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Why I am not a conservative, reason 673

Everyone is entitled to their sensibilities, however wacky, just so long as they do not try to make them the law of the land. As a result when I describe Los Angeles Times writer T. J. Simers as a ‘weird prude’, it is not with the sense of loathing, hatred and vitriol I would have used were I under the impression he was suggesting that his disquiet over a picture of a beautiful young woman in a pair of shorts (and presumed wish to see people share his puritan values regarding women) be reflected in the law of the land by imposing censorship.

But a ‘weird prude’ is indeed what I think he is. Whilst I see that bizarrely the age of consent in the benighted state of California is 18, in the vast majority of the world and even in much of the USA, the age at which one is permitted to engage in sex is 16. Moreover even if for some reason you conclude that the age at which young adults should actually have sex should be 18, surely only the most purblind would actually expect a 16 year old to be asexual even if they were abstinent.

So when an attractive physically active 17 year old has a picture taken wearing no less clothing than that in which millions of people have seen her win tennis tournaments…

got_sharapova.jpg

… T. J. Simers asks, no doubt thinking the true answer is beyond the pale:

Now what do you think when I tell you the girl in the ad is 17 years old?

Well, yeah. The girl is question is Maria Sharapova and since she won Wimbledon, quite literally tens of millions of people know exactly how old she is. And what do I think? I think “Nice legs! What a babe”. I am, distressingly, old enough to be her father, but that does not change the fact she is a very attractive young woman. So what?

He continues:

Sharapova may or may not be the most mature 17-year-old the world has known, but she’s still 17. A kid. And if the message to young girls everywhere in the L.A. area is that sex sells – rather than Wimbledon championship tennis, shame on anyone who rewards AEG this week and takes their daughter to Staples Center.

Where were her parents? “There you go,” said Lindsay Davenport. “I wouldn’t do it, and I can tell you my daughter wouldn’t either.”

Well Lindsey Davenport was a great tennis player but I for one am also relieved she never struck such poses, though gallantry prevents me from elaborating what I think are the obvious reasons for that. But why oh why does Mr. Simers or Mrs. Davenport think a 17 years old should an asexual being? The advertisement was not one in which Maria Sharapova was offering to have sex with anyone, just displaying her athletic assets (her body) in a way in which many would find rather attractive. Being attractive does indeed sell so why pretend otherwise? Is the fact she is not pictured in the act of playing tennis somehow make her sexuality more obvious than these…

maria_gold_dress_med.jpg maria_wimbledon_flick.jpg

Clearly this is not a young woman who is in denial regarding the fact she is a sexual being and hardly seems like some bewildered victim of heartless ad man dressing her up as Lolita. I rather doubt the camera man had to wrestle a teddy bear out of her arms to get her to strike that pose. For T.J. Simers to find the WTA image offensive is perverse and suggests to me that he must have some quaint notions of what 17 year olds are really like and how people should perceive them.

Millions and millions of people are married or in long term sexual relationships by the time they are 17 and many of those are also parents, which suggests that the peculiar notion of infantilising young adults and calling them ‘kids’ for as long as possible is rather far off the mark.

I think what really made this whole thing seem so daft to me was that I have just got back from an interesting exhibition about the Crimean War which features an account of a 14 year old who had accompanied the British forces on that campaign and it all really does make some of the modern notion of a strict division between adulthood and childhood seem truly preposterous when talking about a worldly 17 year old Russian woman who, if you have ever heard her interviewed, is obviously no fool.

There is something profoundly odd about the mindset of a certain ilk of conservative.

100 comments to Why I am not a conservative, reason 673

  • sark

    Yeah, I agree completely, but I for one would like to thank Mr Simer for “forcing” you to put up those excellent pictures of the divine Ms Sharapova :-)

  • Simers apparently lives in (or wants to live in) a fantasy world where people under 18 aren’t sexually attractive. He obviously has issues with sexuality.

  • ernest young

    Couple of points, a writer for the LA Times being a conservative? Are you sure that you are not jumpig to conclusions there, isn’t the LA times a lefty paper?

    Could be he is one of that new breed of Democrat that has suddenly got a sense of ‘moral values’, and is getting ready for 2008.

    Otherwise I quite agree, the whole concept of being regulated by your age is stupid, it is the other end of ‘ageism’. Many people still alive, started work at twelve or fourteen, and in the National Service , there were 2nd Lts. aged eighteen, theoretical in command of others, and in a warzone, – what a terrifying thought….

  • gast

    I suspect by “conservative” he was not refering to how he votes but how he sees the world.

  • Ian

    Polish politicians nearly got through a ban on pornography some while back, with the support of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. So enjoy this picture while you can….

    What bugs me most about conservative commentators on these matters is their affectation of ‘traditional, Christian morality’ while neither practising nor understanding the Faith. Temptation, for the Christian, isn’t a bad thing. It’s giving in to temptation that’s the sin. But nothing wrong with simply having your faith tested. Mr Simers protests too much because he is weak and has a dirty mind: his reasons are pathological and not moral. He is the one presuming she’s sexually available, simply because she’s showing a bit of thigh.

    After all, to be consistent, Simers would have to ban attractive women of any age – and Tom Cruise and Rupert Everett – from television lest men be led into adultery – or homosexuality. The burqha is the logical conclusion of his premisses.

    This all reminds me of the bans on parents photographing nativity plays, and all the while the infant Jesus is portrayed stark naked or in rather skimpy swaddling clothes and nappy adverts are on the telly.

  • I think it’s a pervert rosarch test. you’re only offended if you’re overwhelmed by how alluring and sexual the girl looks. lol. i mean she looks great, but i’m not sweating in my dockers over it.

  • Shimers is taking that first step down the short path to Burqaville.

  • I’d say this is another example of a conservative supporting “traditional values” without having the slightest clue what those traditional values are. For example, the age of consent throughout the United States was traditionally 13. That didn’t change until the 1880s.

    I’ll bet this guy is also one of the nuts who rants about how the pledge of allegiance in schools must be preserved in its current form, without realizing that traditionally children saluted like Nazis when they said it, and the “under god” bit wasn’t added until the 1950s.

  • I would tend to agree with ernest; far from being conservative, I would guess the writer has “progressed” to the state of the British left, who are more prudish in the name of “opposing gender stereotypes” and so on, than mainstream conservatives have been in forty years.

  • Phil

    I am a political and religious conservative (but not a fundamentalist).

    I don’t see anything overtly sexual about the first pose. Sure, this lady is very attractive and is wearing shorts. But she is not overtly using sex to sell herself or tennis.

    I think that Jason was right in that you take with you what you bring to this picture.

    If she were photographed in a string bikini, wearing stilletto heels, bending over, and holding a tennis raquet with the caption “love, love” then the author might have a point about using sex to sell a 17 year old.

    Phil Snyder

  • I think I can safely say that Mr. Simers does not speak for the majority (or even a majority of the minority) of conservatives. Nor does he speak for the majority of Christians in his review of the picture of Ms. Sharapova. Yes, the man is a wierd prude but your reason for using this as an example of why you are not a conservative eludes me. There are more truly definitive reasons than that. I’m a little to the right of center myself, but I do have liberal leanings. In this case though I would be lumped in with the T.J. Simers’ of this world. Yuck.

  • Chuck Pelto

    TO: Perry de Havilland
    RE: How Low Can You Go?

    “Whilst I see that bizarrely the age of consent in the benighted state of California is 18, in the vast majority of the world and even in much of the USA, the age at which one is permitted to engage in sex is 16.” — Perry de Havilland

    Something been on your mind of late, Perry?

    Just where do YOU ‘draw the line’?

    RE: Fine By You, Until Someone Goes Stepping on YOUR Toes

    “As a result when I describe Los Angeles Times writer T. J. Simers as a ‘wierd prude’, it is not with the sense of loathing, hatred and vitriol I would have used were I under the impression he was suggesting that his disquiet over a picture of a beautiful young woman in a pair of shorts (and presumed wish to see people share his puritan values regarding women) be reflected in the law of the land by imposing censorship.” — Perry de Havilland

    I don’t know what it’s like in England, but over here, the law of the land is the law of the land.

    Case in point….in England, can you defend yourself in your house from an intruder? Last I heard the answer was “NO”.

    Seems to me that you’ve got more serious problems of your own to attend to over in England to waste time whining about someone suggesting censorship of images of young girls in possibly alluring poses.

    But this brings us back to why are you so interested in attractive young girls pictures? And where does one draw the line vis-a-vis suggestive young girls pictures and the age of the ‘child’? 17? 15? 14? 12? 8? 4?

    We have laws of the land regarding sexually suggestive photographs of ‘children’. Those are laws of the land imposed by the majority on a distinct minority. Is there something wrong with those laws of ‘censorship’ as well?

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)

  • Some Guy

    Nice piece. Still, if I saw you leering at my daughter, I’d at least seriously think about feeding you your teeth.

    Regardless of whether she was aware that she was a “sexual being” or not, buddy.

  • I consider myself a conservative and I also don’t see a whole lot wrong with any of the pictures. Considering the article was from the LA Times, I would be shocked to find out he was a conservative.

    That said, your comments about sexually active 17 year olds is quite true as well as many who are parents. A lot of them are also on welfare if they aren’t being supported by mom and dad. Its one thing to be sexually active at 17, its another to also be responsible for the outcomes as well. A 17 year old in say, 1950 had a lot more sense of responsibilty than those today.

  • In this case though I would be lumped in with the T.J. Simers’ of this world. Yuck.

    Not really as that is specifically why I used the phrase…

    There is something profoundly odd about the mindset of a certain ilk of conservative

    … because I am well aware that not all conservatives share Simers’ views.

    However I do not buy the idea that Simers is not a conservative because he is not using the language of ‘exploitation’ and ‘objectification’ but rather saying things like “Where were her parents?” and pointing at a safely frumpy ‘mom’ like Lindsey Davenport. The way I see it the cultural cues all seem to be pointing at ‘wingnut conservative’.

    And as the name of my article indicates, there are many reasons I am not a conservative, my disaffinity with the likes of TJ Simers’ flavour of conservatism is only one of said reasons.

  • I read the LA Times’s Sports section almost every day and never read TJ Simers because he’s an idiot. His commentary on sports is useless, much less his commentary on anyhing else.

    You make many good points which I am trying to ignore as best I can since my eldest daughter turns 16 in February….

  • Jacob

    I gave up on libertarians a long time a go.

  • free

    Americans promote prudishness all too often when they want to show that they’re good people. It obviously has roots in their puritan past. It’s silly and it does make one feel a little bit sorry for them.

    Thankfully, they don’t practice it the way they preach it.

    I think someone (an American) recently wrote about the ‘incident’ at which Janet Jackson exposed her nipples (sort of) as casting Americans in a bad light.

    Hmmm. Not nearly as bad (or ridiculous) a light as the ensuing fuss. Odd people, but every society has its customs, however bizarre they may seem to other folk.

  • person of choler

    This seems to be your chain of reasoning:

    I am not a prude.

    Conservatives are prudes.

    Therefore I am not a conservative.

    QED.

    You might note that not all conservatives are prudes, and not all prudes are conservatives.

    Why are you so wound up over some guy’s comments about pictures of a tennis player? What’s the clear and present danger that’s gotten you riled up? Can’t you already find all the pictures you need of concupiscient young lambchops?

  • Pelto… I realise you are trying to fish for expressions of paedophile sentiments so I will treat you with the appropriate hostility you are due.

    I think the woman is sexually attractive, as I suspect most heterosexual adult males seeing the pictures would agree to at least some extent. So? I am just stating the obvious. Am I supposed to pretend otherwise because she is 17? … and unless I profoundly misunderstand Californian law, saying that even in California is not illegal, only having sex with her would be whilst actually in that particular state (something I will sadly never have the chance to put to the test unless Maria Sharapova has a taste for older men and I am unbelievably lucky).

    And yes, of course I oppose censorship unless the images are produced in the first place in an inherently criminal manner (for example by force, to mention but one possibility).

    Where do I think the line should be drawn regarding ages of consent? That rather depends on the person involved. The line should be drawn at the point where the parties are capable of informed consent, which generally is about at the same level of 16 that most places have settled for.

    As for ‘the law being the law’, so what? There is nothing immutable about most law. Just like everywhere else in the world, the USA has a long history of producing monstrous and inherently immoral laws. If a law is daft or unjust, it should be opposed, but how is that germane? As I made clear, Simers was not talking about laws, he was talking about what he thinks is appropriate. He thinks pictures of ‘Sharapova-as-hottie’ are inappropriate whereas I find them both appropriate and delightful.

    As for your bizarre statement about self-defence laws in the UK, does that therefore mean you also think people in the USA should not express opinions about what prevails in other countries? Or just that people currently living in other countries should not express views about things in the USA?

  • Julian Morrison

    Replying to Phil Hunt’s early comment “Simers apparently lives in (or wants to live in) a fantasy world where people under 18 aren’t sexually attractive” — it’s not just him. This is a cultural thing. All contemporary portrayals of children (whether or not “children” is in sneer quotes) go way out of their way to asexualize / unisex. he’s just slapping this advert down for not playing along.

  • person of choler:

    You might note that not all conservatives are prudes, and not all prudes are conservatives.

    Already asked and answered. Try reading the other comments before posting.

  • SN

    Well, I am not the typical person to say this, I’m a 19yr old guy, and I think Sharapova is ‘hot’.. but… when I thought about her being 17 and seeing that pic.. I imagined what it would be like if it was my 17yr old since-childhood friend up there. Well, I’d get pretty angry and disappointed at the exploitation. And I would get angrier and more disgusted when I thought about the 40yr old guys oggling her. Put it into real life context: if you were at a dinner party and you see your friend’s 17yr old daughter.. I think it’d be pretty bad to think of her as a sex object and check her out. I am rambling, but just put things into real context and they always seem different. Its easy to think one thing when its not someone you know and you’re sitting on the internet expressing your thoughts.

  • What’s the clear and present danger that’s gotten you riled up?

    Why should I only comment on something if there is a ‘clear and present danger’? I found it an interesting cultural’ sort if issue and seeing as I find the political correctness of some sections of the right as irksome as the PC of the left…

  • Stephen B

    Whatever.

  • snookie

    Whatever.

    Whoa, dude! That was profound.

    I get the impression some conservatives just don’t like anyone being critical of the C word even though the writer makes it pretty clear he does not think all conservatives think like that LAT bozo.

  • Miriam C

    SN — I was 16 when I married my 38 year old husband in 1996. He was a business partner of my father and he gets on just fine with my folks. Your hang ups are just that. Yours.

  • Brian

    “Put it into real life context: if you were at a dinner party and you see your friend’s 17yr old daughter.. I think it’d be pretty bad to think of her as a sex object and check her out.”

    And if she’s 18 all of a sudden it’s ok? It seems more likely your discomfort there would arise from the relationship with your friend rather than whether his daughter is 17.98 or 18.02 years old.

  • dmick

    My my, what a storm in a teacup. This Simers chap does seem to be building himself up into a self flagelating rage perhaps ist guilt at his…impure thoughts lol.

    In all seriousness though she’s a good looking girl but the pose is not provocative nor does its say “sex”. Yes she’s got long legs but that tends to be an advantage if you are tennis player !

    SN simply because you find someone attractive to look at doesn’t mean you see them as a sex object. Aesthetic beauty doesnt mean to say you necessarily wish to jump into the sack with someone.

  • Eric Anondson

    Are you sure this reporter is a conservative?

    Because there is nearly an equal amount of prudes amongst liberals in America as there are amongst conservatives. There are pretty advanced and popular breeds of feminism in America on the left that attack sexual images of women as exploitation.

    Plus there is the general popularization amongst the “Oprah” crowd that children must be protected (in some mythicial hermetically sealed bubble) from all “dark” influences until they are out of college.

    Do not blow off the Oprah-ization of Americans as the root of this. It has little to do with liberal or conservative.

  • Halleluwah

    I’m reminded of that execrable movie Kids, which treated teenage sexuality with such horror. It didn’t strike me as conservative — I saw it as a typical liberal tendency to infantilize young adults and to scorn assertive masculinity as oppressive.

  • Chuck Pelto

    TO: Perry de Havilland
    RE: Fishy Business, That

    “I realise you are trying to fish for expressions of paedophile sentiments so I will treat you with the appropriate hostility you are due.” — Perry de Havilland

    Okay….

    But, I’ll point out that (1) I’m not the one expressing an interest in teenage girls who, despite any consideration for age of consent rules are still considered, over here, as verboten, due to ‘law of the land’ matters relating to statutory rape. (2) You seem to be particularly ‘sensitive’ in this area. And (3) you have not answered my question about where the line should be drawn. Instead you go, immediately, over to personal attacks.

    Well. Fine by me. As I said earlier, I’ve been abused by the best.

    RE: Laws of Attraction

    “I think the woman is sexually attractive, as I suspect most heterosexual adult males seeing the pictures would agree to at least some extent. So?” — Perry de Havilland

    She’s pretty. I’ll agree with that. But ‘sexually attractive’? Not to me. Reminds me too much of my eldest daughter at that age, but Heather is prettier in the face. But maybe there is a certain something that differentiates us from finding a pretty girl sexually attractive as opposed to just a pretty girl.

    RE: Sex and All

    “I am just stating the obvious. Am I supposed to pretend otherwise because she is 17? … and unless I profoundly misunderstand Californian law, saying that even in California is not illegal, only having sex with her would be whilst actually in that particular state…” — Perry de Havilland

    No. However, your initial posting seems to relate to matters involving the ‘Age of Consent’ and the “law of the land” governing such. Or am I mistaken here?

    So what is all this business about anyway? Is it a premeptive strike against someone who thinks that these photographs amount to pornography? Or is it about the age of consent in the “benighted state of California” and other states? You seemed to dwell on that and my curiosity was piqued.

    RE: Criminal Imaging

    “And yes, of course I oppose censorship unless the images are produced in the first place in an inherently criminal manner (for example by force, to mention but one possibility).” — Perry de Havilland

    So, what makes an image ‘criminal’? Force is a good example. Any others come to mind? Anything like we were discussing a few doors down the hall way a short time back? Child pornography? Perhaps? Again, I ask the question….”Where do you draw the line, age-wise?”

    With the way this discussion has gone now, I get the impression that some evasion is occuring. It’s a simple question. Pick a number….any number.

    RE: Law of the Land and Whatnot

    “As for ‘the law being the law’, so what? There is nothing immutable about most law.” — Perry de Havilland

    I don’t recall anyone saying it was, immutable. I mean….look at the Dredd Scott decision. Yeah. It took a bloody civil war to get that one overturned, but still…it WAS ‘overturned’.

    But the law is the law. Right? And again we come to the question of where would you have the law draw the line for the Age of Consent?

    RE: Self-Defense, Here and There

    “As for your bizarre statement about self-defence laws in the UK, does that therefore mean you also think people in the USA should not express opinions about what prevails in other countries?” — Perry de Havilland

    I think it relates to my christian beliefs. Something about what some Wag said, two thousand years ago, “Why do you complain about the speck in your brother’s eye. You have a rough hewn 4×4 in your own. First remove that wood from your eye and then you can see clearly to remove the speck in someone else’s eye.” Or words to that affect.

    You’ve got very serious problems of your own to focus on, compadre. If you can get your government sorted out to deal with them in a rational manner, then you’ll have more credibility in dealing with OUR problems on this side of the big pond.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)

  • Ken

    SN, I’m pretty sure Sharapova is well aware that she’s being ogled by 40-year-old men when she agrees to pose like that. She has the choice to pose like that, and if she can make money that way, I really don’t begrudge her that in the slightest.

    Kids grow up. They may grow up at different rates, and will almost definitely grow up in different ways at different times. Humans have sexual urges. As long as we can prevent exploitation then we should just duck out of the whole sphere.

  • Ian

    Bill, your punctuation goes haywire after singular and, arguably, after the first be.

    As to everyone‘s being plural, while it offends my pedantry it has the merit of being snappier than his or her if one wishes to be explicit about including the feminine gender. A sin against Grammar, yes, but not a mortal sin.

  • doug b

    What does conservatism as a political philosophy have to do with this Simers editorial? It’s just as valid to point to the same piece and–thinking of Naomi Wolf, Andrea Dworkin, et al–say this is why I’m not a liberal.

    I came here from Instapundit and feel cheated.

  • richard mcenroe

    T.J. simers is not a conservative. T.J. Simers is a sportswriter, which is to say that he is barely one hair away from a horse’s ass by definition. He also runs as his “idiom” (sorry, sweet Concord) a “plain Joe” shtick that recycles weary digs at his wife, daughter and inlaws that were old when Alan King could still chew his own food. It seems the only feeback he can get at the Times is when he provokes someone into complaining about his twaddle.

    Oops.

    And by the way, you’re missing the point. Conservatives are ALLOWED to look at the nasty pictures, since we are of course evil exploiters and objectifiers of womenfolk; it’s the PC lefty types who swoon and deny someone tenure, promotions or employment if they so much as watch a Benny Hill rerun. So, she’s a babe, she’s barely a third my age, and I think I can refrain from leering at her to her face or in front of her parents. There it is.

  • John Thacker

    In any case, CA law, like most other states’ law, ascribes no penalties nor offense to a pair of minors themselves engaging in acts.

    It is undoubtedly true that there are people for whom an arbitrary age given in the law is inappropriate. That is, of course, true of any age set in law; people manifestly mature at different rates, so no matter what age is set, there will be at least some one who reaches maturity earlier or later than the law observes. There is, of course, plenty of room to argue for moving the line in a reasonable direction, but surely one cannot take the argument to its logical extremes, for there is no line that will not causes problems of one sort or another. Most of society, for better or ill, finds the attendent risks of an immature person being taken advantage of to outweigh the harms of forcing a mature person to wait. Argue to decrease the age some surely, but not with such overheated rhetorical that would apply equally to any age and hence argues for the complete abolishment of restrictions.

    Of course, one could simply have no age. That could (and would) certainly lead to abuses against the young that most libertarians would abhor. (Assuming that one does not wish to emulate certain Arab countries.) Alternately, one could simply let local magistrates decide on a case-by-case basis. In point of fact, this is what happens already; certainly not all cases are prosecuted. What the CA law, and other law does, is rather to provide an age after which there is a definite safe harbor. To remove such a restriction would be to empower local magistrates at the expense of rights, certainly not a libertarian position.

  • John Thacker

    And in California, one may get married at any age so long as there is parental consent. Parental consent, of course, since minors are not treated as full persons under the law in a variety of ways, as in most countries.

    The age of consent is, like a great many things, intimately related to the age of majority. Personally, I would prefer it to be lower, but of course any arbitrary line will have people falling on the wrong side.

  • dmick

    As this discussion has brought about more heat than light and lots of unrelated moralising and bunkum, Id thought I’d throw in the fact that pornography did not exist until 1857.

  • Shawn

    Why I am not a Liberal.

    Many of Perrys arguments above such as, shes really a sexual being, it was different in older times, everyone else is just a prude for being dishonest, and so forth are used by pedophiles to justify sex or sexual exploitation of minors.

    Perry states the obvious, that shes pretty, that shes 17, that shes a sexual being, all of which is true, but all of which is true in some sense for girls of any age.

    Perry then goes on to use these facts as justification for the sexual exploitation of young girls.

    And even if girls got married when they were 12 to 14, as they still are forced to in many places, even if girls as young as 14 or 15 sometimes did adult things and were remarkable people, does this mean we really want a society in which 40 year old men see 13 or 14 year old girls as fair game?

    Perry has gone from A to Z on extremely thin justification.

    Some girls today reach puberty as young as 11. Does that mean its ok to sexually ogle them? I’m sure theres some Amazonian tribe that marries 11 yr olds off so that should be justification enough in Perry’s liberal world.

    The question that Perry and other liberal libertarians dont ask is what kind of society do we want? Do the Fathers or Mothers here at Samizdata really want a society in whic 13 and 14 yr olds are fair game? Because of they follow Perry’s argument to there logical conclusion that where we would be heading.

    A liberal is a person who only thinks of their own selfish pleasures and desires regardless of the consequences for society.

    A conservative is a person who can be honest enough to look in their own heart and ask themselves “would I want that for my daughter”?

  • Well, I’m a conservative and I agree the guy’s a weird prude. I certainly don’t see anything wrong with the picture in the ad.

    Nine-year-olds in thongs is a different matter, and I rather suspect most non-conservatives would agree.

  • Brian

    What many people find distressing and not just conservatives is the early sexualization of young girls. I myself do not find the above picture to be a problem, but I understand Mr. Simers concerns. Daily, parents are battle a culture in which girls as young as ten are revealing more and more as popular culture impresses on them that sex can be a tool for advancement in sports, business, romance, and life in general. A healthy sexual self-image is important but narcissism is not. One can disagree with Mr. Simers regarding that particular photo without resorting to an ad hominem attack labeling him a “weird prudie.”

    The goalposts that mark a prude continue to move to the point where I now gather my wife and I would be considered members by some because we find the latest outfits used by the Williams sisters to be superfluous to the tennis game at hand and a mark of exhibitionism. We are reaching the point where labeling someone a prude has become near meaningless

  • The left has no monopoly on morons.

  • Neuroto

    This all seems like a mild case of multiculturalism to me. Fresh meat is easier to obtain overseas–of course Mr. DeHavilland thinks nothing of contemplating the possibilities of Miss Sharapova. Sixteen year olds are legal in Britain. Different places and customs, and all that.

    I’m being a bit snarky, but it is just to point out that some of Samizdata’s fan’s across the Atlantic are perhaps a bit prone to regard the sentiment you expressed with cautious attention. Some opinions are acceptable to express during the break between classes in high school (“Man, that Sharapova chick is hot!”), but say that when you are forty and your friends might change the subject, and engage in unhelpful speculation when you leave the bar.

    Or maybe not. I hope you won’t think it prudishly conservative of me if I have the opinion that your post struck a flat note when I read it. Sometimes one’s intention is honorable, and his logic self-evident, and nevertheless manages to say something that just comes out wrong.

    I know things must be different wher you live, but we have too many older guys having sex with teenagers over here in the states, and stutory rape laws are enforced with an indifferent degree of zeal in some jurisdictions. All nice and libertarian, I know, but we have a lot of young adults being visited with a lot of misery as a result.

  • Maria R.

    The question that Perry and other liberal libertarians dont ask is what kind of society do we want?

    Who is we? I know what I want and I don’t much care what you want. In fact, I want what you want to make not real difference to me, that is what I want for “society”.

    Do the Fathers or Mothers here at Samizdata really want a society in whic 13 and 14 yr olds are fair game?

    And who has called for that? I have re-read his article and comments and sure can’t see that anywhere. In fact, he said he thought 16 was about right, which puts him pretty much in the mainstream most places I have lived. I talk about dealing with sexuality with my 15 yr old daughter and I will not pretend it is always easy but I really have no choice but to deal with the issues. Seems to me like the whole topic just makes a lot of adults go crazy but you cannot just wish it away and go back to some golden age that never existed. Dealing with the way people really are is not exploitation and all that is needed is some common sense. Getting all twisted up by that picture of a pretty girl being a pretty girl makes it obvious that common sense is what is missing.

  • But don’t you realize that stuff like that picture is responsible for abu Ghraib?

  • basejumper

    Sixteen year olds are legal in Britain

    And most places here in the USA too, for christ sake! Look, in this day and age for some guy in LA (of all places! Frigging Hollywood Babylon itself, LOL!) to get techy over a mild cheesecake picture like that is just wacked and I don’t see nothing wrong with saying it like it is.

  • erp

    I am conservative and would hate to see censorship again. Unfortunately, things have gone far beyond pictures of this beautiful girl.

    Vulgar and disgusting pop culture won’t go away as long as people spend their money on it.

  • If some of the strength of anti-paedophile feeling we now see is disproportionate to the scale of the problem, I suspect it’s because there is so little one can now unambiguously describe as wrong and perverted. A “strict division between adulthood and childhood” is one of the few remaining taboos against sexual thought and behaviour left to protect the vulnerable. People cling to the remaining taboos so strongly because they see the collapse of all others and wish to shore up those that remain.

    Are they wrong to do so? I think there would certainly be more cases of child abuse, and a much greater problem of sexualisation of childhood, if to take Neuroto’s example, we lived in a society where forty year old men in a bar did feel absolutely safe explaining their lust for underage girls. Those who sneer at the idea of such an outlook when it comes to girls of 16 or 17 in the US should ask themselves whether they would really say the same thing about girls of 14 or 15 here. If not – and I hope not – then it seems they make their very own “strict division between childhood and adulthood” and the only real argument is whether 16 or 18 is the cut-off point.

  • flenser

    You offer zero evidence that this Simers guy is a conservative of any “ilk”, which makes the rest of your self-righteous posturing look sillier than usual.

    But congrats on your courage in standing up and saying you enjoy looking at pictures of pretty girls.

  • LALibertarian

    flenser you loser, everyone who reads about sports knows about that goddamn blowhard Simer so you are talking out of your ass. I doubt the guy knows enough big words for actually politics but no way is the bum a liberal. He is one of yours alright, a gay-baiting neanderthal, and if some limey who probably never heard of the WNBA can figure that out, you must be a goddamn Mongolian or something! This creep is the guy when he was supposed to be covering a game humiliated his own daughter in front of the world instead, the daughter that he claims to be so damn concerned about, because she married a guy he describes as a Grocery Store Bagger. What a complete jerk.

  • Pelto:

    …And (3) you have not answered my question about where the line should be drawn. Instead you go, immediately, over to personal attacks.

    Because, if you actually read my earlier comments, I did indeed both reply and said where I would draw the line. I also replied to your other points. You did not however return the favour and avoided coherent replies when I asked you about expressing views regarding what happens in foreign countries. However as you are clearly someone who ‘resets’ after every exchange and seem to have a very selective memory, there is no point in trying to converse with you, so get lost. And that is official.

  • Here’s the main quote:
    That’s when I took another look at the provocative leaflet: “The closer you get … the hotter it gets,” and this time viewed it as a parent who has had a pair of 17-year-old daughters.

    Yeah, sex sells. I, now a father of 3, consider myself a libertarian paternalist; and even a Conservative. How many kids do you have, Perry?

    Marriage, and even sex to a big extent, is not really for just the two people involved. It’s for those two, PLUS the third human who MAY, God willing, be conceived.

    The consumerization of sex is a strong, and UNNECESSARY part, of the free market AND Liberal / Libertine (=Libertarian?) point of view. The consumerization of all, materialism, is very natural for those without God. Single folk are much more likely to be “anti-God” than married folk, especially married with children.

    [I, too, didn’t like St. Augistine’s fooling around when young, then repenting and claiming he made a mistake.
    Now I feel I’ve copied him. His later teaching was towards much more modesty = anti-consumer sex]

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    I have a serious problem with that ad, but for a different reason: I’m a big tennis fan, and marketing tennis on the basis of sex (and let’s not kid ourselves that that’s not the intention of this ad) or “hype”, and not on the basis of beautiful tennis, is ultimately counterproductive.

    It didn’t work with the last sexpot they tried promoting (Kournikova): while people may have paid to see her, they didn’t pay to see other players.

    Not only that, but promoting only certain players for their perceived ‘glamour’ appeal also crowds out the other beautiful tennis on offer. ESPN here in the United States are particularly bad in this regard; their live coverage for the first four days had either Serena Williams or Sharapova each day, crowding out the current #1 and #2 ranked players from live coverage along with the current French Open and US Open champions. At other times this year ESPN have pre-empted announced coverage to show repeats of the same few players’ matches: Capriati, the Williamses, Agassi, and Roddick (and we’ll get it with Sharapova starting next year at the Australian Open). During the rain delays at Wimbledon this year, for example, ESPN and NBC (the broadcast network which has weekend rights to Wimbledon) combined to show one of Roddick’s matches, a boring straight sets win, four times. And then ESPN and the broadcast networks have the gall to wonder who players like Anastasia Myskina (French Open champion), or Svetlana Kuznetsova (US Open champion), or several of the Olympic medallists (Molik and the Chileans come to mind) are. If you actually showed us more than a few players, perhaps more people might know who these folks are!

    There’s also the problem of the WTA pushing people to play more (they actually changed the age eligibility rules at the end of 2003 specifically to allow Sharapova to play more), which is leading to more players getting injured, but this comment is already too long, and talking about the WTA’s horrible mismanagement could fill a book — and it’s not that relevant to what Samizdata discusses.

  • I know lots of married people, some of whom have children… and yet most (but not all) seem to have no need for Gods, Tom.

    I am not ‘anti-God’, in fact I have an excellent working arrangement with him/them: we stay out of each other’s way.

  • Ted, but now THAT is a bunch of sensible points for all the right reasons.

  • anon

    It’s not particularly relevant to your point, but there’s a decent chance Ms. Sharapova is really over 18, and is one of a great many third-world athletes whose age has been revised down by her agents and/or her publicists (this is extremely common among Caribean and Central American baseball players, many of whose ages end up being revised upward after they’ve been in the majors for a few years). There are pretty strong rumors to this effect among those who follow tennis closely, at any rate.

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    Anon:

    I happen to know some folks who get paid to write about tennis (but not full time), and that’s the first I’ve ever heard this.

    Indeed, Sharapova is under age restrictions until next April when she turns 18; she bitched about them to the point that she got the WTA to change them at the end of 2003.

    Why lie about your age if you’re going to do this? If anything, you’d claim to be older, not younger.

  • veryretired

    Nice picture, some bizarre comments—must be a slow day.

  • jon

    Shawn:
    “The question that Perry and other liberal libertarians dont ask is what kind of society do we want? Do the Fathers or Mothers here at Samizdata really want a society in whic 13 and 14 yr olds are fair game? Because of they follow Perry’s argument to there logical conclusion that where we would be heading.”

    Me:
    No one is arguing that they are or should be fair game. If the slippery slope argument held firm here, infants would long be sexualized by the masses and getting fucked and blown and eaten out with great regularity. But they aren’t, because most people like consentual sex with partners who have adult features (in the case of females: breasts and hips). And most people would also find such behavior to be pretty sick.

    However, the fact is that women and girls can be considered sexy without me having to act out and try to rape them. I can enjoy looking and do so without exploitation, violence, danger, kidnapping, stalking, the passing of genetic material, or even having the beauties know I find them attractive. I can look without endangering my marriage, family, status as a free citizen, and ability to know right from wrong.

    A nice ass is a nice ass. A pretty face is a pretty face. And so on and so on. Beauty is only skin deep, but it’s the part we get to look at.

    If it is so awful for me to find someone to be attractive when that person is not a legal or ethical sexual partner, then I guess I’ll just have to be a bad person. Sorry.

    Somewhere, someone is thinking impure thoughts about a young girl right this very minute. And you know what? He’s not going to do anything other than smile. And that smile is as far as it will go between them. And that’s assuming she notices.

  • Denis

    Well, I’m just an old conservative male who lives on the beach in California, and this gal is wearing a whole lot more clothes than most of the gals on the beach are, no matter what age.

    I’ve even seen a few who don’t appear to be wearing clothes at all.

    But now that I know it’s wrong to look, I’ll just turn off my sight whenever one of them sways by me.

    Well, mebbe not. But I sure will if the sight offends me!

    And you’re right, veryretired, it must be a slow day.

  • person of choler

    re “clear and present danger”: simply this, if the article in question is a reason to discount conservatism (whatever that is) as a set of political ideas then there must have been something in the article of serious concern. I fail to see what it could be.

  • craggy_steve

    Y’all gone barmy!

    It sounds as though the majority of posters, like T.J. Simers, are in denial, society doesn’t approve of sex with juveniles therefore pictures of attractive juveniles are bad and should be verboten:- “and lead us not into temptation, deliver us from evil”. If so that’s your problem, don’t bring it to the rest of us, go fix yourselves.

    The rest of us can look, say ‘”she’s cute”, and move on. Or even, “she’s cute, she’ll be a stunner when she’s 25″ (or whatever your optimal age may be), and move on. The issue that arises here is that some US based journo can’t cope, and instead of addressing his own problems he tries to dump them on the rest of us. If he can get enough critial mass sharing his viewpoint then his problem ceases to be a problem, and becomes the norm. Well not for me, seemingly not for Perry either, just because T.J. Simes has a problem with the sexuality of young women doesn’t mean I have to share in it.

    To put it another way, when I buy a young wine to lay down for a few years, I buy it to drink in a few years, I am not tempted to drink it too young. Doesn’t mean I was wrong to buy it, or to want what I hope it will become.

    As far as self-defence is concerned – I can’t speak for Perry, but for my self I’m multi-tasking, I can petition government on the UK self-defense issue, appreciate pictures of pretty girls, denounce prudishness and drink mature wine all at the same time! It ain’t hard.

    Storm in an eggcup.

    craggy_steve

  • Gruesome

    Maria’s great-grandmother in Russia would probably have been married with two kids by the same age.

    Like so many ‘conservative’ positions, this is just yesterday’s liberalism which the fogeys have belatedly caught up with. The campaigns to outlaw prostitution, raise the age of consent and sharpen the legal gap between kids and grown-ups was largely conducted by 19C liberal busybodies against the sneers and jeers of worldly-wise Tories. Just as Tories eventually made their peace with government regulation, the welfare state and internationalisation of foreign policy, so they have accepted the principle that the State has the right to govern marriage and some kinds of sexual activity which have a social cost.

    Meanwhile, though, the liberals have moved on and invented a whole new slew of ‘human rights’ which conservatives are still worrying about, such as queers marrying or the right of an underage girl to have her unborn child killed at the taxpayer’s expense without her parents being forewarned.

    Depend upon it, if such changes stick, in 50 years’ time the conservatives will claim they approved of them all along– “but *now* the liberals are going too far”. The line in the sand is easily blown away if it makes you look uncool or electorally unpopular.

  • I too am amazed at your conflating conservatism with that L.A. Times idiot. I think his views are more likely to spring from feminist prudery. Feminists HATE attractive women

  • Euan Gray

    Id thought I’d throw in the fact that pornography did not exist until 1857

    Photographic pornography, at any rate. Pornography does not have to be a photograph, although the consumers on non-photographic porn would doubtless class it as “erotica” instead, thereby making it socially acceptable.

    Pornography (or erotica) has existed for centuries. Given that humanity seems positively obsessed by sex, it is perhaps possible that the paleolithic cave painters moved on from woolly mammoths to nubile cave-ladies at a fairly early stage. No doubt accompanied by unsolicited grafitti wondering if the reader was aware of the really low price of certain herbal remedies available only via the local stone circles. Perhaps this proto-porn was destroyed by the revival of the conservative “pagan majority” in the hotly contested 2004BC elections…

    As has been observed elsewhere, moral fashions change. Whether there is a higher, less mutable, morality is another matter. Our Judaeo-Christian morality does not say anything about ages of consent, so perhaps we are just left with contemporary ethical fashion.

    Perhaps the specific age of consent is a less important concept than the ability of those involved to give informed consent. The age at which people can do this seems to change as cultural and educational fads change, but it is also worth noting that it depends heavily on the individual. Some people seem to be extremely well aware of sexual matters and responsibility at comparatively early ages, others are hopelessly naive even at 30. I suppose a legal age of consent is an attempt to draw a line in the sand at a stage which causes the fewest problems.

    EG

  • ernest young

    Anyone remember Gorgeous Gussie Moran? Lovely lady, great tennis player, and those frilly knicks…..wow

    Certainly drew the crowds at Wimbledon, and that was fifty years ago!…

  • It’s pretty asinine saying that Feminists HATE beautiful women…..the two are not mutually exclusive, my friend.

    Anyway, I don’t think one can infer Simers’ political affiliation through his column. Perhaps if there was a “tree waster” party, he’d be part of it. I was an LAT subscriber for two years and he was the only blight on an otherwise excellent sports page.

    To me, the idiocy of Simers’ argument stems from the fact that these pictures of Sharapova are hardly provocative at all. She’s an attractive girl with a beautiful body and it isn’t her fault if she looks great in a dress or in shorts and a shirt.

    A problem I have with a lot of people is the conflation of skin with sex. Why men can’t look at a beautiful girl without feeling guilty of some sort of perversion still strikes me as silly. I mean….when you go to the beach do you ask women to show you their ID so you’ll give yourself permission to check them out?

    Of course an age of consent is necessary, and I am very aware of the dangers of minors being taken advantage of. But Simers’ outrage ought to be saved for something more, well, outrageous.

  • Ken

    “Do the Fathers or Mothers here at Samizdata really want a society in whic 13 and 14 yr olds are fair game? ”

    Well, I wouldn’t have any problem with a world in which the people now known as “adolescents” were free. Not “fair game”, but properly educated in a timely manner (i.e., no three months off every year and no excruciatingly slow curriculum geared to morons) and allowed to live independently and enjoy the blessings of liberty as rational, productive adults, rather than being required by law to assume the role of children.

    There is no biological or cognitive limitation that requires people to be children until the age of 18. It is simply a custom of this society to educate their children as slowly as possible and protect, nurture, and restrict them far into what should be their early adulthood.

  • To paraphrase Billy Madison: I am now dumber for having read everything associated with this topic: the column, the post, and the comments. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  • Euan Gray

    Well, I wouldn’t have any problem with a world in which the people now known as “adolescents” were free

    Freedom requires maturity. People mature at different rates. There are mature 15 year olds, just as there are immature people twice their age. Maturity also requires some experience of life, which requires time. Teenagers frequently, but not always, simply don’t have the intellectual or emotional maturity or experience to act as rational adults – basically because they aren’t rational adults, they are hormone laden adolescents. This is why there is a distinction between child, adolescent and adult.

    There is no biological or cognitive limitation that requires people to be children until the age of 18

    Not exactly 18, no, but puberty does give rise to less than altogether thoughtful and sober activity on the part of a large number of people. It’s different for everyone, but I suppose the basic reason for an age of consent is to ensure that most people get their hormones balanced and settled before allowing them to do as they will in society.

    Is the answer to simply have no ages of consent for anything?

    EG

  • Ken

    “Freedom requires maturity. People mature at different rates.”

    Yes, and the rate at which they mature is related to their upbringing and their education. Both of which are deliberately made slower than they could be.

    “There are mature 15 year olds, just as there are immature people twice their age. Maturity also requires some experience of life, which requires time.”

    Yes, but time spent being sheltered and overprotective doesn’t really contribute.

    “Teenagers frequently, but not always, simply don’t have the intellectual or emotional maturity or experience to act as rational adults”

    No, they don’t. But they could – and I think we’d all be better off if they were.

    “basically because they aren’t rational adults, they are hormone laden adolescents. ”

    Humans remain “hormone laden” until menopause. The difference between “adolescence” and “adults” is twofold. First, the adolescent gets little profit from behaving like a rational adult – it doesn’t shorten his sentence, and the adults bail him out whenever he gets himself into a jam. Since irresponsibility is fun, and the profits of responsibility and the costs of irresponsibility are diverted away from him, irresponsibility is the way to go.

    Second, the adolescent’s education is inadequate to be a productive, self-sufficient citizen. There is no reason on Earth why this must be so – it is only so because schools tend to teach slowly even when they do meet,and only meet nine months out of the year, and spend part of that time reteaching what was forgotten over the long break. That wastes an awful lot of time.

    “Not exactly 18, no, but puberty does give rise to less than altogether thoughtful and sober activity on the part of a large number of people. It’s different for everyone, but I suppose the basic reason for an age of consent is to ensure that most people get their hormones balanced and settled before allowing them to do as they will in society.

    Is the answer to simply have no ages of consent for anything?”

    The age of consent for everything should be lower than it is now. Or perhaps it should be easier to skip grades, finish school early, and get emancipated. Either way, the long childhoods we impose on our offspring is effectively shortening their lives every bit as much as if we forced them to take up smoking, and it opens an enormous window of opportunity for irresponsible children to derail their futures by getting pregnant out of wedlock.

  • Alex

    I think the issue here is that a lot of parents, like Pelto here, don’t have the emotional maturity that the job requires. They give full rein to the manic, primeval impulse to protect their children from anything bad, scary or suspect, little realizing that in their hysterical labors to keep the winds of life from beteeming their precious babies’ faces too roughly, they’re raising children without immune systems, without self-reliance, without judgement. It’s the kids who are sheltered and dominated by their parents who wind up deliberately seeking out the roughest ways of life.

    Children need guidance and nurturing. They also need the knowledge that comes with experience, and the understanding that they are not helpless. Would you rather your child not understand that they have this thing called “sexuality” that they must guard carefully, but also understand and come to terms with in order to avoid Mr. Pelto’s sad emotional fate?

  • jk

    I am conservative and not offended by the picture. But just to be sure, I think I had better do a little research and look at more pictures…

  • craggy_steve

    >> Freedom requires maturity

    Nope, freedom requires … Freedom. Or are we to live in a society where only the intellectually mature are to be granted freedom? Irrespective of age, some people are better able to cope with freedom, exploit its’ benefits, restrain themselves from the excesses it permits etc. than others. Age may appear to improve a persons ability to cope with freedom, but I’m not convinced, I think it’s more to do with experience, and the younger that experience starts being aquired the sooner an individual will be able to cope, if they’re ever going to be able to cope.

    Euan’s statement reveals a common and strongly patronising attitude to others, and embodies a dangerous concept because the longer we keep our kids wrapped up in cotton wool the longer it will be until they can cope with the real world. What’s even worse is that the situation is compounded by the fact that we keep them so insulated during their most observant and learning-conducive years, by the time they’re unwrapped and exposed to the outside world at eighteen they have become chronologically adult without the benefit of the experiences necessary to cope, behave and react as an adult to the adult situations they face, and are then expected to stumble around finding their feet for the next few years making mistakes that they need never have suffered if society had not been so over-protective.

  • dmick

    I was being alittle obtuse with that statement Euan. It’s the date the word came into being, or is recognised as such. I agree erotica has been around for thousands of years, pornography being coined to describe finds from Pompeii, (google the Secret Museum in Naples.) This is tangential post, I know, but I do find it interesting that moral outrage is so much easier once you have a label, a word which to disapprove of.
    N.B.The pictures discussed here are nowhere near even erotic let alone pornographic… and still gets people foaming at the mouth.

  • toolkien

    Both sides of the aisle get cache at defining a 17 year person as a child. It was the first slice of society to be triangulated by the ‘progressives’ and made into a dependent class. Perhaps, too, in the name of egalitarianism, the age of adulthood rose across the board, as the children of the ‘haves’ enjoyed longer stays under their parents’ care (or prep schools and colleges).

    The redefinition was a boon to the liberal bureaucracy and they had every reason to increase the age of adulthood. The longer people are dependents the better for them. Whereas people become productive sooner, the became independent sooner. Now we have a generation that doesn’t, by and large, become productive until 25 (k-12, undergrad, grad). All the while they exist in a world of subsidy, non-productivity, and theory. And we wonder why there’s been an overall shift to the left. Nothing defines left and right better than earned property.

  • Dave F

    1. I note that T J Simers is not necessarily male.
    2. I suggest Simers has never seen Maria play tennis. Her cleavage is the most daring I’ve seen on a tennis court. Yet she is such a fantastic player that her performance transfixes the male eye despite the distractions.

    3 Simers should just take a look around him/herself.
    As a grandparent of teenagers I do not approve of the trend, but even 14-year-olds are wearing hipsters so lowslung they barely cover the modesty.

    17-year-olds are not children, US law notwithstanding. OF COURSE, they should not be sexually exploited, but that is not happening to Maria Sharapova, a very worldlywise teenager who is making the most of her brief window of tennis fame and fortune. Britons will recall that Charlotte Church was voted “rear of the year” by the tabloids at 16. And BTW, what most teenage girls are obsessed with at that age 14-17) is boys. That is offered as an expert opinion.

    The law of the land is not at issue in the photographs shown. I have seen more daring outfits at high school farewells. And if Simers finds the original pose sexually arousing, I suggest medical treatment.

  • I’m sorry, but she’s a woman, 17 or not. Males can’t suddenly curb an attraction to someone because of biological age.

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    I’ve certainly seen Sharapova play, and strongly disagree with Dave F.’s statement:

    Yet she is such a fantastic player that her performance transfixes the male eye despite the distractions.

    Like a number of other players who trained with Nick Bollettieri, (notably Capriati), she simply hits the ball as hard as she can and hope it stays in. Never mind her ghastly shrieking every time she hits the ball. (Sharapova got a noise warning at Birmingham 2003 because her shrieking was disturbing players on the other courts.) When the ball isn’t staying in (as in the first set against Myskina last night, or against Myskina at Indian Wells this year), it’s truly an ugly thing to watch. Myskina, and Mauresmo and Justine Hénin-Hardenne, all play a much more fascinating brand of tennis.

    Here’s the money question: are any of you really more interested in tennis, or just watching Sharapova play? Would you be interested in the Tour Championship next year if Sharapova doesn’t qualify?

  • jon

    If I am going to watch a sport, it’s actually better if attractive women can play it (not imperative, but better). Women’s basketball is not good, because the level of play is awful. Women’s soccer/football is good. Ditto volleyball (sand and small bikini bottoms always attracts an audience). Women’s tennis is better than men’s (for my viewing time). So yes, I am a fan of attractive women in sport.

    Does this send a bad message to young women? Maybe. It sends the message that if they want to get by in a glamor profession, it helps to be glamorous. But it also sends the message that a young woman who doesn’t want looks to interfere with her career has plenty of other paths to make a living: things like education, hard work, and all those other sexist things that only we men have had to worry about traditionally. (Yes, I’m being facetious, but I mean it.)

  • Anthony

    I want to make one small point in defense of Perry. He doesn’t need any defense, but we need the point made.

    Pelto suggested that Perry’s indignation over the LA columnist’s silly remarks reflected dirty-mindedness. Without getting into what constitutes improper behavior, I think it’s very unwise to read into what you imagine somebody’s motives are unless you have some empirical evidence to go on.

    Example:

    In the 1990’s, a woman in Marin County (San Francisco-Bay Area) complained about an abstract painting because she thought it was obscene. Because she was able to turn this ridiculous complaint into a serious issue, it made me angry.

    Whatever my motivations might have been, none of them included sympathy for a pornographic painting.

    I think Perry was just expressing frustration over the sometimes truly resplendent lack of common sense. Of course we all have desires, including Moms and Dads. Decency and common moral feeling isn’t expressed in pretending we don’t have desires, but in knowing when to excercise restraint.

    End of pompous lecture.

  • Tom Cuddihy

    Alex:
    “It’s the kids who are sheltered and dominated by their parents who wind up deliberately seeking out the roughest ways of life.”

    That is overgeneralized crap. All kids rebel to some degree , but some with strict parents don’t rebel at all, others with hip, down parents end up junkies for the rest of their lives.

    There is no magic formula for keeping kids safe, they all have to make their own choices. But the statistics are pretty strait. People who say their parents discouraged premarital sex on average have fewer partners and lower incidences of venereal disease–on the other hand, they’re less likely to have used protection when they do do it.

  • Euan Gray

    Nope, freedom requires … Freedom

    I’m afraid it does require maturity, and much of this maturity consists of knowing when NOT to exercise certain freedoms and the responsibility to accept the consequences of exercising said liberties. Without maturity and responsibility, freedom is abused and liberty becomes licence. BTW, this isn’t an old fogey complaining about the ignorant youth of today, it’s just an observation on what appears to be the permanent human condition.

    Age may appear to improve a persons ability to cope with freedom, but I’m not convinced, I think it’s more to do with experience

    Indeed, but experience requires time, which tends to indicate that in general age is a factor.

    a common and strongly patronising attitude to others

    It is, IMO, a simple fact that people at the younger end of the teenage years are in general just not mature enough, either emotionally or intellectually, to cope with the liberties granted to the adult. Adolescents have more liberty than children, but less than adults, and I think this is a sensible way of doing things. I agree that the various ages of consent are fairly arbitrary, but I think there does need to be one somewhere. It’s not patronising, it’s reality.

    the longer we keep our kids wrapped up in cotton wool the longer it will be until they can cope with the real world

    True to an extent, but does it not also mean they have a greater chance to acquire the mental tools necessary to cope with liberty when they get it?

    I’m not entirely sure why, but something about calls for reducing or abolishing ages of consent and/or allowing children and adolescents to have adult liberties unsettles me. I’m sure most people who advocate this mean well, but there is something seedy to my mind about repeated calls for treating children as small adults. I suspect some have prurient reasons for this, but note I am not imputing any such motive to anyone in particular.

    And I loathe the use of “kids” – goats have kids, humans have children.

    In summary, there is nothing wrong that I can see with having a series of graduated ages of consent for different activities. Equally, this doesn’t mean some ages cannot be changed, but I do think it is necessary to place some limits on these things.

    EG

  • And I loathe the use of “kids” – goats have kids, humans have children

    Amen! One of my pet peeves…

  • Ken

    “Indeed, but experience requires time, which tends to indicate that in general age is a factor.”

    It also requires, well, experience, which tends to indicate that upbringing is a factor.

    “True to an extent, but does it not also mean they have a greater chance to acquire the mental tools necessary to cope with liberty when they get it?”

    Only if they spend that time actually acquiring the mental tools rather than enduring the mushroom treatment and having their self-esteem protected.

    “I’m not entirely sure why, but something about calls for reducing or abolishing ages of consent and/or allowing children and adolescents to have adult liberties unsettles me. I’m sure most people who advocate this mean well, but there is something seedy to my mind about repeated calls for treating children as small adults.”

    We’re not talking about children here. We’re talking about teenagers, who are required by today’s law to pretend to be children, and who are encouraged by the resulting set of incentives to have as much fun as they can get away with and damn the consequences (because someone else will usually be paying them anyway). The very phrase “teenage rebellion” is a way to blow off the outrage teenagers understandably feel at being forced to waste several precious and irreplacable years of their lives being kept in continuing ignorance, helplessness, and childishness when their stage of biological and cognitive development positively demands that they strike out and spread their wings. It’s a blatant and shockingly successful attempt to pretend that this outrage is nothing more than typical childish petulance.

  • Euan Gray

    We’re talking about teenagers, who are required by today’s law to pretend to be children

    But they aren’t. They are adolescents, with different freedoms and responsibilities from children. You can’t have sex with them (and of course this is a reason why some people want them to have “freedom” at an earlier age), but they bear criminal responsibility for what they do and are expected to comport themselves in a manner somewhere between childish and adult behaviour. They cannot lawfully do some things adults do, but they can do some things children can’t.

    The very phrase “teenage rebellion” is a way to blow off the outrage teenagers understandably feel at being forced to waste several precious and irreplacable years of their lives

    But teenagers rebel anyway. It’s part of growing up, the same maturing experience as the juvenile explores the boundaries of what it can and cannot do. Allowing teenagers to be “free” at an earlier age won’t stop this type of rebellion, but I’m pretty sure it would mean there would be rather fewer boundaries for them to run into – hence the liberty becoming licence stuff.

    Given contemporary life expectancy, the angst-ridden teenage rebel can look forward to a further 60 years of life, and in context half a dozen years spent being gradually introduced to the responsible exercise of liberty and the consequences thereof is a small deal.

    their stage of biological and cognitive development positively demands that they strike out and spread their wings

    I think it would be more accurate to say that they become aware that it is possible to spread their wings. It does not necessarily demand it. But do you think it is sensible to allow them to do this with no effort to teach them responsibility or the limits of this freedom? Let social Darwinism figure it out?

    a blatant and shockingly successful attempt to pretend that this outrage is nothing more than typical childish petulance

    Until maturity and responsibility have been learned, it IS no more than childish petulance. I wonder why it is so “shockingly successful,” don’t you? Perhaps because it’s grounded in the reality of practical experience?

    EG

  • craggy_steve

    >> I’m not entirely sure why, but something about calls for reducing or abolishing ages of consent and/or allowing children and adolescents to have adult liberties unsettles me.

    I don’t recall anyone proposing a reduction in the age of consent. If a minor decides to flout the law in respect of sexual intercourse that is up to them, and they are going to have to live with the consequences. What the age of consent really achieves is the protection of minors from exploitation by older, wiser, more sophisticated predators, which while worthy is actually a function that should be performed by peers and parents, and like most legislation reduces freedom.

    Adult liberties ?? Freedom, Liberties and Rights are three different topics. In citing Adult Liberties you move the focus from Freedom to a state less than Free, because in acknowledging the grant of Liberties you are also acknowledging that you believe in the curtailment of Freedom.

    Freedom is an absolute. There is no middle ground. Either you are controlled by others or you are in control of yourself. Boundaries may exist, but you continue to be free until you meet them. If you do meet a boundary, wherever it is placed, then you are no longer free, and will not be free until that boundary is removed.

    If you have the right, you may deliberately choose to restrict the liberties you permit to others, such as your children, but in doing so you must acknowledge that you are potentially or deliberately denying them their freedom, you are placing boundaries which you determine to be ‘for their own good’ etc., you are being patronising, and you are limiting the breadth of experience to which they may be exposed.

    As I said earlier, Freedom requires Freedom. Personally I don’t feel very qualified to determine whether another person should be granted / or deprived of freedom, others clearly feel that they are better qualified and have more right to impose themselves on others than I do. If so that is their choice, and they are patronising those whose freedom the choose to restrict.

    As far as I can recall my own daughter only came up to my boundaries once that I know of, and with tolerance, guidance and support she crawled out of the various stupid situations she’d got into when she was ready to. Her mother and I could see most of them coming, but we both felt that she had to make her own mistakes in order to learn that they genuinely were mistakes. Now she’s a well respected and senior “professional”, and she’s still nagging me for advice every few weeks, just these days it’s on business rather than men, rent etc.

    Kids
    http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=kids

    Actually I agree, I deplore myself for doing it, but over the years I’ve learned that it’s often not to my advantage to be overly precise or formal in my use of English, any more than it is to speak with a public school accent, so I apologise! (Happily my daughter doesn’t mind having been a kid, I feel that she encouraged it and it’s certainly the word she uses, kid is somehow less diminutive than child!)

  • DavidBruno

    Perry,

    good post! Some of the silly, over-heated responses are adequate testimony to the ‘weird-prudery’ to which you refer.

    The highly-successful, wealthy, fit, attractive young lady of 17 has the world at her finger tips…you can see that (you are ‘straight’); I can see that (I am gay).

    I think that some of the people who have got upset about your comments should focus on the the child labour that has taken place for years in Hollywood…and some of the vile abuse of children that takes place in all societies… but not on an ad of a smart, successful 17-year-old showing off her assets, for goodness sakes!

  • Euan Gray

    in acknowledging the grant of Liberties you are also acknowledging that you believe in the curtailment of Freedom.

    Yes, I do so believe and I think this is sensible.

    Freedom is not absolute, whatever you may think. It is, and must be, constrained by responsibility. Different people have different definitions of “responsibility,” of course, but this is the boundary. And it is foolish to suggest there should be no such boundaries.

    If you *suspect* that your neighbour *might* be planning to break into your house and steal your property, perhaps you decide to pre-empt this by killing him. You may have the freedom to kill, but he has the freedom not be killed. Hence a boundary. It is impossible to have freedom without limits, precisely because your absolute freedom to do something then conflicts with someone else’s absolute freedom to not suffer the consequences of your action.

    Even if you say “freedom to do whatever you wish provided it harms no-one else,” this is still a boundary, it is still a constraint on liberty. You simply cannot NOT have them. Freedom is not and never can be absolute.

    EG

  • craggy_steve

    Euan,

    you wrote: It is, and must be, constrained by responsibility

    in reply to me saying:-

    Either you are controlled by others or you are in control of yourself.

    Exactly. Either the individual restrains themself or someone else place external restraints upon them. I advocate the former, you would appear to condone the latter. I have no desire to restrain others except to encourage them to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Perhaps that makes me irresponsible, perhaps I should be enthusiastically supportive of all legislation which prevents people from harming themselves or others, but no, I prefer to let others get on with their own lives, and to defend myself against their trespasses when necessary.

    I want you to be free. I don’t want you to abuse that freedom by abusing me or mine or anyone else, I want to trust you with that freedom, as I want to be trusted with it myself. Personal responsibility is not a constraint upon freedom, that is an entirely fallacious argument that comes from a complete misunderstanding of freedom, it is externally imposed boundaries that constrain and deny freedom. Personal responsibility is precisely what enables freedom, because it permits coexistence without externally imposed boundaries.

    A practical example: I keep sheep. My sheep were distressed by my neighbour’s fireworks. I explained this to my neighbour, and now she chooses not to use fireworks because she does not want to distress my sheep, which she enjoys having around. Problem solved, no regulation or legislation or other external boundary required. My neighbour, understanding the problem, has become self-regulating of her own free will.

    I am happy to look at the photograph posted of this pretty tennis player. I know I am not going to abuse her, I have my own restraints. T. J. Simers clearly doesn’t trust me on this, or you, or anyone else, despite never having met us. I can only read into this that he doesn’t actually trust his own restraints, and is assuming that we all share his weaknesses. This is not a sound basis for regulatory constraint.

  • Ken

    “I think it would be more accurate to say that they become aware that it is possible to spread their wings. It does not necessarily demand it. But do you think it is sensible to allow them to do this with no effort to teach them responsibility or the limits of this freedom? Let social Darwinism figure it out?”

    No, but the effort to teach them responsibility can be completed much earlier than is customary at present. There’s no reason that teenagers have to be irresponsible; they’re just not properly taught to be any other way, nor are they taught marketable or survival skills that they would need.

    “Given contemporary life expectancy, the angst-ridden teenage rebel can look forward to a further 60 years of life, and in context half a dozen years spent being gradually introduced to the responsible exercise of liberty and the consequences thereof is a small deal.”

    So is the half-dozen years on average taken away by a smoking habit, but we aren’t so sanguine about that.

    Not only that, but “gradually” introducing people into the responsility of liberty and the consequences thereof, and leaving the job uncompleted for a good half-dozen years of their prime childbearing years, is just asking for trouble. People in posession of working reproductive organs need to be fully introduced to the responsible exercise of liberty and the consequences thereof.

  • Euan Gray

    Either the individual restrains themself or someone else place external restraints upon them. I advocate the former, you would appear to condone the latter

    I’d prefer the former, but am pragmatic enough to realise that the latter is, unfortunately, necessary. Again, it’s what people really do that counts, not what theory says they should do. Not everyone is able or willing to impose their own restraints, and so external restraint needs to be imposed. This is just reality, however theoretically impure or lamentable it may be – it’s human nature.

    I prefer to let others get on with their own lives

    So do I, but a sufficient number of them are sufficiently irresponsible that in practice it is necessary to curtail some liberties from time to time. I think we go too far in the contemporary west, however. Your example of the sheep and the neighbour is a good one, and of course things like this happen a lot – meaning regulation is unnecessary in those cases. However, there are also many cases where, to extrapolate from your example, people would not only continue to let off the fireworks but would in fact aim them at the sheep.

    This happens – not far from where I live it is not unknown for rockets to be attached to cats, fireworks lobbed through open windows, and so on. In such cases rules are required. Since you can’t reasonably say that the rules only apply to certain classes of irresponsible urban troglodytes, they need to apply to everyone (rule of law). Therefore, the innocent and decent people are constrained although they would not in any case do what the rule forbids. Sad, but necessary.

    So is the half-dozen years on average taken away by a smoking habit, but we aren’t so sanguine about that.

    I think most people don’t really care all that much about it. Even here in the People’s Republic of Scotland there seems to be dislike of being told when and where one can smoke. Other factors also kill lots of people early – cars, excessive alcohol consumption (bit of a problem here), bad diet (ditto), and so on. Most people don’t seem to get too worked up about these things, and continue to drive, drink too much, eat too much refined food, etc.

    People in posession of working reproductive organs need to be fully introduced to the responsible exercise of liberty and the consequences thereof.

    I do not think it necessarily follows that just because someone is physically capable of reproducing then they should be allowed or encouraged to do so. Obviously, it’s not possible to completely prevent under-age sex but on the other hand I’m not sure it’s a great idea to encourage it. What is the rush? It is quite reasonably for women in the west to have children up to their early 40s, and there is that I can see no reason to encourage them to breed as early as possible.

    It may be argued that only the artificial constraints of society put arbitrary limits on this, that popping out children as soon as physically possible is natural. Perhaps it is, but as the Patrician observed in Terry Pratchett’s “Going Postal,” living in trees and eating your dinner while it’s still wriggling is also natural.

    However, we do not live in a state of nature, we live in a comparatively advanced society. The rules and requirements of society are more complex than in the state of nature and require more time, education, maturity and discretion to understand and operate reasonably well.

    EG

  • craggy_steve

    >> we do not live in a state of nature, we live in a comparatively advanced society

    Evidently not. There are still many ways of transgressing against others that are not yet covered by legislation, so our politicians are busily beavering away to generate that legislation instead of looking to eliminate the causes of those transgressions. Those who welcome the ever growing legislation and believe that it is necessary seem not to realise that as time goes by the scope for free will is being increasingly eroded towards the inevitable conclusion when all human behaviour will be governed by specific rules enforceable by the legal system and there will be no scope for freedom. In process at the moment in different places are bans on hunting, smoking and the wearing of perfume in public buildings! A society which requires such regulation is far from advanced, it is obviously very primitive, it is not able to self-regulate by concensus but has to resort to legislative coercion. It is not mature emough to accommodate diversity, it has to eliminate it by using force to achieve normalisation.

    When you find a society where there are few and simple rules and yet people live in harmony then you will have discovered a comparatively advanced society. But if you’re in Western Europe you certainly aren’t living in one yet! Technology and wealth do not make an advanced society, they merely provide the means to construct one if the members are willing, and it seems that either we or our leaders dont actually want ot go down that route.

  • craggy_steve

    Euan, this discussion could go on forever, but I’m going to stop reading it now. I understand your pragmatic argument that some legislation which inhibits freedom is neccessary, but I don’t accept it because if one accepts the principle of constraining other people’s freedom then one has to contend with the problem of where to draw the line, and the evidence of recent history shows that “for good reason” the line is continually moved in favour of regulation to the detriment of freedom and individuality, and I cannot accept that. If you believe I’m wrong strongly enough to want to continue off-line my e-mail address is in the link below.

  • Mikey

    My would anyone object to beauty?

  • Cybrludite

    I seem to be missing the big deal here. It’s an attractive young woman who is of legal age in the state I live in. While I wouldn’t pursue her (out of my leauge would be an understatement), I wouldn’t kick her out of bed either. Assuming she was somehow simultaneously struck with blindness & nyphomania while in the area, that is. (Given some of the things you can drink in the French Quarter, that combo isn’t quite as unlikely as it sounds…) What confuses me is the laws over in Mississippi. There age of consent is 16, but you can marry at 15. Must be awkward having to wait up to a year for your wedding night… :-p

  • Conservatives have an unhealthy, unrealistic, juvenile view of sex mainly do to the twisted version of Christianity that breeds perversion instead of realism.

    In fact the whole conservative movement’s basic tenents of so-called “moral values” rest in the immature, yet sinister and dangerous need to manipulate sex and reproduction in others because supposedly their guy in the sky wants them to.

    When are these people going to grow up?

  • Toby Sandal

    If you actually knew Maria, you would get shut down for your strange philosophies.