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Jewish World Review June 7, 2001/ 17 Sivan 5761

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker
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Consumer Reports

Freaking: Dance craze is out of step with decency --
CAN anybody say "white trash"? Oh, let's. For "white trash" is the simple answer to so many questions these days, such as: Why are children "freaking"?

"Freaking" refers to what's loosely called "dancing," but only because it occurs on a dance floor. It's actually simulated sex - boys and girls humping, bumping and grinding to music in ways that would have gotten people arrested in another day.

A story about freaking led USA Today's front page last week. Teens defend freaking as just another dance, no worse than the Twist or the Hustle. Adults are shocked; teachers are disturbed; parents, apparently, are clueless.

Here's how the story describes freaking: "Boys thrust their pelvises into girls' behinds to the throbbing bass of the hip-hop anthem 'Big Pimpin'"

"One halter-topped girl stoops so far over the floor that she looks like a center primed to snap a football - except she's also gyrating wildly across a boy's groin." And so it goes.

My first reaction to this story was, don't these kids have parents? Don't these girls have fathers?

And then I remember, no, they don't. At least a lot of them probably don't have fathers at home; at least a lot of them probably have divorced or never-married parents; at least a lot of them have been reared by television, where "white-trash" values are the norm. Ain't no 'ristocrats 'round here.

I'm assuming all this, of course, because if any father I know saw his daughter behaving that way - allowing a boy to pummel her from behind with his groin - the dad would grab her around the throat and tie her to a bedpost while he sorted things out with the boy's father.

Imagine the reaction. The Department of Social Services would go into overdrive as it tried to pin an abuse charge on Dad; the ACLU would charge interference with freedom of expression; the children would demand their rights to adolescent expression, while sane parents and teachers retreated to their modems for chat-room support groups.

If I'm beginning to sound elitist, by all means haul out the trumpets. What the world needs now is a whole lot of elitism rather than what we currently have, which is what historian Arnold Toynbee called "the proletarianization of the minority elite." That's fancy for, everybody's acting like white trash.

We used to know what that meant without need of definition. It's not specifically about skin color; it's about breeding and manners and civility. Today, "white trash" knows no ethnic boundaries. We are all just one big lump of coarse humanity.

I realize that I'm committing a racial faux pas here because black kids claim they invented "freaking" and they're upset that adults are protesting only now that white kids are doing it. Well, you just can't please everyone. If black kids are proud to claim a corner on vulgar behavior, they're wrong.

Meanwhile, the reason these kids are behaving like animals in public is because no one has taught them to do otherwise. You can only teach what you know, and adults behave little better. The few adults who do have some recollection of more civilized times are trying to figure out what to do about "freaking." They're meeting, holding discussions, consulting with experts. Can life get any more ridiculous?

Here's an example of how experts think: "It's not the dancing itself that's such a problem," says Deborah Roffman, author of "Sex and Sensibility: The Thinking Parent's Guide to Talking Sense About Sex." "It's the context in which it's happening." Blahblahblah.

No, actually, it is is the "dancing" itself. All-but-having sex in a public place is inappropriate, always has been, and always should be. The solution is simple: Forbid it.

JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.

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