An Inclusive Litany
A radical, refreshing, and long overdue reassessment of how we think and act about children's and teens' sexuality. Sex is a wonderful, crucial part of growing up, and children and teens can enjoy the pleasures of the body and be safe, too. In this important and controversial book, Judith Levine makes this argument and goes further, asserting that America's attempts to protect children from sex are worse than ineffectual. It is the assumption of danger and the exclusive focus on protection—what Levine terms "the sexual politics of fear"—that are themselves harmful to minors.
Through interviews with young people and their parents, stories drawn from today's headlines, visits to classrooms and clinics, and a look back at the ways sex among children and teenagers has been viewed throughout history, Judith Levine debunks some of the dominant myths of our society. She examines and challenges widespread anxieties (pedophilia, stranger kidnapping, Internet pornography) and sacred cows (abstinence-based sex education, statutory rape laws). Levine investigates the policies and practices that affect kids' sex lives—censorship, psychology, sex and AIDS education, family, criminal, and reproductive law, and the journalism that begs for "solutions" while inciting more fear.
Harmful to Minors offers fresh alternatives to fear and silence, describing sex-positive approaches that are ethically based and focus on common sense. Levine provides optimistic, though realistic, prescriptions for how we might do better in guiding children toward loving well—that is, safely, pleasurably, and with respect for others and themselves.
"Sharp, extraordinarily informed, and wittily incisive ... This is a major book, far and away the most wide-ranging, well-informed, and judicious we have on the subject. Levine's wisdom is compelling, and she offers the best kind of sophisticated and skeptical analysis. Each chapter is full of surprises, yet offers sensitive and gentle pointers to all of us, kids and adults, who are looking for ways out of these crushing dilemmas. It's a crusading book that is also kind, a very rare phenomenon, and it comes down always on the side of trusting not only our kids and their pleasures but our own."
—James Kincaid, author of Erotic Innocence: The Culture of Child Molesting
[Ed.: In case you were wondering, Levine commented in response to widespread outrage that "yes, conceivably, absolutely," a boy's sexual relationship with a priest could be positive.]
[Ed.: A commentator at the subsequent World Figure Skating Championships described the members of an American pairs team, one raised in Russia, and the other a "native American." My wife and I had to talk that one over for a little while.]
[Ed.: After an anti-abortion group successfully sued the University of Houston for the right to demonstrate on campus, the university set up free speech zones that require a ten-day advance registration for any protest.]
The artist, Santiago Sierra [no relation!], regularly features refugees and prostitutes accepting meager sums to perform "repetitive, and often pointless" tasks. Previous works include Person Remunerated to Remain Tied Down to a Wooden Block (2001), 68 People Remunerated to Block a Museum's Entrance (2000), and 133 People Remunerated to Have Their Hair Dyed Blond (2001).
"She brought a lot of baggage with her," said Steven Rosenfield, Sanchez's lawyer. "She had been terrorized and victimized as a child, and although we don't hold Abraham responsible for what happened to her as a child, what he did is exacerbate and bring to the surface once again her vulnerability to men with authority and power." The complaint thus relies on the same legal principle that Professor Abraham was teaching at the time. According to the "egg-shell skull rule," if a court decides that a wrongful act has occurred, the defendant is responsible for the damage caused by the act, even if the damage is far greater than normally expected.
Mann alleges he was so traumatized by the incident that he had to check himself into a hospital upon landing. Furthermore, his lawsuit alleges the airline discriminated against him because he is a cyborg. "I know there are a lot of people out there who will read this and say 'This doesn't affect me, I'm not a cyborg,' " said Mann, "But the way I was treated by Air Canada, it could happen to anyone."
Deaf people used to be discouraged from using sign language and were often dogmatically forced to read lips, severely reducing their ability to communicate with others. Yet, as Cathy Young reports in Reason, many schools for the deaf now regard American Sign Language as the only acceptable form of communication, even for children who have some hearing and would benefit from learning auditory and speaking skills. Deaf schools that promote "oralism" have even been the target of protests and pickets. Heather Whitestone, a deaf woman who won the 1995 Miss America contest, was denounced by some militants as unfit to represent the deaf because she speaks. The Washington Post profiled a deaf lesbian couple who even sought out a sperm donor who would increase the chances that their baby would also be deaf. Their five-year-old daughter, conceived by the same sperm donor, is also deaf.
Such "Deaf Pride" has received approval in some quarters. In his book The Mask of Benevolence, Northeastern University psychologist and MacArthur Foundation "genius" award winner Harlan Lane argues that deaf people have been oppressed and "colonized" by an "audist establishment" bent on "the medicalization of cultural deafness." According to Lane, defining deaf people as hearing-impaired is like defining women as "non-men." And in a 1994 essay in the New York Times Magazine, Andrew Solomon declared: "Perhaps, like the search for a cure for gayness, the search for a cure for the deaf will be dropped by respectable institutions—which would be both a bad and a good thing."
This is the same group, the "mutaween," that locked gates and prevented firemen in Mecca from rescuing schoolgirls from a burning building, all in order to keep the girls from being seen in public without their robes and scarves. Fifteen girls died in the ensuing stampede, and some of the survivors were subsequently beaten by members of the religious police. Men who tried to help the girls were warned that "it is sinful to approach them."
The New York Times also reports that "nearly seven months after Ziad al-Jarrah seized United Airlines Flight 93 and crashed it into a field in southwestern Pennsylvania, the Federal Aviation Administration continues to include Mr. Jarrah on its mailing list and has been sending pilot correspondence to him at an apartment in southern Florida that he rented last summer."
[Ed.: A full year after the terrorist attacks, the home page of the INS's New York offices, which boasts the most up-to-date information available, prominently featured a banner graphic of lower Manhattan with the World Trade Center towers still standing.]
[Ed.: November is when deers rut.]
The company that handles Internet sales for the product says that thousands of orders have poured in from around the country, greatly exceeding expectations, with no reports yet of complaints from Caucasians. While sales profits will go to an as-yet undetermined American Indian organization, Solomon Little Owl, the player who came up with the idea, complained of the product's success: "Some people don't realize what we're trying to do."
Writing in the National Review, Federal Election Commission member Bradley A. Smith notes that Mitchell's study actually understates spending by campaign finance reform groups because it doesn't include spending by affiliated tax-exempt 501(c)(4) committees, and misses significant groups such as the National Voting Rights Institute, which describes itself as "a prominent legal and public education center in the campaign finance reform field," and which widely promotes the view that private campaign contributions are unconstitutional.
Similarly, the CRP's figures overstate industry contributions, since they include individual contributions made by company employees or their non-working spouses. Most recently, congressmen said to have received "Enron" contributions often simply received funds from its employees or its stockholders, which may arguably qualify as healthy participation in the democratic political process.
Polls consistently show that voters regard campaign finance reform as a relatively unimportant issue, a stubborn fact that is reflected in reform groups' small membership base. Many groups are little more than glorified lobbying firms that rely on six- and even seven-figure grants from large foundations such as Ford, Carnegie, Joyce, and Pew Charitable Trusts, or on a handful of politically liberal multi-millionaires such as George Soros, Jerome Kohlberg, and Steven Kirsch. Common Cause, by far the largest, has 200,000 members. (In contrast, the National Rifle Association, which it routinely describes as a "special interest," has 4.2 million members.)
In many ways, campaign finance reform groups resemble the special interests whose malignant political influence they seek to curtail. Campaign for America, a creation of Jerome Kohlberg, helped get the recent Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform bill through Congress by directing an extensive "issue advertising" and phone bank campaign in wavering congressmen's districts, all paid for with (relatively) unregulated soft money. In fact, much of the bill was even drafted by campaign-finance lobbyists rather than by congressional staffers. Press reports revealed that a group consisting of former McCain 2000 counsel Trevor Potter, Democracy 21's Fred Wertheimer, and Don Simon of Common Cause drafted key portions of the complex 86-page bill, at times working out of offices in the Capitol the evening before House debate was to begin and part of the day on which the bill was being debated. They released the final version a few minutes before midnight, virtually guaranteeing that nobody would be able to read it in time to vote on it.
In Goldsboro, North Carolina, four men broke into the home of Ronald Biggs and assaulted him with a baseball bat. Biggs broke up the attack by shooting one of the assailants. Biggs was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, while his assailants were all charged with misdemeanors. Don Campbell of Port Huron, Michigan, shot the assailant who broke into his store and attacked him. He was later charged with felonious use of a firearm, for which the prosecutor plea bargained with the assailant in exchange for testimony against Campbell.
And in Maryland, Donald Arnold, a Vietnam veteran who was voted the state's "Citizen of the Year," lost his gun permit after it was revealed that 33 years ago he got into a scuffle with a war protestor who called him a baby-killer.
[Editor Peter] Wilby said he had taken a policy decision that the magazine would vigorously oppose the "war on terrorism", partly to make itself distinctive in a crowded media market. He said there was also a clear commercial logic to his magazine's editorial line, as circulation had surged by almost 25 per cent since September 11.