Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Jill Stanek disproves her own argument

Jill Stanek is the conservative columnist that has been arguing against the HPV vaccine because it will encourage promiscuity in young women. Debbie Halvorson, the Majority Leader in the Illinois State Senate, recently spoke out about her own HPV infection, precancerous cells, and hysterectomy and is speaking out in support of the HPV vaccine. Jill Stanek then likened her to a porn star in a column.

In a recent post on her website, Stanek now is proposing that male circumcision be mandated for boys if the HPV vaccine becomes mandated for girls. Her justification is a recent Lancet study in Africa that shows a significant reduction in HIV infection rates in men due to circumcision. The reduction was so significant that the study had to be terminated prematurely because to continue with it would have been unethical.

I'm not writing this because I want to discuss circumcision and HIV prevention. (Though the fact that a simple procedure could save many lives is nothing but good news.) I want to point out the fact that Stanek has now disproved her own argument.

The whole premise that girls will become promiscuous if the get the HPV vaccine is fairly ludicrous on its face, but it's the standard argument conservatives put forward for anything that helps prevent STD infection (other than celibacy). Now that we have determined that circumcision protects against HIV infection, will we see an explosion in promiscuity in circumcised men? Of course not. Looking at the same Lancet study, the rate at which the men had sex was basically the same for the circumcised and uncircumcised men.

So, what I don't get is, if giving girls a vaccine to protect them against HPV makes girls slutty, why is Stanek calling for the circumcision of boys to protect them from HIV?

UPDATE: Stanek appears in the comments and writes:

You clearly don't understand sarcasm.

Oh, don't be silly. Of course I understand sarcasm. I was trying to point out in this post that if circumcision protects against HIV, then -- by Stanek's very own argument -- circumcised men and boys should be more promiscuous the uncircumcised men and boys. As such, Stanek should be arguing against the circumcision of young boys. After all, if a girl views getting the HPV vaccine as license to have sex, then it is reasonable to conclude that a boy protected against HIV will do the same. Yet there is no anti-circumcision campaign among conservatives.

The conservative argument against the vaccine says the girls who have been vaccinated will be more likely to be promiscuous. One could also make an argument that girls who have had the HPV vaccine are more likely to be aware of the dangers, prevalence, and infectiousness of HPV, and may actually avoid sexual contact. Conservatives have produce no actual evidence that their argument is correct. As far as I know, they haven't even attempted any studies. Data collected by rhetorical argument is not valid data.

For the record, I'm very much pro-vaccine. I think its existence is a great thing and I hope it saves many lives. I'm also mildly anti-mandate.


Jill Stanek said...

You clearly don't understand sarcasm.

Matthew said...

Normally I would love to agree with, Narc, but my take on what Stanek said is that she clearly doesn't want the HPV vaccine to be mandatory, nor does she want the circumcision of boys to be mandatory, either. Therefore, your last sentence is moot. Sorry. :-(

David said...

You clearly don't understand sarcasm.

Sarcasm — or, indeed, humor of any kind — seems a surprising and thoughtless way of addressing such a serious issue. People's opinions are rarely swayed by substituting sarcasm for well-presented facts.