Tag Archives: Bristol Palin

Pregnant teenhood: Bristol Palin wouldn’t recommend it

Pregnant: n. containing a developing embryo, fetus, or unborn offspring within the body

Bristol Palin did her first interview yesterday (on Fox, where else?) and she made two statements that indicate that Reality has a way of intruding on Ideology, even on a Palin person:

“I like being a mom, I love it. Just seeing him smile and stuff, it’s awesome…It is very challenging but it’s so rewarding…Of course, I wish it would happen in ten years so I could have a job and an education and be, like, prepared and have my own house and stuff… I just hope that people learn from my story and, I don’t know, prevent teen pregnancy I guess… It’s not just the baby part of it that’s hard, it’s that I’m not living for myself anymore I’m living for another human being…I’d like to be an advocate to prevent teen pregnancy because its not a situation you strive for I guess…Kids should just wait–it’s not glamorous at all.”

And actually, “abstinence only” might not be such a great idea after all:

I think abstinence is like, like the…I don’t know how to put it…like the..the main….everyone should be abstinent or whatever, but it’s not realistic at all.”

Like, whatever. Too bad she didn’t figure this out a year or so ago. And nationally the numbers reflect the toll “abstinence only education” has had on the teen birth rate, which is suddenly spiking across the country after fifteen years of steady decline.

The highest teen birth rates are in the South and Southwest; Mississippi is highest with 68.4 per 1,000, followed by New Mexico, with a rate of 64.1 and Texas, with 63.1. The lowest rates are in the Northeast.  New Hampshire had the fewest teen births with 18.7 per 1,000. Vermont, with 20.8 per 1,000, and Massachusetts, with 21.3 per 1,000, were also low.

Hmmm. The states most likely to support abstinence only education have teen pregnancy rates three times higher than use using more comprehensive sex ed programs. And how about this recent study, summarized at USA Today:

Teenagers who pledge virginity until marriage aren’t making good on their promises not to have premarital sex, according to a new study published in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics.

The Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health analysis finds pledgers are just as likely to have sex before marriage as those who didn’t pledge to remain virgins, but the pledgers are much less likely to report using birth control or practicing safe sex when they do.

The report reviewed data from a federal survey of teenagers who said they had never had sex and had not taken a virginity pledge and matched them with peers of similar characteristics who had taken a pledge. Both groups were surveyed in 1995 and again five years later when they reported on their sexual behavior, sexually-transmitted diseases and safe sex practices.

Both those who pledged and those who didn’t pledge did not differ in their sexual practices or the incidence of premarital sex, but pledgers used birth control and condoms less often. Also, 84% of pledgers denied ever making an abstinence pledge.

I’m shocked. SHOCKED! I tell you.

Prejudice: it’s a privilege to be white

Prejudice: a preconceived preference or idea: bias; or as EB White once said: “Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.”

As a northerner who’s never thought of herself as racist, the current election season has given me lots of opportunity to look more closely at my thinking. Others are doing the same.

From a recent letter to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram by Kelvin LaFond:

What if John McCain were a former president of the Harvard Law Review?
What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class [894 out of 899]?
What if McCain were still married to the first woman he said ‘I do’ to?
What if Obama were the candidate who left his first wife after she no longer measured up to his standards?

What if Michelle Obama were a wife who not only became addicted to pain killers, but acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?
What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?
What if Obama were a member of the ‘Keating 5’?
What if McCain was a charismatic, eloquent speaker?

If these questions reflected reality, would the election numbers be as close as they are? This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in another when there is a color difference.

And looking at the race through the perspective of “white privilege” – this is an excerpt from a recent column by Tim Wise:

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at 17 like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you’ll “kick their fuckin’ ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.


White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you. White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you’re black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.

Palin: “a person like me”

I’ve been listening to various “man on the street” interviews on NPR, or maybe I should say “woman on the street” because most have been women, including delegates at the Republican National Convention.

Why do they like Sarah Palin?  Because she’s just “a person like me”, “a mom like me”, everywoman with ordinary real life problems.  She’s gutsy yet feminine. But most important, she stands by her family values – which she has now proven by not giving in to expediency (abortion) when Bristol, her unmarried 17-year-old daughter gets pregnant.

I too like “people like me”, gutsy and feminine everywoman, etc etc. Some of my best friends could be described that way. But no way does that qualify any of them to lead this country! Or to serve as vice-president to a perfectly healthy president.

What ARE they thinking? This analysis by respected DailyKos blogger LithiumCola helped:

The point at issue is very deep; deeper than is usually recognized on TV and in the newspapers. To put it simply, the 2008 Presidential race will not be over politics but — as it was in 2000 and 2004 — over the purpose of politics. In that sense it will be a meta-debate, and one that many will miss because they thought it was settled long ago.

Here then are the disputants in this argument over what politics is for in the first place:

  • There are those who think that political argument is best aimed at perfecting a pluralistic society of equal citizens who do not agree on metaphysical questions of purpose and meaning, but nevertheless wish to live together under conditions of amicable cooperation,
  • and those who think that political debate is about winning, precisely, the meta (metaphysical?) argument — about settling fundamental questions of purpose and meaning on the public stage.

Pluralists do not want to address metaphysical questions on the public-political stage. This is not because they think they cannot win but because they think they should not win. Religio-philosophical victory in a political — as opposed to dinner-table — setting has, pluralists think, no upside. We get along as a people in the first place because we first agreed that religio-philosophical issues are not something we need to agree upon. We don’t debate those matters at the ballot box. Rather, we need only agree on the best ways to further our society to the benefit of all, so that we may in our own ways address questions of purpose and meaning at home. A home secured by a concern for the general welfare.

Fundamentalists assume that the stakes are higher. That what everyone is debating is a question that has, secretly or not, deep and abiding metaphysical import. That is why when fundamentalists are told that Obama is a Muslim, they take great notice. Not because they care what Obama’s religion is, but rather because they assume that Obama, like everyone else, is in a metaphysical argument, and means to win it. If he wins, they lose. As far as this goes, it does not even matter whether Obama really is a Muslim, only that his answers to the metaphysical questions are somehow different. The fact that Obama, being a pluralist, does not take himself to be having that debate, only causes cognitive dissonance and the appearance that he is trying to win underhandedly. To a fundamentalist, everyone is always trying to win the metaphysical debate.

Pluralists become frustrated with fundamentalists for the following reason. Pluralists would say that pluralists do not, through political debate, wish to prevent anyone — including fundamentalists — from doing anything they wish to do. If a fundamentalist thinks zygotes are ensouled they are free to think so, and to not have abortions, and to talk about the ensoulment of zygotes all they wish at home or in church. On the other hand, pluralists would say, what fundamentalists want is to impose their metaphysical answers by law upon everyone. Pro-choice does not prevent anyone from having a baby. Pro-life prevents everyone from getting an abortion, no matter what they think of zygotes and souls. Forbidding teacher-led prayer in public schools prevents no one from praying, while the opposite view mandates that everyone listen to a prayer or get out.

Fundamentalists get frustrated with pluralists for the following reason. Fundamentalists would say that their opponents refuse to acknowledge that pluralism has, like it or not, metaphysical import. If the nation is pro-choice that means that the nation has, in fact, taken a position on the ensoulment of zygotes. Refusing to decide is a defacto and underhanded decision. If the nation forbids led-prayer in schools that means that the nation has, in fact, witting or no, said that some things are more important than God. For example, a pluralism of belief.

We can see this last idea (pluralism must take itself to be more important than God) when fundamentalists accuse pluralists of being “secularists.” That word — “secularist” — originally designated a view about the correct structure of society and the proper place for various sorts of debate. It was not a synonym for “atheist.” “Atheist” is position in a metaphysical debate. “Secularist” is a view about where that debate should take place. But in the mouths of fundamentalists such as Bill O’Reilly or Pat Buchanan, “secularist” is precisely a synonym for “atheist.” This is because, to a fundamentalist, there is no difference between attempts to take religion out of the public square and attempts to crush it. To a fundamentalist, everyone is having the same argument that they are having.

I think she’s onto something – which for those of us who are pluralists is almost unfathomable.  We say, as I said above: “What ARE they thinking???” And the answer is it’s not about thinking; it’s about survival.

Brain stem stuff.

Palin Pregnancy: poster child for “abstinence only”?

For awhile rumors flew that the Palin’s fifth child was actually their 17-year-old daughter Bristol’s. But now we learn that Bristol is five months pregnant herself, which lays the first story to rest, but brings up another:

Abstinence only.

It worked so well for Bristol. So now there will be a shot gun wedding. The family will be lauded for their support of their wayward daughter and for accepting the new challenges “God” has brought into their lives.

Those who like their women pregnant and barefoot will applaud this whole charade. Meanwhile those who believe public policy should give women control over their own bodies just suffered another blow.

Maybe Bristol’s marriage will work out. Occasionally the high school flame is good for life. Mostly not though. And many kids who become pregnant because they were “abstinent” have no family support or understanding.

Here’s another question: do we want a vice-president who’s in the middle of two family dramas – rearing a baby with Down Syndrome, and dealing with a pregnant teen?  Just getting up to speed on foreign policy should be filling Palin’s every waking hour from now till she loses the election.