FEATURE What Birds? What Bees? The Governor’s Other Campaign for Voluntary Emissions Reduction BY KAREN OLSSON Two incarnations of George W. Bush made appearances during the last week of March. First, Houston Press reporter Tim Fleck revisited the Yalie’s mysterious brief engagement to a Rice student back in 1967, and invoked the received, if somewhat blurry, picture of young W. as a “wild and crazy party guy” president of Delta Kappa Epsilon in college, a boozer until “well into his thirties.” A few days later, the Governor stood before The Governor’s Conference on Right Choices for Youth and denounced teenage drinking, drug use, and sex. “We must convince youngsters to resist opening the Pandora’s box,” he said, “not just to avoid death or disease, but to embrace a life that is physically, and morally, and emotionally healthy.” The Right Choices campaign, continued W., is “part of a much larger effort, and that’s changing today’s culture. A culture which has clearly said if it feels good do it, and if you’ve got a problem blame somebody else. We’ve heard today the warning signs of our failed culture everywhere in our state of Texas.” Whosoever believeth that here hypocrisy lurketh or at least, that W.’s own success seems to contradict his warnings about the inherent dangers of youthful vice has not yet attended a Conference on Right Choices for Youth. In the nearly eight hours of speeches that preceded the Governor’s, it was clear that the conservative campaign to Save Our Teens has as much to do with the campaigners’ desire to atone for the sins of their generation as it has to do with young people. This was especially clear during discussion of the day’s most emphasized topic \(and the campaign’s linchteachers, school administrators, and nonprofiteers, was put together by an Austin organization called The Medical Institute for Sexual Health. The Institute, a nonprofit which receives a large share of its funding from San Antonio businessman James Leininger, was founded in 1992 to promote the idea that the only way to avoid sexually transmitted disease is to not have sex before marriage. Most of the speakers at least touched on this theme, and over the course of the morning the gender stereotyping and general nostalgia so fogged up the Hyatt ballroom as to send at least one Eagle Forum representative into transports of prim nodding, while more moderate delegates from Austin nonprofits were forced out into the hallway for air. In a morning speech, the founder of the Medical Institute, Dr. Joe Mcllhaney, Jr., and another doctor affiliated with the Institute, Linda Bussey, explained that until about thirty years ago, unmarried teens just didn’t have sex because girls didn’t want to get pregnant and so refused male advances. But along came abortion and birth control, which “cleared the path to the sexual revolution,” said Bussey. “The women’s movement taught that sexual freedom is a woman’s right. Girls signed up for the sexual revolution, and they’re the ones most hurt by this.” \(She later reiterated this seminal point: “Somewhere between Woodstock and disco, our generation has sowed the A The Bush family having an inaugural ball Jana Birchum portions of a grim abstinence video for teens, produced by the Institute: “Just Thought You Oughta Know.” In a typical excerpt, young voices were heard over a “cool” drumbeat and a repetitive alarm noise: He said if I didn’t he would find someone else…. Honestly I just wanted to get it over with…. I was drunk…. I was lonely…. I wanted to feel loved…. I was abused as a child so what difference does it make? After this particular segment ended, Bussey stopped the video and asked, “Why does this millennial generation have such a hard time [with] the wrong choices? I want to suggest that they were raised by baby boomer parents. You know, the sex, drugs, and rock and roll crowd.” Certainly no one could miss the implicit reference to ex-wildman George W. Bush. And Bussey and Mcllhaney hastened to correct anyone who might mistake their message as directed only to “inner-city, high-risk” kids; they mentioned the heroin problem in Plano, as well as a recent case in which “the entire student council and all the captains of the sports teams” from Highland Park High School Highland Park! congregated at a warehouse with quantities of beer the captains of the sports teams! and proceeded to engage in risky behavior until the police arrived. While no data concerning teen pregnancies or disease rates in Highland Park were provided, the doctors insisted on a link between “unhealthy environmental factors” and “teen sexual activity,” and finally recommended that sex be postponed until marriage. Given that on average, half of high school kids are sexually ac THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11 APRIL 16, 1999
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