Happy Birthday, Joycelyn Elders

We've come a long way since 1994, when President Clinton caved in to pressure from social conservatives to fire his blunt, no-nonsense, controversial surgeon general. When Joycelyn Elders said, at a U.N. conference on AIDS: ""I think that [masturbation] is part of human sexuality, and perhaps it should be taught," Republican thugs went nuts. They already hated her for promoting universal health care, studying the legalization of drugs, and condom distribution in schools. Teaching our children that polluting themselves is natural? Outrageous!

At one point, Newt Gingrich took a break from receiving adulterous blowjobs to remark that Elders's firing was "good for the country and good for the president." The reason this was so good? Well, it must have seemed self-evident. These days, if you Google Dr. Elders's name, you'll have trouble finding anyone who really wants to attack her-- in fact, I think history has remembered her for being a brave woman who held onto her convictions in the face of great hostility, even after her president abandoned his by demanding her resignation even though what she said was right.

Here, for your reading pleasure, is the the response-- presented in-context-- that cost Elders her job and Clinton his credibility:

"Dr. Clark, I think you already know that I'm a very strong advocate of a comprehensive health education program, if you will, starting at an early age. I feel that it should be age-appropriate, it should be complete and we need to teach our children all of the things that we need to know. And we know that many of our parents have difficulties teaching certain things, and for that reason, to make sure that all of our children are more informed, I've always felt that we should, you know, that we should make it a part of our school. I feel it's the only institution that we have where all of the children go and presently, in our schools, it's very incomplete, it's very spotty and only 5 percent of schools have a comprehensive program...

"To address your specific question in regard to masturbation, I think that that is something that is a part of human sexuality, and it is a part of something that perhaps should be taught. We've not even taught our children the very basics, and I feel that we have tried ignorance for a very long time, and it's time we try education."

Pretty shocking stuff, huh?

Anyway, here are a few more smart quotes from a smart woman:

"If I could make any changes at all to the current health care system, you know I would start with education, education, education."

“Condoms will break, but I can assure you that vows of abstinence will break more easily than condoms.”

"We must stop this love affair with the fetus."

"It makes no sense that the richest country in the world can't take better care of its women. And we all know that the health and wealth of a nation is directly related to the health and education of its women."

"How do you get rid of the trash? It's out there in society, it's going on every day...You can educate children an awful lot easier than you can get rid of the trash."

"As long as I was in Washington I never met anybody that I thought was good enough, who knew enough, or who loved enough to make sexual decisions for anybody else."

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