unholy choir for the next seven weeks.
Perhaps the best course of action would have been to ignore it and focus on something else?
http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/election2008/ 2008-09-22-ads_N.htm

A good article pointing to the inaccuracies of both campaigns and their ads. It's conclusion, that Obama has been using the usual political twisting and distortions while McCain has been flat out lying seems consistent with what I have seen.
The education ad is the only McCain ad I've seen that ventures into truly misleading territory; Obama's Spanish ad is far worse on that score. As far as tax plans I've seen both candidates misconstrue the others' plans--and with tax policy as crazy as it is that's pretty easy to do. I've seen nothing else in McCain's ads that smacks of dishonesty--and with the exception of the "McCain doesn't know how to use e-mail" ad and the aforementioned Spanish commercial, I can say much the same about Obama. I've seen comparatively few of the Obama camp's ads though, because neither campaign advertises much in my state.
McCain, throughout his campaign, has been lying pretty heavily on the effects of Obama's tax plan (his misconstructions of his own and exaggeration of its effects are safely within normal campaign puffery) which I find odd as the president doesn't legislate taxes anyway! There was also the pleasant ad which falsely insinuates that Obama canceled his visit because "the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras."

Obama's immigration ad trying to tie McCain to Limbaugh was blatant pandering as McCain is not conservative at all when it comes to immigration. I have also noticed that the Obama campaigns trends have gotten worse the closer to election we get. For example, misrepresentations on social security/Medicaid that I hadn't seen before.

Dissappointing.

I don't get to see too many ads here in Texas, though. I think McCain ads must be required by the state government, though. I can't help but laugh everytime they play the Change ad, though, for so many reasons. Which is pretty frequently. I do feel bad for the conservatives who support him, though, because of how quickly he will turn on them if it is in his interests(like he has every time in the past). I wonder if it will be a spectacular one like when he cussed out Cornyn....