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The Left, Bert and Ernie, and Lost Innocence
Premature sexualization of kids is only the latest fallout from left-wing social-justice crusades.


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Dennis Prager

If a Martian were to observe the human condition, he would have to conclude that the Left has an agenda to deprive children of their innocence. The Martian would have no other explanation for the premature sexualizing of children that the Left has engaged in for decades, and which seems to increase almost weekly.

The most recent example is the cover of the current issue of The New Yorker, which depicts the Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie. They are seated on a couch snuggling, and Bert’s head rests on Ernie’s shoulder as the two watch television. The TV features a picture of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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To their credit, the creators of Sesame Street and of Bert and Ernie have stated that the two characters are not only never depicted as having anything other than platonic interest in each other; they are also never depicted as having any interest in females. As indeed they should be; they were characters for children to enjoy.

But for the Left, Bert and Ernie (and whatever else the Left can get its ideological hands on) are transformed into vehicles for a left-wing cause. And no cause animates the Left these days more than the social advancement of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and the transgendered (LGBTs).

One consequence has been the robbing of children’s innocence by prematurely sexualizing them. Rendering Bert and Ernie as gay is only the most recent example.

Other examples abound.

Just one week earlier the State of Colorado’s Rights Division ruled that a first-grade boy who identifies and dresses as a girl may use the girls’ restroom at school. The school had previously allowed the first-grader to use a bathroom in either the teachers’ lounge or in the nurse’s office, but not the girls’ bathroom. Now, first-grade girls must share their bathroom with a fellow first-grader who has a penis. There is every reason to have pity on this child. But that is not a valid reason to subject all the girls to issues such as gender confusion at such a young age.

Another way in which the Left has subjected young children to sexual issues has been the widespread teaching about sexual harassment, also beginning in first grade. In addition to having discussions that do not belong in a first-, second-, third-, fourth-, or fifth-grade class, this hysterical fixation on sexual harassment has labeled innocent child’s play a form of sexual deviancy.

A few years ago, I asked my listeners to send in funds to pay for the legal defense of two seventh-grade boys arrested — yes, arrested by police — for participating in “slap butt day.”

As reported by The Oregonian:

Two boys tore down the hall of Patton Middle School after lunch, swatting the bottoms of girls as they ran — what some kids later said was a common form of greeting. But bottom-slapping is against policy in McMinnville Public Schools. So a teacher’s aide sent the gawky seventh-graders to the office, where the vice principal and a police officer stationed at the school soon interrogated them. . . . The officer read the boys their Miranda rights and hauled them off in handcuffs to juvenile jail, where they spent the next five days.

Two seventh-graders in jail for five days for butt-slapping on slap-butt day.

And it gets worse.

The seventh-graders were not permitted contact with their parents for 24 hours, they were brought into court in shackles and jail garb, and they were strip-searched four times. And the Yamhill County district attorney, Bradley Berry, brought felony sex charges against the two boys.

According to a 2008 ABC News story, “in schools across the country, kids as young as three and four are now facing charges of sexual harassment that will stay with them permanently on their school records.” ABC gave the example of seven-year-old Randy Castro, of Potomac View Elementary School in Maryland. He, too, slapped a girl’s butt, and the school called in the police and wrote him up as a sexual harasser. In 2007, in liberal Maryland alone, 166 elementary students were suspended for sexual harassment, including three preschoolers, 16 kindergartners, and 22 first-graders. In California, where the Left can pass any law it wants, the state passed a law last year that all textbooks in California — from first grade on — describe the contributions of gays, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals to America and to California. How exactly does one explain bisexuality to six-year-olds? For the Left, this is not an issue.

At the Democratic National Convention in 2000, the Democratic Party featured five young people, about five to ten years old, and had them recite lyrics describing how frightening their futures are likely to be. This alone was innocence-killing. But of course one of the fears had to be sex-related: “When I grow up, will kids still be wrongfully touched?”

And of course, the Left has insisted on sex education from the earliest grades. In New York City, seventh-graders are taught how to use condoms.

All these policies have been enacted in the name of tolerance, protecting girls, and promoting health. But the Left always has a noble reason for its damaging policies, even when they involve something that when taken away can never be returned: children’s sexual innocence.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His most recent book is Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.



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