Politics · Religion · Science

Fact-Checking the BillDo

Bill Donohue is in fine form this morning. As I read his apoplectic hissy fit over the fact that New York City will now mandate sex education, I can practically see the flecks of spittle flying out from the monitor and feel the floor shake as he stamps his feet:

We’ve had de facto sex-education in New York City for decades—that’s how long we’ve been shelling out condoms to students. And what has it gotten us? Moreover, under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, literally tens of millions of condoms have been promiscuously distributed all over the city to anyone who wants them. And yet the rate of sexually transmitted diseases continues to skyrocket.

There is a sex-education program that could work, and it is one that is similar to the approach being used to discuss smoking. We don’t tell kids not to smoke and then instruct them on the proper way to inhale. No, we show them horrifying pictures of a smoker’s lungs. We tell them of the physical pain they are likely to endure by smoking. We tell them how it will shorten their life expectancy.

So… sex is like smoking? He wants kids to grow up and ideally never have sex ever? I have a mental image of a chaste couple getting married, and when they are finally allowed by their church to have sex, on their wedding night, all they can think of is the pictures of diseased cocks and pussies they got shown in their BillDo-style sex ed class.

There was something else I meant to mention. What was it?… Oh, right! “the rate of sexually transmitted diseases continues to skyrocket“.

You know what’s cool about the Internet? You can look shit up. In the US, which is where New York is, we have an institution called the Centers for Disease Control, part of whose job it is to keep track of incidences of diseases, including STDs. Here’s a form that’ll show you data about STDs by disease, year, age, and other criteria. Here’s another that lists fewer criteria, but has data for more years.

So in the second one, if we look up New York, grouping by disease and by year, we get:

(Click to see the whole thing. All rates are per 100,000 people.)

The thing I get from that is that gonorrhea is at a 20-year low, syphilis is a quarter of what it was in 1990, and the only one that’s on the rise is chlamydia, about which the CDC writes in its 2009 trends report:

Continuing increases in chlamydia diagnoses likely reflect expanded screening efforts, and not necessarily a true increase in disease burden; this means that more people are protecting their health by getting tested and being linked to treatment. This is critical, since chlamydia is one of the most widespread STDs in the United States.

Now, unfortunately all of these stats are for New York State, not just New York City. But I think if STDs in NYC were “skyrocket”ing as BillDo says, we’d know about it.

No, I think a simpler and far more plausible explanation is that, as usual, Donohue is pulling stuff out of his — or someone’s — ass. But what can you expect from someone whose job it is to pontificate about offenses to a magic man and his fluffers?

Update, 12:26: Clarify what the numbers in the graph mean.