Mainers and No-Brainers

Portland, Maine found itself in the national spotlight on the morning of October 17. The King Middle School was debating whether to provide birth control to sixth graders without their parents' consent or knowledge – not just condoms, but even birth control pills or contraceptive patches. ABC's Good Morning America picked up the story, with anchor Diane Sawyer first professing shock at the young ages involved, but then echoing the proponents' justification: Children “are caught in the changing worlds of early puberty and sexual messages everywhere.”

That's the line that rings in the ear. ABC is addressing a social problem: how to deal with middle-schoolers wanting to have sex because they're inundated with sexual messages in ads, in music videos, with sexual themes endlessly discussed and dramatized on television? Sawyer invited on talk show host Glenn Beck and “sexologist” Logan Levkoff (promoted by fans as the “Get It On Guru”) to debate it. Sawyer asked Levkoff “Would you draw the line anywhere? What if it were grade school?” Amazingly, she replied: “I don't necessarily draw the line, because we're in a world where we get so many sexual messages.”

Levkoff lives in a parallel universe. We are talking about little boys and little girls, 11 years old.

The lesson from the anything-goes crowd is so illogical it borders on the obscene. In order to “protect the youth” from unsavory sexual messages, we should provide them with all the technology so they can have “safe sex” – even at age 11. But who is responsible for this bombardment of sexual messaging in our culture that's fueling this fire? ABC and all the other networks, along with many of their advertisers, need look no further than the mirror. More than any other element in our society, it is they who are responsible for the deluge, primarily – thought not exclusively – through their entertainment products. 

It's bad enough that they refuse to take any responsibility for their own sleazy product. But what's unconscionable is that TV dramatists are now portraying those who want to keep children free and safe from premature sexual activity as mentally disturbed, even as a social menace.

The swaggering shysters of ABC's Boston Legal went to court on October 9 on behalf of a high-school girl who contracted the HIV virus from “unprotected” sex with a boy. The girl in this script sued not the infecting boy, not the boy's parents – but the high school which taught abstinence-only sex education.

The school's crime was its failure to advance the righteousness of the Almighty Condom, which the Boston Legal lawyer ridiculously claimed was “arguably, the single most important invention of the past 2,000 years.” Resistance to pop culture and peer pressure is futile, he argued. “They're simply going to do it! We all do it. Birds do it, bees do it, educated fleas do it. One time unprotected sex can kill you. A condom can save you.” With a flourish, the lawyer concluded his sermon: “We should be in criminal court this very moment trying this obscenely duplicitous school for conspiracy to commit murder.”

ABC only suggested murder as a rhetorical device. CBS took it to the next level. On its drama Cold Case, abstinence advocates are presented as killers. In the September 30 episode, detectives were investigating a 1998 murder, only to discover the devoutly Christian teens in the “Hearts Wait” abstinence club turned out to be sexually active hypocrites who murdered one of their own members to keep their sins secret. When the victim tried to convince her club mates that there teenage lust was understandable, they responded by denouncing her as “dirty,” a “whore,” a “slut,” and the B-word before stoning her to death, while citing the Old Testament. Their leader, a youth minister, had one student confess her teenage lust for him with her back turned, so he could pleasure himself as she spoke.

The idea that Christian teenagers stone people to death could only come from a fevered brain in Tinseltown. In terms of cultural politics, this is simply mudslinging – a vile smear that requires no troublesome facts as it points an accusatory finger.

The get-it-on gurus who push “protection” are really encouraging sex between children. Like Hollywood, “sexologists” like Levkoff see themselves waging war “on a culture that condemns all things sexual.” But they're really waging a war on anyone who suggests a limitation, anyone who wants to draw a line. Anyone who wants a child to wait, to grow and mature before leaping into bed or a back seat, is evil, deeply sick, and even capable of murder.

Meanwhile, the King School in Portland, Maine voted Yes to secret contraceptives for 11-year-olds.

L. Brent Bozell III is President of the Media Research Center.