Wednesday, October 19, 2005

As We Sow, So Shall We Reap

By Mitchell

Katherine Kersten at the Star Tribune has another of her outstanding columns, this time on the Vikings fiasco. I know many of you are probably sick and tired of hearing this, but I find the moral dimensions fascinating, not least of which that people still have enough sense to be offended by this. But, as Kersten says, nobody seems to be able to articulate why they're outraged.

We sense something is disastrously wrong with such lascivious conduct. But in America in 2005, we've lost the language to say exactly what. The players and women involved were apparently consenting adults. And consenting adults can pretty much engage in whatever sexual activities they want, right? For decades,
enlightened free thinkers have worked to drill this into our heads.

It's time to speak the truth. Nothing happened on those boats that many of our teenage boys haven't already seen repeatedly on the Internet, where the raunchiest porn is a mouse-click away. Our 14-year-old girls have heard jokes about oral sex and masturbation on "Sex and the City," maybe watching with Mom. On cable TV shows such HBO's "Real Sex," explicit sex acts are regular fare. In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that "virtual" pornography that portrays life-like children in the most degraded acts is protected "free speech."

You reap what you sow. Schools teach kids that "sex is a matter of lifestyle choice." Ideas that sex is about love, that abstinence is good - they're "laughed out of town."

Our kids don't need "Vikings behaving badly" to act on the messages that society gives them every day. A recent survey found that 55 percent of 15- to 19-year-olds have engaged in oral sex. (I have friends who moved back from Chicago because their elementary school kids were regularly witnessing oral sex in the back of the school bus.) In college, kids "hook up" for anonymous sex, or enjoy "friends with benefits" - a sexual relationship that neither party expects to lead to commitment.

The Vikings have long been known as an outlaw outfit, made up of players with questionable character, two-bit hoodlums who spend considerable amounts of time in trouble with the law. But, as Kersten concludes, this whole sorry episode is more than a commentary on the Vikings and their out-of-control players. Bishop Sheen often said that corruption is like beer - just as the bubbles always rise to the surface, corruption doesn't start at the top; it begins at the bottom, and works its way up.

What were the Vikings thinking? Unfortunately, perhaps merely what our society has taught them to think.

Minnesotans' reaction to the Vikings' sex-capades may be muddled, but it's heartening. At some level, we still revere the dignity - the sanctity - of sexual love. Occasionally, our residual sense of decency can still rise to the surface and shout its outrage.

Katherine Kersten is without question the best columnist gracing the pages of the Strib. WIth this column, she's scored another touchdown. Which is more than the Vikings, or the society that spawned them, can say.

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