by Family Research Council
March 2, 2007
Remember when comedian Bill Maher was smart, thoughtful, and funny? Yeah, me neither. Still, I keep holding out hope that he will say something witty or intelligent. Instead, he continues to disappoint by sinking to greater depths of boorishness and mendacity.
Take, for example, his latest half-cocked rant in Salon.com, Christians crusade against cancer vaccine:
Now for the bad news: Not everyone is pleased with this [HPV] vaccine. That prevents cancer. Christian parent groups and churches nationwide are fighting it. Bridget Maher — no relation, and none planned — of the Family Research Council says giving girls the vaccine is bad, because the girls “may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex.”
Maher forgets to mention that the quote from “Bridget Maher…of the Family Research Council” is found in a New Scientist article from April 2005. Even third-rate bloggers wouldnt dredge up a quote from two years ago without seeing if its still relevant. [Note: Ms. Maher no longer works for FRC.] Maher could have checked Wikipedias entry on FRC where he would have found that the quote did not reflect FRC’s position on the HPV vaccine. Or if he had bothered to look at FRCs website he would have noticed on the front page a link to an article titled, Clarification of 2005 Family Research Council Media Remarks on HPV Vaccine
In response to initial media inquiries regarding the HPV vaccine in early 2005, an FRC spokesman raised the question of whether a vaccine for a sexually-transmitted disease like HPV could give its recipients a false sense of security and thus make them less cautious about their sexual behavior. The theory that reducing one of the risks of a behavior might make that behavior more common is hardly illogical. There is even a scientific term for this, which is “sexual disinhibition.” In our meetings with Merck regarding the vaccine later that year, they indicated that they were quite aware of the potential for sexual disinhibition, and that they had examined that issue in the course of their clinical trials for the HPV vaccine. They assured us that they had found no evidence for any increase in sexual disinhibition in connection with the vaccine. We had no basis for doubting that claim, but encouraged them to continue to study that issue after approval of the vaccine for general use.
After extensive study of the vaccine and discussion with medical experts, we concluded that the public health benefits of developing and distributing such a vaccine far outweighed any potential, hypothetical concerns about its impact on sexual behavior. Therefore, we announced in October of 2005 that we would enthusiastically support the development of the vaccine and federal approval of its use, including its addition to the list of vaccines recommended to physicians and of those made available to lower-income families through the Vaccines for Children program. Virtually all pro-family public policy organizations have announced similar support for the vaccine itself. [emphasis added]
In other words, the position of FRC is the exact opposite of what Maher claims.
(Also, does he believe that Merck wants to “make sure sex is as dangerous as possible”? After all, they examined the issue of sexual disinhibition in their clinical trials— the very question that he criticizes Ms. Maher for raising. Obviously, the researchers at Merck hate sex.)
Unfortunately, this is not the only fact that Maher gets wrong. He also claims that “the vaccine is so good, it could wipe out HPV.” Perhaps he missed the recent Washington Post article which notes, “Just 3.4 percent of the women studied had infections with one of the four HPV strains that the new vaccine protects against.” Although that 3.4% will account for 70% of cervical cancer cases—and have a significant impact on women’s health—the vaccine will not help the millions of other women infected with other, less deadly strains of HPV. The vaccine will not, as Maher claims, wipe out HPV.
Maher would obviously have no problem telling a child that since she had the vaccination she had no chance of getting HPV. She would be in for quite a shock then if she were to later develop a nasty case of HPV-related genital warts. Mahers own ignorance about the STD shows why it was not unreasonable to wonder if girls could get a false sense of security from having the vaccination.
Mahers incomprehension about STDs is rather disconcerting. He claims that, Activists don’t want girls inoculated against HPV because they want sex to remain as scary as possible. But if the average American male has as rudimentary a sexual education as Maher, its hard to image how sex could get any scarier.