Kathleen Parker

Oh, for a standard
of what is socially, morally acceptable

PEOPLE OF SOUND MIND may as well join a religious sect in Uganda. Here's what's happening in your world:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



This Page was created on 3rd July, 2000