Over the past few years there has been a small but growing wave of news articles reporting that several governmental agencies have changed their publicly-available health information to reflect the current administration’s ideology. Specifically, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site has removed information on the effectiveness of condoms in preventing HIV transmission, including a section called “Programs That Work” which focused on HIV and highlighted several proven programs that involve condom use. Studies that showed education about condom use did not lead to earlier or increased sexual activity have also been removed.
Is this, as has been claimed, the act of an agency that wishes to ensure their web site reflects the most accurate information available? Or is it, as has also been claimed, the act of a bunch of wussies terrified they’ll lose their funding if they don’t get with the program? We talked to Marcus Hamilbee, spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services.
HI: Mr. Hamilbee, why were these passages removed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site?
MH: These changes reflect purely scientific judgments. Recent studies have shown that our previous fact sheets were incorrect, and we have a responsibility to our country to be completely accurate.
HI: That’s certainly understandable. May we see these studies?
HI: Excuse me?
MH: No, you can’t. Neener neener neener.
HI: Sir, the latest studies show that condom use does, in fact, help tremendously in the prevention of HIV transmission.
MH: Nope, nope, that’s inconclusive.
HI: Maybe in the sense that condom use can’t prevent it 100% of the time…
MH: Ha! See? See? Inconclusive! That’s science, that is! It’s a scientific word and everything, I heard Stephen Hawking say it once. Well, type it, anyway. Or does he talk into that thing? I could never tell.
HI: But that’s absurd, it’s like saying that because seat belts don’t prevent 100% of all traffic fatalities, you shouldn’t tell people about them.
MH: And we don’t. Bad habit, seat belts, they encourage people to drive more, gives you a completely unfounded feeling of safety. Will they protect you against a meteor strike? No!
HI: But that’s crazy!
MH: No, no, “crazy” isn’t scientific at all. It’s “inconclusive.”
HI: But sex education that explains condom use doesn’t increase sexual activity. Your own studies have shown that comprehensive sex education, with birth control information along with an emphasis on abstinence, is the best way to go.
MH: Not my studies. That was the other guy.
HI: Dr. David Satcher? The Surgeon General of the United States?
MH: Former Surgeon General. Real nutbar. Something to do with the job, I guess. Remember that other one, the black chick? Thought all our problems could be solved by whacking it?
HI: That’s not what she… never mind. Even if you suspected that condom use might not be as efficacious as previously thought, isn’t it irresponsible to remove the information entirely?
MH: Damn, that was a good word.
MH: Effywhatever. Damn good word. And you’re right, that’s why we put the information back right away.
HI: No you didn’t, you put it back after enough people complained. And what you put back was different. All we’re asking is, where are the results of the studies that caused you to change the factsheets?
MH: I’m sorry, but allowing the release of that information could reveal vital vulnerabilities to terrorists.
MH: You don’t want them to win, do you?
HI: What has that got to do with condom use?
MH: Don’t you know anything? Look, teaching kids about condoms encourages them to have sex, right?
MH: Really? It did me, boy, one health class and I was ready to tear that shit up. But trust me, it does. We have conclusive evidence that it does.
HI: And what evidence is that, exactly?
MH: President Bush told us it did.
HI: So you’re admitting that the changes were made for ideological reasons and not scientific ones?
MH: Not at all. Exhaustive tests were performed with thousands of people from all walks of life, over a period of many years, and these results were, ah, resulting.
HI: Why is that no one has ever heard of these tests?
MH: It was kept a secret. National security, you know.
HI: May we see the list of people in the test?
MH: Well, I shouldn’t, but okay. Here.
HI: This… this is the membership list of the Catholic League, Project Rescue, and the American Family Association! How can you think this is impartial?
MH: Because they promised they would be. And you can trust them, because a lot of them are religious and shit, and they gave us lots of money to show us how sincere they were.
HI: And the results were?
MH: People who remained abstinent, or monogamous married couples, avoided the HIV virus way more than the sinful, lecherous, multiple rapist people who used condoms.
HI: That’s never been in question, but I don’t think-
MH: Therefore, married people can’t catch AIDS. Proven fact.
MH: So everyone should either be a virgin or married. That’s the only way we’ll ever stop this terrible epidemic.
HI: We can’t stop it, but we can slow it down with more comprehensive-
MH: Which is why I’m pleased to announce that President Bush will be announcing his newest program, “Operation Matchmaker.” Starting this May, all Americans will be expected to be married or celibate and be prepared to prove it to inspectors.
HI: What? You… that’s… you can’t…
MH: Perfect, isn’t it? Won’t be any AIDS or underage sex or nothing ’round here, that’s for sure. Singles bars will be outlawed, and all dating services will be nationalized so we can use their databases. Anyone not currently married or affianced will be matched up with another unmarried person, based on carefully analyzed criteria. Probably Social Security numbers, we haven’t worked that out yet.
HI: But even leaving aside the horrendous invasion of privacy and the massive violation of the Bill of Rights, what about homosexuals who can’t legally marry?
MH: Who cares? They don’t have real families anyway, the perverts. We can always ship ‘em to Africa as volunteer medical assistants or something. They can help the other freaks and wear those dashiki dresses they like. Best part is, once they’re gone, that’s most of the people who have been doing all the complaining, right there! A win-win!
HI: You can’t believe that Americans will put up with this.
MH: Sure they will. A couple of newspapers will bitch but no one believes them anymore anyway. How many people on the street noticed when we started stacking political nominations with religious demagogues? None! They don’t care, they just want their tax refund. We’ll just say it’s necessary for our national fiber. Can’t beat the ragheads if we’re morally impure, right?
HI: So you’re saying that a country who’s policies are determined not by reason, democratic decision, or science, but by draconian enforcement of government-sponsored religious belief is bad?
MH: Hell, yeah! Can’t wait to nuke ‘em off the map!
HI: Mr. Hamilbee, thank you for clearing that up for us.
MH: Glad to be here.