Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Murdering Parents

Here's the story: An 18 year-old boy has a one-night stand - consensually - with a 15 year-old girl. It wasn't love, it was lust - for both of them. Her parents found out. Furious, they called the boy and told him that they were coming after him, that they were going to charge him as a sexual predator and "put him in jail". He, realizing that what he had done was wrong, reconciled that jail was not worth it and drove his car 80-mph into a tree and killed himself. He left a note to his parents and hers, apologizing for his misdeed, contrite to the fullest, admonishing himself for shaming his family.

He was a thoughtful, conscientious boy - not a menace to society. Not a gang-banger. Not a drug dealer. Not "doing it" with every slick ho who shakes her money makers at him. Just an 18 year-old boy who, like most of American teenagers, had sex with another teenage girl.

Remember, the average age of consensual sex is 13. This fact is not biased by religion, race or economic status. While it is not necessarily desirable to have our children copulating at 13, it is a fact. It's happening. It's what they are doing when their parents are not watching them. Seemingly, hormones do not listen to the diatribe of abstinence. Apparently, the ever-present teenage lust does not know what the Pope is saying. And parents ignore every warning sign that their thong-wearing, midriff showing, Brittany-wannabee daughters are flashing; they're also ignoring every warning sign that their baggy-jeaned, crooked hat wearing, fitty-cent wannabe honky, cracker white trash punk sons are flashing as well.

Boys will be boys and girls will be girls. They've been doing the dirty since time untold, behind the backs of every parent worldwide. And if this young man were 28, this would be a different story. But this is about two teenagers - one over the limit and the other under. A limit imposed and enforced by a society in denial. And our President seems to think, thinks he knows, that preaching abstinence is the cure-all, the answer to the age-old riddle: How to keep boys and girls from doing it. The surgeon general is merely a puppet to this morality abnormality. Parents need to wake up. Christians need to wake up. This is not going to go away. As media infiltration expands, as violence continues to be accepted at ever-increasing levels, as profanity becomes more and more accepted in our everyday lives, our challenges as parents will only increase, and therefore our vigilance in its face must also increase. But this is not a battle of attrition: we will not win by fighting. We will only win by accepting what is happening and communicating and educating our children. We will only win by instilling in our children that there are choices to be made. And sometimes our children and our friends' children will make mistakes. And this is where we will win the war.

We will not win by epitaphs and diatribes, railing against the atrocities of youth, the reflections of desire. This will only drive wedges, more deeply dividing the space between us. We will not win by accusing and threatening, badgering and belittling. Not will this not work but, as we have witnessed today, this will punish the innocent, tear apart families, beget guilt and mistrust and tear apart the very fabric that we seek to repair, build and grow. No, the only way to win is to gain and regain and regain trust. When there are problems, help them solve them. When they make mistakes, rebuild their confidence that they can learn from their mistakes, make better choices in the future.

Conservatives sometimes portray themselves as indignant and aloof, immune to the problems that the teenage years bring. Piety, disdain and condescension only beget smoke and mirrors as they try to hide the fact that their sons and daughters are, well, normal. It is an everyday occurrence - teenagers having sex - and the sooner that they accept that fact, embrace the opportunity to teach their children and seek to understand the truth, the sooner that all of us that understand this fact can begin to allow our children to feel safe around theirs.

Those of you who think that your sons and daughters will never cross this boundary, think again. If they're 15, they're close; if they're 17, they already have.

I am sorry that an 18 year-old boy had to choose between life and jail, that his vibrant flame was snuffed for no other reason other than overly protective, close-minded parents. A nation lost a child. A community lost a young man. A family lost a son...for having sex with a girl.