A few posts back I wrote about gracious Christians, including a young woman named Shelby Knox, who works to promote sex education among high school students. Shelby is from a conservative Texas community that has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and of STDs in the country. Although she's personally in favor of abstinence, she acknowledges that "abstinence only" programs just don't work. They fail to provide teenagers with enough information to protect themselves. You don't have to like the choices that teenagers make. You can still try to convince them that abstinence is the safest, most risk free, and intelligent option. But you should also give them the knowledge to protect themselves from dangerous diseases and unwanted pregnancies if they choose something different. Especially since making foolish choices is part of being a teenager. How about letting them have information they need so they can grow up to regret those choices and make changes. Give them a future, not an early grave.
Now the New York Times has an editorial about Republicans, mostly those in the religious right, who also oppose needle exchange programs, which have a long history of preventing AIDs among drug addicts. Just as with teenage sex, you don't have to like the choices that addicts make. I certainly don't. However, if there's a simple way to prevent drug users from compounding their many problems by, at least, giving them sterile needles, let's support it.
The Republican opponents of needle exchange programs claim that these programs send a mixed message to addicts that drug use is not wrong. The claim is that they encourage drug use by providing safe needles to addicts. If these conservative Republicans had their druthers, they would rather see drug users "suffer the consequences" of their actions than be protected from AIDs.
Of course, many addicts then pass the AIDs virus on to their partners who may be neither drug users nor promiscuous. Innocent people do get caught up in the fall out, especially in a lot of third world countries.
Every day, in every way, "compassionate conservatisim" is proving to be nothing more than an empty slogan devoid of compassion and common sense.