Secretary of State Colin Powell is in hot water with the conservative right. Their distress at his unwillingness to act as a political puppet was most evident after his now highly publicized condom commentary.
During a question and answer session with youth, Powell was asked for his view on the use of condoms. He condoned the use of condoms, citing their effectiveness in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Powell later asserted his commitment to promoting abstinence but emphasized the fact that education about protective measures for those who engage in sexual activities is necessary.
For his candidness, Powell experienced a backlash from several conservative organizations, including the Family Research Council whose representatives criticized Powell as “reckless and irresponsible.”
In fact, I believe that Powell sent an incredibly responsible message to sexually active young adults. The message of abstinence is a good one however, the unfortunate fact of the matter is that it is advice that goes widely unheeded. Sexual activity among young adults is far too common and suggestions of abstinence are not enough to curb the substantial risks involved. The promotion of abstinence as the sole component of sex education fails to address the responsible measures that should be taken by those who choose to refrain from abstinence.
Teenage pregnancy rates are on the rise and have been for the last several decades. A recent report released by a nationally recognized organization of healthcare professionals disclosed that HIV transmission through unprotected sex is on the rise among young adults. Complacency regarding safe sex practices is a contributing factor in the rising rate of STDs in high-school age individuals. These are all good reasons for the promotion of condom use.
Kids are having sex and to turn a blind eye to this issue is a risky proposition. Sweeping a problem under the rug or out the back door has never solved a thing. I may not be a parent myself but as the adage would have it, it takes a whole village to raise a child and so I feel no reservation in throwing in my thoughts.
It would seem to me that distributing a handful of condoms would be a great deal cheaper than raising the child that is a product of unprotected sex. And call me crazy, but I would imagine Powell responded to the condom query, not as a politician, not as a Republican, and certainly not as a right wing extremist but most likely with the integrity of a responsible father and as a concerned citizen.
Veronica Garcia is a senior majoring in sociology.