Must Not Tell Anyone About the Free Condoms…

Quick: What’s wrong with this billboard?

If you guessed “IT PROMOTES PREMARITAL SEX!” then you win!

The billboard, just outside Bryson City, North Carolina, is the focal point of a lot of controversy because of the “FREE Condoms” part of it.

[David] Monteith,… a county commissioner, worries the billboard sends the wrong message to kids. He said it doesn’t square with his beliefs, and it’s not one that should be paid for with government money.

“I come from a generation where you don’t have sex until you get married,” he said. “And as a Christian, that is the way I believe.”

As if anyone gives a flying fuck what he believes…

No one’s forcing anyone to have sex before they’re married. No one’s even making Monteith use a condom.

But his statement isn’t even the worst one:

Libby Wiggins, a county resident who serves on the Health Department board, said she also has heard about the controversy and sees both sides of the issue.

“I am against free condoms because I am against premarital sex,” she said. “That is not what God intended us to do.”

Yes, and I’m against seatbelts in cars because I don’t want 14-year-olds driving… How the hell are those two things connected?!

Believe it or not, some married couples might have a good reason to use condoms, too…

And wait. Let me get this straight. Wiggins serves on the Health Department board and she doesn’t want people who are having sex to protect themselves!?

Who the hell elected these people?

If any county needs free condoms, it’s this one!

Nearly 50 percent of high school students in Swain County said they have had sex, according a Health Department report last year.

The state rate for pregnancy ages 15-17 for 2005-09 was 33.6. It was 42 percent in Swain, [Health Department Director Linda] White said.

About 16 percent of the population lives below the poverty level.

Now, even though the free condoms have been available for 30 years, they’re covering up that part of the sign:

The sign for the Swain County Health Department, advertising low-cost physicals, family planning and “FREE condoms” has been altered, now with a blank spot covering the portion of the board that mentioned contraceptives.

The decision was made by the five-member county Board of Commissioners, all of whom were in favor of removing the portion advertising free condoms, County Manager Kevin King said.

If you want to reach any of these five commissioners — Phil Carson (Chairman), Robert White (Vice-Chair), Donnie Dixon, David Monteith, and Steve Moon — their phone numbers and email addresses can be found here.

Is anyone surprised that it was five men who decided that local women don’t need to be aware of access to free protection against unplanned pregnancies? They’re all embarrassments to their community. Where are the informed teenagers and local men and women who can speak out against this insanity?

Go to their twice-a-month board meetings and raise some hell.

And hand those men some condoms while you’re at it.

(Thanks to Adam for the link)

  • http://archerdevil.wordpress.com Archer

    I personally think we need Patrick Stewart for this…

    *facepalm*
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    "I come from a generation where you don’t have sex until you get married,"

    Nope sorry dude pretty sure pre-marital sex has been well and truly in action since the dark ages so get off your high horse and engage brain.

  • Björn

    How do I have to understand

    The state rate for pregnancy ages 15-17 for 2005-09 was 33.6. It was 42 percent in Swain.

    ?

    Does that mean that of all girls/women between the age of 15 to 17 42% have been pregnant? That can’t possibly be true, can it?

  • Kari

    I wonder if Monteith had sex before he was married…

    I’m also pretty sure that God said “Go forth and multiply.” I don’t think he said anything about being married while engaging in coitus.

    And need I point out the heteronormativity here?

  • BruiserMommy

    Sounds like a great county to start an adoption agency… and a good ole fashioned home for unwed mothers.

  • Matt

    “Where are the informed teenagers and local men and women who can speak out against this insanity?”

    They, (the religious right) care. We don’t. They win.

  • beanfeast

    Looks like we have a case of people not understanding numbers.

    “The state rate for pregnancy ages 15-17 for 2005-09 was 33.6. It was 42 percent in Swain, [Health Department Director Linda] White said.”

    I am not a demographer/epidemiologist, but I’m pretty certain pregnancy rates are usually quoted per 1,000 of the population. Either the reporter has failed to listen to the interviewee, the editor has fouled up big time or the Health Department Director shouldn’t be in that position.

    Or maybe I’m wrong, and almost half the 15-17 year old female students in every lesson are well on their way to becoming mothers.

    Rereading this, after posting, lead me to checking the school leaving age for North Carolina. Turns out it is one of the half dozen states where it is still 16. So perhaps not all of the pregnant 15-17 year olds are still in school.

  • Jeff

    Who the hell elected these people?

    It’s North Carolina. You know the answer to that one.

    Although I must say the comments beneath the article are encouraging.

  • GigiAUT

    Someone better tell gramps we’re in the 21st century, and have been for some time. Just because someone is christian doesn’t mean they’ll put off premarital sex anymore. If I had a dollar for all the ones I knew that have kids now, long before I’ve even though about having kids, I’d be one rich mofo.

  • beanfeast

    That 5 minute edit window is just a little bit too short and I read the Wikipedia article just a bit too quickly.

    North Carolina is one of half a dozen states debating whether the dropout age should be raised above 16.

  • Cabalavatar

    Kari,

    That’s precisely what I was thinking about, the conspicuous and yet inconspicuous assumption that only heterosexuals have sex which might always lead to pregnancy.

    But I should point out also that considering how right-wing nutjobby these people sound, they’d still oppose pre-marital sex between non-heterosexuals. (Hell, they might even discount the fact that it’s sex! Who knows?)

    We’re sexual beings meant to have sex; that’s our sole biologically instructing purpose on the planet. Denying that fact isn’t going to change it. People are going to have sex, so we should enable them to protect themselves as much as possible against the very real dangers related to that exercise.

  • El Perro

    Hillbilly Joe can stop paying for free condoms just as soon as I get to stop paying for corn subsidies, oil subsidies, the Military Industrial Complex and the Prison Industrial Complex and as just as soon as religious organizations are taxed just like every other business.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    “I come from a generation where you don’t have sex until you get married,” he said.

    Ha ha! Not likely. He’s probably sure that all those cohorts of his who got suddenly married when they were 16 years old were virgins, and their babies seven months later were all premature.

  • Emma

    Potential upside: this controversy will raise awareness of the availability of free condoms way more than the billboard could have done by itself. I’m an optimist.

  • http://whatpalebluedot.blogspot.com/ WhatPaleBlueDot

    It’s disheartening that they never consider that married people might be using condoms, too.

  • Larry Meredith

    “I am against free condoms because I am against premarital sex,” she said. “That is not what God intended us to do.”

    why is free condoms automatically linked to premarital sex? Even married couples should be taking steps to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

    This isn’t a theocracy. You shouldn’t be passing laws based on what you’re God intended.

  • ThereIsNoSpoon

    I think prudery like this comes from bitterness over missing out on the fun that everyone else is having now that someone’s an old fart that lived by medieval sexual morality and didn’t have any sex outside of their own unsatisfying marriage.
    He came from a time when HE didn’t have premarital sex and if HE had to miss out than he’s going to do everything in his power to make damn sure everyone else does!

    News flash – your post-marital sex was unsatisfying because you didn’t get any practice and probably felt guilty about even thinking about it beforehand and there’s even a good possibly that you or your wife is one of those “cured” homosexuals or lesbians.

    (I saw that I typed “was” and was about to change it to “is” because this guy is obviously still alive but then I decided to leave it. Somebody fighting against sex this hard probably had it for the last time years ago…)

  • Lisa

    They should have covered ‘Free condoms’ with ‘Free Contraceptives’ just to be asses about it. :3

  • ThereIsNoSpoon

    I was going to edit that but I ran out of time – I realized my wording of “Those ‘cured’ homosexuals or lesbians” was rather harsh – it was bad wording, the harshness I was feeling was meant to be directed at the wrongheaded people who subject LGBT teens and young adults to attempts to “cure” them. I just want to re-iterate my support and solidarity for all of the LGBT community and all of religion’s victims, up to and including those most unfortunate cases that have been warped into believing they aren’t gay and actively campaign against gay rights.
    I kind-of got off subject because of a tacky throwaway joke, but I believe situations like Mark Foley and Ted Haggard are more gay-specific examples but part of the same overall phenomenon of religion instilling guilt over sexuality and bitterness over others enjoying their sex guilt-free.

  • http://3harpiesltd.org/jwp Judith Bandsma

    A generation where people didn’t have sex before marriage? I wonder when that was. My grandparents (b. 1904 and 1905) married in 1923 when my grandmother was 6 months pregnant. SHE kept putting it off because she had a bunch of younger siblings that needed care.

    My great grandfather married his second wife in 1909 when she was about 5 months pregnant (she had been his first wife’s nurse while she was dying).

    You know, I never heard a word about any of that…we ended up working it out from family records. And then there was my mother who was 5 months pregnant when she married my stepfather (not married at all when she had me) and that was in the 1940′s. Probably HIS generation.

    My family was not unusual.

    Oh, and if premarital sex is so wrong, why is there no mention of the creation of a preacher to marry Adam and Eve? Or even the god of the bible marrying them? Hmmm…so, according to the bible we’re all descended from incestuous bastards.

  • http://www.dwnomad.com Dustin Williams

    Health departments also track and counsel people with reactive test results for STIs and other communicable diseases. Free condoms is a great way to reduce that level too.

    On a side note, one summer that I was working with a church in college, I manned the booth at the county fair, right next to the health department’s booth. On their table they had a very large bowl full of condoms and the nurse manning their booth came over to give me a handful.

  • Rollingforest

    Hemant wrote “Is anyone surprised that it was five men who decided that local women don’t need to be aware of access to free protection against unplanned pregnancies?”

    To be fair, the boys of the community probably would like to know about the condoms as well so that they don’t have to drop out of school and work minimum wage jobs at age 16 in order to support a child that they didn’t ask for.

    Also, don’t assume that putting a woman on the board would make them more likely to support contraception. In this conservative community, it would make little difference what the person’s gender is.

  • tinker

    If you send them emails you will need to get on their mailing list so that they get through So be sure and use your junk email account. If you don’t have one yet, Hotmail, Gmail and Inbox are all free.

  • Heidi

    In his day, they shipped off all those unwed pregnant teenaged virgins to facilities where rich white people could buy their babies. And then raise them to believe in virgin birth.

  • http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com Iason Ouabache

    “I come from a generation where you don’t have sex until you get married,” he said.

    BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Oh wait, he was serious. Let me laugh even harder. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

  • http://www.cookiesfromthedarkside.wordpress.com MichaelL65

    I thought the problem with that sign was the part about the free condoms, but for a different reason – It is obviously pushing a socialist agenda. Free condoms? Shouldn’t we have to work for our condoms? ;)

  • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com/ gloomcookie613

    As a married woman who uses condoms, I find this beyond belief stupid. Yes, only unmarried people use condoms! Once a woman is married they are to be used for strategic breeding purposes only! Say what?!

    Not to mention the fact that it’s also not just hetero couples that benefit from the free condoms or that, you know, what your invisible sky daddy tells YOU doesn’t mean a flying frak to me and countless others.

    And as an aside: Libby Wiggins? Seriously? That name makes her sound like a muppet… oh wait, she is, so I guess it’s fitting after all.

  • Heather

    As a reluctant North Carolinian, I can say this kind of stupidity is not unusual. We were actually discussing at work last night whether anal sex was still illegal here in NC. I am happy to report that we do have some educated people in this state as we helped elect Obama and finally turned into a blue state, if at least for this moment in time. However since we’re still in the “bible belt”, the devout Christians still outnumber the non-believers by a very disconcerting margin.

  • Rike D.

    “Go forth and multiply” — Of course you have to hide the condoms if you want them to do that!

  • Oli

    The pregnancy rate is for 15 to 17-year-olds is 33.6? holy fuck

  • Rover Serton

    just checked, that is 33.6 per 1,000 teans, not 33.6% actually 3.36% but still alot of “somethin goin on!”

  • wasd

    The state rate for pregnancy ages 15-17 for 2005-09 was 33.6. It was 42 percent in Swain, [Health Department Director Linda] White said.

    I have seen Americans with their insane teen pregnancy rates make this exact same mistake before. I think people just mistake a ‰ for a %…

    In other words Beanfeast is probably right. At least UN reporting on teen pregnancy rates uses a per 1.000 sign, not a percent sign, but there is very little else in the report to remind people of the difference so people might not realize it if they just quickly look at a table of numbers. The reason I noticed this is because I think that having one in thirty girls pregnant, IE one in every two classes, is insane. My Western European highschool certainly would have gone crazy over one teen mother, let alone one or two every year. So after seeing some sloppy “33%” style reporting I got the UN report it cited thinking maybe someone missed TWO zeros.

    So thats how I came to read the UN teen pregnancy RATE figures. I had also glossed over the ages of young mothers so I should have known.

    But when I was spending the a couple hours of a night in a greyhound terminal and there was this 13-14-ish girl who was playing with the arcade games with her little brother.

    And then she walked up to this older lady and toke the baby this older lady who was holding. She toke the baby and held it in a way that confused me. No “can I hold the baby please please please”, no looking in awe, no playing. This girl was exceptionally cheerful at 1AM or 2AM or 3AM but she held the baby firmly, expertly, lovingly but kind of matter of factly.

    Eventhough part of my brain quickly recognized the way she was holding that child and started patiently explaining to the rest of my brain what was going on it must have taken me ten, twenty minutes before I understood that this was actually the woman I had seen holding a baby on the bus earlier that night. At that time she was sitting so I could not see how short she was. All I could see as I passed her seat and looked down at her was her smile, the baby in her arms and her massive boobs and thought “wow those Latina woman sure keep their beauty as they arrive at a motherly age (instantly assuming late twenties at least)”

    It was also pretty weird to see these 16 year old black girls carrying a baby while shopping in the same wallmart clothes isle as a short (young?) burka clad woman. Hadn`t seen that in Europe either ;-) (Though I guess except for the wallmarts you can see the elements of the equation)

    So American teen pregnancy rates and ages are literally stunning when compared against the western world, but not that stunning.

  • Noah

    What seems surprising to me is that this becomes an issue even after the vatican backtracks and declares that condoms are okay, obviously only provided they’re used to prevent transmission of STD’s. Someone really just ought to throw that back in their face because it seems like a voice these people would love to follow.

  • http://notanygods.blogspot.com/ Miss Coconut

    Hemant wrote “Is anyone surprised that it was five men who decided that local women don’t need to be aware of access to free protection against unplanned pregnancies?”

    To be fair, the boys of the community probably would like to know about the condoms as well so that they don’t have to drop out of school and work minimum wage jobs at age 16 in order to support a child that they didn’t ask for.

    Actually, a 16-year-old boy (or any boy or man) doesn’t need to be there for the girl/woman that is having a baby. The girl/woman has to have the child herself, whether she keeps it or not, or she has to go through the abortion herself: The boy/man, whether boyfriend, husband, some random guy, or friend, does not have to be there. Sure, we could say he’s an ass for not helping out, but the fact of the matter is the girl/woman is the one that really has to deal with it, whereas the boy/man can just be like, “Well, tough luck.”

  • m1n4

    I stopped using condoms the day I got married, don’t get me wrong I’m not against them I think they should be used by everyone specially if they’re not using any other birth control or their lifestyle puts them on the risk of stds
    For me it was simpler just to use a different birth control (one that I wouldn’t forget)…but then, after a well planned pregnancy I had to go back to the ol’condoms
    why? because semen contains prostoglandins which cause uterine contractions and I was having a hard time with those (and no, I didn’t want to go all those months without sex)

    they do have more uses than contraception or std prevention!


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