Elvis's appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, singing Hound Dog to a hound dog and swinging that famous pelvis while the camera kept the frame steadily focused on his face, was only twenty-some years before my birth. Common decency dictated that he look like the kind of guy a girl could introduce to her grandmother. Teenagers were no doubt heartbroken at his on-screen neutering, but no marches were held and no windows were broken.
Move ahead in time five decades and decency is again in question: we have the case brought before the courts to determine whether or not it's legal to block computer-generated pornography of kids having sex. Mark Foley, of all people, lamented that the Supreme Court sided with the pedophiles instead of the children. Writing about it in TIME, James Poniewozik said "Or it sided with, you know, the First Amendment. Tomato, tomahto."
This case is actually eight years old. I read about it yesterday thumbing through an old copy of TIME. I remember having read it then but barely raising an eyebrow. (Or rather, having admired Poniewozik** for his deftly delivered punch; as if it somehow put Foley in his place. Ludicrous.) He wrote about it in 2006, before I had any kids. It was all semantics then; the future was hypothetical. Now I have three precious babies and it makes me sick. By what stretch of the imagination is animated obscenity considered speech? What does it say? We hold freedom so high in this country that it's scraped through the lowest pits.
My kids know how to throw some decent tantrums. It's not often, but it goes like this: The knees turn to rubber. They sink to the ground and wail, back arched back, snot running. They feel like life is out of control; they don't like the shots being called, and they react. I wish I were able to. It feels like life is an ocean, and we just ride the waves: it is what it is.
I remember reading about Danny the Red*, the guy who went around in the late '60's helping spark revolutions in Europe. I wondered, how does a person get there? If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, it makes no noise. We all know that. That's why we're so quiet. But there's people like Kim Jong Il, who holds a nation hostage, acting as if he were God himself. Julian Assange, handed power by no one, yet able to make presidents and dictators and kings cower. This world is crazy.
I don't want power. I don't want to kick my feet and I don't want to yell. I only want something good for my children. I want them to live in a country that isn't so enamored by its own enlightenment that it acts like a fool. I want freedom to be valued more, not less; as it is now, we call it a pearl and then toss it to the pigs.
*Now he's Danny the Green. No, seriously.
**Poniewozik wrote in '06 about a case tried in '02; the focus of the article was Foley, which is why, I suppose, his perspective on the CGI porn case was so black-and-white.
Life is a Rollercoaster
5 days ago