Samson Effect here, with another Asshat of the Day. Today, we have an asshat who a large number of people believe is beyond reproach; that his words from the pulpit are the divine word of God. Well, I am not one of those people, and so this Asshat of the Day title belongs to none other than His Holiness the Pope Benedict XVI himself. Now, some of you on one side might say what I just said above, that his God speaks through him, and when he speaks about doctrine, he is infallible. On the other side, though, you might think that tabbing any of the higher-ups in the Catholic Church, up to and including the Pope, is just plain unsporting.
Anyways, I'm sure you're familiar with the Church's stance on birth control of any form, which, if you aren't, is 'no artificial birth control' and that abstinence is the way. Well, Benedict XVI is making his first papal visit to Africa, and a few days ago, in line with Catholic doctrine, has said that condoms are not the answer in fighting HIV/AIDS. In fact, he goes so far as to say that it can increase the problem.
Here's the problem with that line of thinking: It's wrong. It's very wrong. It's woefully wrong. Condoms, when used properly, not only reduce the risk of pregnancy significantly, but they have a profound effect on the likelihood of contracting just about any sexually transmitted disease, HIV included. Want proof? A cursory search for stats on Google regarding the subject quickly shows that the pope is quite clearly, at least on the subject of condoms making things worse, talking out of his ass. And when it comes to transmission and prevention of diseases, I think the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention knows a little bit more than the Pope does. Still not sure about it? More from the CDC about the subject, and going beyond HIV and on to STDs in general. Not only does claiming that condoms exacerbate the problem show up to be flat-out false, it's contrary to the goal of just about every single AIDS relief organization in existence.
Right, now that the comment about condoms is thoroughly dusted, the other part that I have to talk about is the Pope stating his opinion (or doctrine) that 'sexual abstinence as the best way to prevent the spread of the disease'. Now, on its face, this much is true. If you don't have sex, you're much less likely to contract or spread diseases such as AIDS, syphillis, gonorrhea, and all those nasties. Two things: First, those are not the only way to spread or contract those diseases, and second, I really don't know how to put this any more succinctly, but he and his followers are eventually going to have to get it into their heads that the very vast majority of people REALLY like to have sex. You aren't going to change that without seriously damaging those people psychologically, not unlike that portion of the Catholic clergy you seem to hear about in the news an awful lot, or (although not Catholic himself) Ted Haggard. You CAN, however, teach people about sex and safety, and how and where the two intersect, and that will help stanch the flow of spreading STDs.
It took about four centuries for the Catholic Church to admit that Galileo was right, hopefully it won't take nearly as long for the Church to admit that the CDC is also right, and that claiming condoms make this problem worse is baseless, harmful misinformation. Pope Benedict XVI, you are the Asshat of the Day.