April 16, 2009

I became a parent in the 70s, wherein society was self-absorbed in the aftermath of Vietnam and Watergate and price controls and stagflation became the order of the day.  My oldest son became a teenager in the late 80s and in that period of time "teen rebellion consisted of cranking up heavy metal music and the new sounds of hip-hop (or as my wife and I called it "Hip-Hop, Shoot a Cop Crap") and stealing the car keys for that hot date.

I've been told that if I'd been a parent in the 1950s, I probably would have spoken out against Elvis Presley's pelvic thrust as a dance move. The theory is that teens of every generation will find their own ways to rebel against the cultural norm, and that parents from one generation to the next will always object with questions such as “What is this world coming to?” I know that's true for Janice and I have asked that question on a daily basis all during our kid's teenage years.

With my children grown adults now, I still ask the question, “What IS this world coming to?”

These days I'm becoming increasingly convinced I should have walked the earth in the time around the Reformation. Clearly, I'm a old fogy, especially when it comes to parenting and culture.

I'd happily accept Elvis' pelvis over the twisted notions of sexual normality that now permeate our culture. To wit: Last week's feature on ABC's “Good Morning, America” about “objectum sexuals,” defined as folks who develop intimate relationships with things, not people.

Apparently, a sexual relationship with a park bench now is considered simply an alternative lifestyle. If this is true, we'd have to decriminalize public indecency laws on the grounds that they discriminate against those who choose to express their affection for their loved ones. After all, we can't dictate the yearnings of our hearts, can we? We love what we love.

If that sounds absurd, here's another one for you. The Vermont legislature this week will conduct hearings on a bill that already has passed its Senate and will now be considered by its House Judiciary Committee, which would legalize the practice of “sexting” among teenagers 13 to 18.  My first thought was: "It's always Vermont." What is it about this tiny state which has always appealed to me and at many times seems to call me to reside there.

Currently, it is illegal to electronically distribute sexually explicit photographs of children and teens. People who do this are prosecuted and go to jail, where even the other hardened criminals think they're creepy.

Problem: the new fad among teens is to take dirty pictures of themselves and send those photos via cellular phone to their adolescent lovers. It's “consensual” as long as the person who receives the photos doesn't forward them on to the guys in the locker room without his girlfriend's permission. (Don't be silly. That never happens.)

Vermont doesn't want to prosecute and punish teens for what it deems an act of poor judgment. Legislators have gone on record as saying they think the practice is foolish/stupid/wrong, but that teens should not be marked as sex offenders for what is essentially self-exploitation.

Good plan, Vermont. Declare something is wrong and then legalize it. Again, what is it about Vermont?

Not that it´s easy to get teens to do what´s right. They don´t operate in the world of moral absolutes, since that world went the way of the T-Rex.

This is why, in an article about this insane legislative effort, an expert on talking to teens says adults should not try to convince kids that sexting is wrong, but rather we should focus our moral laser beams on the fact that sexting is “uncool.”

The logic: Teens don´t care about what´s right or wrong, only about what´s cool and uncool. Therefore, if we want to manage their “sexting” behavior, we have to convince them that truly cool people don´t do this.

Clearly, Vermont ought to spend its time declaring what is and isn't cool, since they don't seem to care about what is and isn't wrong. After all, as I explained in an earlier article, 29 percent of its residents don't believe in God, therefore moral absolutes don't exist. Another 56 percent don't even go to church, unless, of course, it's Christmas and there is music on the program instead of preaching.

It's enough to make you want to sit on a park bench somewhere and think about how weird our world has become. A preacher friend suggested to me that maybe God is calling me to preach to the heathens in Vermont.  He said that would explain my compelling draw to the state.

I have a feeling that within one week I would see myself in the position of the prophet Isaiah who, when God called him to preach, was told to go and proclaim to this people the will of God, teach morality and live an exemplary lifestyle.  They won't listen to you, in fact they will think you are crazy, but you go and do it anyway.  (Isaiah 6:9 & 10 - paraphrased).

It would be easy for me to think: "Thanks God, I might as well go and sell real estate in this economy."

What is this world coming to?  Stay tuned and don't ever say "It can't get any worse than this."

We believe that the Constitution of the United States speaks for itself. There is no need to rewrite, change or reinterpret it to suit the fancies of special interest groups or protected classes.