December 4, 2004

If the cost is the same, does flavored or unflavored matter?

It matters a lot to some people when the state hands out free condoms:
Providing [flavored] condoms actually promotes sexual activity, said Julaine Appling, executive director of the Family Research Institute of Wisconsin.

The government "isn't even subtly saying, 'You're going to do this anyway, so you're going to be safe,' they're promoting it," Appling said. "When they came out with flavored condoms, (it says sex) is another form of recreation."

It's hard to picture the person who would decide whether or not to have sex based on whether the condom is flavored, but Appling's point is that the state, by choosing flavored condoms implicitly says sex is fun and thus promotes it. Obviously, though, the state's real intention is to make condom use seem fun, but there is no way to neatly contain the effect of the message. Interestingly, it's federal money that pays for these condoms, but the states are allowed to choose the type they want. Such are the benefits of federalism: the various states can make decisions that suit the preferences and tastes of their own citizens.

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