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Jewish World Review April 11, 2000/6 Nissan, 5760

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker
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Oh, for a standard of what is socially, morally acceptable --
PEOPLE OF SOUND MIND may as well join a religious sect in Uganda. Here's what's happening in your world:

At Haverford College in Haverford, Pa., where some dorms already feature coed bathrooms, men and women now may share dormitory bedrooms. This new lifestyle option evolved partly in response to the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Alliance, which, in an ironic twist, says that gays and lesbians sometimes prefer living with members of the opposite sex.

While you're pondering that, how about this: The University of Michigan is offering a course this fall titled: "How to be Gay: Male Homosexuality and Initiation."

The course will examine gay identity by studying gay males' writings, Broadway musicals, "muscle culture" and interior design. What, no floral arranging?

Some conservative groups, which tend to see gay recruiters behind every chintz curtain, are protesting. The Michigan affiliate of the American Family Association promises to "expose the misrepresentation of the radical homosexual agenda and stop its spread through our culture."

I'm not too worried about young, non-gay men being recruited into the gay ranks, though I'm puzzled why we have to teach how to be gay. What's next? A companion course: "How To Be Heterosexual?" Wannabe macho guys could examine such cultural icons as football, spitting, Barcalounger design and "Hooter culture."

Meanwhile, in Baltimore, thousands of budding feminists gathered recently for the Feminist Expo 2000 to examine sexual politics and that perennial favorite, "choice."

At one workshop, women enjoyed the unveiling of new ads for the Pro-Choice Education Project. One showed 14 pictures of the same guy. The text read: "Pick a boyfriend. Not having a choice sucks, doesn't it?"

Let me see if I follow this logic. If you've got only one guy to choose from, that, like, sucks. Which is the same thing as having a baby you don't want instead of an abortion. OK, cool, I get it.

This must be what the Feminist Majority Foundation's director of campus programs, Sarah Boonin, meant when she said, "Young women are creating a feminism deeper and more complex than ever before."

One such deep 'n complex thinker, participant Lagusta Yearwood, discussed her future in eco-feminism: "We look at women kind of the way we look at the Earth," she said. "Take strip mining, for example." Pressed to elaborate, Yearwood said: "It's hard to explain."

Now there's a statement with a ring of truth. So, what's wrong with these modern vignettes, these cockle-warming tendrils of contemporary culture?

Did anyone ever stop to think that perhaps we try too hard? It's like searching for deep meaning in a finger painting. We are not, after all, brushing fingertips with G-d here. We're just being dumb.

It's dumb to put young men and women into the same bedroom and then complain about promiscuity. It's dumb to cave in to every special-interest group because a few individuals are at variance with the norm. It's dumb to offer college courses about how to be gay. Or to draw parallels between boyfriends and aborted fetuses as though they comprise comparable decisions and consequences.

Contrary to the voodoo education that characterizes some of what's offered in universities these days, not every thought deserves equal expression, nor does every individual's "choice" justify a Simpsonian defense. To understand that, however, one has to make judgments, heaven forbid. One has to exercise bias, which was once understood to derive from a common standard of what is socially and morally acceptable.

No more. Overexposure to the nouvelle psyche dilutes our sense of propriety and blunts our critical faculties. What was once rare, even absurd, ceases to cause outrage and becomes merely fact. In such a void, you can have everything -- but eventually, not much at all.

JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.


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03/28/00: Stay-home parents know that their kids need them
03/24/00: No 'Great Expectations' when schools shun the classics
03/21/00: It's common sense to restrict Internet usage in libraries
03/17/00: You want to be just a mom? For shame!
03/14/00: Colonoscopy: Important, but bad TV
03/10/00: I made a mistake about trigger-locks
03/08/00: After this school shooting, no easy target for our contempt
03/03/00: Car crash helps bridge our divide
02/28/00: Nasty politics? Americans like it down, dirty
02/14/00: College testing via Lego-building -- yeah, right
02/02/00: Bubba should spare us phony love theatrics
01/26/00: What sets off Those Who Speak for Women
01/13/00: Fools in love: Premarital counseling could help school kids
01/11/00: Who funds these studies!?
12/29/99: Grandparents' rights impinge on family autonomy
12/13/99: When did fathers become fair game?
12/09/99: Don't be stupid about at-risk kids
12/07/99: Pokemon is no substitute for a father
12/02/99: Blaming the victim --- men
11/30/99: Baby-killer's story has less-than-Precious ending
11/23/99: Pendulum swings back toward discipline, responsibility
11/18/99: Put the babies first in this mighty mess
11/11/99: Skip the applause for this baby news
11/09/99: Gore could benefit from a secret in Wolf's clothing
11/03/99: Who needs 'birds and bees' when we have MTV?
11/01/99: Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say
10/26/99: Children's needs must take priority in divorce system
10/19/99: The deadbeat dad is less a scoundrel than an object of pity
10/15/99: Bullying boys ... and girls
10/12/99: Divorced dads ready to wage a revolution
10/04/99: A father's best gift? His presence
09/30/99: Sorry, guys, Faludi is no friend of yours
09/28/99: Science's new findings: Scary future for families
09/23/99: The great blurring of need and want
09/21/99:Focus on more than baby's first 3 years
09/16/99: Commentary from kids sheds no light on day-care debate
09/14/99: Fathers' group seeks to right inequities
09/09/99: Son now has a license to grow up
09/07/99: A slap in the face of domestic violence
09/01/99: No, ma'am: Legislation on manners misses the mark
08/26/99: For better boys, try a little tenderness
08/24/99:The ABC's of campaign questions
08/19/99: Male 'sluts'
08/11/99: Language doesn't excuse bad behavior
08/09/99: When justice delayed is still justice
08/03/99: Unemployment? Not in this profession
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07/22/99: Tragedy tells us what's important
07/19/99: Study denouncing fathers sends danger signals
07/15/99:'Happy marriage' belongs in the Dictionary of Oxymorons next to 'deliciously low-fat.'
07/11/99: 'Brother Man': An American demagogue in Paris
07/08/99: Only parents can fix broken families
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06/14/99: Calling for a cease-fire in the gender war
06/10/99: We owe children an apology

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