The grownups are really after young people lately, trying to contain all that darn interest in sex.
We’ve seen a dozen cases around the country of prosecutors trying to jail teens for sexting (“To prove that sexting can ruin your life, we’re going to ruin your life for sexting”).
And we’ve seen newspapers at various colleges (such as Georgetown, Montana, and Kansas) challenged for running columns that discuss sex “too frankly” (that’s code for “honestly”). Montana law professor Kristin Juras, in fact, has called for censorship of the student paper, saying its sex column is harming the reputation of the school and therefore her career. Which leads one to wonder exactly what law she’s professor of.
Keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of college students are legally adults.
The latest attempt to demonize young people’s sexuality involves a state legislator’s attempt to prevent a bunch of students from showing a porn film at the local university. Screw the Constitution, he says, we’re talking threesomes, girl-girl, and anal. This is serious.
When the University of Maryland responded to this bully by cancelling the show, enterprising young students found another venue (college as a training ground for entrepreneurship—excellent!). State Senator Andrew Harris then threatened to withhold the university’s entire $424 million dollar budget.
Now that is a man who knows how to take a trivial situation and give it the attention it deserves. Because now everyone in the state knows about this stupid film, and roughly 5 billion people plan to see it. I’ve just sent him my last book, hoping he’ll ban it. I could use the press.
So what is lawmaker Harris teaching his young constituents?
That there is no legal principle so important that it can’t be sacrificed when sex is involved. Or to put it another way: that sex is so bad, any action to contain it is justified, no matter how socially destructive.
This doctrine says that sex is by its nature so dangerous, we must compromise our liberty day after day after day to control it. Accordingly, as long as people are interested in sex, democracy is in trouble.
And that’s exactly what we have today. For yet another example, read last week’s post, about Massachusetts revoking the rights of older people to consent to nude photography. Their legislature’s heart beats with Maryland’s Harris’s: to protect middle-aged people from making (allegedly) dumb choices about their sexuality, the state is willing to trash their constitutional rights and treat them like children—who aren’t allowed to consent to sexual activity.
Senator Harris, listen to Yeats describe your true responsibility: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” Only mature, secure adults are unafraid of which fires will be lit. You clearly don’t trust education.