Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Thankfully these aren't the people writing our social policy

Over at Kiwiblog, David Farrar channels Karl Du Fresne from the darkest reaches of the Lunisphere and, apparently, likes much of what he hears.

Karl du Fresne slams the Family Planning Association as a failure.
New Zealand has the second-highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the OECD and our abortion rate remains one of the highest in the developed world. The rate has more than trebled since 1980 and, most tellingly, it has steadily increased in the age groups where the FPA directs much of its efforts. For girls aged 11-14 it has doubled since 1991, and for older teenagers – those aged 15-19 – it has risen by 60 per cent.

The FPA's own surveys show young people are having sex younger and putting themselves more at risk. Gonorrhea cases are up by 52 per cent and chlamydia by 28 per cent. In the Auckland area, 53 per cent of people with gonorrhea are aged between 15 and 24 and antibiotic-resistant cases are increasing.

I don't agree with everything Karl DF says on the FPA but I certainly think their "Rubba No Hubba Bubba" campaign was awful*.

I'm with DPF here this is, quite frankly, disturbing reading.

Although (and I'm guessing that this is where myself and Mr Farrar part ways) the thing I find disturbing is not the nefarious workings of the Family Planning Association and their plans to promote [gasp] sex. Rather, I'm disturbed by the sort of nonsense that gets hocked off as opinion in New Zealand newspapers these days.

Basically, Karl Du Fresne's (KDF) argument runs as such: teenage pregnancies, abortions and STIs have increased substantially over the last 27 years in New Zealand. This is the fault of FPA.

Missing, of course, is any evidence that might prove the second statement. It's true that FPA is involved in efforts to improve sexual health, but what evidence does KDF provide to show that the rise in STIs and pregnancies is a result of FPA's work, rather than there not being enough of the sort of work that FPA (which has, nationwide, a staff of fewer than 300) does? Um - none. What evidence does KDF provide that the rise in STIs and pregnancies is not the result of other social changes as opposed to FPAs proselytising promiscuity? Um - none. What evidence does he provide that sex education leads to more unprotected sex? Um - none. Indeed, if KDF had bothered to look before venting his spleen he would have discovered that those European countries that provide the most sex education tend to have the best sexual health.

But what's evidence when Mr Du Fresne has prejudice and an axe to grind. The axe in question is revealed later in his column:
I began this item with a question: why does the government continue to give our money to the FPA when it's so obviously a disaster area?

Now let me attempt to answer it. I believe it's because the FPA is one of the cosy cluster of ideologically compatible, state-dependent organisations with which Labour has surrounded itself.

Gill Greer, the FPA's executive director till last year (when she accepted an appointment to International Planned Parenthood, presumably on the basis of her breathtaking success with the FPA), is a former Labour parliamentary candidate. She is also a lesbian, which would normally be neither here nor there but in this context is worth noting.

New Zealanders are generally unconcerned with people's sexual orientations, and rightly so, but they might well wonder whether a leftist lesbian was the ideal person to be running something called the Family Planning Association.

Astute readers will have noted, of course, that Mr Du Fresne's stats above start at 1980 and 91, and they might be wondering whether it isn't just a little unfair to blame Ms Greer and the Labour party for increases, the bulk of which happened before they came to power. But hey, as I've always said, if you can't blame leftist lesbians for their inability to time travel, how else can you imply that only rightwing heterosexuals can have positions of power in this country.

I suppose you could try, as Mr Du Fresne does, to imply that lefties and lesbians don't actually know anything about families (most of them having been grown in test-tubes and raised on communes) but in Ms Greer's case there's a problem. You see, she has a family. Kids and all. So I'd say that - even in la la land of Karl Du Fresne's prejudices - she'd be perfectly fit to run the Family Planning Association. In the real world (not a place I suspect that KDF visits often) she'd be even more so.

* DPF's mistaken here, this campaign was run by the Ministry of Health.

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