Monday, May 30, 2005


The Christian Right, STDs, monogamy and other wonders

Tom Coburn, MD, elected Senator from Oklahoma in 2004 over my strenuous objections, has just given his annual staff-talk on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Hanna Rosin of the Washington Post was there to pick up pointers.

Coburn did not hold back—

... Coburn got serious. He flipped to his next slide. It showed a part of the male anatomy but not as a science textbook drawing; this was the real thing, and a particularly sorry example; it looked like it had been left outside by mistake and then rusted in some unnatural way, with scaly dry spots, and warts on an angry red background.

I think I may know him. Was it twisted to the right?

Rosin observed that

Conservative Christian leaders and STDs are in many ways a natural match.

Yes. They're both virulent, and the symptoms produced by these leaders of the Religious Right bear a striking resemblance to the symptoms you see with various STDs—including the scales.

There's Jerry Falwell, whose "Silent Majority" campaign of the late 70s first produced only a brief rash, followed by a decades-long latency only to emerge in its tertiary stage as full-blown dementia. "Syphilis Falwell" we used to call him in the locker room.

Then there's the Rev. Pat "Chlamydia" Robertson, whose Christian broadcasting network spread unctuously and silently, asymptomatically infecting the populace. Because of the lack of symptoms it was left untreated until it has finally reached critical areas where the damage may be irreversible.

The Rev. James Dobson is highly contagious, producing gonorrhea-like symptoms. Those infected experience a stinging burn or itch almost immediately, usually associated with a foul-smelling discharge, which makes them desperate to find relief by ending the filibuster rule and opposing gay rights.

Almost all of their associates can produce a kind of venereal wart-like contagion, a virus that may be spread orally, infecting victims who had no intention of engaging in anything more than a casual kiss.

But Sen. Coburn's class needed more than instruction in disease prevention. He came mighty close to what they call "sex education" in Oklahoma.

Coburn always offers to see people in private after the lecture, and his staff say 10 or so people always take him up on it and many more ask follow-up questions after his lectures. No doubt at the very least he's filling in basic gaps in knowledge.

"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?"

Yes, dear. Simply Appalling has always taken a firm stand in support of serial monogamy, and don't let anyone tell you different.

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