Why don’t we have a real discussion about values? Democrats shouldn’t be content to mimic Republican support for family values, or ethics. They should begin the debate, expand it, claim it. Is the truth something we value? What about ethical norms that don’t change when they prove uncomfortable for one lawmaker or another? Are rough speech and nudity more reprehensible than a secretive, dishonest government? Should media propaganda replace factual material especially if it’s bought and paid for by government? (as in the case of Armstrong Williams and others) Aren’t there standards of conduct that are constant and about which we can all agree?
For example, Washington State Republicans are battling to keep Governor Elect Gregoire from being sworn in, claiming there were so many irregularities in the Washington vote that it should be declared invalid and a new election held. Of course, before the final recount, they were content to declare their candidate Rossi victorious. Interestingly, a Wall Street Journal editorial supports the Republican position in Washington State. Why do I suspect they didn’t voice such concerns about returns in Ohio and Florida after the presidential election?
When is information propaganda and when is it fact based? Are all opinions valid or just someone’s personal rant? Is following the administration program a well reasoned course of action or a partisan-laced view of the world? I mean you know you’re in trouble when the Family Research Council (www.frc.org) applauds the selection of Claude Allen as the new White House Domestic Advisor, particularly because they feel he served so well as under Secretary of Health and Human Services. Their appraisal of his attributes includes what they feel is “his understanding of issues such as cloning, stem cell research…” and abstinence education. He says “abstinence is the only appropriate and effective strategy to protect young people from sexually transmitted diseases.” His “understanding”, of course, supports the beliefs and opinions of the Family Council, not necessarily those of the larger scientific community.
And you know things are getting garbled when this same group criticizes Washington Post coverage of the declining use of contraceptives for couples of childbearing age, an article clearly intended to point out the risk of unintended pregnancies, not the birth of planned and welcome offspring. The Council’s Dr, Solenni touts abstinence and “natural family planning.” “After all”, he says, “no-one’s ever become unintentionally pregnant without having sex.” What insight. That old discredited rhythm method of family planning appears to be what the doctor is suggesting. Then too abstinence and those sex education classes for young people ‘inform’ them with questionable data. Scare tactics worked well in the last election, but they aren’t always so effective in terms of sexual awareness. After all, if you tell kids that sweat and tears can spread HIV how does that comport with theories of abstinence anyway?
There are so many ways to claim the values debate. Surely morality isn’t about going to church or quoting the bible, dissing gays or forcing one’s personal beliefs on those who disagree. Telling the truth, caring for those less fortunate among us, providing for our damaged returning vets are all areas of moral concern. There are many more, and we should start thinking about ways to frame the debate instead of having a framework thrust upon us.

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