Tennessee Bans Discussing ‘Gateway Sexual Activity’

Every time I think I’ve seen the outer extremes of pseudo-Christian prudishness on the part of Republican-dominated legislatures, I am taken aback by the latest offering. From TPM’s David Taintor:

You’ve heard of gateway drugs — smoking marijuana supposedly leads to harder, more addictive substances. But what about “gateway sexual activity”: the hand-holding, lip-locking and light-grazes that can lead to … other things?

The Tennessee Legislature on Friday sent a bill to Gov. Bill Haslam’s desk that, according to the Tennessean, would require sex-ed classes to “exclusively and emphatically” promote abstinence and ban teachers and outside groups from promoting “gateway sexual activity.”

The bill defines “gateway sexual activity” as: “sexual conduct encouraging an individual to engage in a non-abstinent behavior.” The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Jim Gotto, said the bill wouldn’t address things as innocuous as holding hands, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. But critics of the legislation say the offending behavior is not clearly defined. Gotto did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment.

According to the News Sentinel, groups like Planned Parenthood and others who provide sex education information in schools could face a $500 fine. …

Gateway Sexual Activity
Brandenburg Gate

I’d say the Tennessee legislature is involved in more than a gateway sexual activity: they’re fucking nuts!

Laws like this should be anathema to a free society. Many of us think that kids should freely discuss sex: they’re going to discuss it anyway; what possible purpose is served by banning it? And they may as well learn something from the discussions, and from people who actually know something, such as teachers, counselors and yes, Planned Parenthood advisers. The “appropriate” limits of sexual expression are none of the legislature’s goddamned business. Parents should teach their kids according to their own lights. I, for example, would teach my kids every biological fact about sex, every social reality of bearing a child when the couple is unable to care for it, and yes, every means of contraception and every alternative to actually fucking. And I would also mention gay sex, on the outside chance that they were born gay, unbeknownst to me. They should know. Your kids will learn it, from you or from other kids or from radical fundamentalist nut‑jobs: the choice of source is yours, but they will, with certainty, learn it. Do your duty. Teach your kids age-appropriate sex-related facts and social context: it’s the human thing to do.

And tell your state legislature to fuck off!

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  • NTodd Pritsky  On Tuesday May 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    And tell your state legislature to fuck off!

    Have you gateway hugged your legislator today?

    • Steve  On Tuesday May 1, 2012 at 9:15 pm

      NTodd, until you asked, I did not know who my State Rep. was, other than that she is female and Republican. The female part is OK; I don’t know about gateway hugging the Republican part.

      It’s not that there are no Democrats in this neighborhood; I used to keep track of them all for the local Democrats’ club. But ever since the mid-cycle re-re-redistricting of Texas under the leadership of Tom DeLay, it’s been hard to get a, um, representative Representative elected. I suppose now that I’m unofficially an independent, I shouldn’t care. But I do care, and party affiliation matters in local affairs more than any other. So for primary purposes I vote in the Dem primary, and in the general, I vote mostly for Dems, never for GOPers and rarely for third- or no-party candidates.

  • ellroon  On Tuesday May 1, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    I’d rather hug Tennessee legislators with my shoe to their crotch…. Too bad you can’t fix stupid.

    I celebrate your thoughts about sex education, Steve. My mom did this for me, and I have done this for my kids. Answer all questions, start early. I have to laugh though, at this point, my kids are now educating me. There’s a lot I didn’t know I didn’t know… 😀

    • Steve  On Tuesday May 1, 2012 at 9:20 pm

      ellroon, it’s rare that I hope that a woman wears a pointy-toed shoe, but I’ll make an exception if you’ll use it as a weapon as described!

      It makes so much sense for kids to learn every age-appropriate thing about sex that it dumbfounds me when anyone insists kids not be taught. My parents, especially my Dad, were wonderful about it all. It almost makes me wish I had had kids myself. Too late now, though!

  • MandT  On Tuesday May 1, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Neo-Puritan Christian Taliban! Are knee pads gateway?

    • Steve  On Tuesday May 1, 2012 at 9:24 pm

      MandT, I do wonder if even the Taliban deserve that comparison, or even the Puritans from our own history. I have a feeling there has never been a more extreme religious group than the most radical of today’s fundagelicals (and those Catholics who are similar, by no means all Catholics). Sometimes they scare me. If you haven’t read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, you really must read it… it’s the quintessential post-apocalyptic religious-fanatical society novel.

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