STDs don’t know who did what to whom

A tangential comment in this piece on why Harvard shouldn’t pretend, as Steven Pinker put it in The Crimson, “‘faith’ and ‘reason’ are parallel and equivalent ways of knowing” is pertinent to a recent discussion here of condoms and the Catholic church:

Indeed, it is not uncommon for religious leaders to advocate acting on faith in the face of reason – as when Catholic priests forbid married women to use condoms even when their husbands are infected with AIDS.

Of course, Catholic priests (and bishops and archbishops and cardinals and the pope and many theologians and Catholic thinkers and writers) forbid everyone to use condoms under any circs, but the point Lawrence Krauss is making by putting it that way is the one that gets, bizarrely, overlooked by people (and there are some) who defend the Catholic church’s position on the issue by pointing out that people already disobey the church’s teachings by not being monogamous; the condom issue, they say, is subsidiary to that fact, and therefore no reason to blame the church for its loathsome murderous policy. There are a lot of problems with that defense (such as the lack of fit between crime and punishment – adultery is not self-evidently the right sort of thing to punish with a slow unpleasant death), but one of the most glaring is the one Krauss indicates by his way of stating the policy. The ban on condoms is a blanket ban, so, obviously, it punishes monogamous partners (and children) as well as non-monogamous partners. Of course that is not to say the spread of AIDS is the church’s fault and no one else’s, but it is to say that the church (to put it as mildly as possible) ought not to do anything to hinder AIDS-prevention. The church ought not to be helping along ‘punishment’ in the form of a horrible disease – that seems simple enough. (That discussion got sidetracked in the earlier thread by an irritating eruption of sexist bullshit. I run a classy outfit here; if anyone’s going to lower the tone it will be me. Sexist bullshit is right out.)

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