Clinton not solely to blame for U.S. moral breakdown

July 18, 1999|By GREGORY KANE

THIS IS NEWS that does not bode well for those of us on the side of the sexual revolution that lost. It's the recent Washington Post headline that read: "Parents Are Alarmed by an Unsettling New Fad in Middle Schools: Oral Sex."

Let me summarize the story in the least titillating and disgusting manner possible: 13- and 14-year-old pupils at an Arlington, Va., middle school gathered for oral-sex parties at the pupils' homes or in parks. Several educators in the Baltimore and Washington areas were quoted as saying that the Arlington middle school is not alone, that oral sex among middle-schoolers is a trend.

Phyllis Schlafly of the conservative, pro-family Eagle Forum issued a news release about the Post story with a headline of her own: "Schlafly Appalled At New Teen Fad: Is This The Bill Clinton Legacy?"

Schlafly answered affirmatively in the body of her news release.

"This is the legacy that Bill Clinton has left our country," Schlafly wrote. "This is the role model that is shaping this immoral behavior by our children. It is no surprise that this trend is the fallout of Bill Clinton's unacceptable behavior. Anyone who disagrees with the fact that Bill Clinton has shaped this behavior, only needs read one quote from [the Post] article that came directly from a young girl: `What's the big deal? President Clinton did it.' "

The conduct of these middle-schoolers may be Clinton's well-deserved legacy, but is he to blame? Not by himself. It's Clinton's entire generation, the baby boomers, who have to share the blame with him.

We're the generation that started the sexual revolution. We're the ones who sneered at the values of our elders and arrogantly proclaimed that we could trust no one over 30. We scoffed at folks like Schlafly, dismissing her as some right-wing prude who was out to spoil all our fun. We're the ones who said we wanted sexual freedom.

Well, we got it. We also got the AIDS epidemic, a staggering increase in teen pregnancy that is only now abating and children in the 11-to-14 age range engaging in oral sex. Perhaps now we're realizing we should have championed sexual responsibility instead of sexual freedom. Perhaps now we know that sexual freedom doesn't seem so attractive when it's our kids who are exercising the freedom.

"That's true," Schlafly said from her St. Louis office when asked whether the values of Clinton's daffy generation have as much to do with the current preteen sex crisis as Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky does. Schlafly said there are other culprits as well.

"I think the principal problem is what we've been teaching in public schools: Do your own thing. Look within yourself. There are some organizations -- Planned Parenthood is one -- that promote outercourse, masturbation. Any act is OK as long as it doesn't produce a live baby."

Hollywood is always a favorite scapegoat whenever societal ills are discussed, but on the issue of irresponsible sex, Tinseltown is guilty. What, I asked Schlafly, did she make of the new movie "American Pie," which has been praised as "comedy heaven," "outrageous fun" and "delicious [and] decadent" by some critics. This is the movie in which a young man copulates with an apple pie.

"A pie?" a stunned Schlafly said over the phone.

"A pie," I answered. "An apple pie."

"Hollywood has an agenda to change the morals of America," Schlafly charged. "Michael Medved has shown that family movies can make money. Hollywood continues to make movies that aren't necessarily profitable but continue to attack the morals and values of this country."

But let's not blame just Hollywood. Also in theaters is the movie "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut." It's main source of humor is inspired by little kids cussing not like sailors, but in language so vile and foul it would actually put most sailors to shame. The movie made reference to acts of oral sex and animal copulation. But when I saw the film, I noticed several parents had brought their children -- of elementary-school age -- to see a film clearly meant for adults.

Schlafly said she wants public schools to teach students that abstinence until marriage is the absolute best of their sexual options. But should every public school in America start teaching such tomorrow, we would still be left with another dilemma.

Who's going to teach their parents?

Pub Date: 7/18/99

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