It doesn't work - study after study demonstrates that. Anybody who continues to advocate for it is simply an idiot. I have no particular issue with incorporating the advantages of abstinence in actual sex education but abstinence only is simply not a viable option.
As far as Rick Perry being painful to watch... this is no doubt the first of many examples that we will see over the coming months. After "W", however, I have little appetite for the actual watching: there is only so much of idiots out of Texas that I can stand.
Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups
Abstinence training primarily works in cultures where people fear public stoning, or at least being sent away or being homeless or some kind of hideous social shame and community consequences. Most (if not all) cultures where this works and had worked in the present and the past threaten the consequences of pre-marital sex with things that could physically fuck up your life. Of course AIDS and unwanted children can physically fuck up your life, but that's why offering condoms and education and birth control methods is saner than throwing rocks at people or throwing pregnant teenaged girls onto the street, or holding shot guns to boys heads for not marrying those teenaged girls.
I think abstinence has its place and should be offered as an alternative for various reasons, but teaching abstinence alone is just stupid.
"Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul." - Edward Abbey
Abstinence only policies and the inability to talk to children about sex and consequences is why "16 and Pregnant" is a hit show on television. I forgot the name of it, but there's a doc that interviews girls from different countries about sex and asks them questions like "what would you do if a guy you making out with a boy and he brought a condom?" American girl answer "Eew, what a pervert!" Dutch girl's answer "If he didn't have one I would whip out my own! You need one!" Something like that. American teenaged girls = naive pickings for sexual predators and likely to have unwanted pregnancy.
“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.” ― Oscar Wilde
While I'm fine with it being discussed as an option, I was never into abstinence-only programs because of their terrible track record. Also, in my own life, despite being strong-willed at that time in my life and not becoming active until late in my teens, sex especially in a relationship was too hard to resist long-term. I was very fortunate to not end up as yet one more statistic, because of my avoidance / non-access to birth control, yet just couldn't withstand the desire consistently.
I was also kind of shocked just last week when I had a good talk with my teen boys where things drifted into discussion of sex and anatomy and the like, and I discovered that they had only limited knowledge of general anatomy of both sexes and only a rudimentary understanding of even how their own bodies functioned. I was not in a position to have any sort of sex talk with them when they hit puberty a few years ago, and had been under the impression that they had been properly educated by a combination of school and/or the ex and/or the church. (Yes, call me naive.) I mean, the eldest even went to a conference with my ex a year or two ago where they discussed sexuality, although of course they endorsed abstinence; but the people involved weren't stupid; and I thought the kids would be getting at least a basic understanding of things, especially with the internet available to research.
(My kids aren't dumb either; one's at the top of his class without trying, and the other isn't at the top of his class because he doesn't bother to do his homework despite acing his tests.)
I was just kinda shocked at the basic misunderstanding/confusion over the raw information and the questions I was being asked at their age, and there is a lot of shame in the one about his own sexuality and a desire to just entirely suppress it.
"Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"
“Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft