Why is Dave Heineman So Scared of S - E - X ?by Kyle Michaelis
More than sex per se, the Heineman Administration really seems to want to avoid any sort of controversy - with "controversy" defined as anything that might offend the farthest right-wing fringe of Christian fundamentalists.
Let's check in with the Lincoln Journal-Star to see who Heineman has been censoring:
Charles Housman said the notice came in late spring 2005: Gov. Dave Heineman’s office was clamping down on what state Health and Human Services System programs could say in communication with the public. And what they couldn’t.Is it just me or did the credibility and maturity levels of our state government just drop to zero? They actually censored a list of symptoms of diabetes for mentioning "sexual functioning". What a contemptible violation of their duty to protect the public health.
No controversy. No sex. The governor’s office was to review everything before it was published or released, said Housman, who quit his state job last month as public education coordinator for HIV prevention....
Minutes from a public health management team meeting Nov. 4, 2005, confirmed the system’s adherence to a pro-life philosophy and to avoiding controversy.
Dr. Joann Schaefer, newly appointed chief medical officer and director of HHSS regulation and licensure, “reminded staff that this is a pro-life administration and she supports that,” the minutes read. “We have a process in place to look at anything that could be controversial.”
Sure enough, Housman said, over the next two years, communications and conference plans were scrutinized, sometimes changed and, in some cases, eliminated.
This spring, for example, planners of a conference for state public health workers on sexual health were notified they would have to change its name from “Issues Impacting Sexual Health” to “HIV, STDs and Reproductive Health: A Topical Update.”
“I thought it was a joke,” Housman said. “If we can’t say the word sexual in a sexual health conference, this is sad. It’s beyond sad”....
In addition to changing seminar titles, Housman and others said, workers have gotten the word that brochures, posters, Web sites and conference speakers must conform to the goal of avoiding controversy.
* Pat Tetreault, University of Nebraska-Lincoln sexuality education coordinator, was told by an HHSS staff member she was in danger of being dropped from a panel scheduled for the spring conference because the communications staff looked up her name on the Internet and saw she was associated with gay and lesbian issues....
* Dr. Bruce Trigg, a New Mexico public health physician and pediatrician with 19 years of experience in public health, was not allowed to participate in this year’s sexual health conference because Osterman Googled his name and found out he was involved in an abstinence-only controversy and dropped as a panelist at a national Centers for Disease Control conference. Trigg said he had planned to discuss recent scientific research that concluded abstinence-only programs were ineffective....
* A poster printed by HHSS’ reproductive health program to alert underage girls that having sex with a man 19 or older was against the law was not allowed to be distributed. It quoted a state law verbatim that used the word “sexual” but, workers said, officials did not want the word used on the poster.....
* A brochure for people with diabetes that had a list [of] possible symptoms eliminated “a change in sexual functioning.”
Said [Health and Human Services spokeswoman Kathie] Osterman: “We decided to take it out. … I don’t remember why. I suppose because that is kind of a personal issue. … We wondered, ‘What will people think?’”
* This spring, some members of two Health and Human Services diversity teams quit because department leaders removed a speaker from a family diversity forum who was in a same-sex partnership and stopped a program in which a panel was to focus on gay and lesbian issues....
* Housman said that as administrator of the state’s HIV prevention Web site, he was not allowed to post information about human sexuality week. Earlier, he said, he couldn’t post an announcement about National Condom Week.
And just imagine a team of bureaucrats Googling each and every speaker, researching their backgrounds, and eliminating anyone who might challenge the party line. That's not America. That sure as hell isn't medicine. This is a tactic straight out of George Orwell's Ministry of Propaganda.
Probably the worst is HHSS spokewoman Osterman's absurd attempt to justify these outrageous policies:
The public views and interprets information in different ways, she said, and the department has to be careful not to cross a line between information and advocacy.If your chief medical officer declaring her support for Heineman's "pro-life administration" isn't an instance of advocacy, then I don't know what is. And, honestly, what could be more political than forsaking the public health to remove mention of sexual symptoms of diabetes for fear of offending fanatics who can't tolerate sex as an issue of public debate.
“Our role isn’t advocacy,” Osterman said. “Our role is to provide information and education.”
That information, she said, has to be provided in such a way as to be inclusive and to not offend people....
“I don’t see it as political.”
This was medicine. HHSS once had a mission of information and education. But, it's Heineman's administration that has perverted this noble mission and twisted it to serve their political agenda, no matter its cost to the people's health.
Ladies and gentlemen, the patients have taken over the asylum. What's even scarier is that they seem to be politicians as well.