Thursday, October 23, 2008

The HPV Vaccine: Promoting Promiscuity at a School Near You

Okay little one, get on out there and spread those legs! Can you imagine saying that to your pre-pubescent daughter? Unthinkable. Not surprisingly, this is the message that the rigidly religious feel would be portrayed to our daughters if we choose to have them vaccinated with Gardasil or Cervarix, the recently approved HPV vaccines. How ridiculous. Once again, the belief in an invisible man prevents humankind from making sound decisions for the betterment of society.

HPV, or Human Papilloma Virus, is a sexually transmitted disease that is believed to cause most cancer of the cervix. The really scary thing about HPV is that it goes relatively undetected and most studies indicate that greater than half of the sexually active population, both men and women, has it. So, after considering these facts it is easy for any rational, intelligent individual to see that a safe vaccine against HPV is a revolutionary discovery. The problem lies in the lack of intelligence and rational thought that is generated in the minds of those that hold literal, unyielding religious beliefs.

Now listen, my issue here is not with informed people who question the efficacy of the vaccine. I understand that vaccines in general are a hot topic amongst parents and the efficacy studies on the HPV vaccine are, to my understanding, somewhat limited at this point. If I had a daughter right now, I wouldn't be lining her up to be vaccinated until studies become more conclusive on its efficacy and side effects. But this would be a result of my concerns regarding the vaccine's biological effects on my daughter, not a fear that she would suddenly become hornier than a three-peckered-billygoat. For the love of all things hypothetically holy, if this vaccine is found to be perfectly safe and as widely effective as current studies conclude, why would anyone choose to prevent their child from avoiding the wrath of cancer? Because having your daughter vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease promotes the sex that spreads the disease? Please! If you ask me, any 10-year -old girl who is told, "this needle will prevent you from getting sick from a bug that enters your body when you eventually have sex," is going to chalk that bug up as another reason to wait a while. If your daughter ends up having sex shortly after getting her HPV vaccine, it's more likely the result of the inherent challenges of monitoring her behaviour or a failure to educate her about the realities and risks of sexual activity than it could ever be the result of a life-saving vaccine. I have never seen a study on this, but in my experience, many teenage pregnancies occur to the daughters of strictly religious parents. There is no scientific validity to my observation. It's purely anecdotal and I could be wrong. But I would not be shocked to see such a study reveal that there is a scientifically significant correlation between the two.

This discussion has nothing to do with whether or not HPV vaccination should be legislated as mandatory or publically funded. As I said, it also has nothing to do with the recurring debate of whether or not vaccines are too readily administered without a true understanding of their efficacy and side effects. No, this debate is not even close to as complex as that. I just cannot understand how the reaction of a group of people who literally believe that a 900-year-old man built a boat, collected two of EVERY animal, insect, and flea on the planet, corralled them all onto that boat, and made them all have sex, carries any weight in the discussion of whether or not a life saving vaccine should be administered to our daughters. Call me irrational I guess.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It’s Just a Building for Christ’s Sake

So some wack-job wrote a letter to the editor today complaining that his polling station was a Catholic School. Apparently he wasn't Catholic. He whines that Elections Canada should be "a little more sensitive to the diversity of our faiths." He also says that he was distracted by the crucifix on the wall. This, I get. It's a half naked dude, dying, nailed to a wooden cross. I've always found the whole image over the top, and quite frankly, terrifying. Its presence distracts me wherever I happen to find it. So the fact that this guy had a hard time making an "x" while being watched by Jesus is understandable to me. But that's where any agreement with this freak ends.

As far as I see it, a church, or in this case Catholic school, is essentially a building that only has theological meaning to those of the faith under which it was built. I am an atheist who was required to vote in a United church. To me it was a polling station that just happened to be a church. I had no problem with the statue of Jesus that greeted me at the door (he was alive and well with his arms outstretched – quite welcoming actually). In fact, I would like to thank the congregation of that church for volunteering their place of worship to democracy's greatest process. They could worship tuna fish and peanut butter on Wednesday afternoons and I really couldn't give a rat's ass. Actually, I love both Tuna and peanut butter and I know they both exist. This is a religion I might just be attracted to. Hmmm. Oops. Tangent.

A move towards ensuring "neutral sites" for polling stations would represent more time and energy unnecessarily allocated to the plague of political correctness in this country. Listen, I don't believe in God. I think Jesus was a really great guy who spread an important message but I am also quite sure Mary and Joseph enjoyed creating him. I could go on. However, I recognize that this country was founded on Judeo-Christian values. This isn't going to change. So I can tolerate, in fact celebrate, this history while still recognizing that our progress as a civilization has disproved the biblical myths behind these values. You could throw me in a mosque, temple, synagogue, or chapel to vote and I will take in the beauty of the architecture (unless it is one of those new age "airport style" churches – why are they doing this?) and then meet my civic responsibility to choose a candidate.

Mr. Whiner's concerns appear to be one more example of organized religion's growing tide of intolerance and unreasonableness towards one another. The dogma associated with every religion, whether you like it or not, teaches its followers that their faith is the "correct" faith and those that follow others will be punished come judgment day. It's a fact. I learned it in Sunday school when we would do those Bible scripture races. Remember those? I never won a single race. This girl in my class practiced all week and kicked our ass every Sunday. Maybe this is where my disdain originates. Again...tangent.

Anyway, I would like to thank Rideau Park United Church. You have a beautiful polling station, I mean, church.