Brian Alexander—Free love: Was there a price to pay?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many problems have been glossed over in the psychedelic, Jefferson Airplane, “make love, not war” sheen the era has received, not least of which was the soaring rate of sexually transmitted diseases. There was a price for all that free love. From 1964 through 1968, the rates of syphilis and gonorrhea in California rose 165 percent, according to published reports.

“There was a lot of drug use, group sex, communal sex,” says Dr. David Smith, who founded the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic with $500 of his own money. “It would be an understatement to say there was a spike in STDs. That’s like saying a hurricane is a strong wind.”

Clinic doctors would regularly visit local communes to track sexual partners of infected people.

“Well, Bill had sex with John, and John had sex with Cindy,” explains Smith. “So we often said, ‘Well, let’s just bring in a gallon of penicillin and inject everybody.’”

Smith sums up his feelings about how the scene degenerated from carefree experimentation into a disease-ridden mess: “We went from idealism to despair.”

Read it all from MSNBC.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchSexuality* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

Posted June 26, 2007 at 12:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Deja Vu wrote:

Great choice of article to post.

June 26, 1:11 am | [comment link]
2. Irenaeus wrote:

Two prominent sexual-liberation arguments of the 1960s:
(1) Birth-control pills and IUDs had, with minimal side-effects, virtually eliminated the risk of unwanted pregnancies.
(2) Antibiotics had virtually eliminated the risk of venereal disease.

Both claims soon proved false. Birth control pills had significant side effects. Some IUDs caused irreversible damages. And the ultimate venereal disease was waiting in the wings.

June 26, 1:31 am | [comment link]
3. Br. Michael wrote:

How about re-discovering the obvious.

June 26, 7:14 am | [comment link]
4. Larry Morse wrote:

So much for the benefits of holding no stadards as theonly standard. Yesterday in my local paper there was a long article about Amsterdam, which is, arguably, the most liberal (read, standardless) city in Europe. The purport of the article was that the city’s administration had changed significantly with the result that the city had begun to rein in all the excesses for which it is noted. The argument, as I recall, was that a city of endless excesses made a bod city indeed to live in.  Actually, I wish I could get the article posted here. AS #3 noted above: Wowser. Some epiphany! What will it take for America to realize that the social course it is on is pernicious at every level? LM

June 26, 9:24 am | [comment link]
5. Katherine wrote:

Yes, Irenaeus, and in the next decade we got court-imposed unlimited abortion to take care of all the non-existent unwanted pregnancies, giving us another set of unintended side-effects.

June 26, 9:46 am | [comment link]
6. Steve Perisho wrote:


The article to which Larry Morse refers (“Changing patterns in social fabric test Netherlands’ liberal identity”) is indeed worth posting.  It is by Molly Morse, and appeared originally in the issue of the Washington post dated 22 June 2007.  Link below:

June 26, 12:46 pm | [comment link]
7. Jim the Puritan wrote:

Of course there was.  I watched my brother die of AIDS, about ten years ago now.  An evil disease which could have been stopped in its early days but for government’s refusal to take action because it was politically incorrect to restrict people’s sexual “freedom.”

June 26, 3:00 pm | [comment link]
8. Larry Morse wrote:

#6: Wow !! Molly Morse??? Well! We Morses certainly do get around, don’t we? Geez, I have a famous jounalistic relative. Yes!!!!  Old Morse

June 26, 4:17 pm | [comment link]
9. Steve Perisho wrote:

Oops.  Moore.  Sorry about that.  Morse, Moore, Morse:  probably there’s a technical term for such an assimilation.

June 26, 4:33 pm | [comment link]
10. Larry Morse wrote:

#9. You spoilsport. L

June 27, 1:39 am | [comment link]
11. libraryjim wrote:

probably at one time Moore and Morse were part of the same clan/tribe/villiage, etc.  Just as Elliot (in all it’s spellings) and Ellis came from the same origin.  Of course, we all trace our heritage back to Noah and from him to Adam, so hey, it’s all relative anyway!

June 28, 5:05 pm | [comment link]
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