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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Maine on my mind, lobsters and sex education


I love Maine and miss it. I haven't been there in decades. Besides the fact that my soul brothers Bradley Williams and Charlie DuFour live there, Maine is known for two of my most favorite foods-- lobster (real Maine lobster, that is) and blueberries--that I can't get in China. It also is a place of pristine beauty, independent minds and the subject of some of my favorite Andrew Wyeth paintings. At some point in my life I want to spend a lot of time in Maine. In my heart of hearts, I already do.

I was cruising the news today, and came across a story on Alternet about how Maine is the third state to refuse federal subsidy for sex education, because the subsidies can only be spent on programs that focus exclusively on abstinence. Pennsylvania and California are the two other states that have declined these particular subsidies.

My empathy for this position stems not from any antipathy for the teaching of abstinence, which, let's face it, is the only 100% effective method of pregnancy prevention, but the indignity of federal funds being offered to promote a program as imperative as sex education that is biased on a religious concept.

There are quite a few Christian conservatives that I dearly love, members of my husband's family (with whom Joseph vehemently disagrees on many issues) particularly. I don't have intolerance for their values. What I can't tolerate is the legislative and financial enforcement of those values. It violates the fundamental separation of church and state that the U.S. Constitution mandates and it violates human intellect to the point of indecency. The story points out that:
Much of the debate over abstinence-only programs centers on their effectiveness or lack thereof. Groups opposed to the federal programs often cite a December 2004 study by the staff of U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) that found that 11 of 13 federally funded abstinence programs contained medically inaccurate information.
With it's own sex education programs, which teach contraception as well as abstinence, Maine's teen pregnancy rate has dropped 50% in 20 years so they really don't need the federal agenda as much as they, like any state, would like the $50 million. If you have a moment, surf to the story and have a read.

There's nothing quite like Maine-iacs. A tourist in a fine car was driving through the country roads of Maine and stopped one fine summer day at a remote roadside stand at the edge of a vast field that was selling cherries, lettuce, honey, summer squash, maple syrup from Vermont and local wood carvings. The tourist spent an hour picking out fruit, vegetables and souvenirs and finally, when he'd assembled a pile of produce and merchandise, he asked the local man how much the goods would cost. He was told $62.40. The tourist got his wallet out of his luxury car and fingered through his large wad of cash. He then asked the man from Maine if the roadside stand took credit cards. "Ay-yup," was his answer, "but we don't give 'em back."

Like good American roots music and quintessentially savvy unpretentious deejays? Listen online to WERU in Maine.

// posted by Ellen @  05:16   //Permalink// 
Ellen says hey
Mainer, New Yawka, Beijinger, Californian, points between. News, views and ballyhoos that piqued my interest and caused me to sigh, cry, chuckle, groan or throw something.


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