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Condom cartoons, not funny at all

Published: Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Updated: Thursday, September 4, 2008 13:09

I never imagined that I'd have to put this type of disclaimer before one of my columns, especially given how much of a prude I am, but here goes: The following material may be deemed too mature for some audiences, yet somehow too ridiculous not to write about. As such, reader discretion is advised.

In what might be viewed as an attempt to salvage their organization's reputation as ineffective, the wise and esteemed bureaucrats at the United Nations have now taken on a new tactic geared toward stopping the spread of AIDS: cartoons. But they're not just any cartoons, they're condom cartoons.

It's a U.N. ad campaign titled "The Three Amigos." Brace yourself; this isn't about a group of sombrero-wearing Mexican heroes. The stars of these new public service announcements are three cartoon condoms. Not laughing yet? Try this: Their names are "Shaft," "Stretch" and "Dick."

Let me sidestep a moment to personally apologize to my parents for having to even write that last sentence. I'd also like to apologize to my pastor, Sunday school teachers and former teachers at the private Christian school that I attended before college. I'm sure I'll think of someone else to ask for forgiveness from later.

According to the producer of the commercials, Canadian Firdaus Kharas, "We're using humor to stop the spread of AIDS."

Apparently, he finds the following plot line, as reported by WorldNetDaily.com, humorous: "The spaceship spot has the Amigos as astronauts on a rumbling launch pad inside a condom-shaped craft as it builds power to liftoff while a female voice, apparently mimicking orgasmic sounds, counts down. The launch suddenly aborts and the voice over at the end tells viewers: 'No condom, no blastoff. Stop the spread of AIDS.'" You really can't make this stuff up.

That reminds me, whatever happened to the days of innocent educational cartoons? You know, like Fat Albert and the Gang and School House Rock. This new ad campaign looks like the remains of a wreck between The Magic School Bus and the cast of South Park. Actually, it's more like something you'd see on Saturday Night Live. But, unfortunately for us, it's not.

Even worse is the fact that we, as American taxpayers, support the United Nations heftily. According to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, the United States pays 22 percent of the U.N. budget. In return, they sponsor this ridiculous attempt at preventing a sexually transmitted disease.

To top it off, there are reportedly 20 of these public service announcements -- in 41 languages. Great! As if we weren't ticking Muslim fundamentalists off enough. Imagine the reaction of some Islamic militant who happens to catch a peek at one of these ads. No doubt, he would add this to his long list of the evils that pervade Western society.

In reality, though we may poke fun at a story like this, sexually transmitted diseases in themselves are no laughing matter.

In a revealing statement, Reuters quoted Kharas as saying, "If you don't have sex, you won't get HIV. But if you have sex, use a condom." Notice how he didn't say, "If you use a condom, you won't get any sexually transmitted diseases."

The truth is that while condoms can protect against some diseases, they're not a guarantee against acquiring something. Studies have shown that condoms are not 100 percent effective in preventing sexually transmitted diseases. Abstinence is the only sure-fire way.

Instead of throwing condoms at people, we should be teaching them that the root of their problems is not the lack of protection they have when they commit such behavior, but the behavior itself.

I could now venture into a detailed discussion on why abstinence until marriage is ideal, but I'll stop here before a host of people start sending me email complaining about how I should stop preaching my ignorant, right-wing, Christian morality.

I'll just use this last part of my column to make another typical conservative plea for reform in the United Nations. Please, let's clean it up, if for nothing else, to rid the world of more cheesy cartoons! Maybe I should go see that new Fat Albert movie just to ease my mind.

Adam Fowler is a senior majoring in political science.

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