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George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Elizabeth Smart spoke in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune) in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 18, 2011.
This weekend's column, revised and extended ...

The original article:

Elizabeth Smart speaks about abstinence education - AP/Salt Lake Tribune

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BALTIMORE - Rescued kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart said Wednesday she understands why some human trafficking victims don’t run.

Smart said she "felt so dirty and so filthy" after she was raped by her captor, and she understands why someone wouldn’t run "because of that alone."

Smart spoke at a Johns Hopkins human trafficking forum, saying she was raised in a religious household and recalled a school teacher who spoke once about abstinence and compared sex to chewing gum.

"I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.’ And that’s how easy it is to feel like you no longer have worth, you no longer have value," Smart said. "Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value." ...

On video:

Elizabeth Smart speaks at Johns Hopkins - Fox 45 Baltimore

Some reactions:

Smart says abstinence-only hurts rape victims — Amenda Hess | Slate/Salt Lake Tribune

Traditional Mormon Sexual Purity Lesson Contributed to Captivity, Elizabeth Smart Tells University Audience — Joanna Brooks | Religion Dispatches

A reaction to the reactions:

Did Elizabeth Smart say it’s wrong to teach abstinence? — Jay Evensen |The Deseret News

... That’s rubbish, in my opinion, and an insult to her real message, which had to do with the need to teach children not just to avoid going with strangers but to fight back, and of the need to teach them that no one can steal their self-worth. ...

And, finally, my reaction to the reactions, and to the reactions:

Abstain from shame and fear — George Pyle | The Salt Lake Tribune

No, despite what you may have seen absolutely everywhere on the Internet, Elizabeth Smart did not explicitly condemn the whole concept of "abstinence-only sex education" in a speech she made the other day. But she didn’t do it any favors, either. ...

... Smart said nothing to denigrate her LDS beliefs or the principle of remaining chaste until marriage. She stressed that her faith and her love of family helped her hold it together, during her captivity and after.

But the point raised by those who now use Smart’s experience and her wisdom to attack the concept of abstinence-only sex ed is valid, and it is this:

To use shame, fear and self-revulsion as a tool for spooking young women into chastity is a Brian David Mitchell tactic. And, if that’s what abstinence-only sex ed is, then it is as disgusting as he is.


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