Sex & Culture

Can A Book Be Burned At the Stake—Literally?

I’m back from Chicago, speaking at the annual conference of the ALA—American Library Association. 20,000 librarians under one roof—totally inspiring. In addition to their deeper-funded and better–staffed cousins from the big cities, they came from towns I’d never heard of, in states I’d never been in: like Clarksdale, Mississippi; Rock Springs, Wyoming; and Keene, New Hampshire. As disparate as they were, they all had this in common: * They support reading; * They support access to information; * They’re under pressure from dozens of directions to restrict that access; * They’re concerned about the sexual themes, words, and pictures in…

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Oprah: Anti-Vagina, Anti-Sex

Newsweek recently called out Oprah for being a quack. In a cover story titled “Crazy Talk: Oprah, Wacky Cures & You,” they cited shows she’s enthusiastically done on cancer, autism, and other subjects featuring non-experts offering ineffective or dangerous medical tips. She also endorses mystical new age “thinking” as a health strategy. One thing Newsweek didn’t mention was Oprah’s ignorant, destructive positions on sex. Take sexual orientation, for example—a subject that’s been in the news once or twice lately. As recently as 10 weeks ago, Oprah was asking psychologist Lisa Diamond if women turn to other women sexually “because of…

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David Carradine Comes—And Goes; Media Love It

Actor David Carradine was found hung several days ago, nude, with his genitals tied up and some porn at his feet. As with so many of these cases, it was investigated as a homicide, then initially considered a suicide. It is, however, clearly something else—auto-erotic asphyxiation. That’s the King’s English for masturbating while seriously restricting one’s breathing. This high-stakes ecstasy is more common than most people realize. Usually done in secret, it’s discovered when it goes wrong and proves fatal. Police and families typically cover it up, either from ignorance or shame. When Uncle Harvey is found suffocated or strangled…

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Anti-Choice Movement IS Responsible For Tiller’s Murder

In the hours following Dr. George Tiller’s assassination, the anti-choice movement sounded unusually reasonable, gathering in front of the Supreme Court this morning to denounce the murder. But I don’t believe they mean it. Because given their behavior, exactly what else did they expect? For four years, Kansas Attorney General Phil Kline harassed Tiller, accusing him of protecting child rapists. Bill O’Reilly called Tiller a “baby killer,” “guilty of Nazi stuff” over two dozen times on national TV. Mix this kind of rhetoric with the apocalyptic, millennial visions that are increasingly dominating American Christianity (more Americans believe in the Rapture…

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One Pervert Does Not Equal “Danger”

When it comes to America’s panic about sex, respect for fact is in short supply. Blogs, CNN & Fox, well-intentioned family advocates, right-wing “decency” groups, and the whole machinery of the Sexual Disaster Industry continually pour out a single message: there’s sexual danger out there waiting for every child, woman, and man. In reality, many facts of life are pretty encouraging: the FBI says that rape, child sexual exploitation, suicide, and domestic violence have all declined this past decade. But if you have ears, eyes, or a computer, you’d never know it. Sexual violence and exploitation are what pass for…

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New Airport X-Ray Too Friendly For The Friendly Skies?

I fly way more than the average person: in 2008 I flew 130,000 miles, to 10 states and 5 countries (six if you count Nebraska). That means I have piles of resentment about inept airport security personnel and their pointless procedures. I’m also pretty concerned that airplanes be safe places. Now it just so happens that I support the ACLU with my heart and soul (they’re in my will, too). So it grieves me to disagree with them about one of their current crusades, against the latest airport screening technology. “The naked machine” is how they dramatically describe the new…

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