September 09, 2008

McCain on sex eduation, Part 1

Today John McCain released an ad accusing Obama of promoting sex education for kindergarteners. First, here's the ad:

Here's the facts. McCain is referring to Illinois Senate Health and Human Services Committee S.B. 99. If you'd like to read the text of S.B. 99 itself, as I do, you're out of luck, since this bill passed committee but never became a law*, which certainly casts aspersions on McCain's assertion that this was "Obama's one accomplishment."

But sex education for kindergarteners? If this seems too strange to be true, it's because the truth is that the bill, "would have required age-appropriate information in schools. Obama has said that means warning young children about sexual predators and explaining concepts like 'good touch and bad touch.'" (according to an Associated Press article). The key phrase here would be "age-appropriate." I, for one, am 100% in favor of teaching kindergarteners that their bodies are their own and if someone touches them where their bathing suit covers, they should tell a trusted adult. For McCain to try to equate such a message with "sex education" as if radical liberals were handing out condoms to 5 year olds like candy, talking about the mechanics of intercourse and oral sex, and showing pictures of STD-stricken genitals is disgusting and shameful.

The Obama campaign agrees. Their response:

"It is shameful and downright perverse for the McCain campaign to use a bill that was written to protect young children from sexual predators as a recycled and discredited political attack against a father of two young girls," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement.

The truth about the measure is this:

The measure said schools offering sex education must include medically accurate information appropriate to the age of the students.

But does McCain's ad include this kind-of important piece of information? No, of course not. It just labels the bill "sex education" in an effort to pander to social conservatives so that they'll knee-jerk react, "Oh my gosh! Obama wants to teach my kindergartener about sex!!!" McCain also leaves out another kind-of important piece of information:

[S.B. 99] also would have allowed parents to pull their children from sex education classes if they wished.

So those social conservatives who don't want their children taught about good touch and bad touch? They could have opted out. How is it "wrong for your family" when it specifically allows my family to opt out?

But that doesn't really have the impact of "Learning about sex before learning to read?" (direct quote from the ad).

It's one thing to distort the truth in a political ad. It's another thing to take a piece of legislation designed to protect very young children from sexual abuse and totally twist it into some kind of alarmist argument against sex education. That's really, really low.

Stay tuned for Part 2 because, as usual, I have more to say on the subject in its larger context.

*Edited to add: One of my blog readers found a link to the text of the bill, available here. Thank you Jody!

Posted by Shelby at September 9, 2008 08:41 PM

I found it buried in a blog, but here's the bill:

I am thoroughly disgusted with McCain's "respectful" campaign.

Posted by: Jody Thorsett at September 10, 2008 08:29 AM

Sen. Obama needs to really "take the gloves off" here and start swinging. He's being beaten up everyday by these idiots and I'm sick of it!!!

YES, I DO think it's time for him to "sink to their level" and start bringing up shit like how McCain dumped his poor, long-suffering, disfigured, first wife for much younger "upgrade," therefore Grandpa McCain is in NO POSITION to be passing ANY moral judgements on anyone!!!

We absolutely CANNOT have that mindless geezer and dimwitted sidekick, Caribou Barbie in the White House in November, even if it means having to see Obama resort to dirty politics -- sorry, that's how I feel!!!!

Posted by: Katrina R. at September 10, 2008 12:43 PM
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