Breaking the Stereotypes on the Ills of Society

GARRY WILLS

April 12, 1993|By GARRY WILLS

CHICAGO. — Chicago -- The heroes -- that is what they have become -- of the ''Spur Posse'' club in California have a proper regard for their own importance. They want to be paid to appear on TV. They have been getting their fee from local stations. When the ''Today'' show would not fork over, the heroes passed it up.

These heroes are teen-age boys whose accomplishment is to tabulate accurately their busy intercourse with teen-age or sub-teen girls. For this they have been lionized by their school-mates.

Their parents not only defend their children (as all good parents do), but also agree with them that this is a commendable enterprise, demonstrating manly initiative and charm.

The targets of this group's marksmanship are given little sympathy. They are pretty ugly, some of the boys have claimed, they are not chosen for their looks but for their usefulness in upping the body count.

A police commander in the juvenile division of the Lakewood force says that the girls ''lay back and let them do it.'' Why not? Everybody agrees it is the boys' right as males, as teen-agers, as athletes, as commendably aggressive American youths.

It is easy to deplore the conduct of parents, school and police, as well as the boys and (perhaps) the girls participating in this game. But I am fascinated by the way the event goes against all the fashionable current analyses of our moral trouble:

(1) There is the William Bennett School. This says that left-wing permissiveness is behind our current degradation. What we need is some good old-fashioned authority and restored American values.

But Lakewood, the scene of the Spurs' activity, is very far from left-wing. It is a prosperous community with strong military ties and a generally conservative political philosophy. The fathers who praise these boys are proud they did not raise war-protesting hippie types. In their eyes, the aggressiveness of the Spurs is what we needed to win Vietnam.

(2) There is the George Gilder School, which claims that feminism has made wimps of men in our society. Sensitivity to others' rights, especially to those of women, has deprived men of a sense of confidence in their own worth.

Tell it to the Spurs.

(3) There is the Allan Bloom School, claiming that multi-culturalism is the source of our troubles. If we just stuck to the canon of great Western authors and philosophies -- and stopped fooling around with Asian and African religions, or weird authors on the fringe of respectability -- we would come back to our senses.

But no Spurs athlete that I know of has been sneaking off to read Hindu philosophy.

(4) There is the Bernhard Goetz School, confident that black thugs are behind all modern lawlessness.

But Lakewood's are the whitest white boys in the world. They are the jocks, the frat boys, the ''clean-cut'' young go-getters that our tradition has glorified. They did not resist or desert that tradition. They embodied it.

How do you like them, you traditionalists?

Garry Wills is a syndicated columnist.

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