14 February 2013

The American Family Association is Unpatriotic and Ungrateful

Arlington National Cemetery (photo from Army.mil)

I rarely comment on the things I post on What Are You Really Afraid Of? (http://whatareyoureallyafraidof.tumblr.com/) The stories and pictures I choose usually illustrate the bigotry, intolerance, and ignorance of the "anti-gay rights" movement better than my words can.

Today, however, I must sound off.

The American Family Association (AFA) is angry that gay soldiers might be buried in the "hallowed ground" of Arlington National Cemetery.
First, I find it sad that the leaders and members of the AFA have nothing better to do with their lives than trying to deny honor to people who fought and died for their country; to people who fought and died for the AFA's right to even exist and espouse their ridiculous beliefs!
Second, I find it funny that the AFA doesn't realize there are already gay people buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Our country's fallen heroes have been buried at Arlington since the Civil War. Gay people have been around since the beginning of time!
Does anyone truly believe none of the gay people who have served in our military were killed and buried with honor at Arlington?
Now, I challenge the AFA to look at the rows of headstones lining the rolling hills of that cemetery, and tell me which of the fallen were gay! And, then, tell me why it matters?
In addition, I challenge them to look at those who visit the graves and tell me what their relationship to the fallen is? Is it a father, a mother, a brother, sister, husband, wife, son, daughter, best friend, lover, comrade?
Is the sacrifice made by a gay soldier somehow less than that of a "straight" soldier? Is the pain and loss felt by those left behind any less for a same-sex mate?
I served in the U.S. Army. In Basic Combat Training, by the simple logic of the Army, the man in the bunk next to mine was my "Battle Buddy." He and I became fast friends. We endured the physical and mental tests of BCT together. After training, I went to Panama, and he went to South Korea.
Years later, after we'd both left the Army, we found each other on Facebook. That's when I found out he is gay. You know what? It doesn't matter. I don't care that he's gay. It doesn't make a bit of difference to me. He remains my friend and battle buddy.
How does who a person loves affect the honor they receive for serving their country? For giving -- in the words of Abraham Lincoln -- "the last full measure of devotion" to the United States.
The AFA is not only bigoted, intolerant, and ignorant, but also unpatriotic and ungrateful for the sacrifice made to protect their freedom.

10 May 2012

The Truth

The only people who affect the "sanctity" of your marriage are you and your spouse. The couple next door -- whatever their gender composition -- doesn't change your commitment. And, couples across the street, across town, or across the country have absolutely no control over the strength and validity of your marriage!

- Bud Koenemund

24 March 2011

We Have Met the Enemy...

I wrote this piece back in 2006, when the first MySpace boycott of gasoline was proposed. Now, a Facebook page has sprung up advocating a one-day boycott (scheduled for 31 March). Facebook may boast a significantly larger user base, but the numbers and the ideas in this piece still hold up.


I spend a lot of time on the Internet, surfing the crashing waves of human knowledge; navigating a fragile Kon-Tiki of common sense on an ocean of madness, if you like. In my travels, I come across many weird and wild Internet schemes, untruths, mistakes, hoaxes, and myths. Recently, when I received a notice from a friend advising me of a gasoline boycott scheduled for Monday, May 15, I stopped to think about it for a few moments.

According to the bulletin, all members of MySpace.com are to refrain from filling their gas tanks for one day in an effort to force oil companies to lower the price of gasoline. The well intentioned bulletin states that there are more than 72 million MySpace users, and advises that if each one of those users was to refrain from filling their tank, at an average cost of $30, this boycott would cost The Very Big Corporation of America (aka Big Oil) more than $2.1 billion. Yes, that’s $2.1 billion, with a B.

Gentle Readers, I am sorry to say that this one day boycott, quite simply, will not work. The price of gasoline will not come down by even a penny.

“Why not,” you ask? The short answer is – many of the people who are going to boycott buying gasoline on May 15 will simply buy it in the days preceding or following it. Big Oil won’t be selling any less gasoline; they’ll just be selling it on different days. This will cause nary a skipped heartbeat in the boardrooms of Big Oil.

These companies endure one day drop-offs each holiday. How much gas do you think is sold in the United States on Christmas Day? Easter? Thanksgiving Day? But, have you ever tried to get gas during the rush hour on Christmas Eve? Or on the day after Christmas, when everyone is driving home from Grandma’s house?

Two more small points – a MySpace profile does not necessarily equal a driver. Members can be as young as 14 years old, and some members have multiple profiles. 72 million profiles does not equal 72 million drivers.

There is, however, a longer answer, a bigger picture. Over the long run, the price of gasoline – and other petroleum products – will continue to climb. This is due to the basic economic law of supply and demand. Very simply, as Pogo says, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

The United States is the biggest consumer of oil in the world. We have approximately five percent of the world’s population (roughly 300 million of six billion), yet we use 25 percent of the world’s petroleum.

It is not hard to see why. Just try driving across the George Washington Bridge during rush hour. While you’re creeping along at five miles per hour, or backed-up waiting to pay the toll, look around you and count how many cars have only one occupant. Then look at the cars themselves. How many of these one occupant vehicles are SUVs, Pick-up trucks, Mini-vans, or Hummers?

Americans continue to believe that bigger is better, even if they have no need for that bigger. Take, for example, the 2006 Hummer H1 Alpha. According to Autobytel.com, the H1 Alpha gets an estimated 11 or 12 miles per gallon, and that’s combined city and highway mileage.

Twenty years ago, I owned a 1978 Chevrolet Caprice Classic that got 12 miles per gallon…but only on the highway. Of course, back then I could stop at my local Shell station and get a gallon of Super for 90 cents.

Is this the farthest we’ve advanced in MPG technology? According to writer Gregg Easterbrook, the “real-world” MPG of American cars has risen minimally since my Caprice rolled off the assembly line. His article “Turn On,” appeared on The New Republic Online in October, 2004.

Easterbrook writes:
Official overall mileage of new U.S. vehicles rose from about 14 MPG in the late '70s to a peak of 22 MPG in 1987 and has since declined to 21 MPG. These figures, however, are based on unrealistic tests in which cars are accelerated gently and are never driven above the speed limit. The real-world overall mileage of new vehicles is probably 20 percent lower: a pathetic 17 MPG.

By applying Easterbrook’s “real-world” driving standards (subtracting 20 percent) to the 14 MPG given as official for the late ‘70s, you end up with 11.2 MPG. This means that overall “real-world” MPG for American cars rose by less than 6 MPG in the last thirty years. One would almost believe that the same people who run the biggest oil companies in the world also run Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler.

The United States is not alone in its auto-mania. According to a recent NBC Nightly News report, there will be 75 million new automobiles on the roads of China in the next five years. That’s an additional 75 million motors burning gasoline, and using oil and other lubricants. Another recent report tells of gas rationing in Iran. Obviously, even the oil producing countries are having problems.

As economies around the world grow, more and more automobiles will appear, requiring more and more gasoline. And higher demand will lead to higher prices. This is especially true when you consider the recent reports that the ability of OPEC nations to produce oil has nearly reached its limit. The oil simply cannot be taken from the ground fast enough to supply the world’s thirst for it.

While gasoline is the most obvious use for oil, it is by no means the only use, and possibly not even the most important use. Plastic is a major petroleum product. Can you imagine living a day of your life without plastic? You’d have to get a rooster to wake you, instead of your digital alarm clock. Try hitting his snooze button!

You’d get in the shower (through the glass door, no plastic shower curtain); you’d have no radio to sing along with while you lather, rinse, and repeat with shampoo packaged in something other than plastic. Your plastic toothbrush, your razor, your mouthwash bottle, and glide-on deodorant? All gone. In addition, there would be no plastic milk jug in your refrigerator, and no foam cup for your Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Get the point?

Even the electricity we use is generated using oil or coal, and we waste that electricity. We leave lights on when we leave the house. We leave air conditioners on so we have a cool house when we come home. We leave computers, monitors, printers, etc, turned on 24/7. We have VCRs, DVD players, stereos, the aforementioned digital alarm clocks, night lights, and a hundred other devices constantly sucking up power. We even exercise on electronic machines. How many of you run on a treadmill, climb on a Stair-Master, or ride a stationary bike, each with an electronic display?

“Those items use very minimal amounts of energy,” you say? Yes, in your house they do. Now multiply your house by the 100 in your neighborhood, or the 1,000 for your small town, or 100,000, or think about New York City and Los Angeles. All those “minimal amounts” add up, and every gallon of oil used to generate electricity is another gallon added to the demand, thus another gallon adding to the price of oil.

We, as a country, need to reduce our use of oil. This will require sacrifice, and that is not something that Americans like to hear. We relish the freedom of being able to jump in our cars at any time and just take off, and we don’t want to be told that we should cut back. We have lived our lives in the Land of Plenty, but the streets are no longer paved with gold, Gentle Readers, they’ve been covered with a sludge of oil, gasoline, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and anti-freeze leaks from the millions and millions of cars we drive every day.

The answers to why this oil crisis has developed are easy, but the solutions are not. The simplest, and fastest, way to begin saving on the amount of oil we use is mass transit. The benefits of more people using subways and buses are numerous: fewer cars on the road, using less gas and less oil, and emitting less pollution. Car-pooling can provide the same benefits.

The next step should be to increase the minimum MPG requirement for all automobiles sold in the United States. That’s right, all automobiles.

Easterbrook’s article continues:
About 17 million new cars and "light trucks" (SUVs, pickups, and minivans) are sold in the United States each year and driven, on average, about 12,000 miles annually. If the fuel efficiency of 17 million vehicles driven 12,000 miles annually rose by one-third, from a real-world 17 MPG to a real-world 23 MPG, that would save about 200 gallons of gasoline annually per vehicle, or about 3.4 billion gallons of gasoline. Since a barrel of petroleum yields 20 gallons of gasoline, about 170 million barrels of oil would be saved.

With U.S. petroleum demand at 20 million barrels daily, this MPG initiative has saved just about one week's worth of oil. Yes--in the first year, the MPG increase would have little effect…But remember the miracle of compounding! In the second year, with two model-years' worth of vehicles at the higher MPG, 340 million barrels of oil are saved. The next year, the savings is 510 million barrels, the next year 680 million, and so on. In just the fifth year of this initiative, we would need to purchase about 850 million fewer barrels of petroleum--approximately the amount the United States imports each year from the Persian Gulf states.

By reducing the demand – thus increasing the supply – the price of oil will come down. As this savings trickles down through the economy, the price of many non-petroleum products will fall due to reduced transportation costs. This does, of course, assume that we can get the rest of the world to increase their MPG requirements as well. But, regardless of whether the rest of the world follows or not, we need to begin.

Recently, I’ve been seeing commercials on television promoting the use of coal as an alternative to oil. The commercials tell us that coal is cheaper than oil, and that we have a 250 year supply of coal in the ground in the United States. What happens, though, if we dramatically increase our use of coal? How will that cut into the supply? Of course, we also need to consider the pollution aspects of using significantly more coal.

250 years may sound like a long time, but it really isn’t. Oil and coal are going to run out someday, certainly not in our lifetime, or even in our children’s, but the wells and mines will run dry eventually, and we need to think responsibly about future generations.

In addition to lower prices, the reduction or elimination of oil imports from the Persian Gulf provides the added benefit of improving the strategic security of the United States. We will no longer need to base troops or ships throughout the region to insure the free flow of oil. This, in turn, will save even more money, not to mention the lives of soldiers, sailors, and airmen.

We must also increase our use of alternative- and renewable sources of fuel, such as: nuclear power, solar power, wind harnessing, geo-thermal, and hydro-electric power. Additionally, we must increase the amount of recyclable materials we use – especially plastics – and decrease the amount of electricity we use.

I’m simply trying to give you a common sense overview of the situation we all find ourselves in, and a few suggestions on how to start fixing it. You can look at it as saving the planet by cutting pollution and drilling, or you can look at it as a way to save money by spending less for gasoline, but do look at it. Realize that the only way to lower gas prices significantly, and for the long term, is to reduce the amount of oil we use as an individual, as a family, as a nation, and as a planet. We can stop being our own worst enemy – and we must, soon.

09 February 2011

I Fear Sleep for the Dreams That Often Come

A villanelle for Arthur H. Monigold.

I fear sleep for the dreams that often come
In the darkest hours after midnight,
When my mind is defenseless, my heart numb.

Engulfed in blackness, I sense the phantom
Approach, but I cannot flee, cannot fight;
I fear sleep for the dreams that often come.

Powerless, I am once more his victim.
Past trespass will allow no rest tonight,
When my mind is defenseless, my heart numb.

My innocence again becomes flotsam,
Broken by incestuous appetite;
I fear sleep for the dreams that often come.

The shame of my own guilt becomes tiresome
To bear, though memory will still indict
When my mind is defenseless, my heart numb.

To unrestrained emotions I succumb,
While praying these nightmares fade in day's light.
I fear sleep for the dreams that often come
When my mind is defenseless, my heart numb.

13 September 2010

Big Tough Guy

I wrote this following a July 2006 "incident" with my niece. I'm posting it now because my Hobbit started Pre-K today.

I’m speeding down the Palisades Parkway with a baby screaming her lungs out on the seat right behind me. They’re the kind of screams that only a baby can make; the kind that slice right through the skull to run down the spine; the kind that put any pathetic slasher-film fake scream to shame. And she’s been screaming like this, nearly non-stop, for two hours. The worst part is, we – we being my mother, father and I – can’t figure out why. Her parents brought her to our house to stay for a few days, so they can get a few full nights of sleep, and so Noni and Pop-Pop can spoil their first, and only, granddaughter. Now, mere hours later – sans spoiling – we’ve packed the baby and all her clothing, toys, food, and various other supplies into a minivan – a suddenly very small minivan – for the 45-minute trip back to her parents house.

When she started crying we checked “the usual suspects.” Food in her belly? Check. Clean, dry diaper? Check. An uncle to comfort her? Check. Noni and Pop-Pop to make faces, and talk to her in baby talk? Check. Anbesol? Baby Tylenol? Gas drops? Check, check, and check! Amongst us, we have more than half a century of child care experience, the vast majority of which belongs to my mother. She has raised three boys of her own, and helped raise a menagerie of other children for days, weeks, even months at a time. But, we’re all stumped on this one. The only thing that is certain – my niece, Becky, is in pain.

So, I drive as fast as I can, and I pray silently. Praying is not something I do very often. In fact, it is a rarity. I’m sure, if there really is a God, that he did a double–take when he saw my button light up on the old prayer switchboard. Usually, when I invoke God’s name, it is only to take it in vain. On those rare occasions when I do pray, I never request things for myself – my hypocrisy does have a limit. I prayed for my father before his cancer surgery, and before his hip replacement, and before his shoulder surgery. I prayed for my brother before his gastric bypass surgery, and I prayed for a friend’s mother before her hip replacement surgery. But tonight? Tonight I’m asking God to take Becky’s pain and give it to me. I tell God that I’ll happily bear whatever she’s suffering in order to give her peace. To me, compared to what I live with every day, more pain is nothing. To her, however, three days short of five months old, the pain is consuming her world.

And it is consuming mine, because I’m failing my mission; to help protect and raise this little girl. I’m 6’3” and built like something akin to a tank, and I’ve been trained by the Army to destroy people and things. If a dozen wild Gypsies, or any of the deranged killers from the aforementioned slasher-flicks, kicked in the front door and tried to kidnap Becky, I could easily defend her and then stack their limbless torsos like cordwood in the backyard. Right now, though, I feel a fear that I haven’t felt since my days traipsing around the jungles of Panama, because none of my supposed destructive capability can stop the cold sweat from running down my face, or the hairs on the back of my neck from standing up with each scream Becky lets out. I can’t protect her from the pain coming from inside her, and the helpless feeling is eating me up.

I call her “Hobbit,” and I watch over her with a Gollum-like obsession. I’ve told my mother that, once she starts walking, I’ll wrap the baby in bubble-wrap to keep her from getting hurt when she falls down, and Mom just laughs. She tells me that I can’t protect the baby from everything. It’s a long time until Becky turns 18, and there will be some pain and crying along the way. That’s just life.

When Becky was born, I joked with my family that I’d never change her diapers, only because I wished to respect the child’s privacy. Now I change them every day…several times a day. It seems that this child is full of poop. Of course, as anyone who knows my family will tell you, my whole family is full of poop. It’s not that I enjoy changing diapers, but it’s really not that bad. It’s part of life, and poop wipes off with enough Baby-Wipes. Another, more distressing, challenge we’ve encountered is that Becky is happiest when she’s naked on the changing table, or when getting a bath. If this trend of joyful nudity continues, it will become a real concern for her father, and her Uncle Boo, in the coming years.

My friend Ian thinks I’m crazy for volunteering to take care of the baby. He worries about my intellectual stimulation. He thinks I should be back in college, working toward my next degree, instead of slinging Similac; or managing a college newspaper, instead of making the lion on Becky’s activity mat sing and dance like the lemurs in the movie Madagascar. He thinks that changing poopy diapers, something he and his partner Dave have sworn never to do – EVER – is not stimulating, and he’s right. But, just like in his job as a college professor, there are good points and bad points – good students and bad students. And, just as the few students who actually get Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener can make teaching worthwhile, there are things that make being a “Manny” worthwhile.

Thankfully, by the time we get on the Garden State Parkway, Becky is asleep. My prayers have been answered, or perhaps it’s just the rocking effect of the car that put her to sleep. Whether through Divine intervention, or the bumpety-bump of the highway, she’s finally getting some rest. I can relax my grip on the steering wheel, and let my foot off the gas pedal…a little bit. The quiet allows my mind to wander. I worry about what’s wrong with her. I think about what my mother said, “That’s just life.” And, I worry about a future over which I have no control.

Two minutes after we arrive at her parent’s house, Becky is awake. She’s not screaming now though. She’s smiling and laughing at us all. Her mother takes Becky to the bedroom to feed her, and her father makes his third call of the night to her doctor’s phone service. When the doctor finally returns the calls, he advises, “If she’s not crying at the moment, just wait and see.” Brilliant! This is what he went to school for 63 years to tell us? My brother decides, with some gentle persuasion from Mom and I, to wait until the next day to see the doctor in his office. Still, I can’t help but feel like Chicken Little. At our house, the sky was falling...I swear it was. But now, here at Becky’s house, the sky is blue, well (since it’s nearly midnight), black, cloudless, and right where it should be.

The next day we discover that Becky was slightly dehydrated, a diagnosis my mother beat the doctor to by several hours. So, the sky was falling, at least a little bit, and we, for all our experience, learned that we can always learn more, there are things we can do better, and things we can do differently.

I realize that Becky is going to be hurt during her life. People, events, and the world in general, are going to take their toll on her. Ernest Hemingway writes in A Farewell to Arms, “The world breaks every one.” Eventually, Becky will be broken too, no matter what I, or her parents, or her grandparents, do to protect her. Hemingway continues that sentence though…, “Afterward many are strong at the broken places.” Maybe that’s what my job – our job – is; to teach Becky, to love her, to make her strong at the broken places.

Since her birth, I’ve received a handful of new jobs: Uncle, Godfather, Lord Protector of Her Majesty’s northern possessions, etc. But what I consider my most important job is that of teacher, a job I’ve told countless people I’d never have the patience to do. During the days that I sit with Becky, in addition to Sesame Street, we watch CNN, and the History Channel, and The Discovery Channel, and I tutor Becky about what we’re watching. I don’t get much back from her in the form of discussion, but she does watch the TV screen, and I know that the human mind works in strange ways, so I’m hoping that somehow, in some subconscious way, a little of the knowledge is sticking in her brain.

She already has her own library. I’ve bought her a dozen books, starting with The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. I read to her every day. She’s fascinated by the story about a mouse and a cookie. And she can already reach out to turn the thick pages of a book narrated by a frog, and another about a cat and his long tail. When we watch the country music channel on TV, I sing and dance with Becky. I whisper to her that she’s going to be President of the United States someday. I try to impart some of my hard-earned wisdom to her. I try to download to her the things I’ve seen and learned, so that she can avoid my mistakes…or at least be strong at those broken places. And, most importantly, I give her all my unconditional love in hopes that, as a couple of pretty smart guys once wrote, “All you need is love.”

Despite the poopy diapers, and the crying, and her pouting, and the Similac burps, and the too-short naps, the fact that I have no time to write my own “stuff” while I’m watching her, and even the occasional scares she gives me when I can’t figure out what’s wrong, I get the better end of the deal. When she smiles and sticks her tongue out at her Uncle Boo, I get paid in a way that money, or writing a research paper on “The Legal and Social Standing of Bastards in Elizabethan and Jacobean Societies, and a Comparison of the Same in Several of the Works of William Shakespeare,” could never compensate or stimulate me. When she grabs onto the crinkly wing of her stuffed butterfly, and her bright blue eyes go wide at the discovery, it’s like watching an entire universe open up. And what could be better than that?

08 July 2010

Sleep No More!

For Arthur H. Monigold

"Macbeth does murder sleep." Alas, I fear,
For all his genius, the Bard is mistook.
No, it was not the good Scot who crept near,
To steal innocent slumber, like a crook;
Nor did Claudius truly wrack sweet dreams
With "murder most foul" in Denmark's garden.
'Tis but fiction, though foul indeed it seems
When guards prey upon moments unguarded;
In truth, 'twas one familial – one of trust,
That condemned me with his lies and incest,
Who used a child to sate his vile lust,
And damned me to endless nights without rest.
Weep, not for Dunsinane and Elsinore,
But for the child that lives, yet sleeps no more!

04 June 2010

Safe Haven

Note: I wrote this piece in Dec. 2006, and updated it in Feb. 2007.

At 7:30 in the morning, on December 12, 2006, the body of a 7-pound, 6-ounce newborn baby girl, umbilical cord still attached, was found by maintenance workers, face-down in the grass outside the Eastchester Gardens project on Burke Avenue in The Bronx, New York. The baby was thrown out a fifth-floor window by her 14-year-old mother, who then went to school.

This is not the opening scene of a fictional prime-time TV crime drama. The baby, according to the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office, died due to, “Blunt impact injuries to her head and torso.” The mother has admitted to the crime, and been charged with murder. Unfortunately, this is but one sad story in a string of murdered, abandoned, or abused newborns.

In the month preceding that murder, in the New York/New Jersey area alone, one baby was found in a plastic bag at a recycling plant, and another’s body was found in a garbage can. In one truly hideous case, parts of a baby girl’s body were found at a garbage transfer station in Newark, New Jersey. In other cases, around the United States, a baby was micro-waved by its mother, one was sent through the X-ray machine at an airport, and another was given formula mixed with four ounces of vodka. Several other children were shaken or beaten by their parents or babysitters, resulting in brain damage or death. All this in one month.

In February 2007, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a 23-year-old man woke up early on a Saturday morning and found his daughter, not quite two years old, playing in a hallway. When she refused to go back to bed he, according to the criminal complaint, “Hit her so hard she lost consciousness.” He then wrapped her in a blanket, carried her outside in single-digit temperatures, and left her to freeze. Perhaps the most heartbreaking part of this particular story – if anything about the death of a child can be more or less heartbreaking – is that the police found child-sized footprints around the body, leading them to believe that she woke up from the blow her father gave her, and walked around before she froze to death.

Several years ago, a young woman on Long Island threw her newborn baby in a garbage can after giving birth in the Ladies Room during her high school prom. Not long after that, much the same thing happened at a high school in New Jersey. These girls threw away a human life rather than telling their family, friends, teachers, or any counselor about their pregnancy. Clearly this is not a problem that exists only in “poor” neighborhoods, or in the “projects.” It is happening in all our neighborhoods, and on an all-too-regular basis.

I’d write that I’m sorry if this editorial turns your stomach, puts a lump in your throat, or even brings a tear to your eye…but I’m not. We, as a country, need to wake up to what is going on. We see so much violence and death on a daily basis that we have become desensitized to it all. And we begin to miss, or, at best, barely notice, the death of a child. A 30-second report on the evening news, a quick quote from someone who’d seen the baby, and then it’s gone…on to another story, while we finish writing-out our grocery lists. But the stories I listed are not those of children who died in car accidents, or of some incurable disease, or who died in areas of the world where high infant mortality rates are a cruel reality. No, they died – were killed – right here, in America; supposedly the most advanced and civilized country in the world!

Perhaps I’m more sensitive to these stories because I have a 13-month-old niece, but I have to admit, I’m stumped. How any human being could willfully hurt a child – any child – is beyond my comprehension. As a United States Army Infantryman I was trained to protect the weak or defenseless; and as a human being, I would be dragged across a mile of broken glass before I would intentionally allow a child to be harmed.

The first step toward stemming this growing epidemic of violence against our children is education. We must educate our young people about sex. Exposing younger teens and children to sex education will make many people uncomfortable, but several recent scientific reports have shown that our children are going through puberty at earlier ages than we did, and they are having sex earlier than many of us did. They need this education at earlier ages. We must teach our children about the dangers of unprotected sex; not only about pregnancy, but about the possibility of disease as well. We must educate our children about “safe-sex” and abstinence. Hiding our heads in the sand and pretending that there is not a problem will not make it go away.

In addition, we must educate our young people about the resources available to them if they do become pregnant. There are several public and private organizations, including the State of New York, that provide free pre-natal care for mothers-to-be who can’t afford those services. Thirty states, including New York, have Baby Safe Haven Laws. An unwanted baby – usually under 7 days old, though in some states, up to a year old – can be dropped off at a police station, manned firehouse, EMS headquarters, or at a hospital emergency room; with no questions asked, no criminal prosecution, and without notifying the parents of the mother. The baby will be cared for by Child- or Social Services until it can be placed with a foster family. And there are thousands of people willing to adopt these “unwanted” babies.

We must toughen the penalty for killing a child, and we should develop and implement a National Baby Safe Haven program, standardizing all the individual and varied State-level programs. We must protect those who cannot protect themselves. We must stop, literally, throwing away human life.