John McCain's ad denouncing Barack Obama for supporting sex education for kindergartners when he was in the Illinois Senate hit a nerve. Today, in a posting titled "Does the Truth Matter Anymore?," Columnist E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post expresses outrage on the newspaper's Web site:
And now comes a truly vile McCain ad accusing Obama of supporting legislation to offer "'comprehensive sex education' to kindergartners." The announcer declares: "Learning about sex before learning to read? Barack Obama. Wrong on education. Wrong for your family."
Margaret Talev of McClatchy newspapers called the ad a “deliberate low blow.” Here’s what she wrote in an excellent fact check: “This is a deliberately misleading accusation. It came hours after the Obama campaign released a TV ad critical of McCain's votes on public education. As a state senator in Illinois, Obama did vote for but was not a sponsor of legislation dealing with sex ed for grades K-12. But the legislation allowed local school boards to teach ‘age-appropriate’ sex education, not comprehensive lessons to kindergartners, and it gave schools the ability to warn young children about inappropriate touching and sexual predators.”
Is McCain against teaching little kids to beware of sexual predators?
The subject of Obama's support has come up before. In July of last year, MSNBC's "First Read" reported:
Obama spokesman Bill Burton tells First Read: "You can teach a kid about what's appropriate and not appropriate to protect them from predators out there." In addition, he issued a document showing that the Oregon Department of Education has guidelines for sex education for children in grades K-3 (which includes understanding the difference between a good touch and a bad touch), and that the Sexuality Information And Education Council of the United States has curriculum for those in kindergarten.
An examination of Oregon's guidelines shows they include:
Understanding body parts, proper anatomical names, stages in basic growth process
Communicable/non-communicable diseases, the concept
Recognize risk behaviors (sharing body fluids) and methods of prevention
The Sexuality Information And Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) curriculum for those ages 5 through 8 lists the following "Developmental Messages:"
Each body part has a correct name and a specific function.
A person’s genitals, reproductive organs, and genes determine whether the person is male or female.
A boy/man has nipples, a penis, a scrotum, and testicles.
A girl/woman has breasts, nipples, a vulva, a clitoris, a vagina, a uterus, and ovaries.
Some sexual or reproductive organs, such as penises and vulvas, are external or on the outside of
the body while others, such as ovaries and testicles, are internal or inside the body.
Both boys and girls have body parts that feel good when touched.
All this doesn't equate to, as Obama partisans claim, simply teaching children about inappropriate touching.
The state Senate bill in question, SB0099, had changes made to it. Interestingly, one part that was deleted provided, "Course material and instruction shall teach honor and respect for monogamous heterosexual marriage."
As I wrote in an earlier NewsBusters item on the subject:
Do parents want government schools providing proper anatomical names to their 5-year-olds? Does discussion of communicable diseases include talking about HIV if one of the students brings it up? And suppose children want a detailed explanation of precisely what body fluids are? What about parents who don't want schools teaching these concepts? How easy would it be for them to opt out and would their children be stigmatized if they did?
Dionne's rabid attempt to challenge McCain's accurate assertion in the ad might provide him with necessary psychological relief, but that's about all. To many voters, it's just another day with the mainstream media. They are getting desperate, aren't they?