Indulge me for just a second – or 4:33. With just over a minute-thirty left in this video, I start shouting every time.
This morning, I buzzed around my apartment and Today In New York was on in the living room. Mostly, I wait for the weather report but every two or three weeks, something catches my attention. This morning, during a report on seniors with AIDS, I heard the word abstinence and stopped buzzing. I saw an older woman saying, “As far as contact with a gentleman: forget it. Not me. No way.” I mean, whatever. So I went and brushed my teeth. Anyway, I went to work and couldn’t stop thinking about what I had nor had not heard. The video is posted to the Today In New York blog and I want you, and you, and you there. So, surrender, Dorothy. Here again is the video.
What is this report about, really? It starts out with a safe sex lecture at a senior center in Corona, Queens. Seniors are having sex and want protection from communicable disease, and recently a man “died of AIDS”, leaving – forgive me! – high and dry four elderly ladies who didn’t know he had the virus. Next thing we know, we have a city council member requesting funds for education programs, and here’s where the subject drifts from the one in the headline and bumps into a couple of weird Republican talking points.
The cues are subtle. The problems with inflection are minor until we get to this whopper in reporter Melissa Russo’s voiceover: “The commissioner would not comment on whether the city should spend tax dollars on more safe sex programs in senior centers.” I didn’t hear these words this morning. The next line is, “Of course there will always be some who practice abstinence.”
Later, the condescending kicker: “The sad part is I mean is – of course it’s good that these people are living longer lives – the sad part is if they’d known all along they’d live long their lives would have been so different.” (What a bitch that was to transcribe. I bet closed captioning typists slit their wrists when this reporter talks.) Sure, if they’d known that gigolo with the plaid jacket had the rabid gay disco plague, all those love-starved grannies might’ve stuck with platonic bingo partners, is that it?
There is so much wrong with this I’m going to miss stuff. Feel free to write your own book report.
First, the headline is A Third Of New Yorkers With AIDS Are Over 50. This story mentions that people with AIDS are living longer, and society will have to consider their needs. The report offers us a retirement-age activist who no longer worries he’s going to be cut down in his youth. That’s it. I’m not wearing a stop watch but that’s got to be less than 30 seconds in a report stretching past the four-minute mark. So, what is the actual topic? Our squeamishness, and we have it by the – forgive me! – buttload.
In 2007, a certain segment of the population believes that sex education must come with abstinence education or perhaps there shouldn’t be sex education at all. The blank stupidity of this assumption hurts my head. The simple fact is that most of us are not having sex right now. We know what not having sex is like. No one has to teach us that, which differs sharply from our need to learn about the health and function of our bodies. We are not born with an expert knowledge of anatomy and physiology, and proceeding without one can kill us. Further, we should know how bodies function sexually and how to protect ourselves from disease. This information can be taught to us in a simply factual manner. It is possible to present facts without coloring them with opinion, which may seem like an absolutely crazy notion we can examine after everyone calms down, but really. For instance: I can teach you how to apply a condom and what you do with that knowledge is your business. Period. Everyone should know how male and female bodies work and why; it is simply a matter of public health. So, why does the question of “tax dollars on more safe sex programs” come up?
Even if we quake in our shoes at the idea that teenagers have sex despite the fact that we did, we have to grow the fuck up and accept the idea that adults have sex. Our opinion, especially if we don’t like that idea, is unimportant. Adults have sex. That is a simple fact, and because adults have sex, adults should have a functioning knowledge of anatomy and physiology which a lot of adults do not possess, and where could one reliably acquire it? Instead of wondering whether tax dollars should fund safe sex programs, our reporter would better serve the public interest by asking that commissioner if he’s ready to fund a 24-hour sex education channel. For one thing, people don’t die of AIDS. They die of complications of AIDS. Those terrible deaths suck. And a reporter should be more careful with words.
The real subject of this report can be summed up simply: Gross! AIDS is too terrifying to inspire rational thought and my tax dollars buy Grandpa rubbers!
Next time, NBC news should send an adult.