WaPo Praises D.C. Super-Size Condom Program

The Washington Post this week published a pair of articles promoting and praising the Washington, D.C., government for increasing the cost of its “free” condom program and making it easier for kids to get the prophylactics.

The city is reportedly upgrading from Durex brand condoms to the more widely advertised Trojan brand. The decision was based on name recognition, not evidence that Trojans are better at preventing pregnancy or protecting against sexually transmitted diseases. The city will also start offering Trojan's larger size condom, dubbed Magnum.

The brand switch will cost the city “an extra few thousand dollars” in addition to the $165,000 the program cost in 2009, according to the May 21 report. Reporter Tim Craig wrote that the city is “grappling over how to make government-issued condoms more appealing.”

An expansion of the program also makes it easier for school children to obtain condoms – not from their parents or guardians, but from the “cool teachers.”

Neither Craig's report nor columnist Courtland Milloy's May 26 op-ed cited abstinence advocates or even hinted at criticism of the city's efforts to make condoms and risky sex more appealing and accessible to the city's residents, including kids.

Instead, Milloy called the expansion a “victory” for Trojan and the city. He praised the Magnum XL, which is billed as 30 percent bigger than regular condoms. “Who knows whether dispensing a condom that plays on the urban masculine mystique will result in safer sex?” Milloy said. “It's worth the effort.”

A better question might be: “Who's going to tell the self-assured youngsters to be sure they're built for the XL before grabbing it to show-off?” Trojan's own website notes that some men “may experience slippage with this extra large condom,” rendering it essentially useless.

To his credit, Milloy encouraged parents to be more involved in their children's sex education. “At least encourage sons to use a condom and let daughters know that they will be hurt the most by not insisting on it,” he wrote.

But the school system's end-run around parental authority is justified, according to Milloy, who asked, “should young people have to suffer unnecessarily because their parents are uninformed or morally paralyzed?”

It's not the first time the Post has promoted condoms instead of abstinence. A 2008 editorial praised condom distribution programs on the same day it published an op-ed noting the failure of “safe sex” programs in HIV/AIDS ravaged Africa

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